So if you’re anything like us, sometimes following the guide books isn’t enough. There are days where you just want to get off the beaten track and follow your instincts to where fewer people have left their trace. This is where urban exploring, or urbex, comes in. An increasingly popular pass time, urban exploring has to do with traveling to abandoned buildings and, well, exploring them. Many people heavily Instagram their experiences, making the adventure slightly less underground, but it’s nonetheless quite cool. We checked out a few different places to do urban exploring, but found that Berlin has the best spots. Being as the city has been named the grittiest city in Western Europe, it makes sense that it would be a haven of urban exploring.
Right smack in the middle of the Grindelwald forest is possibly one of the coolest places we’ve ever been to. The Teufelsberg is home to an abandoned listening post circa the Cold War. You might think this is a rather tedious attraction, but hardly. See, the space may have been left behind by the American soldiers who were stationed there, but it has been the home to many a squatter and graffiti artist since the Iron Curtain came down. It is now a haven for artists and explorers who use the space as their canvas for creativity. Though slightly challenging to get to if you aren’t an avid hiker, making the trip first thing in the morning and watching the sunrise from the iconic dome is absolutely worth it.
Though not the most off the grid of the urban exploring spots, Underground Berlin is a little known activity wherein you can climb down into Berlin’s fascinating history. You must attend a guided tour, which is for the best because the tunnels are a vast maze that people have been known to get lost in. There are several options to choose from, such as being lowered into an air-raid bunker dating back from World War II and hearing the fascinating history of this exact location from an extremely well-informed tour guide. Other options to choose from are the tunnels that were used to sneak people out of Eastern Germany during the Cold War (our favorite), and abandoned subway stations. Located in the north of Berlin at the Gesundbrunnen station, Subterranean Berlin is an excellent stop for history buffs.
The Spreewald has the most unexpected of urban exploring entertainment: an old fairground. You may think that this is quite a silly place to check out or that it’s a waste of time, but not so. The fairground was quite the popular place to be in East Germany in the early 70s. It unfortunately closed in 2001 after numerous owners tried to revive the place to its past vibrancy and symbol of joy and freedom. The park is now home to free spirits who come visit and photograph the rides and games that brought such pleasure to people young and old. The Spreewald is truly a place of history and very much worth the trouble of visiting.
Templehof is by far the most accessible place to visit on this list. Right off of the subway station by the same name, it is the site of a discarded airport. Though once a widely used space, the vast stretch of land now has a multitude of uses. Some everyday activities at Tempelhof include community gardening, art, kite flying and surfing, barbecuing and lounging on a rare summer day.