No matter where you're traveling, 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 spookiest locations are still worth your time, whether for their beautiful architecture, jaw-dropping locations, or fascinating histories.
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 as a murdered priest, who was stabbed by his brother in a rivalry over clan leadership. Visitors to the castle have experienced mists, sounds and even a ghostly touch.
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 counterclockwise spirals, and the spot with the most paranormal activity is centered around a circle where nothing grows.
One of the most haunted places in all of India, Bhangarh Fort is the story of a jealous wizard. 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. 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.
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.
A castle, fortress and prison, the Tower of London ranks high among England’s most haunted places. Over a thousand years, it has been the site of nine beheadings and numerous 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, not for the faint of heart.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.