Holidays usually mean a few days of rest, relaxation and maybe even a little exploring. But this is not that kind of vacation. Only for those brave enough to be prepared for a paranormal encounter or two, these destinations are full of legends, scary stories and ghosts flying around.
If that sounds like something you’d like, here are ten places around the world you should consider. Not only are these places considered haunted, but they are open to visitors. Some of these destinations have seen several deaths that still haunt them, and if you can get a guide to tell you their stories, you might hear stories that will haunt you long after you leave the place.
According to folklore, Gunnuhver is a geothermal area in Reykjanes that is named after an angry spirit named Gunna. Amidst the steam vents, mud pools and observation decks, Gunna’s ghost lurks. As the story goes, Gunna lived in the area on land owned by Vilhjalmur Jonsson. After a dispute between them over non-payment of rent and accusations of witchcraft, an angry Gunna is said to have starved herself to death. The men carrying her coffin reported that it was suspiciously light, her undertakers allegedly heard Gunna’s scream in the wind, and soon Jonsson was found dead. Gunna’s ghost is said to haunt the inhabitants of the peninsula ever since, and despite prayers, rituals and the help of priests, the locals claim that Gunna still lives in Gunnuhver.
Forbidden City, China
One of the five most important palaces in the world, the Forbidden City was once the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During that time, access to the city was forbidden to all but government officials and the imperial family, and that too with limited access, giving the city its forbidden nickname. While most tourists now visit the city to explore Chinese history and its amazingly preserved architecture, some go to the Forbidden City in search of ghosts. Over its 600-year history, the Forbidden City has seen several assassinations, betrayals, jealousies, political intrigues and murders. Years later, visitors report the sounds of a woman wailing, flute playing in the dark, women dressed in white and black roaming the grounds, and surprisingly, even a ghostly dog!
Bhangarh Fort, India
Known as the most haunted place in India, the Bhangarh Fort is so haunted that the Archaeological Survey of India forbids anyone to be inside the fort between sunset and sunrise. The 17th-century fort in Rajasthan has several legends explaining why the roofless fort is haunted, but the most popular one claims that the fort was cursed by a wronged lover who said no one would be able to live inside the fort after his death. . True to the curse, the fort was soon ravaged by the invaders and its inhabitants were killed by their hands. Since then, locals have reported hearing strange noises, seeing ghosts, and witnessing fatal accidents occurring within the walls within the ruins of the great fort.
La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires
La Recoleta may be a beautiful cemetery with its urban fabric made of neatly paved paths and marble buildings, but it is a cemetery after all. Perched on a hill overlooking the city, La Recoleta has much more than glamour: there are Greek temples, baroque cathedrals, statues of characters from popular legends and extravagant sculptures. While the cemetery is where the most famous residents of Buenos Aires are buried, including María Eva Duarte de Perón, La Recoleta is also a cemetery where several ghosts still live. From a presumably dead girl who was accidentally buried alive to try to get through to the ghost of a former gravedigger, a few paranormal encounters await those who want to get lost in La Recoleta Cemetery.
Church of St. Jiří, Czech Republic
Who would have thought that a church could be a place where ghosts roam? Church of St. Jiří is located in a town with 708 inhabitants near Prague. The church was believed to be completely free of ghosts until 1968, when during the funeral of St. George burned the fire and damaged its roof. Locals believed the church was haunted and cursed, and since the fire Masses have only been held outside.
That was until 2012, when a local artist decided to place an installation inside the church to raise funds for its repairs. He used classmates from an art college, dressed them up as ghosts and made plaster casts of them. Now 32 “ghosts” sitting in the pews of the church attract visitors from all over the world, whose entrance fee paid for the repairs of St. George. Church of St. George is open for a few hours every Sunday, but visitors can take a look at the church at any time of the week. Some refuse to enter the church at all – Sunday or not – citing the strange energy emanating from inside the church.
Island of the Dolls, Mexico
Dolls with missing eyes hanging from trees are creepy enough, but the Island of the Dolls, or La Isla de las Muñecas, has a terrifying story. As the story goes, a certain man named Don Julian Santana Barrera moved to an island located in the canals of Xochimilco in Mexico City. Soon after, Barrera discovered the body of a young girl who had drowned in the lake with her doll floating nearby. Barrera hung the doll from a tree in hopes of appeasing the young girl’s spirit, and soon the island was dominated by the hanging dolls that Barrera cleaned up.
Whether or not Barrera actually found the body of a young girl on the island is unclear, but what is certain is that he drowned and died on the same island in 2001. Today, several ferries take visitors to the Isle of the Dolls, but it will be hard to find boats willing to do so make. Locals believe that the dolls whisper to each other and lure visitors to the island.
Tower Of London, Great Britain
Hundreds of visitors flock to the Tower Of London every day to see different things: witness the changing of the guard, admire the architecture, walk through the museum and, most importantly, catch a glimpse of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond. Most overlooked is that the castle was both a magnificent palace and a brutal prison that saw bloody battles, torture, executions and murders in its towers.
The Tower Of London is currently believed to be occupied by 13 ghosts, including Guy Fawkes, whose screams are said to still echo through the castle, Henry VI, whose murdered ghost haunts Wakefield Tower at midnight, and the headless Anne Boleyn — Henry VIII’s second wife. which was beheaded centuries ago. Visitors to the Tower Of London can now buy tickets for one of a number of tours that take them to places inside the castle where infamous events took place.
The Stanley Hotel, United States of America
The novel The Shining by Stephen King and its subsequent film by Stanley Kubrick are both considered the most frightening masterpieces in the horror genre. But King didn’t just let his desk inspire him to write the story; rather, he was inspired by a stay at The Stanley Hotel in the 1970s. However, the haunting of the Stanley Hotel is far from fiction, and its rooms are occupied by the ghosts of the original owners and deceased housekeepers. The hotel also runs ghost tours and it was a photo taken by guests in 2017 during one of those that captured two ghostly figures of young girls standing by the hotel’s staircase.
Hotel Del Salto (Tequendama Falls Museum of Biodiversity and Culture), Colombia
Perched atop a valley overlooking Tequendama Falls, Hotel Del Salto opened in 1923 as a luxury hotel for the wealthy, but now looks like the very picture of a haunted house. Hotel Del Salto literally translates to “jump hotel,” a terrifying nod to the hotel’s past. According to legend, the original Muisca people who fled the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s would jump to their deaths from the waterfall and into the valley below.
Even after the charming hotel was built, several people continued to jump to their deaths from the waterfall. Guests have reported seeing frequent apparitions and hearing loud noises, and there are also stories of a hotel guest murdering a socialite staying at Hotel Del Salto after being consumed by the area’s dark energies. Although the hotel has now been converted into the Tequendama Falls Museum of Biodiversity and Culture, some say the mate’s spirit can be seen from the window of the room in which she died.
Hoia-Baciu forest, Romania
Nothing is scarier than a fog-shrouded forest of twisted trees with ghostly shadows lurking around. The Hoia-Baciu Transylvanian Forest is all that and more. Hoia-Baciu, known as the “Bermuda Triangle of Romania”, is considered the most haunted forest in the world, with stories of girls disappearing, only to leave years later with no memory of what happened except for a 15th pocket coin. Several other people also disappeared in Hoia-Bacio, including a shepherd and his flock of 200 sheep. Some visitors have witnessed extraterrestrial activity deep within the forest, others have heard supernatural footsteps, and many have left Hoia-Baciu with unexplained rashes, fevers, and burns. While Hoia-Baciu functions like any other forest during the day, where visitors can ride bikes or walk among the haunted trees, haunted tours take brave thrill seekers into the misty forest late at night.