Scary Stories Around the World

Last year, we took 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.

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

 

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

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.

For more on Scotland’s fascinating (and sometimes dark) history, check out Moon Edinburgh, Glasgow & the Isle of Skye.

 

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 clothing lines throughout the area, with many people claiming that the dolls are possessed. Nightmare fuel.

Want to see it for yourself? Let Moon Mexico City be your guide.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

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? Try Moon Galápagos Islands.

 

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 with Moon Prague, Vienna & Budapest.

 

La Carreta Sin Bueyes, Costa Rica

There are various origin stories for the “wagon without oxen” legend, but whether it was cursed by a witch or pulled by the devil’s hand, this wagon allegedly rolls through town on its own, causing terror along the way.

 

 

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 with Moon Amsterdam.

 

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.

Discover more of this historic place with Moon Québec City.

 

Abandoned hospital
Would you visit an abandoned hospital at night? Photo © Vladimir Zapletin / iStock

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 20s.

Dare to visit Poveglia? Start planning your adventure with Moon Venice & Beyond.

 

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.

 

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.

 


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Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, at night. Pinterest Graphic.