The world can be a scary place at times. Some places are just scarier than others. Deep below the surface of history and a world of dark and disturbing comes to light. Many of these dark events have left a mark on the site they happened. These spooky places have been collected from around the world. From haunted house to sites of great tragedy to spooky nature this list has it all.
Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
Jonathan of The Royal Tour
At first glance, the Queen Mary is a beautiful old ocean liner, docked peacefully in Long Beach, California. However, that idyllic exterior hides a spooky past. Guests at the hotel claim to have seen ghosts wandering the decks and rooms of the old ship. Apparitions range from children splashing in the now-empty pool to suite B340, which had so many sightings of long-dead guests that the room was taken out of circulation.
The ship offers tours of the most haunted locations onboard year-round. Guests will visit the pool area, look into lounges where voices and cigar smoke have been reported, and wander in near darkness through an engine room that a sailor who died aboard is said to haunt.
New this year, the Queen Mary offers a haunted maze around the story of a chef who was burned alive in a walk-in oven during the ship’s service in World War 2.
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, it is fascinating that, when asked, even the most skeptical employees on board the ship say they have seen things they can’t explain.
Dead Vlei, Namibia
Shara Johnson of SKJ Travel
Rather than being haunted, the Dead Vlei in Namibia seems to have been abandoned with an uncommon totality. In this ultra-dry, inhospitable landscape, nature didn’t even bother to fell and decay its long-dead residents. Rather, she simply abandoned them to time. A grove of trees, hundreds of years old, still stands stark and lonely. Their bare arms reach to the sky or curve into shapes like ghostly hands and fingers, creating a very spooky space. Standing amid the skeleton trees of the Dead Vlei in the deep silence of the desert sends a wee chill up the spine, as you can’t help but wonder if you’ve accidentally stepped out of the land of the living.
Taman Festival, Bali, Indonesia
Lyn Baker of A Hole in my Shoe
In Bali recently we came across an abandoned Theme Park, Taman Festival. The locals say there are evil spirits present and never wanted it built on the location in Sanur. Fact or fiction I am not sure, but it is said that a patron died on one of the theme park rides just after it opened. A year after it opened it was struck by lightning and the laser show, a huge attraction was inoperable. Two years later due to a decline in tourist numbers and a shortage of funds the theme park closed.
20 years later it is still derelict and locals believe the abandoned park has been taken over by evil spirits. The deserted buildings are occupied by bats and it is said the grounds are home to cannibal crocodiles, left to fend for themselves after the theme park closed. Everything is in a state of disrepair, collapsed roofs, broken windows, beheaded statues and overgrown vegetation. The vacant buildings are now concrete canvases full of street art and there is a strong presence of mosquitos amongst the lush foliage. Entering the vacant Taman Festival to check out the art is weird and eerie but also an adrenaline rush considering the only residents are said to be evil spirits, crocodiles, and bats. Urban myth or truth? Would you succumb to the creepy allure of a quirky attraction this Halloween?
Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
Janine of Fill My Passport
A destination that is mysterious and challenging to get to, Turkmenistan is home to one of the most interesting and intriguing spots in the world – the Door to Hell.
The Door to hell became a tourist’s spot after an underground cavern collapsed in 1971. A natural gas crater geologists set on fire to avoid a spreading of methane gas to the local town has been burning ever since, attracting over 50,000 visitors yearly to witness its heated fury. Experts believe the fire will eventually go out but it still burns today measuring 226 feet and 98 feet deep. It can be compared in size to a football field. Turkmenistan is a tricky spot to travel to so do take precaution and do your research before heading there. The Door to Hell is the main attraction for visitors to the country, but its interesting history is worth looking into and embracing.
Tempelhof Airport, Germany
Corinne Vail of Reflections Enroute
If there’s one place in Berlin, Germany that is sure to be haunted, it’s Tempelhof Airport and its massively sprawling, building complex. At times a bustling civilian airport, forced labor camp for weapons manufacturing, Nazi high command air raid bunker, and Cold War hot spot; Tempelhof has seen its share of nightmares. Deep in the bowels of the building, the burned out Nazi bunkers lie littered with the charred remains of broken desks, overturned chairs, file cabinet drawers, and ash covering everything. It is said that the soldiers sent to obliterate evidence of Nazi atrocities set their charges but never made it out before the blast brought them down. Was it the ghosts of the cruelly treated and worked to death forced laborers that caused the charges to go off prematurely? We will never know for sure, but what we do know is that on a certain day of the year, fresh footprints are found in the soot covered floor of the hallway leading away from the cell where the initial charges were set. Luckily, English guided tours of Tempelhof take place at midday, so the chances of coming face to face with the ghosts of Tempelhof are comfortably low.
Lalaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Cherri Megasko of Bucket List Travel Club
New Orleans, Louisiana, is home to a myriad of haunted buildings, cemeteries and everyday places of business. The Lalaurie Mansion, however, is known as the most haunted spot in the New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Delphine Lalaurie owned the home along with her husband in the early 1800s. She was quite wealthy and respected by high society as an impeccable hostess and honored citizen of the city. But Mrs. Lalaurie had a darker side – a much darker side.
The Lalauries owned several slaves and as time passed, it came to be known that Mrs. Lalaurie not only treated them poorly, she beat them, chained them to walls, and even conducted atrocious disembowelments and amputations on them.
It wasn’t until after a house fire in 1834 that all Lalaurie’s atrocities came to light. Firemen responding to the call found a dozen or more slaves in a barred off room. Most were dead, but a couple – including a woman who had all four limbs cut off – remained clinging to life.
Upon this gruesome discovery, the Lalauries fled and were never seen nor heard from again. Multiple accounts over the next hundred years told of voices, apparitions and even destruction of furnishings by the ghosts of the slaves who remained in the house.
Quarantine Station, Sydney, Austrailia
Leah Smileski of Kid Bucket List
If you’re looking for a spooky place to hang out in Sydney this Halloween, the Quarantine Station in Manly is probably the best place to head. You can even stay overnight which has led the site to develop a reputation as being Australia’s most haunted hotel destination.
First established in 1833 as a quarantine zone for incoming migrants, almost 600 people died on the site from ghastly diseases such as typhoid, cholera, smallpox and even the bubonic plague, until its closure in the early 1980s.
The most haunted section of the Quarantine Station is said to be the shower block where people were herded on their arrival at the facility. It was here that they were made to take a carbolic acid shower to kill off any parasites or diseases. It actually peeled off the first layer of skin – no wonder some souls still haunt the place!
When you’re in Sydney, catch the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly before heading to the Q Station for a history tour, a ghost tour or perhaps a luxury stay.
Rummu Kajaar, Estonia
Danielle Ditzian of Like Riding a Bicycle
This place is spooky at the best of times, but at night it becomes surreal. The place used to be a soviet era prison, but was abandoned and the quarry it was near was flooded, making half the prison underwater. Back in the soviet era people were imprisoned here – some being very bad people – spooky in itself. On the other hand, many were innocent souls imprisoned in this terrible place filled with villains simply because they didn’t comply with the strict Soviet era rules. Imagine being locked up for something as simple as being unemployed for too long – absolutely insane. You can even go scuba diving there, though I didn’t dare; I was far too petrified a skeleton hand would come out and grab me. Okay, unreasonable fear, but a fear nonetheless! The place is absolutely stunning, and is great for a little picnic or to scare the hell out of you while scuba diving the underground prison!
Bhangarh Fort, Rajasthan, India
Cal Andrews of Singapore n Beyond
Touted by The Times of India as the country’s most haunted place, Bhangarh Fort is filled with stories of paranormal activity. In fact, the belief in superhuman powers is so strong that even the government has decided to ban access to the area after dark. Legend has it that the king of Bhangarh hired a court magician, Selu Sewra, to cast spells against his enemies in an effort to keep the city safe from invaders. But the magician turned against him when he fell in love with the Queen and tried to win her affection and love through a spell hidden in a perfume bottle. In an act of passionate outrage after the potion failed, the magician decided to destroy the village in one night by raining rocks upon it. Many of the villagers perished under the deluge of rocks. Locals inhabited the area until the 1700s when they finally moved after many ghost sightings. Bhangarh may have been the center of the world in the 1500s but it is now the center of much fear and legend. By day it is a quiet and secluded monument, but by night it is filled with the poor souls who lost their lives in the jealous magician’s attack. Enter if you dare.
Train Graveyard, Bolivia
Zara Meekins & Charlie Grant of The Carefree Couple
This train graveyard is found in the Uyuni desert, the largest salt flat in the world. On a 3 day, desert crossing in 4×4’s this eerie, abandoned wasteland is unlike anything else seen in Bolivia. Left to rust since the 1940s after a mineral depletion, these old trains were no longer needed for mining and left to bare the harsh winds that tear through this part of the world. These strong salt winds have caused the metal to erode faster than usual and left vandalized, the trains have long since been gutted for any value they may have once carried
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Clemens Sehi of Travellers Archive
One of the most legendary spooky places in Africa is the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of the continent. Over the years, lighthouse guards have reported several sightings of the ghost ship The Flying Dutchman during heavy storms. The famous ship tried to find a safe harbour during a terrible storm around the Cape of Good Hope. But the ship never succeeded and is now condemned to sail the seas for eternity. However, it is considered a terrible omen to see the Flying Dutchman at sea. If you do not mind, you should head out to Cape Point on a stormy day. Alternatively, you can also get a ticket for the Flying Dutchman cable car at Cape Point.
Capela dos Ossos, Évora, Portugal
James Cove of Portugalist
The Capela dos Ossos (chapel of bones) in Évora is one of Portugal’s most unusual historical attractions. Made from the skulls and bones of more than 5,000 people, the chapel is both awe-inspiring and incredibly spooky at the same time.
The chapel was built by a Franciscan monk who wanted to sum up the message that life is temporary, and that death is a reality that we all must face. This message is written above the entrance: Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos (“We bones that are here, for yours await”). As if that inscription, along with the thousands of skulls and bones weren’t enough, there are also two skeletons on display – and one of these is the skeleton of a child.
If you’re visiting Portugal during Halloween, Évora’s bone chapel is one of the best places to go to get the shivers. Or, if you can’t make it to Évora, there’s an equally spooky chapel in Faro in the South of Portugal.
Talek Nantes of Travel with Talek
The year was 1833. The place, Guanajuato, a colonial town in the center of Mexico. The citizens began to die. In just a few weeks the population decreased substantially. Cholera! Panic ensued. People tried everything to ward of the disease; casting bizarre spells, applying strange and useless medicines, and prayer…lots of prayers. Still, the deaths mounted. As the corpses piled up, the devastated population buried them quickly.
Time passed and the cholera epidemic was mostly forgotten. In the 1870s the local government imposed a tax on anyone that wanted to provide perpetual care for their relatives buried so long ago. Any bodies for which the tax was not paid were disinterred and stored in a warehouse. Once disinterred, it was realized that the particular soil composition and weather of Guanajuato preserved the bodies. The local population as well as tourists were fascinated with these mummies and began paying to view them.
The tax was eliminated in the 1950s but the bodies continued to be preserved. To this day the mummies of Guanajuato continue to be a major tourist draw for the town, especially during Halloween and All Souls Day.
Gilmerton Cove, Edinburgh, Scotland
Richa Joshi of My Tickle Feet
In the heart of Edinburgh, under the perfectly normal streets lies an unusual underlying city which is hand carved from sandstone. This off the beaten path experience can be found at Gilmerton Cove in Edinburgh, Scotland. There has been an ongoing excavation effort by archaeologists which has resulted in the discovery of various underground hand carved passages and secret chambers. There are several theories behind the existence of this cave, some say it was built by druids, while some claim it was a hiding place for witches, or perhaps a hidden bar or a knights Templar. There have even been strong claims of paranormal activities inside the cave proven by certain paranormal testing equipment. A blacksmith named George Patterson once claimed that he carved this cove for his family but scientists have proved that the cove belonged there much before Patterson’s time. However, no one knows the exact age of these hidden caves and the excavations of the secret passages continue to unfold new paths underground. The mystery inside this cove is worth checking out when visiting Edinburgh.
Katherine of Tara Lets Anywhere
Siquijor is traditionally known as a voodoo island in the Philippines. As a child, I grew up with stories of how it is home to aswang (a human-monster in the Filipino folklore) and mambabarang (a person who does a specific kind of black magic). As travelers, we’re often given various advice before going here: bring your own bottled water, don’t turn when someone taps you in the shoulder, etc.
As the country’s government pushes its tourism campaigns, efforts have been made to change the image of Siquijor. Today, it is promoted as a “healing” island, pertaining to the traditional healers still active in the community and the laid-back ambiance and beauty of Siquijor, which draws in backpackers who are into off-radar locations.
Today, travelers can still seek out traditional healers and even fortune tellers in Siquijor. Moreover, they can also partake as the locals celebrate Folk Healing Festival in Holy Week each year.
Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Gearoid McSweeney of Unlatinoverde
Narrow paths wind through broken tombs that expose the coffins of the departed. Cobwebs cling to moss-covered statues. Then, there are the monuments and the stories. Devotees of Eva Peron crowd around a dark marble tomb. Many leave brightly coloured flowers in memory of their secular saint. Elsewhere, a girl and her dog stand stand at a corner, a stoney reminder that life is sometimes tragically short (she died at 26 when an avalanche hit her hotel in Innsbruck, Austria). Below, a poem in Italian immortalises the grief of her father. Recoleta Cemetery, like Buenos Aires, has a haunting air of grandeur and decay.
Kate of Our Escape Clause
Crisp New England air, hundreds of years of history, ghost stories, and of course witches–what’s not to love about Halloween in Salem?
Always a beautiful town to visit, Salem, Massachusetts sees its peak tourism season at Halloween, due not in small part to the gory history of the Salem Witch Trials that took place there in late 17th century.
Check out the Salem Witch Museum, visit the graveyard and memorial to the victims of the 17th century hysteria (and be sure to read The Crucible before you go!), tour filming locations of the Halloween cult classic Hocus Pocus, or check out historical Salem sights like the House of Seven Gables.
Looking for something for group based? Simply lose yourself in one of the many ghost tours, history tours, trick-or-treat tours, or just about any other tour you can think of put on by groups in the city!
The Bay of Abandoned Hotels, Kupari, Croatia
Iris Veldwijk of Mind of a Hitchhiker
If you think Airbnb is disruptive to the hotel industry, it fades in comparison to the collapse of communism in Yugoslavia and the subsequent independence wars. A stone’s throw away from overrun tourist hub Dubrovnik is the village of Kupari – or what’s left of it. Once it was a holiday resort for the military elite of the Yugoslav People’s Army with some of the Adriatic Sea’s best beaches. Even president Tito had a holiday home on the spot. All the lavishness that once was disappeared when the first shots fired in 1991.
Since that time, the hotels have been looted of all its value and left to rot. Lovers of the eerie will find this a fabulous place for some urban exploration. Tread (with great care!) into the Grand Hotel – a classical style beauty – or visit the Olympic-sized swimming pool in the Goričine complex. Bring your camera to capture the decay that will eventually befall all our favorite places. For one night, I had the Grand Hotel all to myself – by far the best hotel experience I’ve ever had. The hospitality is unbeatable; the door is always open.
Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia
Tom Grond of Travel Tom Tom
This places is also called the walking dead of Indonesia as in the Toraja culture people get buried above the ground and on special occasions they open the coffins dust up the corpses and walk around town with them. Can it get any more creepy? When you ‘travel to Toraja Indonesia’ (link this anchor text please) you definitely have to go to the Londa caves where you enter a cave full of coffins, skulls and bones. The Torajans are proud of their culture and happy to show you this in Western standards creepy place. Upon entering the cave you already see numerous coffins and remnants of the human body. You will be welcomed by a creepy welcoming committee of dead bodies!
Kutna Hora, Czech Republic
Lance & Laura of Travel Addicts
A short distance from Prague is the silver mining town of Kutna Hora – once one of the richest towns in all of Europe. These days, the down has a down-on-its-luck feel, but tourists still come in droves. Kutna Hora is best known as the home of the Sedlec Ossuary. This small church features the bones (and skulls) of over 70,000 plague victims that have been arranged into intricate designs. While the designs are beautiful, the whole place has a macabre feeling to it. Some claim the church is haunted. It definitely is creepy!
La Casa de la Cruz Verde, La Paz, Bolivia
Gearoid McSweeney of Unlatinoverde
The cobblestones of Calle Jaen transport travellers back to colonial days when the Spanish ruled Alto Peru (modern Bolivia). Casa de la Cruz Verde, the house of the green cross, stands at the entrance to the street. At night the cross shines brightly, casting an eerie green light into the darkness. The legend goes that a ghost used to torment drunken revellers at this very spot. Despite the cross, locals say that they still hear strange sounds at night. Not wanting to take any chances, every Friday they light candles and place flowers under the cross. This may be the most haunted spot in La Paz.
St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisianna
Joella Doobrow of Roving Jo
New Orleans is not only the home to Mardi Grass, Cajun food and jazz, it is also one of the most haunted cities in the USA. With a long dark history it is of course filled with paranormal activity. One of the most famous haunted buildings is St. Louis Cathedral located on Jackson Square in the French Quarter. This beautiful landmark has been the center of spiritual activity in New Orleans since the 1700’s and has two famous resident ghosts. Pere Dagobert, a Capuchin Monk, is said to be heard as he sings the Kyrie when the weather is cold and the fog rolls in at night. And Pere Antoine, a beloved priest and healer, is said to still walk the streets in an eternal mission to comfort the infirm. The Bell tower also has its own hauntings and many report sightings of apparitions near the church as well as chanting and signing near the grounds.
Diplomat Hotel, Baguio City, Philippines
Jerny Destacamento of The Jerny
Baguio City is the summer capital of the Philippines (people go here when it’s too hot in the main capital) and is also known to many haunted places which have started after the World War II. The Diplomat Hotel is one of those many stories.
The Diplomat Hotel was a Dominican Vacation house during the early 1900s where friars and nuns are staying while in Baguio. During World War II, the Japanese had invaded this property and it’s when the horror started. The Diplomat Hotel had been a house of torture, rape, suicides, decapitating priests, nuns, and even refugees. It was then owned and re-modelled during 1973 as a hotel with 33 bedrooms but when the owner died in 1987, it ceased operations and was later abandoned.
Sights of headless priests, crying woman and babies, walking man in chains, and many other paranormal activities have been recorded and experienced by few fellowmen tagging The Diplomat Hotel a haunted site until today.
Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasmania, Australia
Cindy Collins of Free Two Roam
The Port Arthur Historic site is found on the Tasman Peninsula, a ninety-minute drive from Hobart, Tasmania’s capital city.
Port Arthur was built as a penal settlement, to house repeat offenders among Australia’s early convicts. Separated from the rest of the island by a thirty-meter wide neck of land called Eaglehawk Neck, the settlement was heavily guarded by soldiers, man traps and starving dogs. Escape from Port Arthur was practically impossible, even by water, as the surrounding sea was rumored to be shark-infested.
The hardened criminals housed at Port Arthur were frequently subjected to harsh punishments, and over a thousand of them died within its grounds. While those convicts are now long gone, their stories remain and the place is extremely haunted. Many paranormal encounters have been documented by convicts, guards, tourists and staff alike. Every night once darkness has fallen, visitors can take a lantern-lit tour, for their chance to come face to face with a ghost.
If that’s not spooky enough for you, in 1996 Port Arthur was also the scene of Australia’s deadliest mass shooting, which claimed 35 lives. If you enjoy being frightened, you should definitely visit Port Arthur at night.
Chapel of Martyrs, Otranto, Italy
Meghan Crawford of Expedition Limitless
The city of Otranto, Italy is more than just a picturesque coastal town. It’s also home to the Basilica of St. Mary the Anointed. Originally built in the 11th century, the cathedral is mostly a reconstruction, having been sacked by Turkish invaders in 1480. Over 200 years later in 1711, the Chapel of Martyrs was completed.
Incredibly sad and beautiful, despite its macabre nature, the chapel houses the relics of the 813 men and women killed during the siege of Otranto. The Blessed Mary watches over the remains from her spot on the altar, which also houses the bloody stone upon which the faithful were beheaded. Benches lining the walls allow guests a place to pray or rest as needed, directly beneath the empty-socketed gaze of a hundred or so human skulls, separated only by a thin pane of glass. Of course, it’s not just skulls. Femurs, radii, tibiae, and pelvic bones are also recognizable amidst the carefully arranged grinning mandibles.
So, if the heat of Southern Italy is getting to you, take a dip in the temperate Adriatic waters or enjoy some gelato in the piazza. Or, step inside the Basilica. Take a stroll around the Chapel of Martyrs and peer through the gold-plated grating at what just might be a 537-year-old blood stain. Sit for a moment under the eerie watch of the long-dead. Let a chill that has nothing to do with the dry coolness of the cathedral creep over you. Then maybe step outside and let the Mediterranean sunshine warm you back up.
Madame Sherri’s Castle, West Chesterfield, New Hampshire
Cathy Merrifield of Nothing But New England
In the quiet woods of West Chesterfield, New Hampshire a short walk from the parking lot be ready for a fright. The spiral staircase of Madame Sherri’s castle lead no where now. Once the site of a beautiful castle in the 1900s now only a few arches and the stairs affectionately named Stairway to Heaven remain. The stairs are not in great shape anymore and without rails or smooth footing the walk to the top can make anyone nervous. Add in that this castle is known to be haunted and some serious fears are stirred up. Be prepared to be spooked, reports of people seeing the ghost of Madame Sherri gliding down the stairs are common!
Kuldhara, Jaisalmer India
Suman Doogar of Nomadic Shoes
Are you brave enough to spend a night in a `haunted` village in India?
The story goes like this, a thriving village inhabited by upper caste Hindu Paliwal Brahmins was abandoned overnight for mysterious reasons. Some say that it was because of a drought, others claim it was due to an earthquake. As per legends, it is believed that an evil ruler wanted the village chief`s daughter for himself and threatened that whoever comes in between will end up paying heavily.
Seeing no other way to get out of the situation the whole village disappeared one night into the unknown leaving everything behind them. It is believed that before leaving, the villagers cast a spell and cursed that no one will be able to sustain themselves here. Even after many attempts, the village remains uninhabited, whenever people tried to repopulate it they experienced paranormal activities.
Mary King’s Close, Scotland
Kaylie Lewell of Happiness Travels Here
Mary King’s Close is an underground street off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland and is my favourite spooky place.
Mary King’s Close was originally a bustling market street but sealed off when the Edinburgh Town Hall was built on top. Forgotten for more than a century the underground lane and its intact buildings were rediscovered and used as a bomb shelter during WWII. Now accessible by the Real Mary King’s Close tour. Far from a manufactured ghost tour, the tour is guided by one of the streets ‘original’ residents, a fascinating place that time forgot, be regaled by stories of murder, plague, ghostly encounters and watch out for the call of “Gardyloo!”.
Hot Lake Hotel, La Grande, Oregon
Sam of Alternative Travelers
Hot Lake Hotel just outside of the small town of La Grande, Oregon, U.S., gets its name from the hot springs nearby – so hot they’d scald your skin off. And according to one story, that’s exactly what happened to a nurse who worked there when it used to be a hospital. But she’s not the only one who haunts today’s hotel and spa. The complex has a long and morbid history starting with its construction in 1903. It was used for many purposes, including as an experimental hospital, an insane asylum, and winter storage for infected bodies during a typhoid epidemic. Visitors and former workers attest to the numerous hauntings: rocking chairs moving on their own, screaming and crying coming from the former surgery room, and the piano – formerly owned by Robert E. Lee’s wife – playing of its own accord.
The place is so haunted that it appeared in the TV series, The Scariest Places on Earth. You can visit the hotel today, though the current owners do not like to discuss its ghostly history.
Patarei Prison, Tallinn, Estonia
Jonathan Sacks of Everybody Hates a Tourist
Patarei Prison in Tallinn, Estonia was originally built as a sea fortress, but its most infamous history comes from its usage as a prison during the Soviet era. For decades, prisoners were tortured and killed here. The prison shut in 2004, and it gradually fell into disrepair. Nowadays, Patarei Prison lies in ruins, with a maze of buildings & passageways to explore. It feels like the set of a horror movie. Visitors can explore several sections of the grounds, including cells, exercise yards, and the hanging room. Patarei Prison is a desolate, spooky place, made even more creepy by knowing about its dark history.
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Yulia Dyukova of The Foodie Miles
Imagine walking through long empty corridors of a former prison, peeking into crumbling cells, and knowing that people were held here in solitary confinement, without a chance to exchange a word with another human being for years. Spooky? Now, add to that the voice of Steve Buscemi on audio guide, and you’ll most likely want to run away from this place after the first five minutes.
Eastern State Penitentiary was one of the first prisons in the world designed not to punish, but to inspire penitence – true regret – by enforcing separate incarceration. It was one of the most famous and expensive prisons of its time and became a model for over 300 prisons worldwide. Some notorious criminals like Al Capone were once held here. Today, the penitentiary is a National Historic Landmark that you can visit during your trip to Philadelphia.
The Witches’ Market, La Paz, Bolivia
Gearoid McSweeney of Unlatinoverde
Bolivia is often a strange brew of Catholicism and native beliefs. La Paz, the de-facto capital, provides a head spinning introduction into the culture of the country. The Witches’ Market, a mere stone’s throw from the main cathedral, offers an insight into that culture. Desiccated llama foetuses sit beside small stone statues that wouldn’t look out of place in an Incan museum. Amidst the grim and the grey, there’s a kaleidoscope of colour. These are the boxes that the local witches sell to customers who want to appease Pacha Mama (Mother Earth). It’s a marriage of the sinister and everyday normality.
Margherita Ragg of The Crowded Planet
During our recent overland safari across Namibia we had the chance to visit Kolmanskop, a ghost town in the Namib desert. Kolmanskop rose to fame in the early 20th century when diamonds were discovered nearby and thousands of people came over from Europe to seek fortune. Less than 50 years later, Kolmanskop was abandoned, when bigger and better diamond fields were discovered in northern South Africa. Nowadays, the desert and shifting dunes are slowly reclaiming Kolmanskop. When we visited, we had some time to explore independently and went into a building, where we kept hearing strange tapping noises. We later discovered it was the hospital, where hundreds of people died. Kolmanskop is a popular tourist sight and it’s open until 1 pm every day, but I heard that, with prior arrangement, you can also visit at night… now, that would be spooky!
South Bridge, Scotland
Skye Class of Skye Travels
South Bridge vaults were constructed beneath the bridge when it was built in 1788 with 120 rooms of various sizes. Without proper water sealing, the rooms were shortly taken over by nefarious groups, and then abandoned altogether for nearly two centuries. Now they are opened to the public who have the courage to explore the remnants of their sordid past.
By remnants, I mean ghosts. The South Bridge Vaults have the World Record for the largest paranormal investigation in history, with over 200 ESP specialists confirming their sightings. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, they are there, and they believe in you.
You can take a tour of the vaults with Mercat Tours, leaving from the Mercat Cross behind St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. The city is regarded as the most haunted city in the world, and Halloween even stems from the Scottish festival of Samhuin. On October 31st, the Samhuin fire procession flows down the Royal Mile to the steps of St Giles Cathedral. Take the tour in the afternoon, and then get your spot on High Street to watch the show. I did last year, and it was my favorite Halloween of all time.
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park Colorado
Alison of Up&AtEm Travel
“Here’s Johnny!” shouted by a crazed Jack Nicholson as he axe-chops through the bathroom door is one of the most chilling and well-known scary movie quotes. “The Shining” movie, based on Stephen King’s novel, details a novelist’s descent into insanity at a secluded hotel during the wintertime. King visited Estes Park Colorado and, like his main character, holed himself up writing “The Shining” from [month] to [month]. And the adventurous can stay in the haunted Stanley Hotel that inspired the book.
If you are not quite brave enough to spend an evening in the ghost-ridden hotel, visitors are also welcome to explore the charming hotel grounds and to the hotel-run ghost tours. You will learn about the hotel history and the resident ghosts – from crying children to the woman that temporarily steals wedding rings from new brides.
Paoay Convent Ruins, Ilocos Norte, Philippines
Maria Rona Beltran of Travel With Maria
Just a few minutes of walking from Paoay Church, a famous UNESCO heritage site in Ilocos Norte lies a derelict convent that most tourists don’t even care to visit. It’s nothing but remains of a former glorious convent where friars lived during the Spanish colonization few centuries ago. What survived the test of time are old & broken coral stones, bricks of different sizes and a water well. No one would wish to spend a night here because neighbors and locals usually share some sightings of ghosts and can hear eerie sounds in the middle of the night. This convent is recently being groomed as a “horror house” by the local tourism office to be the official venue of Tumba Festival, the town’s local version of the Day of the Dead.
Bell Witch Cave, Adams, Tennessee
Ashley Hubbard of A Southern Gypsy
The Bell Witch Cave is located in Adams, Tennessee near the Bell family house and is one of my favorite spooky places I’ve ever visited. The legend of the Bell Witch is still somewhat of a mystery. In short, the Bells started to experience odd things in 1817: strange looking animals, knocks on the doors, chains being drug through the house, choking sounds and more. Eventually, the entity had a voice and gave itself different identities – the main one that stuck was Kate. The witch had two goals: to kill John Bell and to have Betsy Bell break off her engagement. After years of daily torture, these two things eventually happened. While she bid farewell after she accomplished her goals, many people believe the Bell Witch never left due to strange occurrences in Adams and near the cave. The cave is privately owned but is open in the Summer and in October for tours – I highly suggest a visit if you’re ever in the area.