The world's most haunted places

written by Steve Vickers
updated 2/7/2023
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Whether you're a sceptic or a believer, these places are sure to give you a spine-tingling experience. From ghosts to other supernatural beings — here are a few of the most haunted places in the world.

This article is inspired by our Rough Guides guidebooks — your essential guides for travelling the world.

Christchurch Priory, UK

It’s said that the tortured souls of long-dead monks wander the grounds of Christchurch Priory, a grand parish church on the south coast of England. Nearby streets are stalked by the ghosts of ‘grey ladies’. On paranormal tours of this old Saxon town, tourists can visit a shop that locals abandoned — spooked by the frequent ghostly happenings.

The priory was founded in the 12th century by the Bishop of Winchester. Over the centuries it has been the site of many tragic events, including the Black Death and the English Civil War. Many people lost their lives during these events. It is believed that the spirits of those who died to continue to haunt the priory to this day.

The Priory at Christchurch, Dorset, England © cristapper/Shutterstock

Château de Brissac, France

Set amid serene Loire Valley scenery, Château de Brissac is one of the world's most haunted places. The turreted façade of these castle walls hides the gruesome tales of this ghostly location.

For example, the story of the fifteenth-century nobleman Jacques de Brézé. Brézé found his wife entangled with another man — and in retaliation — murdered them both. Since then, this castle is said to be haunted by the "Green Lady".

Visitors have reported seeing her ghostly figure, donning her infamous green dress, on the castle's staircase. Others claim to have heard frightful cries echoing through the castle. Many report an oppressive evil feeling when entering the grounds.

Chateau de Brissac, famous castles of Loire valley © leoks/Shutterstock

Kloster Unterzell, Germany

This abandoned monastery in the small town of Unterzell, Germany is said to be one of the most haunted places in the country. The sanctuary has a dark history, including allegations of abuse and murder.

The Bavarian nun Maria Renata von Mossau was one of the last people in Germany to be tried for witchcraft. After admitting to a string of crimes including Satanism and sorcery, she was decapitated and her body was cremated. More than 260 years later, people still report seeing her spirit traipsing through corridors at Kloster Unterzell, the convent she attended.

Kloster Unterzell, Germany — one of the most haunted places in the world © FooTToo/Shutterstock

Lawang Sewu, Indonesia

This historic building was once used as a prison and execution site during World War II. Dutch colonialists built Lawang Sewu and the Japanese turned it into a brutal detention camp, where prisoners were interrogated and tortured. Some were even killed.

It is said to be haunted by the spirits of those who were killed there, including prisoners of war and political prisoners. These days, tourists and ghost hunters alike visit to try to witness the paranormal beings roaming among its decaying towers and arches.

Lawang Sewu, a historical and iconic heritage building in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia © Sony Herdiana/Shutterstock

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Mount Everest, Nepal

The highest peak in the world is not only challenging for climbers but is also considered one of the most haunted places in the world. Many climbers have reported encountering ghosts, particularly on the treacherous North Face. Some believe that the spirits of climbers who have died on the mountain still linger there, unable to complete their journey.

The well-meaning ghost of Andrew Irvine has apparently egged on climbers tackling Everest. He and fellow mountaineer George Mallory were less than a thousand feet from becoming the first men to reach the top. Irvine’s body has still never been found.

Mount Everest is known for paranormal activity © Shutterstock

Akershus Festning, Norway

Oslo’s fortress, known to locals as Akershus Festning, has been in use since the thirteenth century. This medieval castle has a dark history, including executions, and is said to be haunted by the spirits of past residents.

Over time it has served time as a castle, a prison, and even a base for the Nazis during their occupation of Norway. Resident ghouls include the ghost of a dog, which was buried alive in the Middle Ages to scare away intruders.

Akershus Castle in Oslo, Norway © np/Shutterstock

The Myrtles Plantation, USA

This plantation, located in St. Francisville, Louisiana, is said to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. The plantation has a dark history, including murder and slavery, and is said to be haunted by the spirits of past residents.

Local legend says that in the 1800s, an enslaved woman poisoned the plantation owner’s family and was hanged for her crime. Since then, she and the dead children have been spotted wandering through the grounds.

Travelling further in the USA? Don't miss our guide to the most haunted places in the US.

Myrtles Plantation built in 1796 in St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana © Shutterstock

Highgate Cemetery, London

With paths lined by mossy Victorian stonework, Highgate Cemetery is the final resting place of around 170,000 people, including the philosopher Karl Marx. It is also one of the most haunted locations in the UK.

The usually sleepy burial ground hit headlines in the 1970s, when reports of a blood-sucking, ghost-like figure started doing the rounds. Occultists desecrated old tombs, apparently in a bid to track down the mysterious ‘vampire’.

Highgate Cemetery, Highgate, London © Shutterstock

Castle of Good Hope, South Africa

South Africa’s oldest building is also it's most haunted. Built by the Dutch East India Company in the seventeenth century, the star-shaped Castle of Good Hope was long used as a prison.

Inmates here have been tortured and executed. Today, soldiers guarding the fort after dark are still troubled by the victims’ blood-curdling calls for mercy.

Castle of Good Hope © Charlie Sperring/Shutterstock

Tao Dan Park, Vietnam

With 10 hectares of gardens shaded by tall trees, Tao Dan Park gives residents of Ho Chi Minh City a chance to escape from the frenetic traffic. But when the sun goes down, some locals have a hard time relaxing. It’s said the ghost of a young man who was killed in a vicious attack still prowls the park, looking for his lost lover.

Tao Dan Park in Ho Chi Minh City © Shutterstock

Convent of St Agnes, Prague

Few places are better suited to ghost stories than Prague, is a city with strong ties to alchemy, mysticism and the occult. The Convent of St Agnes, the city’s first gothic building, is one of the creepier spots.

People say a murdered nun still haunts the place, and can appear in front of visitors. Sometimes she smiles softly but often she’s crying and covered in blood.

Prague is known for paranormal activity © Nadezda Murmakova/Shutterstock

Corvin Castle, Transylvania

Corvin Castle, located in Transylvania, Romania, is a historic site with a reputation for being haunted. The castle, also known as Hunyadi Castle, was built in the 15th century and is considered one of the largest and most impressive castles in Europe.

Vlad the Impaler – the bloodthirsty ruler named after his favourite method of execution – was kept prisoner at Corvin Castle, in the hills of Transylvania. Many think this explains the strange sightings at the castle, which include vampire-like figures appearing in the candlelit corridors.

Corvin castle, Romania © RossHelen/Shutterstock

St Augustine Lighthouse, USA

Striped like a barber’s pole, the St Augustine Lighthouse in Florida acts like a beacon for ghost hunters, who come to explore the tower and the keeper’s house after dark, using glow sticks to light the way.

They also get the chance to hear spooky stories about the lighthouse, and the family that died during its construction. Supposedly a man and his daughters all drowned when the lighthouse slipped loose and tumbled into the bay. Locals insist the girls can be heard laughing in the tower, and one has occasionally been sighted wearing the same velvet blue dress and hair bow she died in.

St Augustine Lighthouse in Florida © Daniel Korzeniewski/Shutterstock

Eastern State Penitentiary, USA

This infamous prison was abandoned in the 1970s, and fell into complete disrepair.

The weather-worn building has now opened as a museum. It often attracts the attention of ghost hunter TV crews. The museum's audio tour describes numerous ghoulish sightings and a locksmith reported overwhelming paranormal feelings.

Each year around Halloween, a haunted house opens for business, with actors paid to give visitors a fright.

The abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary © Zack Frank/Shutterstock

RMS Queen Mary, USA

The RMS Queen Mary, a former luxury ocean liner that was converted into a hotel, is said to be haunted by the spirits of former passengers and crew members who lost their lives on the ship.

Before docking permanently in California, the ocean liner Queen Mary carried some famous passengers, including Winston Churchill and Greta Garbo. These days it’s better known for its uninvited guests, like the ghost of a young child who is said to have drowned in the luxury liner’s swimming pool.

Queen Mary liner © Shutterstock

London Underground, UK

The world’s oldest underground railway has had more than 150 years to accumulate its juicy collection of ghost stories. Among the stations with a reputation for paranormal activity is Bethnal Green.

During the Second World War, 173 civilians were crushed to death when rumours of an air raid triggered panic. Years on, people working at the station report hearing their screams.

Ready to travel to London? Don't miss our guide to the best things to do in London.

Underground station in London © Pavel Rumme/Shutterstock

The Ancient Ram Inn, Wotton-under-Edge, England

The Ancient Ram Inn, located in Wotton-Under-Edge, England, is a historic building with a reputation for paranormal activity.

Built in 1145, the inn and former pub is considered one of the most haunted places in the UK, attracting ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts from around the world.

The inn is said to be haunted by several ghosts, including a witch who was burned at the stake in the building's courtyard in the 1500s. The story is she hid originally in one of the rooms of this inn, and her ghost still haunts the room to this day.

Ancient Ram Inn, former 12th century public house, reported to be one of the most haunted buildings in the country, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, UK © Shutterstock

Carl Beck House, Canada

This 19th-century mansion is one of the most haunted houses in Canada. The Beck House was built in the early 20th century by a wealthy businessman, Carl Beck, who lived there with his family.

Tragedy struck the family when Beck's wife died in the house, and his daughter committed suicide in the house soon after. It is said that the spirits of Beck's wife and daughter still haunt the house to this day.

Visitors and locals have reported strange occurrences and ghostly sightings within the Beck House. Many report hearing strange sounds at this haunted site. Some even report that the ghost of the daughter has been seen crying in the room where the tragic events took place.

Greyfriars Kirkyard, UK

Greyfriars Kirkland is the place of one of Scottland's most famous ghost stories.

In 1999, a homeless person broke into a coffin at this Edinburgh graveyard, hoping for a good night’s sleep. Soon after, people wandering through the graveyard began emerging with strange injuries, like scratched skin and broken fingers.

Over the next few years, 140 people collapsed on tours of the cemetery, and the city council decided to seal the grave up again for good.

Greyfriars Kirkyard, home of one the most famous stories of paranormal activity © Shutterstock

Nidaros Cathedral, Norway

LLurking inside Trondheim’s majestic soapstone cathedral is the grisly ghost of a monk. Described as a tall figure with a dark habit, he reveals himself to churchgoers with blood dripping from a wound on his neck. He is apparently able to walk right through members of the congregation without them feeling a thing.

There are also reports of ghostly apparitions appearing in the cathedral's stained glass windows, as well as strange occurrences in the crypt.

Nidaros Cathedral, reportedly haunted © Kristin Westby/Shutterstock

Forbidden City, China

The Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. However, it is also known for its ghostly sightings and dark history.

Thanks to its location in the centre of modern Beijing, the Forbidden City lacks some of the cobwebby spookiness usually associated with haunted places. But today’s well-scrubbed, tourist-friendly exterior hides a bloody past. This area is known for its reported ghost sightings.

Many believe the ghosts of murdered concubines wander the city after dark. Their ghostly figures roam the halls in traditional imperial attire.

The Forbidden City, China © Shutterstock

Port Arthur, Australia

Port Arthur, Australia is a former penal colony that is considered one of the most haunted sites in Australia. The site was used as a prison and was known for its harsh and inhumane conditions.

Lantern-lit ghost tours give visitors the chance to hear ghost stories about this Tasmanian town’s troubled past as a convict settlement in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those who want to maximise their chances of meeting a ghost can join a special paranormal investigation, armed to the teeth with ghoul-tracking gizmos.

Port Arthur, Australia © Julian Peters Photography/Shutterstock

Mohatta Palace, Pakistan

Located in the bustling city of Karachi, Pakistan, ghosts of the British Raj are said to haunt this regal Pakistani palace. Pieced together from pink and yellow stone, Mohatta Palace is a stunning example of Rajasthani architecture.

Palace employees claim to have felt the presence of evil spirits inside the palace at night. Some have even seen objects moving of their own accord. Others report strange moving lights that remain unaccounted for.

Mohatta Palace is a museum located in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan © Shutterstock

The Stanley Hotel, Colorado, USA

This hotel served as the inspiration for Stephen King's "The Shining." Guests have reported ghostly sightings and eerie occurrences.

Several people have reported being visited by the ghost of Lord Dunraven, who died in the hotel. The hotel is said to be haunted by the spirits of its past guests, who have never left the hotel and continue to haunt its halls.

Stanley Hotel, Colorado © Shutterstock

Tower of London, UK

This historic castle has been the site of many executions, including the execution of three different queens. One of which was Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.

Her ghost is said to still roam the castle, along with the spirits of other executed prisoners. Many visitors have reported seeing the late queen's ghost — who is said to still walk the castle's grounds, carrying her own head under her arm.

This famous execution site has an extremely dark past and is easily one of the most haunted places in the world.

The Tower of London fortress © balounm/Shutterstock

Achill Island, Ireland

Achill Island is located off the west coast of Ireland and is known for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage. However, it is also known for being one of the most haunted places in the world.

The 100 abandoned stone cottages here are at least 800 years old. More than one party has reported paranormal activity around the stones. Many visitors report being visited by shadowy figures deep into the night. This is a popular camping spot for paranormal enthusiasts.

Looking for inspiration for your next big adventure? Don't miss our guide to the most exotic places to travel around the world.

Achill island, Ireland © shutterupeire/Shutterstock

Kolmanskop, Namibia

This remote Namibian outpost is a real ghost town. Built on a diamond rush, it became extremely wealthy but began declining during the 1950s when the precious stones ran dry. Now it’s been given over to the desert and, if you believe the rumours, ghosts are beginning to reclaim the abandoned buildings.

Visitors have reported feeling uneasy and some have even claimed to have seen ghostly figures wandering the streets or peering out of windows. The ghost of a young woman, said to be the daughter of a former mine manager, is also said to haunt the town.

Ready to see Namibia for yourself? Don't miss our guide to the best things to do in Namibia.

Kolmanskop, Namibia © Shutterstock

Bodie State Historical Park, USA

Bodie State Historic Park in California, USA, is a well-known ghost town and tourist attraction. It is well known for its well-preserved buildings and eerie atmosphere. The town was once a bustling mining community but was abandoned in the early 20th century. Today, the town is maintained in a state of "arrested decay," giving visitors a glimpse into what life was like during the town's heyday.

Many visitors and park rangers have reported strange occurrences and ghostly sightings within the town. Park rangers have also reported strange noises, such as the sound of a child laughing, coming from abandoned buildings.

Bodie Ghost Town, California © Boris Edelmann/Shutterstock

The Island of the Dolls, Mexico

The Island of the Dolls, located just south of Mexico City, is one of the most haunted places in the world. The island is home to hundreds of creepy, mutilated dolls hanging from the trees. These have been placed there by the island's former owner, Julian Santana.

Santana claimed that the dolls were placed on the island as offerings to appease the spirit of a young girl. She had drowned in a nearby canal and her spirit had haunted him ever since. In an attempt to appease her spirit, he began collecting dolls and hanging them from the trees on the island.

The dolls, some missing limbs and eyes, give the island a truly unsettling atmosphere. Some say that the dolls seem to move on their own or change position, adding to the eerie atmosphere of the island.

Dolls island, Mexico © Shutterstock

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written by Steve Vickers
updated 2/7/2023
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