Scariest places in the world

We're taught terrible tales of haunted houses and scary forests from an early age. But if our appetite for horror films is anything to go by, we love a good fright.  And when it comes to travel, a lot of us love the thrill of an eerie experience. For the horror fans among us, here’s a round up of the 13 most terrifying places around the world. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

  1. Pluckley, England
  2. The Island of Dolls, Mexico
  3. Hashima Island, Japan
  4. The Tower of London, England
  5. Catacombs of Paris, France
  6. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
  7. Monte Cristo Homestead, Australia
  8. Castle of Good Hope, South Africa
  9. The Myrtles Plantation, USA
  10. Forest of Brocéliande, France
  11. Transylvania, Romania
  12. Hell Fire Club, Ireland
  13. Poveglia Island, Italy

1. Pluckley, England

There are some places you might want to stay indoors with the curtains shut. And this is especially true in Pluckley, England's most haunted village. This place is more haunted than Hogwarts, with 12 "official" ghosts in residence, including a highwayman and a Red Lady.  

2. The Island of Dolls, Mexico

The beautiful man-made canals of Xochimilco (chinampas), near Mexico City were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. However, they harbour a macabre secret. Hanging from the trees of one of the floating islands you'll see the blank eyes of hundreds of decaying dolls staring soullessly back at you, many with severed limbs. According to local legend, the Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls) was created by its caretaker. He discovered the body of a young girl who had drowned, and hung her washed-up doll on a tree to pay his respects. He spent the next fifty years adding to the number of dolls. Since his death in 2001, people have kept the place as he left it.  

3. Hashima Island, Japan

Also known as Battleship Island, this creepy, abandoned place popped up as a James Bond baddie's lair in Skyfall. As well as a mine, it served as a brutal prisoner of war camp.It was abandoned so rapidly in 1974, it has an almost Marie Celeste-like quality, with the workers just upping sticks. It's also believed to be haunted. You can take a guided boat tour from nearby Nagasaki - don't worry, it's a return trip. If you don't want to visit in person, this website was created using Google Street View (the music's a little creepy, mind you).

4. The Tower of London, England

If you fancy a bit of ghost-hunting, here's where the most haunted places are in London. Of course the Tower of London, being a royal palace, has a distinctly different class of ghosts. Both the Princes in the Tower - that's Edward V (age 12) and younger brother, Richard (age 10) - are believed to have been murdered by their uncle (the Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III) here in 1483. King Henry VIII also did away with his wife, Queen Anne Boleyn, at the Tower in 1536. The most bizarre ghost sighted here is that of a bear. The poor Beefeater who clocked sight of him near the Martin Tower dropped dead of fright.  

5. Catacombs of Paris, France

'Skulls as far as the eye can see' might be a fair description of Paris' famous Catacombs (their alternative name of Municipal Ossuary is a lot less evocative). This underground labyrinth houses the young from the original Cemetery of the Innocents. We're not saying it's scary, but people of a nervous disposition are advised not to head down there. Visiting here is one of our favourite things to in Paris when it rains.  

6. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Scotland has its share of spooky sites, what with all its isolated castles (like Fyvie Castle and Glamis Castle) and bleak abandoned battlefields (Culloden). But the historic city of Edinburgh is supposed to be the most haunted in Europe. Visitors to Edinburgh Castle have claimed to have paranormal experiences, with musicians particularly fond of reappearing (there's been sightings of ghostly pipers and drummers). Make sure you go on a Edinburgh ghost tour when you visit. Haunted places to tick off the list include creepy cemeteries and underground vaults.  

7. Monte Cristo Homestead, Australia

As anyone who's watched a horror film knows, nothing good comes from buying an abandoned home in the middle of nowhere. However in this case, the owners of the Monte Cristo Homestead (just under three hours drive from Canberra) managed to transform a Victorian house into a popular tourist attraction. The Ryan family have lived there since 1963, and have been haunted by the previous owners, a stable boy and a pregnant maid among other spooky visitors. If you fancy joining them, you can stay the night, or just take one of the Saturday ghost tours.  

8. Castle of Good Hope, South Africa

The Casteel de Goede Hoop (1666) is the oldest building in South Africa. As a fort and prison, it's got hundreds of years of history and haunting behind it. The former Governor, Pieter van Noodt, is supposedly cursed to roam the castle walls, and a big, black dog is said to greet visitors before disappearing into thin air.  

9. The Myrtles Plantation, USA

We love somewhere scary where you can stay the night. And there's plenty of things that could go bump in the night at the Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana. Chief among the ghosts is the Legend of Chloe - the ghost of a slave who appeared in 1992 on a photograph taken for fire insurance purposes (imagine being a fly on the wall during that claim meeting). They've also got another ghostly girl apparition at a window in the house - both captured on camera.  

10. Forest of Brocéliande, France

Anywhere that's near a place called the Valley of No Return (Val Sans Retour) should be considered with care. Throw in a little magic - Merlin was apparently imprisoned here in a stone - and you've got the makings of a truly frightening forest. The Forest of Brocéliande is known as King Arthur's Forest, and Morgan Le Fay (the King's half sister) used the area to capture unfaithful youths.  

11. Transylvania, Romania

While the rest of the world reveres the legend of Dracula and all things vampiric, in his homeland, it's not so much the case. He's almost treated like an embarrassing uncle at a wedding. However Vlad the Impaler's homeland (the man the Count was based on) is fairytale-like so well worth visiting, bloodsucking aside.  

12. Hell Fire Club, Ireland

Halloween was said to have been invented in Ireland, so it's fitting we include somewhere in the Emerald Isle. Montpelier Hill near Dublin is where you'll find the supposedly haunted ruin of a hunting lodge. Built in 1725 by parliamentarian William Connolly, it was originally built as a site for the Dublin branch of the Hell Fire club. Take a torch and take a night-time guided tour of the hilltop and lodge - just don't look behind you. They've also got some Hell Fire Caves in England - High Wycombe to be precise. They are believed to have been built in the 18th century as the original home of the Hell Fire Club for carousing aristocrats, authors and artists.  

13. Poveglia Island, Italy

An island that once housed an asylum, a quarantine station and was a mass burial ground for plague victims doesn't sound the most enticing. It's been described as a real life Shutter Island. However, it is on a Venetian lagoon, so at least you'll have lovely Venice to visit next door.

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