I love the thrill I get from urbex. If you like exploring, adventure and abandoned buildings, urban exploration is probably already on the list of your interests too. Home and on the road alike, I love to discover the rough side of a place – not only the picture perfect of the polished downtown, but also the dirty and shabby (but spellbinding and adrenaline raising) of the abandoned locations. These guts of a country oftentimes have an interesting (hi)story behind them and like a moth to a flame, I am inevitably attracted again and again to try to unveil more secrets while reveling in decay.
That is why I asked fellow intrepid travelers to share their most interesting urbex finds with us – here is the full collection! Perhaps it will inspire you for your next trip…
10 Astounding Urbex Spots Around the Globe
Sarajevo’s bobsled track
By Gemma | Two Scots Abroad
Sarajevo’s bobsled track is more than a trek to get to but is totally worth it. Once home to the Winter Olympics 1984 bobsleigh competition, this abandoned concrete monstrosity is now a canvas for local street artists. However, in between today and the 80s, the bobsled track made for a very useful Bosnian Serb artillery base during the Sarajevo Siege of ’92 – ’96, witnessing the terrible atrocities faced by the people of Sarajevo. Although the hike up Mount Trebević is the recommended method of transport, there are motor alternatives!
Read the full adventure: Sarajevo’s bobsled track
Abandoned village in Joshua Tree National Park, USA
By Taylor | Travel Outlandish
The Mojave Desert has more 2,500 abandoned homesteads thanks to the 1938 treaty that offered cheap land to anyone crazy enough to build on it. In modern day, exploring the emptiness of the areas surrounding Joshua Tree National Park is both eerie and amazing. Abandoned trailers, tin-roofed homesteads, and forgotten cars litter the otherwise vacant landscape. For a truly creepy experience, venture further north to California City where the rundown Lake Shore Inn is empty and rife for exploring.
Read more here: Unique Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
Flooded Soviet Prison in Estonia
By Danielle Ditzian | Like Riding A Bicycle
Rummu Karjaar is a sight to behold. It’s an old abandoned Soviet era prison, which was abandoned following the fall of the Soviet Union. After the prison was abandoned, a nearby quarry filled up the area, causing the crazy scene you see today. I sat along the shores just watching, wondering what it had been like to live there. While I saw a scuba diver splashing around, I was far too scared to do so; all I could imagine – though this is insane – was a skeleton coming up to grab my ankle! I have never seen anywhere like this place, and there were no other tourists around, making it all that more amazing.
Read the full adventure: Baltics Hitching
The ship of ghosts
The Floating Forest in Sydney Australia
By Paula and Gordon | Contented Traveler
Sydney has its own floating forest in a derelict old ship, and nothing could be more spectacular in appearance and uniqueness value. While technically it is not floating as it is firmly stuck in the mud, it still has the appearance of floating during various tides. The SS Ayrfield, is a steel-hulled, steam collier ship that used to do a coal run between Sydney and Newcastle and then was deployed for war time activities.
The ship was decommissioned in 1972 it and was brought to Homebush Bay to be dismantled. The loyal ship was not longer suitable for hard work. However before the ship could be totally stripped, the shipyard closed down.
It is now a full on floating forest right in the stunning Sydney Harbour. The fully-grown mangrove trees earned this 102-year-old, 1,140-tonne ship the Floating Forest name among the locals.
Read the full story here: Floating Forest in Sydney
The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike
By Lance and Laura Longwell | Travel Addicts
In rural Pennsylvania is a forgotten section of highway that is known as the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. The PA Turnpike was the first highway in the United States, constructed in the 1930s. But in 1968, a 13-mile (21 km) section was re-routed. After 50 years, the roadway has been nearly reclaimed by the wilderness. The road that is left has been turned into a trail for hikers and bicycles. But the key feature of the abandoned turnpike are two tunnels: the Rays Hill and Sideling Hill Tunnels, each over a kilometer long and completely dark inside. Like all good abandoned places, there are spooky nooks, graffiti and murals. The whole scene is surreal and has played host to Hollywood, who filmed a zombie horror movie here. It is one of the most popular abandoned places on the East Coast of the U.S. Even better, it is public land. You can visit and explore without trespassing or being worried about being harassed by the police.
Read the full story: Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike
The Sniper Tower in Mostar
By Allison | Eternal Arrival
There are plenty of opportunities for urban exploration in Bosnia. The Sniper Tower in Mostar, Bosnia is a former bank where Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats quite literally hunted their neighbors, the Muslim Bosniaks, during the Bosnian War of the 1990s. Now, the building is completely abandoned and technically closed off to the public. To get in one must jump over and scale a wall. When you get in, you’re faced with piles and piles of litter. From broken glass to paper trash to plastic bottles, there’s a foreboding and abandoned air to the place. You can climb the stairs towards the 8th floor, which is a vertigo-inducing feat as there are no walls, no support, no fences holding you in. It’s a nervewracking climb and calls for attention at every step. At the top, artists have created graffiti works of art that memorialize or comment on the Bosnian war. It’s a heartbreaking feeling, seeing where snipers must have laid in wait, ready to take the lives of those passing by. But even so, I think it’s important to go and bear witness to these crimes of hate and alienation, so we can be more inspired to fight such crimes today and in the years to come.
Read the full story: The Sniper Tower in Mostar
Buzludzha: Communist Party Headquarters In Bulgaria
By Kirsty Bennetts | Kathmandu and Beyond
Often referred to as Bulgaria’s UFO or flying saucer, Buzludzha Monument is considered by many to be the ultimate Urbex experience and for us, it had become something of a Holy Grail. Even before we became particularly interested in visiting abandoned places Buzludzha was on our ‘list’.
Sitting on a remote hill in Bulgaria, Buzludzha is a relic from Soviet times and was built as a meeting hall for the socialist party. Abandoned in the late-eighties along with Communism, the concrete saucer has been left to the elements and to urban explorers and graffiti artists.
For many years intrepid travellers could get inside the building but in the past few months, the small opening through which it was possible to climb has been well and truly sealed up by the authorities and is now eagerly watched over by a security camera. From all accounts, the mosaic-filled interior was stunning in its time and still impressive today, but now the crumbling building represents a danger to health and safety.
As our taxi approached the UFO on the hill, our excitement was palpable and even though we knew we wouldn’t be able to get inside, we retained a tiny glimmer of hope. We soon realised we wouldn’t be sneaking inside anytime soon to climb the rickety ladders to the red star some hundred metres above us. But, as we stood to survey the imposing monument against a clear blue autumn sky, that didn’t matter. The journey to Bulgaria’s flying saucer was still worthwhile …
Read the full adventure: Buzludzha in Bulgaria
The Aeroplane Graveyard, Bangkok Thailand
By Lydia Yang | Lydiascapes
A stranded aeroplane that was left there after it crashed many years ago. The Thai government never cleared it and it became an abandoned yet surreal place where some squatters have made it their home.
Airplane Boneyard or graveyard is the term used to describe a graveyard of scrap metal from decommissioned planes after they are no longer fit to roam the skies, but this particular one had a mystical and alluring energy to it, surrounded by long ferns and grass, not to forget on the day we were there, there was a scary threatening cloud over the skies.
We drove over from Bangkok city in less than an hour and managed to enter in the restricted zone to take photos of segments of the planes in ruin. You have to pay a small ‘token’ fee to the squatters here who collect money ‘illegally’ from random visitors like us. However it was worth the small sum, as the entire graveyard is really beautiful and surreal, and felt like a scene in a movie, where you will expect an alien to suddenly materialize and kill you..
There was about 4-5 pieces of the plane dissected and we managed to see the raw ruins of the plane in segments and the graffiti and plants on it.
Read the full adventure: Bangkok Plane Graveyard
Bodmin Prison in Cornwall
By Shobha George | Just Go Places
Bodmin Prison is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in England. It was a Victorian prison in Cornwall where people were subject to imprisonment for all sorts of crimes ranging from murder to nonpayment of debt. The prison also had children some of whom were criminals and others who just had no where else to go when their parents were in jail. Prisoners (including the children) had to participate in hard labor. So, plenty of fodder for good ghost stories. Bodmin prison was closed in the early 20th century. Most of the prison is still abandoned and closed for visitors. A portion of Bodmin Prison is now a museum looking at the history of the jail as well as the stories of the different prisoners who were held there.
Read the full story: Bodmin Jail in Cornwall
Deserted Villa In Dubrovnik
By Stacey Shevlin | Word From Abroad
While wandering on the street above my apartment in Lapad, Dubrovnik, I saw a beautiful old gate. I peered inside and saw what was once a beautiful estate now in decay.
I kept on my course, with curiosity in my mind. As I turned the corner, I noticed a driveway to my right, I decided to see where it led. As you may have guessed it lead to that wonderful old property. As luck would have it, someone had stolen the door off of the entryway. I walked in and couldn’t help but document what I saw. I felt a bit worried that entering would land me in some trouble, but I just had to see as much as I could. I wandered around the grounds, and into the estate, through the winding hallways, and up the crumbling stairway to the second floor. Each room had it’s own state of dilapidation and was unique and beautiful.
When I got home I had to know more. I spent a few hours googling and found some interesting information about the building and it’s history. The last people to own and run the villa did so in 2008. The owner died suddenly, and the property has just been sitting there. The townspeople took all of the contents of the property, and from what I found it’s unclear who ownership would fall to.
Throughout it’s history, the villa was once a summer home, once a hospital for sick children, then a hotel and dance club. Perhaps one day it will see a revival and be incarnated once again.
Read the full story here: Abandoned Rasica Hotel
Kayaköy: The Ghost Village
By Karin | Girl Astray
Eight kilometers from Fethiye in south-west of Turkey and easily accessible by walk on the popular Lykian way lies the small village of Kayaköy. Above the modern settlement on the hill, however, lie ruins of an older one – the Greek Orthodox Christians used to live here until they were completely chased away in the twenties. Nowadays this site lies abandoned, even though it is a historical site; a lone visitor might feel chills running down their spine as they walk and sometimes climb the rocks and crumbled walls. The village is vast; I have explored it during two afternoons, but there are places that I haven´t accessed (yet).
The faces of ancient chapels in Greek style redden in the evening light as the Allah Akbar call fills the valley from a nearby mosque. It is the first day of December and in Turkey, the leaves are just starting to turn yellow, the pommegranates hang low from the trees and an old man collects wood as the shadows get longer and darker in the streets that know no life at night.
Full story: Kayaköy – the Ghost village
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Do you also love exploring abandoned spots? What is the most scary place you have entered so far? Share your experience in the comments below!
Note: All the photographs belong to their respective authors mentioned in the text. Pin photo: courtesy of Lydiascapes
Stray story seeker. Hungry hitchhiker. Wannabe polyglot. Aspiring travel writer. Currently bumming around in Georgia.
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