Creepy Places All Around the World
While traveling around the world during the past 4 years, we’ve visited our fair share of creepy places. So as a tribute to Halloween time every year, we like to update this post which highlights the most spooky spots we’ve encountered around the world. From Dracula to mummies and witches to witch doctors, there have been many offbeat places around the world that sent shivers up our spine.
14) A Legit Witch Bar (Belgium)
While cycling Belgium’s countryside to visit remote brewpubs, locals had warned us not to visit the witch’s bar. Their warnings turned into intrigue, so we went anyways. They weren’t lying. This wasn’t some tourist place; but rather a country pub miles from the nearest town of Poperinge. We walked into an empty bar that was complete with all sorts of strange witch games, witch dolls, and even the bartender/owner herself was a witch.
It was such odd place and being the only patrons, it left us wondering if we were being hexed. Yet the witch was pleasant enough, served us beer, and we escaped without incident. Well, we did stumble a little on our way home that evening, but I’ll have to put blame on the strong Belgian beers rather than on the witch.
13) Death Road (Bolivia)
This is the most dangerous road in the world. A study found that before the new road was completed in 2006, this road had claimed more lives than any other road on record. Hence the name: Death Road. It is estimated that about 200-300 souls were lost on this road each year!
Now Death Road has become somewhat of an attraction for thrill seekers to ride down it on mountain bikes. But it’s not just thrilling. It’s quite the chilling ride through fog covered mountains, passing the many graves lining the steep edges of this notorious road in the Andes. And it’s not without risk, as Death Road still claims victims of the bikers attempting the harrowing ascent. Yet despite giving us knots in our stomach and white knuckles, we survived.
12) The Final Resting Place of Titanic Victims (Canada)
The city of Halifax lays claim to a somber reminder to this most infamous maritime tragedy. While the Titanic’s survivors got rescued and brought to New York City, it was the White Star Line’s Halifax office that commissioned the grim task of recovering the victims from the icy waters.
There were 209 bodies recovered in total and their remains lay in the quiet Fairview Lawn Cemetery today. Some of the graves are named, while others have been left unidentified. What spooked us was noticing how these tombstones were in the shape of a ship’s hull. We were told that this was actually not intentional.
Yet what really upped the creep-factor was seeing an actual body bag used during the Titanic recovery effort. Is that blood? This morbid artifact is housed at the nearby maritime museum in Halifax.
11) Inside the Great Pyramids (Egypt)
In Egypt, many of the pyramids hold the remains of ancient pharaohs who are said to curse those who enter. Despite the threat of curse and the fact that they’re guarded, we entered anyways. A little baksheesh (tip/bribe) to the guards often seems like a completely acceptable practice that gets you right in. Crawling around the inner maze of these ancient structures was equal parts eerie and awesome!
10) The Skeletal Remains of Oldest Mummies in the World (Chile)
The chinchorro mummies found in the unassuming town of Arica, Chile are thousands of years older than Egypt’s famous mummies! The earliest found mummy dates all the way back to 7,000 BC (compared to about 3,000 BC for Egypt). Their small skeletal remains are now in full display under glass in Arica, Chile. As if the pile of bones isn’t creepy enough, some hair on the head above the empty eye sockets takes things to another level.
9) Aboveground Cemeteries (Guatemala)
There’s something even more creepy about cemeteries when the graves on the surface. The tombs are kept because once you dig a little, you would hit water. So this simply helps to keep caskets from floating away. Icky. You can find such aboveground graveyards in many coastal places around the world and they’re all unquestionably spooky to roam around.
Yet when we wandered through the plots in the remote town of Livingston, Guatemala, it sent chills tingling up our spine. This small coastal town that’s inaccessible by roads has a very unique and culture. The Garifuna culture was very friendly yet it sometimes gave off a bit of a haunted vibe. So when we found ourselves in the midst of this cemetery with towering graves as far as we could see and no one else around, you can perhaps understand how we managed to feel pretty spooked!
8) Hotel Room Nightmare – Killer Clowns! (Germany)
We’ve stayed in our fair share of bizarre and bad hotels over the years. But this place wins the award for creepiest! After checking into an old hotel in Koblenz, Germany, we were shown to our room that was filled with pictures of clowns. And lets face it, there is nothing creepier than clowns, right? CREEPY! They were everywhere in the room – dozens of them. And they were definitely going to come to life at night and murder us in our sleep.
7) Dracula is Real and He’s in Transylvania (Romania)
There are lots of spooky corners within all the small towns scattered across Transylvania. For example, in the Transylvanian town of Sibiu, you constantly feel like your being watched because the windows of the houses look like eyes gazing down you!
But all the Transylvanian folklore comes to a point when you see Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula. Just outside the town of Brasov is Dracula’s castle. In the capital of Bucharest there’s even a statue which marks this legendary and fabled ghoul, AKA Vlad the Impaler.
6) The Most Bizarrely Eerie Church in the World? Templo de San Juan de Chamula (Mexico)
It may just look like a normal Mexico church on the outside, but it’s the scene inside that left us in bewilderment. I wish I could show you, as it was easily the most eerie place of worship we’ve ever wandered into. But photography is strictly forbidden and visitors are checked for cameras at the door. So I’ll try to paint the picture using words instead.
There are no pews inside Templo de San Juan. Instead, dry pine needles completely cover the tile floor. Soft rhythmic music and clouds of incense fill the air. It’s rather dark since there’s only just a few small windows on the east side, which light dramatically beams in through the smokey incense. Mismatched tables line the walls of the church, topped with thousands of flickering candles of all shapes and sizes, dripping hot wax everywhere.
Worshipers kneel down on the pine needle covered floor. Men dress in black wool tunics that look as if they came fresh off a sheep. Don’t be alarmed by the ear-piercing blasts shaking the church. Outside, powerful firecrackers are lit, another bizarre ritual.
Each churchgoer to Templo de San Juan has their own assortment of dozens tall skinny candles, big wide pillar candles, and small votive candles all dripping with wax. They chant prayers in their native tongue. Yet perhaps most peculiar is watching them gulp carbonated orange sodas so that they can loudly burp into the incense-filled air. This is how they rid their evil spirits. If you’re really lucky (or unlucky depending on your perspective), you’ll also witness some sacrifices at the alter, which involves chickens. I’ll just leave it at that.
We’ve never been anywhere else that has left us so captivated yet so thoroughly freaked out at the same time. If you’re intrigued, you can find this scene unfolding everyday at this church near San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
5) An Empty Graveyard in the Middle of Nowhere at Full Moon (Slovenia)
Graveyards can always be a creepy place to hang out at night anywhere in the world. Yet, for us, it was this cemetery high up in the Julian Alps of Slovenia is the tiny town Bohinjska Bistrica that really gave us the chills. It’s not a particularly notable graveyard, but the night we stumbled through it, you could almost feel the ghosts.
Late in the evening the town seems abandoned as there is not a soul on streets anywhere. So even the sound of a cow’s moo in the distance may startle you for a moment. So when you stumble across this 19th century church lit up by the glow of the full moon, with gravestones popping out right out of the ground, you suddenly get the sense that a werewolf may be lurking right around the corner. Run!
4) The Mummies of Guanajuato (Mexico)
If this place doesn’t make you squirm a little, then perhaps nothing will. In the unassuming town of Guanajuato, Mexico, you can find this gruesome Museo de las Momias (Mummy Museum).
In the 1800’s there was a cholera outbreak that led to an influx of deaths and hence burials. Decades later the cemetery enacted a tax that family members needed to pay to keep their loved ones in the ground.
Some didn’t pay and hence their relatives were dug up. It turns out that Guanajuato’s unique geology had created a natural mummification process. At some point curious visitors wanted to see these mummies. So cemetery workers began charging for entry. They eventually built a museum to display the mummies, which is a top attraction in Guanajuato today and has left us with nightmares months after visiting.
3) Venturing into Sunken World War II Wrecks (Philippines)
Near the island of Coron, Philippines, Japanese vessels were attacked by US led air strikes in 1944. Today these ships remain deep on the bottom of the ocean floor. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of entering into the darkness of the sunken ships with flashlights in hand. Parts of the dive are nearly pitch black, so even the slightest motion brushing up against your leg feels like some crazy sea creature is going to attack you.
But the thought of sharks leaves your head when you come across reminders of the death that occurred inside the ship, such as the charred sole of a soldier’s boot. This takes scary to new heights (or perhaps I should say “depths”).
2) A Town Full of Witches (Spain)
We happened to stumble into a tiny puebla in Spain called Soportújar and discovered it was a town full of… witches!
When we saw a peculiar sign pointing a kilometer off the main road, we knew we had to detour and investigate. It was a bit eerie, as we found no mention of this strange place in any of our guidebooks and there’s little about it on the internet (its Wikipedia page is literally one sentence.)
So we wandered in and found a monument to the witches in the village square. But it was the cave that was padlocked with gated bars that really creeped us out. Peering inside there was – no joke – caldrons and broomsticks! Freaky!
We’ve since learned of a local legend that witches in the cave would snatch wandering children to boil down their fat to be used for milk & cheese products. WTF?! So we decided to pass on Soportújar’s queso tapas and instead tip-toed away as quickly and quietly as possible.
We later went to a local festival in a neighboring puebla and found the witches of Soportújar had all come out to party!
1) A Witch Doctor in the Middle of Africa (Zimbabwe)
During the Oasis Overland Africa Coast-to-Coast trip we visited an eccentric old witch doctor way up in the middle of Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani Mountains. It was such an crazy, bizarre, and chilling experience!
This wasn’t some sort of tourist attraction, as travelers don’t typically ever come this way. We were brought here by a local who was explaining to us how witch doctors serve the community with their “traditional healing” powers. The witch doctors supposedly treat all ailments, with the only exception being broken bones.
As we approached his spiderweb-covered alter, the creepy factor intensified. He snorted tobacco and took out tools like dead animals from his work station. Our local friend provided introductions and translations. He also warned us about a snake since there’s usually one in the tree, but it seemed to be missing at the moment. Hopefully not slithering somewhere around us.
Now I’m a complete skeptic when it comes to such practices, but the witch doctor proceeded to tell us things about our lives nobody else would have known. He touched on some obscure personal knowledge that was spot on.
He then gave an outlook for our future. In doing so, I needed to spit on a turtle shell and throw them down on the ground. The witch doctor seemed delighted at my form. The witch doctor then recognized that we had a strong passion and were considering whether to continue pursuing this passion. Again, he was absolutely right as our visit to this man in Zimbabwe coincided towards the end of our 3rd year of travel that we had been heavily debating whether or not to continue beyond that year.
After consulting the spirits through a series of whistle blowing, spitting, shell tossing, and chanting that went on for minutes; he let us know that he saw absolutely no obstacles in our way. And despite this most-creepy premonition, we’ve still been traveling ever since!
Happy Halloween Travelers!
Let’s talk travel! Let us know about any other spooky destinations that you’ve been to in the comments below!