The macabre, the mysterious, and the downright terrifying. Places that intrigue and scare are uber attractive with contemporary travelers these days, but there are few locations around the world that stand unique. Where adventure-seekers pay top dollar for a morbid thrill.
If you’re finding Halloween at home a little mundane, here’s a list of places that will have you sleeping with the light on for weeks to come.
Now a tourist hot spot largely thanks to the hit TV show, Chernobyl, the city and surrounding exclusion area bearing the same name is one of the spookiest places on the planet. The meltdown of Chernobyl’s nuclear power station blanketed the region in deadly radiation and forced the entire city to evacuate. For history nuts, this ultimately preserved it as a Soviet-era time capsule and sealed its fate as a ghost city.
Exploring the abandoned Pripyat amusement park with its unnerving Ferris wheel and ashen apartment blocks is not for the faint-hearted. Not only is there radiation, but also flourishing populations of Wolves and Brown Bears in the area– and rumours persist of strange animals roaming the landscape mutated by the contamination. For your own safety, guided tours in this apocalyptic landscape are strictly advised.
Just off the coast of Sᾶo Paulo, Brazil, there’s an island so dangerous that the Brazilian Government bans all travel to it.
In this slithering hell, studies have found an average of one-to-five hyper-venomous Golden Lancehead Vipers per square metre. The frightening serpents can melt human flesh with venom five-times more potent than its mainland counterparts and are known to attack large birds from the treetops. This is a location to admire from a safe distance.
Gateway to Hell, Turkmenistan
If you’re looking for a literal depiction of hell on earth, then the Darvaza Crater in the remote reaches of Turkmenistan is where you need to go. It’s known as the Doorway to Hell, and we can see why.
The fiery chasm is said to have formed in 1971, when a drilling rig plunged into a cavern of natural gas. To avoid an ecological disaster, Soviet geologists set the deposit alight and the pit has been burning like the fires of Hades ever since. Even if it’s not the gateway to the underworld, its sinister beauty at night draws in tourists from across the globe.
Poveglia Island, Italy
This small picturesque isle near Venice is considered one of the most haunted places on earth.
Once a quarantine zone for plague sufferers in the late 1700s, it’s little wonder that the island has been given a wide berth for generations. Straight from a horror movie, Poveglia became a mental asylum in the 1920’s and legend has it that a sadistic doctor, tormented by visions of the patients he brutally tortured, committed suicide off the asylum’s bell tower. Those same patients are said to viciously haunt what’s left of the rusty old structures on the island and plans to turn Poveglia into a luxury resort seemed to reverse once its terrible past came to light. No-one is supposed to visit the island, but it is possible to get there from Venice if you’re desperate. Don’t get caught there after dark.
Nagoro takes the cake for creepiness. This small Japanese village has something very wrong with it, life-size dolls now outnumber living residents by a factor of 10:1.
Local toymaker, Tsukimi Ayano, began making the dolls when her neighbours passed away. She has since replicated the deceased population of Nagoro. The disturbing dolls are placed in lifelike positions around the village such as classrooms, park benches, and on the shoreline as fishermen.
Hashima Island, Nagasaki
If you’ve watched, James Bond in Skyfall, you would’ve seen Hashima Island as the villainous lair of Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem.
Hashima, also known as “Battleship Island”, is a walled concrete city floating in the sea off Nagasaki, Japan. The mini metropolis was built to house the workers of the now defunct underwater mines. It was abandoned in 1974, and Hashima is now a desolate ghost city surrounded by ocean. A sense of extreme isolation coupled with the foreboding structures still littered with belongings make Hashima utterly unnerving – where the thought of being marooned is never far from your mind.
The Parisian Catacombs
Adventure-seekers with a penchant for the macabre won’t find a spookier place to explore than the ancient catacombs under the streets of Paris.
The dripping tunnel walls are lined with human bones and skulls of an estimated six million people, entombed from the 18th century when aboveground cemeteries were overcrowded. To avoid getting lost and forgotten in the haunted catacombs, it’s advised to take a guided tour.
Akodessewa Market, Lomé, Togo
The Fetish Market in Lomé, Africa, is renowned throughout the continent and is the largest Voodoo market in the world.
Like the imaginings of a Haitian voodoo paradise, you will see and experience uncomfortable talismans of the mysterious arts. Akodessewa is like a freakish apothecary best avoided if you have a weak stomach, but a must see if you have a curious dark side – beware the isles of animal heads, ground bones, and suspicious looking skulls.
Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, South Korea
The history of the much feared and now abandoned Gonjiam psychiatric facility in South Korea could plot the next series of American Horror Story.
When patients began mysteriously dying, the hospital was forced to close. Whatever the story, the hospital was abandoned in a hurry with much of the beds, tables, and chairs left behind. The disintegrating hospital not only looks terrifying behind rusty barricades, the shadowy halls and examination rooms are said to be haunted by tortured spirits. Curious thrill seekers have reportedly fled shrieking from the site, some even with scratches and wounds from frightening encounters inside the hospital’s quiet corridors.
The hill of crosses, Lithuania
In northern Lithuania lies a hill bursting with two centuries of crucifixes and religious icons evoking imagery of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Crosses of different sizes and types sharply rise into the sky, almost back to back, as chimes ring like eerie warnings to all who approach. The hill is significant to the local people and has long been a sign of Lithuanian independence. Numerous governments have bulldozed the haunting site only to be rebuilt in defiance under the cover of darkness. Its true origins remain a mystery, but for spinetingling effect, see the gothic hill under a full moon.