15 Chilling Dark Tourism Destinations for Adventurous Travelers

Explore the bizarre and fascinating world of dark tourism as we look at some of the spookiest destinations in the world. These 15 destinations are far from conventional and certainly not for the faint-hearted. If you’re a fan of the morbid and macabre, then this list is definitely for you.

What is Dark Tourism?

terrified male traveler is talking on the phone
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Dark tourism was once confined only to academic circles but is now widespread in describing thrill-seeking travelers obsessed by the unsettling nature of haunted sites, captivated by the intrigue of tragedy, death, and human suffering, making the macabre and deranged into the main attraction. 

Nothing New

woman in hat stands and looking on Coliseum in Pula Croatia
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Whilst the term may be new, the concept is ancient. Dark tourism has existed for millennia, from medieval executions to Roman amphitheaters. The captivating thrill and obsession with tragedy have long garnered a significant following of those enthralled by the darkest aspects of the human psyche and our brutal history.

Stull Cemetery, Kansas, USA

Welcome to Kansas highway sign
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Infamously known as the gateway to hell, this unassuming cemetery in Kansas has a satanic secret and is believed to be haunted by the devil. Its demonic presence is said to be so strong that Pope John Paul II is reported to have refused to allow his plane to fly over eastern Kansas, making a significant detour to make an appearance in Colorado. 

Trespassing on this unholy site is severely discouraged, and anyone caught doing so can face a fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.  

S-21 and the Killing Fields, Cambodia

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
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A truly dark tourist destination, The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh was originally a secondary school before its chilling transformation under the Khmer Rouge when it became a center for interrogations and executions, witnessing the brutal mass murders of millions of people. 

Today, it serves as a grueling educational center and a haunting reminder of the Cambodian genocide, providing visitors with guided tours about the atrocities committed throughout the old school halls.

Hiroshima, Japan

Two female Japanese tourists contemplating at The Hiroshima Victims Memorial Cenotaph with a view of Atomic Bomb Dome
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One of the deadliest dark tourism sites in the world, Hiroshima was victim to the devastating bomb in 1945 that slaughtered 80,000 people and left thousands more suffering from the consequences of radiation poisoning and other related injuries. A devastating site, Hiroshima has become a reminder of the diabolical power and severe consequences of nuclear warfare. 

Palermo Catacombs, Italy

Palermo Catacombs
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Preserved for centuries, the walls of the catacombs are lined with 8,000 slowly decaying corpses maintained by the local monks. Visitors can now explore the catacombs and chapel of Santa Rosalia, which is home to the perfectly preserved body of the “Sleeping Beauty of Palermo,” who passed away aged only two in 1920.

Belchite, Spain

Ruin of bombed ancient church in Belchite, Spain
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This spooky ghost town continues to be haunted by the restless casualties of its disturbing war-torn past. Its bloody history and involvement in the 1809 Peninsular War and Spanish Civil War have turned the remains of this troubled town into an eerie tourist destination. 

Chernobyl and Pripiyat, Ukraine

Ghost sity Pripiyat and Chernobyl zone
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Perhaps the closest you can get to experiencing a post-apocalyptic town, the site of the catastrophic 1986 nuclear blast, is now open to tourists. This infamous 30-mile exclusion zone was cut off from the rest of the world after it suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident in history, resulting in multiple deaths and long-term health issues for millions. This eerie location now offers regulated visits around the deserted town.

Suicide Forest, Japan

message written on an old wooden plank in the mysterious forest of Aokigahara
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Officially called Aokigahara, this spooky 4-square-mile stretch of the forest at the base of Mt Fuji is filled with ancient demons lurking amongst the eerily silent and densely packed foliage. Its seclusion and inaccessibility have made it the final destination for many tortured souls over the years, with many bodies lying undiscovered beneath the creepily beautiful greenery.

Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada

view of the famous Banff Springs Hotel
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Reportedly one of the most haunted sites in the country, this grand old railway hotel built in 1888 is bound to get your blood boiling. Legend has it that the restless ghost of a woman who once fell to her death after her wedding dress caught fire can be seen dancing in the ballroom. 

Those with nerves of steel can even visit the haunted site of a chilling murder in room 873, with sightings of slaughtered family and their apparitions still lingering in the hallway outside the sealed-off room.

Nagoro, Japan

Nagoro the scarecrow Village in Japan
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This bizarre and unsettling village in Japan is home to more dolls than people. As the younger residents began to move away, artist Tsukimi Ayano crafted a spooky solution, filling the deserted town with life-size dolls to breathe new life into the community. 

The result is an eerily unhinged dystopia where dolls outnumber humans by ten to one, which is sure to send shivers down your spine as you start to question your surroundings. This is certainly not the destination for you if dolls freak you out.

Pompeii, Italy

Vesuvius and Pompeii
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The perfect combo for a thrill-seeking history buff, the legendary site of the ancient Roman town suffocated under ash and pumice by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Rediscovered in 1599 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it offers a firsthand experience of the spooky, perfectly preserved remains of the ancient structures and inhabitants.

Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

Interior of the Sedlec ossuary (Kostnice) decorated with skulls and bones
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A blood-curdling site to behold, this Roman Catholic chapel, located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints, houses an insane array of decorations, furnishings, and chandeliers made from the bones of an estimated 70,000 skeletons. 

Leap Castle, Ireland

Aerial view of Leap Castle with ruined donjon and castle garden
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This 13th-century castle has a long and twisted history of violence, murder, and mayhem, witnessing the brutal imprisonment, murder, and executions of many poor souls. Home to many grueling secrets, a secret dungeon was discovered during renovations containing cartloads of human remains and the spikes erected to impale them. 

Nowadays, the castle continues to host these poor, vengeful spirits, along with a permanent smell of sulfurous rotting flesh that is said to accompany one particular supernatural entity.

London Dungeon, UK

logo and entrance of The London Dungeon situated in South Bank next to the London Eye
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One of the most popular dark tourism attractions in the UK, the historic dungeon is home to over 1,000 years of London’s more infamous and blood-curdling past. With recreations of its gory historical events, this is the perfect interactive attraction for history-obsessed thrill seekers. 

KGB Headquarters, Lithuania

The Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, which is housed in the former KGB headquarters
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This imposing site possesses a justifiably spooky aura. The home of the Soviet prison that was in operation between 1954 and 1991 earned its reputation as one of the most feared buildings in the world during the Cold War as the location of countless murders and executions where insurgents were known to have been tortured to death.

Murambi Genocide Memorial, Rwanda

The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of people
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Easily one of the darkest and most depraved moments in history, the museum was originally a technical institution that saw the brutal massacre of more than 50,000 people within just 100 days during the genocide of the Tutsi in 1994, making this one of the morbid and most solemn sites in the history of dark tourism.

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