Haunted houses are staples of the Halloween season and popular tourist attractions for thrill seekers around the world. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, these terrifying locations promise heart-pounding scares that will give you goosebumps and keep you up at night.
From menacing mansions to sinister asylums, here are some of the scariest haunted houses in the world you can visit in 2023:
1. The Winchester Mystery House (San Jose, California)
The Winchester Mystery House is one of the most iconic haunted houses in the United States. This massive Victorian mansion was constructed over 38 years by Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Wirt Winchester who founded the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
After her husband and infant daughter passed away, Sarah visited a medium who told her she was cursed by the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. To appease the spirits, she was instructed to move west and build a home for herself and the spirits.
The result is a sprawling 160-room mansion with stairs leading to nowhere, doors opening to brick walls, and multiple oddities. Strange paranormal activity has been reported here for over a century, from ghostly apparitions to banging doors and flickering lights. Guests can tour the haunted house daily.
- Built-in 1884 and under continuous construction for 38 years
- Designed as a maze to confuse and trap spirits
- Over 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 160 rooms, and 47 staircases
- Reports of spirits and paranormal activity for over 100 years
- Offers historic tours daily as well as special nighttime flashlight tours
2. The Queen Mary (Long Beach, California)
The Queen Mary is considered to be one of the most haunted places in America. This historic ocean liner served as a luxury passenger ship from 1936 to 1967, before becoming permanently docked in Long Beach as a hotel and museum.
With such a long history, there have been 49 recorded deaths aboard the ship. Many now come back to haunt the cabins and corridors of the ship. Some of the most active areas for paranormal activity include the engine room, door 13 in the lower deck, and the first-class swimming pool.
- Luxury ocean liner turned floating hotel and museum
- In service 1936-1967, transported Hollywood celebrities, dignitaries, and troops during WWII
- Docked permanently in Long Beach, California since 1967
- Reports of ghosts seen and heard all over the ship, including children laughing and wet footprints
- Paranormal tours and ghost hunting experiences offered
3. The Lalaurie Mansion (New Orleans, Louisiana)
New Orleans is well known as one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. One of its creepiest locations is the Lalaurie Mansion in the French Quarter. This three-story mansion was home to the Lalaurie family, led by Delphine Lalaurie, a notoriously cruel slave owner in the early 1800s.
After a fire broke out in the kitchen, rescuers discovered her horrible torture chamber where slaves were found mutilated or chained up. The home is said to still be haunted by the spirits of the tortured slaves who once lived there. Witnesses have reported seeing ghostly slaves on the roof or peering out the windows.
- Former home of Delphine Lalaurie, a cruel 19th-century slave owner
- After an 1834 fire, rescuers found her torture chamber where slaves were mutilated and chained
- The mansion is now said to be haunted by ghosts of slaves seeking justice
- Full-body apparitions, screams, and cries were heard coming from the home
- Featured on TV shows like Ghost Adventures due to its dark paranormal history
4. The Catacombs (Paris, France)
Hidden beneath the streets of Paris lie over 200 miles of labyrinth-like catacomb tunnels containing the bones of over 6 million people. These ossuaries were created in the 18th century when Parisian cemeteries became overcrowded. Bones from the cemeteries were transferred to the underground tunnels which served as mass graves.
With such a morbid history, many visitors report feelings of being watched or followed by spirits. Occasional ghost sightings are reported here, including that of a man in 19th-century clothing wandering the tunnels. Unauthorized explorers also claim to have captured apparitions and orbs on film.
- Underground ossuary in Paris spanning over 200 miles
- Contains bones and skulls from over 6 million Parisians transferred from overcrowded cemeteries
- Created in the 18th century as a solution to limited burial space above ground
- Visitors report feelings of being watched or followed by spirits
- Ghost sightings include a well-dressed 19th-century man and apparitions captured on film
- Only small portions are open to the public, but unauthorized urban explorers have reported activity in closed tunnels
5. The Ancient Ram Inn (Wotton-under-Edge, England)
Dating back to the 12th century, The Ancient Ram Inn is believed to be England’s most haunted building. Located in the sleepy village of Wotton-under-Edge, the inn was the site of devil worship, child sacrifices, and witchcraft. The hauntings here are so severe that the current owner now lives next door and keeps the inn boarded up.
Visitors brave enough to enter the inn have reported being violently pushed or scratched by demons. Ghosts roam the rooms and corridors, with the most paranormal activity focused on the Bishop’s room where ritual Satanic abuse allegedly took place.
- 12th century inn rumored to have been built on ancient pagan burial ground
- Site of secret Satanic rituals, witchcraft, child sacrifices, and murders
- The current owner forced to move next door due to violent demonic hauntings
- Guests report attacks, scratches, and threatening messages from evil spirits
- The most haunted area is the Bishop’s Room where rituals allegedly took place
- Has been featured on numerous paranormal TV shows and documentaries
6. Edinburgh Vaults (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Underneath the bridges and streets of Edinburgh lie a series of creepy chambers that were once used to house tradesmen and poor people in the 19th century. Due to poor living conditions, the vaults were forced to shut down after outbreaks of disease and crime.
Today, these long-abandoned underground vaults are said to be haunted by ghosts of deceased residents. Tours take brave visitors into the damp, dimly lit vaults to learn about their history and wander the spine-chilling corridors. Phantom sounds, creepy shadows, and physical touches from ghosts are commonly reported here.
- Series of underground chambers beneath Edinburgh built in the 19th century
- Housed businesses, poor families, and criminals before being abandoned due to crime and disease
- Reports of ghostly activity for decades, including sounds of children crying or furniture moving
- Paranormal tours take visitors into the vaults to wander the spooky corridors
- Common experiences include being touched, having hair pulled, sudden drops in temperature, and seeing shadowy figures
7. The Tower of London (London, England)
With a history of torture and execution going back 900 years, the Tower of London is regarded as one of the most haunted places in the UK. It’s estimated that at least 16 specters lurk within its stone walls. The most well-known is the ghost of Anne Boleyn, one of King Henry VIII’s beheaded wives, who haunts the chapel where she’s buried.
Others include the spirits of King Henry VI and Lady Jane Grey, both murdered at the tower. Visitors have reported seeing ghostly figures around the White Tower, feeling sudden temperature changes, and hearing spine-tingling screams late at night.
- Constructed in 1078, served as a royal palace, prison, and site of execution for centuries
- Home to the Crown Jewels and the infamous torture device called the rack
- Over 16 ghosts reported, including Anne Boleyn, King Henry VI, and Lady Jane Grey
- Most paranormal activity was sighted near the White Tower and the Queen’s House
- Offers nighttime tours focused on the tower’s haunted past and famous ghosts
8. The Myrtles Plantation (St. Francisville, Louisiana)
Built-in 1796, the Myrtles Plantation is considered one of America’s most haunted homes. Located in St. Francisville, Louisiana, this former antebellum plantation house is rumored to be home to at least 12 restless ghosts. Visitors and staff regularly report encountering apparitions, especially of a former slave named Chloe wearing a green turban.
Other paranormal activity includes the grand piano playing on its own, footsteps heard on the staircase, and mirror reflections of figures that vanish when turned around. Evening mystery tours offer overnight ghost-hunting stays in the most haunted rooms.
- Antebellum plantation built in 1796 in St. Francisville, Louisiana
- Reports of over 12 ghosts haunting the home and grounds
- Most famous is the ghost of Chloe, a former slave wearing a green turban
- Other activity includes a piano playing on its own and apparitions seen in mirrors
- Offers historical tours, mystery tours, ghost hunting packages, and overnight stays
- Featured on TV shows like Ghost Hunters and The Travel Channel’s Most Haunted
9. The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)
Famous for inspiring Stephen King’s novel “The Shining,” the Stanley Hotel certainly lives up to its haunted reputation. The neo-Georgian hotel opened in 1909 in Estes Park, Colorado, and hosts numerous spirits within its 140 rooms and surrounding lands.
The most haunted area is room 217, where guests report their luggage being unpacked, lights turning on and off, and ghostly children playing in the room. Room 418 is another hot spot, where the ghosts of children have been heard giggling and playing at night. Historical tours shed light on the hotel’s paranormal past.
- Opened in 1909 in Estes Park, Colorado, and still operating today
- Known for inspiring Stephen King’s novel The Shining after his stay
- Hundreds of paranormal reports from guests and staff over the decades
- Most haunted areas are rooms 217, 401, and 418
- Ghosts are mostly children laughing, playing, and running down the hallways
- Evening ghost tours recount the hotel’s paranormal history
10. Monte Cristo Homestead (Junee, Australia)
Regarded as Australia’s most haunted house, The Monte Cristo Homestead in New South Wales has been plagued by many tragic deaths and ghostly sightings. The historic manor was built in 1885 and remains in the family of its original owners.
Throughout the years, visitors have reported encountering the presence of ghostly figures, strange lights, loud bangs, and the feeling of being watched by an unseen presence. The most haunted spots include the staircase, cellar, and children’s old bedroom. Ghost tours recount the home’s dark history and terrifying hauntings.
- Historic Australian manor built in 1885, known as Australia’s most haunted house
- Site of many deaths and tragic events across generations of the same family
- Frequent sightings of ghostly figures, strange lights, phantom sounds, and unsettling feelings
- Haunted locations include the cellar, staircase, servant’s quarters, and abandoned kitchen
- Operating today as a museum, offering history tours and ghost tours
- Featured on TV shows like Ghost Hunters International
Common Questions About Haunted Houses
1. Why are some houses haunted?
There are a few common reasons why certain houses become haunted locations:
- They were sites of traumatic events like murders or deaths that caused spirits to linger.
- They were built on land with paranormal activity, like sacred burial grounds or battlefields.
- The construction materials contain remnants of past lives, like coffin nails in floorboards.
- There is a low level of electromagnetic energy that spirits can harness to manifest.
2. When are haunted houses most active?
- Full moons
- Solstices or equinoxes
- Late night hours between 12-4am
- Anniversary dates of deaths
- Changes in weather or atmospheric pressure
3. Are haunted houses safe to visit?
Haunted house attractions designed for Halloween fun are perfectly safe to visit. For real-life reportedly haunted places, use caution and maintain respect when taking tours. Do not trespass or provoke spirits — focus on having an open mind and positive attitude.
4. What precautions should I take when visiting haunted houses?
Recommended precautions include:
- Stay with your group
- Follow instructions from your guide
- Avoid provoking or showing disrespect to spirits
- Don’t use Ouija boards or ghost-hunting equipment without training
- Maintain positive thoughts and energy
- Be aware of emergency exits and protocols
5. What should I do if I feel threatened by a ghost?
Try saying a prayer or asking the spirit to leave peacefully. Use positive affirmations and visualizations to feel protected by white light. Step outside or move to a less haunted area. Report any concerning activity to your tour guide. Avoid provoking ghosts and don’t run away in fear. Remain centered and appeal to your higher power for protection.
Explore These Sinister Sites Yourself
Love them or fear them, haunted houses provide thrilling frights and fascinating glimpses into paranormal phenomena. If you’re brave enough, don a pair of steel nerves and experience these spine-chilling haunts for yourself. Just be sure to watch your back — you never know who, or what might follow you home. Sweet dreams!
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