By Rachael Funk
For lovers of the macabre, exploring the darker side of a destination can become a highlight of the trip. Whether you want to make it the focus of you vacation or just add a few thrills to your getaway, these destinations are primed for a great experience all around. If you’re looking for a weird time, you can’t go wrong at these spectacular haunts.
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Transylvania’s capital city, Cluj-Napoca has centuries of paranormal history. The captivating city itself is cheery and filled with museums, plazas, and plenty to explore, but on the outskirts of town lies Hoia Baciu Forest – one of the most haunted forests in the world. The area covers 618 acres and is called the Bermuda Triangle of Romania. Visitors have reported ghost sightings, apparitions, unexplained faces appearing in photographs, and other paranormal events. In 1968, a photo was published of a UFO hovering over the forest.
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Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a must-see destination for any traveler, and that goes double for those craving otherworldly adventures. This city is bursting with legends of ghosts and mystery. Dozens of ghosts are said to roam Prague from the Iron Man who is so well-known he has his own monument to the Murdered Nun. You can also visit sites such as the Gateway to Hell at Houska Castle or the hanging arm at the Church of St. James the Greater.
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The City of Light is also the city of the dark and unsettling, if you care to explore. Descend into the pitch-black catacombs under the city to wind your way through a maze of bones and ghost stories if you dare. You can visit the most haunted street in Paris, Île de la Cité lies Rue des Chantres, swing by the Paris gallows of Montfaucon, or try to catch a glimpse of the ghost of the Eiffel Tower.
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While you’re unwinding with a pint at Dublin’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head, keep an eye out for the ghost of Robert Emmett who is said to still sit at the bar, nervously watching for the arrival of his executioner who also frequented the pub. One of the most haunted spots in the city is said to be Kilmainham Gaol, a jail where paranormal events have been reported since the 1960s.
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La Paz, Bolivia
After a thorough visit to the museums, art galleries, and other attractions of Bolivia’s trendy capital city, take a stroll over to El Mercado de las Brujas. The city’s Witches Market sells potions, spells, and all the supplies one might require for dark magic. Travelers may also enjoy a visit to La Casona Hotel Boutique, where hair-raising apparitions and noises are said to occur regularly after dark.
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Tokyo is a city begging for a ghost tour, as it offers several thrilling sites to explore. In the heart of the city, you can find Hakone Yama, the most haunted place in Tokyo. The unassuming park is bright and picturesque by day but after the sun goes down, passersby have claimed to hear wailing and sobbing piercing the darkness. Another popular haunt-spot is Sunshine 60, a 60-story office building which sits on the former location of Sugamo Prison, where war criminals were detained and executed.
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Poveglia Island, Italy
A small island located between Venice and Lido, Poveglia gained its first inhabitants in 421. Originally home to families fleeing the invaders who ravaged the mainland, Poveglia was abandoned by the 14th century. Once the Bubonic Plague hit the area, the island became a quarantine colony where sick citizens were relocated as they waited to succumb to their illness. In 1630, the island was once again used to hold ailing victims of the Black Death. In the 1800s, an asylum on the island housed the mentally ill, and there are rumors that a doctor in the 1930s used to perform strange experiments on his patients until the doctor lost his mind and jumped to his death from the bell tower.
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New Orleans, USA
Bearing the reputation of being the most haunted city in the United States, New Orleans is famous for its supernatural history and inhabitants. From the practitioners of the mystical arts to Voodoo queens, New Orleans is the place to dive into the paranormal. The city is ripe for exploration, offering cemetery tours, haunted hotels, and even séances.
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Though London may conjure images of double decker busses, high tea, and Big Ben, the city also has a dark side. Here, you can visit castles crawling with ghosts or the most haunted place in the city – the Tower of London. This was not only the site of Anne Boleyn’s beheading, it is also inhabited by other illustrious spirits such as princes Edward V and Richard, who were murdered in the Bloody Tower by the Duke of Gloucester. Legend has it the princes’ anguished screams can still be heard throughout the tower.