Some destinations are worth visiting for their history, some for their architecture or culture, still others for their entertainment. As fans of horror and suspense, we took a different tack with this piece – all of the haunted places you’ll find below are sites we fell in love with because of their tales of spooks and specters. If you’re one to make ghost tours part of your adventures on the road, then we highly recommend checking these out.
Höfði House (Reykjavik, Iceland)
If you’ve ever been to Iceland, you know it has, well, an icy vibe. It’s often chilly and overcast with clouds creeping along open plains and up mountainsides. Take that setting, add the 1909 Höfði House, and you have a bone-chilling combination. Once the property of the French consul (which you can confirm by spotting the “R.F., or République Française above the door), it has hosted many dignitaries over the years, including Winston Churchill, Marlene Dietrich, and our very own Ronald Reagan.
Perhaps more than these celebrity associations, the Höfði House is known for its haunting “White Lady.” Local accounts claim this entrenched spirit belongs to a young woman who either committed suicide or drowned nearby. And while there are no published tales of notables colliding with the trouble damsel, one resident of the house did – John Greenway, in 1952. He claimed unending “bumps in the night” unnerved him, prompting him to advise the British consulate (then owners of the house) to sell the property immediately.
Today, the house is owned by the City of Reykjavik and continues to be used for official functions. No government agency has corroborated the White Lady haunting reports, but nobody really expected them to. How would fancy state dinners go with a ghost in attendance?
St. Augustine Lighthouse (St. Augustine, Florida)
Laying claim to more than 400 years of history, St. Augustine has had many chapters – from its early days as a Spanish port city, used largely by the military, to its modern-day tourist-centric buzz that draws thousands of visitors each year with historical reenactments, water sports, aquariums, museums, and quaint shopping. In fact, the city brims with so much positive energy that you’d find it hard to believe there were any malevolent spirits lurking about. However…
St. Augustine Lighthouse, built in the late 1800s, is associated with some sordid tales. By some accounts, children playing near the lighthouse were once swept up by the wind into the water and drowned. Others claim that one of the lighthouse keepers fell to his death down the winding stairway up to the light. To add more spook to fright, ghost hunters claim that the lighthouse has experienced a significant amount of paranormal activity; in fact, you can still hear echoes in the lighthouse tower that sound like voices from ages past.
Bhangarh Fort (Rajasthan, India)
Few associate ghostly terror with India, but ghosts know no borders. At the 17th-century Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan, in fact, haunting tales are never in short supply. One ancient story tells of a local who cast a curse on the town; he said that if anyone built a house taller than his own in the precinct, the town would be destroyed. Another tale tells of a black magic wizard who pursued the princess, but when he attempted to feed her a love potion, she threw the potion against a large rock which careened into the wizard and crushed him. His dying words were (you guessed it) a curse on the town.
You can visit the fort today and admire its remarkably well-preserved buildings, gates, and temples. But as you wander the eerily quiet halls, don’t be surprised if you feel the breath of a wizard on your neck.
Hell Fire Club (Montpelier Hill, Ireland)
With its foggy climes and ancient druids, Ireland seems like the perfect haunted place for a few meddling ghosts. Little wonder, then, that there are tales galore of other-worldly spirits lingering at Hell Fire Club near Dublin.
The club building was built on Montpelier Hill in the 1700s using stones from an ancient burial site. Shortly after the building was completed, a storm blew the roof off – purportedly the work of the devil and punishment for disturbing the resting place of the dead.
But the eeriness doesn’t end there. The Hell Fire Club – which gathered to worship the devil and, by some accounts, engage in sacrifices – dissolved in catastrophe, convictions for murders, and the death of its members.
The building on the top of Montpelier Hill was later sold and passed through the hands of several families before being turned over to the state. It is not currently in use, but can be seen by those interested in the ghoulish stories of the Hell Fire Club.
Jazirat Al Hamra (United Arab Emirates)
At the northeast corner of the UAE sits the small town of Jazirat Al Hamra. Originally a tidal island and often the center of territorial disputes, the town didn’t enjoy any serious population growth until the 1800s when it became home to some 200 people, mostly pearl fishers. That number swelled to some 3,000 in the 20th century. Today, however, the city is abandoned – thinly coated in desert sand and preserved as it might have been decades ago.
Where did everybody go?
Local lore tells us that Jazirat Al Hamra, whatever its coastal charms may be, is decidedly a haunted place. The real reason for locals abandoning the town – leaving school rooms ready for class, chairs tucked under tables, and cookware on stoves – is uncertain, though historians postulate it was because of the brutal sun, sandstorms, tribal conflicts, or all three.
That theory doesn’t hold water for many locals, however, who insist that the only reason an entire population would so quickly abandon a town is because of ghosts. This theory has rippled out into nearby towns and villages where the legend of haunted Jazirat Al Hamra persists.
The Alaskan Hotel (Juneau, Alaska)
Ah, Juneau. The escape up north where ocean meets the wild and urban frenzy is nowhere to be found. Also, ghosts. To wit: The Alaskan Hotel, opened in 1913, served the frontier mining company nearby and garnered rave reviews for its amenities until pesky room 315 started to cause problems.
There are several tales of hauntings in the sparse room – fitted with little more than two twin beds and a painting of two turn-of-the-century women – but the most recent came in 2007. A sailor, docked in port, requested the room. He arrived without incident, but later than night, the police were called due to a disturbance in 315. When they arrived, they found the door was locked. Screams rang out. Windows shattered. More screaming.
The sailor had jumped to his death from room 315, shattering windows on the way down.
Historic Hannah House (Indianapolis, Indiana)
We included this one last because it’s permanently closed, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a wealth of frightening stories hidden away. Built before the Civil War and owned by modest couple Alexander Hannah and his wife, it once served as a stop along the Underground Railroad.
Sadly, however, a lantern was knocked over in the basement one evening – the very place where most of the slaves were given refuge. The ensuing fire killed many of them; they were buried in simple coffins in the basement.
To make things even more eerie, it’s been said that Mrs. Hannah gave birth to a still-born child on the second floor; a sad-looking gravestone for the child was added to the family plot with a single date etched into it.
Do you have haunted places that you love visiting or reading about? Share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.