Some of the most popular tourist spots in the world are also the most haunted. Turns out, people just love a good spook. From the Door to Hell to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, these places are sure to make you uneasy with their creepy vibes. Banging noises, mysterious screams and apparitions are just a few of the scary possibilities at famous sites like the Amityville house and the Island of the Dolls.
When it comes to a list of the spookiest places in the world, you can count on these sites to keep you up at night.
Aokigahara Forest – Yamanashi, Japan
Known as the “Sea of Trees,” Aokigahara Forest looks charming in appearance with lush, green trees. Its beauty attracts tourists and hikers, but, unfortunately, many visitors get lost in the thick forest and can’t call for help because their cell phones don’t work in the forest. GPS systems and compasses also malfunction inside all the trees.
Some locals think these devices stop working due to the magnetic iron in the forest’s soil. Others believe that it’s the work of demons, according to Japanese mythology. To make matters worse, the chilling forest is also famously called “Suicide Forest,” due to almost 100 people a year walking into the forest, never to return.
Island of the Dolls – Xochimilco, Mexico
Xochimilco is home to one of the creepiest islands in the world: Isla de las Munecas or Island of the Dolls. Hundreds of dolls are scattered across the island, hanging on trees and tied to the walls of buildings. The only way to access the island is by boat — if you can convince the captain to take you.
According to visitors, the dolls wiggle their hands, whisper to one another and call rowers to the island. Does anyone actually live there? No one occupies the island today, but it was once home to a now-deceased man named Julian Santa Barrera. After finding a drowned girl in a nearby canal, Barrera began dangling dolls everywhere until his death. Some locals say Barrera did this to ward off evil spirits.
Hill of Crosses – Šiauliai, Lithuania
The haunting Hill of Crosses is actually a pilgrimage site that has existed since the 14th century. The hill’s exact origin remains a mystery, but throughout its history, the Hill of Crosses has created a lot of controversy. In the 1940s, locals kept adding crosses to the site to honor rebels who died for Lithuanian independence. The Soviet Union, who occupied Lithuania at the time, didn’t like that, so the Soviets destroyed the site three times.
Despite the challenges, the locals continued to rebuild it. Today, the Hill of Crosses is a tourist hotspot for catching sight of roaming ghosts and hearing eerie noises.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tuol Sleng has an extremely disturbing past. Once a high school, the site was transformed into a high-security prison by the Khmer Rouge. Almost 20,000 prisoners occupied Tuol Sleng, and it became a torture and execution center that claimed an estimated 18,133 lives.
Today, it serves as a museum with thousands of photographs of the victims. Some torture rooms remained untouched after the Khmer Rouge were run out the city. Locals say the ghosts of those who didn’t make it out of the prison alive wander the halls and rooms.
Akodessawa Fetish Market – Togo, Africa
If you’re interested in practicing black magic, you can find everything you need at a street market in West Africa known as Akodessewa Fetish Market. It’s the world’s largest voodoo market that sells different types of animal remains. As a result, a foul stench lingers in the air, adding to the creepy atmosphere.
The animal sacrifices are popular for local medical treatments. Patients who can’t afford care at a hospital or pharmacy visit the Akodessewa Fetish Market to buy medicine and speak to a local healer. Hoping to treat everything from the flu to curses, patients take home unique items like talismans, charms and elephant feet.
Imagine how difficult it would be if you had to wear a gas mask your entire life. That’s exactly what life is like for residents on the island of Miyake-jima. Their lives depend on frequently wearing gas masks because they occupy an active volcano.
Over Miyake-jima’s history, the island evacuated several times when Mount Oyama erupted. Now, a constant flow of poisonous gas releases from the volcano, prompting officials to require locals to carry gas masks at all times. When the levels of toxic gases in the air jump up, alarms blare throughout Miyake-jima to warn residents to put on their masks. Daring visitors can access the island by ferry or plane.
Screaming Tunnel – Ontario, Canada
In the northwest corner of Niagara Falls lies a tunnel with a haunting legend. Locals say a young girl hid in the tunnel to escape a nearby fire but then perished within its walls. Other versions of the legend say she was trying to flee from her abusive father.
Now, the tube is called “The Screaming Tunnel.” Legend has it that when visitors walk into the tunnel with a match, the ghost of the girl comes out and fills the passageway with her screams. Would you dare to walk through the tunnel on a pitch black night?
Monte Cristo – New South Wales, Australia
Claimed to be “Australia’s most haunted house,” the Monte Cristo looks like a charming Victorian home on the outside. But on the inside, it’s a different story. Visitors have reported plenty of paranormal activity, including phantom noises, poltergeists and weird orbs. Even better, the Monte Cristo also comes with apparitions.
It all started after Elizabeth Crawley’s husband passed away in 1910. She lived in isolation until her own death, and her ghost is said to haunt the grounds, creating cold spots. The Monte Cristo also has a history of mysterious, tragic accidents, which resulted in two other ghosts: a woman wearing a dress and a stable boy wandering the bedrooms.
Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh, Scotland
Sudden drops in temperature and something unseen pulling on your clothes are common occurrences at Edinburgh Castle, which makes this destination a bone-chilling adventure. Edinburgh Castle has a dark and tragic past. Since the second century AD, it has been the site of 23 surprise attacks and numerous executions.
Residents believe Edinburgh Castle is haunted by Duke Alexander Stewart of Albany, Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis and a piper. A faint echo of unexplained music travels through the halls and corridors, and a night visit will definitely give you goosebumps.
Tower of London – London, England
One of the must-visit attractions in London is the Tower of London, an impressive medieval structure built in 1078. Over its 1,000-year history, the Tower of London served as a site of executions, torture and murder. Consequently, many ghosts wander the attraction, and a few are really famous.
Henry VIII sentenced his wife, Anne Boleyn, to death after she gave birth to a stillborn son. Her ghostly figure is known to haunt the Church of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower. Two young princes are also said to wander the site, giggling in their nightgowns. The pair mysteriously disappeared after their uncle, King Richard III, took the throne. Other reported spirits include Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey and Margaret Pole.
Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, CO
The Stanley Hotel is notorious for spooking Stephen King into writing The Shining. At the hotel, lights turn on and off, and doors open and close by themselves. The sounds of laughter and footsteps can be heard when no one else is around. Unexplained shadows, drafts and chills pop up out of nowhere.
Some guests say the supernatural activities are caused by the eternal spirits of the Stanley Hotel. One notable ghost is Elizabeth Wilson, the former chief housekeeper and the presence in room 217. If visitors hear the tune of a piano coming from the empty ballroom, it’s the ghost of Flora Stanley, who passed away in 1939.
The Door to Hell – Derweze, Turkmenistan
In the middle of the Karakum Desert, sits a burning hole called the “Door to Hell.” The pit wasn’t always on fire. The area was a regular field until 1971, when Soviet engineers began drilling the site for oil. Shortly after, they accidentally ran into a natural gas pocket, and the field collapsed into an underground cavern.
The engineers thought it was best to set the pit on fire to burn off the dangerous methane gas. They assumed the gas would burn out within a few weeks, but the crater has burned for more than 40 years.
Christ of the Abyss – San Fruttuoso, Italy
If you’re diving in the Mediterranean Sea, near Grenada or in the waters around Key Largo, Florida, you may get startled by an 8-foot statue of Jesus. Christ of the Abyss is an underwater statue collection of Jesus created by sculptor Guido Galletti. He spread his sculptures around different ocean floors.
The giant deity with his hands and head raised in the depths of the ocean gives off a spooky vibe that is made even scarier with the growing algae and corrosion.
The Christ of the Abyss in Italy began disintegrating so badly that they had to remove and clean the statue multiple times. If you want a haunting dive, Christ of the Abyss is just what you need.
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – Pripyat, Ukraine
The most devastating nuclear explosions in history took place in Pripyat. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster caused almost 200,000 casualties, and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is still radioactive today. However, that doesn’t stop photographers and tourists from wanting to see it.
Everything remains in the same place from when residents fled during evacuation. Classrooms still hold crumbling books and decaying dolls, and abandoned gas masks are littered throughout the city. Pripyat’s amusement park is a famous spot that reminds people of the catastrophic nuclear accident.
Gomantong Caves – Sabah, Malaysia
Malaysia’s Gomantong Caves are a complex cave system with limestone walls that stand as high as 300 feet in some sections. The caves are popular tourist attractions, although visitors get creeped out (and grossed out) by the wildlife living there.
The Gomantong Caves are home to massive populations of bats and cockroaches. In fact, more than a million bats live in the cave. Can you even imagine how much bat poop accumulates? Guests slip on the bat waste while navigating through the millions of cockroaches crawling everywhere. Yikes!
Centralia, Pennsylvania, was the inspiration for Silent Hill, the horrifying video game and movie. Once a busy town with successful coal mines, Centralia slowly started to shrivel up and die after the mines mysteriously caught fire in 1962, and the town couldn’t put the fire out.
Locals began to increasingly worry about the underground inferno when a gas station owner reported high gasoline temperatures in his tank. They also grew concerned when a child fell into a 150-foot-deep sinkhole that released a poisonous level of carbon monoxide. Now, Centralia is a ghost town, and experts estimate the fire could continue to burn for more than 250 years.
Bhangarh Fort – Rundh Bhangarh, India
Located 200 miles from Delhi, the abandoned Bhangarh Fort sits in the middle of a desert. The empty fortress looks like a normal ancient ruin, drawing many visitors to the site while the sun is out. However, at night, it’s a whole different story.
The spookiness of the place comes alive at night. No one is allowed to visit Bhangarh Fort after sunset, primarily because it’s reportedly one of the most haunted places on the planet. According to local legend, a sorcerer cursed the fortress after a princess rejected him.
The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA
The elegant Queen Mary served as a popular passenger ship, sailing on the North Atlantic Ocean between 1936 and 1967. However, after years of service, the Queen Mary was forced to retire in 1967 due to age and decreased profits. The ship docked permanently in Long Beach, California, and eventually converted into a hotel and tourist attraction.
Staff and visitors claim the hauntings began during her stay in Long Beach. Mysterious knocks on the door when no one was around became common, and bathroom lights started turning on and off by themselves. Locals claim she is haunted by the ghosts of people who passed away on board.
Myrtles Plantation – St. Francisville, LA
Built in 1796, the Myrtles Plantation is one of America’s most haunted homes. First, the plantation is supposedly built over a Native American burial ground in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Second, other common tales label Myrtles Plantation as the site of abuse, revenge and tragic deaths.
Locals report seeing many apparitions in the historic home and on the grounds. More than 12 different ghosts allegedly call Myrtles Plantation home. One of the most famous spirits is a former slave named Chloe, who spent her last moments alive at the house. The ghost of a young Native American woman has also been reported.
Winchester Mystery House – San Jose, CA
The Winchester Mystery House may have the creepiest design on Earth. It includes staircases that lead to nowhere, windows overlooking other rooms and doors that open onto 10-foot drops or brick walls. Bizarre, right? Interestingly, the house wasn’t always this weird.
It was a typical mansion until Sarah Winchester’s husband and son both died. Her husband was the treasurer of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. She believed the ghosts haunting the property were the victims of her husband’s guns. In response, Winchester created a dizzying labyrinth within the house to confuse the ghosts. Now, the giant mystery house is a famous tourist attraction.
Corvin Castle – Transylvania, Romania
As one of the largest castles in Europe and one of the Seven Wonders of Romania, Corvin Castle is a fairytale castle many tourists enjoy visiting. Legend claims the historic Transylvanian castle is also the site where the cruel and bloodthirsty ruler, Vlad the Impaler, was imprisoned.
As most people know, Vlad was also known as Dracula and inspired the famous vampire legend. Many legends feature Corvin Castle, including a story of two prisoners getting stuck in a well, becoming eternally trapped on the property, even in the afterlife. As a result of these legends, countless paranormal sightings have occurred at Corvin Castle.
Hanging Coffins – Sagada, Philippines
Sagada, Philippines, is home to one of the most unique burial rituals in the world. Instead of putting coffins in the ground, the Sagada locals dangle hundreds of coffins in caves and along the rock faces of cliffs. It has been a common practice for more than 2,000 years.
The placement of the coffins has to do with status and the belief that the spirits would achieve a higher nature in the afterlife. The Hanging Coffins of Sagada are difficult to reach, and many visitors say that others should respect the burial tradition and view the site from afar.
Catacombs of Priscilla – Rome, Italy
In the 19th century, archaeologists hoped to find hidden treasures like beautiful monuments and frescoes in Rome’s Santa Priscilla Catacombs. Unfortunately, they discovered the catacombs were destroyed, and legend claims the tombs were devastated because ghosts haunted the cursed cemetery. According to the archaeologists, some of their crew encountered angry spirits, who pushed their carriage into a nearby river.
Santa Priscilla Catacombs also stirred up controversy when experts realized the frescoes showed what may have been female priests leading a mass, an occurrence that would scandalize and alter Catholic history. As a result, it’s believed that the Catholic Church vandalized the catacombs to cover up the shocking event in the 17th century.
Nagoro, Japan, has a shrinking aging and young population, causing the village to dwindle over time. Former resident and artist Ayano Tsukimi took matters into her own hands by returning to Nagoro and bringing the town back to life in the most unexpected way.
Tsukimi created 350-life size dolls and placed them all around town, including schools, gyms, benches and outside shops. Some visitors find the dolls unsettling and creepy, but the toys are there to stay and are the new unofficial citizens of the village. Only 30 real humans live in Nagoro.
North Yungas Road – La Paz, Bolivia
A 2,000-foot drop could certainly take a fear of heights to a new extreme. That’s exactly what happens when visitors fall down the cliffs at North Yungas Road in La Paz, Bolivia. Nicknamed “Death Road,” this destination claims 200 to 300 lives a year.
Driving on North Yungas Road is particularly dangerous because the narrow path is only 10 feet wide, which makes it difficult for two cars going opposite directions to share the road. The lack of guardrails and limited visibility in rain and fog also add to the road’s dangerous reputation. Currently, it has become a hotspot for wild mountain bikers instead of drivers.
Alcatraz – San Francisco, CA
Off the shore of San Francisco, California, sits the former military and federal prison called Alcatraz. From 1934 to 1963, the notorious facility was home to many infamous prisoners, including mobster Al Capone, Bumpy Johnson and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.
Former prisoners, guards and visitors have reported paranormal activity at Alcatraz. Large, mysterious shadows appear out of nowhere. Figures of past inmates wander the cells and halls. Clinking metal sounds, screams and cries are heard when no one else is around. If haunted prisons are your thing, then Alcatraz is definitely a must-visit destination.
The Amityville House – Long Island, NY
Located in Long Island, New York, the Amityville house is where Ronald DeFeo, Jr., took the lives of his family members in 1974. About a year after the tragic incident, the Lutz family moved into the home and enjoyed a great beginning — for a few days.
Things quickly took a dramatic turn for the worst. The Lutz family reported banging noises, unexplained footsteps, foul odors, green goo oozing from the walls and eyes looking in from outside the windows. It was so bad that the family left the house after only 28 days of living there. Many people didn’t believe their story, but when they took lie detector tests, they all passed.
Gettysburg Battlefield – Gettysburg, PA
Gettysburg Battlefield is known as the most haunted place in the world. During the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg went on for three days and became the bloodiest battle in U.S. history. More than 50,000 Americans lost their lives, and thousands of other soldiers were wounded or went missing.
Many lives ended violently on the Gettysburg Battlefield, so it’s no surprise that it’s now a paranormal hotspot. Angry, dark spirits wander the fields and nearby homes. Some locals say the restless spirits are searching for their weapons and comrades. Do these ghosts know the battle is over?
Lawang Sewu – Semarang, Indonesia
During World War II, Japan invaded Semarang, Indonesia, and took over a building owned by the first railway company in the Dutch East Indies, calling it Lawang Sewu. In Japanese, Lawang Sewu means “thousand doors.” They turned the building into a prison, and the basement was used for executions.
As a result, many ghost stories involve Lawang Sewu. Tourists have reported seeing ghosts and ghouls. The most famous is a Dutch woman who died in the building. Another reported entity at Lawang Sewu is the kuntilanak, a vampiric ghost in Indonesian and Malay mythology.
Manchac Swamp – Laplace, LA
Most bayous are infested with snakes and gators swimming in murky waters, but one swamp in Louisiana has a unique aspect that makes it unsettling. Located near New Orleans, Manchac Swamp is the spookiest swamp thanks to a curse and a strange, lurking beast.
Legend says a voodoo priestess cursed the swamp and her neighbors. Then, she died and took the entire village with her in the deadly 1915 New Orleans hurricane. Now, her ghostly voice haunts the swamp. Another entity at Manchac Swamp is the rougarou, a bloodthirsty, werewolf-like creature. Are you afraid of the swamp yet?