33 Most Haunted Places in the World That Are Beautifully Scary

Nothing beats a good ghost story on Halloween, and our planet is chock full of ’em: UFO sightings in Transylvania, murders on a luxury cruise ship, and spirits wandering the halls of British castles. No matter where you visit, you’re sure to find some sort of haunted site, as well as a ghost tour to go along with it. But even if you’re not a fan of paranormal activities, some of the most spooky locations are still worth your time, whether for their beautiful architecture, jaw-dropping locations, or fascinating histories. Here, the 33 most haunted places in the world you’ll want to visit any day of the year—not just on October 31.

Château de Brissac, Brissac-Quincé, France (© Getty)

Château de Brissac, Brissac-Quincé, France

One of the tallest castles in all of France, the seven-story Château de Brissac is perhaps best known as the home of “The Green Lady,” aka the ghost of Charlotte of France. The chateau’s website tells the legend of Charlotte, the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII, who was murdered by her husband after he discovered her having an affair. Named for the color of her dress when she was killed, the Green Lady can be found roaming the chapel’s tower room and moaning in the early hours of morning.

La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires (© Getty)

La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

You don’t have to be religious to be moved by La Recoleta Cemetery, which features thousands of statues, mausoleums, fairytale grottoes, and intricate tombstones, as well as the remains of Argentina’s most iconic figure—Eva Perón. The shadowed walkways and labyrinth of stones are as beautiful as they are eerie, and Recoleta has a couple haunted legends of its own. One of the most famous stories involves David Alleno, a former grave-digger and caretaker who worked at the cemetery for 30 years before killing himself. Today, people report hearing Alleno’s keys jangling as his ghost walks the pathways at dawn.

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado (© Courtesy The Stanley Hotel)

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

The Stanley Hotel’s stately Georgian architecture and world-renowned whiskey bar have lured travelers to Estes Park since opening in 1909, but the hotel reached new levels of fame after inspiring Stephen King to create the The Shining‘s fictional Overlook Hotel. That eerie association aside, many other ghost sightings and mysterious piano music have been connected to the hotel, and the Stanley Hotel leans into its reputation with nightly ghost tours and psychic consultations from the in-house Madame Vera.

Bhangarh Fort, India (© Getty)

Bhangarh Fort, India

Located just 100 miles southwest of Delhi, the lush ruins of Bhangarh Fort make for a curious juxtaposition against the desert landscape of Rajasthan. To this day, the oasis remains largely uninhabited due to an alleged curse cast by a disgruntled sorcerer after his advances were rebuffed by a local princess. If you prefer your trips to skew more spiritual than haunted, Traveler‘s former editor-at-large Hanya Yanagihara suggests saluting the sun during a session of pre-dusk yoga at the site.

The Langham Hotel, London (© Courtesy The Langham)

The Langham Hotel, London

The spirits are so active at this 153-year-old hotel, they drove out several English national team cricket players back in 2014, who cited sudden heat and lights, and an unexplained presence during the night. Ghosts have long been associated with the tony hotel, says Visit Britain, and it’s thought to house elite spirits such as former resident Emperor Louis Napoleon III and a German prince who jumped to his death from his upper-level window.

St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida (© Getty)

St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is visited by nearly 225,000 people annually, but it’s just as well-known for its otherworldly visitors. Several tragic events that occurred at the now-historic site have contributed to the alleged paranormal activity: The ghost of a lighthouse keeper who fell to his death while painting the tower has been spotted watching over the grounds; and ever since the horrific death of three young girls, who drowned when the cart they were playing in broke and fell into the ocean, visitors have claimed to hear the sounds of children playing in and around the lighthouse.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland (© Getty)

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

One of the biggest attractions in Scotland’s capital city is also considered to be one of its most haunted. With sections dating back more than 900 years, the historic fortress’s ancient dungeons have led visitors to the castle to report sightings of colonial prisoners from the American Revolutionary War, French prisoners from the Seven Years War—and even the ghost of a dog wandering the castle’s dog cemetery.

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia (© Alamy)

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

The castle-like Eastern State Penitentiary took solitary confinement to new levels when it was built in 1829. Prisoners lived alone, exercised alone, and ate alone; when an inmate left his cell, a guard would cover his head with a hood so he couldn’t see or be seen. The prison had to abandon its solitary system due to overcrowding in 1913, although the forms of punishment did not get any less severe (chaining an inmate’s tongue to his wrists is one example) before it closed for good in 1970. The site now welcomes thousands of visitors every year, both for its museum and ghost tours. Reported paranormal happenings have included disembodied laughter, shadowy figures, and pacing footsteps.

Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England (© Alamy)

Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England

Built around 1620, the 7000-acre Raynham Hall is one of the most impressive estates in Norfolk. As is the case with most historic buildings, the home also has its fair share of legends and ghost stories, most notably ones surrounding Lady Dorothy (“Dolly”) Townshend. Dolly was the wife of Viscount “Turnip” Townshend, and the couple lived in Raynham Hall during the 18th century, during which time Dolly was reportedly locked up in the house by her husband. Lady Dorothy’s ghost is now said to haunt the estate, as “proven” by a photo taken of her in the 1930s. “No one has proved the picture taken of her is a fake,” Lord Charles Raynham (the home’s current resident) told the BBC.

Hill of Crosses, Lithuania (© Getty)

Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

People have been placing crosses at this spot in northern Lithuania since the 14th century, and for various reasons: Throughout the medieval period, the symbols expressed a desire for Lithuanian independence. Then, after a peasant uprising in 1831, people began adding to the site in remembrance of dead rebels, and the hill became a place of defiance once again during Soviet occupation from 1944 to 1991. And while the hill and crosses were bulldozed by Soviets three times, locals kept rebuilding it—there are now more than 100,000 crosses crowded together. “As the wind blows across the fields of rural Siauliai County, ornate rosaries clink against metal and wooden crucifixes, filling the air with eerie chimes,” Egle Gerulaityte wrote for the BBC in 2017.

Tower of London, U.K. (© Getty)

Tower of London, U.K.

Built by William the Conqueror in 1066, this uncompromising fortress has had many functions. But it’s best known for its bloody history as a prison and execution site—Henry VIII famously ordered the execution of two of his wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, here. It’s also where two young princes were imprisoned after the death of their father, King Edward IV; they disappeared shortly after in 1483, and their remains weren’t found until 1647. Unsurprisingly, ghost stories of the Tower’s victims—and ghost tours through Historic Royal Palaces—abound.

Catacombs of Paris, France (© Getty)

Catacombs of Paris, France

After a prolonged bout of heavy rains flooded and unearthed the overcrowded Les Innocents cemetery in the spring of 1780, a wave of rotting corpses tumbled onto the property next door. According to Smithsonian Mag, this horrifying event started a 12-year project to move bodies from Paris’s cemeteries down into the city’s former limestone quarries, eventually packing the underground tunnels with some 6 million bodies. Today, about a mile of the subterranean labyrinth is open to visitors, who can take tours of the tunnels and artfully arranged displays of bones.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada (© Getty)

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

Built in 1888 to encourage tourism and sell train tickets, this chateau-style hotel sits pretty by the Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park. But it gets a tad more Gothic once you get inside—and we aren’t talking about the architecture. The Calgary Herald has reported several resident ghosts, including a bride who supposedly fell down the stone staircase during her wedding. But there’s a less tragic spirit, too: Sam the bellman, who worked at the hotel until 1975 and claimed he’d come back to haunt the joint. His spirit supposedly pulls shifts helping people with their bags before disappearing.

Hoia-Baciu Forest, Romania (© Alamy)

Hoia-Baciu Forest, Romania

From the moment a military technician captured a photograph of a “UFO” hovering over the forest in 1968, Hoia-Baciu has gained paranormal notoriety around the world, with some believing it to be a portal that causes visitors to disappear. Those who have passed through the forest without being zapped into another realm, have reported rashes, nausea, and feelings of anxiety, according to The Independent. Known as the “Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania,” the spooky curved trees that populate the forest just add to the eerie atmosphere.

Poveglia Island, Venice, Italy (© Getty)

Poveglia Island, Venice, Italy

Less than half a mile from the canals of Venice, Poveglia Island has served as a quarantine zone for bubonic plague victims, storage space for Napoleon’s weapons, and the site of an early 20th-century insane asylum. The asylum played host to horrific medical experiments, reports The Travel Channel, and finally closed for good when a doctor threw himself off the institution’s bell tower. Locals still claim to hear echoing chimes from the island—even though the bell was removed decades ago. It’s illegal to visit Poveglia today, but you can see the island and decaying hospital safely from the beaches of nearby Lido.

Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls), Mexico (© Getty)

Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls), Mexico

Despite its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site (along with Mexico City, it’s a well-preserved example of Aztec life), the neighborhood of Xochimilco has reached a certain amount of internet fame for its Island of the Dolls. Hidden among the region’s many canals, the site is famous for the hundreds of dolls—and doll parts—hanging from trees and scattered among the grass. While it might look more like a horror movie set, the chinampa (akin to an artificial island) used to be the residence of a now-deceased man named Julian Santa Barrera. After finding a dead girl’s body in a nearby canal, Barrera collected and displayed the toys in the hopes of warding off evil spirits, reports National Geographic. Daring souls can hire their own boat and view the island safely from the water.

Lawang Sewu, Indonesia (© Getty)

Lawang Sewu, Indonesia

Built in the early 20th century by Dutch colonialists, Lawang Sewu (or “Thousand Doors”) served as head office for the Dutch East Indian Railway Company before the Japanese turned it into a detention camp during WWII. During the war, many harsh interrogations, tortures, and violent executions occurred within the building’s walls—all of which contribute to its current status as one of Indonesia’s most haunted sites, says the country’s Ministry of Tourism. Tourists are free to visit the abandoned site today, perhaps to confirm whether the many circulating ghost stories tied to Lawang Sewu have any truth to them.

Forsyth Park, Savannah (© Getty)

Forsyth Park, Savannah

The entire city of Savannah is pretty much one giant ghost story, due in large part to the mysterious tunnels that run below the town’s streets. The underground structures play a major role in many of Savannah’s most haunted locations, including Forsyth Park, the fountained green space you probably recognize from a postcard or two. According to Savannah Magazine, doctors at the adjacent Candler Hospital (now the Savannah Law School) performed autopsies in the tunnels below. Maria Pinheiro, a historian and spokesperson with Ghost City Tours, says these below-the-surface rumblings make Forsyth Park particularly ripe for sightings of shadowy, now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t figures.

Leap Castle, Ireland (© Getty)

Leap Castle, Ireland

Built somewhere between the 13th and late 15th century, this Irish castle has seen more gruesome deaths than a Game of Thrones wedding. As legend has it, during a struggle for power within the O’Carroll clan (which had a fondness for poisoning dinner guests), one member plunged a sword into his brother—a priest—as he was holding mass in the castle’s chapel. The room is now called “The Bloody Chapel,” and the priest is said to haunt the church at night. The horror doesn’t end there—at least not according to the macabre history outlined on Leap Castle’s website. During renovations in the early 1900s, workmen found a secret dungeon in the Bloody Chapel with so many human skeletons, they filled three cartloads when hauled away. The dungeon was designed so that prisoners would fall through a trap door, have their lungs punctured by wooden spikes on the ground, and die a slow, horrific death within earshot of the sinister clan members above.

Gettysburg Battlefield, Pennsylvania (© Getty)

Gettysburg Battlefield, Pennsylvania

The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest in American history, with somewhere around 50,000 young men dying in the three-day conflict. Many of the soldiers never received a proper burial after their untimely deaths, and some believe the souls of these men now wander the field to look for their weapons and comrades. There have even been several photographs taken over the years that seem to show some of the phantom figures—including the ghost of Robert E. Lee.

Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town (© Getty)

Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town

A sprawling building near the shoreline of Table Bay, the Castle of Good Hope dates back to 1666, making it the oldest colonial building in South Africa. Originally built by the Dutch East India Company as a replenishment station for ships, the site also served as a military fortress and prison during the Second Boer War from 1899-1902. Today, you can tour the fort’s many rooms and buildings (including the gruesome torture chamber) but you might want to prepare yourself for a ghost sighting. Back in the 1700s, Governor Pieter van Noodt condemned several men to be hanged to death; one of the men cursed the governor from the gallows, and van Noodt died of a heart attack later that day. According to the Castle of Good Hope’s official website, his ghost has been haunting the battlements ever since.

Whaley House, San Diego (© Getty)

Whaley House, San Diego

Thomas Whaley built this family estate in 1857, on the former site of San Diego’s first public gallows. Shortly after he moved in, he reported hearing the heavy footsteps of “Yankee” Jim Robinson, a drifter and thief who was hanged on the site four years before the house was built. Whaley’s family history ended up being filled with tragic deaths and suicides—many of which occurred inside the home itself. According to the Whaley House Museum, some of the family members still haunt the landmark, often accompanied by cigar smoke and the smell of heavy perfume.

Aokigahara Forest, Japan (© Getty)

Aokigahara Forest, Japan

This seemingly serene forest at the foot of Mount Fuji has a tormented past. Colloquially known as “Suicide Forest,” Aokigahara has been the site of 500 reported suicides since the 1950s, reports the BBC. Some blame this trend on the forest’s association with demons in Japanese mythology. Others point towards large underground deposits of iron, which interfere with compasses and make it easy to get lost. In fact, many hikers will mark their path with tape or string to make it easier to find their way back out again.

Port Arthur, Tasmania (© Getty)

Port Arthur, Tasmania

Port Arthur began as a penal colony in 1833, housing British convicts until it was abandoned in 1877. During those decades, the island—touted as “inescapable”—focused on correcting the inmates’ morality, using methods like solitary confinement and mandatory church services. The settlement has been a destination for curious tourists since the time of its abandonment, and was officially preserved as a historical site in 1979. Today, you’ll find what the New York Times describes as “an impressive apparatus for remembering, complete with a ferry, interactive exhibit for children and well-trained guides.” Ghost tours are available of the ruins and open-air museum, as well as the nearby “Isle of the Dead,” an island housing the bodies of deceased convicts under unmarked graves.

Canberra, Australia (© Getty)

Canberra, Australia

Much like Savannah, the entire city of Canberra seems to be a paranormal hotspot—especially when it comes to the buildings in the Parliamentary Triangle. Hotel Kurrajong, a four-star hotel with some serious A-lister ghosts roaming its halls, is thought to house the ghost of former Prime Minister Ben Chifley, who died on the night of June 13, 1951 after suffering a heart attack in room 214. His gray-suited ghost is known to appear in that same room from time to time, writes The Canberra Times. And then there’s the Old Parliament House itself, where security guards and cleaning staff have reported hearing their names whispered in the night.

Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, India (© Getty)

Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, India

Dubbed one of the best hotels in the world by our editors, the five-star Taj Mahal Palace is located right in the heart of Mumbai. Yet along with amazing views and interiors fit for a royal, one of the hotel’s more macabre claims to fame is its aura of mystery. According to legend, the building’s architect jumped to his death from the fifth floor after discovering the hotel was facing the wrong direction. His spirit now roams the halls, running into guests in the hallways and walking around the roof.

RMS Queen Mary, Long Beach, California (© Courtesy The Queen Mary)

RMS Queen Mary, Long Beach, California

Aside from a brief stint as a war ship in World War II, the RMS Queen Mary served as a luxury ocean liner from 1936 to 1967. During that time, it was the site of at least one murder, a sailor being crushed to death by a door in the engine room, and children drowning in the pool. The city of Long Beach purchased the ship in 1967 and turned it into a hotel, and it still serves that purpose today—although the reported ghosts of the deceased passengers get to stay for free. (For an extra dose of spine-tingling experiences, try and visit the ship’s engine room, considered by many to be a “hotbed” of paranormal activity.)

Oriental Theater (formerly Iroquois Theater), Chicago (© Getty)

Oriental Theater (formerly Iroquois Theater), Chicago

Ghosts are said to haunt the Oriental Theater (formerly the Iroquois Theater) in the Loop area of downtown Chicago, where almost 600 people perished after a fire famously broke out in 1903, writes Atlas Obscura. Even though the theater was completely rebuilt and rebranded, spirits of the dead remained: apparitions have been seen in “Death Alley,” the street behind the theater where bodies were stacked after the disaster (and a common stop on many a Chicago ghost tour).

Dock Street Theatre, Charleston (© Getty)

Dock Street Theatre, Charleston

Renovated in 2010, Charleston’s Dock Street Theatre is a beautiful downtown venue, hosting plays and concerts throughout the year. But the site has quite a tumultuous history, according to Charleston’s official city website. Aside from a fire burning town the original theater in 1740, the building suffered damage from an earthquake in 1886 and fell into abandon during the early 20th century. To make matters even more spooky, a prostitute named Nettie Dickerson was supposedly struck by lightning while standing on the balcony in the mid-1800s, and her ghost is said to glide along the theater’s second floor.

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California (© Getty)

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California

Following the death of her husband, rifle magnate William Wirt Winchester, Sarah Winchester commissioned a Victorian labyrinth designed to repel the vengeful spirits of the lives taken by her husband’s guns. The sprawling Queen Anne–style mansion—comprising four stories, 160 rooms, 10,000 window panes, and 47 stairways—is appointed with curious elements, like staircases leading directly into the ceiling and windows opening onto secret passages.

Borgvattnet Haunted Vicarage, Sweden

Borgvattnet Haunted Vicarage, Sweden

Originally built in 1876, weird happenings have been noted in this parsonage since the 1960s. The gray wooden structure now serves as a bed and breakfast in a rural area with snowmobiling, fishing, and…not a lot else. Guests at Borgvattnet have claimed to hear footsteps, music, and the sound of three crying ladies coming from the inn—and the proprietors will reward you with a certificate that says you stayed through the night.

First World Hotel, Pahang, Malaysia (© Getty)

First World Hotel, Pahang, Malaysia

With 7,351 rooms, Malaysia’s First World Hotel makes sure it has something for everyone on its massive guest list. There’s an indoor theme park for thrill seekers, a tropical rainforest for nature lovers, and even a touch of paranormal activity for ghost hunters. Most legends involve wandering ghosts of high-rolling gamblers who committed suicide after losing everything at the in-house casinos. After staying in the hotel, one TripAdvisor user gave a firsthand account of his spooky stay, warning of “unseen forces pressing onto your body while you’re sleeping.”

Ancient Ram Inn, Wotton-under-Edge, England (© Alamy)

Ancient Ram Inn, Wotton-under-Edge, England

Built in 1145, England’s Ancient Ram Inn has played many roles over the centuries: a former priest’s residence, housing for masons and slaves, inn, and public house. It also happens to be one seriously haunted spot. Architectural Digest writes: “With ghostly children, a high priestess, and even an incubus (Google it, but don’t say you weren’t warned) wandering the halls, guests have reportedly leapt from the windows in a frenzy to escape.”