Scary Tourism: Ghosts, Ghouls and Haunted Castles


haunted house

Double, double, toil and trouble, 
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake
William Shakespeare

We are fast approaching the spookiest event of the year – Halloween. What better way to get you ready than to take a tour around the world of famous ghosts, ghouls and haunted castles!

Dragsholm Slot, Denmark

Dragsholm castle

About an hour northwest of Copenhagen, Denmark sits one of the spookiest Danish castles – Dragsholm Slot. This creepy structure boasts manicured gardens and incredible views of the North Sea. It’s also the setting of ghost stories and four wandering spirits. Today, the castle is a luxury hotel, which even allows you to stay over in the haunted castle.

The fortress was built in the 13th century by the Bishop of Roskilde. Over the years it was leveled by invading armies and reconstructed several times. During the Reformation, church property was claimed by the Danish King who seized Dragsholm Slot and imprisoned the bishop within its walls and left to die. Guests claim to hear moaning, cries and wailing from the area that was formerly the castle’s prison cells. The Earl of Bothwell, husband of Mary Queen of Scots and another former prisoner who died in the castle is also said to haunt the castle. Claims state that his spirit appears in the courtyard riding a horse-drawn carriage.

Two women also haunt the castle; the lady in white and the lady in gray. One is the spirit of a nobleman’s daughter. She fell in love with a laborer at the castle and her father forbade the relationship. When he caught her visiting her love, he chained her to a wall in the castle cellar and built a brick wall around her. The other ghost of an old woman who died after castle doctors removed her infected tooth. It relieved her pain, but she died shortly after the procedure. Her happy spirit remains in the castle.

Submitted by Derek and Mike, Everything Copenhagen

Alcatraz Night Tour, San Francisco, US


How would you like to follow the trail of some of America’s most infamous criminals like Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the “Birdman of Alcatraz”), and George “Machine Gun” Kelly?  On a small island in the middle of San Francisco Bay nicknamed “The Rock” you can.

Alcatraz was originally a military fortification with a lighthouse, but it is known for being a high-security federal prison from 1934-1963.  While 36 prisoners made 14 escape attempts, none were successful.

If you want to visit Alcatraz you will have to take one of the official tours.  They offer a day tour, night tour, and behind the scenes tour.  The Alcatraz night tour offers a bit of a spooky atmosphere and special ranger talks. The stories of how the prisoners tried to escape are fascinating.

All the tours include a scenic boat ride to the island with the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline.  Then, it’s a steep but short walk up to the cellhouse.  There the audio tour will explain the history of Alcatraz and what the lives of the prisoners were like in the cell block.

Submitted by Anisa, Two Traveling Texans

St Augustine Medieval Torture Museum, Florida, US

St Augustine

The St Augustine Medieval Torture Museum is located in the heart of touristy St George’s Street. It’s a small place, on the second floor and can be easily overlooked by the tourist shops that surround it. It is one of the only museums that are open until late at night in St Augustine.

The St Augustine Medieval Torture Museum is not for children. Some exhibits include an iron maiden, chastity belts, a rack, and other torture devices that people used in the medieval ages.  The ambiance that the museum exudes is one of creepiness and well, it can get a bit scary and gory. It pays to visit at night, when the sun is already set, as the light effects and the cool blowing air definitely adds to the scary factor of the museum.

Want to be in on the action? There are several interactive displays where you can take photos with creepy looking mannequins or find yourself entangled on some torture devices as well.

Submitted by Ruby, Voyage Florida

Factors Walk, Savannah, US

Factors walk

One of the most popular questions tourists ask Savannah locals is, “Have you ever spotted any ghosts?” It’s only natural to wonder where the spirits are hiding out, since Savannah is known as one of the most haunted cities in the world! After roaming nearly every inch of it, I’ve come to the conclusion that Factors Walk is the spookiest spot.

Factors Walk is located between River and Bay Streets, in one of the oldest parts of Savannah. It’s where cotton “factors” used to track the massive amounts of cotton being exported out of Savannah. It’s also where items were unloaded from incoming ships and stored before being sold. Sadly, some of those “products” included enslaved men and women. They were brought up from the river and potentially held in the Cluskey Vaults before being moved through tunnels along Factors Walk to slave auctions further into town. Because of its history, the air feels very heavy there to me.

Today, Factors Walk still looks very much like it did 200 years ago! You can walk along the historic cobblestone streets, check out the Old Cotton Exchange Building, and even venture inside the Cluskey Vaults to try and spot a ghost for yourself!

Submitted by Erin, Savannah First-Timer’s Guide

Larnach Castle, Dunedin, New Zealand

Lanarch Castle

Rumours of paranormal activity and ghost sightings have been associated with New Zealand’s Larnach castle for decades. From the faintest of whispers to the downright dramatic, many a visitor has left this Dunedin landmark feeling uneasy about what goes on between its walls. Not the least, the staff have reported mysterious happenings such as floating objects and other unexplainable events. But perhaps it’s no surprise when you learn of the castle’s tragic history. After commissioning the property in 1871, William Larnach lost his daughter, first wife and second wife at the castle, before taking his own life there in 1898. The castle was then used as an insane asylum, a retreat for nuns, and a solder’s hospital before being bought by its current owners. These days, it’s one of New Zealand’s main attractions, being one of only two castles in the country. It’s a popular wedding and event venue, and you can even book a night at the castle hotel – if you dare!

Submitted by Nadine, Le Long Weekend

Vampire Museum in Paris, France

Vampire museum

If you are spending 2 days in Paris or more, go beyond the main sights and look for lesser-known places or activities in Paris.

If you are interested in ghosts and haunted places, you will be happy to know that Paris hosts the only museum dedicated to the vampires in the world!

This small museum located in a small house with a garden is managed by M. Jacques Sirgent, writer and self-proclaimed “vampirologist”. He lives on the upper floor of the house and he will tell you that the garden is haunted since his grandfather decided to hang himself from one of its trees.

Jacques Sirgent proposes guided visits to this museum quite often, especially for Halloween in Paris. Inside the museum, you can admire anything related to vampires: posters, vampire masks, vampirology books, and even an anti-vampire protection kit from the 19th century.

The museum is located at 14 rue Jules David, Les Lilas (93), at the end of the Parisian metro, line 11.

Submitted by Elisa, World in Paris

Abandoned theme park, UK

abandoned theme park

Earlier this year, my family and I stayed at a hotel on the site of an abandoned theme park. Camelot, located in Chorley, suddenly shut down, without much explanation, in autumn 2012, and has been left to decay since. The hotel complex used to be part of the theme park, and it is evident from the numerous car parks on site, which don’t seem to fit with the rest of the hotel.

Some people have been inside the park, and you can find their photos, including those of the Knightmare rollercoaster, which had just been demolished before our visit, on Instagram by searching Camelot Theme Park.

We didn’t trespass ourselves, so just took photos from the outside, but it was suitably creepy! The atmosphere around the grounds feels charged – it wouldn’t surprise me if the park was haunted.

Submitted by Emma-Louise, Even Angels Fall

The Weeping House in Kyiv, Ukraine

weeping house

Ask any resident of Kyiv, Ukraine, whether there are any haunted places in the city, and most will immediately point in the direction of Richard the Lionheart’s castle. Towering over the old and lovely, postcard-perfect Andriivska street in the old town, this building has the spookiest story to tell.

The gothic-styled mansion was trouble from the start. Perched on a hill, it was risky and complicated to build. Once it was built, the mansion caught on fire and was badly damaged. A while later, after the place was restored and the family moved in, its patriarch, a wealthy but greedy merchant Dmitriy Orlov was killed, and his widow sold the house.

The locals say that after these events, the house started crying. Coming out of its pipes and walls, the weeping sounds were loud and creepy, and crawled into every corner of the otherwise postcard-perfect street, sending shivers down the spines of its residents.

Years went by. Several families attempted to buy a house, but neither managed to move in and stay. Today, almost a century after the mansion was built, it still remains unclaimed, its walls and pipes weeping on certain nights.

Submitted by Inessa and Natalie, Through a Travel Lens

The Stanley Hotel, Colorado, US

stanley hotel

The Stanley Hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in the US and most well-known for it’s connection to Stephen King and The Shining.  While the original wasn’t filmed there (the remake was!) Stephen King did write the whole book here.  The first movie was inspired very much by the Stanley Hotel but wasn’t quite up to snuff.  The hotel has quite this history and you can experience it for yourself.  They offer day tours if you only have a few hours there or will only be there during the day.  These are also great if you’re more into history or have kids with you.  If you’re on a budget but want to experience it at night, you can do a Stanley Hotel night tour (highly recommend!) or if you want to splurge on the ultimate spooky experience, you can spend a night at the Stanley Hotel.  Not only can you stay at the Stanley Hotel, but you can specifically book the most haunted rooms!  This would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and so worth the splurge.

Submitted by Megan, Red Around The World

Poole, Dorset, UK


Poole is a lovely quaint town located in the South West of England, at the seaside. By day, it is just another beautiful coastal town. By night however, many ghosts and spirits haunt its medieval houses from the old town centre. One can find out about all the local ghosts, some more peaceful than others, in Granny Cousins interactive ghost tour, which runs several times a year, usually in summer. The tour is led by Granny Cousins herself and her helper Red, two Victorian characters who know maybe a bit too much about the murders going on around town. The tour is very interactive, and it involves quite a few scary moments.

Poole is indeed a haunted town in Dorset, with one of the most active ghosts located at The King Charles pub. Many unusual things happen around the pub, which has been the subject of many paranormal investigations.

Submitted by Joanna, The World in my Pocket

The Rocks, Sydney

the rocks

There are few places in Australia with as old and as sordid a history as Sydney’s The Rocks.

Dating back to the late 1700’s, The Rocks dates back to the early settlement of Australia and has a history of disease, crime and hardship and a reputation as one of Sydney’s spookiest locations.

Many beautiful old stone buildings and some cobblestoned streets remain today, making it a pretty cool place for a stroll regardless, but those with an interest in the paranormal, or even just history, can join The Rocks Ghost Tour to walk the streets at night and hear tales from the past.

Guests will enjoy exclusive access to The Parbury Ruins, the remnants of an early 1800’s cottage preserved in the basement of a modern apartment block, and hear the tale of a body found in a well as they gather around staring into it.

Or at the Hero of Waterloo, one of Sydney’s oldest pubs, they will hear of the secret passage in the basement leading to the wharfs. Many a man found himself enjoying a drink at the bar one moment, then waking on a whaling ship after being smuggled away. That’s if he didn’t die in the passage on the way instead!

Submitted by Holly, Globeblogging

Kellie’s Castle in Perak, Malaysia

kellies castle

Situated halfway between Perak’s adventure sports capital of Gopeng and the town of Batu Gajah, both not far away from Ipoh, Kellie’s Castles is a very quirky sight in Malaysia — and one that has a reputation for hantu — ghost, in the Malay language.

Built by a Scottish planter, William Kellie-Smith, Kellie’s Castle is an unfinished European-styled manor that mixes South Indian Tamil architecture and is set next to the Raya River in lush tropical surroundings. Locals say that Kellie built this manor either as a gift to his wife, or to celebrate the birth of his son in 1915. In the original plan, the castle should have had Malaysia’s first elevator, an indoor tennis court, and a rooftop courtyard for nightlife and entertainment.

But something strange started happening during construction: many among Kellie’s team of Indian workers started dying of a bad case of Spanish Flu. Worried they may have attracted the wrath of some angry god, Kellie’s men asked him permission to build an Indian temple nearby — to which the Scot promptly agreed. The pandemic and the deaths stopped shortly after the temple was erected, and Kellie was immortalized as a statue among the Hindu Gods on its roof.

The castle, however, was never finished because Kellie died of pneumonia while away in Portugal in 1926. Devastated, his wife decided to move back to Scotland, leaving everything unfinished. Today Kellie’s Castle is a tourist attraction, and some say it is haunted by ghosts. You can experience this history on a Kellie’s Castle Paranormal Tour, which brings guests through the empty hallways and rooftop of the manor in search for clues of its weird story… ghosts or not, this atmospheric visit is not for the faint-hearted.

Submitted by Marco, Penang Insider

Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland


Edinburgh is home to Scotland’s most haunted graveyard. Greyfriars Kirkyard is the stomping ground to several ghosts and poltergeists. These supernatural beings make a leisurely stroll through the graveyard extra spooky.

A lot of the paranormal activity is tied to one of Scotland’s former judges, George Mackenzie. He was responsible for punishing a rebellious group called the Covenanter’s. The group of 1200 prisoners were forced to stay out in the open, unsheltered from the harsh rainy and cold Scottish weather.

The prisoners were starved and tortured – most of them didn’t survive.

The Covenanters’ Prison is now blocked off and is only accessible by a ghost tour. Most people who enter the prison grounds are attacked by a ghostly entity, coming out with scratches, bruises or left feeling very ill.

If that isn’t terrifying enough, the black mausoleum of George Mackenzie is only a few steps away from the prison gates.

Visitors to the graveyard have felt the presence of the Mackenzie Poltergeist and have noted similar injuries and feelings of unease as they lurk into the darkness inside the Black Mausoleum.

Whether it’s the Mackenzie Poltergeist or the ghosts of the Covenanters – something in Greyfriars is out to get you.

Submitted by Crystal, Wandering Crystal

Amsterdam Dungeon, The Netherlands

amsterdam dungeons

One of the most creepy things to do in Amsterdam is going to the Amsterdam Dungeon. The Amsterdam Dungeon is a place where you dive deep into the darkest parts of the real history of the Netherlands.

You’ll go on a journey through several rooms where you discover some new scary things every time. Also, you’ll participate yourself in the experiences. For example, one member of the audience is accused of being a witch and has to stand trial (before being burned at the stake). Or you can be in a cage before being told what your punishment will be.

The whole experience consists of 7 interactive shows with live actors. During Halloween, the Amsterdam Dungeon is open till later and there is an extra show that you can only experience from October 10 till October 31.

If you are in Amsterdam, you should definitely experience the Amsterdam Dungeon, because it is really one of the best things to do in Amsterdam!

Submitted by Dymphe, Dymabroad

Point Nepean Quarantine Station, Melbourne, Australia

point nepean

Abandoned at the end of the Second World War, the Point Nepean Quarantine Station was built at the very end of the Mornington Peninsula, near Melbourne, to isolate people with yellow fever.

But its history is darker and you can wander around and inside many of the buildings built for lepers, consumptives, prisoners and the mentally ill as well the morgue, mortuaries, crematorium, and graveyards.

The quarantine station is in Point Nepean National Park and closes at sunset. The ghost of Adeline Eliza Satchwell is believed to haunt the station at night. Adeline was 83 when she died in 1943.

But a pub in Victoria, the Elephant Bridge Hotel, is also scene of hauntings by Adeline’s ghost. Adeline inherited the pub and she is supposed to have lived there all her life. Whatever the case, ghost tours are occasionally offered by the Nepean Historical Society at the creepy quarantine station. Perhaps you should visit during the day, when the abandoned buildings echo their sad history but don’t seem quite so scary!

Submitted by Monique, Trip Anthropologist

Haunted chapel in São Paulo, Brazil

holy cross hanged
Liberdade Square and church in Liberdade japanese neighborhood – Sao Paulo, Brazil

Many tourists visiting the Holy Cross of the Hanged think it is just another chapel, another touristy thing to do in São Paulo.

Turns out this 18th-century chapel was built inside a cemetery for slaves, the poor, criminals, or anyone who would uprise against the empire.

Back then, the authorities would execute those people by hanging in public, and for practical reasons, that happened inside the cemetery.

While the cemetery eventually moved to another location a century later, the chapel remained in its place together with some haunted rumors.

Legend has it that the church’s altar marks the spot where people were people were executed, and their souls still roam here since people’s remains were never transferred or removed.

Whether that’s true or not, I can’t say, but the Holy Cross of the Hanged still draws many faithful people who light candles for the afflicted souls. In the same breath, paranormal believers claim the chapel has abnormal electromagnetic waves.

Would you light a candle there?

Submitted by Bruna, I Heart Brazil

New Orleans, Louisiana, US

New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana is one of America’s most haunted cities! While there are many things to do in New Orleans, take a ghost tour to hear the gruesome stories about why it’s so haunted.

First, in the mid-19th century multiple yellow fever epidemics struck New Orleans killing over 41,000 people! Roaming the French Quarter you’ll pass apartment buildings that used to operate as hospitals, and walk along many streets that had piles of the dead.

Perhaps the most famous tale of New Orleans horror is of Madame Delphine LaLaurie, who enslaved and tortured African-American slaves in her home in secret. It’s only after a horrible fire erupted, that her neighbors discovered her secret. Her mansion still stands and was briefly owned by Nicolas Cage.

Another interesting part of New Orleans is their above-ground cemeteries, created because the city lies below sea level. Originally, when folks tried to bury their dead, the wooden caskets would float up to the surface! Be sure to check out these “cities of the dead” where the most popular is Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.

Lastly, don’t miss Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo on Bourbon Street to shop for voodoo dolls, tarot cards, spell kits, and talismans.

Submitted by Alanna, Periodic Adventures

Battleship Island, Japan

battleship island

Back in 2012, CNN Travel announced a list of the “10 of the freakiest places around the world”, and the Battleship Island (a.k.a. Gunkanjima) was put on the list.

Gunkanjima, located 18 kilometers offshore of Japan’s Nagasaki west coast, is an abandoned island that shaped like a battleship, hence the name. It was a coal mine back in the 1950s and 6,000 workers lived on the island during it prime; The island was then completely deserted after the coal mine was shut down in 1972. With its buildings and facilities remained unattended for decades, it is now a giant ruin that looks like a mysterious sea castle from the water.

To those who like exploring ruins, the island is reopened for tourism in 2009. Sign up for a guided boat tour of which you can actually walk on the island and get a feel what life was like 50 years ago. The island is also featured in a number of movies, including a James Bond Hollywood blockbuster “Skyfall” in 2012, served as the secret headquarters and hideout of the villain.

Submitted by Kenny, Knycx Journeying

National Justice Museum, Nottingham, UK

national justice

The National Justice Museum in Nottingham is the location of the former Shire Hall and county gaol. The building is steeped in history, the steps outside were used for public executions and there was a court on the site since 1375 and a prison since 1449. It is one of the must-see Nottingham attractions for all ages and a prominent feature on Nottingham ghost tours and for good reason as it was named one of the most haunted buildings in the UK.

On a tour of the National Justice Museum you will learn about the history of justice through time, discover medieval torture devices and methods, witness the old jail cells, encounter role playing actors, take part in a Victorian trial, and even descend into the haunted caves under the city.

But beware!

Many guests and staff members have witnessed ghosts in the building and experienced paranormal encounters, mysterious sounds, unexplained sensations such as feeling cold and feeling drowsy and more often than not feeling as though someone was watching them. Not really surprising inside a Grade II listed building where justice was served, and many people met their fate.

Submitted by Steph and Lewis, Book It Let’s Go!

Salem, Massachusetts, US


You can’t have an article featuring creepy, spooky tourism without including Salem, Massachusetts, one of the most (in)famous spots in the world for its dark past (and its mystical present, as well).

Salem, MA is the site of the Salem Witch Trials, which took place in the 1690s. This was an American tragedy that stemmed from many potential causes, including the intense Puritanism of the early settlers. Sadly, 25 of the accused witches were killed during the Trials, either at the gallows, in jail, or in one case, by being “pressed” to death.

Despite its harrowing past, Salem has become an incredibly popular tourist destination today, featuring attractions that point to the history of the trials. But it’s also sprung up into a destination for all things spooky, haunted, and creepy. There are many ghost tours in Salem, which take you past historic homes, dark graveyards, and other legendary spots, all while sharing tales and lore.

There’s also a lighter side to the magic of the area; many modern-day witches call Salem home, and you can find a host of legit magic shops sprinkled throughout Salem, plus the opportunity to attend palm readings or other events.

Add all this to the fact that Salem is a beautiful, quaint New England town, and you’ll find it’s an excellent destination for any time of year.

Whatever you do in Salem, you will no doubt leave feeling purely enchanted.

Submitted by Amy, New England With Love

Bran Castle, Romania

bram castle

Bran Castle or better-known Dracula castle is the king of creepy. No mention of dark or creepy tourism is complete without Dracula Castle.

I visited it in January at the height of winter because I really wanted to experience it in its full glory; with lots of snow around and a good sense of why it is considered so scary. If you want to read about the full day you can check it here.

Bran castle was made famous by the imagination of Bram Stoker who immortalised the character of Dracula. While the castle is better known as Dracula castle, it was never used by Vlad The Impaler (or Dracula as we know him now), he was imprisoned here for a small time. He was incredibly cruel but the tales of blood sucking are not true but Romanians dearly believe in vampirism. Combine the two and you have the perfect mix of creepy and scary.

The castle is located on a hill top with stunning surroundings. Its imposing towers and spires set the mood for your visit even before you enter the castle. The castle is rather simple inside but the labyrinth of stairs and passages opening into a courtyard are perfect if your imagination is anywhere as creative as Bram Stocker. To plan your visit and check ticket prices check here.

Submitted by Ucman, Brown Boy Travels

Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire, UK

whitby abbey

Whitby has a wealth of ghost stories to tell. This historic coastal town is filled with old buildings, narrow streets and many tales of things going bump in the night. A beast called the Burguest is said to roam the moors around the town, terrorising local livestock. And hobgoblins are said to inhabit the many caves in the cliffs surrounding the town.

But no place in Whitby is quite so atmospheric as the abbey which stands at the top of the 199 steps on Whitby’s south cliff.

Whitby Abbey, with its dramatic sea worn gothic architecture, dominates the skyline. And it is said that if you walk up the steps on a cold dark night and stand between St Mary’s church and the Abbey, then you may see and hear a dreadful sight. Many a frightened visitor has told tales of a ghostly horse drawn carriage pulling up in the moonlight next to the church before disappearing. Another tale tells of a white lady standing in the Abbey windows.

Who are these ghostly apparitions? Nobody knows. But Whitby Abbey rightly has enough of a reputation that it sparked the creation of one of the most famous gothic horror novels of all time. Bram Stoker visited Whitby in the 1890s and used the setting for his most famed creation, Dracula.

Submitted by Jo, A Rose Tinted World

Edinburgh’s Above and Below Stories


One of the first stops on every first-time visitors Scotland itinerary is Edinburgh’s Old Town and for good reason! This is where you’ll find Edinburgh Castle, many of the city’s tours, the oldest pubs and the multiple locations that inspired the Harry Potter books.

But there’s more to the Old Town that meets the excited wide eyes of the first-time visitor! Above and below the city lies stories of grave robbing for cash (Burke and Hare), public hangings for incest and pacts with the devil (Wizard of West Bow) and a real-life Jekyll and Hyde (Deacon Brodie).

While these events all took place in the past, they are very much alive today in Edinburgh’s museums, as pub names and features in its walking tours.

And the good news for those who can’t visit Edinburgh at the moment? Edinburgh’s dark history is ingrained in its tourism so you can experience it all year round but only if you’re brave enough to visit the cemeteries and hauntingly dark underground…

By Gemma, Everything Edinburgh

Tracey is the Content Editor for Flea Enterprises. She also blogs at PackThePJs. Tracey writes mainly about family travel; from days out to road trips with her pet dogs, to cruises and long-haul tropical destinations. Her family consists of her husband Huw, a medical writer, Millie-Mae (14), Toby (12) and Izzy and Jack the spaniels.

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