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Urban Exploration (Your Complete Guide)

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Urban exploration, as its name implies, is the exploration of abandoned buildings in the city. It’s an opportunity to learn some history, take photos, look for signs of the supernatural, and more. 

It’s the perfect hobby for the curious and the adventurous, and not for the faint of heart. Abandoned buildings not generally up to code, so traversing them can be a bit of a safety risk. Be sure to stay alert and pay close attention to where you walk, and you’re sure to find some cool stuff. 

What Is Urban Exploration?

Urban exploration is a hobby that entails entering abandoned buildings, such as prisons, sewers, tunnels, homes, office spaces, etc. It’s spooky, fun, and educational, and it’s quite popular. 

abandonded urban building
It's amazing what you can find abandoned in the inner city

Why Urban Exploration?

Do you live in a city, and wish you had some new sights to see? Or, maybe you live in a rural area and you’d like to experience a bit of the city? 

Urban exploration may be a hobby for you. Discover hidden, timeworn places, each with its own unique (and sometimes colorful) story. Urban exploration is ideal for curious and adventurous folk - and for smart, wary folk! 

Where Can You Explore?

  • Tunnels. Tunnels are a great place to explore if you are looking for something spooky. These are often completely dark. This means that you’ll have to depend on what light gets through, and a good old-fashioned flashlight. 
  • Cathedrals. Abandoned cathedrals are some of the most peaceful places to visit. They are often infused with a sense of calm, the leftover energy of reverent prayer.
  • Subway stations. Exploring an abandoned subway station can be quite novel. Obviously, this is a place it would normally be very dangerous to walk! 
  • Homes. When exploring abandoned homes, you may find yourself wondering, who lived in this house? Has anything tragic ever happened here? What stories might an abandoned home have to tell?
  • Office spaces. Old office buildings are vacant and rife for wandering. Peer into dusty old rooms, peer out the windows, and hear your voice echo in the partial dark!
  • Sewers. If you intend to explore a sewer, be aware that it may not be entirely pleasant. Abandoned sewers tend to be less filthy, however. This aside, there are many tunnels, bends, grates, and other interesting things that, for the urban explorer, may be worth a look!
urban exploration
Prisons and Insane asylums are fascinating places to visit
  • Hospitals. Many people go in and out of hospitals each day. This is sure to leave some stories and history behind (and maybe some ghosts, too). 
  • Insane asylums. If you have a penchant for the creepy, an abandoned insane asylum is someplace you’ll want to visit. The history is both fascinating and dark. Along with this, they are said to be some of the most haunted places out there, as occupants made an intense, rather negative energetic imprint. It’s said that there are often be ghosts and even haunts leftover. 
  • Prisons. Prisons are the perfect place to explore if you are sensitive to energy and spirits, and want to feel some weird stuff. They also have heaps of intriguing, often dark history to offer!

Urban Exploration and Photography

Urban exploration and photography go hand-in-hand. When exploring somewhere interesting, why not take a photo of it? For some, this is the primary goal. You can photograph things that look spooky, things that convey the history, the architecture, etc.

Many will share these photographs on a blog or other social media. If you’re a ghost-hunter, you can even try to snap a shot of a ghost (who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky).

Just keep in mind, some places might not have the best light source. You may want a camera that can adapt to this. Or, bring your own light, such as a lantern or flashlight (spooky).

Places of Historical Interest

You’d be surprised how many stories old buildings have; tales of the residents’ lives and tragedies, fires - lots of interesting stuff. You can learn about these things with an internet search, and from what you observe yourself.

There’s also likely to be old architecture, depending on when a building was built. This is a potential treasure trove if you’re a history buff. 

Who Can Do Urban Exploration?

Urban exploration is an adults-only hobby. Abandoned buildings are potentially unsafe. They’re not nearly as aware or responsible as adults, and can easily get hurt. It’s really not worth the risk! 

You can always explore with a few friends; this is recommended, in fact. This way, you can look out for each other if you become injured, afraid, or lost. 

Be Smart

If you injure yourself exploring, you might not be able to get out again until you heal. Even if you feel a bit reckless or spontaneous, staying vigilant is key to doing urban exploration successfully.

Test the floor before you step onto it, keep an eye out for raccoons or other wildlife, avoid nails that might be sticking up, etc. It’s also wise to bring some drinking water, a snack, and a first aid kit. 

Additionally, if you’re intending to trespass, be aware that you may need to take care to avoid arrest. Don’t make a lot of noise, and be respectful (see more on this below). 

Be Respectful

If you’re interested in urban exploration, remember to always be respectful. These buildings belong to someone, after all. This being said, try not to trespass whenever possible (although, it is virtually inevitable).

Don’t leave behind trash, vandalize, or steal. Try to leave as little sign of your presence as possible, preserving the place for others to explore (and for the sake of the owner).

What Supplies Do You Need for Urban Exploration?

There are very few supplies needed for exploration. In fact, you can explore a building with nothing but a flashlight. It’s also advisable to bring some drinking water and a snack, and maybe a first aid kit, however!

So, what do you think? Does urban exploration pique your interest? It’s well-suited to those with a penchant for history, the old, and the mysterious (and the spooky).

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