Vampires and witches and ghosts—oh my! It’s finally October and we’ve been waiting all year to tell you about the creepiest places to travel this Halloween. The United States is home to a myriad of haunted locations, but this number pales in comparison to the terrifying locales in other parts of the world. Explore these creepy cities at your leisure with an Auto Europe car rental and learn about other fascinating cultures while immersing yourself in some incredibly eerie age-old traditions.
Could there really be any better place to celebrate Halloween than in a city nicknamed “the Dead Centre of England”? Well, maybe, but we think this city will leave you thoroughly creeped out. Derby served as the scene for England’s final hanging, drawing and quartering, as well as the venue for the country’s very last pressing to death. Participate in a Ghost Walk and be introduced to terrible tales of free-roaming spirits, devious doctors and countless victims of the Black Death.
Edinburgh is considered to be one of the most haunted cities in Europe and with its enchanting Royal Mile, mighty castle, creepy vaults and a multitude of unsolved murders, it’s no wonder countless reports of paranormal activity have flooded in over the years. Walk through Edinburgh’s Old Town and step back in time. Nestled in the nooks and crannies of every building are thousands of stories of pain and suffering, from the execution of nobles, victims of plagues, fires, witch hunts and war.
What could possibly be more morbid than navigating your way through 170 miles of dimly lit maze-like tunnels under the streets of Paris? How about knowing those tunnels are an ossuary housing the bones of approximately six million Parisians that were exhumed from the city’s overflowing graveyards in the late 1700s. Broken gravestones, brick and mortar, and yes—bones, make up the walls, arches and caverns of this chilling city of the dead. Although you may be hard pressed to find locals who dress up in creative costumes and freely hand out kitkats to trick-or-treaters, Paris still gets our vote for “destination that will surely rattle your bones.”
If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Romania, spend some time wandering through Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle, for a closer look at some of the gut-wrenching torture devices from the 15th century. Nearby Poenari Castle and Hunyad Castle are closely associated with one of the cruelest names in history, Vlad III Dracul and his preferred form of torture, impalement. With history so shocking and extensive, it only makes sense that some of the anguish born inside these buildings would permeate through the actual structures themselves. Present day life in the tiny villages surrounding these castles are still twisted with terrifying legends and long-lasting traditions.
The Skirrid Inn in Crucorney, Wales is the oldest in the country and is well known for its haunted happenings and things that go bump in the night. The establishment is said to be haunted by the spirits of more than 180 individuals who were sent to the gallows by the not-so-honorable Judge Jeffreys and have come back to plot their revenge. The hangings took place under the stairs, and the original support beam still bears chaffing marks from the hangman’s rope. While this destination doesn’t normally frequent “haunted destination” top ten lists, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the amount of eerie activity you’re apt to experience.
Famous for its witch trial heritage, Salem, Massachusetts may be slightly touristy, but that doesn’t make its history any less mystifying. The town’s witch trials manifested profound societal misgivings regarding unexplained occurrences and illnesses that happened during the spring and summer of 1692, effects of which can still be felt today.
Drawing inspiration from Celtic history, Dublin offers an intriguing and romantic spin on Halloween that is sure to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Annual Samhain festivals are celebrated throughout Ireland and are in full swing throughout the month of October, and travelers can expect to see vibrant carnival-style parades, elaborate decorations, creepy creatures roaming the streets, and a multitude of other ghoulish events geared towards all things superstitious. Mix your love for horror with a little history as you brave a Haunted Dublin Tour, highlighting a few local establishments with some of the grimmest pasts. Choose to drive your rental car to the National Concert Hall and watch Hitchcock’s iconic Psycho accompanied by a live orchestra; or maybe you’re looking to meet up with other ‘die-hard’ horror enthusiasts and participate in the vampire cloak race at the Bram Stoker Dracula Halloween Horror Festival.
Often referred to as “the City by the Sea” due to its long stretches of sandy beaches sprawling along the coast, the trendy city of Ostend has also earned the reputation of being Belgium’s Halloween epicenter. During the month of October, the entire city is decorated to reflect the season’s chilling atmosphere, and every shopping district takes on a unique and deviously wicked theme.
Prague, Czech Republic
Ahh, Prague, the Gothic fairytale of Europe, with its stunning architecture, winding streets, macabre corners and mysterious allure, it’s a place that will send a chill up your spine during any season, making it the perfect backdrop for your autumn excursion. Just a 30-minute drive from Prague’s city center is Houska Castle; a perplexing property that receives our praise for being not only one of the best preserved pieces of gothic architecture of its time, but also because of the curious nature of its construction. This frightening fortress was not built to keep intruders out, but rather to keep menacing entities in. Along with an interesting decision to not put in real windows, the castle was built over a large hole in the ground that locals believed to the ‘The Gateway to Hell’.
Halloween is a three-day celebration in Spain, starting on October 31st, centered around Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Slightly less scary and a little more personal, these three days are reserved for families to celebrate the memory of lost loved ones and pay their respects to their fallen family members by celebrating the continuity of life through a multitude of lively festivities. This destination isn’t without its share of death, doom and destruction, tales that are all told through monuments scattered throughout the city. Tucked away in the ancient warren of streets near the Cathedral is a tiny shaded square built over a medieval graveyard that was once used as a location for firing squads, and was also heavily bombed during an Italian air raid, killing over 200 children and refugees. According to legend, muffled cries can still be heard in the square.
Throughout history, many cultures have recognized the last day in October and the first two days in November as a time when the dead are allowed to return to the Earth and walk among the living. Whether you buy into the Halloween hype is up to you, but each of these destinations offer a fascinating collection of reasons to visit, and we bet that by the end of your trip you’ll be avoiding black cats, rubbing your lucky rabbit’s foot, counting to 13 and holding your breath past every graveyard. Contact Auto Europe at 1-888-223-5555 to start planning your trip!