Every October, people love to scare themselves by watching horror movies and transforming their homes into haunted houses. So we thought it appropriate to get in on the spirit of Halloween and showcase some of the scariest places to visit on Goway travel. We’ve also paired a good horror movie viewing with each entry to make sure that you can capture a bit of the spooky atmosphere of each destination, even if you can’t visit it this Halloween season.
To be sure, we’re not talking about destinations that are scary because they’re unsafe or so uncomfortable as to discourage a trip (to be clear: visiting a war zone or climbing a dangerous mountain is not scary, it’s stupid). Instead, we’ve picked destinations that are safe, but are sure to get your heart racing and the hairs standing on the back of your neck. Like a good horror movie, you’re safe, but the experience is sure to give you a good scare and leave you exhilarated from the adrenaline rush.
The Bone Chapel of Sedlec Ossuary
Located in the sleepy town of Kutna Hora, around an hour east of Prague, this creepy chapel is one of the most unique and macabre churches on the planet. The entirety of the interior was constructed from human bones collected from skeletons during the Middle Ages. Estimates claim that around 40 to 70 thousand skeletons were involved in the creation of the ossuary. As well, at least one of every bone in the human body is present within the chandeliers, altars, and wall designs of the chapel. Visiting Sedlec Ossuary while on a Czech Republic vacation is undeniably creepy, but there’s also something strangely beautiful about the intricacy of the designs.
If you want a decidedly-cheerier skeleton experience than visiting the Sedlec Ossuary, watch Disney’s old cartoon short, The Skeleton Dance, which features a bunch of skeletons coming to life on Halloween and dancing about the graveyard. If you have kids, they’ll get a real kick out of the movie and will probably want to replicate the dance in your living room.
The Paris Catacombs
Like the Sedlec Ossuary, the Paris Catacombs are all about bones. This massive network of underground burial sites contains the bodies of more than six million Parisians and has been popular to visit on a trip to France since the early 19th century. You’ll find bone walls and rocky beds containing skeletons as you work your way through the underground labyrinth. The cramped spaces, low ceilings, dark tunnels, and endless numbers of bones make for a creepy atmosphere, to say the least. If you have a “nervous disposition” according to the website, or struggle with claustrophobia, the catacombs probably aren’t for you, but for everyone else, you won’t find a creepier destination to visit while in Paris.
For a full-on horror movie experience set in the Paris Catacombs, watch As Above, So Below, a found-footage film about a team of spelunkers and treasure hunters who descend into the catacombs to find the Philosopher’s Stone and get more than they bargained for. It’s not a perfect movie, but it uses the Paris Catacombs to create a scary and incredibly claustrophobic atmosphere.
The Crocodiles of Crocosaurus Cove
Creatures are the main feature at Crocosaurus Cove, an attraction dedicated to showcasing saltwater crocodiles in all their toothy glory. Located in Darwin at the Top End of the Northern Territory, this nature park lets you get up close to saltwater crocodiles, including some of the largest specimens ever caught. You can hold a baby crocodile and feed the crocs from above the enclosures. If you’re really wanting to feel your heart race, you can head into the shockingly-titled “Cage of Death,” which takes you into the centre of a massive croc tank with nothing but a thin (but sturdy) pane of glass separating you from the crocodiles. If massive reptiles set your hair on end, you should make time to visit Crocosaurus Cove while on your travel to Australia.
Horror filmmakers understand the scariness of a massive croc. The 1999 horror-comedy Lake Placid is about a gigantic prehistoric crocodile that invades a tranquil lake near a small town and starts feeding on the townspeople. It’s a total schlock fest, but even Crocosaurus Cove doesn’t feature bigger crocs.
Belize’s Great Blue Hole
A deep, dark blue hole plunging into watery depths in the middle of the ocean; nothing scary about that, right? (I say as I nervously wipe sweat from my brow.) This massive marine sinkhole in the Belize Barrier Reef runs 318m across and plunges 124m into the depths of the ocean. The hole is essentially a massive underwater cave that’s filled with stalactites and that looks impenetrably blue when viewed from the surface. While on a Goway vacation to Belize, you can go on a diving expedition into the cave to discover its secrets, but it’s not a diving spot for first-timers; you need advanced certification to go deeper than 70m. You can also take a flight over the hole for spectacular views. The ocean gives a lot of people the willies, and there are few sights that capture the immense depths of the ocean better than the Great Blue Hole.
It’s the obvious choice, but no horror film preys on fears of the watery depths better than Jaws, Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster classic. Just be thankful that there are no monstrous great white sharks waiting for you in the depths of the Great Blue Hole.
Mt. Mayon in the Philippines
Few things can be as scary as the sheer power of Mother Nature, and nothing better encapsulates that power than a volcano. Of all the active volcanoes across the world, few are as unpredictable as Mt. Mayon, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The volcano has a perfect cone shape that makes it a breathtaking sight, but it’s also capable of engulfing the typically-peaceful countryside in lava and ash. You have to be absolutely certain that the mountain is safe before visiting while on your Goway vacation (check with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology as well as your travel agent before visiting). If you can visit the surrounding area during a dormant period, you can observe the volcano and imagine its overwhelming power.
If you want to watch a volcano disaster movie, Dante’s Peak or the aptly-named Volcano are dependable choices. If you want to learn more about volcanoes and watch terrifying footage of real people getting close to them while they erupt, Werner Herzog’s Netflix documentary Into the Inferno is illuminating viewing.
Skylodge Adventure Suites in the Sacred Valley
If you’re scared of heights, like I am, this is as scary as it gets. Suspended from the side of a mountain between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Skylodge Adventure Suites offer bold travellers the chance to spend a night sleeping on the literal side of a mountain. You have to climb the rock wall and a series of ladders to get to the lodges in the first place. You then spend your night in your glass room with an incredible view of the stars above you and the valley below you. In the morning, you rappel down the mountain on a zip line. Even if you’re the adventurous type, you’ll likely get a little scared when you realize just how high off the ground you are during your sleep. If you’re looking for a quick fright before bed (or a fright during bed), book the Skylodge Adventure Suites for your next trip to Peru.
If you want to experience a bit of acrophobia from the safety of a movie theatre seat or your couch cushions, watch the rock climbing documentary Free Solo, which follows Alex Honnold as he free solo climbs the rock face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, which means that he climbs the mountain without the use of any harness or ropes. It’s an insane feat of human strength and a terrifying experience to witness.
Bran Castle a.k.a. Dracula’s Castle
This is a bit of a cheat because Bran Castle is not scary inside. While the Transylvanian castle is associated with Vlad the Impaler a.k.a. Count Dracula, what you’ll mostly find in its medieval passages and terraces are exhibits on the life of Queen Marie, the last Queen of Romania and a member of the British Royal Family. That being said, there is a substantial caveat to my comment; Bran Castle’s image is so iconic and its reputation as Dracula’s Castle so wide-reaching, that it doesn’t take much to imagine its spires covered with bats and its creaky corridors housing vampires and other creatures of the night, especially when you see the castle from below with the moon at its back. The image of the castle on its hilltop is worth a visit alone, while on a Romania vacation, and might be enough to conjure images of nighttime terror.
For more Dracula-related fun, watch F.W. Murnau’s silent classic, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel and the best Dracula film ever made. It may be silent and almost 100 years old, but this German film remains one of the most atmospheric films ever made and genuinely creepy. As well, it’s impossible not to notice the similarities between Bran Castle and Nosferatu’s (Dracula’s) castle in the film. Obviously, even in 1922, the castle held a powerful sway over our collective imagination.
The Castle of Good Hope
It wouldn’t be a real list of scary places across the globe without a haunted castle. This 17th-century fortress along the coast in Cape Town was first built by the Dutch East India Company and has had something of a ghastly history involving imprisonment, slavery, and torture. As such, the castle is haunted and has played host to numerous sightings of a massive spectre haunting the battlements as well as a black dog that lunges at visitors. Most tours here will focus on the history of South Africa and the importance of the building as a well-preserved remnant of the Dutch East India Company, but there’s a chance you’ll also have the lights flash on and off or spot a ghost during your visit.
There are many haunted house movies to choose from, but few are as iconic as The Haunting from 1963, about a small group of people investigating a haunted mansion. There was a 1999 remake starring Liam Neeson (skip it) and a recent Netflix series based off the same source material, but the original 1963 film remains a creepy and fascinatingly-shot film that makes the mansion a character in its own right. It provides the sort of creepy atmosphere and low-key thrills that linger in your mind long after the credits roll.
There are plenty of scary sites to visit across the globe (we could’ve done a list of only haunted castles and still had many options left off the list), but these eight give you a wide variety of spooky experiences to have on Goway travel. They’re safe and can make for great additions to sunnier, less-spooky vacations. But they’re also sure to give you the kind of adrenaline rush we crave during the Halloween season.