The Top 20 Dark Tourism Destinations from Around the World

Do you earnestly wait for Halloween every year? Have you read every supernatural book ever written? Do you indulge in serial killer documentaries? Then you are a dark tourist. You are attracted to the macabre and violent history of a place. Bid adieu to a mundane seaside vacation and explore these deliciously weird places instead.

Suicide Forest, Japan

The Aokigahara forest in Japan is the world’s third most popular place for people to commit suicide. Notoriously known as the “Suicide Forest”, this densely foliaged space is home to dozens of corpses every year – that is, if the bodies are ever discovered. Several strange tales surround this forest. Japanese spiritualists believe that people (dead or alive) are never found once they enter it. Some have even claimed that compasses stop working there. All this does not deter tourists who flock here to get a glimpse of the restless souls trapped there for eternity. The forest is located two hours away from Tokyo by car. Visit if you dare!

Lizzie Borden House, Massachusetts, USA

“Lizzie Borden took an axe/She gave her mother forty whacks…” – If you grew up in 20th century America, this was probably your favorite bedtime rhyme. At the age of 22, Fall River resident Lizzie Borden was accused of brutally hacking her parents Andrew and Abby Borden to death. The lack of evidence and several inane rumors led to the jury declaring her not guilty. Even though her apparent murderous rampage could never be proven, she lived her life as an outcast and today, you can visit her house that is known as the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum. Take a tour of the home, enjoy a cup of tea in the parlor where Andrew was killed or spend the night in the room where Abby was murdered. If you are lucky, you may also get to see one of the periodic reenactments of the crime.

By dbking from Washington, DC – Lizzie Borden House (Bed/Breakfast)Uploaded by LongLiveRock, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11438060

Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada

This grand railway hotel will open its doors to you, but the door to room 873 will always remain closed. Years ago a family had died there and no matter how hard the workers tried, they could not get the youngest child’s fingerprints off the mirror. Built in 1888, the Banff Springs Hotel is believed to be haunted by several entities. Some stories suggest a woman in her wedding gown — who had died of a broken neck after falling down the stairs — dancing in the ballroom, while other talk about spotting the family in the hallways. Even if you cannot spot a spirit, just enjoy the castle-like architecture of the building.

London Dungeon, England

This Central London attraction is popular among the tourists. Opened in 1974 the Dungeon recreates various grisly historical events of the city, along with a few urban legends. Featuring 18 shows, several actors and some rides, this interactive experience takes visitors on a journey through 1000 years where you can get your hair cut by Sweeney Todd, meet Jack the Ripper, plan an escape from the Newgate Prison and the Great Fire of London.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oscardelrio/90602126

Bran Castle, Romania

Situated in Transylvania, this eerie castle was allegedly a seat of Vlad III (infamously known as Vlad the Impaler)– a cruel ruler from 15th century. The character of broody Count Dracula from Bram Stoker’s novel was inspired by him. Horror fans from all over the world come here to tread the same grounds as their beloved vampire.

Pripyat, Ukraine

Once a bustling town of 50,000 people, now a post-apocalyptic ghost town frozen in its moment of tragedy. Pripyat was where the Chernobyl reactors exploded on that ill-fated day in April 1986. It is one of the worst nuclear power plant disasters in history that killed 31 people. The town was not evacuated until one day after the disaster, and by then people had started experiencing various signs of physical deterioration. Residents were told they would return three days later, but they never did. Some buildings have personal items that were left behind. Visitors are advised against wearing short-sleeved clothes and the tour guides carry a radiation dosimeter, a device that measures exposure to radiation. If you are looking for a morbid, historically enriching tour, then this is it.

Ground Zero, New York, USA

The 9/11 attacks had terrorized the entire world, leaving a nation utterly wounded. However, people still visit Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center in New York City, which was wrecked during the attacks. Launched by the terrorist group al-Qaeda, the incident had killed almost 3,000 people and caused a lot of infrastructural damage. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum were built to commemorate the attacks and pay tribute to the victims.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/david_baxendale/21035244516

Belchite, Spain

Now a creepy ghost village, Belchite has a disturbing past. In 1809, French and Spanish forces fought the Battle of María near Belchite. In 1937, Spanish Republican and rebel General Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War fought the Battle of Belchite around the town. After 1939 a new village of Belchite was built across the ruins of the old one. An atmosphere of desolation presides here and it is a popular filming location.

Old town of Belchite, where the International Brigades fought during the Spanish Civil War.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/_dchris/14663902148/

Bhangarh Fort, India

Located a few hours away from the popular tourist destination, Jaipur, this fort is claimed to be one of the most haunted places in the world. People say that the temperatures drastically drop the moment you enter the premise, and the animals refuse to go near this imposing structure. Locals believe that unable to obtain the beautiful princess Ratnavati, a native black magician cursed the entire town before he died. Within a few months, all the people of the kingdom perished under mysterious circumstances and even today, no one is brave enough to live near the fort. In fact, people who ignored official orders and stayed beyond 6 in the evening, were never seen again.

Okpo Land, South Korea

This small amusement park was once replete with the laughter of children. Now it is a scary, abandoned site surrounded by buildings. After two fatal accidents, the park closed in 1999. During the second incident, a young girl flew out of the duck ride cart. The owner shut down the operation within a night but the rides remained. The land was offered for sale in 2011, but no one has dared to purchase it. Go see it before someone builds a shopping mall there!

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/creepypasta/images/0/00/Okpo-land.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20180624161110

Island of the Dolls, Mexico

Situated near Mexico City, La Isla de la Munecas (The Island of the Dolls) is capable of inducing every doll related nightmare you have ever had. According to the story, the island’s sole inhabitant, Don Julian Santana, discovered the body of a drowned girl in the canal. Tormented by her spirit, he began to get dolls to appease her restless spirit. However, his efforts were fruitless since Santana´s body was found in the same spot where the little girl had apparently drowned. Hundreds of mutilated dolls with severed limbs and decapitated heads adorn the island today.

By Eneas De Troya – https://www.flickr.com/photos/eneas/2753058456/sizes/o/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29745522

The Ridges, Ohio, USA

Formerly known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, the Ridges was a mental hospital infamous for its dehumanizing lobotomy procedure and several paranormal sightings. It is listed as the 13th most haunted place in the world as per the British Society for Psychical Research. It is said that a woman patient who ran away and was missing for 6 weeks, was found dead in an unused ward. Her clothes were neatly folded next to her on the concrete where she was lying dead. Exposure to the sun and decomposition led her body to leave a permanent stain on the ground and several dark tourists go there today to see this ungodly sight.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3196269910

Oradour-sur-Glane, France

Oradour-sur-Glane is a little village where a massacre by a German Waffen-SS company took place during WWII. In June 1944, the village was sealed off by a German battalion, due to rumors of an SS officer being held prisoner in the area. As punishment, residents of the village were ordered to assemble in the village square under the ploy of having their identity documents examined. Hundreds of them were then massacred in a gruesome machine gun attack. Former French president Charles de Gaulle announced that the village would never be rebuilt, and would remain as a testament to German atrocities.

McKamey Manor, Tennessee, USA

Does spending money to be kidnapped and tortured sound appealing to you? Then this is where you should be. McKamey Manor is a nonprofit haunted house founded by Russ McKamey and was initially located on his property. Guests need to sign a liability waiver to get in. The Manor may drench you in in fake blood, submerge you in water, force you to eat disgusting substances and cover you with insects and dirt. Along with this, there is some emotional torture involved as well. The house does not accept any fee. McKamey instead accepts dog food for his pet dogs. The entire ordeal can last for eight hours, but only woman so far has survived for six hours!

http://wickedhorror.com/horror-news/mckamey-manor-extreme-haunted-house-dare/

Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii was an ancient Roman town in the Campania region. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the town was buried under 20 feet of ash. At that time, it was a thriving town but the eruption killed half the population and it was lost to mankind, until its rediscovery in 1599. Deprived of air and moisture, all the contents were preserved under the ground, and during the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the gaps between the ash layers that once had real human corpses. So today tourists can see the exact position of the bodies at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tylerbell/4099118633

La Noria Cemetery, Chile

The abandoned town of La Noria is eerie, but the local cemetery is a sought after dark tourism location. Legend has it that the dead leave their graves and walk about at night, which is not that unlikely since there are several open graves (I wonder why!). Ghostly images have also been known to show up in photographs

By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47641418

Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland

More than a million prisoners faced brutal deaths at this Nazi concentration camp. Living conditions were extremely inhumane, and those that did not perish in the gas chambers, died of starvation, infectious diseases or sadistic medical experiments. After WWII, the camp became a symbol of the Holocaust and in 1947, a museum was founded there. Carry lots of tissues because you will spend your time looking at personal belongings of the victims.  

Choeung Ek, Cambodia

Choeung Ek is the site is a mass grave of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime killed between 1975 and 1979. With 9,000 bodies, the site is now a memorial, marked by a Buddhist stupa filled with more than 5,000 human skulls. Tourists are encouraged by the Cambodian government to visit Choeung Ek and pay tribute to those who were executed.

Phnom Penh, Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
https://www.flickr.com/photos/azwegers/6226142426

Leap Castle, Ireland

Built in the 13th century, the Leap Castle housed a brutal fratricide and many people were executed at the castle. A hunched supernatural entity called the Elemental apparently haunts the castle, most recognizable by the accompanying smell of rotting flesh and sulfur. He is said to be violent. While renovating the castle, a dungeon was discovered that served for killing prisoners and contained human remains.

By D. Brands – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4014871

Dorset Street, England

Don’t be fooled by the present glory of this street in London for it has a devious past. This is where Jack the Ripper had killed his final victim Mary Jane Kelly on November 9, 1988. Among the other women, Kelly was popular because she was as elusive as her killer. Barely anything was known about her background and her killing was the most gruesome one. Back then, this street was a slum area frequented by prostitutes.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5072366362