Haunted tourism, or dark tourism, is rising in popularity all over the world. Paranormal hunts and haunted historic buildings are joining the ranks of Jack the Ripper walking tours as prime attractions for those seeking a vacation with a spine-tingling twist. World War II cemeteries, abandoned prisons, and freaky doll islands are drawing increasing attention worldwide. This genre of travel may be something you’ve never thought about or even knew existed, so in the name of education and curiosity, let’s explore the most haunted places in the world and how to visit them!
Spooky Spins With Let’s Roam
We love a good ghost hunt here at Let’s Roam, and we’ve created a whole series of them for you and your crew! From Gettysburg to Savannah, Dublin to Denver, we’ve gathered all the specter hot spots and crafted interactive scavenger hunts that combine tantalizing trivia and paranormal photo challenges to help you explore with ease. Check out our full list of haunted hunts, and start exploring the most haunted places in the world!
The Most Haunted Places in the World
Grab a hot cocoa and some comfort food—things are about to get weird! While we’ll focus mostly on haunted spots, we’ll throw in a few infamously creepy stops for you to visit, as well. Let’s dive into the most haunted places in the world, find out how they became a tourist attraction, and detail how you can visit, in no particular order.
1. Chuuk Lagoon—Micronesia
To visit our first haunted spot, you’ll need some scuba gear. Micronesia’s Chuuk Lagoon was a Japanese Naval Base during World War II. After an American air strike in 1944, several of the warships sank in the lagoon, along with tanks, planes, and even railroad cars. “The Ghost Fleet of Truk Lagoon” lies just as it fell. Accordingly, gas masks, weapons, and other artifacts dot the floor of the lagoon, and a few sub-surface specters are rumored to greet brave scuba divers for a chat. There are several commercial diving tours that operate in the area.
2. Gettysburg Battlefield—Pennsylvania, USA
The battlefield at Gettysburg is home to several Civil War soldiers who don’t seem to know the battle is over. They’re often seen wandering the field. Witness to one of the deadliest battles of the American Civil War, Gettysburg exudes an eerie feeling, especially at night. There are several organized ghost tours available in the city, or you can brave it on your own with our “Ghosts of Gettysburg” hunt and explore several haunted spots in the infamous town.
3. Hoia-Baciu Forest—Transylvania, Romania
If you’re into haunted forests and creepy castles, book your ticket today for the ominously beautiful landscapes of Romania. From forests filled with twisted trees to crumbling mountain castles looming in the mist, Romania is dramatically dark. You can explore Bran Castle and its vampire lure, tour Corvin Castle where the real Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned, and tour the ruins of his home at Poenari Castle.
While these destinations have plenty of freaky fodder, if you really want to get goosebumps, head for Hoia-Baciu Forest. Reportedly, several people have wandered into the wicked woods never to return. In 1968, a military technician reportedly captured a photo of a UFO hovering over the forest, which has led to legends of extraterrestrial snatchers. Many more locals claim that they have suffered from nausea, panic attacks, and rashes while wandering the forest. It doesn’t help that all the trees in the “Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania” are unnaturally shaped, like something straight out of a Tim Burton movie. It’s considered the most haunted forest in the world, so enter at your own risk.
4. Lizzie Borden House—Massachusetts, USA
One of the most famous murder cases in American history, the axe-killing of Andrew and Abby Borden is a mystery that no one was ever punished for. Popular opinion in 1892 and today is that their daughter Lizzie committed the murders. Though she was charged, she was acquitted of the crime. The Lizzie Borden House is said to be haunted, and guests can not only take a nighttime ghost tour, but they can actually stay in the still operational bed & breakfast—if they dare!
5. Poveglia Island—Italy
Poveglia is a small island in the Venice Lagoon. First inhabited in the 400s (when Italians fled the constant attack of invaders and made their home in the lagoon), by the 14th century, it was abandoned in favor of the larger islands. When a severe case of the Bubonic Plague broke out in Venice, the island became a quarantine spot for the sick. It may have later been used as a mental asylum, but these claims are debated.
Either way, the island remains uninhabited today, and stories abound of mistreated patients, a suicidal doctor, and a host of remaining spirits. From strange voices to an army of weird shadows and frequently reported screams, the island has a big reputation. It’s said that fishermen won’t fish there, and locals won’t go. Anyone who steps foot on the island reportedly feels terror and usually leaves quickly. Even Zak Bagans from the show Ghost Adventures felt the fury of the island when he reportedly became possessed with a rageful spirit while exploring.
6. Eastern State Penitentiary—Pennsylvania, USA
One of the most famous on the list, Eastern State Penitentiary is seriously sinister. Built in 1829, the former Philadelphia prison invented a harsh form of solitary confinement known as the Philadelphia System. Many of the prisoners who underwent this treatment went mad, and it was suspended in 1913. As early as the 1940s, reports of paranormal events started coming out of the prison. The scariest part is that the facility was in operation until 1970. Can you imagine being locked up and having to share your cell with an insane former inmate who happens to be dead? The prison now operates as a museum, and both day and night tours are available.
7. St. George’s Church—Lukova, Czech Republic
Hailing from 1352, St. George’s Church has a long history of horrible happenstances. It was destroyed by fire several times. In 1968, during a funeral, the roof collapsed on visitors. After this event, the church was abandoned, and locals were convinced that it was cursed. Forty-five years later, artist Jakub Hadrava gave the chilling church a new lease on “life.”
The church was in ruin and was going to be destroyed. The small town wanted to save it, but couldn’t come up with the funds. In order to draw visits, Hadrava filled the church with a collection of ghostly figures. Today, 30 ghost statues serve sacrament, kneel at the altar, and greet visitors at the door. The church has received hundreds of thousands of visitors to date and enough money to provide new drainage and a beautiful new facade for the exterior!
While hanging out in the Czech Republic, there’s another creepy church that dark tourists must see. Sedlec Ossuary is thought to house somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 skeletons arranged as decorative garlands and opulent chandeliers!
8. The Stanley Hotel—Colorado, USA
Stanley Hotel is a 142-room abode outside a vastly popular ski resort. The hotel gained its notoriety when Stephen King made it the inspiration for the hotel in The Shining. It wasn’t chosen arbitrarily, though. There are plenty of ghost sightings in and around the 1909 Georgian beauty. Perhaps the weirdest phenomenon is music from a mystery piano. Guests still flock to the hotel for stays, which include a guided ghost tour and a consultation with the in-house psychic, Madame Vera.
9. Edinburgh Castle—Scotland
Edinburgh Castle looms over Scotland’s capital from its perch atop Castle Rock. One of the most besieged castles on Earth, it has a long history of death and destruction. Visitors have claimed to see and hear the voices of prisoners from the American Revolutionary and Seven Years’ War. Workers report seeing apparitions and feeling pulled or pushed while walking through the dungeons. Noted apparitions include a headless drummer boy, an old man in an apron, and a bagpipe player who reportedly died while lost in the tunnels beneath the castle. There are even reports of a doggie ghost!
10. James M. Nederlander Theater—Chicago, USA
Formerly known as the Iroquois Theatre, the Oriental witnessed one of the worst tragedies in Chicago history when almost 600 people perished in a fire within its walls in 1903. The ultra-luxurious theater had made the Titanic error by proclaiming itself to be “absolutely fireproof” in local papers. The theater and Death Alley behind the building are popular stops on any Chicago ghost tour. The alley was where rescuers piled the charred bodies, and it’s common for Chicagoans to see apparitions still strolling the alley today.
11. Leap Castle—County Offaly, Ireland
Leap Castle has a dirty history. Apparently, the O’Carroll clan, who owned the castle in the 1500s, had a penchant for poisoning dinner guests. They also battled with one another, and in strife over leadership, one brother murdered the other in the castle’s chapel (now known as Bloody Chapel). The murdered brother was a priest and was killed while administering mass to the clan.
Hold on, it gets worse! According to the castle’s website, during excavations in the 1900s, workers discovered dozens of bodies in a secret chamber under the chapel. Apparently, the family would invite over guests, drop them through a trap door onto wooden spikes, and dine within earshot of their screams. The house later became a hub for seances by the Darby family. The list of specters said to wander the castle and grounds is long, and though it’s now privately owned, tours are still available by email at [email protected].
Bonus Site: While on the Emerald Isle, also check out Kyteler’s Inn in Kilkenny. It’s haunted by the ghost of its long-term owner, Alice Kyteler, who had to flee Ireland on charges of witchcraft after four husbands died in mysterious circumstances.
12. Bonaventure Cemetery—Georgia, USA
Savannah is famed worldwide for its hauntings. Some say there are more dead residents than living. One of the most haunted spots in the sinister city is Bonaventure Cemetery. Imagine a landscape of towering Live Oaks dripping in Spanish Moss. Mist rises over Victorian funerary monuments, and a young ghost named Gracie frolics between the graves. Visitors also report crying babies and funerary statues that smile wickedly as you approach!
See all of Savannah’s haunted spots on our ghost hunt “Getting Paranormal in the Peach State.”
13. Al Madam—United Arab Emirates
There’s nothing more sinister than a ghost town, and Al Madam is one of the spookiest of them all. Just outside of Dubai, the small village in the desert was built in the 1970s. It consists of two rows of homes and a small mosque. Soon after its construction, the new residents were reportedly run out of town by djinn (shape-shifting desert spirits). The town has now been reclaimed by the desert, only adding to its bedeviled reputation. Guided ghost tours can be booked via Mariott or Clifton Tours.
14. Monte Cristo Homestead—New South Wales, Australia
Australia’s most haunted location was built in 1885 by the Crawley family. Over the next 63 years, the family was plagued by mysterious deaths. A child was dropped down the stairs. A maid fell or jumped from the balcony, and a young boy died in a fire on the property. There are also reports of a mentally ill man being chained for a lifetime in the caretaker’s cottage. After the home changed hands in 1948, the new owners saw tragedy too when one was murdered in that same cottage. Is the place haunted? Is it cursed? Either way, it’s certifiably creepy. Guided ghost tours are available via their website.
15. Island of the Dolls—Xochimilco, Mexico
In the midst of Lake Teshuilo, there’s an island that is no doubt one of the strangest places on Earth. In the 1950s, a hermit named Julian Santana Barrera moved to the island. According to local lore, a young girl died on the island 30 years prior, and her spirit has remained. Julian claimed that the spirit of the young girl would speak to him, so he began to collect dolls to appease her.
Over the years, she became harder to appease. Julian told family members that she wanted him to join her in the grave. Later that day, his nephew found him floating in the lake, in the exact spot where the young girl’s body had been found decades before. Today, dark tourists visit the island to see the mutilated, suspended dolls and report that many of the petrifying playthings have animated eyes that follow you through the canal. Most of the Xochimilco canal tour companies will take you to the island upon request.
16. Čachtice Castle—Slovakia
Now located in Slovakia, Čachtice Castle was built in the 13th century, and it changed hands multiple times over the centuries, eventually landing in the hands of Alžbeta Báthoryová, better known as Elizabeth Bathory.
While the nature of her crimes is heavily debated and shrouded in legend, what is known is that several young girls disappeared in mysterious circumstances in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Local legend said that the countess sexually assaulted, mutilated, and murdered hundreds of young village girls with the help of a few servants. She is quite possibly the most prolific female serial killer of all time. Due to her prestige, she was not sentenced to death but was locked away in her own castle, where she eventually died. The castle was also a filming location for the horror film Nosferatu.
17. Paris Catacombs—France
One of the darkest popular attractions is ironically located in the City of Light. Beneath the streets of Paris, a series of tunnels holds the bones of more than 6 million people. In the late 18th century, the cemeteries of Paris were getting too crowded. In order to make room for new burials, old graves were uprooted and the skeletons moved to tunnels. With so many disturbed graves, you can bet there are some disgruntled spirits down there.
There isn’t a proper map of the catacombs, but they’re known to cover almost 200 miles. Only a very small portion is open to the public, but people sneak in all the time to the non-public parts. In fact, in 2004, French police found an underground movie theater operating within the tunnels.
18. Aokigahara Forest—Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
Aokigahara is more commonly known as “Suicide Forest.” It’s both mystically beautiful and soul-stirringly scary. Locals swear that the forest is not just a place where people go to take their lives but that the forest itself calls them. Local lore suggests that the tormented souls of previous victims lure walkers into the forest to take their own lives, too.
19. The Castle of Good Hope—Cape Town, South Africa
Founded in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest Colonial building in South Africa. Though it was originally used as a rest stop for weary sailors, it then became a military fortress and seat of government. In 1915, the first paranormal experience was reported when a tall man was seen jumping from the ramparts. Some think the man is Governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt. He once sentenced a group of soldiers to death for desertion, and one of them cursed him. That same day, he was found dead at this desk.
In the late 1940s, things got really weird. Visitors frequently witnessed the tall man again and a hysterical woman, known as the Lady in Grey, running the halls. The bell tower was the spot of a hanging suicide, and though it has been blocked off since that day, it still rings on its own. Guest have also claimed to be attacked by a vanishing black dog.
20. Lawang Sewu—Central Java, Indonesia
Also constructed by Dutch colonists, Lawang Sewu is a 20th-century rail office that was then used by the Japanese as a detainment camp during World War II. The camp was known for intense interrogations, torture, and executions. Visitors report seeing a Dutch woman who committed suicide within the building and several headless spirits. Some blame the events in this place on a resident kuntilanak, a vampire-like myth in Malaysian/Indonesian folklore. Tourists are welcomed daily to tour the sight and confirm the ghost stories for themselves.
21. Ancient Ram Inn—Gloucestershire, England
One of the most haunted British destinations is Ancient Ram Inn. Some state it’s the most haunted house in the world, and it’s truly one of the scariest places on the list. Situated at a current intersection of Ley Lines, paranormal experts believe the area is somehow drawing energy from Stonehenge and is a highly energetic area. The house also sits on an ancient pagan burial ground. The inn was built in 1145 and has been the site of multiple horrifying happenings.
When it was an operating inn, it was common for guests to flee in the middle of the night after being assaulted by an apparition. The house has been tied to devil worship, witchcraft, and possibly even child sacrifice. Two children’s skeletons were found underneath the staircase with daggers. Along with being physically assaulted, guests have claimed to encounter a high priestess, multiple children, and an incubus. The inn hosts overnight ghost hunts for the bravest of paranormal fiends.
22. Myrtles Plantation—Louisiana, USA
Another haunted spot on a burial site, Myrtles Plantation is said to occupy a former Native American burial ground. There are reportedly a dozen spirits that roam the former plantation. The most famous is a former slave named Chloe. She was mutilated by the slave owner, having her ear cut off for eavesdropping. She retaliated by poisoning the slaveowner’s daughters, and she was executed by her own community. The plantation is currently a hotel and restaurant and offers guided tours.
23. Haw Par Villa—Singapore
Now let’s enter the world’s weirdest theme park. Haw Par Villa was a 1930s amusement and cultural park that is anything but fun. Pass through the reproduction ancient Chinese gate, and you’ll find yourself in a hideous garden of strange statues… more than 1,000 of them. After that, you enter a forest of dioramas known as the Ten Courts of Hell. It portrays horrendous punishments that were supposed to scare children into proper behavior. To make it even more mortifying, guests claim that the wax figures in the dioramas are possessed and come to life at night. Guided tours are offered at twilight. That’s the stuff of nightmares!
24. Akershus Fortress—Oslo, Norway
Akershus Fortress dates back to 1300, when it served as the primary defense structure and seat of the king’s representatives in Oslo. Over the years, it did time as a prison and a Nazi execution site. It’s considered one of the most haunted locations in Europe. Two of the favorite specters are a woman named Mantelgeisten who appears friendly enough and an ominous pooch named Malcanisen, which is far from friendly. It’s said that any unlucky soul who has the misfortune of seeing Malcanisen will meet their end in the next three months. The historic structure is open for tours and hosts a couple of museums.
25. Waverly Hills Sanatorium—Kentucky, USA
Waverly Hills has a long history of death and questionable behavior. Originally constructed in 1910, it served as a tuberculosis sanatorium during the height of the pandemic. Rough estimates state that more than 60,000 people died within its walls. As these patients were outcasts and there was no cure for the disease at the time, questionable treatments and experiments were run on the patients. The structure has been featured on Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters, all of which have noted paranormal activity. If you want to get up close and personal with some otherworldly beings, then a visit to one of the most haunted sites in America might be your kind of vacation! Join the thousands of guests who take a paranormal tour each year.
26. Mystery Island—Vanuatu
Mystery Island is an absolute paradise of sparkling blue waters and white sand beaches, save that nobody dares step foot on its powdery beaches. Locals believe the island is inhabited by evil spirits, and there must be some truth to it because even tourist boats don’t stay after sundown. Mystery Island Tours offers guided snorkeling tours to the island from nearby Aneityum Island.
Right up there in the ranks with New Orleans and Savannah, Dublin is one of the most haunted cities in the world. Malahide Castle is one of the oldest in Ireland and is said to be the home of at least five apparitions, including a sinister jester and a shy lady dressed in all white. Tourists visiting the crypts of St. Michan’s Church have reported cold grasps on the back of the necks, and there are several reportedly haunted pubs in town, including The Gravediggers Pub and Brazen Head.
28. Alcatraz—California, USA
Alcatraz Island is perhaps one of the most infamous prisons in the world. Built to house war criminals, it was eventually home to the likes of Al Capone, Whitey Bulger, and Machine Gun Kelly. An impenetrable fortress surrounded by icy shark-infested waters, tales of terror have always surrounded Alcatraz. Reportedly, the fortress is haunted by former inmates, including Capone. Witnesses state they hear him playing his famous banjo music from the shower room. The island is open for guided tours, including the eery solitary confinement cells.
29. LaLaurie Mansion—Lousiana, USA
Madame Delphine LaLaurie is an infamous name in the American South. The slave owner was truly atrocious in her behavior, utilizing her Neoclassical mansion as a bonafide torture chamber of the highest degree. While New Orleans has a reputation for being pretty creepy, the LaLaurie mansion tops the list of haunted spots in the city.
The home caught fire in 1834, and town rumors were proven true when the firefighters discovered numerous enslaved persons chained to the walls, exhibiting varying states of mutilation. Soon after the fire, the LaLauries fled to France, and the house was converted to tenement apartments. A tenant died soon after, and the remaining residents soon started reporting paranormal activity. It later served as a girls’ school, where students were reportedly assaulted frequently.
Want a little more in Louisiana? Well, from St. Louis Cemetery, where famous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau is buried, to the Bourbon Orleans, one of the most haunted hotels in the city, you can explore all of the Big Easy’s spooky spots on our New Orleans Ghost Tour.
30. Rose Hall Plantation—Saint James Parish, Jamaica
Rose Hall Plantation is home to the White Witch, the black widow of Jamaica. Annie Palmer was orphaned at a young age due to the Yellow Fever pandemic. She was subsequently raised by her Haitian nanny, who schooled her in the arts of voodoo. Annie utilized her witchcraft talents to murder three husbands. She’s buried in a tomb in Rose Hall. When the craft character died, voodoo practitioners cast a spell on the tomb to bind her spirit, but it failed and trapped her soul inside the mansion instead. Rose Hall is a major tourist attraction and offers guided night tours.
31. Recoleta Cemetery—Buenos Aires, Argentina
Recoleta Cemetery is the home of one of the most tragic stories on the list. In 1902, Rufina Cambaceres suffered a bizarre medical condition that mimicked death. The 19-year-old was buried, but the next day, the caretaker noticed her coffin lid was ajar. Upon opening the casket, he found a badly bruised Rufina. It was concluded that the young woman had been buried alive and had met her demise while striving to escape. There is now a large, gorgeous tomb in memory of Rufina, but she prefers to spend her time wandering the cemetery instead.
32. Port Arthur—Tasmania, Australia
Tasmania (and Australia as a whole) famously got its start as a penal colony for the worst British offenders. More than 10,000 inmates died in Port Arthur, and some of them decided to hang around to repay the punishment on their inflictors. Explore Port Arthur after dark on a guided ghost tour!
33. Tower of London—England
The Tower of London is an iconic tourist attraction in England’s capital. Within its walls, political prisoners and queens lost their heads, and young princes were most likely murdered. With ample evidence of horrendous torture practices dating back almost 1,000 years, there are plenty of angry spirits inhabiting the ancient fortress. Take a tour, and maybe you’ll meet the ghost of Henry VIII’s wife Anne Boleyn, the Princes of the Tower, or Lady Jane Grey.
Bonus site: Take the train from London to Hampton Court, home of a real-life monster. It was here that Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Cathryn Howard, begged for her life. She was arrested but broke free and ran through the Haunted Gallery in an attempt to reach Henry. It was to no avail, and she reportedly still runs the gallery screaming at night.
34. Crescent Hotel & Spa—Arkansas, USA
A 19th-century beauty nestled in the Ozark Mountains, near the quirky town of Eureka Springs, the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa has been voted “the Most Haunted Hotel in the United States.” With sweeping views of the lush forest and top-notch amenities, the hotel fast became a favored retreat of wealthy travelers visiting the hot springs for treatment. The hotel then did a stint as an all-girls university and then as a warped hospital for a quack doctor who peddled cancer-curing tinctures. The hotel has a morgue and a creepy medical specimen room. It’s been investigated by 17 international paranormal TV shows and gives guided ghost tours of its haunted halls every night! The hotel also hosts a Halloween seance.
35. Chateau de Brissac—Pays de la Loire, France
Built on the site of an older chateau, Brissac was constructed in 1502 and is a stunning Loire Valley castle. With seven floors and towering turrets, it’s the highest castle in the valley and is sure to impress. However, in the 15th century, the lord of Brissac found his wife, Charlotte, in the arms of another man, and he killed both in the house. Charlotte can still be seen roaming the tower room of the chapel and moaning frequently. She is typically dressed in her favorite green gown, earning her the moniker “Green Lady.” If you want to meet the great lady, just book a night in this fancy French chateau, kick back with a glass of local wine, and wait!
We hope you enjoyed this list of the most haunted places in the world! If you’re interested in dark tourism, taking a ghost tour or visiting a haunted hotel or historic site is a fantastic place to dip your toes into this growing segment of the travel industry.
For more ideas that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, check out this list of “The World’s Weirdest Museums.”
If you love haunted sites and dark museums, then you’ll love this ultimate list of “The 45 Weirdest Places in the World.”
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s not weird to be interested in haunted spots. It’s called dark tourism, and there are several historically important and terrifyingly haunted places that offer tours!