The world is filled with wonderful and exciting places to visit. There are awe-inspiring cultural attractions, bustling cities, and stunning natural landscapes to fill your bucket list. And there are terrifying places that will make your jaw drop…literally.
If you’re looking for a different kind of adventure, why not trade the usual relaxing and exotic destinations for travel experiences you’ll never forget for the rest of your life? From the plain weird to the mind-baffling and downright creepy, the world has no shortage of spooky places to freak you out. There are destinations that are so terrifying they will frighten that wits out of you and keep you up at night.
These terrifyng places are so scary you’d think they are filming locations for horror movies. Truth be told, no person in his right mind – however brave or courageous – would want to venture into these places. But if you think you are brave enough to visit underground burial sites, haunted castles, uninhabited islands, abandoned villages, crypts, and a suicide forest, below is our list of the world’s most terrifying places to visit.
The Island of Dolls
Where: Lake Teshuilo, Mexico
What makes it creepy: Xochimilco is an abandoned island near Mexico City famous for the hundreds of creepy mutilated dolls hanging from the island’s trees. According to local legend, the island’s only inhabitant found a young girl who drowned in a canal near the island. Immediately after, he started collecting dolls and hung them on trees for the girl.
How to get there: To reach the Island of Dolls, head to Xochimilco District, about 28 miles south of Mexico City. Once there, head to the Embarcadero Cuemanco and ask around for a boat or a trajinera (flat-bottomed boat) that will take you the Islas de las Muñecas.
The Catacombs of Paris
Where: Paris, France
What makes it creepy: An estimated 6,000,000 people were buried within this underground maze of tunnels. Bones and skulls moved from the city’s overflowing graveyards are artfully arranged on the tunnels’ walls. And if that’s not creepy enough, it is said that when exploring the catacombs at night, you’ll hear the walls talking to you, luring you to venture further into the catacombs’ deepest recesses.
How to get there: The visitors’ entrance to the catacombs is located on Place Denfert Rochereau so you can take the Paris Metro and stop at the Denfert Rochereau station. Buses 38 and 68 also stop near the catacombs visitors’ entrance.
Poland’s Crooked Forest
Where: Nowe Czarnowo, West Pomerania, Poland
What makes it creepy: The forest is filled with 400 inexplicably bent pine trees. Enveloped in mist, the forest has a horror-like quality, making it one of the most terrifying places in Europe.
How to get there: Travel either by air or by land from Warsaw to the city of Szczecin. Once there, travel 30 kms south to the town of Gryfino, take Road #31 south until you reach Nowe Czarnowo where the mysterious grove of crooked trees are.
The Haunted Leap Castle
Where: County Offaly, Ireland
What makes it creepy: The castle is said to be one of the world’s most terrifying places, haunted by the spirit of a priest who was murdered by his own brother in front of their whole family. Many other brutal killings took place in the castle, including the murders of 40 members of the McMahon clan. Leap Castle is also believed to be haunted by a malevolent supernatural entity called the Elemental that reeks of sulfur and decaying flesh.
How to get there: From Dublin, drive 75 miles via the M7 motorway to the town of Roscrea, County Tipperary. Leap Castle is just 4 miles north of Roscrea.
The Ancient Catacombs of Rome
Where: Rome, Italy
What makes it creepy: Rome’s ancient catacombs, more than 40 of them, are spooky yet fascinating places to visit, particularly for those with uniquely macabre tastes. The bone-filled crypts, in addition to the eerie atmosphere and stories of a dark past surrounding these underground burial sites are enough to give you a genuine fright. But what if you find out that these catacombs harbor angry spirits that are trapped inside? In fact, one of the spookiest places in Rome, the Santa Priscilla Catacombs are believed to be cursed and are haunted by spirits who wouldn’t think twice about hurting visitors.
How to get there: To visit the 3 important Catacombs from Rome – San Sebastiano, San Domitilla, and San Callisto – take the bus 714 just outside Termini station and travel until St Giovanni where you’ll hop off for the 218 bus that will take you all the way to the catacombs. To go to Santa Priscilla Catacombs, take the 310 bus at Termini Station and then hop off at Piazza Vescovio, just a 5-minute walk away from the underground burial site.
Tanzania’s Deadly Lake Natron
What makes it creepy: Lake Natron is one of the most terrifying lakes in the world. The land surrounding the lake is littered with the calcified corpses of animals that weren’t able to survive the lake’s harsh environment. Birds and bats that crash into the treacherous waters of the lake meet their untimely death due to the copious amounts of sodium bicarbonate that turn them into mummies as they dry.
How to get there: Paying for a privately chartered flight is the best way to reach Lake Natron. However, the destination can also be reached with a long drive and a trek that will take you to Ol Doinyo Sambu, where you will enjoy panoramic views of the eerie Lake Natron.
Japan’s Suicide Forest
Where: Yamanashi Prefecture, Minamitsuru District, Japan
What makes it creepy: Aokigahara or the Suicide Forest, at the base of Mt. Fuji, is the most popular spot for suicides in Japan. Despite the numerous signs posted all over the forest discouraging people from completing the act, more than 100 suicides still occur in the dense forest annually. Hanging is the most common method of suicide in the forest, followed by drug overdose.
How to get there: The Minamitsuru District, where the suicide forest is located, is accessible by train. Take the train from Tokyo on the Chuo line and get off at Takao then hop on the Shiojiri line until Otsuki where you will take the train to Fujikawaguchiko, a town not very far from the Aokigahara Forest.
The Catacombs of the Capuchins
Where: Palermo, Sicily, Italy
What makes it creepy: What makes this bone-ridden crypt extra creepy is that it has been featuring dressed mummified corpses displayed in gruesomely life-like positions since 1599. The Capuchin catacombs – described by visitors as “too creepy” – has about 8,000 corpses and more than 1200 mummies of the clergy, aristocrats, and affluent citizens, to name a few.
How to get there: Take bus 109 or 318 from the Centra Station and then hop off at Piazza Indipendenza, walk along Via Cappuccino, and then turn right on Via Pindemonte and walk until you reach Piazza Cappuccini where the Church of Santa Maria della Pace and the Catacombs are located. You can also take the metro up to Palazzo Reale-Orleans and then walk towards Norman Palace, before cross Independence Square to walk along Via Cappuccini all the way to Piazza Cappuccini.
The Creepy Bone Chapel
Where: Kutna Hora, Czech Republic
What make it creepy: Also called the creepy bone church, Sedlec Ossuary is a Gothic Roman Catholic chapel that lies directly under the Cemetery Church of All Saints. The eerie chapel and museum – featured in a number of horror flicks and home to the bones 70,000 people – is easily one of the most terrifying places in the Czech Republic. The bones were used to decorate the chapel so be prepared to see bone chandeliers, skull candle holders, and chalices fashioned out of femurs, among other examples of macabre art. A very disturbing places to visit, indeed, and not suitable for tourists travelling with very young children.
How to get there: Take the D09 regional train from Prague Main Train Station to Kutna Hora Hlavni Nadrazi. Hop off at the station and walk 1.2 kilometres (about 15 minutes) to the Sedlec Ossuary.
Africa’s Voodoo Market
Where: Lome, Togo
What makes it creepy: Considered the world’s largest voodoo market, the Akodessewa Fetish Market in Lome, Togo, is the place to visit if you fancy leopard heads, horse and human skulls, and other spine-chilling dead animal parts that traditional healers and medicine men use to cure all sorts of ailments. Most people would find the fetish market – located 4 kilometres from Lome city centre – a gruesome place and definitely not for the faint-hearted, especially if you are an animal-lover.
How to get there: To reach Akodessewa Fetish Market, take a taxi or moto-taxi from Lome city centre.
The Spine-chilling War Museum
Where: Penang, Malaysia
What makes it creepy: Also known as the Ghost Hill – one of Asia’s most haunted sites- the Penang War Museum was a military fortress has a very dark past. Numerous people were tortured and beheaded in the fortress during the brief Japanese occupation of Malaysia. The infamous site is said to be haunted by the spirits of a cruel Japanese officer named Suzuki as well as the local Chinese who died by means of the guillotine, the gallows, or the torture chambers.
How to get there: Take the Rapid Penang buses 302, 305, or 307 at the bus station near KOMTAR. Inform the driver that you will be hopping off at the bus stop at the foot of Ghost Hill, then take the 5-minute climb up the hill to the main entrance to the Penang War Museum.
Tuol Sleng and the Cambodian Killing Fields
Where: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
What makes it creepy: Grim reminders of the Khmer Rouge regime, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are two of the most haunted places in Cambodia. Tuol Sleng was an execution centre that claimed the lives of more than 20,000 prisoners while thousands were also executed and then buried in mass graves in Choeung Ek. Now a memorial, Choeung Ek is marked by a skull pagoda, a Buddhist stupa filled with the skulls of more than 5,000 of the regime’s innocent victims. Accounts of visitors and personnel at both attractions reveal that the ghosts of the Khmer Rouge’s victims have made their presence felt numerous times.
How to get there: You can hire a tuk-tuk to take you to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum which is within Phnom Penh and then to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, approximately 17 kilometres south of Cambodia’s capital city.
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By: Brendelyn Balaga