Though most of us cherish to laze away a vacation on a beach, others relish actively seeking out spooky locations and actively frightening themselves half to death. From skull-filled catacombs to an island of snakes, we have compiled a list of spookiest travel destinations in the world. From the haunted and the legendary to the straightforward spooky, these scary destinations will chill you to the bone. Would you dare to spend a night here?
Spookiest Travel Destinations
Also check out these horror movies inspired by true events. For a daring breed of tourists, only the world’s spookiest travel destinations will do. They willingly trade the daily grind for adrenaline-charged vacations that could end in death just as easily as they could end in a killer Insta shot.
Sleepy Hollow, New York
You remember the legend: The Headless Horseman rides over the bridge near the Old Dutch Church, seeking for his lost head. Washington Irving’s famous tale was based on a part of Tarrytown, New York, now actually renamed after the fictional Sleepy Hollow—and the town goes all out for the mysterious fall season. Located in the Hudson Valley, it’s just over an hour by car from New York City. Visit the church’s burial ground to explore the final resting places of the real-life people who inspired the tale.
This region of Romania takes tourists to that spot between myth and reality where mysterious beings like Dracula exist. Transylvania and its castles have doubtful links with Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire and the real-life prince who probably inspired him, Vlad the Impaler, but it sure looks the part. Bran Castle is commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle” because its shape matches Stoker’s description; also, it may have temporarily housed Vlad as a prisoner.
La Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls), Mexico
You will probably not dare to go to this tropical isle, but if you get a chance to visit Mexico City, check out this eerie off-the-beaten-path destination. Legend has it that the Island of the Dolls is home to the spirit of a young girl who drowned offshore. A hermit who lived there believed collecting and displaying dolls, now nasty and lost body parts would soothe her spirit. Tragically, he also drowned—coincidence? Visitors have said the dolls move, blink their eyes, and even whisper.
This city of love has some mysterious history. Visit the elaborately embellished Garnier Opera House, the real-life setting for The Phantom of the Opera. Although the Opera’s museum and library keeper, Pierre Vidal, revealed, “nobody has seen a ghost in the opera house,” you can play a Phantom-themed “immersive adventure” escape game there. If you’re seeking real ghosts, keep an eye out for the Red Man in the Tuileries gardens. But for the scariest Parisian experience, check out the Paris catacombs, hundreds of miles of underground passageways lined with the bones of six million souls.
Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Visit to explore where the royalty of Egypt’s the New Kingdom is buried—if you dare risk catching the mummies’ curse of misfortune following those who enter. The story seemed to come to life when King Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened in 1922 and several members of the expedition, including its investor Lord Carnarvon, died soon after.
Japan Suicide Forest
Near Mount Fuji, Aokigahara Forest is notorious as one of the world’s most famous suicide spots and is intimately connected with the home of the dead in Japanese mythology. The country’s suicide issue has grown to such an extent than in 2010, 200 people attempted suicide; signs at the entrance now warn suicidal people to ask help, and patrols constantly search the forest for bodies.
Snake Island, Brazil
Those with a phobia of anything slithery should not dare to pay a visit to this rocky land in Brazil, home to approximated 2,000–4,000 golden lancehead pit vipers, an endangered venomous snake. The island, Ilha da Queimada Grande (Snake Island), is closed to visitors both for their own safety and to conserve the snake population.