Most Haunted Places in the World for a Good Scare
If this year has taught us anything, it’s that life can be scary. Like really scary.
And for those of us who can’t get enough of the world’s horrors, there are plenty of haunted places to explore. These are scary places where cries are heard, spirits spotted and visitors have been known to disappear.
Intrigued? Check out the world’s most haunted places — if you dare.
Leap Castle – Offaly, Ireland
Leap Castle calls itself the world’s most haunted castle, and there are at least seven sections of the fortress believed to house spirits. Built on a Druid site once used for initiation ceremonies, some of the spirits include Elemental, an apparition of a decaying face who brings with it the distinct smell of death whenever it visits.
There’s also It, a small, sheep-sized creature summoned in the early 1900s by a resident occultist, as well a murdered priest, who was stabbed by his brother in a rivalry over clan leadership. And let’s not forget the Red Lady who has been spotted walking the premises with the ghosts of two little girls.
Should we go on? Visitors to the castle have experienced mists, sounds and even a ghostly touch, and the site has appeared on Ghost Hunters.
LaLaurie Mansion – New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in the world, and a visit to LaLaurie Mansion in the French Quarter simply oozes scary. This mansion was owned by Madame Delphine LaLaurie in the 1830s and is rumored to be where she mistreated and tortured her slaves — several of which died here. Actress Kathy Bates famously portrayed her in “American Horror Story: Coven.”
Today, visitors report hearing moans and phantom footsteps in the rooms where LaLaurie’s slaves stayed.
Hoia-Baciu Forest — Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Romania’s Hoia-Baciu Forest is said to be the most haunted in the world. After all, known as the Bermuda Triangle of Romania, where a shepherd and 200 sheep are said to have been “swallowed” alive. A 5-year-old girl also went missing here and reappeared five years later, unaged and wearing the same clothes.
The forest’s trees grow in counter-clockwise spirals, and the spot with the most paranormal activity is centered around a circle where nothing grows. Visitors to the forest often leave feeling fatigued, while others have seen UFOs, and ghosts and orbs have been photographed.
Shanghai Tunnels – Portland, Oregon
Between 1850 and 1941 in cities along the West Coast, strong men were “shanghaied,” or taken hostage and sold into slavery aboard ships heading back to Asia. Not many official records of this activity exist, but it was particularly prevalent in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland (Oregon) and other cities.
In Portland, the operation was conducted via underground tunnels in the city’s business district and old Chinatown neighborhood. This tunnel system covered several miles and was originally built to move goods from the Willamette River to downtown. But it’s also where much gambling, prostitution and drinking took place during Prohibition. And it’s here where men who had a little too much fun and passed out would be taken and forced into several years of hard labor.
Tours of a portion of the haunted tunnels are still offered today, where you have the chance of seeing, hearing and feeling strange presences.
The Paris Catacombs is an underground network of tunnels and cemeteries that contain a mere 6 million skeletons. The former limestone mines were converted to a massive graveyard in an effort to eliminate the city’s overcrowding cemeteries in the late 1700s.
Today, the catacombs are one of Paris’ most popular museums — albeit a morbid one. They’re so popular, in fact, that those interested in visiting are recommended to book tickets at least eight weeks in advance.
Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, Colorado
The circa 1909 Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining,” and it’s easy to see why, especially after watching Jack Nicholson famously scream, “Here’s Johnny!” in the movie version of the terrifying tale.
One of the hotel’s famous ghosts, former chambermaid Elizabeth Wilson, is said to haunt Room 217. But she’s a friendly ghost, helping guests find exactly what they need to enjoy their stay.
Bhangarth Fort – Rajasthan, India
One of the most haunted places in all of India, Bhangarh Fort is the story of a jealous wizard. You see, Singhia, fell in love with a princess named Ratnavati, but unfortunately for him, the feelings were not mutual. The heartbroken wizard decided to cast a curse that condemned everyone in the fort to death and forbade rebirth. Yikes!
While you cannot visit this site on your own, there are select tour companies that have been granted limited access — but strictly before sunset! Locals say that anyone who has visited the fort after the sun goes down disappeared forever. Those rare few who have been inside report hearing the wizard’s ghost shouting at them, a woman crying for help and musical instruments clanking.
National Film and Sound Archive – Canberra, Australia
Don’t be fooled by the innocent name. The National Film and Sound Archive is located in what was formerly the Australian Institute of Anatomy, where hundreds of body parts were once stored. An entire section was even dedicated to liver dissection.
What kind of ghost sightings can one expect? The institute’s founder Colin MacKenzie is said to greet visitors by popping out of walls. Others have reported strange sounds coming from recording booths, furniture flying throughout the rooms and even being pinned against the wall by a strange force.
Poveglia Island – Venice, Italy
This island is technically illegal to visit, but tourists as recent as 2016 made the trek and were so frightened that their screams were heard by a sailboat crew who reported the activity to authorities.
Why were they so scared? Poveglia is a huge graveyard, with more than 100,000 people buried here. Plague victims in the 14th century, followed by asylum patients in the late 1800s, turned the island’s soil into 50 percent human remains. Rumor has it that voices of the dead can still be heard around the island, and human remains have even washed up on its shores.
Yuma Territorial Prison – Yuma, Arizona
Opened in 1876, Yuma Territorial Prison was only operational for 33 years, but that was enough time to develop a haunting legacy. Of the 3,069 prisoners housed in the prison, 111 died.
No prisoners were actually executed on the site, but their mistreatment, especially being kept in solitary confinement, is said to bring a dark energy that makes guests feel cold or uneasy.
Tower of London
A castle, fortress and prison, the Tower of London ranks high among England’s most haunted places. Over about a thousand years, it has been the site of nine beheadings and several other executions.
Just one of the popular ghosts haunting the Tower’s hallways is Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, said to be seen carrying her head. Visitors to the Tower will see execution sites and the church where victims are buried, but the especially brave should take the Tower Twilight Tour. Let’s just say it’s not for the faint of heart.
Houska Castle – Blatce, Czech Republic
The 13th century Houska Castle is believed to have been built over a Gateway to Hell in an effort to prevent demons from coming to Earth. Locals have reported seeing terrifying animal-human hybrid creatures emerging from the area.
It also doesn’t help that the fortress was a site for Nazi experimentation during the early 20th century. Not surprisingly, it’s been featured by Ghost Hunters International and Most Haunted Live, and visitors can tour the grounds.
Hawthorne Hotel – Salem, Massachusetts
One of the most haunted hotels in the U.S. is Hawthorne Hotel, located in Salem, where the infamous 1692 witch trials were held. Built much later in the 1920s, the hotel was intended to be a modern accommodation for business travelers, but there was one problem. It was constructed on what was once an apple orchard owned by Bridget Bishop, who had been accused of and executed for witchcraft.
Specifically Room 325 and Room 621 are where most of the supernatural activity occurs. Room 621 seems to be haunted by a young woman wearing a long white dress, believed to be the ghost of Bishop. And those staying in Room 325 have reported hearing a baby crying, seeing the bathroom faucet turn on and off, and feeling someone pulling blankets off the bed. Creepy!
Edinburgh Castle – Scotland
Edinburgh Castle is where the so-called “Black Dinner” took place in 1440. The brutal mass beheading was so grotesque that it inspired the impossible-to-forget “Red Wedding” scene in “Game of Thrones.” Oh, and several witches were burned at the stake here, so it’s not exactly surprising that the castle’s haunted.
Visitors report seeing ghosts of military soldiers, a phantom piper and a headless drummer. And an invisible spirit apparently enjoys tugging on the hair of tourists, so watch out!
House at 8435 Roanoke Drive – St. Louis, Missouri
While the brick home at 8435 Roanoke Drive seems like your average suburban residence, it happens to be where some seriously spooky events occurred, inspiring the film, “The Exorcist.”
Legend has it that the family’s son was possessed by a demon after playing with a Ouija board — watch out kids! Priests came to check out the scene and found the boy’s bed shaking, while scrapes and welts started appearing on his skin, even forming letters and words. The infamous exorcism actually occurred at a nearby university.
Skeleton Lake – Uttarakhand, India
The remains of hundreds of people were discovered in Skeleton Lake in 1942 when a British forest ranger was hiking the Himalayas. The mystery as to how these remains got here has been theorized throughout the years.
World War II soldiers who had been shot, ancient hailstorms killing off an entire village — everything was up for debate. But, in 2019, scientists revealed that the deaths likely happened over a 1,000-year history, believing that the skeletons were perhaps from religious burials or exploration trips gone awry. Regardless, the setting is certainly haunting.
St. Augustine Lighthouse – Florida
More than 200,000 people visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse every year. Yes, the views are spectacular, but it’s the spooky spirits lurking in the shadows that really get all the attention.
Joseph Andreu, a lighthouse keeper who fell to his death while painting the lighthouse, is said to be haunting the lighthouse. Screams of young girls, believed to be Eliza and Mary, have also been reported. The duo drowned in the 1800s running after a cart that had crashed into the ocean’s waves.
Oradour-sur-Glane is essentially a memorial to a horrifying act that took place when Nazis occupied this village in June 1944. In total, 642 men, women and children were executed or burned alive in a matter of hours.
While a new village was built nearby, this ghost town still remains as a reminder of the terrifying inhumanities that took place during World War II.
The Queen Mary – Long Beach, California
This historic ocean-liner is now a hotel that’s permanently docked in Long Beach — along with the about 150 spirits that call it home.
That’s right, you can spend a night at sea with a crew member that was killed by the pressure of a watertight door as well as a woman dressed in white (why is it always white?) who greets those staying in one of the luxury suites.
Island of the Dolls – Mexico City
This small island was created as a memorial for a young girl who drowned here, but it has become much creepier than that. The island’s owner and caretaker, Don Julián Santana, began placing thousands of dolls hanging in the trees in the 1950s.
Locals say that they’ve seen the dolls moving at night and even calling them in low whispers.
Biltmore Estate – Asheville, North Carolina
The largest and perhaps most decadent private residence in the U.S. also has a few ghosts living here. The former vacation home of George Washington Vanderbilt II is now a resort that spreads across 135,280 square feet.
Both the ghosts of George and his wife, Edith, have been reported roaming the halls, even calling each other’s names. A headless orange cat has also been said to walk the grounds.
Chaonei No. 81 – Beijing
A Nationalist Party government official occupied the house at Chaonei No. 81 with his mistress until Communists took over in 1949. He decided to flee to Taiwan, leaving the woman behind.
She was so distraught that she decided to hang herself. Her troubled spirit is believed to haunt the mansion, inspiring the story for the movie, “The House That Never Dies.”
Stull Cemetery – Lawrence, Kansas
Another Gateway to Hell is Stull Cemetery, where a burned-down church once stood. Believed to be home to the devil himself, the cemetery comes to life every Halloween when noises have been caught on tape as well as sightings of a ghostly child.
As such, hundreds come to the cemetery each year on All Hallow’s Eve to experience the scares for themselves. It has been fenced off, and police patrol it daily for this very reason.
Chacarita Cemetery – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Founded in 1887, Chacarita Cemetery is Buenos Aires’ largest cemetery and is where corpses were delivered daily during the city’s yellow fever break.
The graveyard hasn’t exactly been kept up, touting overgrown grass, empty crypts and a whole lot of cobwebs. Visitors have seen ghosts in the trees and a taxi with a license plate that reads “666.” And don’t enter after midnight, as locals believe doing so means you’ll end up staying forever.
Winchester Mystery House – San Jose, California
What happens to the heirs of famous firearm manufacturers? Well, just visit the Winchester Mystery House. Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Co., known for the production of Winchester rifles, began construction of the mansion in 1884, and it never stopped until she died in 1922.
She believed she was cursed and haunted by the ghosts of people killed by Winchester rifles. After all, her husband and father-in-law both died in the early 1880s, and her daughter died five weeks after birth in 1866. So, when a spirit told her to never stop building the house if she wanted the spirits to leave her alone, that’s what she did. The 160-room house is filled with architectural oddities, including staircases that lead to nowhere, doors that open onto walls, crooked hallways, spy holes and hidden passageways.
Castle of Good Hope – Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa’s oldest building, the Castle of Good Hope, is where most of the ghost sightings in South Africa occur. After all, it was a place of torture, where prisoners were placed in a deep, dark hole and left to drown by the ocean’s waves.
Governor van Noodt, a wicked general who died of a heart attack after he was cursed by a soldier he'd sentenced to death, haunts the castle grounds. Visitors have also reported screams coming from the black hole and a bell tower that rings by itself.
Frankenstein Castle – Darmstadt, Germany
Castle Frankenstein is the setting for Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” It’s where a creepy alchemist conducted strange experiments in an effort to find immortality. Yes, he may have even created a monster said to be lurking in the woods, enticing virgins to play, never to be found again.
Tours are available, but October is the best time to visit when it hosts one of Germany’s biggest Halloween parties. Those extra daring visitors will want to venture up the tower to discover how gruesome the Middle Ages really were.
Omni Parker House – Boston, Massachusetts
Back in Massachusetts, the Omni Parker House is haunted by former owner Harvey Parker who opened the hotel in 1855. It was also the inspiration behind Stephen King's short story, "1408," about a haunted hotel room. The book details paranormal activity similar to that of Room 303 at Omni Parker House. That includes strange shadows in the room and the bathtub water turning on randomly.
At the Omni, it’s Room 303 that’s haunted, however, with reports of strange shadows and bathtub water turning on at random.
Bell Witch Cave – Adams, Tennessee
Aren’t all caves a bit scary? That’s certainly the case for this one, where an evil spirit supposedly lived in the 1800s. The Bell Witch would leave the came to torment the family of John Bell, who reportedly heard rattling chains and heavy knocking on walls. John Bell even died under mysterious circumstances.
Today, you can explore the cave for yourself to see if you can find the Bell Witch.
Chiajna Monastery – Bucharest, Romania
The Chiajna Monastery was going to be one of the most important churches in all of Romania when it was completed towards the end of the 18th century. But priests abandoned it when they suspected it was haunted.
It later became a place of refuge for people suffering from the plague, and it’s these spirits that frequent its grounds. Visitors say they’ve seen a female ghost, huge shadows and bells ringing — even though they were destroyed decades ago.