Travel off the beaten path with a tour of hauntingly beautiful abandoned places around the world. While many abandoned building and amusement parks are strictly off-limits, and for good reason, there are still some abandoned places around the world with amazing history that you can tour without trespassing.
Ghost towns, abandoned buildings, and islands left completely deserted scatter the globe. Mother Nature, the economy, or a combination of the two has resulted in these places becoming completely abandoned.
You can’t just tour any old abandoned building — that would be trespassing. But there are a few abandoned places around the world that are actually open to tour so that you can learn about their history and impacts on the world.
Abandoned Places Around the World You Can Tour
Get ready for a chilling look into the world’s most eerie abandoned places! These places are legally open for you to tour.
1. Teufelsberg, Berlin, Germany
Berlin’s Teufelsberg (German for “Devil’s Mountain”) is an artificial hill made out of rubble from the bombing of Berlin during WWII. This man-made hill houses a former listening station that was used by the U.S. Army during the Cold War.
These golf ball-like radar domes were built on Teufelsberg in the 1960s by the American NSA to spy on Soviet and East Germany military communications.
2. Spinalonga, Crete, Greece
Spinalonga, off the coast of Crete in Greece, is a rocky islet that houses a 16th century Venetian fortress that once protected the Mirabello Bay. In the 1800s, the island offered a refuge for Ottoman families that feared Christian reprisals from the Cretens. Finally, from 1903 to 1957, the island was a leper colony.
The last person to leave the island was the priest in 1962; he had stayed in order to maintain the Greek Orthodox tradition of commemorating a buried person 40 days, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years after their death.
The uninhabited island is a popular tourist destination in Crete. Tour boats depart for Spinalonga from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda, or Plaka. On the tour, you’ll learn the history of the abandoned leper colony and the fortress and, in addition to tour these, you can experience the island’s small pebble beaches and shallow waters.
3. Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia
Port Arthur was a penal settlement in the 19th century, housing a huge penitentiary for British convicts who had reoffended after their arrival in Australia. From 1833 to 1877, prisoners here were subjected to hard manual labor, psychological torment, and other grueling punishment.
After the prison shut down, the residents of Tasmania wanted to distance themselves from the dark image of Port Arthur, and the people who bought the property began tearing down the buildings. But the haunting stories of the prisoners and the ghost stories of the prison brought popularity to Port Arthur and the site was turned into a tourist destination.
On a tour of the abandoned facility, you can learn aby the “Separate Prison” system, the lives of the prisoners, and the ghosts haunting the property.
4. Train Graveyard, Uyuni, Bolivia
The Great Train Graveyard is a haunting cemetery for locomotives in the Andean plains of southwest Bolivia. This train cemetery is home to over 100 abandoned train cars dating back to the 19th century.
The town of Uyuni is a transportation hub in South America, connecting several major cities. In the 19th century, plans were made to build an even bigger network of trains out of Uyuni, but due to technical difficulties and tension with neighboring countries, the plans were scrapped and the trains and equipment were left abandoned. The salt winds blowing across the nearby Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt plain, have corroded the metal.
Nearly every salt flat tour visits the Train Graveyard, so you’ll have your choice of day tours. You can also visit for free on your own. There are no restrictions regarding the trains, so visitors can climb on top or go inside the trains to take pictures.
5. Jazirat Al Hamra, UAE
Once a thriving pearl-fishing village with a population of thousands, Jazirat Al Hamra is now a desolate ghost town. By 1968, the town was completely abandoned, although accounts as to why vary. Some say that as the value of the pearl was in decline, the residents left to find their fortunes in other cities. Others say that tribal conflicts caused the town’s demise.
The crumbling building, made from coral, and chilling local ghost stories are all that is left of the town today.
The abandoned ghost town of Jazirat Al Hamra is a frequent stop on day trips from Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai. You can also explore the town on your own for free.
6. Craco, Italy
Craco is a stunning ghost town in southern Italy. The town sits atop a very steep hill on a cliff that overlooks the Cavone River valley. But this ancient Italian town, dating back to the 8th century BC, wasn’t built for modern infrastructure.
Evacuation of the residents began in 1963, due to a series of landslides brought on by works of infrastructure and the sewer and water systems. In 1972, a flood worsened the situation, and the historic town centre could not be repopulated. The Irpinia earthquake of 1980 caused the city of Craco to be completely abandoned.
You can access the abandoned town via a guided tour offered by the visitor center. This unique bike tour to Craco includes your admission to the city with a private guide as well as lunch.
7. Great Blasket Island, County Kerry, Ireland
Once home to a small village of Irish-speaking islanders, the Great Blasket Island is just a couple miles off the mainland of Ireland but becomes completely invisible when the thick mist settles over the Sound.
After being cut off from the mainland for weeks in 1947 due to bad weather, the islanders petitioned the government to relocate the remaining residents. Relocation didn’t come until 1953, when the last islanders left the Great Blasket.
The island has been uninhabited since then, but you can take a guided boat tour to get a good look at the island from the sea and experience the island’s wildlife; a ferry to the island so you can explore by yourself for the day; or an overnight stay in the island’s “self-catering” accommodation where you’ll live like an islander for a few days.
8. Kennecott, Alaska, USA
Kennecott, a historic mining town in Alaska, is a ghost town left by the Kennecott Copper Corporation. Now a National Historic Landmark, the town is preserved in the middle of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the largest national park in the United States.
The town was abruptly abandoned in 1938, and residents left behind their buildings, equipment and personal belongings, most of which has been left where it was found. The town is considered the best remaining example of early 20th Century copper mining.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, as well as the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark, are free to visit. You can explore the mill town, including the General Store and Post Office containing extensive exhibits, the North Sacking Shed containing a scale model of Bonanza Ridge and a look at the flotation plant, and the General Manager’s Office, which is the oldest building in town.
9. Tyneham, Dorset, UK
Dubbed “the village that died for England”, Tyneham was a small fishing community on the Dorset coast until 1943, when the area was evacuated by the British government in order to make a training area in preparation for the D-day landings.
The village’s residents were never allowed to return to the town after the war. The remains of to village, including cottages, a church, a school, a farm, and a K1 telephone kiosk, still remain as if time has stood still since WWII.
Entry to this “lost” English village is free. The area is part of a live firing range, so you are warned to stick to the footpaths marked with yellow posts at all times.
10. Oradour-sur-Glane, France
Only about 80 residents of Oradour-sur-Glane managed to survive. Throughout the ruined town, you’ll find heartbreaking placards showing where men were shot on the streets and where women and children killed in the church.
A new village was rebuilt nearby, but the old village remains as a memorial and museum. The entry into the ruins is free via the Memorial Centre.
11. St. Elmo, Colorado, USA
St. Elmo is one of Colorado’s best-preserved ghost towns and an icon of the gold rush. The town, with its dilapidated wooden buildings neatly lined up on Main Street, is exactly like something you’d see in an old Western.
St. Elmo was founded in 1880 and was populated until 1922, when, legend says, everyone took the last train out of town and never came back.
The General Store opens in the summer for tourists, offering souvenirs and gifts. You can stop by the town any time of the year for free for a self-tour and just to look around.
12. Hashima Island, Nagasaki, Japan
Hashima Island off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan is known as Gunkanjima (“Battleship”) Island because of its shape. This former coal mining facility was owned by Mitsubishi between 1890 and 1974. At its peak, it was the most densely populated place in the world with 5,000 people living on 16 acres. The community had no where to expand but up, resulting in the island’s battleship features.
The island was abandoned in 1974 when the coal reserves below the island were depleted. In 2009, a portion of the island reopened for tours, and in 2015 the island earn the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to bear testimony to Japan’s Industrial Revolution.
On a guided tour of Battleship Island, you can cruise the Nagasaki Harbor and around the island before landing on the island for a closer look at the eerie, crumbling community.
13. Chernobyl, Pripyat, Ukraine
Note: It is currently recommended to avoid all travel to Ukraine due to armed conflict and serious safety risks. Tours of Pripyat are not currently being offered.
Since 2002, it has been deemed safe to tour Pripyat, Ukraine, the crumbling Soviet-era town that fell victim to the catastrophic nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station.
The Ukrainian government is careful to monitor the radiation levels at all times, and the radiation you will acquire from the day tour is less than you would during a transatlantic flight. Due to safety concerns, visitors are not allowed touch any structures or plants or to remove anything from the zone, and they are prohibited from sitting or placing any personal belongings on the ground.
On a guided tour of the abandoned city, you’ll see key sites such as the abandoned hospital, river port, town hall, the defunct nuclear cooling towers, and more, all while learning about life before the nuclear catastrophe took place.
Looking for more eerie places to tour?
Check out these guides to tour more abandoned and haunted places around the world:
- 10 of the World’s Most Terrifying Haunted Castles
- 13 Most Haunted Places in Atlanta, Georgia
- 13 Chillingly Haunted Spots in San Antonio, Texas
- 7 Spooky and Haunted Spots in Huntsville, Alabama
Ready to take a vacation? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Find cheap accommodation: Use my tips for finding cheap accommodation for travel every time.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Pack for your vacation: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need by checking out my packing list resources.
Have you taken a tour of any of these amazing abandoned places around the world? Let me know in the comments!