A fascination with the unknown drives many travellers to the most bone-chilling corners of our world. Sometimes it’s a lonely place with a violent or macabre past, said to be haunted by the tormented souls of those already departed. At others, a quiet crypt or a reverent patch of ground calls to attention the impermanence of life and the ever-turning hands of time. Regardless of their origin, each of these destinations has garnered a reputation for the supernatural or uncanny—and in turn, attracted a devoted following of curious adventure-seekers. Explore them all … if you dare.
Once the seat of government and military operations, this pentagonal fortress built by Dutch colonists in the 17th century also saw gruesome punishments and executions, prompting many reports of ghost-sightings today.
Allegedly haunted by the former lady of the house, this British colonial mansion is now maintained as a hotel open to brave travellers in India’s Kalimpong region.
Used for over a century to quarantine victims of plague and other illnesses, Poveglia was later home to a psychiatric hospital. Since its closure in 1968, the Italian island has remained uninhabited—save for the alleged ghosts of the tormented souls who once called it home.
Though the origins of the site are a mystery, thousands of crosses and other religious icons have been placed on the hillside over the course of nearly two centuries.
To the untrained onlooker, this gaping earthen maw filled with flames could easily appear to be a portal to the underworld. Though the origins of the pit are unclear, it was intentionally set ablaze by scientists to burn off noxious gases emanating from its core.
Created to alleviate the burden of the city’s overflowing cemeteries, the bones of more than six million people now lie in the cavernous tunnels beneath the French capital. Many of these remains have been stacked into elaborate patterns throughout the catacombs, visible to travellers wishing to explore the Parisian underworld.
This Pennsylvania borough was transformed effectively into a modern-day ghost town following an underground coal mine fire that has been burning since the 1960s. Abandoned homes and crumbling roadways spewing billows of smoke only add to the eerie ambience of a once peaceful destination.
Closed in 1971, the stark cells and dilapidated corridors of this infamous Philadelphia prison are widely considered to be among the most haunted places in the United States. Embracing its reputation, the penitentiary now transforms into a haunted house each fall.
One of the locations used in the classic horror film Nosferatu, this castle’s haunted history extends beyond the big screen. The structure’s now decrepit walls were once home to Countess Elizabeth Báthory—perhaps the world’s most prolific female serial killer.
In August of 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were found murdered at this house in Massachusetts. Though their daughter Lizzie was considered the prime suspect, she was later acquitted and no one was ever charged in their deaths. The site operates to this day as a bed & breakfast, in which iron-willed guests may choose to sleep in the same rooms where the Bordens took their final breaths.
Discarded dolls in various stages of deterioration hang from trees across this island in Mexico’s Lake Xochimilco. Originally hung to ward off the spirit of a drowned child, the dolls have since become a popular attraction for travellers brave enough to make the journey.
Long associated with the ghosts of the dead in Japanese literature and folklore, this forest on hardened lava became known in recent years as “the suicide forest.” Signs at some trailheads now advertise help-line information to hikers.
Abandoned as a prison in 1877, Port Arthur sits on the scenic Tasman Peninsula with a chapel, and a guard tower serving as a reminder of the country’s dark past as a British Empire prison colony. There is a cemetery island with marked grave sites called the Isle of the Dead, where over thousand convicts, soldiers and free settlers were buried.
Among the Czech Republic’s most visited sites, the Sedlec Ossuary contains the skeletons of as many as 70,000 people, many pieces of which have been used to artfully decorate the interior of the structure.
Long the burial place of Egypt’s highest nobility, at least 63 tombs have been identified throughout the valley—including that of King Tut. The untimely deaths of several of Tut’s discoverers have been attributed by some to the Pharaoh’s Curse.
Mummies of more than 2,000 individuals lie within the catacombs of this Sicilian monastery, many dressed to reflect the station they held in life. Initially reserved exclusively for the burial of religious officials, it was later expanded to include noblemen and the families of wealthy benefactors—like the young Rosalia Lombardo, called the “Sleeping Beauty” for her impeccably-preserved remains.
Intending to bring the deceased closer to heaven, members of the Igorot tribe in the mountain province of Sagada suspend the coffins of their dead from cliffsides.
After the town’s population dwindled to a mere 35, local artist Tsukimi Ayano began creating lifelike figures to replace villagers who had since died or moved away. Now the more than 350 dolls that inhabit Nagoro have become a unique attraction for travellers with a penchant for the uncanny.
This destination’s stunning architecture belies its true nature. Widely believed to be one of the most haunted locations in Europe, many apparitions are said to reside within its walls–most notably the spirit of a young girl named Harriet, who met a tragic end in an accident on one of the castle’s main staircases.
The site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, the deserted neighbourhoods within Chernobyl’s exclusion zone offer an eerie look at life interrupted. Though low levels of radiation allow travelers to visit the site on sanctioned routes, the majority of the exclusion zone remains off-limits, reclaimed by nature.
The highlight of this this Egyptian-influenced Victorian cemetery remains the overgrown West Cemetery—only accessible by guided tour—where a maze of paths lead to a circular ring of tombs topped by an imposing cedar tree.
One of London’s most notable historic sites, this former palace was long used as the city’s most notorious prison and was the site of many executions—including two of Henry VII’s wives. To this day, visitors report sightings of numerous spirits continuing to inhabit the tower’s halls.
The inspiration for Stephen King’s classic horror novel, The Shining, this 142-room hotel in Colorado’s Estes Park has gained a reputation for the paranormal. Brave travellers wishing to spend a night may also seek to take part in one of the hotel’s guided tours, which frequent spaces said to be especially saturated in supernatural activity.
Much of the cultural identity of this New England town revolves around its history as the site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, the deadliest witch hunt to have occurred in the United States. Immortalized in pieces of literature such as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Salem, Massachusetts, continues to draw travellers transfixed by the story of its past hysteria.