5 cities that thrill on Halloween and beyond


5 cities that thrill on Halloween and beyond

October comes and goes, but the spooky spots in these destinations are around all year.

Charlotte Davies

BY Charlotte Davies18 October 2017

It’s usually advisable to not put all your eggs in one basket. On the same note, we’d say don’t relegate all your goosebumps, your adrenaline-pumping screams and your morbid curiosity to one night. That’s why we’ve rounded up five cities around the world that have hair-raising haunts all year. Pay these places a visit on Halloween or anytime you’d like.

Edinburgh, Scotland
There are plenty of ghost tours in Edinburgh to lead you through the capital’s dark passageways and sinister graveyards, but if you really want to set your teeth chattering, descend below the city…

What to do
Book a guide (we recommend Mercat Tours) to lead you through the Edinburgh Vaults. Built from 1785 onwards, the vaults were originally used as store houses, tanneries, taverns, cobblers and a wide range of other day-to-day businesses. However, with little to no natural light or a sewage system, they were soon abandoned by the better-off and became the hangouts of tramps, drunks and criminals until they were filled in the nineteenth century, trapping some souls for all eternity. A trusty guide will show you around a series of the dark, dank rooms and creep you out (in the best way possible, of course) with the tales of their former inhabitants.

Anyone up for a little role playing should check out the Real Mary King’s Close. A costumed character will guide you through a series of preserved streets and houses around Edinburgh to give you a glimpse into the grim realities of 17th-century life.

Where to stay
Just off the Royal Mile in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, G&V Royal Mile Hotel is the ideal place to rest your head after feeling sufficiently spooked. If you can’t rid yourself of the jitters, book an aromatherapy treatment at the hotel’s spa and that should do the trick.

St Louis Cemetery, New Orleans

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in NOLA’s French Quarter

New Orleans, US
With a lengthy history of ghosts, witches, voodoo doctors and vampires, New Orleans is the kind of place where you hear things go bump in the night… and during the day, too. 

What to do
Discover the power of voodoo at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, once owned by the doctor of death, Dr. Dupas. Later, grab a beer and keep your eyes peeled for any pirate-like apparitions at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar – one of the oldest bars in America and the old stomping grounds of the bandit Jean Lafitte. Save time for a tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in the French Quarter. Built in the late 18th century, this is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans. Frequently sighted spirits include sailor Henry Vignes, who wanders the graveyard in search of his plot of land which was stolen from him by a deceitful inn keeper, and the friendly Alphonse who is known to hold visitor’s hands and ask them to guide him home (charming in an absolutely terrifying way, no?). The cemetery’s scariest and most famous resident is the notorious voodoo queen Marie Laveau. Her spirit has been known to float between tombs wearing a red-and-white turban and brightly coloured robes.

Where to stay
The French Quarter certainly has its share of eerie haunts, including LaLaurie Mansion, the ghost-riddled former home of slave owner Delphine LaLaurie (made even more infamous by American Horror Story). But for a guaranteed good night’s sleep, try Soniat House, a colonial creole townhouse with all the history, but less hauntings. For more modern digs, try The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in the Arts District, or Catahoula Hotel, a 35-room boutique hotel on a quiet side street in the Central Business District.

Voodoo items, New Orleans, LA

Voodoo souvenirs in New Orleans

Cape Town, South Africa
If you thought the only horrifying sight to behold in coastal Cape Town was an image of you wiping out on the area’s famed surfing waves, think again…

What to do
Head to the 17th-century Castle of Good Hope, where the ghosts are particularly inventive in their haunting methods. For example, the foul-mouthed spirit of governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt has been heard cursing around the castle, and the likeness of Lady Anne Barnard has been spotted attending parties in the ballroom. There’s even a pet ghost, a large black hound, who allegedly leaps at visitors and then vanishes at the last moment. While walking between the Leerdam and Oranje bastions, keep an eye out for a semi-luminous ghost who perpetually throws himself off the roof of the building.

Where to stay
For a budget-friendly bolthole, stay at Welgelegen, or for a spook-less splurge, book the lavish Cape View Clifton hotel, which overlooks the beach.

Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia

The church at Port Arthur, Tasmania

Port Arthur, Tasmania
Even on Australia’s scenic Tasman Peninsula – where you’ll find mind-blowing coastal views, towering cliffs and a friendly wombat or two – there are some spots that are so scary, you may want to avert your eyes.

What to do
Visit one of the most haunted places Down Under, the former convict settlement at Port Arthur. Starting off as a penal settlement for convicts sent over from Britain in 1830, the site has since served as an industrial prison, a mental asylum, a hospital and a schoolhouse – all institutions bound to produce a phantom or two. During your tour, you’ll hear about the lives and deaths of the convicts, soldiers and freemen buried on the grounds. If it takes more than a spooky story to get your teeth chattering, join Port Arthur’s Paranormal Investigation Experience. As you suss out spirits, you’ll visit the Commandant’s Cottage, Separate Prison, Magistrate’s House, Parsonage and the church. Plus, you’ll get your own ghost hunting equipment to assist in making contact with the other side.

Where to stay
A safe distance from the ghost and ghouls of the port, you’ll sleep sound at The Islington Hotel in Hobart. But if you’d like even more distance between you and the phantoms, stay at the modern MONA Pavilions, where you’ll find avant-garde architecture, an indoor pool and nary an apparition for miles.

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris, France
It’s not all garden strolls and shopping sprees along the Rue de Charlot in the City of Light. Paris has some terrifying tricks up its sleeve, too.

What to do
Nothing screams scary like an underground ossuary with the bones of more than six million. Head to the Paris Catacombs, a labyrinth of tunnels over 21 metres below street level. But because it’s almost impossible to navigate the subterranean network on your own, be sure to book a tour.

The story behind the catacombs dates back to the 18th century, when Paris was rife with disease. Once the city’s cemeteries filled up, Parisians needed a new place for the remains of the deceased. That’s when they introduced the skeletal storeroom known as the catacombs in the 1780s.

Where to stay
You won’t find any skeletons in the closets at Hôtel Les Dames du Panthéon or La Belle Juliette – both within striking distance of the catacombs. The incredibly lavish, La Réserve Paris Apartments are a bit farther away, but they overlook another famous French graveyard – the Passy Cemetery, the resting place of Édouard Manet, Marcel Renault, Claude Debussy and Jacques Guerlain.