While the Ruhrgebiet region was once at the forefront of the industrial revolution, many of Germany’s former factories, mines, and warehouses have been converted into a dazzling array of event spaces, theme parks, and art galleries. These modernized monuments now lure visitors with fun pastime activities, from scuba diving to rock climbing
Explore the world’s most beautiful colliery
The Zeche Zollverein complex in Essen is known way beyond the city and country borders. It now hosts a multitude of annual events and houses a fantastic museum dedicated to the coal mining process, its importance for the region, and the industrial revolution as a whole. Join one of the 30 differently-themed tours on offer to learn more about Essen as a coal mining capital.
Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, Gelsenkirchener Strasse 181, Essen, Germany, +49 201 246810
Climb a smelting furnace
The 180-hectare (445-acre) area of the former steel factory holds all kinds of adventures. Apart from the guided walking tours – which take you to explore the disused blast furnaces, sewage canals, conveyor bridges, and rail tracks – sections of the former factory have been converted into Germany’s largest outdoor climbing crag. Rock climbing courses are available for all levels, while occasional workshops even tackle more advanced alpine skills.
Landscape Park Duisburg-Nord, Emscherstraße 71, Duisburg, Germany, +49 203 4291919
Ride a suspension railway
Wuppertal is situated at the eastern end of the Ruhrgebiet region and is primarily known for its suspension railway. Dating back to 1901, it’s the world’s oldest elevated electric railway, and some of the old carts are still equipped with upholstered seats and lamps from past decades. Whether old or new, zipping across town in seemingly flying carriages is quite the way to get around.
Scuba dive in an old steel factory
If you’re a thrillseeker who happens to be scared of heights and would much rather submerge yourself in a large pool of water than climb up furnaces, you’re in luck. The gasometer of the Duisburg Landschaftspark has been converted into what might be one of Germany’s most unique and bizarre diving sites. The training center offers fun dives for certified divers, as well as full training courses if you’re willing to take the plunge.
TauchRevier Gasometer, Emscherstraße 71, Duisburg, Germany, +49 203 4105353
Eat the original currywurst
Germans devour a mind-boggling 800 million currywurst sausages every single year. And, while the country’s favorite snack is often associated with the capital, Ruhrgebiet locals claim to have invented the ketchup-and-curry-powder-sprinkled sausages. With the ongoing battle for the title between Essen and Berlin, several Ruhrgebiet snack diners have mastered the art of making currywurst, so trying one is a must if you’re in the area.
Visit the RuhrTriennale festival
The Ruhr Triennale is an internationally acclaimed, annual festival for the arts and music. From mid-August through to mid-October, the festival brings together interdisciplinary productions of pop, jazz, fine art, and classical music influences in 80 performances, which take place at some of the most iconic sites of Germany’s Industrial Heritage Trail, including the renowned Jahrhunderthalle in Bochum.
Climb a rollercoaster
Well, almost. From afar, the Tiger and Turtle – Magic Mountain art installation looks like a genuine rollercoaster, but a closer look reveals its rather unconventional nature. It was designed by two German artists, who took the remains of a former zinc-smelting factory and turned it into art. A series of 240 steps allow visitors to climb the structure (apart from the loop) and enjoy the views of the Ruhr area from up high.
Tiger and Turtle – Magic Mountain, Ehinger Straße 117, Duisburg, Germany, +49 203 94000