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Dark Tourism in Spain: Best 6 Dark Tourism Destination


Dark tourism means visiting places that haven’t seen a good past. Although Spain is not known for its dark tourism, it has surely seen some worst days in the past. Whether during WWII or the Spanish Civil War, Spain has a lot of dark tourist attractions. 

Here we have listed top 5  locations for dark tourism in Spain that deserve your visit:

Belchite Ruins


Near the city of Zaragoza, a destroyed town, Belchite exists, which was demolished in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. That battle is remembered as a battle of Belchite.

In the Battle of Belchite, military operations and offenses were performed by the leadership of the Republican Military on and around the town of Belchite , only to slow down the Nationalists’ advancement. Military equipment and thousands of troops destroyed the whole town.

Then ordered by Francisco Franco, the demolished town was left untouched as a monument to give a glimpse of the severity and destruction that was caused by the Spanish Civil War.

From the artillery positions in the caves and holes of Lobo Hill from where the Republican Military fired at the town Belchite, to the impacts it made on the town, everything is preserved and is a great attraction for dark tourism . Visitors from all over the world travel to Spain to see the destroyed yet breathtaking town of Belchite.  You would think after all these years and so much war that around the world , we would find peace, but alas, I don’t think humankind will ever find that balance. Sorry, y’all-it’s dark!

Alcazar de Toledo – Dark Tourism in Spain

Alcazar can’t go unnoticed by your eyes – it dominates above and in the middle of Toledo city, and its past gives it a well-deserved attraction for dark tourism in Spain.

The Alcazar de Toledo was the location of the blockade of Alcazar. Even after the aggressive attempts by the Republican military, José Moscardó Ituarte – the Nationalist Colonel, maintained to hold the fort. The legend says that the Colonel retained his control even when his son was kidnapped and ultimately shot. The bullet holes on the walls still reflect the intensity of that war.

This site is a symbol of Spanish nationalism because of the blockade of Alcazar. The damage that was done is still preserved, and thousands of people from around the world visit this fort to have a glimpse of the war. I’m always amazed by how beautiful something can be and yet have so much darkness affiliated with its past.

Casa Museo Federico Garcia Lorca

Casa Museo Federico Garcia Lorca

Located in Huerta de San Vicenta, Granada – is the home of Federico García Lorca. Federico Garcia Lorca – one of the most famous Spanish writers of the 20th century – was a poet, prose writer, and playwright, and what does he have in common with dark tourism ?  Well, he was shot. Dark enough for ya?

Lorca was committed to the Second Republic and the progression of its political, social, and cultural projects from 1931 to 1936. In February 1936, he openly sympathized with the elected Front Government. Also, he was always open about his homosexuality.

All these factors contributed to his detention. Later on, he was assassinated by the military rebels’ supporters on 19 th August 1936 – at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Lorca was living in his home at the time he was killed. Because of this, his house was dedicated to his life, writings, and activism.

Casa Museo Federico García Lorca is a great public attraction for tourism, and its past attracts people looking for dark tourism in Spain.

Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos)

A controversial monument, the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid is both awe-inspiring and somber. Built under the orders of Francisco Franco, it serves as a resting place for those who died during the Spanish Civil War. The colossal cross, a towering 500 feet (152 meters) high, dominates the landscape and can be seen from miles away. Dark Tourism in Spain , The monument’s construction involved the labor of political prisoners, adding a dark layer to its history.

Today, the Valley of the Fallen remains a contentious symbol, and its eerie atmosphere draws dark tourists who seek to explore its crypts and ponder the complex legacy of Franco’s regime.

Valley of the Fallen - dark tourism in spain

Montjuïc Castle

Overlooking the city of Barcelona, Montjuïc Castle has witnessed centuries of history, including periods of military conflict and political repression. it is the best location for Dark Tourism in Spain. During the Spanish Civil War, it served as a prison and execution site for those who opposed the Franco regime.

Visitors can explore its dark past while enjoying panoramic views of Barcelona and reflecting on the political turmoil that unfolded within its walls.

Montjuïc Castle

Hospital de Sant Pau

While it may not have a violent past like some other  Dark Tourism in Spain , the Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona holds a unique place in history. It was designed by architect Lluís Domènech I Montaner and is a masterpiece of Modernisme architecture. During the Spanish Civil War, it served as a makeshift hospital for wounded soldiers.

Today, the hospital has been transformed into a museum, offering insights into its role during the war and its architectural significance.

Hospital de Sant Pau

Final Thoughts

While Spain is known for its tapas and flamenco dancers and not necessarily for  Dark Tourism in Spain , there’s plenty of history and sites to go around.  I’ve highlighted three good ones that will make you stand in awe as it opens your eyes to the dark past that each hold.  Why not take a break from sipping on your Spanish wines, or heck, take them with you on your way to visit the past?  And while you’re there, always remember to Travel Till You Drop!

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Book Your Accommodation

If you are looking for a super budget friendly location and are open to a hostel stay, make sure you book your hostel with Hostelworld . It offers the broadest range of quality hostels around the world. 

If you’d prefer a hotel or a guesthouse for stays less than 28 days, drop on over to It’s perfect for providing excellent options, a ton of user reviews, and prices to fit every budget.

For stays over 28 days, AirBnB still remains my #1 choice. User reviews and monthly pricing allow for some incredible deals all around the world.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is but a small up-front investment that you won’t want to leave home without. After just one experience of having to delay or cancel your trip or having your luggage stolen, you’ll wish you would have made that investment.  I’ve hated my life a few times when the moment arose, and I decided to skip out.  Let’s just say, I’ve changed my ways and recommend each of the following companies to protect your ass-ets.

My favorite companies are:         

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Hi! I’m Jill, a Dallas, Texas girl traveling the world. After a career in the Air Force and touring over 50 countries later, my need to explore keeps going! It’s time to rock & roll and find all those places I never knew I was missing.

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Creepy Places in Barcelona – Because Creepy Travel Stories are Cool

If you have ever wondered whether Barcelona is a great destination for a little ghost-busting, you’ll be glad to know that the answer is yes! For sure. There are loads of creepy places in Barcelona. So don your proton pack and grab you neutron wand and get ready for the fright of your life.


Of course like a trip anywhere you have to get the priorities sorted before you can be free to scare yourself half to death. That means organizing your accommodation before you get there. As well as sorting out your Barcelona airport transfers from home.

Think carefully about where you want to stay. You will want to be in best position to get to the selection you choose from the sites below. As well as visiting the other famous sites that Barcelona has to offer, like the La Sagrada Familia. But first, these creepy places in Barcelona.

Creepy Places in Barcelona

The Sewers of Barcelona are a 19th-century subterranean structure that is open to the public. If you like dark, small creepy spaces , then this is definitely the place for you to visit.

You can almost imagine that this place is haunted, although few ghosts listing have actually been reported here. Although you might get lucky, and see one of the legendary crocodiles that are said to inhabit the sewer systems all over Spain!

The House of Fear

Now here you can combine both traditional sightseeing with a little ghost hunting. The Casa Del Ave Maria or The House Of Fear as it’s known is definitely worth a visit. Now part of the Palau Güell , where you can take guided tours and find out about Gaudi and Güell, this section of the building has a darker past.

It was originally said to be the site of terrible atrocities. Were are talking American Horror Story style, and that all those around could hear the screams even when the house was uninhabited. That was until Güell bought it and integrated it into his famous mansion.

Carrer De La Neu De Sant Cuget

Now, this is a street rather than a house but is definitely somewhere that you shouldn’t miss if you are looking for creepy. It is the site of some of Barcelona’s most famous historical witch schools, which used to scare the other resident witless.

While it might sound like a cute Hogwarts Diagon Alley set up, in fact, it was anything but, and many women were burnt at the stake in this very place. It is said that their spirits still haunt the area too, so watch out!

Carrer Dels Mirallers

Just in case you haven’t had enough by now, then you may want to mosey on down to Carrer Dels Mirallers. A 19-century house in which demons are said to still be trapped.

Home to Jacint Verdaguer a priest of dubious reputation that performed exorcisms, and perhaps one of the most creepy places in Barcelona, the house is said to act as a cage for the spirits that he cast out. The place certainly has a creepy look to it. Which is enhanced by the blank-eyed stone gargoyle on the corner of the building. But as least it makes it easy to locate. Visit if you dare!

Feature Photo  Marie Thérèse Hébert  CCL

Christa thompson.

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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Barcelona's dark side

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City tours at night, Flamenco, Segway or eerily beautiful stories

Through the dark of Barcelona

Through the dark of Barcelona

What does Barcelona offer on the streets at night? Lots of wicked, beautiful and worth seeing!

The wicked: The history of Barcelona consists not only of beautiful buildings, which were built by brilliant architects and hardworking craftsmen. Immerse yourself in the nightly Barcelona and the dark and mysterious world of the Middle Ages. You will learn about the life of the whores, witches, executioners and ghosts of long past epochs. Strip the raval, the Barri Gòtic and the Ribera district and listen to, legends and rumors. In addition to fantastic legends and creepy stories, they deal with the horror of the Inquisition and the time when the executioners did not torch for long.

The beautiful and worth seeing: Let the city show you after sunset during a tour with Segways. Driving Segway is quickly learned and you will have fun with it and enjoy the cool evening air around your nose. City tour, tapas and flamenco show in one. An evening could hardly go more relaxed.

The night tours

Ghosts and Legends Tour

  • Strip the scary alleys of the Gothic quarter at night
  • 1.5 exciting hours full of ghost stories and legends
  • Discover the terrible truths of Barcelona's past. You will be scared to death.
  • You meet in a bar in the middle of the Barri Gòtic, for a drink for a lot of courage
  • Perfect for someone who wants to get to know the Gothic neighborhood and like creepy stories. Funny, creepy and entertaining.

4-Hour Tapas Evening Tour and Flamenco Show

  • Private group possible
  • Enjoy tapas in the Barri Gòtic and experience an exciting flamenco show in Barcelona's historical center
  • Start on the Ramblas, explore La Boquería (except on Sundays)
  • Guided tour of the old town and break in a tapas bar (3-4 tapas, 1 drink)
  • In the end an approx. 40-minute flamenco show
  • Start at 17:00 or 19:00, duration about 4 hours

2-Hour Segway Group Tour by Night

  • Private tour, the guide is exclusively for your group
  • Experience a spectacular Segway tour
  • The start is on the beach of Barceloneta, you drive over the Port Vell to the Columbus monument and Arc de Triomf over the Parc de la Ciutadella
  • Then it goes over the Port Olimpic and the beach to the Fòrum. From there to Torre Glòries.
  • Start at 18:30 (depends on season)

Tapas Walking Tour & Flamenco Show

  • Walk around Eixample and to a ham deli in El Born, start in a tapas bar on the Plaça Reial in the Gothic quarter
  • Catalan classics such as "pa amb tomàquet", manchego cheese and locally matured serrano ham
  • Let the evening end with a 45-minute flamenco show
  • Start at 19:30, duration about 3.5 hours

The Dark History Tour

  • The 2-hour dark history tour takes you into a world of dungeons and public executions. There will be no gimmicky paranormal activity or scary pranks. Instead, you will stroll the maze of streets of Barcelona's picturesque neighborhoods to learn about real life tortures, executions, and victims of the Spanish Inquisition, all based on true historical facts.
  • Relive the dark legends of Barcelona
  • Follow in the shadowy footsteps of restless spirits and victims of medieval tortur
  • Learn about the Spanish inquisition
  • Discover forgotten cemeteries and the site of executions
  • Hear what life was like for an executioner in the El Born and La Ribera districts of Barcelona
  • Start at 21:00, duration about 2 hours

City Ghost Tour

  • Gude speaks English, German and Spanish. Can be booked as a private tour, the guide is exclusively there for you.
  • Immerse yourself in the world of whores, witches, executioners and ghosts of long past epochs and discover the nightly Barcelona. Strip the raval, the Barri Gòtic and the Ribera district and listen to, legends and rumors.
  • You will experience an eerily beautiful night stripe through medieval lust and shadow worlds
  • But in addition to fantastic legends and creepy stories, you also deal with the horror of the Inquisition and the Prison in the Middle Ages. At a time when the Catholic Church penetrated every area of life, the world was inexplicable, the superstition determined people's lives and the executioner did not torch for long.
  • She will grab horror if you meet the "Vampire of Barcelona", whose atrocities came to daylight in 1912 by chance
  • Start at 21:00, duration about 3 hours

More nightly events

Of course, Barcelona also offers all sorts of exciting in the evening and at night:

  • Evening events in Casa Batlló and Casa Milà
  • Sailing into the sunset
  • Concerts and flamenco shows
  • Good food in a good restaurant
  • and much more. We invite you to browse on our pages.

Why explore Barcelona at night

Barcelona at night has his very special charm! Especially in summer it is extremely pleasant when the summer air cools down a bit in the evening until night. Having experienced something extraordinary will certainly contribute to a successful evening. A city tour on a Segway through the nightly Barcelona is certainly a highlight of a Barcelona trip. A tapas lead with a subsequent flamenco show is also something special. The ghost tour is scary beautiful and amusing. This leads them into the medieval life of the old town when people believed in spirits and witches and raged the Inquisition. In many places in the Gothic quarter, in the Raval and Born district, you can still find information on the old superstitions of ghosts, witches and wizards. The tour guides will also show you old brothels and places of the Inquisition. Our tip: You can book the German -speaking ghost tour as an open or private tour.

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25 Hidden Gems and Fun Unusual Things To Do in Barcelona

If you’re a hidden gem lover like me, you’ll love these unusual things to do in Barcelona.

This Catalan city is one of the most visited places in Spain , but how could it not be? It is home to exceptional architecture, medieval fairytale streets, and exquisite food, and that’s the tip of the iceberg!

It is also a great base for a Spanish road trip , an amazing girls’ trip destination , and a city rich with activities that fill up your 4-5 day or weekend itinerary , leaving you wishing for just ‘one more day.’

There are so many touristy things to do in Barcelona, but I think that what makes a trip epic, are the unique experiences most people skip out on.

* This post may contain affiliate links from which I earn a commission (for more info, read my disclosure ). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

* I try to keep the information on this blog as updated as possible, but I still recommend consulting the latest prices, opening hours, and other details on the official website of each site, hotel, and tour, as well as checking the updated public transport routes and timetables.

Traveling to Barcelona Spain? Here are 21 hidden gems and amazing, unusual things to do in Barcelona Spain that will spice up your trip.

Planning a last-minute trip to Barcelona? Check out: Top alternative tours: – FREE Gaudi and modernism tour – Ghosts and legends tour in the Gothic Quarter or dark history tour in El Born and La Ribera – La Pedrera (an iconic Gaudi building) by night – The Shadow of the Wind tour – Medieval Barcelona tour – Estrella Damm Brewery tour with tasting – Jewish heritage tour

Top day tours from Barcelona: – Girona and Figueres full-day tour : Visit the historic city of Girona and be amazed by the Dalí Museum in Figueres, designed by the artist himself. – Medieval villages of Catalunya day tour : Step back in time in the villages of Besalú, Rupit, and Tavertet. – Montserrat Abbey day tour with lunch – Hot air balloon flight

Top activities in Barcelona: – FREE walking tour of Barcelona – Sagrada Familia ticket – Tapas and wine tour – Park Güell ticket (you can even take a free walking tour of the park ) – Camp Nou and FC Barcelona Museum ticket

Highly-rated, central accommodations: – Rodamon Barcelona Hostel (budget) – Hotel BESTPRICE Diagonal (mid-range – I had a great stay there) – Eco Boutique Hostal Grau (mid-range+).

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Visit gaudi’s casa vicens.

Antoni Gaudi is probably Spain’s most famous architect as he is the genius behind Barcelona’s most beautiful, quirky, and artistic buildings.

Although most people usually only visit  Park Güell , La Pedrera (Casa Mila), and the Sagrada Familia, he designed more than ten buildings in the city.

One of my favorites is Casa Vicens, the first house ever designed by him .

Gaudi was a master in combining different materials and architectural styles, and Casa Vicens is an excellent example of that.

The astonishing artistic details along with the color combination make it a work of art in Barcelona you cannot miss!

Address:  Carrer de les Carolines, 20. Opening hours: Every day, 10 AM-8 PM.

Book your ticket to Casa Vicens here.

For another unique experience, also check out this FREE Gaudi and modernism tour !

Casa Vicens


Speaking of La Pedrera (also called Casa Mila) – it is one of Gaudi’s most astonishing creations and one of the best places to visit in Barcelona.

Unfortunately, people usually appreciate it only on the outside, so my recommendation for you is to take the tour of ‘La Pedrera by Night.’

It is a wonderful evening tour combining historical facts, architectural discoveries, and an unforgettable audiovisual on the roof terrace, and I can guarantee that it will take your visit to La Pedrera to a whole new level.

Address: Provença, 261-265. Opening hours: Every day, 10 AM-8:30 PM and 9 PM-11 PM.

To skip the lines , my biggest Barcelona travel tip would be to purchase attraction tickets in advance . You can read more reviews and book your ticket to ‘La Pedrera by Night’ here .

You can also learn more about La Pedreda on this FREE Gaudi and modernism tour !


If you are looking for alternative things to do in Barcelona, why not take an alternative tour?

Sure, the usual walking tours are fun, but you’re surely looking for some unique experiences to add to your Barcelona itinerary .

Here are a few highly-rated tours (that are still on my bucket list) you might find interesting:


If you’re like me and you love hearing local myths and legends, and if you want to get to know the darker side of Barcelona, these tours might be right up your alley.

Check out this ghost and legends tour taking place in the Gothic Quarter or this dark history tour taking place in the El Born and La Ribera districts.

‘The Shadow of the Wind’ Literary Walking Tour

If you haven’t read the AMAZING novel ‘ The Shadow of the Wind ,’ please do it now!

I’m sure that after reading this compelling book you’ll want to take this themed tour that explores the locations mentioned in it. Read reviews and book the tour here .

Estrella Damm Brewery Tour

Located near Barcelona’s airport, this family-owned brewery was established in the 19th century.

On this guided tour , you’ll get to visit the brewery, learn about its beer-making process, and have a few tastings.


I love exploring my Jewish heritage when I’m traveling, so I wish this tour was available during my trip to Barcelona. Read more about it here.


Taking you through some of the city’s undiscovered streets, squares, and sites, this tour seems like a great way to learn about the medieval history of Barcelona. Read more about it and book it here.

Santa Maria del Mar church


Maybe it’s not the most authentic cultural experience (far from it), but it is undoubtedly one of the most off-the-beaten-path things to do in Barcelona.

The bar ‘Bosc de las Fades’ brings you to a magical world of fairies, gnomes, and quirky trees, thanks to a unique design.

If you want to feel like a kid for a while, grab a drink or a cup of coffee and soak up the vibe of ‘The Fairies’ Forest.’

Address: Passatge de la Banca, 7.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 10 AM-1 AM. Saturday-Sunday 11 AM-1 AM.


By Wendy of Empty Nesters Hit the Road | Facebook | Instagram

The city of Barcelona is full of historic and beautiful sites as well as amazing restaurants and markets , most of which are well-publicized in guidebooks and included in every tour.

After several days in this charming Spanish city, we were eager to experience something a bit different and get off the usual tourist path.

We chose to explore the El Raval neighborhood with the help of an audio tour from the Detour app. El Raval, or the Raval, used to be the “red-light” district of Barcelona famous for brothels and bars.

It was also a common destination for immigrants who were unwanted in more well-off parts of the city. However, because this was the least expensive section of town, it was also popular with artists and authors.

In fact, creatives as well known as Hemingway, Picasso, and Gaudi were regulars at the Raval’s Bar Marsella, the oldest bar in Barcelona. One of Gaudi’s first commissions, Palau Guell is located here.

In recent years, the city has tried to clean up the Raval, and slowly, it’s becoming more attractive to new residents and tourists alike. It’s even considered one of the best areas to stay in Barcelona .

El Raval tour


There’s no shortage of green spaces in Barcelona, so if you only have a few days in the city, it’s easy to miss out on beautiful spots that don’t always get their deserved recognition.

These include Jardins de la Tamarita, the small yet enchanting Muñoz Ramonet gardens, and Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera, which are actually one of Europe’s most incredible cacti and succulent gardens.


By Teresa from Brogan Abroad

Barcelona is a paradise for architecture lovers, particularly for fans of modernist architecture.

Everyone knows the works of Gaudi, but there are a few other  modernist buildings in Barcelona  that are definitely worth visiting.

Casa de les Punxes, translated as the House of Spikes, is one of the most underrated buildings to visit in the city. Commissioned by famous modernist architect Puig i Cadafalch, it resembles a medieval fortress.

Once inside, you won’t only enjoy the architectural side of things, but you will find a multi-sensory interactive exhibition dedicated to the patron saint of Catalunya – St George.

Make sure you visit the terrace, from where you can appreciate the punxes (spikes) that give the building its name, and from where you can enjoy a great view of the city.

In the summer, the terrace is open to the public every Friday night with drinks and live music.

Casa de las Punxes


Scattered around the city, you’ll find quite a few unusual sculptures you might enjoy photographing.

From La Cara de Barcelona (its English title is The Head) to La Gamba de Mariscal (The Shrimp) to El Gat de Botero (The Cat) to Dona i Ocell, there are more than enough quirky photo spots in Barcelona.


By Amber from Best Spain Food Tours

There’s always been a lot of great food to  eat in Barcelona , but there’s also a burgeoning craft beer scene too. It’s a lot of fun to organize your own craft beer crawl to try as many craft beers in one day.

Start with BlackLab Brewhouse, which brews all its own beers. They have plenty of outdoor seating in Barceloneta to enjoy an afternoon of people-watching.

Then head to Kælderkold or Ølgod for a great collection of Spanish and international beers in the Barrio Gòtic at a Danish-inspired bar.

After, head to Abirradero in Poble Sec, which also brews all its own beers and even offers to make your own beer sessions on a regular basis. There are also locations of international craft beer bars like BrewDog and Mikkeller.

This only scratches the surface of all of the craft beer in the city, but it’s a great way to drink beer and explore the different neighborhoods in Barcelona.

Craft Beer


Away from the city center, you’ll find the stunning 14th-century Monastery of Pedralbes, founded by King Jaime II of Aragón and Queen Elisenda de Montcada.

The royal monastery is especially known for its astonishing cloister, but there’s a lot more to discover in this amazing Gothic-style historic building.

At the moment, it’s recommended to book your ticket in advance (you’ll see that admission is free at certain times, but you should still reserve your spot).


By Jyoti from Story at Every Corner

We stayed in the fascinating L’ Eixample neighborhood, and there was a massive flower shop on our block called Floristerías Navarro.

As we got off the cab, it immediately caught my attention because it was absolutely enormous and exploding with colors. It was larger than any flower shop I’d seen.

It turns out that Barcelona has a strong culture for locally owned and operated shops, as we learned in our  food tours of Barcelona .

Floristerías Navarro is a beautiful example of a thriving shop owned and operated by the original owners for over 65 years. It’s absolutely beautiful, and it’s open 24/7.

It has flowers and arrangements of every kind and for every occasion. Judging by the traffic at all times of the day and night, it seems quite popular. It was lovely to see that patrons care for the quality and keep coming back.

A flower shop in Barcelona


By Alice of Teacake Travels

Do you want to experience a slice of local life in Barcelona? What better way to do this than to book yourself a cookery class with Foodie Experience Barcelona?

Taking place in the apartment of two warm and welcoming Spanish sisters, they will show you how to rustle up a classic seafood paella, a Catalan dessert, and other delicious local specialties

This setting, together with some refreshing sangria (generously included!), creates a relaxing atmosphere in which to chat with and get to know the true people of Barcelona up close.

The love of good food truly does bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together. Enjoy!

Update: Foodie Experience Barcelona is currently not operating, so for more options, browse other cooking classes in Barcelona .

Check out Alice’s Mediterranean cruise itinerary!

make paella


By Laura from Travelers Universe

Las Arenas in Barcelona is the first and the only bullring converted into a shopping center.

It was designed by British architect Richard Rogers, known also for the Pompidou Center in Paris and the third tower of the New York World Trade.

Las Arenas, a closed building for more than 10 years and in progressive deterioration, has been transformed into a new urban icon.

The Central Square symbolizes the heart of the building. It is where all the shows are concentrated. With more than 200 square meters, this space hosts artistic, cultural, and social manifestations.

Thanks to its perfect location, it is the reference point where all eyes are focused, which makes it ideal to include in your  Barcelona itinerary .

This unique area has welcomed leisure, gastronomic activities, product presentations, corporate events, filming, and exhibitions.

The Exterior Viewpoint offers a 360º view overlooking the city of Barcelona. It’s perfect for taking Instagram shots of Barcelona.

The Dome offers a multipurpose space, 27m high, and with 2,600m² for events in the heart of Barcelona. It is the largest wooden dome in Europe.

Its unique circular shape and all its attached services, together with its strategic location, make it an exceptional venue.

Las Arenas shopping center


By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

The City Museum is a fascinating place for anyone interested in the history of Barcelona, which actually dates back to Roman times more than 2,000 years ago.

In fact, many of the artifacts displayed here were discovered accidentally, right on the very site where the museum is located.

The Palau Padellàs palace that houses the museum was relocated stone by stone to make way for a road construction project.

When it was being reassembled at its current location, ancient Roman remains were discovered underneath the foundation.

Visit in the late morning or early afternoon to admire the ruins of Barcino, as the city was known in Roman times, and then enjoy lunch at nearby Cat Bar, one of the  best vegan restaurants in Barcelona .

Barcelona City Museum


Another lesser-known building by Gaudi is the Bellesguard.

The grounds were originally home to a royal residence of King Martin of Aragon back at the beginning of the 15th century, and Gaudi’s creation was erected half a millennium later.

With a mix of neogothic and modernist elements and the architect’s unmatched creativity, this offbeat landmark should not be missed (even though it’s quite modest compared to other Gaudi buildings).

To visit the magnificent Bellesguard, you need to  book a guided tour  (operated in either Catalan, Spanish, or English).

Fun fact: Gaudi also designed a few buildings in northern Spain , including El Capricho de Gaudi in Comillas and the Bishops’ Palace in Astorga.


By Vicki from Vicki Viaja

Did you know that there is a labyrinth in the middle of Barcelona?

One of the lesser-known sights in Barcelona is the Parc del Laberint d’Horta. At the center of this unique park, you can find a maze, which consists of two-meter-high hedges.

Make sure to walk around inside of it and get lost. As soon as you reach the middle of the labyrinth, you can rest a bit and enjoy the Greek-oriented style of this section of the park.

However, the rest of the park is also beautiful and well worth a visit. The romantic garden was created in the 18th century to expand the labyrinth and covers around 54 hectares today.

For us, this park is one of the most beautiful places in the city if you are looking for a little bit of green and want to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Its location outside the center in the  Barcelona neighborhood  of Horta-Guinardó is therefore perfect.

Parc del Laberint dHorta in Barcelona


Whether it’s a big colorful mural or a tiny hidden figure, I love discovering any city’s street art scene.

And while Barcelona is not as known for its street art as other European destinations like Budapest or Lisbon , it’s still fun to explore this side of the Catalan city.

Here are a few famous spots you should check out  on your own, but you can also  book a free guided walking tour .


By Claire of This Travel Lover

One of my favorite quirky things to do in Barcelona is to watch the Castellers build human towers.

Castellers are teams of people of all sizes and ages who come together to create huge human towers, starting with a strong, supportive base & gradually decreasing in size as they grow taller.

The Castellers all work together to make sure the tower is strong and safe before they quickly and carefully add another level.

A young child (wearing protective headgear!) is the last to climb up to the top of the tower before they all descend and deconstruct the tower.

Castellers usually perform at every festival in Barcelona, and regularly at various events throughout the year and they are absolutely mesmerizing to watch!

At major festivals, teams from different areas of Barcelona and Catalunya compete to create the highest and most complex towers. At other times, you may find one group practicing in front of the Cathedral.

Popular festivals where you can see Castellers include the Gracia Festival in August, La Merced in September, and Santa Eulalia in February, and you can go to see them practicing throughout the year.



Traveling off the beaten path can mean discovering enchanting hidden gems that most people just don’t know, as well as finding unconventional spots that don’t appeal to the average traveler.

Bizarre museums are those kinds of spots, and if you’re looking for weird things to do in Barcelona, you can visit the Perfume Museum, the Hemp Museum, and even the Museum of Funeral Carriages.


Visiting a synagogue is definitely one of the best ways to experience Barcelona off the beaten track.

With many cathedrals around, it’s easy to forget that Spain has long been home to an active Jewish community. A reminder of that is ‘Sinagoga Major,’ one of the oldest synagogues in Europe.

After centuries of being used for other purposes, it’s now functioning as a museum and a synagogue (during festive occasions).

Even though not much has remained of it, I’m always happy and excited to find a connection to my Jewish heritage.

Address: Carrer de Marlet, 5.

Opening hours: Sunday-Friday, 10:30 AM-6:30 PM.

For a unique experience in Barcelona, check out this Jewish heritage tour .

Entrance to the old synagogue in Barcelona


By Mar of Once in a Lifetime Journey

One of the best non touristy things to do in Barcelona is to visit the ancient Roman temple built in honor of Emperor Augustus.

The ruins of the ancient temple date back to the first century BC and all that remains today are several 9m high Corinthian columns.

Unlike other Roman buildings that were torn down and built on top of, these columns remained intact and were incorporated into other medieval buildings.

After being purchased by the “Centre Excursionista de Catalunya” (Hiking Club of Catalonia), Catalan architect Lluís Domènech restored the columns and built a courtyard around them for public perusal.

The columns are located at 10 Carrer Paradis in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter near the Catedral de Barcelona. They are maintained and managed by the Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA) which is also a brief 1-minute walk away.

Check out Mar’s one-day guide to Barcelona!

unusual things to do in Barcelona - The Temple of Augustus


By Greta of Greta’s Travels

If you’re looking for the best views and photo spots in Barcelona you have to visit Bunkers del Carmel. Bunkers del Carmel is a park located just a short metro ride out of the center, with stunning views over Barcelona.

The closest metro stations to Bunkers del Carmel are El Carmel and Alfons X. From there you have to either take a short bus or walk up a hill for 20-30 minutes.

Bunkers del Carmel is still off the main tourist radar, mostly because it’s pretty far from all the main tourist attractions and if you are only visiting Barcelona on a brief trip, most people don’t want to take away too much time from their sightseeing.

Bunkers del Carmel is therefore still a local secret.

If you go there on a weekend you will find all the locals sitting on the edge of the rocks with bottles of wine and picnic baskets in hand, eating and drinking while enjoying the view.

So if you’re looking to get away from the tourist crowds and do something unique and alternative in Barcelona you have to add Bunkers del Carmel to your Barcelona bucket list.

off the beaten path Barcelona - Bunkers El Carmel


By Efia of Effy Talks Life

Without a doubt, one of the most memorable experiences I had, when I visited Barcelona, was my trip to the two-Michelin-star restaurant Disfrutar.

While the experience is not cheap, it is something you’ll be talking about for years to come. The 30-course tasting menu we chose saw us spending over four hours marveling over dish after dish.

I don’t want to give too much away, but prepare to forget everything you thought you knew about food.

Whether it’s your first trip to Barcelona or you’re an old-timer looking for a day to remember you’d be crazy to pass this one by.

Reservations:  We got lucky and our hotel receptionist got us a same-day cancellation! But I’d recommend booking in advance. You can find out more details on the restaurant’s official website .

Need more help planning your trip? Check out this Barcelona cost guide and my 55 Spain travel tips !


Attend a music festival.

By Lauren from Faramagan

If you are searching for unique things to do near Barcelona, we’re going to share an epic idea for music lovers.

Hop on a train to the sleepy seaside town of Benicassim – the journey takes around 2-3 hours depending on the ticket you choose and around the same by car, so it is perfect for a day trip.

Book your train ticket on Omio (formerly GoEuro)!

This picturesque seaside town welcomes visitors all year round. However, for a handful of days, each July, the town transforms into a music lover’s haven thanks to the Benicassim music festival   (also known as FIB).

Renowned as one of the best music festivals in Europe, headline acts of recent years have included Muse, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Arctic Monkeys, and The Killers.

The festival takes place just 15 minutes from the beach so you can sunbathe on the shore all day and dance from sunset until sunrise all night.

The train station is also a short walk from the festival, so you can easily purchase a day ticket instead of the full weekend and enjoy your favorite act in the sunshine!

Benicassim festival


By Denny from Lazy Road Trips

Sant Cugat del Vallès, simply called Sant Cugat, is a small, delightful town nestled just 40 minutes away from Barcelona’s city center. If you want to spend some quality time outside the big city, this is a great one-day escape.

Strolling down the narrow, paved streets, surrounded by beautifully decorated buildings, numerous small shops, charming cafes, and restaurants, you can dive into the captivating and easy-going Sant Cugat.

One of the highlights and symbols of the little town is the medieval Monastery of Sant Cugat. It dates back to the 9th century and you can visit its museum, cloister, or church.

Another interesting thing to do in Sant Cugat is to visit the only museum of Merilyn Monroe in Europe. You can see a variety of her personal belongings or witness some recreations of her most popular films.

If you happen to be in Sant Cugat on a weekend, I would suggest visiting the vibrant Mercantic market. It is spread over 15,000m2 and is full of vintage treasures and unique decorations.

You can also visit the biggest second-hand bookshop in Spain (El Siglo) or enjoy some art performances or live music concerts.

Barcelona off the beaten path - Sant Cugat

You might also like:

  • Virtual tours of Spain
  • Spain themed gifts
  • Spain travel quotes
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  • Famous landmarks of Spain
  • Novels set in Spain
  • Long weekend breaks in Spain

Were you inspired by these unique things to do in Barcelona? Related posts:

  • Hidden gems in Madrid
  • Hidden gems in Valencia
  • Hidden gems in Mallorca
  • Hidden gems in Portugal
  • Hidden gems in Budapest
  • Hidden gems in northern Italy
  • Hidden gems in Turin
  • Hidden gems in Milan
  • Hidden gems in Puglia

Do you know other hidden gems in Barcelona? Tell me in the comments 🙂

About Or Amir

Hey, I'm Or! I'm a passionate traveler with a severe coffee, chocolate, and pastry addiction (or any other carb for that matter). I'm always planning my next trip to Spain, Italy, or any other country in Europe, and my goal is to help you make the most of each destination.

8 thoughts on “25 Hidden Gems and Fun Unusual Things To Do in Barcelona”

Hi! What a lovely list. What is the name of the second-hand bookshop in Sant Cugat that you mention?

Thanks! The bookshop is called El Siglo 🙂

All of Gaudi’s works are incredible. Casa Vincens definitely has its own unique style, with its more geometric patterns (compared to most of his buildings which have more organic, flowing lines). It also has some touches which seem to have a Moorish influence. But it is certainly worth a visit!

Amazing post!! I would add to rent a boat and sail along Barcelona coast. We did it with rentaboatbarcelona and it was amazing. Best wishes!! Johanne

Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

Enjoyed getting fresh inspiration! Thank you!

Thank you! I’m so glad you liked it! 🙂

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Hi, I'm Or!

I'm a passionate traveler obsessed with traveling in Europe and discovering hidden gems in each place I visit. For me, it's not about ticking destinations off the bucket list but experiencing each one of them to the fullest. Read more about me and my story.

dark tourism barcelona

Barcelona's Dark History Night Tour in English

dark tourism barcelona

About the activity

Learn the dark secrets of Barcelona on a 2 hour tour by twilight. Stroll the maze of streets of the historic El Born and La Ribera districts, following the shadows of medieval punishments, restless spirits and the victims of the Spanish Inquisition.

  • Free cancellation Cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund.
  • The number of visitors is limited to reduce crowds
  • Instant confirmation & Mobile tickets Receive your ticket right away. Use your phone or print your voucher.
  • Live guiding English
  • Start time - Available from November 17, 2023 7:00 PM
  • Duration 2 hours
  • Professional guide
  • Relive the dark legends of Barcelona
  • Follow in the shadowy footsteps of restless spirits and victims of medieval torture
  • Learn about the Spanish Inquisition
  • Discover forgotten cemeteries and the site of executions
  • Hear what life was like for an executioner in the El Born and La Ribera districts of Barcelona


Explore the medieval neighborhoods of El Born and La Ribera in central Barcelona to see the city's sordid past come to life. The 2-hour dark history tour takes you into a world of dungeons and public executions. There will be no gimmicky paranormal activity or scary pranks. Instead, you will stroll the maze of streets of Barcelona's picturesque neighborhoods to learn about real life tortures, executions, and victims of the Spanish Inquisition, all based on true historical facts. The tour takes place in English only, with exact times varying throughout the year, depending on the time of nightfall. Numbers are limited so it is highly recommended to book early.

  • This tour is not recommended for children younger than 14.
  • Please note that, although a couple of the city's legends might be included, this is not a ghost tour but a historical night tour based on the darker side of Barcelona's history.
  • This tour runs in all kinds of weather. Rain or other weather conditions are not enough reason to cancel a tour. In the case of heavy rain, please bring suitable rain gear.

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dark tourism barcelona

Category: Barcelona

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dark tourism barcelona

On this day, 85 years ago, on 17 July 1936, the Spanish Civil War started with the rebellion, led by right-winger Nationalist Francisco Franco, within the military against the left-wing Republican government, first in Morocco, but soon also in the Spanish homeland.

In 2015, just before the 79th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict, my

Dark Tourists

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Visiting Hartheim Castle Memorial Site (Austria)

As far as dark tourist destinations are concerned, there’s few more harrowing than Hartheim Castle. During WWII it was a Euthanasia Centre, a secret Nazi killing facility, and part of the Aktion T4 program. Here, German citizens tagged as mentally … Read More


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Visiting Cellular Jail, Port Blair – All You Need to Know

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Masada, Israel – 1st Century Fortress and Site of a Mass Jewish Suicide

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North Brother Island – Abandoned Quarantine Facility in New York

North Brother Island, located on the East River between the Bronx and Riker’s Island in New York, is a place with a dark history. Not only is the island home to the worst loss of life in New York’s history … Read More

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Ruddock, Louisiana – Entire Town Destroyed by Hurricane

At the turn of the 20th century, Ruddock in Louisiana was a bustling community, located on an isthmus between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain, the town was connected by the railroads with a train coming through daily. At the height … Read More


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Just over 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 40 hours by train from Moscow, sits the once-bustling coal-mining city of Vorkuta, Russia. Built by gulag inmates during Stalin’s big purge in the 1930s, this desolate region on the … Read More


Fleury-devant-douaumont – A Village that Died for France

During World War One, Fleury-devant-douaumont became known as one of the villages that died for France. Caught in the midst of The Battle of Verdun, (one of the longest and fiercest artillery battles of the Great War), French and German … Read More

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Reggane and In Ekker – French Nuclear Test Sites, Algeria

Reggane and In Ekker were once nuclear test sites in Algeria. It was here that the French experimented with their atomic arsenal in the 1960s. Thirteen underground nuclear detonations were carried out at the In Ekker site. The reckless nature … Read More

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Kadykchan – Abandoned Soviet Mining Town

Kadykchan is located at the eastern extremity of Russia in the Kolyma region of Siberia, an area renowned for the harshness of the climate. This part of Siberia is known for something else too, the devastating brutality of its Gulags. … Read More


Inside Saint Elmo, Colorado’s Best Preserved Ghost Town

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A Trip to Tinian Island – WWII Relics in the Pacific

Despite its remote location in the Pacific, Tinian is slowly becoming more popular with tourists, especially dark ones that are interested in Pacific WWII History. There are a number of reasons why. Not only did the island become one of … Read More


The Ruins of Villa Epecuén, Argentina – A Resort Town Submerged

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Visiting Nauru – An Island From Boom To Bust

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The Buried Village of Te Wairoa – Dark Tourism in New Zealand

On June 10, 1889, New Zealand’s deadliest volcanic eruption devastated the surrounding landscape and killed over 120 people. The villagers around Mount Tarawera on the on North Island did not stand a chance as boiling mud and hot springs tore … Read More


Port Royal – Sunken Pirate City, Jamaica

Port Royal, Jamaica was once known as “the most wicked and sinful city in the world”. Founded in 1494 by the Spanish, the enclave positioned on the mouth of what is now called Kingston Harbour, was the center of shipping … Read More


Bunker Valentin, Bremen – Nazi U-Boat Facility

Bunker Valentin was the largest fortified U-boat facility in Germany during WWII. Built to produce submarines on a grand scale for the Nazi war effort, more than 10,000 forced laborers were used in the construction of this gigantic bunker, support … Read More

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Chagan Nuclear Tests, Crater Lake & Ghost Town – Kazakhstan

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GoNOMAD Travel

Inspiration and links to plan your trip.

The Top 10 Cities in Europe for Dark Tourism

Brandenburg Gate

Dark Tourism Centers of Europe: Where Bad Things Once Happened

By  Sian McQuillan

War, tragedy, death, and everything in between; Europe has experienced it all. Today, many tourists are keen to learn more about the continent’s dark past. Curious? Let’s dive right in.

Many tourists may gravitate towards the more glamorous and glittering aspects of the European continent, from the impressive Eiffel Tower in Paris to the famous Grand Canal in Venice. Still, many others may want to learn about the tragedy and turmoil that has ensued throughout the centuries.

From natural disasters to civil wars, continent-wide plagues to gruesome battles, Europe is home to centuries of dark and twisted tales. If you’re curious to learn more about the morbid secrets of the past, then here are the top ten cities in Europe for dark tourism .

The famous wall painting of two lovers in Pompeii. Carole Raddato photo.

10. Pompeii, Italy – One of the most Tragic Natural Disasters in History

First up on our list of cities in Europe for dark tourism is Pompeii, situated just 25 km (15.5 miles) south of Naples. Once a thriving Roman city, Pompeii has been left abandoned since 79 AD, when Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying everything in its wake.

About 20,000 inhabitants enjoyed a food market, a bar, many restaurants, several theaters, a gymnasium, aqueducts, baths, and even a hotel. Then, in 79 A.D. the sky came crashing down on them.  Mount Vesuvius  blew her top and buried everything under sixty feet of ash and pumice. The city was abandoned and eventually forgotten. Not until the mid-1700s was the town rediscovered through excavations.

Today, visitors can take a tour of the archaeological site and explore the excavated ruins of the streets and buildings that used to stand

9. Hunedoara, Romania – Home to a Terrifying Castle

You may not have heard of Hunedoara in Romania . However, we bet you’ve seen pictures of or heard of the haunting castle that stands here.

Corvin Castle, located in the region of Transylvania, Hunedoara, is as ominous as it first appears. First built in the 14th century, this castle is home to many dark and twisted tales that you can discover by taking a tour.

8. Paris, France – Discover the Creepy Catacombs

Many will know Paris for its glamour, architecture, and romantic appeal. However, you may be unaware of the darker side of the ‘City of Love’s past. Taking a walk below the city’s streets, you will be shocked by what you find.

Hidden 65 ft (20 m) below street level are the horrifying Catacombs . These underground ossuaries hold the remains of over six million people, and shockingly, you can explore this morbid site for yourself through the extensive tunnel system. Beneath each street in the city is a sewer pipe of the same name. Really, the trip is a wonderful experience: it doesn’t smell, but strapping, healthy rats do scurry around quite shamelessly; and of course, you can’t visit during or immediately after heavy rainstorms.

Dark tourism. The Colosseum Underground is a 15,000-square-meter maze of corridors and passageways where the gladiators and animals hung out before ascending to the Colosseum floor.

7. Rome, Italy – centuries of tragedy and suffering

As the site of emperors and battles, gladiators, and colosseums, Rome is one of the most historic cities in Europe. So, it comes as no surprise that the city has its fair share of tragedy and suffering.

Some of the most horrifying aspects of this city that you can discover to this day include the Ardeatine Caves , the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, the Colosseum , and Mussolini’s bunkers at Villa Torlonia.

Tower of London. Photo cred to Matt Brown, flickr

6. London, England – Full of Haunting Tales

The capital of the United Kingdom is no stranger to tales of tragedy and suffering. From plagues to city-wide fires, regions hit the hardest by the two world wars to gruesome murders, there is plenty of dark history to be discovered here.

Check out the Tower of London , take a tour to learn about the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper, or check out the Monument to the Great Fire of London for some of the darker aspects of this city.

5. Berlin, Germany – One of the top Cities in Europe for Dark Tourism

It may not come as much of a surprise to see the German capital mentioned on this list.

As one of the cities hit the hardest by both World Wars and the Cold War, Berlin certainly boasts a horrifying past. While the city has seen huge progress and modernization in recent years, you can still discover all about its dark past while visiting. The Pearl on the River Spree still bears scars from the devastation of the Second World War, and from nearly 40 years of division brought about by the Cold War and the construction of the Berlin Wall. These scars still mar both the physical and mental landscapes of the city.

Mostar, Sarajevo, The Old Bridge. Max Johnson photos.

4. Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina – a Tumultuous and Tragic History

Sarajevo is a city not to be missed when it comes to dark tourism. It is the city where Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in 1914, which is often deemed the catalyst for the start of the First World War. Bosnia was the most severely battered part of the region during the civil wars of the 1990s.

Photographs of the Old City “then and now”, show a degree of wanton destruction that is hard to imagine. What possible military purpose the city’s Old Bridge had is hard to tell, and why it was necessary to bomb the historical center is difficult to fathom.

Aside from that, the city has faced much tragedy and conflict throughout the last 100 years that can be discovered through War Tours and museums.

The Titanic Project is a highlight of the renovated waterfront and former shipyards of Belfast.

3. Belfast, Northern Ireland – Forty Years of Conflict

Many people still ask to this day whether or not it’s safe to visit Belfast. The answer is yes, but after years of conflict throughout the 20 th century, many are still wary of visiting.

One of the best things to do in Belfast to get an insight into its turbulent past is taking a Black Taxi Tour . On these tours, local guides will take you through the main sites of conflict, including the Peace Walls, and give you a fascinating insight into the city’s past.  90-minute mural tours take you from east to west, north to south taking in both sides of the community and how they depicted their war efforts through amazingly detailed murals.

All the cab drivers have lived through the bloodshed and give an insight into the history behind it all and their own experiences living through it.

International Wall Belfast Taxi

2. Oswiecim, Poland – a Central Site of one of the Biggest Tragedies in Europe

You may not recognize the city, but we can bet you will recognize the name of the site we’re about to mention. Oswiecim in Poland is the home of Auschwitz-Birkenau , one of the largest and most notorious Nazi concentration camps in Europe. Dark Tourism doesn’t get much darker than this!

Over 1.1 million men, women, and children were murdered here between 1940 and 1945 as part of the Nazi’s brutal system of extermination. Today, the camp serves as a stark reminder of the Holocaust and the tragedy of human cruelty and suffering.

More than two million people from all over the world visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum every year, and this year I was one of them. It’s difficult to talk about the experience, except to say that, along with the 50 million people who have visited the site since its liberation in 1945, I am a witness to the depths of human depravity.

Amusement park in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Nicola Davies photo.

It’s not just the incredible number of people who were murdered; it’s also the way that they were robbed of their humanity before they died.

1. Pripyat, Ukraine – the aftermath of a Nuclear Disaster

Topping our list of cities in Europe for dark tourism is Pripyat in Ukraine. Pripyat was the home of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant , which exploded in 1986, causing a wave of radioactive dust to spread throughout the surrounding area. Two workers were killed instantly and 40 hours later the residents of Pripyat were ordered to evacuate – with no one to ever return. Almost 28 years on, you can now visit this ghost town taking one of several Chernobyl Tours  that are available here.

Almost 50 years on, the radioactive chemicals are still in the atmosphere here. So, tourists must undertake various safety precautions before visiting.

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15 Gut-Wrenching Dark Tourism Destinations for 2023

Having just finished the new Netflix series ‘ Dark Tourist ’ it compelled me to write an article on the subject of dark tourism and list some of my favourite dark tourism destinations around the world. So, let’s find out, what is dark tourism.

Examples of dark tourist destinations include sites of natural and man-made disasters from Pompei to Chernobyl. Places like Auschwitz and the killing fields in Cambodia, the Unit 731 Museum in China and the Karagana gulag in Kazakhstan.

As someone with a curious interest in all things dark and spooky, I’ve been visiting dark tourism sites ever since I first start travelling. I’ve visited Iraq, North Korea twice and spent the night at Chernobyl. I’ve explored museums around the world and even use to volunteer at Highgate Cemetery in London.

*Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, which means should you click and purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Belfast Mural Tours

Table of Contents

Quick Summary of Dark Tourism Sites Covered

  • Albania – BunkArt Museum
  • Armenia – Memorial of the Armenian genocide
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – Old front line, Mostar
  • China – Unit 731 Museum
  • England – Cold war nuclear bunker
  • Hungary – House of Terror
  • Iraq – Erbil
  • Kazakhstan – Karaganda gulag
  • North Korea – DMZ
  • Northern Ireland – Belfast murals
  • Romania – Bran “Dracula” Castle
  • Transnistria – Europe’s last communist regime
  • Turkey – City of Diyarbakir
  • Turkmenistan – the “Door to Hell” at Darvaza
  • Ukraine – Chernobyl

My Top List of Dark Tourism Destinations

Wherever I travel I am always looking out for dark tourism destinations, and below are some of my top picks from all around the world.

1. BunkArt, Albania

BunkArt Museum

If there is one thing that former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha loved, it was concrete bunkers. One of the most interesting of these is now a museum under the streets of the capital, Tirana. Th BunkArt Museum is a must-visit ark tourism destination for visitors to Albania.

Situated next to the parliament buildings in the centre of the city is a small grey bunker that descends into a dark underground tunnel. Inside is a museum detailing the country’s recent history as one of the harshest and most reclusive regimes in the world.

As well as the interesting history and cold war stories contained below, the bunker is home to conceptual sculptures created by local artists. Located on Fadil Deliu Street near the main square. View my BunkArt guide or visit the official website for more information.

Address: Street Abdi Toptani, Tiranë, Albania. See location on Google maps . Entrance: Free Time Needed to Visit: One to two hours Website :

2. Genocide Memorial Complex, Armenia

Dark Tourism Destinations

The Genocide Museum Institute in Yerevan , also known as the Armenian Genocide Museum, is a museum dedicated to educating visitors about the Armenian Genocide that took place in Western Armenia (modern-day Turkey) at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The museum is located on a hill overlooking the city and houses a collection of artefacts, photographs, and personal accounts from survivors of the genocide. The exhibits guide visitors through the history of the genocide, including the events that led up to it and the aftermath.

The museum also features a memorial garden and a monument dedicated to the victims of the genocide. The Genocide Museum Institute serves as an important reminder of the atrocities committed against the Armenian people and a tribute to those who lost their lives.

Address: 8 Tsitsernakaberd Highway, Yerevan 0028, Armenia. See location on Google maps . Entrance: Free Time Needed to Visit: One to two hours Website:

3. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bombed Building in Mostar

Mostar in itself is a beautiful town and deserves to be appreciated on its own merits as a tourist destination. However, given tragic events in its recent history it seems appropriate to include in this list. One of the defining features of old Mostar is the famous Stari Most bridge.

The bridge was shelled in 1993 during the Bosnian War but has thankfully been painstakingly rebuilt using the same stone quarried nearby. Evidence of the war is not hard to miss and the old front line has been preserved as a terrible reminder of what happened here during the early nineties.

You can reach Mostar by train or bus from Sarajevo in Bosnia or by bus from Split an Dubrovnik in Croatia. I’ve been to Mostar twice now; in 2010 and 2022, and it’s still one of my favourite places to visit.

Address: Dr Andre Starcevica, Mostar, BiH. See location on Google maps . Entrance: Free Time Needed to Visit: One to two hours

4. Unit 731 Museum, China

Unit 731 Museum

One of the darkest chapters of recent human history is Shiro Ishii’s Unit 731. The unit was set up to research chemical and biological weapons and the Japanese Imperial Army tested these on unwitting and unwilling subjects in far northeast China.

The museum, located in China’s coldest city of Harbin , houses a grim collection of artefacts, confessions, experiment reports and photographs (the most extreme of which are not on display). There are also disturbing dioramas detailing some of the sick experiments.

This is truly one of the darkest of dark tourism destinations and it’s surprising that the horrors that went on here are not more widely known. The museum was closed for renovation when I lived i Harbin in 2016, but I went bak to visit in 2021 and I’m glad I did.

You can read more or see my short film taken at the museum.

Address: Xinjiang Street, Pingfang District, Harbin, China. See location on Google maps . Entrance: Free Time Needed to Visit: Two to three hours Website:

5. Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker, England

Dark tourist hotspot, Secret Nuclear Bunker, Essex

Ever wondered where the UK government would go in the event of an all-out nuclear war? Wonder no more as this “secret” nuclear bunker is now open to the public. I visited on a trip back from China and loved the experience.

Tucked away beneath the Essex countryside, Kelvedon Hatch would have housed up to 10,000 people, including the Prime Minister, who would have managed the response to a nuclear attack and run the country from the confines of the bunker.

The nearest rail station is Brentwood. You can take a tube from London to Epping, Debden or Theydon Boice and then a taxi (approx 7 miles).

Check out my list of 10 dark tourism destinations in London .

Address: Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood, Essex, CM15 0LA. See location on Google maps . Entrance: £7.50 ($9.20) Time Needed to Visit: Two to three hours Website:

6. House of Terror, Hungary

Dark Tourist Destinations - The Terror House

One of my favourite museums is the House of Terror in Budapest. This is one of the top dark tourist sites thanks to the building’s dark history as a prison and interrogation centre for both the nazis and communists.

Address: Budapest, Andrássy út 60, 1062 Hungary. See location on Google maps . Entrance: 400 HUF ($1.10) Time Needed to Visit: Two to three hours Website:

Erbil Citadel, Iraq

I had always been intrigued to visit Iraq as my grandfather used to work at Baghdad University in the 1950s. He inspired my own travels by driving all the way from England , and in late 2022 I arrived in Iraq after travelling overland myself.

Lik Mostar, Iraq is a beautiful place with friendly locals and a history dating back millennia. I visited the city of Erbil in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq and was blown away by the place. Cities like Baghdad, and especially Mosul still show the scars of conflict and safety remains a concern in the region.

8. Karaganda Gulag, Kazakhstan

Karlag Museum

I visited the Karaganda Gulag (Karlag) whilst travelling from Kazakhstan’s capital Astana to Almaty. This fascinating complex includes a museum with photographs, exhibits and dioramas reflecting the history of the place under Stalin and during the time of the USSR.

Explore recreations of the officer’s quarters, dungeons and transport vehicles used to move prisoners. The camp is located in the heart of the vast Kazakh steppe, once part of the Soviet Union.

Address: 39, Dolinka 101604, Kazakhstan. See location on Google maps . Entrance: 1,000 Tenge ($2) Time Needed to Visit: Two to three hours

9. The DMZ, North Korea

Soldiers at the DMZ in North Korea

Like Turkmenistan, North Korea is an equally reclusive and paranoid country, but one we hear a lot more about in the media. For the curious, it can make a fascinating holiday destination.

I’ve been to North Korea twice and visited different cities across the country from Sinuiju in the north to the capital Pyongyang and Kaesog in the south. Not far from Kaesong is the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which separates North Korea from South Korea.

10. Belfast Murals, Northern Ireland

Peace Lines in Belfast

Northern Ireland has a long and tragic history culminating in 30 years of violence from the 1970s up to 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement put an end to the “Troubles”. The north of Ireland has a population made up of two distinct groups; Irish republican/catholic and British loyalist/Protestant.

The Catholic/republican side want to be reunited with the rest of Ireland and this led to the formation of the IRA (Irish Republican Army). The loyalist/protestant side want to remain a part of the UK and set up different paramilitary groups like the UDA (Ulster Defence Association) and UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) to take on the IRA.

The cities of Belfast and Derry are home to many brightly coloured murals depicting the years of struggle on either side of the divide. I took a three-hour political walking tour which included many of the murals and a history of the troubles from ex-prisoners. Book the tour with Get Your Guide .

11. Bran Castle, Romania

Brasov to Bran Castle

Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Impaler was born in 1428 in a charming old house in Sighisoara that now serves as a restaurant. Tepes was the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula and it’s possible to visit Bran Castle in Transylvania which has long been associated with the Dracula story.

Bran Castle is worth a visit for its beautiful gothic architecture, but there is’t a great deal to do i the village aside for that. I spent two days there, but it’s better to take a day trip from nearby Brasov .

Book a tour of Bran Castle with Get Your Guide

Address: Strada General Traian Moșoiu 24, Bran 507025, Romania. See location on Google maps . Entrance: 40 Lei ($8.70) Time Needed to Visit: One to two hours

12. Transnistria

Tiraspol, Transnistria,dark tourist

Like Mostar above, it seems a little unfair to include Tiraspol on a list of dark tourism sites, but as charming as this small city is, it gets a place due to Transnistria being a country that doesn’t exist according to the rest of the world (it is recognized only by Abkhazia, Artsakh and South Ossetia; themselves also unrecognized breakaway republics).

Stuck in a soviet time-warp, the KGB is still active here, posters of Lenin adorn the streets and tanks and troops guard the demilitarized zone separating it from Moldova.

You can take a bus to Tiraspol from Chisinau in Moldova and get a VISA/permit at the border. Journey time is approx 2 hours including border crossing and costs under 5 Euros.

Need somewhere to stay in Transnistria or looking for a tour guide? Check out Mars Hostel !

13. Diyarbakir, Turkey

Best Things to do in Diyarbakir - City Walls

Diyarbakir is a city in southeastern Turkey close to the border of Syria and Iraq. The city is home to Turkey’s largest Kurdish population ad has something of a troubled history. During the 2016 Seige of Sur, many houses were destroyed by Turkish forces.

I spent six weeks living in Diyarbakir in 2022 and although the city has suffered (most recently in the 2023 earthquake), it is also a fantastic destiation with lots of history dating back to Roman times.

14. The Darvaza Gas Crater, Turkmenistan

Gates of Hell Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan deserves a place all of its own on any dark tourist’s list thanks to the strange city of Ashgabat and the bizarre laws still in place in this reclusive former soviet republic. The country is made up of 90% desert, and hidden deep within is a huge flaming sinkhole that has been burning for over 40 years.

I visited the Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the Door to Hell) in 2017 on my way overland from England to China and spent the night camping next to the crater.

Arrive as the sun is setting and camp next to the roaring crater, but don’t get too close as there are no safety barriers and the fumes can be quite toxic! Definitely one of the top dark tourism destinations in the world!

15. Chernobyl, Ukraine


Chernobyl is one of the top dark tourism destinations in the world and is well worth a visit for anyone interested in not only dark tourism, but also the cold war and the former Soviet Union.

Wander around the deserted city of Pripyat where nature has well and truly reclaimed the town. Pripyat was once a bustling metropolis of 50,000 nuclear power plant workers and their families.

Travel through the exclusion zone with a Geiger counter to see how dangerous the radiation can be. Marvel at the massive Duga Radar Station hidden deep in the radioactive forest. Ironically, it was used by the soviets to detect incoming nuclear missiles from the West.

What Exactly is Dark Tourism?

According to the Wikipedia page, Dark Tourism “has been defined as tourism involving travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy.” But goes on to state that “The main attraction to dark locations is their historical value rather than their associations with death and suffering.”

Dark tourism can mean different things to different people. For me it is the exploration of places with a dark or similarly interesting aspect. From Dracula’s castle in Transylvania or Salem in the USA to the Darvaza ‘Door to Hell’ gas crater in Turkmenistan or North Korea and Chernobyl, these are all places I have recently visited that could be considered dark tourism spots.

The University of Central Lancashire is conducting studies into the rise of dark tourism which makes for some interesting reading.

Most people equate Dark Tourism with human suffering. But although many such places on the dark tourist’s map will have been witness to such horrors, it can equally include creepy abandoned places (Chinese abandoned cities), cold war bunkers or just the outright weird (Ashgabat in Turkmenistan).

Dark Tourism can include sites linked to genocide (Auschwitz, the Killing Fields etc), nuclear catastrophe (Chernobyl, Fukashima etc), war or disaster tourism (Iraq, Afghanistan etc) and much more.

It is up to the individual to visit what they feel comfortable with. If you go with the aim of increasing knowledge and a better understanding, then that can’t be a bad thing. If you are going to simply gawp at misfortune or tragedy, then better stay at home and turn on the TV!

Is Dark Tourism ok or Ethical?

It’s important to remember that many dark tourist sites have seen tragic events and as with travelling anywhere, respect is key to coming away from the experience a better person.

Dark tourism should not be about voyeurism, but for those with a morbid fascination, or even a healthy curiosity, seeking out such places can be extremely educational as well as humbling.

Check out this great list of 50 crazy destinations for lovers of the weird and macabre.

Below I list 10 of my favourite dark tourism destinations. You can find details of how you can visit them too if you dare!

The best resource for travellers interested in dark tourism is the site The site is home to hundreds of articles on dark tourist locations across the globe.

Now you know the answer to the question: what is dark tourism, which sites would you like to see?! Comment below with your favourite dark tourism destination!

Dark tourism is popular around the world and most countries have dark tourist sites. From Pompei in Italy to Auschwitz in Poland and Chernobyl in Ukraine, these places see many visitors every year.

Dark tourism places include Bran Castle in Romania, the House of Terror in Hungary, Chernobyl, Fukushima, the Uit 731 Museum in China and many more. Countries on the dark tourist map include Syria, North Korea ad Iraq.

Dark tourists are people that search out the macabre, spooky or places with a dark history.

Final Thoughts

With so many interesting dark tourism destinations from Albania to Armenia and North Korea to Northern Ireland, which of these sites are you interested in seeing? I will continue to search out ore fascinating dark tourist sites on my travels.

Bunk Art 2

About the author: Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. He has traveled to over 60 countries, lived in Armenia, China and Hong Kong, and is now living the digital nomad life on the road.

Steve prefers “slow travel” and has covered much of the world by train, bus and boat. He has been interviewed multiple times by the BBC and recently featured in the documentary Scariest Places in the World . See the About page for more info.

Where I am now: Yerevan, Armenia 🇦🇲

5 thoughts on “ 15 Gut-Wrenching Dark Tourism Destinations for 2023 ”

These are some very interesting places and a few I didn’t even know tourists could go visit (NK) but it’s awesome that you shed a bit of bright light on places that are known as quite “dark” to the average person.

Thanks Dom, yes North Korea is open to tourists and makes a fascinating destination!

I love Dark Tourism and find most of the sites fascinating. This is a great list and I want to travel to so many of these places!

I would also suggest the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum in Cambodia

Hi KS, thanks for the heads-up. I will be visiting Cambodia later this year and will definitely be visiting the Killing Fields and adding it to this post. Best, Steve

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10 Most Dangerous Areas in Barcelona (2023) – Where to Avoid

You’ve finally decided to tick Barcelona off your travel bucket list. And you’re right to be excited!

You’re probably picturing the magnificent Sagrada Familia, dreaming of tapas on a sun-drenched plaza… and maybe getting a tad nervous about all the stories you’ve heard of pickpockets and scams. Well, no worries, Barcelona is safe (in general) so you’re in the right place!

Living in Spain and having spent a lot of time in Barcelona, I’ve got the inside scoop on what to watch out for, and the most dangerous areas in Barcelona that require a little extra vigilance. 

In this article, I’ll be your friendly guide through Barcelona’s streets – from the bustling boulevards to the hidden corners and, yes, where to avoid. Stick with me and I’ll share tips, insights, and advice to help you make the most of your trip while staying safe and secure.

Looking for the safest part of Barcelona to stay in?

Barcelona is incredibly popular for tourists and so it’s essential to book accommodation well in advance to avoid missing out here . Here are my top picks on the best places to stay, including based on their very safe and very central locations:

⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best luxury accommodation: Ohla Barcelona – amazing rooftop pool, incredible views, and the perfect location to explore the city

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Best mid-range accommodation: Seventy Barcelona – the décor of this boutique hotel is so modern and stylish, the rooftop pool is ideal, plus you’ll be near the main sights the moment you step outside

⭐ ⭐ Best budget accommodation: Àmfores Boutique Guest House – the rooms are comfortable, the location is superb and the terrace is a great spot to end your day

street at night in one of the most dangerous areas of Barcelona, Spain

Table of Contents

Dangerous areas in Barcelona

1. el raval.

Old colorful and majestic tiled facades in Elche, Alicante, Spain. El Raval neighborhood. One of the most dangerous areas in Barcelona.

Overall, Barcelona is a great place and chances are you won’t have any issues. But every city has its shady corners, right? Which, let’s be honest, is just like back home, wherever that might be for you. 

So, first up, we’ve got El Raval. This part of town is a real mixed bag. 

You’ll find yourself surrounded by buzzing bars, cool contemporary art, and some fantastic food joints. But when the sun dips, it’s a different story.

Sure, it’s got character, but as darkness falls, it becomes a magnet for some, let’s say, less-than-savory activities. You’re more likely to run into some petty crime around here, so just be smart.

I wouldn’t generally recommend this as being an area that’s particularly safe to walk in Barcelona at night but if you do find yourself here, common sense advice applies. 

That is, don’t flash your expensive gear around, and be aware of your surroundings, especially in the late hours. It’s not a complete no-go, but it’s not a place where you’d want to take an aimless midnight stroll, either.

Street arts in Besòs. One of the most dangerous areas in Barcelona.

If I’m being honest, Besòs doesn’t have the best reputation amongst locals. I mean, we’re talking about a district that’s had to deal with its fair share of economic hardship and high crime rates. 

Yeah, it’s tough, but they’re working on it and things are slowly improving.

During the day, you can check out some great street art and the namesake river. But you might want to skip it at night unless you really know your way around.

And remember, always stick to well-lit, busy areas. Be careful with your belongings, and avoid unnecessary risks. It’s just common sense in the end.

Valley in La Mina. One of the most dangerous areas in Barcelona.

La Mina is a bit away from the city center, and unfortunately, it’s known for its struggle with crime and poverty. This isn’t the kind of place that’ll pop up on your typical tourist map, and maybe that’s for the better. 

But if you do find yourself in the area, it’s not the end of the world. Just keep your wits about you, same as you would anywhere else. 

Stick to the main roads, avoid drawing unnecessary attention to yourself, and always keep your phone and wallet secure. Even if you’re just passing through, remember – caution never hurts.

4. La Rambla

La Ramblas. One of the most Dangerous areas in Barcelona.

La Rambla is one of the city’s main arteries – vibrant, bustling, filled with all kinds of entertainment, eateries, and let’s not forget, some of the best people-watching spots. However, as lovely as it is, it’s also a prime target for pickpockets, especially around the crowded tourist hotspots.

But hey, don’t let this put you off! You should still visit, especially if it’s your first time in Barcelona as it’s worth experiencing.

Just keep an eye on your stuff, and maybe don’t wave your phone around like you’re directing air traffic. La Rambla’s worth a visit, just be smart about it.

5. Gothic Quarter (at night)

The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. It stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to the Ronda de Sant Pere. One of the most dangerous areas in Barcelona.

Next up, we have the Gothic Quarter at night. Now, in the day, this place is an absolute charm, filled with twisting lanes and hidden plazas that make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. But once the sun sets, it can be a different story. 

The very narrow streets that are so cute during the day can feel a little claustrophobic at night. They’re dimly lit and can sometimes attract a few unsavory characters. 

Basically, you wouldn’t be the first to wonder if the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is safe at night. And the answer, annoyingly, is: it depends on where you are.

So if you’re out exploring after dark, stick to the busier streets. It’s still a great place for a late-night bite or a bit of bar-hopping, just stay alert and avoid the more secluded areas.

Streets of el Born neighbourhood at night. One of the most dangerous areas in Barcelona.

El Born is a trendy hipster paradise (which I love, don’t get me wrong) and it’s got some amazing sights, like the Picasso Museum and the Santa Maria del Mar church. But, it’s also got its share of petty crime, particularly in the evening.

At the same time, don’t let that deter you! After all, El Born’s got some of the best tapas bars and boutiques in town. 

Just remember the golden rule: keep your belongings close and your common sense closer. Maybe ditch the flashy jewelry when you head out, and you’ll be just fine.

7. Barceloneta

Street on Barceloneta. One of the most dangerous in Barcelona.

Barceloneta is the city’s go-to beach hub. It’s got sun, it’s got sand, it’s got sea – what’s not to love, right? 

…well, apart from the fact that, despite its fame, it’s not actually the best beach in Barcelona. But it is the closest to the city center so you may find yourself heading there anyway. So no judging if you find yourself here during your trip!

At the same time, alongside all those idyllic beachfront scenes, it’s very popular among pickpockets, especially in the busy summer months.

But let’s not let that ruin our beach fun. Be cautious, use a money belt or a secure beach bag, and don’t leave your stuff unattended while you’re splashing in the waves.

Remember, a bit of vigilance goes a long way to making sure you’re all set to enjoy that lovely Mediterranean sunshine.

8. Parc de la Ciutadella (at night)

Night in Parc de la Ciutadella. One of the dangerous areas in Barcelona.

Parc de la Ciutadella is a lush green haven by day…but at night, well, things change a bit. It’s one of those places that’s totally worth a visit, but I’d suggest you make that visit while there’s still light in the sky.

When it gets dark, the park becomes pretty quiet and some of the paths are poorly lit, which isn’t exactly ideal for a nighttime stroll. 

So, my advice? Visit during the day, take in the sights, have a picnic, but once night falls, it’s probably best to call it a day.

9. Nou Barris and Sant Andreu

Nou Barris and Sant Andreu. One of the most dangerous areas in Barcelona.

Nou Barris and Sant Andreu are more residential districts, a little off the beaten tourist path, and unfortunately, they’ve had a bit of a hard time with higher crime rates.

Does that mean you need to avoid them completely? Not necessarily. 

There are some great local markets and parks, plus you get to experience a side of Barcelona that’s less touched by tourism. Just keep your guard up, don’t venture too far off the main streets, especially after dark, and you’ll be just fine.

10. Any metro station (especially in touristy areas)

Barcelona metro station with train in motion. One of the most dangerous areas in Barcelona.

When talking about the most dangerous areas in Barcelona, sometimes it’s about areas more generally than specific neighborhoods.

So on that note, let’s switch gears here and chat about metro stations. 

Public transport is a quick and easy way to get around Barcelona, but, like many other cities, it’s also a popular hunting ground for pickpockets. 

Touristy areas are especially risky, so remember to be extra vigilant here.

Now, I don’t want to put you off using the metro. It’s super handy and generally safe, but you gotta be aware of your surroundings. 

Keep your bags close, pay attention to people getting too close, and hold onto your belongings when the train is crowded. A little bit of street-smarts can save you a lot of hassle.

At the end of the day, Barcelona is an amazing city, full of life, culture, and yes, a few tricky areas. But with a dash of caution and a bit of common sense, you’re all set to enjoy all the fantastic things this city has to offer. 

What are the safest areas of Barcelona?

Okay, after all that talk about areas to be cautious in, let’s lighten the mood a bit and talk about some of the safest areas of Barcelona. Remember, this is a vibrant, incredible city, and there are loads of neighborhoods where you can roam freely and feel secure. 

Here’s a list of my picks for the safest areas in Barcelona:

  • Eixample: The modernist heart of the city, it’s safe, it’s beautiful, and it’s got some killer architecture.
  • Gràcia: A laid-back, bohemian neighborhood that’s perfect for a leisurely stroll.
  • Sarrià-Sant Gervasi: Think leafy streets, upmarket boutiques, and some lovely eateries.
  • Les Corts: It’s quiet, it’s residential, and it’s one of the safest districts around.
  • Pedralbes: A bit upmarket, and away from the city center, but very, very safe.
  • Sant Martí: Aside from a few exceptions, this district is generally very secure, with a nice mix of residential and commercial areas.
  • Vila de Gràcia: Artsy and safe, it’s a local’s favorite for good reason.
  • Poble-sec: Don’t let the name fool you (it translates to ‘Dry Town’), this area’s safe and it’s a fun place to explore.

Remember, Barcelona is a city to be loved, not feared. Take these safety tips to heart, use your common sense, and you’re all set for an unforgettable trip.

Is Las Ramblas safe at night?

Las Ramblas is generally safe at night. But like any busy tourist area, it’s got its risks, especially with respect to pickpocketing and other petty crime, which is definitely an issue around here. Stay aware of your surroundings, though, and you should be fine.

By day, Las Ramblas is a bustling thoroughfare with street performers, markets, and all sorts of activity. At night, it remains lively, especially around the restaurants and bars. 

However, day or night, it can also attract pickpockets and scammers due to the crowds. So, while you can definitely enjoy a night out here, just remember to be aware of your surroundings, especially if it’s crowded. 

Keep your belongings close and don’t entertain anyone who seems a bit too eager to interact. And above all, trust your instincts.

Is the Gothic Quarter safe at night?

The Gothic Quarter is generally safe at night, but it does have its dark and secluded corners that are better avoided after sunset. It’s best to remain aware of your surroundings and stick to well-lit, busier streets to avoid some dodgy corners.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Gothic Quarter is a mesmerizing place, with narrow, winding streets that’ll make you feel like you’re stepping back in time. 

But at night, these same alleys can feel a little eerie. They’re often poorly lit and can be quite desolate, especially the farther you go from the main thoroughfares. 

That’s why it’s best to stick to the busier areas if you’re exploring after dark. Enjoy the nighttime buzz of the quarter, but stay on the safe side, avoid isolated areas, and don’t forget to keep an eye on your stuff.

Is the area around the Sagrada Familia safe?

Yes, the area around the Sagrada Familia is one of the safer parts of Barcelona. However, due to its popularity, it can get crowded, and where there are crowds, there’s the occasional pickpocket. That’s why you should remain aware in this area, but not overly concerned.

Basically, here’s what you need to know. The Sagrada Familia is located in the Eixample district, a well-off part of Barcelona that’s pretty darn safe. 

It’s full of beautiful modernist buildings, wide avenues, and, of course, the masterpiece that is the Sagrada Familia. 

And like anywhere with masses of tourists, some petty crime does happen here. But honestly, don’t let that discourage you. 

As long as you keep your belongings secure and maintain a level of awareness about your surroundings, you’ll be able to fully enjoy this iconic part of Barcelona with peace of mind. And it’s well worth a visit!

Are there areas to avoid in Barcelona?

While there aren’t necessarily “no-go” zones, there are areas where you should be a bit more cautious, especially at night. For instance, neighborhoods like El Raval and Besòs, while culturally rich and fascinating, do have higher instances of petty crime, with areas that are best avoided after sunset. 

Similarly, some areas, like the more secluded parts of the Gothic Quarter or Parc de la Ciutadella, can feel a little sketchy after dark. 

But remember, even in these areas, there’s a lot to see and enjoy. The key is to stay alert, be aware of your surroundings, and stick to well-lit, busy areas, especially when it’s late.

What should I be careful of in Barcelona?

When it comes to what you should be careful of in Barcelona, it’s the usual stuff you’d be wary of in any large city: pickpockets, bag snatchers, and occasional scam artists. They’re more likely to target tourists, particularly in crowded places like La Rambla or metro stations.

So here’s my advice: Keep your belongings secure and within sight, particularly in busy public places. If someone’s trying to distract you, or if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

But let’s not get all gloomy. Barcelona is generally a safe city with a lot to offer. After all, the vast majority of tourists have no issues at all when visiting here.

In the end, like basically anywhere in the world, a little bit of caution and street-smarts can go a long way to ensure your visit is a smooth and enjoyable one.

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Anna is the founder of Spain Inspired, where she shares insider tips and hidden gems to inspire thousands of visitors each month to take the road less traveled and explore Spain like a local. Having lived in Spain for some time now, Anna's made it her mission to help fellow travelers experience the very best of this stunning country - with some great wine and tapas along the way, ideally!

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dark tourism barcelona

17 Must-Visit Dark Tourism Destinations Around the World

Dark Tourism Destinations: Where Will You Go Next?

Dark Tourism destinations were once the remit of a select group of travellers. However, after the launch of popular Netflix show Dark Tourist, these attractions have hit the mainstream. 

If you’re interested in the morbid and the macabre, look no further. After making several visits to dark history sites myself, I’ve teamed up with other travellers to bring you this list of dark tourism destinations all around the world. 

Read more: (opens in new tab)

  • What is Dark Tourism?
  • Are Bolivia’s Mine Tours Ethical?
  • Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Photographic Guide

17 Must-Visit Dark Tourism Destinations

1. chernobyl exclusion zone – kyiv, ukraine.

The abandoned amusement park in Pripyat is one of dark tourism’s crowning images. The haunting stills of the fairground that never heard the laughs of children hang in modern consciousness, a symbol of tragic loss and a warning of the mistakes men can make. 

Chernobyl - abandoned bumper cars

In 1986, the nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power plant exploded, causing the worst nuclear accident in the world’s history. The effects were huge; people were forced to evacuate their homes and the surrounding areas became a hotbed of radiation. It was predicted that never again in our lifetime, would Chernobyl be inhabited by anything living. 

Surprisingly, the Chernobyl exclusion zone has recovered quicker than was ever predicted. Although there are still risks with spending long periods in the exclusion zone, wild animals have returned and are thriving. Despite its recovery, Chernobyl acts as a very sobering reminder of the damage humanity can do without intention.

2. Sucre Cemetery – Sucre, Bolivia

Sucre Cemetery is an unlikely attraction in Bolivia’s capital. Regularly appearing on tourist maps, it is a peaceful place which attracts visitors who come to see how the Bolivians handle death and all that comes after. 

Sucre Cemetery graves in block

Also frequently visited by locals, this cemetery is a surprisingly popular spot for catching up with friends, studying and paying homage to the dearly departed. 

Unlike other cemeteries I’d visited, these graves were arranged in a block system above ground. The vast majority of these were carefully maintained and were regularly stocked with gifts for departed loved ones. Small bottles of spirits were a common appearance, alongside slices of cake!

In Bolivia, death is accepted as an inevitability of life. While graveyards ultimately provide a space for burial, they hold a far more important symbolic role in Bolivian culture. Although death is traditionally seen as a dividing force, Sucre Cemetery demonstrates that death can continue to unite us all, long after somebody is gone. 

3. The Poison Garden – Alnwick, England

Home to around 100 toxic and narcotic plants, the Poison Garden is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Alnwick . This small but deadly garden is home to some of the world’s most dangerous plants and visitors are only allowed to enter on a guided tour. 

The Poison Garden

Deadly nightshade, cannabis and coca (the plant from which cocaine is derived) are a few examples of the plants housed in the Poison Garden. Visitors are prohibited from touching any of the greenery and there have even been cases of people passing out after smelling the plants!

The tour guides at the Poison Garden are great at explaining the real-life application of the plants using case studies such as Harold Shipman (Doctor Death) and Graham Young (The Teacup Poisoner). The garden also runs tours for local school children, educating them about drug use. 

4. Paneriai Massacre Site – Vilnius, Lithuania

Paneriai is one of Vilnius’ many neighbourhoods. However, it will be forever remembered as the Ponary massacre site. The Einsatzgruppen (Nazi death squads) rounded up groups of Jews from the Vilna Ghetto, took them to Paneriai, executed them and forced other Jewish prisoners to dig mass graves and bury them.

Paneriai Massacre Site - Vilnius, Lithuania

There are six burial sites within the complex, each the site of multiple mass executions. Because so many sets of bodies are stacked on each other, it is impossible to know the exact number of deaths. It is estimated to be around 100,000.

Those brought to Paneriai were burned to death in an attempt to destroy evidence. They were then shovelled into the pits, which today are marked by memorials. Like many of the massacre sites in the Baltics, Paneriai is a forested area. This makes walking around a surreal experience as it is quiet, peaceful and beautiful, a stark contrast to the memorials reminding you that thousands of people were slaughtered there.

Contributed by Cultura Obscura . Follow them on Facebook !

5. St. Nicholas’ Church – Hamburg, Germany

In July 1943, Hamburg was the target of an allied aerial World War Two bombing. The tall spire of St. Nicholas’ Church was used as an orientation marker and the building was almost completely destroyed. All that remained were some external walls, the crypt and most of the tower.

St. Nicholas' Church, Hamburg

Today, St. Nicholas’ Church stands as a memorial to the victims of WWII. The memorial exhibits in the crypt provide many details of the events leading up to Operation Gomorrah , the air war over Europe. Beautiful sculptures sit inside, illustrating the futility of war and its disastrous consequences. A 51-bell carillon has been installed in the tower and sounds every Thursday at noon.

We visited the church on a walking tour of Hamburg and the experience still haunts me. The vast majority of people in Hamburg during Operation Gomorrah would have been perfectly ordinary citizens going about their daily lives – people just like me.

Contributed by Lesley of Freedom 56 Travel . Follow her on Twitter !

6. Comuna 13 – Medellin, Colombia

Medellin was once the most dangerous city in the world. When infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar controlled the city, crime was extremely high and the locals lived in fear. The neighbourhood of Comuna 13 had direct access to the main highway, making the exportation of drugs, weapons and other illegal goods extremely easy. 

Comuna 13 slums

Drug cartels fought over control of the area and as a result, Comuna 13 was a very dangerous place. It was not uncommon to hear gunshots throughout the day and even to see dead bodies piled on the street. With that in mind, it might come as a surprise that Comuna 13 is now one of the most visited neighbourhoods in Medellin. 

Over recent years, a tremendous amount of money has been invested in Comuna 13. A cable car system was installed to link it to the city centre. The resulting increase in tourism has sparked real change for the locals and the neighbourhood has become one of the country’s leading creative hubs.

Contributed by LivingOutLau . Follow him on Instagram ! 

7. Gulag Labour Camps – Karaganda, Kazakhstan

My trip to Kazakhstan left a deep impression on me. While I had heard about the so-called gulags, I did not know that most of them were in Kazakhstan. Stalin deported whole ethnic groups to the remotest corners of the country. This is how during WWII, the Volga Germans ended up in Karaganda .

Karaganda Kazakhstan

Stalin wanted to develop the farms and coal mines in Karaganda and set up a network of labour camps to support these projects. Political prisoners and deportees provided the free labour that was necessary.

Even though not much of the labour camps remain, Karaganda is the perfect example of a dark tourist site. There is an excellent Gulag Museum in the former headquarters of the labour camp in Dolinka.

Also nearby, the Ecological Museum covers other dark parts of Soviet history. The museum has an exhibition on the nuclear tests done in Kazakhstan and the debris that falls from the sky from the space program in Baikonur.

Contributed by Ellis of Backpack Adventures. Follow her on Instagram ! 

8. The Eruption of Mount Vesuvius – Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii was a thriving coastal city in Italy that was completely destroyed in 79AD when the neighbouring Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered the city in ash. It is a prime example of what is termed disaster tourism, where tourists visit a location where an environmental disaster has occurred. 

Pompeii human casts

What makes the eruption of Mount Vesuvius more tragic was that the majority of people who died were slaves, who either had no means of escaping or were trapped. When archaeologists began excavating the site, they found several bodies. The ash preserved these bodies which allowed historians to create the human casts we see on site today. 

Seeing these casts in crouching positions while covering their faces, gave me shivers. To get a greater understanding of the site and everything inside of it, I highly suggest finding a good tour guide. This photographic travel guide to Pompeii gives lots more tips for planning a visit. 

Contributed by Natasha of And Then I Met Yoko. Follow Natasha on Instagram !

9. Mary King’s Close – Edinburgh, United Kingdom  

Below the Royal Mile in Edinburgh hides an underground street paved with dark history. Mary King’s Close was alive with residents when the bubonic plague seized the country in 1645. The grievous epidemic turned the once-thriving close into a dreadful place, where its inhabitants suffered a slow and torturous death.

Mary Kings Close

Mary King’s Close was sealed off and used as a foundation for the Royal Exchange in the late 1700s. Years passed and its terrible secrets were left trapped within its dark walls. In the 1990s, the close was rediscovered and opened to the public, allowing people to explore the subterranean streets that once festered with disease. 

The mental image of the street once bustling with life left a lump in my throat – the locals had no idea how many would lose their lives to the Great Plague. Like Mary King’s Close, the entire city of Edinburgh is filled with dark and spooky places so be sure to check out Scotland’s capital if you’re a fan of the macabre.

Contributed by Wandering Crystal. Follow her on Instagram !

10. The Killing Fields and S-21 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

During the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, execution, starvation and disease were allowed to flourish, killing an estimated three million people. Led by Pol Pot, the regime attempted to enforce brutal and inhumane policies to push Cambodia into being a classless society.

Killing Fields mass grave, Cambodia

Phnom Penh and the surrounding area are home to S-21, a political prison used by the regime, and Choeung Ek, the largest of the Killing Fields. Over 12,000 prisoners were held at S-21 during the regime and with only seven known survivors, it’s a place known for unthinkable torture and suffering. The S-21 site now houses the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where you can learn more about the Cambodian massacre. 

Much like S-21, a tour of the Cambodian Killing Fields can be hard to digest. There is a memorial stupa filled with the skulls of victims and you can still see bone fragments and strips of clothing along the paths. It’s a horrifying place but important to visit to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.

Contributed by Ben at Horizon Unknown . Follow him on Facebook !

11. Abandoned Ghost Palace – Bali, Indonesia

Located near the village of Bedugul lies an abandoned hotel. Legend has it that in the early 1990s, the hotel began to be constructed by Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of the former Indonesian President. Tommy was later convicted of ordering the assassination of a judge who previously found him guilty of corruption and he subsequently went to prison. The hotel was never completed.

Bali abandoned hotel

Another theory is that the hotel is haunted by the landlocked souls of labourers who were worked to death during its construction. The hotel, originally named Hotel Pondok Indah Bedugul, isn’t open for visitors but if you hand the guard 10,000 IDR, he’ll let you in to explore. I recommend seeing it as soon as possible because rumours indicate that visitors will no longer be permitted entrance (even with a bribe) because of how dangerous it is.

Contributed by Nat Wanderlust.

12. Auschwitz-Birkenau – Oświęcim, Poland

The “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” was the official code name for the murder of Jews during World War II. At least 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis and a shocking 1.1 million people were murdered by the SS, mainly in gas chambers.

Auschwitz Birkenau in snow

Auschwitz-Birkenau is located on two different sites. Auschwitz I comprises brick buildings and the Death Block where people were gassed. Auschwitz II, known as Birkenau, was opened as they could not cope with the scale of death at Auschwitz I. 

On arrival, you’ll see the famous train tracks where people were transported in and either sent to the gas chambers or given labour duty. Once the latter were emaciated, they were gassed and replaced with new prisoners.

I cried in horror seeing the piles of shoes, suitcases and false legs that once belonged to people. Human hair was used to make felt for socks given to the forces in submarines – 293 sacks of hair were found on liberation. Words cannot describe the emotions you’ll have upon seeing this symbol of this horrific dark chapter in our history.

Contributed by Vanessa from Wanders Miles, follow her on Instagram !

13. Day of the Dead – Oaxaca, Mexico  

Day of Dead - bride and groom

The Mexican Day of the Dead festival is a darkly uplifting event that occurs each year between October 31st and November 2nd. On these days, family and friends celebrate the lives of loved ones passed. It is widely believed that for three days each year, the veil between this world and the next is especially thin. 

During the Day of the Dead festival, the spirits of the departed return to provide counsel to their living family members and friends. Much of the reunion is celebrated within the cemetery, where graves are cleaned and decorated for the occasion. On certain dates, families spend the whole night in the cemetery eating sugar skull sweets, drinking alcohol and playing music. 

UNESCO recognises ‘Dia de Los Muertos’ as being ‘ Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity ’. Experiencing the Day of the Dead is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; especially in Oaxaca where visiting graves is commonplace. Prepare for everything you have ever thought about death to be challenged.

Contributed by Castaway With Crystal. Follow her on Instagram! 

14. Red Terror Martyrs’ Museum – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The military junta who took power after Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie was ousted were known as the Derg. After prolonged internal wranglings, Mengistu, a soldier from the ranks, emerged as their leader and the dictator of Ethiopia.

dark tourism barcelona

Within a couple of years, the Derg had created terror among ordinary Ethiopians, tens of thousands of whom had been imprisoned without trial and tortured, or worse, executed. The term ‘Red Terror’ comes from Mengistu’s famous speech when he smashed a bottle of blood to illustrate the killings to come. His regime is estimated to be responsible for the deaths of between 1.2 and 2 million Ethiopians.

Today, the horrors of Mengistu’s regime are remembered in the Red Terror Martyrs’ Museum in Addis Ababa . Opened in 2010, this small museum teaches about the atrocities of the regime. Photos of victims cover the walls alongside displays of human remains recovered from mass graves. We came away from the Martyrs’ Museum appalled by man’s inhumanity to man.

Contributed by Andrea of Happy Days Travel Blog. Follow her on Facebook ! 

15. Constitution Hill – Johannesburg, South Africa

Constitution Hill is now a living museum which tells the story of South Africa’s journey to democracy. It’s hard to comprehend that people like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi served time here in the 1960s and that the prison was still operational until 1982.

Constitution Hill

There are several sites that you can visit at Constitution Hill. The Old Fort is where white male prisoners were housed. Although the cells were overcrowded and unhygienic, the rooms are larger than those of the black prisoners. They were held in Block number 4. There was very little daylight and as I stepped inside, I was terrified that someone would shut the cell door behind me.

There’s also the Awaiting Trial Block. The block was demolished and the bricks were used to build South Africa’s new Constitutional Court. Thankfully this court serves to uphold the rights of all South Africans, regardless of colour, but the bricks are a poignant reminder of its troubled past.

Contributed by Fiona of Passport and Piano . Follow her on Facebook !

16. Shanghai Tunnels – Portland, USA

In a city known for the slogan ‘ Keep Portland Weird ,’ the Shanghai Tunnels fit right in. It’s believed that from 1850 until 1941, men in Portland, Oregon, were regularly kidnapped and sold to ship captains as labourers. During this period, there was a shortage of labour available for the city’s booming shipping industry and this created a black market. 

Shanghai tunnels

To capture these men, underground tunnels originally built to move inventory between businesses were repurposed for illicit use. Trapdoors were even installed in some of the local bars so that drunk men would drop into the tunnel below.

Today, tours of these tunnels are offered daily by a non-profit organisation, Shanghai Tunnels/Portland Underground. All tour participants are advised to be prepared for spending an hour in a confined space. While the nature of the tour is sad and tragic, it’s an important part of Portland’s history.

Contributed by Wendy of Empty Nesters Hit the Road. Follow her on Facebook !

17. Brno Ossuary – Brno, Czech Republic

Of the attractions in Brno , several of them could be classed as dark tourism attractions. The one that moved me the most, though, was the ossuary underneath the St. James Church.

Brno Ossuary

Surrounding this church, which is known as the ‘Kostnice u sv. Jakuba’ in Czech, was one of the main churchyard cemeteries in Brno. Eventually, as the city grew, there was no room left for new burials so a grave rotation system was adopted. 

When a burial took place, the body was left in the grave for between 10 to 12 years. After that, the bones were taken out to make room for the next burial. The displaced remains were then relocated to the ossuary, where bones from thousands of graves were piled up.

It’s estimated that Brno Ossuary holds the bones of more than 50,000 people, which makes it the second-largest ossuary in Europe; only second to the Paris catacombs. The mortal remains laid to rest here include victims of the Swedish siege of Brno and the Thirty Years’ War, as well as many victims of plague and cholera epidemics.

Contributed by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan. Follow her on Instagram ! 

Do you have any dark tourism examples to share? Let us know in the comments!

9 thoughts on “17 Must-Visit Dark Tourism Destinations Around the World”

Comuna 13 is spellt with only 1 -m-.

I wonder why choose the cemetery in Sucre, when so many others are more characteristic (eg. Père Lachaise in Paris) or even ‘livelier’ (eg. in Santiago de Chile).

Interesting & important topic though. I’m in the process of rewriting an article about the mines of Potosi. That is one dark tourism destination I strongly oppose, for one simple reason; people are still dying in there.

Thanks for the heads up Anthony! 🙂

I chose the cemetery in Sucre because it was a little bit off the beaten track – I like visiting the lesser known places as well as the more famous ones.

I can understand your point about the mines of Potosí and can see why you disagree with it. I must say though, from my own personal experience, I found my visit to be hugely enlightening. I was initially very torn about the idea of visiting an active mine but in the end, we chose a company run by an ex-miner who took us into the mine personally. In my opinion, our visit never felt voyeuristic at all and the miners seemed very grateful for the tourists visiting. A percentage of the tour cost went directly into the funding the healthcare of the miners when needed and also towards maintenance of the mine.

Such a great and informative post, Sheree! There were so many sites here that I was not even aware of – that is why sharing posts about dark tourist sites is so important! It really helps educate the world and helps us honour the past and the lives that were lost at some of these sites.

Like you, I am a huge fan of cemeteries. It is so wonderful that some countries treat death as a natural normal part of life (unlike some of our countries!). It really helps people remember happy memories of their loved ones they recently lost.

Thanks so much for being a part of it Crystal! I also learnt about loads of new dark tourism sites – it has definitely been an eduction as there was plenty of these I had never even heard of. It is definitely important to make sure the stories behind these places get told.

Thank you for including us in this fantastic collab!

I love how varied these sites are, and that you’ve included a lot of lesser know dark tourism destinations mixed in with some of the big ones. Even as professional dark tourists (that’s a thing, right?), we hadn’t heard of all of these places. The Shanghai Tunnels were completely new to me, but definitely want to head to Portland now.

I’m also a little embarrassed to admit that despite being to Hamburg MANY times, I was not aware of the St. Nicholas’ Church. I blame that on the fact that I was visiting a friend and not really touristing…

Awesome post everyone! I think it is really important for people to visit at least one of these in their lifetime. I think we are jaded from the major events that happened to our world and it’s people when we are told the stories. To see the places in real life, it puts life into perspective and how crazy life can be if we don’t fight for what is right.

I couldn’t agree more. Even though visiting these kinds of places is hard, I still think it is really important to help us realise the human effect of what we see on the television. As you said, it is only once you truly understand the devastation that you realise the importance of fighting for the right things.

Great article . I’ve been to a lot of places around the world and haven’t even heard of some of these .

Thanks Jennifer! I’ve certainly added a lot of places to my future visit list!

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Amateur Traveler

10 Dark Tourism Destinations in Europe

Netflix’s latest hit has seriously put ‘dark tourism’ on the map with search results in the UK increasing by a whopping 1000 percent since it launched! 

What is Dark Tourism?

Dark tourism is defined as “tourism directed to places that are identified with death and suffering”. Dark tourism places run from the macabre like the site a shipwreck to the somber like a concentration camp to the truly weird like a festival of near-death experiences.

If you’d prefer to explore for yourself rather than just ‘Netflix and Chill’ We Are Promotional has created the ultimate list of dark tourism sites and macabre attractions. So forget your beach towel and pack the tissues as we take you on the REAL tour of Europe – the one that’s not in the guidebooks!

If you ate traveling to Europe and are looking for more than just dark tourism sites in London then see the 10 sites listed below:

Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia Shipwreck, Italy

Type: Shipwreck Location: Isola del Giglio, Italy Closest Airport: Milan

“It’s just like Titanic!” cried a survivor of the Costa Concordia tragedy not long after it occurred.

Yes and no. Both were tragedies and both were cruise ships, but the Titanic sinking in 1912 killed 1,517 people, and then was relatively forgotten about by the public. The only reason everyone knows about it today is because of the famous movie starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

The Costa Concordia, on the other hand, took fewer lives and has not been forgotten about. After the tragedy, immediately, memorials and exhibitions were put up and many locals were pleased by the newfound industry in the town – tourism.

Costa Concordia was a cruise ship that had 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew members on board when it crashed on 13th January 2012. The ship hit an underwater rock off the waters off the coast of Tuscany near Isola del Giglio.

The ship was only so close to the coast because of a foolish attempt by, Francesco Schettino, the captain, to perform a ‘sail by salute’ – the practice of sailing close by to an island for the interest of passengers and crew.

The impact caused two long strips of steel from the ship’s hull to be shredded resulting in water entering the hull. The ship then capsized and the disaster claimed the lives of 32 passengers.

Today you can visit the rusted and battered remains of the cruise ship by boat. Locals run hour-long tours on zodiacs that leave from Genoas old harbor and take you within 200 yards of the morbid spectacle.

Hessen, Germany

Image – Photography is not allowed on the site so this is an old US army image .

Babenhausen Barracks, Germany

Type: WW2 Barracks Location: Hessen, Germany Closest Airport: Frankfurt (FRA)

You can’t mention morbid locations in Europe without bringing up something in relation to its darkest time in modern history – WW2.

Dark tourism has lead to a rise in the number of visitors to various WW2 sites across Europe with Auschwitz seeing over 2 million visitors in 2016 but if you’re looking for something a little less crowded and a little more out there check out the Babenhausen Barracks in Germany.

The barracks used to house soldiers but fell into disrepair after WW2, but a section of them has now been turned into a museum. The reason they make the list of dark tourism hotspots in Europe is that there are frequent reports of paranormal activity at the barracks.

Nothing will raise the hairs on your arms quite like a good ghost story and Babenhausen Barracks has a great one. When you get there you may get a fright as you hear German voices coming from the basement shouting commands to their officers.

Lights in the building have been known to turn off and on by themselves so be sure you bring a flashlight with you.

German soldiers have been seen strolling the halls in their military uniforms and soldiers who have visited the site even report picking up a telephone in the barracks and hearing a woman’s voice “speaking backward” – no one is able to make out what she is saying.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France

Oradour-sur-Glane, France

Type: Post-war Ghost-town/Memorial Museum Location: Oradour-sur-Glane, France Closest Airport: Limoges

A visit to Oradour-sur-Glane in France is a truly moving experience but you could expect nothing less from a village that was entirely wiped out by the Nazi SS forces in June of 1944.

10 Dark Tourism Destinations in Europe #darktourism #travel #europe #germany #italy #France #NorthernIreland #Lithuania #Ukraine #Spain

The majority of Europe had hope – there was an end in sight for the war. But just as these celebratory events were happening, a tragedy occurred in the small French village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

Men, women, and children in the village were rounded up by the Waffen SS and massacred. 642 people were killed – some asphyxiated, some machine-gunned, and some burnt alive.

The women and children were rounded up and held in the local church which the SS locked and set on fire. Today if you enter the church you can still see a flattened pushchair, left in its place where it had been found before the altar.

Stepping into the village is like stepping through time. All the remains have been left where they were found as a reminder of the tragedy that happened here and as a warning of the atrocities that happen in war.

The events are still shrouded in mystery. No one knows why this small town was chosen to experience this ultimate horror – theories of Russian gold and revenge killings still remain controversial and we may never know why this poor settlement was chosen.

“Everyone should come here once in their life. Deeply moving, well preserved, and respectful tribute to a truly terrible action and time.”

( Tripadvisor , 2018)

Dumbarton, Scotland

Overtoun Suicide Bridge

Type: Celtic mythological site Location: Dumbarton, Scotland Closest Airport: Glasgow

Near the quiet and peaceful village of Milton in Scotland, there is a mysterious bridge. For reasons unknown, this bridge has been attracting suicidal dogs since the 1960s.

If you’ve ever owned a dog you probably realize why this is such a strange occurrence – you’re probably thinking ‘I didn’t even know dog suicide was a thing.’ According to most people and canine psychologist Dr. David Sands , it’s not, making the fact that an estimated 50 dogs have taken their lives here even weirder.

Witnesses have seen a number of dogs plummet to a gruesome death from the same spot on the bridge. The canines meet a tragic end landing on rocks 50 feet (15m) below, most dying on impact.

What is even stranger than and adds to the theory that these are suicides rather than freak accidents is that on occasion these dogs can be seen climbing the parapet wall before they make their jump. Some dogs are even so lucky as to survive their brush with death only to return to the bridge and attempt the second jump.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has even gone so far as to send investigators to the bridge to determine the cause of these dogs’ suicides. They were also unable to explain the cause of this bizarre behavior.

‘Animals are hyper-sensitive to the spirit world, but I didn’t feel any adverse energy.’ (Psychic Mary Armour)

Nieves, Pontevedra, Spain

The Festival of Near-Death Experiences

Type: Celebration of life/Festival Location: As Nieves, Pontevedra , Spain Closest Airport: Vigo via Madrid

There are a lot of bizarre and strange festivals in the world but none may be quite as strange as the Festival of Near-Death Experiences held in the small village of As Nieves, Spain every July.

The festival of near-death experiences – or the Fiestas de Santa Marta de Ribarteme as the locals call it – is home to all manner of weird and wonderful events and activities. Burning effigies, running with bulls, tomato fights, and wine battles are just some of the fun events a day at this festival will hold in store.

People from all over, who have had a near-death experience, will make the long journey to this remote Spanish village with their friends and family. Once they arrive they are put into coffins and play dead. Their family then carries their coffin through the local streets along with a procession of mourners.

The collection of strange processions then meets at the cemetery of the local church – The Church of Santa Marta de Ribarteme. Prayers are said to Saint Marta and everyone gives thanks for their lives and that they were saved from death by presenting a gift (usually money) to the Saints statue.

“It is a very important day for my family and other families – I remember my mother and my pledge to her and the doctor who saved my life.” (The Irish Times, 2016)

Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat, Ukraine

Type: Nuclear disaster Location: Pripyat, Ukraine Closest Airport: Kiev-Zhulhany

In the north of Ukraine, you will find the town Pripyat where the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened in 1986. A horrific disaster turned tourist attraction, Pripyat now attracts over 10,000 visitors a year .

On April 25, 1986, during a late-night safety test there was a simulated station power blackout. The safety systems were intentionally turned off for the test but due to a number of flaws in the reactor design and human error, the nuclear reactor exploded.

It was the worst nuclear power plant explosion in history realizing huge quantities of radioactive material into the earth’s atmosphere. Two people were killed during the explosion and over the coming weeks and months, the full repercussions of the explosion would be realized.

237 servicemen, firemen, and employees were diagnosed with acute radiation sickness of which 31 died within the first 3 months. In the greater population, men, women, and children developed cancer, deformities, and had symptoms of acute radiation sickness.

To this day, the full human impact of Chernobyl is unknown. The estimates differ significantly with some saying the number of people affected tops a million . After this event and the tragic consequences that are still being felt today, no one ever expected it to become a tourist attraction.

Today, the Ukrainian government allows tourists to take short and regulated visits 30 miles into the exclusion zone and into the abandoned town of Pripyat.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the town during the Chernobyl explosion, homes, schools, and even an amusement park were left behind to decay. Untouched by humans since their evacuation, stepping into this town is like stepping into a post-apocalyptic movie.

The ghost town is like a freeze-frame form the soviet-era, with communist propaganda hanging from the walls and hammer and sickles stuck to notice boards and streetlamps. As you walk through the town you will get the feeling that you are frozen in time as all the clocks have stopped at 11:55 – the moment that power was cut to the town.

“This was a highlight of four months of travel through Central Asia and Eastern Europe! Seeing the nuclear power plant and the nearby Duga Soviet radar system was really cool. Visiting Pripyat, in particular, was something completely different and will stay with me.”

read more at 10 Reasons Why Chernobyl Tours Are the Best Dark Tourism Experience

( Tripadvisor 2018)

Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania

Type: Museum Location: Vilnius, Lithuania Closest Airport: Vilnius

Until 1991, Vilnius, Lithuania was home to a full operation KGB headquarters and prison.

Nowadays it has been converted into the Museum of Genocide Victims showing exhibits to educate visitors about the repression of Lithuanian citizens under Soviet rule, including the deportations to Siberian gulags.

Both the German Gestapo and the KGB have operated within the building committing and planning numerous atrocities. For most people, the events that happened in Lithuania under the rule are unfamiliar as it is not a thing that is taught in Western Europe so there is no better place to go and learn that this useful and educational museum.

Over 75,000 Lithuanians disappeared during the Soviet rule with gulags, and others put in prison or executed. There was extensive exploitation of natural resources by the communist government and a number of Lithuanians attempted to resist the government and form a rebellion but the KGB was quick to round up, torture, and kill anyone with reported links to rebel activity.

The museum includes a basement with KGB prison cells and an execution room showing visitors some of the ghastly elements of this extremely dark site. Political prisoners, as well as local Lithuanians, were interrogated and tortured here with over 1,000 victims being killed in their execution room.

Some of the basement cells are completely preserved, not having changed a bit since they were last operational in 1991 giving the museum true authenticity.

“ This museum provides insight into KGB ways of working. Chilling. It also is an ode to the many brave Lithuanian partisans. For decades they fought for their freedom which finally came after the 1989 Singing Revolution. I learned so much.”

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Troubles Tours, Northern Ireland

Type: City Tour Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland Closest Airport: Belfast

Now known as the Emerald of Ireland, Belfast was once associated more with gruesome than green.

For years, from the sixties well into the late nineties, no one wanted to step foot in Belfast due to ‘The Troubles.’ Now, in post-Troubles Belfast, tourists flock to the streets to learn about the brutal history of the IRA.

‘The Troubles’ refers to the period of time in Belfast where nationalists and unionists were in conflict. This conflict, often described as a guerrilla war, was ended in 1998 by the Good Friday Agreement.

Today you can get a black taxi tour of the city where you will be driven to various areas of significance during the troubles. From political murals the Falls and the Shankill which show their own graphic tale of the Troubles of Northern Ireland to the peace line that was used to keep nationalists and unionists apart during these times and lead to further division among the communities.

You can also get a tour of Crumlin Road Jail and Court House. This old Victorian building played a significant role in ‘The Troubles.’ It is the place where many people involved in the war were convicted, imprisoned, and even executed. In these courthouses, the true stories of many bombing, killings, and tortures came to light, and children were even once held within its cells.

“The visit to Crumlin Road Jail gave us a real feeling of what it was like to be in prison in the 19th century. It also includes a sobering and informative look at the execution cell and all that happened there. Not for the nervous sort.”

Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii, Italy

Type: Archeological site Location: Pompeii, Italy Closest Airport: Naples

Pompeii has been famed for centuries for its volcanic eruption in 79AD that left the entire city in ruin. It is probably one of the oldest dark sites in Europe and although the term ‘dark tourism’ was coined fairly recently, people have been making the voyage to see the destroyed city for centuries.

An important site for archaeologists or anyone interested in history, the site is the largest and most well preserved Roman town. The very reason the ancient city was preserved so well is the same reason it became a dark tourism spot – the covering of ash it got the night of the disastrous eruption of Mt Vesuvius.

The site lay covered in ash but was discovered in the 18th Century and has since held a draw for those interested in the grim and gruesome. In the archaeological dig of the site, a number of both glorious and gruesome discoveries have been made from beautiful mosaics to perfectly preserved human bodies.

The bodies are the main draw for many dark tourists – seeing perfectly preserved roman citizens as they try to flee the eruption, displaying the last agonizing moments of Pompeii is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

A number of the bodies on display within the site are actually made from plaster and come from the “Alley of Skeletons.” One of the streets in Pompeii had several air pockets in it that were the outlines of human remains so archaeologists poured plaster into the voids and waited for it to harden revealing victims contorted in various positions as they try to shield themselves from volcanic lava and ash.

“This place is amazing; you can really imagine how it was to live in Ancient Rome. Incredible remains that have been preserved so well. Beautiful mosaics. Amazing cobbled streets.”

(Tripadvisor 2018)

Somme, France

The Battle of the Somme, France

Type: Battlefield Location: Somme, France Closest Airport: Paris

As soon as someone mentions The Battle of the Somme, in your mind, you immediately conjure up the bloody images of a World War 1 battlefield. At this spot, three million soldiers of about 20 nationalities fought along 45km of land.

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Today and forever the Somme will be scarred by the great battle that took place here. You can take a walking tour along the battlefield and see many of the trenches still in place as well as a walk among the cemeteries and memorials put up in the area for all those who died there.

The landscape tells the story of the battle as explosions, ruins, and shell holes mark the land. The Lochnagar Crater is the only remaining mine hole that you can visit on the Western Front and it is quite a sight at 91m in diameter and 21m deep.

You can also visit Historial de la Grande Guerre along the riverfront in the town of Peronne. It is home to an extensive ray of trilingual exhibitions which include loads of interactive media and are thought-provoking and educational.

“I learnt so much and saw how so many died there and so many classed as ‘missing’ in unmarked graves. A part of history we should not forget and never let happen again.”

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by Chris Christensen

+Chris Christensen | @chris2x | facebook

3 Responses to “10 Dark Tourism Destinations in Europe”

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Darkly amusing, sad, interesting, mesmerizing post. Thanks for some great off-the-beaten-track travel ideas! I’m in Vienna right now and just heard of an “Ugly Vienna Tour”, showing the darker side of this bright and polished city. I kind of like seeing the gritty reality so I may check it out.

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I thought people would like this one when it was pitched to me. 🙂

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Costa Concordia Shipwreck, Italy On the evening of January 13th, 2012, the cruise industry was forever changed after the modern, family cruise ship, the Costa Concordia collided with rocks and sank off the coast of Italy. The thought of a modern cruise ships, catering to families and couples on a romantic Mediterranean getaway, would be able to sink like she did, is truly unfathomable

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Tags: article , dark tourism , france , germany , italy , lithuania , northern ireland , scotland , spain , ukraine , united kingdom

Chris Christensen

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The Best Dark Tourist Attractions in California – and Where to Stay Nearby

San Joses Winchester Mystery House exudes an unmistakably spooky air

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California is nicknamed the Golden State for a reason, but the local appeal extends far beyond sun, sea and celebrities. Those in search of sights more twisted and morose can also get your fix out west. Here’s where to go if you’re craving some darkness to offset the bright lights – as well as the best places to stay just around the corner.

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Cemetery, Museum

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 24, 2017: Museum of Death. Established in 1995 by J. D. Healy and Catherine Shultz, the museum displays a wide variety of art a. Image shot 11/2017. Exact date unknown.

The Hollywood Roosevelt

Boutique Hotel, Hotel, Luxury

Stylish room with four-poster bed, velvet sofa, large sliding barn door and yellow and grey walls at the Hollywood Roosevelt

Allegedly the most haunted spot in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Roosevelt juxtaposes lavish, 1920s-inspired decor with horror stories of Marilyn Monroe’s specter lurking in the hallways. Ghostly trumpet music has also been heard, supposedly from the spirit of Montgomery Clift, who practiced in suite 928. Still, it’s not all ghastly. The Writer’s Room bar is a historical yet elegant place to unwind: there’s a vintage wine cart, velvet furniture and a decades-old typewriter. If you’re craving a bite, head to 25 Degrees, dubbed a ‘glam twist on the traditional American burger joint.’

Magic Castle Hotel

Boutique Hotel

Magic Castle Hotel_17c011d0

This hotel is just one block away from Hollywood Boulevard, making it an ideal base not only if you want to stop by the Museum of Death, but also the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Chinese Theater and Hollywood & Highland shopping center. The suites here come with either one or two bedrooms, and can accommodate up to six people; each of which gets a full kitchen and dining area. Complimentary snacks are available 24-hours, while there’s also a complimentary breakfast. You even get access to the Magic Castle: a highly exclusive, magic-themed club that dubs itself ‘the most unusual private club in the world.’

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The Winchester Mystery House

Building, Museum

Winchester Mystery House,San Jose,California,USA

Aloft San Jose Cupertino

Aloft San Jose Cupertino_66ab52d1

This hotel is only a five-minute drive from the Winchester Mystery House, yet it feels like a different world. Wellness is a top priority at this Marriott-chain stay; rooms come with Bliss Spa amenities and there’s a 24-hour gym. Coffee, breakfast and snacks can be had at the Re:Fuel station, prepping you for a day where you’ll be spoiled for choice of activities thanks to a great location. Not only does the mansion loom nearby; you’re just a short drive from local wineries and the Great America amusement park.

Hotel Los Gatos

Luxury, Villa

Hotel Los Gatos_c3d0faa3

This four-star hotel resides on the southern outskirts of San Jose, meaning you’re well-located for central attractions like the Winchester Mystery House (it’s just a 14-minute drive away) as well as more rural idylls. These include the Sierra Azul Preserve – great for hiking and views – and the historical community of Chemeketa Park. After a long day exploring, relax in this classy spot, designed to be reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa. Pop by the rejuvenating spa for a massage, then make a reservation at Dio Deka, the Hellenic restaurant found on-site.

Whaley House

Whaley House Museum, Old Town, San Diego, California, USA

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

dark tourism barcelona

Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

Spa Hotel, Luxury

Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa_1f11baa0

After close encounters with ghosts and ghouls have got you worked up into a ball of nerves, there’s no better way to unwind than with a stay at a spa hotel. This quaint, 10-acre (4ha) resort offers full-body massages and facial treatments, after which you can doze off in spacious, rancho-inspired rooms. The hotel sits between the calm seaside villages of La Jolla and Del Mar and is just a stone’s throw from the Torrey Pines Golf Course, so practically everything is designed to give you some zero-stress relaxation.

Natural Feature


Queen Anne Hotel

Queen Anne Hotel_319404c7

As perfect for dark tourists as Alcatraz itself is this mansion-turned-hotel. It first opened as a girls’ boarding school in the late 19th century and is so allegedly haunted that it once appeared on the television series Haunted Hotels . The most famous of the spooky residents is one-time headmistress Mary Lake, whose spirit may still reside in room 410: her former office. If you’re not the ghost-hunting type, you’ll still be drawn in by the vibrant exterior – a throwback to the Victorian era – and ultra-traditional rooms.

Mansion on Sutter

Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel, Luxury

Exterior view of the Victorian Mansion on Sutter at dusk

Tours of Alcatraz depart from the legendary Pier 33, from which this luxury hotel is only a 12-minute drive away – or a 50-minute walk, if you want to soak up some sun and seaside vistas along the way. You’ll feel like anything but a jailbird in this pristine, Victorian-inspired boutique, which contrasts high-society art with hyper-modern gym facilities. Stay in the aptly named Gold Room for a true taste of luxury.

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