In the spirit of Halloween this month, we've found the eeriest locales to visit around the world, and they don't make for your usual run-of-the-mill list. From the abandoned city of Chernobyl to an island piled with dismembered dolls, we've got goosebumps guaranteed. Some are a bit of a mission to reach, but if you’re up for an adventure and don't scare easily, then you shouldn't miss a chance to explore these haunting hot spots.
The Skeleton Coast, Namibia
Littered with the bones of dead animals and eerie ship wrecks, there's a reason why this destination is called the Skeleton Coast. Located in Namibia in southwest Africa, this desert beach is notorious for its desolate setting and tendency to accumulate shipwrecks. According to legend, the cold water of the Atlantic and the warm air of the Namib Desert is responsible for creating a fog that blinds sailors, leading them to dangerously shallow waters. Consequently, this place is a graveyard of unfortunate sea farers whose ships have grounded in some of the most unforgiving terrain in the world. However, the sight of wrecked ships caught in the desert sands is really quite beautiful. Ships going as far back as the early 1900s remain intact, and bask spookily under the heat of the sun. Most of this area is a national park, meaning you can explore these wrecks up close and personal. Just be careful, you never know what might still be lurking onboard...
If you’re at all curious about what the world might look like after a nuclear apocalypse, look no further than Chernobyl. Once a backwater town with a nuclear power plant, the now abandoned Ukranian town is a haunting example of what happens to a city after you abandon it for 30 years. Don’t worry though, the melted reactor stopped leaking deadly radiation decades ago, so your health won't suffer if you're just there for a visit. Get a guided tour (you pretty much need one in order to get a day pass) and walk through abandoned apartment complexes, past a ghostly ferris wheel and barren streets. The empty town is surprisingly photogenic, as all the old Eastern European buildings are strangely picturesque. Guided tours give a detailed history of the disaster that forced the city's 14,000 residents pack up and leave overnight. And if you’re looking to splash out, try the Chernobyl Air Tour, which gives you an aerial view of the abandoned city.
Island of the Dolls, Mexico
Just south of Mexico City, in the canals of Xochimo, is an island covered with dismembered dolls. If that didn’t send chills down your spin, then the legend of how the island became haunted might. The island’s caretaker, Don Julian Santana Barrera saw a little girl drown off the island's coast. Unfortunately, he was unable to save her, although some time later he found the little girl’s doll floating down the river. Spooked, Julian believed that the doll was a sign that the spirit of the little girl somehow still remained on the island. In order to please the spirit he began putting more and more dolls on the island. And according to the legend, Julian became possessed by the spirits and drowned in the river right where the little girl had. Rumor has it that the dolls still whisper to visitors, and are reported to even move on their own. Whether this is true or not is up to you to decide, but the island attracts travelers from all over the world, spooking skeptical visitors.
Bran Castle, Romania
If you’ve ever wondered what Dracula’s house might look like, visit Bran Castle in Transylvania, a fortress deep in Romania's heart. Home to fictional vampires and historical tyrants, this mountaintop castle is sure to freak out anyone willing to take a tour. While the story of Dracula may be fake, the creepiness of Bran Castle sure isn't. For centuries, tales of supernatural events have surrounded Bran Castle, ranging from ghosts to blood-sucking counts. Having earned modern fame from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the castle was also briefly home to Vlad the Impaler (and yes, he did get his nickname from impaling people). A tour to Bran Castle won’t set you back much, and it includes wandering in and around the haunting grounds of Dracula’s fictional home. Be sure to brace yourself though, it's not designed for those who like to sleep at night...
Rummu Underwater Prison, Estonia
Slightly less haunting but more intriguing, Rummu Underwater Prison is a must for thrill-seeking travelers in Estonia. This Soviet era camp was once home to hundreds of prisoners who were forced to work in the nearby limestone quarry. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the camp was abandoned, and work in the quarry stopped. Shortly after, the whole camp and quarry flooded. Left abandoned for some time, the camp has now become a creepy but cool attraction just west of the capital, Tallinn. The hollowed out main building of the camp is now used as a concrete diving board. The nearby white sand beach and crystal blue waters may be an odd contrast to the haunting flooded prison camp, but this landmark serves as a worthwhile visit for anyone looking for a dose of history and the creeps.
Shengshan Island, China
Located in an archipelago of nearly 400 islands, just east of the bustling city of Shanghai, lies the eerie and desolate Chinese fishing village of Shengshan. This abandoned village was once a thriving spot for fishermen from all around the region. Now, nature has moved in to reclaim the buildings, transforming it into an overgrown jungle. The village was abandoned over time by the fishermen for economic reasons, and now the place is completely empty and free to explore. Vines creep in and around the buildings, and whole village streets are covered in a carpet of greenery. Be sure to bring a camera as some of these neglected buildings can be pretty picturesque against the eerie coastal haze. If you happen to be in Shanghai, check out our guide to the city, then take a day trip outside the city bounds to this underrated haunt.