The spookiest time of the year is almost here, and to celebrate, we’ve rounded up three destinations around the world that are packed with creepy lore, from the cobblestone streets of Venice to the cemeteries of New Orleans. Read on to discover chills and thrills in these three cities around the world. (P.S. You can read up on previous years’ spooky tales here and here.)
Belly up to the bar at the Old Absinthe House, one of the oldest buildings in the city, to potentially witness the ghosts of President Andrew Jackson and the Voodoo Queen herself, Marie Laveau. (And after a swig or two of the establishment’s namesake beverage, you may find yourself seeing more than ghosts.) Delve deeper into the magic of Laveau with a visit to Congo Square, just north of the French Quarter, an important meeting place and cultural center for people of color throughout history. There, she would hold her famous dances, voodoo rituals, and seances.
You can also visit her resting place at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, another can’t-miss creepy attraction. The cemetery has become so popular, in fact, you can’t visit it without an official, licensed tour guide. Filled with aboveground graves, the cemetery stands out starkly—keep an eye out for the graves of Laveau, civil rights hero Homer Plessy, and the future tomb of… Nicolas Cage? (The actor purchased the plot of his future resting place in 2010.)
Beneath the daytime sheen of stripe-clad gondoliers and TikTokers snapping viral shots, Venice and its network of crisscrossing canals and alleys that lead seemingly to nowhere can make you feel a little unsettled—especially if you find yourself walking the cobbled streets alone at night.
Luckily, you can’t run into the most garish of Venetian hauntings along its main thoroughfares—it’s tucked away from the city on an island in the middle of the lagoon. And for good reason: It was used as a quarantine zone during the Bubonic plague in the 14th century. Due to its gruesome past, Poveglia Island is said to have been the final resting place for tens of thousands of plague victims, their souls doomed to roam the small island forever. Afterward, it served as a abysmally run mental institution and then senior home until 1975, where it sits abandoned today. Venetians refuse to go near it, and any attempts at reconstructing the property since have been abandoned without explanation.
Back inside the city center, other ghoulish tales are housed within Palazzo Dario, nestled right along the Grand Canal and tilting ever-so-disconcertingly to the right. Venetians say this 500-year-old house is cursed, all of its owners doomed to death or a fate just as miserable. From the deaths of the first aristocratic owners of the house in the 15th century to a gruesome host of stabbings, suicides, and assassinations since, the cursed house has an incredibly sordid history—it’s alleged that local fishermen won’t even cast their lines in the water near the palazzo.
When it’s shrouded in fog on a dark and gloomy night, it’s easy to feel uneasy in London. With roots dating back to the Roman Empire, it’s only natural that the Big Smoke has racked up its fair share of haunted sites and sightings over two thousand years.
The Tower of London, dating all the way back to 1078, is a permanent home to more than just the crown jewels. The second wife of King Henry VIII and short-lived queen, Anne Boleyn, met her unfortunate fate by beheading in the castle’s Tower Green; it’s said she still wanders the halls of the tower—without a head. And the aptly named Bloody Tower is allegedly home to the ghosts of two young princes killed in the night by future King Richard III in the 15th century, doomed to roam the grounds of the castle for eternity—when they’re allegedly spotted, they’re still in their nightclothes, holding hands.
If you’re in the mood, you can also catch a show with a side of spirits. Although many throughout the city lay claim to ghostly figures, one of the most rife with hauntings is the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. (It’s certainly not home to someone as sweet as the gingerbread man.) Two of the most famous specters are Joseph Grimaldi, comedian and inventor of the modern-day clown, and the Man in Grey, an unnamed ghoul who was allegedly stabbed somewhere beneath the theater in the 19th century. He haunts it to this day, disappearing in and out of walls in a dark cloak and tricorne hat—we’ll let you decide if the cloaked ghoul or wandering clown is creepier.