This list of the spookiest places in the world includes history, mystery, and unexplained phenomena. Head off the beaten path to these dark tourism destinations, but beware—don’t wander too far.
1. The Skeleton Coast, Namibia
Namibia’s Skeleton Coast gets its name from the graveyard of shipwrecks moored on its shoreline. Here, where the world’s oldest desert meets the Atlantic Ocean, a harshly exposed coastline provides little hope for survivors of a ship run aground. For that reason, the area has gained a nefarious reputation in the maritime community.
2. The Black Forest, Germany
As the setting for many Brothers Grimm tales including “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” and “Little Red Riding Hood,” the Black Forest in Germany carries an aura that easily comes off the page of a children’s story. From cannibalistic grannies to evil witches, maybe there’s a shred of truth to the wilderness that inspired the iconic stories.
3. Poenari Castle
Vlad the Impaler, more commonly known as the real life inspiration for the character Dracula, called Poenari Castle in Romania home. Climb the 1,500 steps to reach the castle ruins and with each step think about the atrocities carried out by Vlad, who plundered villages in the nearby region of Wallachia and had dissenters impaled alive.
4. St. George’s Church, Czech Republic
Built in the 14th century, St. George’s Church in the Czech Republic sat abandoned after the roof collapsed in the 1960s. The incident occured during a funeral, leading locals to believe the site was haunted. In 2012, a local artist created a life-size installation of ghost-like statues scattered about the pews and chapel to revive the site as a tourist attraction. The haunting scene creates the ultimate creep factor.
5. Appalachian Mountains, USA
Arguably more than another other place in America, the Appalachian Mountains in the United States are steeped in lore as dark as their miles of wilderness. From the original Indigenous tribes to the first arriving Scots-Irish frontiersman, many of the occupying cultures of Appalachia have the shared experiences of rugged isolation, deep suffering and supernatural beliefs.
6. Nagoro, Japan
If you suffer from pediophobia, or the fear of dolls and inanimate objects, you’ll want to bypass Nagoro, Japan. Here, a lonely villager decided to revamp the area’s dwindling population with life-size dolls which have been thoughtfully posed doing every day tasks from construction to cooking. The life-like quality of the dolls and reason for their existence is equal parts creepy and sad, making Nogoro easily one of the spookiest places in the world.
7. Čachtice Castle, Slovakia
The second of two castles to make our list of spookiest places in the world is Čachtice Castle in Slovakia. Its most famous inhabitant, the sadist Elizabeth Bátory, killed young women and bathed in their blood on her quest for youthful beauty. Thus she was known as the “Bloody Countess,” the castle ruins today remain surrounded by panoramic views of the endless countryside.
8. The Graveface Museum, USA
The Graveface Museum may not be a formal historic site, but it is housed in a row of historic warehouses along famed River Street in Savannah, Georgia. This museum-meets-oddity-shop-and-arcade is the only place of its kind where you can spend the day reading letters from Charles Manson, look at photos from world famous crime scenes, purchase a few vinyls and play a few rounds of pinball.