Fall is here, and that means changing leaves, cozy sweaters and pumpkin spiced lattes. But the highlight of the season has to be Halloween. After all, how many other days a year do you have an excuse to dress up and eat obscene amounts of candy? And for those of us who really want to get into the spooky spirit, there’s haunted houses, hay rides, and ghost tours to check out.
But, if you’re looking for an experience beyond the frightening fakery, a haunted house or pumpkin patch just isn’t going to cut it. Plus, while many of us have never seen a ghost or just don't believe in them, that doesn't change our sense of curiosity about those from the next world over. So why not indulge that apparition attraction?
Luckily, no matter where you live, there seems to be a spot in every corner of the world with a terrifying tale making it spooky all year round. From haunted hotels, houses, and restaurants to full towns, some places are known more for their ghostly residents than their living ones.
So, if you’re looking to test your bravery this fall, check out these most haunted places on the planet.
Massachusetts is known for having some of the spookiest spots in the country. After all, it’s home to both the Salem Witch Trials and one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston. But, the scariest spot of all is actually further south in Fall River. It’s here where the Lizzie Borden House stands. What makes it so terrifying? Well, it’s the site where Ms. Borden allegedly murdered her father and stepmother in 1892. She was acquitted, but that didn’t stop the two tragic souls from staying put in the house after their untimely death. Many visitors have reported seeing ghosts and hearing strange sounds.
It might look beautiful, but Aokigahara is one sinister place. Why? Let’s just say that the nickname for this spot is “Suicide Forest.” Yup, since the 1950s, more than 500 people have taken their lives in this spot, making it one of the most haunted places in the world. With that many deaths, it’s no surprise that folks believe tormented souls haunt the forest. Some say the ghosts even try to lure you off the path to meet a similar fate as theirs.
Realy East Star/Tonu Spagone/Alamy Stock Photo
When you think of islands, you picture white sand beaches and sunsets over the ocean. Well, this island is known more for their apparitions than amenities. Beginning in the 18th century, it was a quarantine station for plague victims, many of whom were buried in mass graves. In the 1920s the island was home to a mental hospital where, allegedly, a disturbed doctor conducted experiments on the helpless patients before eventually committing suicide himself. No wonder it’s known as “the world’s most haunted island.”
Mexico is home to beautiful beaches, top-notch resorts, and delicious tacos. The ghost of a little girl? Not so much. But in Xochimilco, there’s a long-standing legend that a young girl drowned in one of the canals over half a century ago. Apparently, the man who found her body hung a doll in a nearby tree and was forever haunted by the girl’s spirit. It drove him mad, and he started to hang hundreds of dolls in the trees before his body was found in 2001 in the same spot where the girl died. Dolls are still hung today, and people report seeing the eyes on the toys follow them and hearing a little girl laugh.
From seeing ghostly gardeners and feeling the graze of a hand when you’re alone to hearing children laughing, this 1914 Gothic Revival castle has seen it all when it comes to the spirit world. The most famous sighting is the White Lady, who usually appears on the second floor but has also been seen in the basement. She is thought to be a maid who once worked there in the early 1900s. The director of the castle even tried to capture the ghosts on tape, only to have the tapes mysteriously go missing. Wanting to capitalize on their horrifying history, the castle is now home to a haunted house attraction.
The stunning French castle seems like the perfect place to escape the city. Unfortunately, Charlotte of Valois didn’t escape here alive. According to legend, the woman (who was the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII) was murdered here by her husband after finding out she had an affair. Now, many visitors report seeing a “Green Lady” walking through the halls since that was the color of dress she was known to wear. If you’re eager to catch a glimpse yourself, you can. The château actually welcomes overnight visitors.
You know that any place that served as the inspiration for a horror film has to be pretty spooky. Well, The Stanley Hotel happens to be the muse for one of the scariest flicks of all time: “The Shining.” For years, guests and staff have spotted ghosts roaming the halls. But not all are mean. A popular sighting is a maid in room 217 who is known for putting guests’ clothes away. And the hotel doesn’t shy away from their ghostly guests. In fact, they offer “Spirited” rooms that are known for their paranormal activity.
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Known as one of the most haunted houses in Sweden, The Old Vicarage was the longtime home to various priests. Although it was built in 1876, spirit sightings didn’t start until 1927 when the priest living there at the time reported watching his laundry being torn from the line. The stories continued from that point on. No one is exactly sure who is in charge of the hauntings, but some claim it’s former abused maids, babies buried in the backyard, or former priests. You can find out for yourself by staying the night since the home is now a B&B.
Who knew so many forests were haunted? Along with the “Suicide Forest” in Japan, Romania is also home to a scary woodland. Over the years, people have said they feel as if they’re being watched or are overcome with anxiety as they walk through the trees. Others have reported seeing actual ghosts or having faces pop up in photographs taken there. There have even been UFO sightings here. Go ahead and take a stroll through…if you dare.
You don’t even have to be interested in haunted things to know Transylvania is one spooky place. But the reason for its reputation is one place in particular: Corvin Castle. It was here that the vampire myth was arguably born. Vlad the Impaler kept prisoners here and was known for, well, impaling them. The rumor became that he enjoyed this act a little too much and his bloodthirsty nature later became the inspiration for the fictional character of Dracula. With such a morbid history, it’s no surprise there have been numerous ghostly sightings at the castle.
Paris is one of the most vibrant cities in the world… even for the underworld. Literally, under the streets of Paris are the famous catacombs that are said to be filled with spirits. Back in the 18th century, the cemeteries were so full that the overflow of bodies was put in these underground labyrinths. So, unfortunately, a lot of people were never truly put to rest and therefore still haunt those who come to visit today. Grab some cheese and wine and check it out for yourself.
The Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee was bad news from the beginning. After it was built in 1885 it suffered not just one tragic event, but multiple ones. The Crawley family, who lived there until 1948, lost a child who fell down the stairs, a maid apparently fell off a balcony and died, and a stable boy allegedly burned to death at the property. And that’s just the start. A mentally ill man named Harold was chained up for 40 years on the property, and someone else was murdered once the home was sold. That’s a pretty good reason this cottage is considered the most haunted location in the entire continent.
The Castle of Good Hope was built in the 17th century but didn’t actually have any hauntings until 1915 when a tall man was seen on one of the walls. Then it went quiet. But in 1947, things went a bit crazy. That same man was seen continually jumping off the wall or walking. Then later a Lady in Grey was seen crying hysterically and running through the castle, the bell in the bell tower rings on its own after a soldier was found hanging there, and there’s even the ghost of a black dog roaming around.
Some say that this inn is not only the most haunted place in the United Kingdom but potentially in the world. Built in 1145, there are stories of children being sacrificed, people worshiping the devil, and ghosts haunting the halls. To top it off, the inn is said to be situated on top of a pagan burial ground. Over the years, guests fled in the middle of the night because of their apparition interactions and even the current owner said on his first night in the house in 1968 he was dragged across the room. He also found the skeletons of two children beneath the staircase.
The Banff Springs hotel might have been built as a luxury destination over 125 years ago, but it’s since become the hot spot for ghostly activity. Guests still report seeing the ghost of a bride who fell down the stairs and broke her neck after her dress caught fire, the members of a family who was murdered in room 872, and a longtime bellman who still just wants to help patrons of the property.
The Old Changi Hospital was built in 1935 and used by the Japanese Secret Police as a prison and torture camp for a brief time. Sadly, it seems many of those who faced their final days there never left. Soldiers, patients of the hospital, and others executed there all still haunt the space. There are even sightings of spirits of children in the old children’s ward. The most reported happening? Loud bangs and people screaming. Not exactly someplace you want to hang out. That is unless you’re into that sort of thing.
RODOLFO CONTRERAS/Alamy Stock Photo
Situated under the Old Town of Edinburgh is a series of small alleyways called Mary King’s Close. In the 1600s these streets swarmed with merchants and were surrounded by crowded tenements, and the slum-like neighborhood suffered disproportionately in plagues. The neighborhood was closed off when the Royal Exchange was built partially on top of it during the 18th century. Over the years, locals started reporting sightings of ghosts from centuries earlier and people have said they feel sick or get the chills. The buried alleyways became so well known that there are guided tours of the Close, but the stories persist — one guide said a coin was thrown at his head once. It sounds like the ghosts don’t want to be bothered.
One step inside Eastern State Penitentiary and you know it’s haunted. The former prison in Philadelphia, built in 1829, was home to many inmates who died here after facing some horrific torture. (It wasn’t run by a mad scientist or a megalomaniac — much of the inmates’ treatment aligned with criminal justice theories of the time that now seem cruel.) The prison operated until 1971 and is now open to the public as a museum highlighting society’s ever-changing approach to crime and punishment. Walk through the cold, crumbling halls today, and you can practically hear screaming.
Hashima Island looks like something straight out of an apocalyptic movie. It used to host a busy coal mine that was later abandoned. The spirits did not leave, though. While it was in operation, workers were forced to live in awful conditions and subjected to harsh working environments, causing 200 of them to die there. The island was later used to house Korean and Chinese prisoners of war, who were forced to work and live in even worse conditions. It was said that as many as five people died a month during that time. Today, you can still hear the chatter of those who perished here.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. But it might be its ghoulish visitors that it’s most well-known for. While the historic structure is beautiful, it has a pretty ugly history. A lighthousekeeper died from a fall at the lighthouse, and three girls drowned here when they fell into the ocean. Since then, people have spotted the keeper and report hearing the sounds of children laughing.
The name Winchester is synonymous with death, given the family’s dealings in the gun business. But when Sarah Winchester (part of the famous rifle company family) was told she lost her husband and child because of the ghosts that were killed by the family’s rifles, she went a little kooky. To keep away the spirits, she built a beautiful Victorian house with some interesting quirks. There are doors to nowhere, brick walls, and secret passages. Apparently, it didn’t help keep all the ghosts away, because there are still sightings, mainly on the third where the servants lived.
Mentally ill patients have been coming to this West Virginia asylum since 1864, and at its peak there were more than 2,400 patients. Although it was supposed to be a place for these people to get better, now-discredited approaches to mental health meant that lobotomies and electroshock therapy were conducted on many patients. Those experiments sadly led to a lot of deaths, and it is said that many of those tortured patients still roam the halls nearly 25 years after the doors were closed.
With a hotel as old as Arizona’s Monte Vista (opened in 1927), there’s bound to be some apparition activity. Some of the most famous stories included an old woman who was a longtime resident in room 305 and would rock in a chair for hours. Guests today say they still see here there rocking away. Other people have reported hearing sounds like babies crying, a housekeeper doing chores, the activities of two prostitutes who were killed in room 306, and a bellboy who still offers room service, and others have seen the man who stayed (and died) in room 220. He was known for hanging meat from the chandelier.
Historic America Engineering Record, Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons
Poinsett Bridge has the accolade of being South Carolina’s oldest bridge and also the most haunted. The mason who helped construct the stone bridge died while building it and was reportedly buried inside. Later, a slave was lynched nearby, and a man died in a car accident at the same spot in the 1950s. All of these people are said to still wander around the historic passageway, and strange occurrences have happened here. At night, visitors reported that their cars wouldn’t start, a light would move towards them, and they’d hear screaming.
Many keepers called the New London Ledge Lighthouse home, but one apparently didn’t want to leave. Ernie, one of the first to look after the Connecticut structure, is said to take care of the place still and makes his presence known. People have reported doors opening and closing on their own and TVs suddenly turning on; some have even seen a bearded man wandering through the building. Want a shot at a ghostly encounter? You can book a tour of the lighthouse during the summer.
When a place gets the nickname of “ax murder house,” you know there’s bound to be some ghosts lingering around. So, what exactly happened here? On June 10, 1912, Josiah B. Moore, his wife, their four kids and two young girls spending the night were all murdered. No one was ever convicted of the crime, and to this day people claim they’ve seen a man carrying an ax and children crying. To make it even spookier, the house was actually returned to its original condition (meaning no plumbing or electricity), and you can now partake in evening tours. If you really want to test your limits, you can even book an overnight at the haunted home.
You know if a home is built on a burial ground ghosts are most certainly going to hang around. Then you add the fact that multiple people died in this Louisiana house, and you’re in for apparition overload. A famous death was one that involved a slave named Chloe who was actually killed by other slaves who lived on the property. Over the years, people have said they’ve seen the woman in addition to children. Other reports include seeing handprints in the mirror, rattling doors, and cold spots throughout the house.
Gettysburg is one of the most historic spots in the United States, but for a pretty gruesome reason. It’s the site where one of the deadliest battles of the Civil War took place. Of course, with that many restless souls, some are still going to haunt the grounds. That’s why there have been consistent stories over the years of visitors seeing soldiers, and hearing cannons fired and the screams of those wounded. For the most likely chance of spotting a ghost, head to the Devil's Den, a spot where bodies and limbs were found even after the war.
Whether it was natural causes or violent encounters, allegedly more than 1,000 inmates died at this West Virginia prison while it was in operation, including 94 who were executed. Even those who weren’t inmates were subjected to tragic fates, like a maintenance man who was stabbed to death by inmates. Today, some of those who died here never left, and people say that they still see ghosts lurking the halls. You can have a shot at seeing a spirit or two yourself by booking one of the sunset tours.
The strange occurrences at this home became so popular that books and movies were created to tell the story. It all began when the DeFeo family was murdered here in 1974. A year later, the Lutz family moved in and started to experience some horrifying events. According to them, liquid oozed from the walls, flies took over the house, beds levitate, doors slammed shut, and knives flew through the air. Not surprisingly, the family only lasted 28 days in the home.
It’s not just one home or restaurant that’s haunted in Toowoomba, it’s the whole town. In fact, it’s known as the paranormal capital of Australia. The De Molay House was home to several girls who committed suicide. The railway station is haunted by a woman who was killed there in the 1930s. The movie theater still gets visits from a woman who died after becoming sick. And Maggie Hume haunts Ascot House after she died from taking poison. Doesn’t sound like the best place to have lived, but it’s a bustling town for ghosts today.
Akershus Fortress’ checkered past makes it a hotbed for ghostly activity today. It was where prisoners of war were kept during the 18th and 19th century, and many of them did not make it out alive. It was also a spot where Nazis executed people during World War II. But it’s actually the spirit of a dog that’s most commonly seen. A pup used to guard the fortress and was buried at the Maid Towers. Now, as the tale goes, if you encounter the spirit of this canine, you will die within three months. So tread carefully if you decide to pay a visit.
Ryan Googin/Wikimedia Commons
Xunantunich is an ancient Maya archaeological site that’s home to a very famous ghost. In fact, the place was named after the apparition. Xunantunich means “the Stone Woman,” and it got the name after so many locals reported seeing a woman dressed in white with red eyes. She can be seen ascending the stairs of El Castillo and then disappearing into a wall. Some believe she was part of a sacrifice that took place there. Want to see her yourself? Visitors are welcome to the site, and you can climb those same set of stairs.
Of course, you’d expect to see ghosts at a cemetery. But London’s Highgate Cemetery is particularly haunted. Maybe it’s because it’s home to over 50,000 gravesites including some famous figures like Karl Marx, novelists George Eliot and Douglas Adams. The burial plot got the most attention in 1960 when many people reported seeing a tall man in a top hat with glowing eyes. He was dubbed the “Highgate Vampire,” and many vampire hunters have roamed the grounds in hopes of finding the ghoulish gentleman.
Death was a regular occurrence at Sloss Furnace. A worker was dragged into machinery and crushed to death while co-workers watched helplessly. Another fell into molten steel. Many others fell from catwalks or were caught in hot steam. One cruel boss died when he fell from a suspended walkway, and foul play was neither confirmed nor denied. Today, the furnace is a National Historic Landmark and home to haunted stories. Steam whistles that blow on their own, the sound of footsteps and screams and shadowy figures, and orbs and mists caught on camera have all been reported.
The infamous prison gained a reputation for housing some of the worst criminals in history. And now it has a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in the world. One famous story is of inmates Coy, Cretzer and Hubbard, who were shot to death after a failed prison escape. Guards later reported hearing clanking sounds in the spot where they died. Then there’s cell 14D, a solitary confinement room, where one prisoner was found strangled after screaming all night. Some visitors can still hear screams. And cell block C is home to “The Butcher,” a former mob hitman who was murdered there.
Even locals won’t go to this fort. Why? Well, according to legend, an angry wizard cursed it right before it was invaded and everyone inside was killed. Those who live close by have said they hear screaming and crying, smell weird odors, and see shadowy figures often. You can take a tour of the haunted grounds, but no one is allowed to stay the night. With that history, why would you want to?
Don Ramey Logan/Wikimedia Commons
The ghost of Rose Hall Plantation was so famous, Johnny Cash wrote a song about her called “The Ballad of Annie Palmer.” As the story goes, Annie was raised by her witchcraft-loving nanny after her parents died. She went on to kill her three husbands and several slaves before another slave eventually killed her. With so much brutality in one spot, restless souls have lingered for years. You can have a chance at seeing one by getting tickets for one of the nightly ghost tours.
The turret at The Fairmont Express was constructed in the 1920s without a door. But one day a worker discovered a pillow and blanket in the sealed room, and no one could determine how it got there. And that’s not the only spooky thing to happen there. There’s an old woman who roams the halls on the sixth floor looking for her room, a deceased maid cleaning on the same floor, and a little girl playing in the hotel. Some even believe they’ve seen the architect of the building, Francis Rattenbury, who wanders around with a cane.
With a history dating back to 1893, a few ghosts are undoubtedly lingering in this Colorado hotel. The most popular sightings include that of a lady in white and a railway engineer hanging out in the lobby. One blogger, Lanee Lee, also claimed during her stay there that she captured the image of a ghost on her camera. “I took a picture of my room, and there was a ghostly, blue orb that appeared on the bed’s wooden headboard,” she wrote. “And I did NOT have the flash on! Spooky, indeed.”
Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren certainly saw their fair share of haunted places. But they wrote about the Union Cemetery in particular in their book “Graveyard: True Hauntings From an Old New England Cemetery.” The reason this spot made the list was the numerous ghostly sightings reported at this 400-year-old burial ground. The most famous one, though, was the “White Lady” who appears wearing a nightgown or wedding dress in the middle of Route 59 and is hit by a car. When the driver gets out to help, no one is around. Ed claims to have captured this woman on film.
You know a place is super-haunted when people argue over which part has the most ghosts. At Fort Delaware, people claim the dungeons are the most haunted, while others say it’s the kitchen because a dead cook shows up in a lot of tourist photos. The primary source of the spirits is dead Confederate soldiers who were once imprisoned at the fort. Today, they create cold spots and make noises for those who come for a visit. SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters” even caught a thermal image of a mysterious figure.
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Apparently, prisons are hot spots for cold figures. “Old Pen,” which operated from 1872 to 1973, is still home to some inmates who never left. One, in particular, is Raymond Allen Snowden, aka Idaho’s Jack the Ripper. He was hung here after being sentenced to death, and since then people have reported feeling someone’s touch, hearing whispers, seeing lights, and feeling overwhelmed with a sense of despair. The Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” team heard these strange sounds and even caught an apparition on tape. Could it be Snowden?
Almost every paranormal hunting show out there— “Ghost Hunters,” “Scariest Places on Earth,” “Fact or Fakes,” and “Celebrity Paranormal Project” to name a few — has investigated this former infirmary. Thousands of people apparently died here after the hospital opened in 1910 as a place to treat tuberculosis patients. Unfortunately, not everyone got better. After patients and members of the staff died, they would be transported through the so-called Death Tunnel. Now, lights flicker and shadowy figures can be seen.
With its beautiful architecture and stunning grounds, you would never even know the Forbidden City, which served as China’s imperial palace for nearly five centuries until 1912, has a horrible past. Years ago, concubines were murdered here, and many have reported that they’ve seen these tortured souls still roaming around after dark. Others say they’ve heard music playing, people shouting and crying and jewelry jingling. The steps between rooms were also reportedly built to be high to prevent ghosts from getting in. But that hasn’t stopped tourists from capturing them in photos.
About 80 abandoned cottages, some as much as 800 years old, remain at the foot of a mountain on Achill Island in Ireland. No one has lived there since the early 20th century, but those who visit still claim to see the ghosts of those who once did. While it used to be a popular camping spot, people have been warned to stay away at night after a story came out that a group of girls had their dog thrown on them by a shadowy figure while camping out.
The Queen Mary was once a luxury cruise ship with lots of amenities. But guests probably didn’t think that included ghosts. After two separate drowning incidents — one in 1930 and the other in 1960 — in the ship’s pool, people claimed to have seen spirits still taking a dip. Others reported seeing a different apparition in the ship’s salon of a woman wearing white. Now, the ship is permanently docked outside of Los Angeles and serves as a hotel. So, you can still go for a late-night swim or grab a nightcap in the salon to see if you’ll run into an otherworldly guest.
Prisons never exactly have positive pasts and most certainly have a ghost or two hanging around. But this former one in Indonesia is reportedly home to 41 of them. One of the famous ones is that of a Dutch woman who killed herself here. A guard reported seeing a woman sobbing in a rocking chair explaining that she had to commit suicide to prevent further tragedy in her life. Another guard claims to have seen another woman with a bloody face approaching him.
Screenshot: Jon Stevens/Youtube
While many psychiatric facilities haven’t lasted over the years, this one remains in working order and continues to take in new patients. Although it’s the presence of the former patients that makes this place so spooky. When Dr. Henry Cotton became the medical director in 1907, he employed some harsh experimental methods to treat mental illness. They included doing surgeries without anesthesia — even removing organs. Today, people say they can still hear the screaming in the halls.
If you want a shot at a ghostly encounter, just book a night in room 802 or 812 at the Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City, South Dakota. It’s here that people claim to have seen the former owner, Alex Johnson, still lurking. Johnson died in the hotel in 1938 and apparently never wanted to leave. It’s just that the way he makes his presence known can be terrifying. Guests have reported everything from hearing music and windows opening on their own to the sensation of being choked and seeing the words “help me” scribbled on a fogged-up mirror. There is no shortage of eerie happenings, and here are some of the creepiest real-life haunted house stories you’ll ever hear.
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