Spooky places to visit on your travels around the world

The island of the dolls in Mexico. Picture: INSTAGRAM

The island of the dolls in Mexico. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Published Oct 31, 2023


It's that time of year again, and we're on the prowl for stories that send shivers down your spine. As Halloween draws near and the air becomes tinged with an aura of mystery and intrigue, it's the perfect moment to dive into spine-tingling and captivating spooky tales.

La Isla de las Muñecas, The Island of the Dolls, Mexico

The island of the dolls. Picture: INSTAGRAM

La Isla de las Muñecas has a tragic origin. The legend goes that Don Julian Santana, the island's caretaker, discovered the body of a drowned girl in the Xochimilco canals many years ago.

Tormented by the girl's spirit, he started hanging dolls around the island as a way to appease her restless soul. He believed that the dolls would ward off evil spirits and protect the island from harm, wild!

Over the years, he collected many dolls from various sources. Some were donated by locals, while others were salvaged from the canals. The dolls range from tattered and disfigured to more well-preserved, and they cover almost every inch of the island.

Walking through the Island of the Dolls is an unsettling experience. The dolls, with their decaying limbs, sun-bleached faces, and missing eyes, hang from trees, fences, and buildings.

Their lifeless gazes follow you, and some visitors have reported that the dolls appear to whisper and move, adding to the eerie ambiance. It's not a place for the faint of heart.

In 2001, Don Julian Santana was found drowned in the same spot where he had discovered the girl's body. Some locals believe that he joined the spirits on the island.

His nephew, Anastasio Santana, now takes care of the island and continues to honour his uncle's tradition of hanging dolls.

Despite its eerie reputation, La Isla de las Muñecas has become a unique tourist attraction.

Visitors from around the world are drawn to the island's mysterious and creepy charm. Many bring dolls to add to the collection as a way of paying tribute to the legend of the drowned girl.

Kensington Cave in Johannesburg, South Africa

Kensington Cave in Johannesburg, has a chilling history associated with the Foster Gang, a notorious group of criminals. Picture: Unsplash

Kensington Cave in Johannesburg, has a chilling history associated with the Foster Gang, a notorious group of criminals. The gang sought refuge within the depths of this cave, where a dramatic and tragic event unfolded.

Surrounded by law enforcement, all three members of the Foster Gang ultimately took their own lives within the cave.

The cave's ominous history has left an indelible mark on its reputation, making it a site of both intrigue and eerie occurrences. Reports of strange and unexplained paranormal phenomena have circulated among residents who live in proximity to the cave.

These eerie happenings include strange sounds, eerie whispers in the dark, and sightings of ghostly apparitions. Such tales contribute to the lore surrounding Kensington Cave, casting an air of mystery and fear over this once-quiet location.

It's a site where the shadows of the past seem to intersect with the world of the supernatural, making it a haunting and enigmatic location that continues to intrigue and unsettle those who dare to explore its depths.

The Green Lady, Italy

At the heart of Château de Brissac's in the scenic Loire Valley of France, mystique is the legend of the Green Lady. She's a ghostly figure, often spotted in the castle, and her story is nothing short of a Gothic tragedy.

The Green Lady is said to be the spirit of Charlotte of France, who was married to King Louis XI's son, Louis of Orleans. Her name the green lady became known as she is often described as a ghostly figure who appears in the castle, wearing a green dress.

The story suggests that Charlotte had an affair with a courtier in the castle. When her husband, Louis of Orleans, discovered this infidelity, he was consumed by jealousy and rage. In a fit of anger, he murdered both Charlotte and her lover within the castle's walls, particularly in what is now known as the Green Lady's Chamber.

This brutal and gruesome act resulted in her spirit becoming trapped within the castle, leading to the reported hauntings and apparitions of the Green Lady.

Visitors to Château de Brissac have reported sightings of the Green Lady, often in the Green Lady's Chamber, from which she gets her name. She is described as a ghostly figure with hollow, lifeless eyes, a reflection of the violent end she met.

Devil’s Peak, Cape Town

If you’ve been on one of the red bus tours you may know the tale of Devil's Peak, a prominent mountain peak in Cape Town which is not just a natural wonder but also the source of numerous legends.

Devil's Peak derives its name from a local legend, which tells of a Dutch sea captain named Jan van Hunks. In the late 17th century, van Hunks had a reputation for being quite the character – a heavy drinker who had a fondness for his pipe.

Devils Peak Mountain. Picture: INSTAGRAM

It is told that on a particular day, Jan van Hunks decided to hike to the top of the peak to enjoy a quiet smoke. While enjoying his pipe, a mysterious stranger challenged him to a smoking competition. The stranger was reportedly the Devil himself.

Jan van Hunks and the Devil engaged in an epic smoking battle. Puffing away, they filled the air with thick smoke, creating a smoky shroud around the peak. The contest raged for hours until van Hunks, against all odds, won the smoking battle.

In defeat, the Devil conceded to Jan van Hunks and disappeared in a burst of flames. However, he left with a promise never to return to the peak as long as someone else was there smoking. Consequently, the Devil's Peak became a place where, as long as someone was puffing on a pipe or a cigarette, the Devil would be kept at bay.

Aokigahara Forest, Japan - "Suicide Woods"

Aokigahara Forest, Japan. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Aokigahara Forest, with its dense undergrowth and eerily twisted trees, has earned the nickname "Suicide Woods."

The forest's dense foliage and the ability to wander off the beaten paths has made it a place where visitors can easily become disoriented and freaked out.

The forest's solemn reputation arises from the unsettling fact that it has been the setting for numerous suicides over the years. Distressed individuals have entered its depths with the intention of ending their lives, turning it into a place with a dark history that lingers in the collective consciousness.

In a bid to deter potential suicide attempts, local authorities have placed signs throughout the forest, urging visitors to reconsider their decisions and seek help. These signs serve as a poignant reminder of the depths of despair that have brought people to this haunting location.

Aokigahara's reputation as "Suicide Woods" has captured the imagination of many, leading to a sense of both fascination and fear.

It's a place where the line between the natural world and the supernatural blurs, creating an atmosphere that leaves guest baffled.

Mary King's Close, Edinburgh, Scotland

Today, you can take tours in Mary King's Close that explore its history and the stories of the people who used to live there. The guides tell visitors about the close's spooky past, the people who lived there, and the strange things that people have experienced in its hidden rooms. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Beneath the lively streets of Edinburgh lies the enigmatic world of Mary King's Close, an underground network of narrow streets with a haunting past.

One of the most haunting aspects of Mary King's Close is its association with the bubonic plague. During the 17th century, when the plague swept through Edinburgh, the close was sealed off.

Those who lived within its confines were either left to die or hastily quarantined. The eerie history of plague victims, abandonment, and death has left an indelible mark on the close.

Visitors to Mary King's Close have reported unsettling and ghostly encounters. From ghostly apparitions to inexplicable cold spots, the underground streets seem to come alive with spectral energy.

People have described feeling an otherworldly presence, suggesting that the history of the close is not confined to the past but continues to manifest in the present.

Today, you can take tours in Mary King's Close that explore its history and the stories of the people who used to live there. The guides tell visitors about the place’s past, the people who lived there and the strange things that people have experienced in its hidden rooms.