Are you fight, flight or fright? When Halloween comes a-knocking, what do you choose – trick, treat or terror?
If you chose ‘terror’, perhaps you should put some of the world’s scariest places on your travel bucket list. Watch as the hairs on your arms raise up, feel the chill run down your spine and jump out of your skin by staying in one of these four fearful locations.
Forget haunted houses, Pripyat is an entire spooky city – or at least it was.
Up until 26 April 1986, this was a perfectly normal city of approximately 50,000 people. It had been built in 1970 specifically for the workers and families of those working on the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
A flawed reactor design and poorly trained personnel led to a devastating explosion, which caused the deaths of two workers on the night and a further 28 within a few weeks from acute radiation poisoning, according to the World Nuclear Association. The entire population was forced to evacuate in an attempt to avoid any further radiation issues, yet estimates of the number affected birth defects and cancers of children in the area range from tens of thousands, to millions.
To this day, Pripyat stands completely abandoned, exactly as it was (though somewhat rustier and dustier) in 1986, clocks frozen at the time of the blast and personal belongings strewn about the place.
You can see town with your own eyes on a tour of the city, just as Jeremy Clarkson did. Entering buildings is forbidden, and some areas still have levels of radiation. A European Bank funded project called the New Safe Confinement is currently constructing a 32,000-tonne arch – considered one of the trickiest engineering feats in the world – designed to encase the radioactive remains of the reactor, which is set to be completed in 2017.
Well, it’s not called Paradisetown, is it?
There are plenty of haunted places in the states, but this abandoned village is shrouded in ghastly tales each more terrifying than the last.
It wasn’t always named after the eternal fires of hell, and was in fact once known by the quaint name of ‘Boston Township’ – and still is, officially.
From 1806 to 1974, Boston Township and its citizens enjoyed a peaceful existence, right up until President Ford signed off on a bill that let the National Park Service reclaim lands – Boston Township in particular – to create new National Parks.
The government quickly started buying homes in the area, closing them off with boards and slapping ‘No Trespassing’ signs on the doors. Some were demolished, some were burned in fire training exercises, many were abandoned. When the plans for the park decayed faster than the rotting houses, and thus the rumours and urban legends were born.
An abandoned bus was home to ghoulish activity, a winding overgrown road has been named ‘The end of the world’, the church is said to be ‘satanic’ and the cemetery haunted. The entire town is said to be cursed, and the woods are allegedly alive with looming ‘figures’.
If you believe the rumours, that is.
These days the town is a favourite of ghost hunters, adventurous tourists, lost motorists and teenagers who loot and vandalise the remaining structures. You can take a drive to the area to see if the hairs on the back of your neck will stand to attention in this spooky spot, but remember there are still some who live in the area on private land.
Banff Springs Hotel, Canada
If it’s ghostly with a touch of luxury you’re after (think Casper), this is your spot.
This hotel is both awe-inspiring and (allegedly) just as popular with spirits as it is with travellers. Originally built in 1888 and rebuilt after a fire in 1916, the hotel rumour mill suggests the existence of several unearthly beings that call this place home.
According to haunted-places-to-go, room 873 might be of particular interest for a traveller looking for a different experience. Legend has it a family was murdered in this room and that their spirits haven’t left this place. Sam Macauley, a hotel bellman, is also said to haunt the hotel after passing away in the mid 1970s. Some guests claim they have been helped by an elderly gentleman wearing period clothes even when there was no one on staff that fit the description, while others say they have seen elevator doors opening and closing unaided.
Monte Cristo Homestead, New South Wales
Australia has its fair share of scary stories too, some of them quietly lurking right in your own backyard.
The site dates back to 1876 when Christopher Crawley bought the land. He built the Monte Cristo house in 1884/85 and spared no expense, and the house remained in the Crawley family until 1948. Now owned by Reginald Ryan, the site has become one of the most popular haunted attractions in Australia.
It all started when just a few days after moving in, Reginald went out one foggy evening and when he returned, brilliant light illuminated the house, “streaming out of every door and window”, he says on his website.
But the electricity wasn’t even connected…
Then there are the apparitions of old Mrs Crawley, more unexplained lights, disembodied voices and bumps in the night.
Plan your trip this year to find out if there really are bumps in the night – but don’t forget to Review the travel insurance options provided by Virgin Money and see if it suits your spook-filled needs.
Are you brave enough to add our four locations to your bucket list?