Scary Stories Around the World

We’ve taken you on a tour of some of the spookiest places in America. Now, we’re investigating the eerie myths, legends, and hauntings around the world that are sure to inspire your next adventure…or keep you up at night.

The Mummification Museum—Luxor, Egypt

Luxor Temple, near the Mummification Museum, is eerie at night. Photo © Witr | Dreamstime.

The Mummification Museum in Central Luxor is home to a spine-chilling display that harkens back to the Egyptian traditions of old. Located just north of Luxor Temple, this small, underground museum is dedicated to all things mummified—from human specimens, to monkeys, cats, and even crocodiles! Look out for the intact mummy of Maseharti, a 21st Dynasty high priest. You’ll be educated on the gruesome details behind the mummification process – an inside look into what is meant to be preserved for the ages.

Wander through the ancient relics:

Catacombe dei Cappucini, Palermo, Italy

The remarkably creepy Capuchin Catacombs display thousands of mummified remains from the 17th–19th centuries. Although originally intended for monks, wealthy citizens and celebrities were willing to pay to be buried here, and mummification soon became a status symbol. Perhaps the most famous resident of the catacombs is Rosalia Lombardo, a two-year-old child who is often referred to as the “Sleeping Beauty of Palermo.” This haunting museum of the dead is certainly not for the faint of heart: The walls are covered with skeletons, some of which are extremely well-preserved, mummified fully dressed and even retaining some of their hair.

Dare to visit? Check out Moon Southern Italy.

National Noh Theatre, Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Noh masks
Noh masks evoke the world of the supernatural. Photo © Leung Kai Fung | Dreamstime.

Noh is a form of theater involving music, dance and drama, originating in the 14th century. Traditionally performed at temples and shrines, Noh is a singular, almost spiritual experience that explores the intricacies of Japanese folklore. The themes delve into the world of the supernatural, ghosts, and dreams. At the National Noh Theatre, Noh performances are acted out on a beautiful stage crafted from cypress wood. Performances are marked with an air of mystery and often feel out-of-this-world, with performers wearing distinct masks representing old women, spirits, and vengeful demons.

Find your seat at the National Noh Theatre:

Leap Castle, Ireland

Ireland is chockfull of reportedly haunted castles, but Leap Castle in Coolderry takes the cake, with centuries of history of carnage, bloodshed, and sadistic rituals under its belt. From bloody clan rivalries, to cartloads of impaled skeletons discovered in the chapel, to a treasure-hoarding phantom, Leap Castle has seen some things—and a visit there is guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine.

Explore the Emerald Isle—one haunted castle at a time—with Moon Ireland.

Fôret de Basajaun, Spain

forest near Roncesvalles, Spain
The forest near Roncesvalles, Basajaun’s stomping grounds. Photo © Vicente Soler | Dreamstime.

Wander through the woods near Roncesvalles and you might not be alone…In ancient Basque culture, Basajaun is a mythic wild man who protects the forests and woodland animals. He is said to be a huge, hairy, human-like creature and is known to dwell in forest caves or up in the hills. Despite his frightening appearance, Basajaun is a gentle giant. In Basque mythology, he taught humans agricultural and ironworking skills, and he watches over flocks and herds. Today, the beech and oak Fôret de Basajaun (Basajaun’s Forest) is considered a mystical place where ancient folkloric characters still dwell.

Heading into the woods?

Gjenganger, Scandinavia

Believed to be the vengeful spirits of people who died before their time, Gjengangers return from the dead to haunt the living and fatally pinch their victims in their sleep. It’s likely the myth developed as an explanation for the plague or other infectious diseases, but the legend is creepy enough that it still survives today.

Immerse yourself in more Scandinavian folklore with Moon Norway.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland. Photo © godrick / iStock

With 900 years of history that include executions and surprise attacks, it’s no shock that Edinburgh Castle is purportedly haunted. From a phantom piper and headless drummer who are still making noise today to the ghosts of French prisoners in the dungeon, you’re sure to encounter something supernatural here.

Learn more about Scotland’s fascinating (and sometimes dark) history:

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Québec City

Built in 1804, this cathedral is notoriously haunted by the ghost of a woman whose child is said to be buried below. She’s known to lurk on the balcony and cry when the organ is played—unless you place a toy on the organ to appease her.

The Headless Gringa, Galápagos Islands

The American Air Force base on Baltra Island in the Galápagos is said to be haunted by “La Gringa sin Cabeza,” a woman who was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend on the base during World War II. Her ghost is known to lure men into secluded places and to attempt to suffocate them in their sleep.

Want to take a walk on the wild side?

Isla de las Muñecas.
Isla de las Muñecas. Photo © JessicaPichardo / iStock

Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico

Just south of Mexico City, the Isla de las Muñecas (or Island of the Dolls) allegedly came to be when the sole resident found a lifeless girl and her doll floating in the lake and decided to honor her memory by hanging the doll in a tree. To carry on the tradition, today hundreds of undeniably creepy dolls hang from the trees, fences, and clotheslines throughout the area, with many people claiming that the dolls are possessed. Nightmare fuel.

Want to see it for yourself? Here’s your guide.

Fairmont Banff Springs, Alberta

This 131-year-old majestic hotel is one of the crown jewels of Alberta, and has played host to dignitaries and celebrities from around the world. Word on the street, however, maintains that there are guests who checked in, but never checked out…including a young family killed in a tragic murder-suicide in Room 837. There was so much paranormal activity reported from guests of the room (including pillows yanked out from underneath them and disembodied screams in the middle of the night), that the hotel eventually decided to seal the room shut forever by covering it with a brick wall.

Think you’re brave enough to stay the night?

Krampus, Austria

Half goat, half demon, and 100% terrifying, this German and Austrian legend shows up on “Krampusnacht” to kidnap children who have been naughty and haul them off to hell. Definitely more sinister than a lump of coal in your stocking…

Celebrate Krampusnacht (or Christmas, if that’s more your thing) in Austria:

Casa Loma, Toronto

Toronto’s majestic Casa Loma was commissioned in 1911 by billionaire Sir Henry Pellatt for his wife, Mary. Construction of the 98-room castle eventually bankrupted Pellatt, and it’s now owned by the city—and, legend has it, frequented by many a ghost from its storied past. Visitors have reported seeing various spirits roaming the halls, though the most common sighting by far is that of the White Lady, thought to be a former maid of the original owners.

Witte Wieven, Netherlands

Good or evil? The accounts vary. To some, witte wieven are the ghosts of wise female healers and prophets. Others see them as nefarious pranksters who will ask you to dance—and then dance you to death.

Uncover more about the Netherlands:

Poveglia, Italy

This secluded island floating between Venice and Lido is basically Shutter Island in real life—with the addition of hundreds of thousands of resident ghosts. For centuries, people were sent to Poveglia to die, beginning with the bubonic plague and ending with a straight-out-of-a-horror-movie mental hospital that conducted horrific experiments on patients in the 1920s.
Dare to visit Poveglia? Check out Moon Rome, Florence & Venice.

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Moon City Walks is an innovative series of pocket-sized guides to the world's trendiest cities, designed to help travelers explore on foot, discover hip neighborhoods, and experience the city like a local. These full-color guidebooks feature foldout maps, turn-by-turn directions, and lively pages jam-packed with photos. Moon Travel Guides are published by Avalon Travel, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, in Berkeley, California. For more information, check out the full series at

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Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, at night. Pinterest Graphic.