Where most normal humans usually try to steer clear of potentially haunted, abandoned houses and intense grave yards in the middle of nowhere, some of us (like you know, me) have an extremely weird fascination with traveling to unnerving places. If you’re the type of the person that wants to sleep in a haunted hotel that may or may not have had executions happen in them, would plan an entire trip to Romania just to see where the real life Dracula might have lived and would yeah, camp out out at an island with only snakes, then this is the travel list of your weird dreams.
From fetish markets full of shrunken heads in Togo to mass burial sites on Italian islands, here’s 33 places for the traveler who enjoys the seriously odd and scary things in life. I swear I don’t wear black nail polish and do witch rituals in my spare time.
Abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine
Remember the drone that went through the town of Chernobyl, the city in Ukraine that was decimated because of a nuclear accident? Yeah, Pripyat fell within that area, and is now abandoned after almost 50,000 people were evacuated. Would I still go? Yep.
The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
Originally a gas field set on fire by Soviet scientists, The Door To Hell has been continuously burning for over 40 years. Okay Soviet scientists and a giant burning hole is creepy enough, but the fact that spiders seem to flock to this place ups the eerie factor quite a bit.
Chapel of Bones, Portugal
You know, just a chapel containing the bones of 5,000 monks and two bodies casually hanging from ropes. And one happens to be a child. Nothing to see here.
Island of the Dolls in Mexico
You’ll live out your worst Chuckie nightmares at this island in Mexico that is yes, filled with hanging dolls. Don Julian Santana was the caretaker of the island, and began hanging dolls in the trees to show respect to a little girl he found that had drowned with her doll in a nearby river. For 50 years, until ironically, he drowned in the same waters, he continued to hang dolls. Now it’s a tourist attraction where people keep adding dolls to the trees. Why can’t they hang nice looking dolls though?!
Lake Hillier, Australia
I’m not really sure why, but this giant pink lake in Australia just gives me the creeps. It’s probably more weird than creepy, but the only thing researchers can come up with for the bubble gum color is that a dye created by bacteria lives in the salt crusts and is responsible for the change in hue.
The Catacombs, Paris
I mean, have you guys seen As Above, So Below? I said before I love creepy places, but walking around the Catacombs of Paris would be the death of me. The 200-mile-long network of underground tunnels (some collapsed) has the remains of over 6 million bodies. That’s a huge nope.
Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague
Any cemetery that dates back to 1478 is going to have quite a few scary things lurking around. This one in Prague has gotten full so many times with graves, that ground keepers just keep adding “layers.” There are now 12 layers of old as hell graves just on top of each other, adding up to around 100,000 bodies. That’s a lot of ghosts.
Grand Pristina Hotel, Kosovo
I lived in this hotel for three months one summer, and things got weird. For starters, during the brutal Kosovo war in the 1990s, the 4th floor was used by Serbian militant Zeljko Raznatovic as his personal living quarters, where he personally ordered the execution and torture of hostages behind its walls. On top of that, doors slam all the time, it’s mostly empty and there’s a ballroom downstairs where time stands still. You should stay there though, because the staff is amazing (they taught me Albanian) and the scary stuff is just an added bonus. Promise.
Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippines
The Igorot Tribe believe that burying their dead in hanging coffins brings them closer to their ancestral spirits and would keep the bodies safe. To each its own, I guess.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles
You wouldn’t think after walking in the beautiful, regal hallways of Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel that it may be haunted with Marilyn Monroe’s ghost. According to guests, Monroe has been seen several times in a full-length mirror that originally was located in poolside suite 1200, where she often stayed. Montgomery Clift apparently also haunts room #928 on the 9th floor.
Abandoned House of the Communist Party in Bulgaria
After living in a part of Europe that was once part of Yugoslavia, I can promise you Communist/Soviet statues and buildings are the things of nightmares. Situated in the Balkan Mountains, the flying saucer shaped building is abandoned and that is probably a good thing.
Aokigahara, aka Suicide Forest, Japan
At the base of Mt. Fuji, Suicide Forest got its name because over 500 people have gone there to commit suicide since the 1950s. The situation has gotten so bad that police have even put up signs with encouraging messages like, “Please consult with the police before you decide to die.“
The Bermuda Triangle
The place that has inspired writers, movies and even a Rocko’s Modern Life episode is dubbed mysterious because of the amount of "missing” ships that have disappeared in the loosely defined area of the North Atlantic Ocean. Also referred to as “The Devil’s Triangle,” the area is one of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world.
Cat Island, Japan
If you don’t like cats, then this is not the place you ever want to end up at. Cats out number humans six to one on this island in Japan, people. Future cat lady? This is the island of your dreams then.
Snake Island, Brazil
Replace purring and fur with slithering and poison on Brazil’s most infamous snake island. It is home to the Golden Lancehead Viper, one of the most venomous snakes in the entire world. A big “no thanks” from me on this one.
The Poison Garden, England
The Poison Garden at England’s Alnwick Garden can yes, literally kill you. Armed with over 100 different species of poisonous plants, you are warned to not even touch, taste or smell any of the plants within the garden. I think I could follow those rules pretty easily.
Jacob’s Well, Texas
A natural spring in Texas, Jacob’s Well is over 100-feet deep and has claimed the lives of several novice swimmers that have attempted to explore its depths. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not too into water zombies.
Leap Castle, Ireland
Like haunted castles? Then Leap Castle in Ireland, reportedly one of the most haunted castles in the world, is going to be something you add to your “I like to be scared to death” bucket list. The hallways are patrolled by “an unexplainable force,” and the castle was the site of a historic slaughter. It was also built on top of a torture pit, so no big deal.
St. George’s Church, Czech Republic
The hauntingly beautiful church got much, much scarier after artist Jakub Hadrava added ghost sculptures within its pews. Yes they are only statues, but you wouldn’t catch me sitting next to one.
Cambridge Military Hospital, England
Military hospitals just scream ghosts, and the Cambridge Military Hospital in England is the stuff of horrors. In use from 1878 to 1996, it was closed down due to high costs. Now the hospital is completely abandoned and overgrown.
The Estes Park Stanley Hotel, Colorado
Of course the very place that inspired Stephen King’s most terrifying book The Shining is going to be a place that is insanely freaky.
Kryziu Kalnas, The Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
I swear that picture is not photoshopped. Over 100,000 crosses stand on this hill in Lithuania where its people would come to mourn the dead lost at war. The Soviet Union attempted to decimate the area twice, only for locals to build it much bigger.
Hashima Island, Japan
Once home to thousands of people, Hashima was a bustling island until coal ran out in 1974. The place was quickly abandoned, and tourists flock to it to catch a glimpse of what it looks like for a place to be stuck in 1974. I can think of better years to be stuck in.
Cincinnati’s Subway System, Ohio
Unsurprisingly, there’s a ton of scary stuff all around Ohio. One of those scary places includes Cincinnati’s abandoned subway system, which the city attempted to build in the early 90s only to run out of funding. Now, the empty tunnels still run beneath the city and are totally something you’d find in a scary movie.
San Zhi Resort, Taiwan
These weird pods that supposedly were built to be apart of a trendy resort area outside of Taipei, Tawain are super weird and now abandoned. Construction mysteriously stopped after a series of deaths, leaving the resort to total decay.
Maunsell Sea Forts, North Sea
These strange looking sea forts were originally designed to protect England from a potential Nazi invasion during WWII. Now they sit abandoned right above crashing waves, but for some reason I really want to go in them and explore. Someone talk me out of it, please.
Beelitz-Heilstätten Red Army Military Hospital, Germany
Any hospital that housed Adolph Hitler and has been operating since WWI in Germany is going to have quite a few ghosts in it. If you’re a Nazi history buff, this might be a place you’ll eventually want to go to. I advise bringing friends, though.
After watching a documentary on Centralia, Pennsylvania and learning how the entire town has an underground fire burning in its mines since 1962, I have decided I need to venture there at some point because why not. After a series of deaths related to the mine fires, the town is now abandoned and doesn’t even have a zip code. But there are still around 10 residents who refuse to leave their houses.
West Virginia State Penitentiary
If you enjoy taking nighttime tours of jails that have had around 100 executions take place within its walls, West Virginia State Penitentiary should be right up your alley.
Plague Island, Italy
This is one place on this list that straight up gives me the creeps. Poveglia is a small island near Venice that was historically used as a quarantine from 1793 to 1814 for around 160,000 people that were stricken with the plague. Equipped with mass graves of victims, Napoleon also used the island to store weapons. Oh, and from 1922 to 1968 there was apparently a mental hospital doctor that tortured and killed patients.
Sanctuary of Tophet, Tunisia
During hard times, children were thought to have been sacrificed in Tophet, Tunisia. Now you’ll find thousands of these child graves dating back to the Punic period of Carthage.
Akodessewa Fetish Market, Togo
No fetish is too weird, right? Well apparently in Togo, where over half the population continues to practice indigenous beliefs, there are a ton of fetish markets that bring people from all over the world to buy what they have to offer. Nothing says “travel souvenir” like a rando shrunken head or several skulls.
Targoviste military base, Romania
My deputy editor Marc Bernardin went on a press junket trip to Romania this year, and mentioned a scary as sh*t place where Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were killed by firing squad at the climax of the Romanian Revolution in December of 1989 after what some people call a sham trial. You can tour the facilities and even see the bullet holes and where their bodies had fallen, considering there are chalk outlines of them. Insanely creepy? You bet.
Nicole Theodore is an editorial assistant for Playboy. She didn’t have a messed up childhood. Follow her on Twitter.