If you want to head somewhere spooky on your next trip, don’t just settle for a theme park at Halloween or a ghostly tourist hotspot like Salem, Massachusetts, or the cemeteries of New Orleans.
Instead, go somewhere with some real paranormal activity, like one of these 18 most haunted places in the world.
1. Hoia Baciu Forest - Romania
When people talk about creepy spots in Romania, they often think of Transylvania and Dracula’s Castle.
However, there’s arguably a much creepier spot if you head outside the city, to Hoi Baciu, a forest that lays claim to all kinds of creepy paranormal and otherwise inexplicable activity.
People have photographed UFOs here; one time, a shepherd (the forest’s namesake) went missing along with his entire flock of 200 sheep; and even today, visitors claim to see spirits among the trees and experience a wide range of negative physical side effects upon entering its depths.
2. Hill of Crosses - Lithuania
Not too far away, in Lithuania, the Hill of Crosses is a major Catholic pilgrimage site, but you can only take a look at this spot to guess that it’s probably pretty haunted.
The hill was the site of a wartime uprising in the early 1800s, but is now the site of more than 100,000 burial crosses, crucifixes and effigies. The plot of land is creepy enough in the daytime, but becomes even eerier at night, when the crosses cast long shadows over the narrow footpaths. It’s no wonder the hill is haunted.
3. Forsyth Park - Georgia
Savannah is known as one of the most haunted spots in the United States, and for good reason. The city is crawling with ghosts!
Forsyth Park, one of Savannah’s most photographed spots and its largest and oldest public park, stretches over 30 acres in the city’s historic district. In addition to being surrounded by buildings that are said to be haunted, the park itself is rumored to have been built on top of burial grounds.
Book a hotel room nearby (also probably haunted) and take a dusk stroll through the park. You never know what you might see!
4. Obvodny Canal - Russia
In St. Petersburg, Russia, the Obvodny Canal is the longest artificial canal in the city and was once upon a time the southern border of St. Petersburg.
Over time, it’s gained a gruesome nickname, Suicide Canal. The canal has seen a large number of tragic suicides over its time, but were all those deaths in its deep waters actually suicides? Some jumpers who have been saved over the years claim that they were pushed by an invisible force into the water and that they really had no intention of ending their own lives.
5. RMS Queen Mary - California
The RMS Queen Mary has been called one of the most haunted places in the world, time and time again. The historic ship — which boasts a rich history of ferrying rich passengers on luxurious transatlantic cruises in the early 1900s, before being converted into a troopship in World War II — is absolutely riddled with ghosts.
Now, she’s permanently moored off the coast of Long Beach, California, and has been converted into a hotel that also offers tours.
You can book one of the incredibly haunted guest rooms for an overnight stay or just take a haunted, after-dark tour and then leave to sleep in safer quarters. Whatever option you choose, you’re sure to get a good spook.
6. Catacombs of Paris - France
The Catacombs of Paris are unlike anything most travelers have ever seen. Buy your ticket and then take the stairs down, down, down below the Parisian streets, until you’re in the cold, dank tunnels that are now the final resting for thousands upon thousands of bodies, all artistically arranged for your viewing pleasure.
You can choose to take a tour of the catacombs, but if you’d like to explore on your own, a general admission ticket will get you into the tunnels only. While you’re technically not supposed to touch or photograph the skeletons and bones lining the walls, you’ll find most visitors don’t follow those rules.
7. Xunantunich - Belize
Xunantunich, an ancient Mayan ruin of a pyramid abandoned around 1,000 A.D., lies deep in the Belize jungle.
Discovered in the 1890s, Xunantunich is now an excursion destination for intrepid travelers staying in the area. While the pyramid ruins only lay claim to one ghost — a beautiful woman with piercing red eyes — that ghost is spotted so frequently that Xunantunich is often considered one of the most haunted spots in Central America.
8. Ponte Sisto - Rome
Anyone visiting Rome can easily find Ponte Sisto, an average, ordinary bridge with little creepiness surrounding it at first glance. However, Ponte Sisto lies along the route that the rich advisor to the pope, Olimpia Maidalchini, took to escape the city in the 1600s, after she fell out of favor with the Roman public.
Now, if you arrive at the bridge at the right time, you can see her carriage speeding across Ponte Sisto in an effort to still escape her scandalous past.
9. Isla de las Munecas - Mexico
What’s creepier than a bunch of decomposing, dirty, baby dolls hanging from trees?
Not much else. That’s why Isla de las Munecas, or Island of the Dolls, in Mexico City, frequently makes lists of the most haunted places in the world.
The island began its descent into this doll-infested madness when it’s said one of its residents spotted the ghost of a drowned little girl roaming the area. To appease her, he began hanging up dolls everywhere.
The doll collection grew and grew and grew into what visitors see today. The man who started it all drowned in 2001, in the same area where he said the ghost girl resided.
10. Eastern State Penitentiary - Pennsylvania
Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary got its start as a revolutionary new prison in America’s earliest days, but what started as some well-meaning founders’ attempts to infuse a little godliness into the prison system turned into a derelict stone structure with rows upon rows of tiny, solitary confinement cells where prisoners would be locked up with no one but their own thoughts and the darkness to keep them company.
Now, the penitentiary, which sat vacant for years but was most recently opened again for self-guided tours and haunted happenings around Halloween, is surrounded by rumors of abuse and ghosts. Visitors certainly will feel the eerie vibe as the peer down corridors of dark prison cells, many left just as they were when the penitentiary was shuttered in the mid-1900s, furnishings and belongings still intact.
11. Poveglia Island - Italy
Near Venice, Poveglia Island sits as a small reminder of the horrors of infectious disease.
The island acted as a quarantine colony when the Bubonic Plague impacted Venice in the 1300s; residents who showed even the slightest plague symptoms were sent to the island where, if they didn’t have the plague in the first place, they soon would. The dead and soon-to-be-dead were burned on giant pyres in the center of the dead.
However, Poveglia Island not only served this gruesome function in the 1300s. History would repeat itself in the 1600s, with the rise of the Black Death.
Later, the island would host an asylum in the late 1800s, though that asylum was rumored to be the site of grisly medical experiences.
12. Bhangarh Fort - India
If Bahangarh Fort isn’t one of the most haunted places in the world, it’s definitely the most haunted place in India. The 17th-century fort looks harmless in the daytime, but there are reasons the locals won’t stay at the first after the sun goes down.
Rumors say the fort has been cursed by various individuals over the centuries, including one wizard. What exactly happens after sunset? For some, nothing. However, there have been recent “accidental” deaths that have occurred at the fort when tourists have dared to stay overnight, as a show of their (misplaced) bravado.
13. Port Arthur - Australia
In Tasmania, Port Arthur sits on the Tasman Peninsula. Once a convict settlement, it’s now one of Australia’s most interesting historical areas and an open-air museum. It’s said Port Arthur represents the “best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and colonial expansion of European powers” through the use of convicts.
Convicts at the port were subjected to harsh, cruel environments, including psychological and corporal punishment. Many convicts went crazy from the conditions.
However, the horrors of Port Arthur do not end there. Sometime after the port was turned into a historic site, it was the location of a mass shooting, during which the murderer killed 35 people and wounded 23.
14. Castle of Good Hope - South Africa
One of Cape Town, South Africa’s, oldest buildings, the Castle of Good Hope is one of the city’s most haunted structures.
The castle, which is a popular tourist spot, is home to a whole host of popular ghosts, including an 18th-century noblewoman who still tries to be a good hostess to visiting dignitaries today by making herself known during their stays.
Visitors report footsteps and voices, as well as bells that ring in walled off walls (a soldier reportedly hung himself on a bell rope in the castle). A spectral dog also roams the grounds.
15. Edinburgh Castle - Scotland
Similarly, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most popular tourist spots in Edinburgh, Scotland, and if you visit it without knowing any of its haunted past, you could likely have a very normal, uneventful, self-guided tour. However, as one of the most haunted places in the world, you don’t have to look far to learn more about its spooky history.
The 900-year-old castle is filled with forgotten chambers and secret passageways, as well as dungeons, which were all sites of grisly events. Witches were burned at the stake. Guards were stabbed to death as convicts escaped. One time, someone just wandered into an underground passageway and disappeared for good.
It doesn’t help matters that the castle is near Mary Kings Close, an underground area of the city where Black Plague victims were left to die.
16. Beijing Forbidden City - China
Beijing’s Forbidden City is one of its most popular attractions, but also one of its most haunted (and maybe that’s why visitors are not allowed after dark). The Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace throughout two dynasties, during which a multitude of executions took place, as well as petty murders.
Many of the site’s paranormal happenings are reported by those who guard it at night; they report crying, wandering ghosts and “odd” animals running around in the dark.
17. Gettysburg - Pennsylvania
Site of one of the most gruesome battles in American history, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is a tourist hotspot for both history and ghost aficionados.
The battlefields — especially at dusk — are rife with opportunities to see and experience the paranormal, but you’ll find plenty of other spots around the city that boast their own hauntings as well, from historic homes to bed and breakfasts. You’ll have no problem finding a ghost tour, either.
There’s something running just about every night of the week.
18. The Sultan’s Palace - Louisiana
New Orleans is full of haunted spots. Go to the city and you’ll be overwhelmed with options for seeing and experiencing the paranormal.
One place to check out is the Sultan’s Palace in the French Quarter, known as the 1800s home of a Turkish individual with a penchant for fancy parties.
After one of these parties, passersby noticed something odd — pools of blood dripping out of the house. Police found every single partygoer brutally murdered.
Looking for the Most Haunted Places in the World?
Prisons to party houses, islands to ancient ruins, these are some of the most haunted places in the world.
- Hoia Baciu Forest
- Hill of Crosses
- Forsyth Park
- Obvodny Canal
- RMS Queen Mary
- Catacombs of Paris
- Ponte Sisto
- Isla de las Munecas
- Eastern State Penitentiary
- Poveglia Island
- Bhangarh Fort
- Port Arthur
- Castle of Good Hope
- Edinburgh Castle
- Beijing Forbidden City
- Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
- The Sultan’s Palace