One of the hidden gems in Berlin that you just need to see for yourself is the former NSA spy station at Teufelsberg. This secret listening station is an abandoned Cold War relic that’s been transformed into a massive street art installation. We first visited the attraction during a spring trip to Berlin, Teufelsberg was a memorable highlight.
Here’s our guide for planning a trip to Berlin Teufelsberg with everything you need to know before you see this iconic Berlin spy tower in person.
- What is Teufelsberg?
- How to get to Teufelsberg Berlin
- Teufelsberg Berlin opening hours and entry fees
- What to expect at Teufelsberg Spy Station
- How to Simplify: Book a guided Teufelsberg tour with transportation
Before we get into it – bookmark this page to have it handy during your trip. We also include links for Google Maps directions to make your excursion simple and easy.
Some links may be affiliate links. This means we may get paid if you buy something or take an action after clicking certain links at no extra cost to you.
What is Teufelsberg?
World War II History of Teufelsberg
While it’s man-made, the hill was formed because it was a dumping site for rubble being cleared from Berlin in the aftermath of World War II. It was dumped there to cover an unfinished Nazi military college and once the hill formed an American NSA listening station was built on top.
Urban legends claim that the site was actually a Nazi technology lab and recovered technology was hauled back to the United States before they tried to blow up the building. They weren’t able to demolish it quickly enough so they buried it with rubble.
The Cold War Past of Teufelsberg
One thing is for certain, Teufelsberg was an American sector field station where spying took place from West Berlin. In 1961 the American and British military realized the advantage of a hill looking over Berlin. They constructed the still-standing spy towers and listening stations at Teufelsberg.
Around the clock military personnel eavesdropped on East German and Russian communications for decaes. It wasn’t until the end of the Cold War in 1989 that espionage activity in Teufelsberg stopped.
Today, the Berlin Wall has fallen and Cold War Germany is a remnant of the past. The former spy station and property surrounding it has changed hands several times.
Today the site still stands, although it’s certainly falling apart. After the Cold War ended, it was just abandoned, which is pretty wild to think about. Today the abandoned Teufelsberg has been converted into a private street art and graffiti showcase which is why you should visit Teufelsberg!
How to Get to Teufelsberg Berlin
You’re likely traveling to Berlin Teufelsberg from the city center. It’s about 13 km or 8 miles from the site so your best mode of transit is either a taxi or public transport. When we visited we rented cars and drove to Teufelsberg.
Taking public transportation – The closest S-Bahn station to Teufelsberg is Heerstrasse. It takes about 30 minutes on the train from Alexanderplatz.
Taking a taxi or driving – Use Parkplatz Teufelsberg as your destination. This should take you directly to the parking lot closest to the path.
The hike to Teufelsberg – After you leave the train station or parking area, you have about 2 km or a half-mile to walk to the spy station. Head down the main road, Teufelsestrasse into the forest surrounding the station. You’ll find several paths leading to Teufelsberg, but they are all marked on Google maps so make sure your phone is charged.
Don’t forget comfortable shoes and note it can get muddy, especially in the spring when we visited.
How Much Does Teufelsberg Cost and When is it Open?
You might think that an abandoned building on a hill of rubble that you hike 2 km to reach would be free to visit. Well, we thought that too – but we were wrong. Yay, capitalism (that was a Cold War joke)! Luckily when our group visited we had enough cash between us to cover entry and sort it out later.
All bad jokes aside, the land is privately owned so we were happy to pay for the unique experience. When you reach the end of the trail you’ll see a shabby looking ticket office right on the path. It’s kind os a shed with a hipster in or next to it as you walk onto the site.
€8 general entry
€6 students and seniors
€15 photo licence
The photo license was a bit of a surprise, but since they know people visit for the photography opportunities it makes sense. If you go on facebook, twitter and of course instagram, you’ll find a TON of photos of Teufelsberg. We paid the fee for our “good camera” but we noticed that there was no one inside checking that we purchased the photo license. Cell phones are acceptable without a license so if you’re satisfied with your phone camera you can probably skip that fee.
Wednesday through Sunday 11:00AM – 8:30PM
Closed: Monday and Tuesday
What to Expect at Berlin Teufelsberg Spy Station
How long does a trip to Tuefelsberg take?
Visiting Teufelsberg is a great day trip from Berlin, even though it’s technically in the city limits. Making the trip will probably take a half day or four hours with transport time, hiking there and spending around two hours at the site.
You could certainly spend less time but our group enjoyed checking out all the levels of street art, checking out the views from the top and exploring the grounds.
What is Teufelsberg like?
There’s something eerie, yet uplifting about visiting the site. The entire hill is a reminder of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, the structures you visit are leftover from a Cold War which divided the world, yet it’s strangely pleasant. This is in part because today those tragic periods of history are behind us and the remaining site is upbeat, creative space and it inspires hope.
You can’t help but think of the sad history involved in the formation of Teufelsberg but out of that sprung a super cool place to experience. This hidden gem in Berlin is there because the Nazis failed, the Cold War powers weren’t sustainable. That at least made me feel hope for today’s crazy world.
How are the views?
One thing you’ll notice right away from the top of the spy tower is just how far the site is from Berlin’s city center. It’s actually surprising that you’re still in Berlin city limits from Teufelsberg. You do have a lovely view of the forest below and the city in the distance.
Do you need to book a tour to do Teufelsberg?
You may see tours offered in Berlin and around the internet, but we found the site easy to explore on our own. In fact, it was almost better to have our own time to admire the street art and linger for longer where we wanted.
There is no information about the history of Teufelsberg in english. This wasn’t a hige problem for us because we looked up a lot of information as we planned the trip so we knew about the history and what to look for as we explored.
A tour may give you more information and background, but for a place like Teufelsberg we don’t think one is necessary and it would detract. It’s easy to find on your own and you can explore on your own pace.
Tips for visiting Teufelsberg
- One of the coolest parts of the experience is the largest dome at the top of the entire structure. Spend some time in there and you’ll notice a platform in the center of the room. From there you can hear sounds in all corners of the dome. This is a very spooky phenomenon of sound physics that is above my pay grade to explain, but neat to experience.
- Be ready to do some walking and for lots of stairs. The exhibits of street are take up up many floors as your ascent to the radome and viewing platform on the top of the building.
- The building is quite literally falling apart, so make sure you’re aware that this is not a fancy hipster street art venue – it’s an abandoned building at the heart of it.
- When we visited we found water and other refreshments available but you may want to bring your own as it’s not a traditional tourist attraction or museum.
- You may have even noticed from some of the graffiti photographed in this post that mature language is used in some of the art. It’s an easy hike and otherwise kid-friendly but be aware of that before adding it to your family itinerary.
Book a Teufelsberg Tour
If you want to make your trip easier with round trip transportation and a guided tour – check out this excursion below.
Berlin: Teufelsberg Abandoned Listening Station Trip
Now You Know Everything About Teufelsberg
Teufelsberg is too cool of an experience not to add it to your Berlin itinerary. It’s truly one of the coolest hidden gems in Berlin and deserves a visit.
The history and the hope for. anew beginning are what inspired me the most from this excursion. It’s really a metaphor of Berlin and its difficult past and place in the modern world. With the strife of world wars and Cold War divisions, Berlin is now the capital of a unified Germany. Today’s Berlin wouldn’t be what it is without the past turmoil – but what’s left behind is beautiful.