Dark Tourists

A Traveler's Guide to Dark Tourism

Exploring the world's dark & unusual travel destinations.

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Spac Prison: Albania’s Dark Tourism Destination Reveals a Haunting History

Nestled within the picturesque mountains of Albania, SPAÇ Prison stands as a chilling reminder of the country’s tumultuous past. Once a site of political imprisonment and human suffering, this haunting location has become a dark tourism destination, attracting visitors prepared … Read More

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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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Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial & Museum (Yerevan)

For dark tourists in Yerevan, a trip to Tsitsernakaberd is a must. The Memorial and Armenian Genocide Museum provide a powerful insight into the country and its culture and of the darkest period in the nations’ relatively recent history. The … Read More

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

Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands has a dark and significant history. During the many years of British rule, prisoners were forced into exile in this remote location. Known as the Kala Pani (Black Water in Hindi), Indian freedom fighters … Read More

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

“Masada shall not fall again.” The oath that soldiers take when inducted into the Israeli Defence Forces ends with this line. It is connected to a siege that took place almost 2000 years ago. The 1st-century fortress at Masada was … Read More

tartu kgb cells

KGB Cells Museum – Tartu, Estonia

In the center of the Estonian city of Tartu stands an unassuming building that once held a dark secret. During the first Soviet occupation of the country between 1940 and 1954, the basement was home to the KGB. Operating covertly … Read More

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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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Vorkuta – Russia’s Dying City Above the Arctic Circle

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

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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

In Ekker nuclear test site

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

Kadykchan ghost town

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

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Inside Saint Elmo, Colorado’s Best Preserved Ghost Town

St. Elmo, is currently the best-preserved ghost town in Colorado. This former gold mining camp in Chaffee County lies in the heart of the Sawatch Range. The entire district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, … Read More

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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

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

Villa Epecuén was once a bustling tourist town along the shore of Lago Epecuen. The salt lake, some 600 kilometers away from Buenos Aires was a popular holiday spot for many decades in the 20th century. People would flock from … Read More

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Visiting Nauru – An Island From Boom To Bust

Nauru has had a troubled history, passed from one empire to the next. As one of the three big “phosphate rocks” of the Pacific, (Banaba in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia being the other two), the island was a … Read More

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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

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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

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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

During the Cold War, the Soviets couldn’t get enough of blowing up nuclear weapons in northeastern Kazakhstan. The tests were not always with the intent to one day nuke the USA, however. Conducted by the military under the banner of … Read More

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Beaches? Cruises? ‘Dark’ Tourists Prefer the Gloomy and Macabre

Travelers who use their off time to visit places like the Chernobyl nuclear plant or current conflict zones say they no longer want a sanitized version of a troubled world.

A dark forest with broken branches over moss on its floor and bare, unhealthy-looking trees in the foreground. Trees in the background have more leaves.

By Maria Cramer

North Korea. East Timor. Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave that for decades has been a tinderbox for ethnic conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.

They’re not your typical top tourist destinations.

But don’t tell that to Erik Faarlund, the editor of a photography website from Norway, who has visited all three. His next “dream” trip is to tour San Fernando in the Philippines around Easter , when people volunteer to be nailed to a cross to commemorate the suffering of Jesus Christ, a practice discouraged by the Catholic Church.

Mr. Faarlund, whose wife prefers sunning on Mediterranean beaches, said he often travels alone.

“She wonders why on earth I want to go to these places, and I wonder why on earth she goes to the places she goes to,” he said.

Mr. Faarlund, 52, has visited places that fall under a category of travel known as dark tourism , an all-encompassing term that boils down to visiting places associated with death, tragedy and the macabre.

As travel opens up, most people are using their vacation time for the typical goals: to escape reality, relax and recharge. Not so dark tourists, who use their vacation time to plunge deeper into the bleak, even violent corners of the world.

They say going to abandoned nuclear plants or countries where genocides took place is a way to understand the harsh realities of current political turmoil, climate calamities, war and the growing threat of authoritarianism.

“When the whole world is on fire and flooded and no one can afford their energy bills, lying on a beach at a five-star resort feels embarrassing,” said Jodie Joyce, who handles contracts for a genome sequencing company in England and has visited Chernobyl and North Korea .

Mr. Faarlund, who does not see his travels as dark tourism, said he wants to visit places “that function totally differently from the way things are run at home.”

Whatever their motivations, Mr. Faarlund and Ms. Joyce are hardly alone.

Eighty-two percent of American travelers said they have visited at least one dark tourism destination in their lifetime, according to a study published in September by Passport-photo.online, which surveyed more than 900 people. More than half of those surveyed said they preferred visiting “active” or former war zones. About 30 percent said that once the war in Ukraine ends, they wanted to visit the Azovstal steel plant, where Ukrainian soldiers resisted Russian forces for months .

The growing popularity of dark tourism suggests more and more people are resisting vacations that promise escapism, choosing instead to witness firsthand the sites of suffering they have only read about, said Gareth Johnson, a founder of Young Pioneer Tours , which organized trips for Ms. Joyce and Mr. Faarlund.

Tourists, he said, are tired of “getting a sanitized version of the world.”

A pastime that goes back to Gladiator Days

The term “dark tourism” was coined in 1996, by two academics from Scotland, J. John Lennon and Malcolm Foley, who wrote “Dark Tourism: The Attraction to Death and Disaster.”

But people have used their leisure time to witness horror for hundreds of years, said Craig Wight, associate professor of tourism management at Edinburgh Napier University.

“It goes back to the gladiator battles” of ancient Rome, he said. “People coming to watch public hangings. You had tourists sitting comfortably in carriages watching the Battle of Waterloo.”

Professor Wight said the modern dark tourist usually goes to a site defined by tragedy to make a connection to the place, a feeling that is difficult to achieve by just reading about it.

By that definition, anyone can be a dark tourist. A tourist who takes a weekend trip to New York City may visit Ground Zero. Visitors to Boston may drive north to Salem to learn more about the persecution of people accused of witchcraft in the 17th century. Travelers to Germany or Poland might visit a concentration camp. They might have any number of motivations, from honoring victims of genocide to getting a better understanding of history. But in general, a dark tourist is someone who makes a habit of seeking out places that are either tragic, morbid or even dangerous, whether the destinations are local or as far away as Chernobyl.

In recent years, as tour operators have sprung up worldwide promising deep dives into places known for recent tragedy, media attention has followed and so have questions about the intentions of visitors, said Dorina-Maria Buda, a professor of tourism studies at Nottingham Trent University .

Stories of people gawking at neighborhoods in New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina or posing for selfies at Dachau led to disgust and outrage .

Were people driven to visit these sites out of a “sense of voyeurism or is it a sense of sharing in the pain and showing support?” Professor Buda said.

Most dark tourists are not voyeurs who pose for photos at Auschwitz, said Sian Staudinger, who runs the Austria-based Dark Tourist Trips , which organizes itineraries in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe and instructs travelers to follow rules like “NO SELFIES!”

“Dark tourists in general ask meaningful questions,” Ms. Staudinger said. “They don’t talk too loud. They don’t laugh. They’re not taking photos at a concentration camp.”

‘Ethically murky territory’

David Farrier , a journalist from New Zealand, spent a year documenting travels to places like Aokigahara , the so-called suicide forest in Japan, the luxury prison Pablo Escobar built for himself in Colombia and McKamey Manor in Tennessee, a notorious haunted house tour where people sign up to be buried alive, submerged in cold water until they feel like they will drown and beaten.

The journey was turned into a show, “Dark Tourist,” that streamed on Netflix in 2018 and was derided by some critics as ghoulish and “sordid.”

Mr. Farrier, 39, said he often questioned the moral implications of his trips.

“It’s very ethically murky territory,” Mr. Farrier said.

But it felt worthwhile to “roll the cameras” on places and rituals that most people want to know about but will never experience, he said.

Visiting places where terrible events unfolded was humbling and helped him confront his fear of death.

He said he felt privileged to have visited most of the places he saw, except McKamey Manor.

“That was deranged,” Mr. Farrier said.

Professor Buda said dark tourists she has interviewed have described feelings of shock and fear at seeing armed soldiers on streets of countries where there is ongoing conflict or that are run by dictatorships.

“When you’re part of a society that is by and large stable and you’ve gotten into an established routine, travel to these places leads you to sort of feel alive,” she said.

But that travel can present real danger.

In 2015, Otto Warmbier , a 21-year-old student from Ohio who traveled with Young Pioneer Tours, was arrested in North Korea after he was accused of stealing a poster off a hotel wall. He was detained for 17 months and was comatose when he was released. He died in 2017, six days after he was brought back to the United States.

The North Korean government said Mr. Warmbier died of botulism but his family said his brain was damaged after he was tortured.

Americans can no longer travel to North Korea unless their passports are validated by the State Department.

A chance to reflect

Even ghost tours — the lighter side of dark tourism — can present dilemmas for tour operators, said Andrea Janes, the owner and founder of Boroughs of the Dead: Macabre New York City Walking Tours.

In 2021, she and her staff questioned whether to restart tours so soon after the pandemic in a city where refrigerated trucks serving as makeshift morgues sat in a marine terminal for months.

They reopened and were surprised when tours booked up fast. People were particularly eager to hear the ghost stories of Roosevelt Island, the site of a shuttered 19th-century hospital where smallpox patients were treated .

“We should have seen as historians that people would want to talk about death in a time of plague,” Ms. Janes said.

Kathy Biehl, who lives in Jefferson Township, N.J., and has gone on a dozen ghost tours with Ms. Janes’s company, recalled taking the tour “Ghosts of the Titanic” along the Hudson River. It was around 2017, when headlines were dominated by President Trump’s tough stance on refugees and immigrants coming into the United States.

Those stories seemed to dovetail with the 100-year-old tales of immigrants trying to make it to New York on a doomed ship, Ms. Biehl said.

It led to “a catharsis” for many on the tour, she said. “People were on the verge of tears over immigration.”

Part of the appeal of dark tourism is its ability to help people process what is happening “as the world gets darker and gloomier,” said Jeffrey S. Podoshen , a professor of marketing at Franklin and Marshall College, who specializes in dark tourism.

“People are trying to understand dark things, trying to understand things like the realities of death, dying and violence,” he said. “They look at this type of tourism as a way to prepare themselves.”

Mr. Faarlund, the photo editor, recalled one trip with his wife and twin sons: a private tour of Cambodia that included a visit to the Killing Fields , where between 1975 and 1979 more than 2 million Cambodians were killed or died of starvation and disease under the Khmer Rouge regime.

His boys, then 14, listened intently to unsparing and brutal stories of the torture center run by the Khmer Rouge. At one point, the boys had to go outside, where they sat quietly for a long time.

“They needed a break,” Mr. Faarlund said. “It was quite mature of them.”

Afterward, they met two of the survivors of the Khmer Rouge, fragile men in their 80s and 90s. The teenagers asked if they could hug them and the men obliged, Mr. Faarlund said.

It was a moving trip that also included visits to temples, among them Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, and meals of frog, oysters and squid at a roadside restaurant.

“They loved it,” Mr. Faarlund said of his family.

Still, he can’t see them coming with him to see people re-enact the crucifixion in the Philippines.

“I don’t think they want to go with me on that one,” Mr. Faarlund said.

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52 Places for a Changed World

The 2022 list highlights places around the globe where travelers can be part of the solution.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram , Twitter and Facebook . And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places for a Changed World for 2022.

Maria Cramer is a reporter on the Travel desk. Please send her tips, questions and complaints about traveling, especially on cruises. More about Maria Cramer

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

Italy :  Spend 36 hours in Florence , seeking out its lesser-known pockets.

Southern California :  Skip the freeways to explore the back roads between Los Angeles and Los Olivos , a 100-mile route that meanders through mountains, canyons and star-studded enclaves.

Mongolia : Some young people, searching for less curated travel experiences, are flocking to the open spaces of this East Asian nation .

Romania :  Timisoara  may be the most noteworthy city you’ve probably never heard of , offering just enough for visitors to fill two or three days.

India: A writer fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Darjeeling, in the Himalayan foothills , taking in the tea gardens and riding a train through the hills.

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

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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 companies

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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Dark Tourism Market

Dark Tourism Market by Type, Booking Channel, Tourist Type, Tour Type, Age Group & Region | Forecast 2022 to 2032

Market Insights on Dark Tourism covering sales outlook, demand forecast and up-to-date key trends

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Dark Tourism Market Overview (2022 to 2032)

The Dark Tourism market is estimated to reach US$ 30 Billion  in 2022. As per the report, sales are forecast to increase at a robust 2% CAGR , with the market valuation reaching US$ 36.5 Billion  by 2032.

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2017 to 2021 Dark Tourism Market Outlook Compared to 2022 to 2032 Forecast

Dark tourism is very unique and distinctive part of the tourism sector. Dark tourism refers to visiting sites that are historically associated with death and grief. Dark tourism can be categorized into various subcategories such as grave tourism, holocaust tourism, genocide tourism, paranormal tourism, battlefield tourism, communism tourism, cold war tourism, nuclear tourism, disaster area tourism, unpleasant medical tourism, and many more.

Dark tourism is associated with culture and heritage tourism, hence, history plays a crucial role in this tourism. There are a number of people that are interested in history but not in reading history. These people are the ones that actually visit the sites in order to have a glimpse of the situation that took place in the past. These tourist destinations often have a past related to deaths or some heart-stopping tragedies which awaken the emotions and feelings of the tourist when they actually visit such sites. Many of the experts in this sector believe that it helps to stimulate the behavior of the people in order to motivate them for creating a peace-loving society.

Officials taking efforts to make Sulug Island new destination of dark tourism

Sulug Island has got a reputation for being the darkest island of Kota Kinabalu. This island is situated at the northernmost end of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. The connection of this underdeveloped island with the events of World War 2 adds to the surroundings of this 20-acre abandoned island.

Recently, a workshop was conducted by the officials of The Sabah Tourism Board, Sabah Parks, and Dark Tourism Sabah. This was a group of 52 people who organized this tour to the Sulug Islands in Sabah. This group spent a night on the island to experience and learn about dark tourism. They carried out activities that helped them to get an idea about the habitation of the kampung people. They set up their camps, built different things like tables and chairs, searched for food baskets, negotiated for sharing food, and cooked their own meals. Various state officials were present during this trip and observed the activities of this group in an attempt to encourage people to visit this dark tourism site.

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Visit Ukraine is offering tours to the latest destination for dark tourism

Visit Ukraine is an initiative started by the officials of Ukraine to rebuild the fallen tourism industry and accelerate the growth of Ukraine’s economy. Anton Taranenko, the CEO of the Visit Ukraine initiative, is very keen on people visiting Ukraine as the tour will provide a mid-war experience to travelers. This will help the tourist understand the actual situation when they look into the eyes of the residents who had this nerve-wracking experience of war. Recently, the official website of Visit Ukraine began offering tour packages to Ukraine which included the regions having the brutal impact of the war like Kyiv, Irpin, Bucha, and Kharkiv.

However, the Ukrainian government has not approved this initiative yet but there are ways to enter Ukraine through several European locations. The government of Ukraine is still unsure about the situation and hesitant about the safety of the tourists. The government thinks that these tours should be initiated when the situation gets totally under control in the coming year.

Holocaust museum encourages social change

Dark tourism sites are places related to tragedy, violence, and war. These places draw the attention of a lot of tourists every year. According to a recent study of the visitors to the Illinois Holocaust Museum, it is seen that visit to this museum actually awakens the emotions of the visitors. They feel empowered and motivated to visit such places. These destinations give a clear idea about the suffering of the people in history which makes the people rethink their approach towards life and the current situation of today’s society. This helps in making the world a better place by confronting the injustice that happened in the past.

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Country-wise Insights

Ground zero, new york, usa.

9/11 is one of the most brutal terrorist attacks experienced by mankind. America being the superpower caused the decline of the world’s economy along with America. 14 years down the line it is now monitored by high security and people visit the world trade center and the 9/11 memorial on this date to offer their tribute to the people who lost their lives in this incident.

Chornobyl, Ukraine

On 26th April 1986, the most disturbing radioactive explosion took place. This incident caused various diseases and health problems for the habitants in Pripyat. Many of them also lost their lives and others ran away making this place a ghost town. 33 years post the incident, there are a lot of tourist companies that offer guided tours to these horrifying places.

Murambi Genocide Memorial, Rwanda

This is one of the grimmest and darkest incidents in history. Around 50000 people were killed at this place within a span of 100 days. Despite new technologies, this place hasn’t changed too much. Keeping most of the things unchanged, the curator wants people to experience the intensity of the place. The memorial came into existence in 1995.

Auschwitz Concentration Camps, Poland

These camps were used by the Nazis during the 2nd world war. They are known as the world’s largest death camps which caused the death of about 1.5 million people, most of which were Jews. Approximately, 7000 prisoners were rescued by the soviet soldiers in January 1945 at this venue.

Hiroshima, Japan

This is considered the most dreadful incident where about 80000 people lost their lives immediately. Thousands of the residents suffered from radiation injuries while most of the infrastructure was destroyed due to this nuclear attack. A peace memorial park was established in Hiroshima, four years after the incident. People visit this memorial to remember the consequences caused by nuclear war and also pay their homage to the victims.

Category-wise Insights

Which type is preferred by the tourist.

People are interested in history related to iconic wars

Dark tourist sites are not the usual tourist destinations but one can’t deny that these sites gain a lot of people’s attention. Battlefield tourism and nuclear tourism are the most visited preferred types of dark tourism. As most people are interested in the history and artifacts related to world wars.

Which Age Group is more likely to Increase?

Dark destinations are mostly preferred by youngsters

This type of tourism is very distinct and selective people are interested. The major population is students. Hence, the major age group that prefers dark tourism are youngsters belonging to the age group of 15-25 years and 26-35 years who are excited about the topics like this.

Tour group Type is More Preferred by the Dark Tourist

Travelers tend to visit dark destinations in groups

The destinations of dark tourism are often abandoned places with very less information available to the common people. As a result, people visiting these dark places prefer going on tours with groups to ensure safety and know more about the destination and related history.

Competitive Landscape

Government bodies all over the world are coming up with new initiatives and schemes to uplift the dark tourism market in their country or specific regions. They are adopting novel marketing strategies in order to attract more tourists to these different but interesting tourist destinations.

For instance:

The government of Ukraine is planning to offer new tours for the fresh destinations of dark tourism in their country created after Russia’s Ukraine Invasion.

Scope of Report

Dark tourism market by category, by type, dark tourism market is segmented as:.

  • Holocaust tourism
  • Genocide tourism
  • Paranormal tourism
  • Battlefield tourism
  • Nuclear tourism

By Booking Channel, Dark Tourism Market is segmented as:

  • Phone Booking
  • Online Booking
  • In Person Booking

By Tourist Type, Dark Tourism Market is segmented as:

  • International

By Tour Type, Dark Tourism Market is segmented as:

  • Independent Traveler
  • Package Traveller

By Age Group, Dark Tourism Market is segmented as:

  • 15-25 Years
  • 26-35 Years
  • 36-45 Years
  • 46-55 Years
  • 66-75 Years

By Region, Dark Tourism Market is segmented as:

  • North America
  • Latin America
  • Middle East and Africa(MEA)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the current dark tourism market value.

The Dark tourism market reached a valuation of US$ 30 Billion in 2022.

What are the key trends driving Dark tourism?

The growing popularity of dark destinations, new tour launches, the growing interest of travelers in places having dark histories, etc. are the key trends in the market.

Who are the leading players in the Dark tourism market?

Leading players in the dark tourism market are Lupine Travel Company, Chornobyl Tours, Dark tourism, Young pioneer tours, Aero travels, and Visit Ukraine among others

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  • Death And Dying

What's Dark Tourism? And Why Is It So Popular?

Updated 05/3/2022

Sam Tetrault, BA in English

Sam Tetrault, BA in English

Contributing writer

What's dark tourism? Discover why it's popular, its criticisms, popular sites, etiquette, and more.

Cake values integrity and transparency. We follow a strict editorial process to provide you with the best content possible. We also may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more in our affiliate disclosure .

When most people think of travel, they think of posing in front of the world’s most stunning sights or relaxing on a tropical island. They probably don’t think about visiting places where some of the world’s biggest tragedies and horrors took place—unless you’re talking about dark tourism. 

Jump ahead to these sections: 

What is dark tourism , why is dark tourism popular, criticisms of dark tourism, dark tourism etiquette, where can you find dark tourism in popular culture and media, what books can you read to learn more about dark tourism.

Dark tourism isn’t a new concept, though it recently gained popularity after the launch of the Netflix series with the same name. In the documentary series, journalist David Farrier visits some of the most unusual and macabre tourism places around the globe. From a nuclear blast site in Kazakhstan to JFK’s assassination site, nothing is off-limits.

With all of this excitement both for and against dark tourism, what is it exactly? Is it a shining example of death positive or yet another way to commercialize human suffering? In this guide, we’re pulling back the curtain on dark tourism to understand why it’s so alluring. 

In simple terms, dark tourism is the opposite of “traditional” tourism . Instead of visiting inspiring, classic sites, travelers take great care to visit places where some of the darkest events in human history took place. This includes anything from natural disasters to war and assassination. 

While most people have only just familiarized themselves with the term “dark tourism,” this is no way a new phenomenon. The term was coined in 1996 at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. Researchers have found evidence of dark tourism going back throughout history.

For example, during the Battle of Waterloo in the 19th century, regular civilians lined up along the sides of the battle with their carriages to watch everything taking place. While this sounds particularly grotesque, it doesn’t end there. Researchers also compare today’s modern fascination with dark tourism to public executions and hangings in the Middle Ages. Crowds would form to watch those put to death take their final breaths. 

In ancient Rome , spectators came from all over to watch gladiators fight to the death. Bloody sports and spectacles of human mortality were very common up until modern times. Today, as a society, people still have an urge to peak into these dark curiosities. 

Popular dark tourism sites

You might be surprised at some of the most popular dark tourism sites . Many of them are classic destinations, though they harbor a dark past. Some, on the other hand, might send even the most experienced traveler running for the hills (or the airport). 

  • Colosseum (Italy): The Colosseum was a gory battlefield for hundreds of years. While it’s an architectural wonder, it also has a deadly history. 
  • Auschwitz (Poland): Visiting any concentration camp from the Nazi era is a humbling experience, but especially the notorious Auschwitz. 
  • Ground Zero (USA): Ground Zero is the site where the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. While there is a memorial and museum in place now, this is an undeniably eerie location. 
  • Killing Fields (Cambodia): The Killing Fields in Cambodia were where some of the worst genocides in human history took place, and you can still see the remnants of blood today. 
  • Chernobyl (Ukraine) : Possibly one of the most well-known dark tourism sites, Chernobyl is where the 1986 nuclear reactor accident took place. The grounds are still dangerously radioactive, but you can still take a guided tour. 
  • Hiroshima Museum (Japan): Travelers and locals alike visit the site of the Hiroshima bombings to see artifacts from the explosion that killed so many. 
  • Murambi Memorial (Rwanda): Visitors can see the original clothing of the Murambi Genocide victims hanging in this countryside memorial. 
  • Alcatraz Penitentiary (USA): Possibly one of the most well-known prisons in the world, Alcatraz allows visitors to glimpse into the hard life of inmates incarcerated on this island. 
  • Pompeii (Italy): When Mount Vesuvius erupted, it wiped out the entire Roman city of Pompeii. This was in 79 AD, and the archaeological site is still a popular place for people to visit. 

Does this list surprise you? Dark tourism is very much intertwined with mainstream travel, though some are willing to go farther off the beaten path. 

In many ways, dark tourism is not much different from watching a horror film or going through a haunted house. Humans are naturally curious creatures, and death is the great unknown. These close encounters with some of the worst tragedies offer a rush of adrenaline from a “safe” distance. It’s a way to walk in the footsteps of history, even when that history isn’t pretty. 

Humans are naturally interested in death. We will all die at some point, and death all over the world has come to mean different things. Most people visit these sites not to poke fun or take Instagram photos. They want to encounter death up close, to peer into what it might have been like for the victims of these places and events. 

There is a lot of philosophy behind this phenomenon. Coming to terms with something so grim as genocide or tragedy isn’t easy. By visiting these dark tourism destinations, visitors have an opportunity to learn from this experience and pay their respects. 

While many have argued for the advantages of dark tourism (they see them as educational, intriguing, and so on), others have a lot of criticisms. There is no clear answer. 

The main question is whether this is an opportunity to learn something about death, tragedies, and real-life examples of rituals from around the world? Or is this a way for privileged Westerners to explore some of the biggest catastrophes of the world so they can feel better about themselves?

Dark tourism often doesn’t account for other cultures and belief systems. It can either intentionally or unintentionally paint things as “sinister” that might otherwise just be a cultural misunderstanding. For instance, finding a grave in another part of the world might cause a dark tourist to draw untrue conclusions. 

Ultimately, there’s something unappealing about the commercialization of tragedy. The Netflix series does a fair job of exploring some of these money-fueled tourist “attractions.” Things like war reenactments, assassination narratives, and actors pretending to be a part of drug cartels are just a bit too close to reality for comfort.

It’s left up to the individual traveler to determine their own boundaries between thrill-seeking, education, and being respectful of cultures and tragedies. There will never be a clear answer for what’s “right” or “wrong” in the debate around dark tourism. For some, boundaries will be overstepped. For others, it might be an enriching educational experience. 

If you do plan to take on some dark tourism of your own, it’s important to consider the proper etiquette. Much of the debate around whether this is a worthwhile practice stems from those who pay little attention to the consequences of their actions, no matter how small they may seem. 

Because travel should always be about respecting other cultures and ideas, here are the most important things to remember about dark tourism etiquette:

  • Respect graves : Most dark tourism sites have some form of memorial or grave. This is something that should always be treated with respect. Never touch graves, sit against tombstones, or otherwise disrupt the monuments.
  • Avoid cliches : A lot of cultures around the world have been warped by Hollywood portrayals. Always familiarize yourself with the history of the places you visit and don’t buy into stereotypes of false beliefs. 
  • Put the camera away : When visiting heritage sites, treat them with respect. Don’t take unnecessary photos or selfies. Though these tragedies might have happened long ago, remember to honor those who died by being mindful of your photography. 
  • Follow the rules : While some dark tourism sites are open to the general public, always read any posted rules. There might be things that are off-limits or not allowed, and you don’t want to overstep these boundaries. 
  • Emotions: A lot of people have strong emotional reactions to visiting these dark tourism places. This is very understandable, but it might be a reason to rethink your trip. If you’re worried you’ll be upset or challenged by visiting something, it’s best to stay away. 
  • Tourism companies : A lot of tourism companies offer guided tours to some dangerous sites, but that doesn’t mean you should go. Always do your research to make sure these companies operate safely and ethically.
  • Intent : Finally, remember your intent behind your visit. Are you hoping to learn from these events and gain deeper respect, or is it just something to check off your travel list?

There are no stopping people from visiting some of the darkest places on the planet, and there is a strong argument for why dark tourism is important. However, it’s always essential that you’re mindful of your behavior, so you treat these places with the respect they deserve.  

Since the rise of the internet and social media, dark tourism has become a greater part of mainstream media and pop culture. While these places were largely hidden and distant in the past, the internet makes them closer than ever before. Dark tourism has also encouraged people from across the globe to venture to these destinations as part of their bucket list . 

Thanks to the accessibility and availability of travel, dark tourism is more popular than ever. Far off sites of destruction used to be something only seen on the big screen or read about in newspapers. Today, visitors from across the globe can flock to these places for themselves. Here’s where you can find dark tourism in today’s pop culture and media. 

Social media

It should come as no surprise that social media is a huge source of the excitement around dark tourism. As more everyday people travel to these places, it’s becoming common to share these experiences on social media platforms. When seen on a news feed, they feel even more accessible. Some popular profiles that explore dark tourism are:

  • Chernobyl_guide : This TikTok account has over 1.5 million followers, and its narrator shares the many sites you can visit if you book your own Chernobyl tour through the nuclear disaster site. 
  • URBEX : This YouTube channel explores abandoned and dangerous spaces to share an inside, never-before-seen look for over 300k subscribers. 
  • The Proper People : With over 1.25 million subscribers on YouTube, the Proper People is one of the leading dark tourists pages on social media. These travelers explore abandoned hospitals, power plants, and more to share the lesser-seen side of dark tourism. 
  • Exploring with Josh : Josh is an amature videographer and explorer who isn’t afraid to highlight some of the world’s most surprising destinations on his YouTube channel. With over 4 million subscribers, he is one of the pioneers in this digital space. 

Film and TV

Movies and TV shows also explore the world of dark tourism, especially in recent years. From docuseries to dramatic reenactments, all of these things lead to a rise in dark tourism across the globe. 

  • Dark Tourist : This 2018 Netflix documentary series shows a New Zealand reporter traveling to some of the world’s most notorious destinations. 
  • Chernobyl : The HBO historical drama Chernobyl reenacts the catastrophic nuclear disaster from the town of Chernobyl, Ukraine in the 1980s. 
  • Inside North Korea’s Dynasty : National Geographic shares an in-depth documentary series about the lives and actions of the Kim family in North Korea from WWII until the present day. 
  • Lost Cities : Featuring American scientist and explorer Albert Lin, this National Geographic docuseries examines ancient cities with high-tech imagery and 3D technology. 
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown : Lastly, the late Anthony Bordain’s CNN show Parts Unknown explores often unseen destinations, not shying away from the darker aspects of travel. 

Finally, there are many books that explore the idea of dark tourism in more detail. From uncovering the realities behind these destinations to delving deep into the motivations of dark tourists, these books are far from light reading. Whether you’re a traveler yourself or simply open minded, it’s important to take a critical look at your motivations and perspectives when seeing more of the world. 

  • Imagine Wanting Only This (Kristen Radtke): Named one of the best books of 2017 by Forbes and Lit Hub, this is a graphic memoir written about Radtke’s experience coming to terms with the grief of losing an uncle. She discovers a fascination with ruins, people, and the places left behind. 
  • Dark Tourist (Dom Joly): After spending his childhood in war-torn Lebanon, Joly wished to push beyond the sanitized experiences of modern day travel. In this memoir, this comedian isn’t afraid to tread off the beaten path. 
  • I Am the Dark Tourist (H. E. Sawyer): Sawyer becomes a self-aware dark tourist in this memoir. This is more than a travel story. It’s an examination of why people wish to visit sites touched by death in the first place. 
  • Dark Lands (Tony Wheeler): Lonely Planet’s Tony Wheeler goes deeper into the world’s darkest corners to explore troubled nations. His well-traveled perspective gives these places rarely seen in popular media a dose of reality and openness. 
  • Memorial Museums (Paul Williams): What has led to the world’s rush to commemorate atrocities? William researches this phenomenon, and he visits many of these memorial museums himself to see whether they fit within cultural history. 
  • A Nuclear Family Vacation (Nathan Hodge): Two Washington D.C. defense reporters paint a portrait of nuclear weaponry around the world. 

The Darker Side of Travel

Travel isn’t always about relaxation and getting away from the hustle and bustle. Sometimes it’s a way to challenge yourself and broaden your mind. For many, this includes an element of dark tourism. Not only does visiting these macabre sites give visitors a thrill, but they’re also a way to pay respects to a darker past. 

That being said, dark tourism requires travelers to tread carefully. This is not a simple issue, and it requires a lot of consideration. Before you head off on your next travel venture, give some thought to the history of the place and what your visit might mean. 

  • “Did gladiators always fight to the death?” History Stories. 1 September 2018. History.com . 
  • Madden, Duncan. “Dark Tourism: Are These The World’s Most Macabre Tourist Attractions?” Forbes . 25 September 2019. Forbes.com . 
  • Sampson, Hannah. “Dark tourism, explained.” Washington Post. 13 November 2019. WashingtonPost.com .

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Dark tourism: when tragedy meets tourism

The likes of auschwitz, ground zero and chernobyl are seeing increasing numbers of visitors, sparking the term 'dark tourism'. but is it voyeuristic or educational.

Several tour companies exist to send visitors to the Chernobyl exclusion zone and ghost town left ...

Several tour companies exist to send visitors to the Chernobyl exclusion zone and ghost town left otherwise empty after the nuclear accident in 1986.

Days after 71 people died in a London tower block fire last June, something strange started to happen in the streets around it. Posters, hastily drawn by members of the grieving community of Grenfell Tower, appeared on fences and lamp posts in view of the building's blackened husk.

'Grenfell: A Tragedy Not A Tourist Attraction,' one read, adding — sarcastically — a hashtag and the word 'selfies'. As families still searched for missing inhabitants of the 24-storey block, and the political shock waves were being felt through the capital, people had started to arrive in North Kensington to take photos. Some were posing in selfie mode.

"It's not the Eiffel Tower," one resident told the BBC after the posters attracted the attention of the press. "You don't take a picture." Weeks later, local people were dismayed when a coachload of Chinese tourists pulled up nearby so that its occupants could get out and take photos.

Grenfell Tower, which still dominates the surrounding skyline (it's due to be demolished in late 2018), had become a site for 'dark tourism', a loose label for any sort of tourism that involves visiting places that owe their notoriety to death, disaster, an atrocity or what can also loosely be termed 'difficult heritage'.

It's a phenomenon that's on the rise as established sites such as Auschwitz and the September 11 museum in Manhattan enjoy record visitor numbers. Meanwhile, demand is rising among those more intrepid dark tourists who want to venture to the fallout zones of Chernobyl and Fukushima, as well as North Korea and Rwanda. In Sulawesi, Indonesia, Western tourists wielding GoPros pay to watch elaborate funeral ceremonies in the Toraja region, swapping notes afterwards on TripAdvisor.

Along the increasingly crowded dark-tourist trail, academics, tour operators and the residents of many destinations are asking searching questions about the ethics of modern tourism in an age of the selfie and the Instagram hashtag. When Pompeii, a dark tourist site long before the phrase existed, found itself on the Grand Tour of young European nobility in the 18th century, dozens of visitors scratched their names into its excavated walls. Now we leave our mark in different ways, but where should we draw the boundaries?

Questions like these have become the life's work of Dr Philip Stone , perhaps the world's leading academic expert on dark tourism. He has a background in business and marketing, and once managed a holiday camp in Scotland. But a fascination with societal attitudes to mortality led to a PhD in thanatology, the study of death, and a focus on tourism.

"I'm not even a person who enjoys going to these places," Stone says from the University of Central Lancashire, where he runs the Institute for Dark Tourism Research. "But what I am interested in is the way people face their own mortality by looking at other deaths of significance. Because we've become quite divorced from death yet we have this kind of packaging up of mortality in the visit economy which combines business, sociology, psychology under the banner of dark tourism. It's really fascinating to shine a light on that."

Historical roots

The term 'dark tourism' is far newer than the practice, which long predates Pompeii's emergence as a morbid attraction. Stone considers the Roman Colosseum to be one of the first dark tourist sites, where people travelled long distances to watch death as sport. Later, until the late 18th century, the appeal was starker still in central London, where people paid money to sit in grandstands to watch mass executions. Hawkers would sell pies at the site, which was roughly where Marble Arch stands today.

It was only in 1996 that 'dark tourism' entered the scholarly lexicon when two academics in Glasgow applied it while looking at sites associated with the assassination of JFK. Those who study dark tourism identify plenty of reasons for the growing phenomenon, including raised awareness of it as an identifiable thing. Access to sites has also improved with the advent of cheap air travel. It's hard to imagine that the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum would now welcome more than two million visitors a year (an average of almost 5,500 a day, more than two-thirds of whom travel to the Polish site from other countries in Europe) were it not for its proximity to Krakow's international airport.

Peter Hohenhaus, a widely travelled dark tourist based in Vienna, also points to the broader rise in off-the-beaten track tourism, beyond the territory of popular guidebooks and TripAdvisor rankings. "A lot of people don't want mainstream tourism and that often means engaging with places that have a more recent history than, say, a Roman ruin," he says. "You go to Sarajevo and most people remember the war being in the news so it feels closer to one's own biography."

Hohenhaus is also a fan of 'beauty in decay', the contemporary cultural movement in which urban ruins have become subject matter for expensive coffee-table books and a thousand Instagram accounts. The crossover with death is clear. "I've always been drawn to derelict things," the 54-year-old says. As a child in Hamburg, he would wonder at the destruction of war still visible around the city's harbour.

That childhood interest has developed into an obsession; Hohenhaus has visited 650 dark tourist sites in 90 countries, logging them all and more besides on his website . He has plans to put together the first dark tourism guidebook. His favourite holiday destination today is Chernobyl and its 'photogenic' ghost town. "You get to time travel back into the Soviet era but also into an apocalyptic future," he says. He also enjoys being emotionally challenged by these places. "I went to Treblinka in 2008 and heard the story of a teacher at an orphanage in Warsaw who was offered a chance to escape but refused and went with his children to the gas chambers. Stories like that are not everyday, you mull over them. Would you have done that?"

But while, like any tourism, dark tourism at its best is thought-provoking and educational, the example of Grenfell Tower hints at the unease felt at some sites about what can look like macabre voyeurism. "I remember the Lonely Planet Bluelist book had a chapter about dark tourism a while ago and one of the rules was 'don't go back too early'," Hohenhaus says. "But that's easier said than calculated. You have to be very aware of reactions and be discreet when you're not in a place with an entrance fee and a booklet." Hohenhaus said he had already thought about Grenfell Tower and admits he would be interested to see it up close. "It's big, it's dramatic, it's black and it's a story you've followed in the news," he says. "I can see the attraction. But I would not stand in the street taking a selfie."

A mirror to mortality

An urge to see and feel a place that has been reduced to disaster shorthand by months of media coverage is perhaps understandable, but Stone is most interested in the draw — conscious or otherwise — of destinations that hold up a mirror to our own mortality. "When we touch the memory of people who've gone what we're looking at is ourselves," he says. "That could have been us in that bombing or atrocity. We make relevant our own mortality." That process looks different across cultures — and generations — and Stone says we should take this into account before despairing of selfie takers at Grenfell Tower or Auschwitz.

"I've heard residents at Grenfell welcoming visitors because it keeps the disaster in the public realm, but they didn't like people taking photos because it's a visual reminder that you're a tourist and therefore somehow defunct of morality," he explains. "We're starting to look at selfies now. Are they selfish?" Stone argues that the language of social media means we no longer say "I was here", but "I am here — see me". He adds: "We live in a secular society where morality guidelines are increasingly blurred. It's easy for us to say that's right or wrong, but for many people it's not as simple as that."

"Travel itself is innately voyeuristic," argues Simon Cockerel, the general manager of Koryo Tours , a North Korea specialist based in Beijing. Cockerel, who has lived in China for 17 years and joined Koryo in 2002, says demand has grown dramatically for trips to Pyongyang and beyond, from 200 people a year in the mid 1990s, when the company started, to more than 5,000 more recently. He has visited the country more than 165 times and says some clients join his tours simply to bag another country, and some for bragging rights. But the majority have a genuine interest in discovering a country — and a people — beyond the headlines.

"I've found everyone who goes there to be sensitive and aware of the issues," he says. "The restrictions do create a framework for it to be a bit like a theme park visit but we work hard to blur those boundaries. More than 25 million people live in North Korea, and 24.99 million of them have nothing to do with what we read in the news and deserve to be seen as people not as zoo animals or lazy caricatures."

More challenging recently has been the US ban on its citizens going to North Korea, imposed last summer after the mysterious death of Otto Warmbier. The American student had been arrested in Pyongyang after being accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster. Americans made up about 20% of Koryo's business, but Cockerel argues the greater loss is to mutual perception in the countries. "The North Korean government represent Americans as literal wolves with sharpened nails," he says. "At least a few hundred Americans going there was a kind of bridgehead against that. Now that's gone."

At Grenfell Tower, responsible tourism may yet serve to keep alive the memory of the disaster, just as it does, after a dignified moratorium, at Auschwitz and the former Ground Zero. Hohenhaus says he will resist the urge to go until some sort of memorial is placed at the site of the tower. At around the time of a commemorative service at St Paul's Cathedral six months after the fire, there were calls for the site eventually to be turned into a memorial garden. The extent to which Hohenhaus and other dark tourists are welcomed will be decided by the people still living there.

Five of the world's dark tourism sites

1. North Korea Opened to visitors in the late 1980s, North Korea now attracts thousands of tourists each year for a peek behind the headlines.

2. Auschwitz-Birkenau The former Nazi death camp became a memorial in 1947 and a museum in 1955. It's grown since and in 2016 attracted a record two million visitors.

3. 9/11 Memorial and Museum Built in the crater left by the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the museum, opened in 2014, has won plaudits for its portrayal of a disaster and its impact.

4. Rwanda Visitor numbers to genocide memorials have grown in Cambodia and Bosnia as well as in Rwanda, where there are several sites dedicated to the 1994 massacre of up to a million people. The skulls of victims are displayed.

5. Chernobyl & Pripyat, Ukraine Several tour companies exist to send visitors to the exclusion zone and ghost town left otherwise empty after the nuclear accident in 1986. All are scanned for radiation as they leave.

Published in the March 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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dark tourism companies

Dark tourism, explained

Why visitors flock to sites of tragedy.

dark tourism companies

Every year, millions of tourists around the world venture to some of the unhappiest places on Earth: sites of atrocities, accidents, natural disasters or infamous death. From Auschwitz to Chernobyl, Gettysburg, the site of the Kennedy assassination and the 9/11 Memorial in New York, visitors are making the worst parts of history a piece of their vacation, if not the entire point.

Experts call the phenomenon dark tourism, and they say it has a long tradition. Dark tourism refers to visiting places where some of the darkest events of human history have unfolded. That can include genocide, assassination, incarceration, ethnic cleansing, war or disaster — either natural or accidental. Some might associate the idea with ghost stories and scares, but those who study the practice say it’s unrelated to fear or supernatural elements.

“It’s not a new phenomenon,” says J. John Lennon, a professor of tourism at Glasgow Caledonian University, in Scotland, who coined the term with a colleague in 1996. “There’s evidence that dark tourism goes back to the Battle of Waterloo where people watched from their carriages the battle taking place.”

dark tourism companies

The hit US drama "Chernobyl" brought a new generation of tourists to the nuclear disaster zone. (Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images)

That was in 1815, but he cites an even longer-ago example: crowds gathering to watch public hangings in London in the 16th century. Those are relatively modern compared with the bloody spectacles that unfolded in the Colosseum in Rome.

There aren’t official statistics on how many people participate in dark tourism every year or whether that number is on the rise. An online travel guide run by an enthusiast, Dark-Tourism.com , includes almost 900 places in 112 countries.

But there’s no question the phenomenon is becoming more visible, in part thanks to the Netflix series “Dark Tourist” that was released last year. And popular culture is fueling more visitation to some well-known sites: After the HBO miniseries “Chernobyl,” about the 1986 power plant explosion, came out this spring, travel companies that bring people to the area said they saw a visitor increase of 30 to 40 percent. Ukraine’s government has since declared its intention to make the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone an official tourist spot, despite lingering radiation.

[How to navigate the etiquette of dark tourism]

Philip Stone, executive director of the Institute for Dark Tourism Research at the University of Central Lancashire, in England, says anecdotally that he sees the appetite for such destinations growing.

“I think, for political reasons or cultural reasons, we are turning to the visitor economy to remember aspects of death and dying, disaster,” he says. “There is a kind of memorial mania going on. You could call that growth in dark tourism.”

dark tourism companies

(Illustrations by Laura Perez for The Washington Post)

Why are tourists so enamored with places that are, as Lennon puts it, “synonymous with the darkest periods of human history?” Academics who study the practice say it’s human nature.

[Ukraine wants Chernobyl to be a tourist trap. But scientists warn: Don’t kick up dust.]

“We’ve just got this cultural fascination with the darker side of history; most history is dark,” Stone says. “I think when we go to these places, we see not strangers, but often we see ourselves and perhaps what we might do in those circumstances.”

“When we go to these places, we see not strangers, but often we see ourselves and perhaps what we might do in those circumstances.”

Philip Stone, executive director, Institute for Dark Tourism Research at the University of Central Lancashire

There is no one type of traveler who engages in dark tourism: It could be a history buff who takes the family on a road trip to Civil War battlefields, a backpacker who treks to the Colosseum in Rome, or a tourist who seeks out the near-abandoned areas near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster, in 2011, in Japan.

dark tourism companies

Visitors walk between barbed wire fences at the Auschwitz I memorial concentration camp site in Oswiecim, Poland. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Those who are most familiar with the phenomenon do not condemn it. In fact, they argue that the most meaningful dark-tourism sites can help visitors understand the present and be more thoughtful about the future.

“These are important sites that tell us a lot about what it is to be human,” says Lennon, the tourism professor. “I think they’re important places for us to reflect on and try to better understand the evil that we’re capable of.”

There are even efforts underway to research the way children experience dark tourism, a joint project between the Institute for Dark Tourism Research and the University of Pittsburgh.

Mary Margaret Kerr, a professor of education and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, says the idea came about when the National Park Service asked her to help create a team to design children’s materials for families who visit the memorial to United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

Her research team now includes middle-school students who have studied how their peers interact with the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, in Washington, or the site of the Johnstown flood, in Pennsylvania, which killed more than 2,200 in 1889.

dark tourism companies

(Illustration by Laura Perez for The Washington Post)

“We wouldn’t want families to stop traveling, and adults want to see these places for very good reasons,” Kerr says. “It’s not so much making the decision for parents whether you take the children or not, but what are the appropriate safeguards."

She said the goal is to provide appropriate safeguards and ways to experience a site, even for children too young to grasp the history, “so the family can be there together, but each member of the family can take meaning that works out for them at their age and stage.”

As more sites with dark histories become popular spots — even part of organized tour packages — experts say there is a risk that they could become exploited, used to sell tchotchkes or placed as backdrops for unseemly photos.

“It does kind of invite that passive behavior — let’s call it that touristy behavior — that might be out of place,” Stone says.

dark tourism companies

Visitors look at the bodies of eruption victims exposed in the ruins of ancient Pompeii. (Mario Laporta/AFP via Getty Images)

Bad conduct by tourists at sensitive sites — smiling selfies at concentration camps, for example — has been widely shunned on social media. The online Dark-Tourism.com travel guide cautions against such behavior, as well as the ethically questionable “voyeurism” of visiting an ongoing or very recent tragedy to gape.

“These are important sites that tell us a lot about what it is to be human. I think they’re important places for us to reflect on and try to better understand the evil that we’re capable of.”

J. John Lennon, tourism professor at Glasgow Caledonian University

“What IS endorsed here is respectful and enlightened touristic engagement with contemporary history, and its dark sites/sides, in a sober, educational and non-sensationalist manner,” the site says .

Lennon says he’s sometimes “dumbfounded” by some of the behavior that gets publicized, but he declines to say what the right or wrong way is for tourists to behave. Overall, he says, he still hopes that by visiting places with dark histories, people are becoming better informed about atrocities like racial and ethnic cleansing.

“I’m heartened by the fact that they choose to try to understand this difficult past,” Lennon says.

Berlin’s Holocaust memorial is ‘not a place for fun selfies’

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Hannah Sampson is a staff writer at The Washington Post for By The Way, where she reports on travel news.

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Where The Road Forks

30 Dark Tourism Destinations and How to Visit

By: Author Zachary Friedman

Posted on Last updated: January 22, 2024

Categories Travel Destinations

Home » Travel » Travel Destinations » 30 Dark Tourism Destinations and How to Visit

Many of us have a natural morbid curiosity. Death, disasters, atrocities, and destruction fascinate us. Every year, millions of people travel to some of the darkest and most tragic sites on earth to satisfy that curiosity as well as to gain a deeper understanding of the events that took place there. This is called dark tourism. In this guide, we’ll outline some of the most popular dark tourism destinations and explain how to visit them. We’ll also explain exactly what dark tourism is and talk a bit about the ethics, controversies, and motivations of dark tourism.

Personally, I’m a big fan of dark tourism. Over the years, I’ve visited many of the dark tourism sites on this list. In this guide, I’ll share my experience.

skulls at an ossuary

Table of Contents

  • Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, Poland
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Site, Ukraine
  • Choeung Ek Killing Fields and S-21, Cambodia
  • September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, Japan
  • Kigali Genocide Memorial, Rwanda
  • Pompeii, Italy
  • Slave Castles, Ghana
  • Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic
  • Alcatraz Island, San Francisco
  • Suicide Forest (Aokigahar), Japan
  • Fukushima, Japan
  • Robben Island, South Africa
  • Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • The Colosseum, Rome
  • Mount St. Helens, Washington
  • Anne Frank House and Museum, Amsterdam
  • Various Nuclear Test Sites
  • The Catacombs of Paris
  • Warsaw Ghetto, Poland
  • Perm-36 Gulag, Russia
  •   Cremations on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India
  • WWII memorials and museums in Berlin, Germany
  • Communist Leader Mausoleums
  • Somme Battlefield, France
  • Verdun Battlefield, France
  • D-Day Beaches and Memorials in Normandy
  • Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland
  • Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

What is Dark Tourism?

Dark tourism is a relatively new term for a form of tourism that involves travel to a site where death, tragedy, disaster, violence, atrocity, or suffering took place. This could include sites of genocide, assassination, natural disaster, war, terrorism, man-made disaster, etc. Usually, dark tourism sites have some kind of historical significance. They could also be the site of a recent or ongoing tragic event. Dark tourism is also called black tourism, morbid tourism, and grief tourism.

A few of the most well-known and popular dark tourism sites in the world include the ruins of Pompeii, Auschwitz concentration camp, the site of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, the Paris Catacombs, Gettysburg, Ground Zero, and the 9/11 memorial in New York. In each of these sites, death, suffering, tragedy, or disaster took place.

Most people visit dark tourism sites for educational purposes. These sites usually have interesting histories. Some people visit because these sites pique a morbid curiosity. Others just want to witness large scale destruction and damage. Everyone has their own motivation.

There are different types of dark tourism as well. For example, dark tourism and heritage tourism are sometimes closely related. For example, someone may choose to visit Holocaust sites to learn about the events that their ancestors experienced. Descendants of slaves may choose to visit slavery heritage sites. Some consider this a form of dark tourism as well.

To consider someone a dark tourist, they must visit the site for dark tourism purposes. Some sites have a dark element but aren’t exclusively visited for dark tourism purposes. For example, if you visit Mount St. Helens to go for a hike, you’re not a dark tourist. If you visit to learn about the volcanic eruption and the damage it caused, you are a dark tourist.

Dark Tourism Destinations

1. auschwitz-birkenau memorial and museum, poland.

Gates of Auschwitz concentration camp

Located outside of Krakow, Poland, Auschwitz was the largest and most deadly of the Nazi concentration camps. Between 1.1 and 1.6 million men, women, and children were murdered here during the Holocaust. Auschwitz is one of the largest mass murder sites in the world.

Today, the site symbolizes genocide and the evil acts that humans inflict upon one another. It also acts as a valuable education tool to help prevent atrocities such as the Holocaust from happening again.

Auschwitz is actually a series of 40 concentration camps rather than one large camp. Auschwitz I is the older and smaller camp where political prisoners were held. Here, you’ll see a terrifying exhibition of some of the inmates’ possessions including piles of suitcases, shoes, and human hair.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is located a couple of miles down the road, is a much larger concentration camp and extermination camp. Here, you’ll find the ruins of the infamous gas chambers, barracks with wooden shelves where prisoners slept, and the train track which was used to haul thousands of people into the camp.

Auschwitz has become a mass tourist site seeing over 2 million visitors per year and over 60 million visitors since the site opened in 1947. This is probably the world’s biggest and most well known dark tourism site. The Auschwitz Memorial is free to enter but you should book in advance. Only a limited number of tickets are available per day because the site is so popular.

2. Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Site, Ukraine

Pripyat amusement park near Chernobyl

On April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear meltdown took place at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Pripyat, Ukraine. This disaster caused the death of around 4,000 individuals from radiation-related illness as well as the displacement of over 300,000.

The area is still not safe for people to inhabit, even though some have moved back into their villages anyway. In fact, scientists believe it could take 20,000 years before the exclusion zone is completely safe. The radiation has dissipated enough for tourists to make short visits on guided tours.

Several tour companies offer day trips and multi-day trips to Chernobyl from the nearby city of Kyiv. During the tour, you’ll see the radiation-contaminated Red Forrest and eerie abandoned buildings including the famous Pripyat Amusement Park and a Kindergarten. You’ll also learn about the impact the disaster had on the region.

Keep in mind that there is still a risk of radiation poisoning when visiting the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Radiation levels are still hazardous in much of the zone. Your guide will explain the safety precautions you must take and guide you through the areas that are safe enough to visit.

Chernobyl is one of the world’s most famous and popular dark tourism sites. The recent HBO miniseries, Chernobyl, greatly increased the popularity of the area. Following the release of the show, tourism increased by 30%.

Note: Currently, it’s not possible to visit this site. Hopefully, it will be possible to visit again in the near future.

3. Choeung Ek Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge regime came into power after the Cambodian civil war ended in 1975. The new government was called the Communist Party of Kampuchea. Their leader was prime minister Pol Pot.

Immediately following the end of the war, the Cambodian genocide began. From 1975 to 1979, between 1.7 and 2.5 million people were killed at 300 sites throughout the country. These sites are known as killing fields.

The most famous of these killing fields is Choeung Ek, which is located about 11 miles outside of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. It is estimated that around 17,000 men, women, and children were killed at this site. Many were killed violently with knives, scythes, bats, and bayonets. This is the main memorial for the Cambodian genocide.

At this site, you’ll see a memorial Buddhist stupa made of glass. Inside the stupa, there are 5,000 human skulls. Many of the displayed skulls are catastrophically damaged, showing the brutal manner in which the victims were killed. The site also includes a mass grave that contains the remains of almost 9,000 people that were exhumed from the surrounding area. Human bones still litter the entire site. Occasionally fragments wash up after heavy rain.

Another famous Cambodian Genocide site is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or S-21. This museum is located in Phnom Penh. Originally, this site was built as a secondary school but was converted into a prison by the Khmer Rouge. Around 20,000 people were imprisoned here during Pol Pot’s reign. Many were tortured and killed. Here, you’ll see prison cells, photos of victims, as well as an exhibit that documents the events of the Cambodian genocide.

4. National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York

9/11 memorial, New York

This New York City memorial and museum was built to commemorate and honor the 2,977 people who died in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks as well as the six people who died in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. The memorial sits on the site where the twin towers once stood.

The main memorial, called Reflecting Absence, consists of two 1-acre pools that occupy the exact footprints where the Twin Towers stood. Each pool features a large waterfall. Bronze parapets with the name of each victim etched in surround the pools. The September 11 Museum, located underground, contains thousands of images, artifacts, recordings, and videos. The exhibit tells the complete story of the events of 9/11.

This site is fairly controversial. Partly for the high price of entry ($24) but mostly for the fact that the remains of over 1000 victims were placed in a tomb in the bedrock under the museum. Many people find this disrespectful. Even so, the 9/11 Memorial is one of the world’s most popular dark tourism sites. Over 6 million people visit this memorial per year.

5. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum

This memorial and museum commemorate and honor the city of Hiroshima and the 140,000 people who died when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city on August 6, 1945. It also memorializes the world’s first nuclear attack. The aim is to educate people about the danger of nuclear weapons as well as to promote peace.

The atom bomb, codenamed “Little Boy,” detonated 600 meters above the busiest part of downtown Hiroshima. The explosion essentially leveled the area except for a few ruins. This event marked the beginning of the end of WWII. Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945. The park was built on the site of the bombing. Today, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park contains a number of monuments as well as a museum and a lecture hall.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is the main feature of the park. The museum educates visitors about the events leading up to the bombing as well as the catastrophic effect the bomb had on the city. You’ll see photos and artifacts from the bombing. A major section of the museum is dedicated to the stories of the victims and survivors.

The A-Bomb Dome is the second most important site in the park. This is the ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. Today, it’s just a shell of a building. This building is significant because it is one of the only buildings that survived the blast. Most structures in Hiroshima were built from wood and burned up in fires that the bomb started. This building was also just 150 meters from the hypocenter of the blast. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A few more significant points of interest in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park include Children’s Peace Monument, Peace Flame, Peace Bells, Peace Pagoda, Gates of Peace, and Atomic Bomb Memorial Mount. You could easily spend half a day wandering around the park viewing the various monuments and memorials.

3 days after the bombing of Hiroshima on August 9, 1945, The United States bombed the city of Nagasaki in a second nuclear attack. Today, you’ll find a number of memorials and museums including the Atomic Bomb Museum, Peace Park, Oka Masaharu Memorial Peace Museum, and more.

6. Rwanda Genocide Sites (Kigali Genocide Memorial and Murambi Genocide Memorial)

In 1990, a rebel group of Tutsi refugees called the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) invaded Rwanda from Uganda. This started the Rwandan Civil War. President Juvénal Habyarimana signed peace accords in 1993. The following day, the president was assassinated. Genocidal killings of Tutsi people began soon after and the civil war resumed.

The Rwandan genocide lasted from April 7 to July 15, 1994. During that time 500,000-1,000,000 people were killed. This includes about 70% of Rwanda’s Tutsi population. The genocide ended when the RPF captured Kigali and gained control of the country. The government and genocidaires were forced into Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Today, there are a number of genocide memorials located throughout the country. The largest and most visited is the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. The remains of an astonishing 250,000 people are interred at this site. The attached museum includes three exhibits. The first documents the events of genocide from start to finish. The second exhibit is a memorial to the children who died. It includes photos and details about their lives, things they liked, and the way they died. The third exhibit covers genocide around the world.

The Murambi Genocide Memorial (Murambi Technical School), located in southern Rwanda is one of the darkest dark tourism destinations on the planet. Here, around 50,000 Tutsi men, women, and children were murdered by Hutu Interahamwe militiamen in April of 1994.

The Tutsis were told that they could safely shelter at the school and that the French military would protect them. This turned out to be a trap. After being starved for several days to weaken them, they were attacked and killed. Only 34 people survived the attack and escaped. At Murambi, the remains of 800 people are displayed partially decomposed and preserved by lime.

7. Pompeii, Italy

A street in Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius in the background

This ancient Roman city was wiped out when nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Historians estimate that about 2,000 people died in the disaster. The thick layer of ash and pumice that covered the city preserved this little slice of ancient Rome.

At the ruins, you can see beautifully preserved artwork, pottery, casts of people who died, houses, an amphitheater, and more. Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations with over 2.5 million visitors per year.

Some people question whether or not Pompeii is actually a dark tourism site due to the age of the site. After all, the eruption occurred nearly 2000 years ago. In my opinion, Pompeii is absolutely a dark tourism site due to the large scale death and destruction that happened here. The age of the site is irrelevant.

8. Slave Castles, Ghana (Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle)

During the colonial period of West Africa, the British, Dutch, and Portuguese built around 40 castles or forts along the Gold Coast. The Europeans originally used these castles as trading posts for timber or gold.

During that time, African slaves were in high demand in the Americas. The European traders quickly found that the slave trade was more profitable.

They modified their forts to hold as many slaves as possible. Usually in an underground dungeon. African slavers would capture slaves inland then sell them to the Europeans who lived in the castles on the coast. The slaves stayed in the castles until they were shipped across the Atlantic to the Americas.

Living conditions for the slaves were horrible. Slavers shackled and packed the slaves into the castle’s dungeons. There was very little light or ventilation. There was no water or sanitation so the floors were covered in waste. Many became ill. The slaves lived in these conditions for up to three months before being shipped across the Atlantic.

Today, dark tourists visit these castles to learn about the horrors of the slave trade. Two of the most significant castles to visit include Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle. Both are located in Ghana. Guided tours are available.

Elmina Castle was the first European trading post and is the oldest European building in Sub Saharan Africa. The Portuguese built the castle in 1482. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you can see the famous ‘Door of No Return’ where slaves exited the castle before boarding ships to Brazil and other Portuguese colonies. You’ll also see the dungeon where the slaves were held as well as the living quarters for the European slavers, who lived on the upper floors of the castle.

Cape Coast Castle was built by Swedish traders in 1653. Over the years, the castle changed hands multiple times until it came into British possession. Here, you can see the dungeons where slaves were held and cannons that were used to defend the fort. In 2009, President Obama visited Cape Coast Castle during his visit to Ghana.

9. Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

This small Roman Catholic chapel is located in a cemetery in a suburb of the city of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. Here, you’ll find the remains of 40,000-70,000 people. Initially, the remains were moved from the cemetery into the basement of the chapel to solve an overcrowding problem that was caused by the plague in the 14th century.

In 1870, a local artist named František Rint rearranged the piles of bones into artwork. The most impressive piece is a massive chandelier in the center of the chapel that is made entirely from human bones. Supposedly it contains at least one of every bone in the human body.

Another interesting piece is a large coat of arms made from bones. In the corners of the chapel, you’ll find large stacks of bones. There are cabinets filled with damaged skulls of those who were killed violently in war. The artist also signed his name in bones.

You can visit Selded Ossuary as a day trip from Prague. It’s easy to visit independently by train. Organized tours are available as well. The chapel is pretty small. It only takes 20 minutes or so to see the whole thing. The place gets pretty crowded as it receives over 200,000 visitors per year.

10. Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, San Francisco

Alcatraz Island

Also known as The Rock, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was a maximum-security prison from 1934-1963. It is located on an island in the San Francisco Bay, 1.25 miles offshore. During the 29 years that the prison operated, some of the hardest criminals of the day served time here including the infamous Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Henri Young, and ‘the Birdman of Alcatraz’, Robert Stroud.

For punishment, prisoners were sent to solitary confinement, known as ‘the hole’ at Alcatraz. These inmates got one shower and one hour of exercise per week. Almost equally punishing for some, the prison sits close enough to the mainland that prisoners could see people going about their lives on the outside.

Today, Alcatraz is San Francisco’s most popular tourist attraction with up to 1.5 million visitors per year. The National Park Service manages the island. After arriving at the island by boat, you can take a tour of the prison. You’ll see the prison cells, learn about the dark history of the island, and hear stories of former inmates. Much of the prison remains the way it was while the prison was in operation.

11. Suicide Forest (Aokigahar), Japan

This forest, located to the Northwest of Mount Fuji, is famous for being one of the most popular suicide site in Japan. In 2003, a record was made when 105 bodies were found in the forest. In 2010, over 200 people attempted suicide here with 54 of those being successful.

The most common methods of suicide used are hanging and drug overdose. Because the suicide rate is so high here, Japanese officials installed a sign at the entry to the park which urges suicidal people to seek help.

Part of the reason for the popularity of this forest as a suicide site is that the area has long been associated with death in Japanese culture. The forest is said to be haunted by the yūrei, which are spirits that can’t leave our world.

Here, visitors can roam about the many trails that wind throughout the 30 square kilometer forest. This is an excellent place to enjoy the solitude of the dense forest. Tours are available as well.

Some visitors come here to see if they can spot a body. As you can imagine, this is a very controversial form of dark tourism. For example, YouTuber Logan Paul was criticized for filming a video of a man who had recently committed suicide here in 2018.

12. Fukushima, Japan

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake off the east coast of Japan triggered a tsunami that flooded the reactors at Fukushima nuclear power plant and caused an electrical grid failure. The reactors lost their cooling which led to three nuclear meltdowns at the plant. 154,000 people had to be evacuated. Many were never able to return to their homes.

Today, there is a 20 km exclusion zone surrounding the nuclear plant to protect people from radiation exposure. In 2018 tours to visit the exclusion area began. In 2020, The Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum opened. On the tour, you’ll see abandoned structures and witness the effects that the disaster had on the region.

13. Robben Island, South Africa

Robben Island, located in Table Bay, north of Cape Town, was used as a prison from the colonial times of the late 1600s until 1996. The prison gained notoriety during the apartheid era of South Africa. It held political prisoners between 1961 and 1991.

The most famous prisoner was political revolutionary, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. He served 18 of his 27-year imprisonment on Robben Island before his release in 1990. in 1994, South Africa elected Mandela as the first president. A total of three former inmates went on to become South African presidents including Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma.

Conditions in the prison were incredibly harsh. Prisoners were held isolated from one another in small cells. The prison was segregated by race. Food rations were small and communication with the outside world was limited. Prisoners were also forced to do hard labor in a lime quarry located on the island.

Today, Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a South African National Heritage Site. The only way to visit Robben Island is on a guided tour. The tour leaves from Cape Town and lasts for about 3.5 hours. The guides are all former prisoners. They take you around the prison and share their first-hand stories about their time there. You’ll see the lime quarry where the prisoners were forced to work as well as Nelson Mandela’s prison cell.

14. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service surprise attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The goal of the attack was to prevent the United States Navy fleet from interfering with the Japanese military plans to expand throughout Southeast Asia. If Japan crippled the United States fleet was crippled, they could invade and conquer US and British held territories such as the Philippines, Guam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, as well as other small islands of the Pacific.

The Japanese launched a massive attack with 353 aircraft which took off from six aircraft carriers. They sank 4 of the 8 battleships stationed at Pearl Harbor. They seriously damaged the other four. 188 aircraft were also destroyed in the attack 159 were damaged. The attack killed 2,403 Americans and injured 1,178. The attack also damaged or destroyed a considerable amount of the base’s infrastructure including a power station, piers, various buildings, and more.

The most significant loss was the battleship USS Arizona. It suffered a direct hit to an ammunition magazine which exploded and caused the ship to sink almost instantly. 1,000 sailors sank with the ship.

The attack on Pearl Harbor dragged the United States into World War II. The day after the attack, Japan declared war on the United States. The next day, the United States declared war on Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy both declared war on the United States.

Today, there are a number of museums and memorials at Pearl Harbor that commemorate the attack. The main site is the USS Arizona memorial. This memorial straddles the sunken ship and is accessible only by boat. Inside, you’ll see a number of exhibits including one of the ship’s anchors, a shrine with the names of all of those who died as well as some plaques with information about the attack. There is also an opening in the floor where you can view the deck of the ship underwater. Onshore, there is also a museum that outlines the events leading up to the attack and the attack itself.

Nearby, you can also view the USS Missouri Memorial, USS Utah Memorial, USS Oklahoma Memorial, Pacific Aviation Museum, and USS Bowfin Museum.

15. The Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum

Built in Ancient Rome between 72-80 AD, the Colosseum is one of the oldest and most recognizable dark tourism sites. At the time, it was the largest amphitheater ever built with a capacity of 50,000-80,000 spectators. The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, hosted a number of dark and violent events including gladiatorial events, executions, animal hunts, and battle re-enactments.

The most famous of these events were the gladiatorial contests. People and animals brutally battled to the death for the entertainment of thousands of spectators. Most gladiators were slaves, criminals, or prisoners of war but some volunteered to seek fame and fortune.

Exotic wild animals including lions, hippos, rhinos, elephants, bears, tigers, crocodiles, etc. were brought in from Africa and the Middle East. These animals were used for hunts or battles. In some cases, people were fed to lions.

Over the course of the 400 years that these gladiatorial events took place, historians estimate that around 400,000 people died in the Colosseum. Some people consider these events the earliest form of dark tourism.

Today, the Colosseum is one of the top tourist destinations in Rome and the world. Around 7 million people visit this site per year. There are a number of guided tours available. You’ll see the underground level where the gladiators prepared to fight, the arena floor where the gladiatorial fights took place, areas where the animals were kept, and artwork.

16. Mount St. Helens, Washington

The 1980 volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens killed 57 people and caused a great deal of destruction to the mountain and surrounding area including the largest landslide in recorded history. The eruption was so violent that the mountain’s elevation decreased by 1300 feet. The top completely blew off.

Many tourists come to visit the area each year. Today, you can see tree stumps and dead trees that still stand around the blast site. There is a visitor center with an exhibition about the eruption. In the visitor center, they also have a small movie theater that shows a short documentary about the event. The surrounding state park offers plenty of hiking, camping, climbing, and other recreational activities.

17. Montserrat

This volcanic island in the Caribbean is sometimes called a modern-day Pompeii. The Soufriere Hills Volcano became active in the mid-1990s and slowly covered the former capital of Plymouth in ash. The town was evacuated in 1997 just before a major eruption covered much of it.

The volcano is still very active today, periodically spewing ash, smoke, and gasses across 1/3 of the island. Occasionally pyroclastic flows cover more of the island’s land. Travelers can hike to a lookout point to view smoke spewing from the volcano and maybe get a glimpse of Plymouth. It is also possible to view the volcano and town by boat. It is unsafe to visit the town of Plymouth at this time.

16. Anne Frank House and Museum, Amsterdam

In this famous canal house Anne Frank, her family, and four others hid from Nazi persecution for 761 days. They quietly lived in a hidden part of the house called the Secret Annex. Anne Frank is famous for keeping a diary of her daily thoughts and experiences during her days in hiding during World War II.

Sadly, Anne Frank and the others hiding in the Secret Annex were betrayed by an unknown informant and discovered by the Nazis on August 4, 1944. The Nazis split them up and moved them to various concentration camps. Anne Frank died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in February of 1945 when she was just 15 years old. Anne’s father Otto, who survived the Holocaust, discovered his daughter’s diary after the war and published it in 1947.

The canal house where the two families hid is a now museum that attracts up to 1.2 million visitors per year. Here, you can walk through the Secret Annex where Anne Frank and her family hid. The original diary is on display in the attached museum. The museum also includes a permanent exhibit about the life of Anne Frank and her experience during the war.

19. Nuclear Test Sites

Since nuclear testing began in 1945, 8 countries have detonated around 2056 nuclear bombs at dozens of test sites around the world. A few nuclear test sites that you can visit include:

  • Semipalatinsk Test Site (The Polygon)- Semipalatinsk was the Soviet Union’s primary nuclear test site from 1949-1991. It is located on the steppe of northeastern Kazakhstan. More nuclear weapons detonated here than anywhere else on the planet. Beginning in 2014 parts of the area have opened up for tourism. There isn’t all that much to see here outside of some massive craters and some concrete towers and bunkers that housed instruments to measure the blasts.
  • Nevada Test Site- This site was the United States’ main nuclear testing site from the time it was established in 1951 until nuclear testing ended in 1992. The site is located about 65 miles to the northeast of Las Vegas. Here, you can see a number of large craters in the desert where nuclear weapons were detonated for testing purposes. Monthly public tours are offered but are often fully booked months in advance. This is a difficult place to visit.
  • Bikini Atoll, Martial Islands- This was one of the United States’ main nuclear test sites. Between 1946 and 1958, 23 atomic bomb tests were performed here. The blasts turned out to be more destructive than anticipated and resulted in significant contamination to the surrounding area. Probably the biggest attraction for tourists here is Scuba diving the 10 ships that were sunk during nuclear tests. This is a risky area to visit due to the significant levels of radiation that still exist.

20. Catacombs of Paris, France

the Paris Catacombs

This network of underground ossuaries underneath the city of Pairs holds the remains of around 6 million people. The tunnels were originally mine tunnels. The Paris Catacombs were built to solve the problem of the city’s overflowing cemeteries. The dead were crowding the living. Starting in 1786, the city began transporting human remains from the city’s cemeteries into the underground tunnels by covered wagon during the night. The catacombs open to tourism in 1867.

Today, the Catacombs are one of the more popular tourist destinations in Paris. You can book a guided tour and wander through the labyrinth of bone filled tunnels and view the millions of bones stacked neatly throughout. Around 300,000 people visit this site per year. It is only accessible by tour.

21. Warsaw Ghetto, Poland

Ghettos were segregated neighborhoods where Jewish people were forced to live while under Nazi occupation during WWII. The largest of these was the Warsaw Ghetto. The area actually consists of two smaller ghettos with a footbridge between them. At its peak, approximately 460,000 people lived in Warsaw Ghetto.

During the Uprising the ghetto was almost completely destroyed. Today, you can visit the area and view a small number of streets and buildings that survived. The monument called ‘The Footbridge of Memory’ stands at the site of the original footbridge.

22. Perm-36 Gulag, Russia

Following the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet Union built a large system of forced labor camps to imprison ‘enemies of the state.’ These included government officials, military members, and regular citizens. Anyone who was anti-communist or anti-Stalin was imprisoned. These camps were known as gulags. Millions of people were held in these camps and forced to perform backbreaking work in extremely brutal conditions.

Perm-36 is the only remaining Soviet gulag. It is located about 60 miles from the Russian city of Perm in the Western Ural Mountains. The camp operated from 1946-1987. Perm-36 is unique because it was not closed after Stalin’s death in 1953. This is one of the only gulags that was not demolished after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

When Perm-36 opened, it was used as a forced labor camp for regular criminals. In later years, the camp housed political prisoners. The prisoners were forced to do logging work. Some political prisoners lived in 24 hour closed cells. Perm 36 was considered the harshest political camp in the Soviet Union.

Today’s site operates as a museum and memorial called The Museum of the History of Political Repression Perm-36. It opened to the public in 1995. Here, you’ll see the wooden barracks that the prisoners built, various prison buildings, and an exhibit about the gulag system and the prisoners. You’ll also learn about the economic benefit that the gulag system created for the Soviet Union.

23. Cremations on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India

cremation area in Varanasi, India

Varanasi is a holy city located on the Ganges river in Uttar Pradesh, India. The city has become a popular dark tourism destination for its famous Hindu cremation ceremonies that take place on the banks of the river. In the Hindu religion, people believe that cremation on the banks of the Ganges river breaks the cycle of reincarnation so they can achieve salvation. Along the river, dozens of cremations take place out in the open every day.

The bodies are placed atop piles of wood and set on fire until they turn to ash. The ashes are then scattered in the Ganges River, which is considered a holy site in the Hindu religion. Poor families who cannot afford a cremation sometimes release the entire body of their loved one in the river to decompose naturally. Some terminally ill people travel to Varanasi so they can die and be cremated in the holy city.

Tourists are welcome to view and experience these cremation ceremonies. When you arrive at the famous ghats on the bank of the river in Varanasi, you’ll clearly see the cremation sites. Just look for the smoke. You’ll see open areas with large fires and piles of wood sitting around. The cremations take place here.

For a few dollars, you can hire a guide to walk you through the cremation site and explain how the process works. There are multiple cremations taking place simultaneously at all hours of the day. You can walk right up and see the cremation and feel the heat from the fire and smell the smoke.

As you can imagine, this is a fairly controversial form of dark tourism. After all, you are essentially attending a cremation for touristic purposes as the family grieves of the loss of their loved one. Some view this as voyeuristic. It’s up to you to decide whether or not this form of dark tourism is ethical.

24. Berlin, Germany

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

Berlin is one of the darkest cities on earth. It was the capital of Nazi Germany, one of the world’s most evil regimes. Next, it became the most significant city in the cold war. It was also the capital of the socialist single-party regime of the former GDR. As a result, Berlin is packed with dozens of dark tourism sites. A few of the most popular ones include:

  • Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (the Holocaust Memorial)- This memorial is to the Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust. It contains 2,711 concrete slabs ranging in height from .2-4.7 meters. The slabs are arranged in a grid pattern over a 19,000 square meter site. Below the memorial is an information center that contains the names of 3 million Holocaust victims as well as photographs and letters. This memorial is quite controversial. Partly because it is so vague. There is no mention of Nazi Germany or the Holocaust on the memorial itself or in the official name of the memorial. People also use the site as a recreational area, sitting or standing on the pillars. Many consider this to be disrespectful. Due to its size and design, the memorial is difficult to defend from vandals.
  • Berlin Wall- Between 1961 and 1989, this concrete barrier divided West Berlin from surrounding East Germany. The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) constructed the wall to prevent East Germans from defecting to the west. The four-meter tall wall extended 155km (96 miles) and cut through 55 streets. Today, you can see several small sections of the wall still standing in the city. The largest is is a 1.4 km section that is part of the Berlin Wall Memorial. Here, you can see the graffiti on the west side and learn about the historical significance of the wall.
  • Checkpoint Charlie Museum- Checkpoint Charlie is the most well-known crossing between East and West Berlin. The original guardhouse was preserved and today is part of the Checkpoint Charlie museum. Here, you can see exhibits about the Berlin Wall, the Cold War, and some famous escape attempts.
  • Jewish Museum- Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the Jewish Museum is one of Germany’s best and most popular museums as well as one of Berlin’s most striking landmarks. Here, you’ll find thousands of artifacts, photos, religious objects, and archives that document the struggle of the German Jewish people from the Middle Ages to the present time. The museum also houses a massive library and hosts various events throughout the year.
  • Topography of Terror Museum- This museum is located on the site of the Gestapo secret police and SS headquarters. Allied bombings destroyed the original building in 1945. After many years of delay, the museum opened in 2010. The main exhibit focuses on policing under Nazi rule. You’ll see photos, documents, short films, and artifacts that show the crimes that the SS and Gestapo committed throughout Europe. The grounds of the museum also contain some historic artifacts including a large section of the Berlin Wall. You’ll also see an excavated trench that exposes the cellar wall, where political prisoners were kept, tortured, and ofttimes executed.
  • DDR Museum- This newer museum outlines life in East Berlin under communist rule with a hands-on approach. Here, you’ll see a recreation of an interrogation room, prison cell, and an apartment. You can try on clothing and watch television from the era. The exhibit covers food, music, daily life, education, architecture, and more. You’ll also learn about the mass surveillance conducted during the time. This is a private museum and is one of Berlin’s most popular.

25. Communist Leader Mausoleums

For whatever reason, communists love to embalm their leaders after they die and put the bodies on public display. A few famous mausoleums you can visit include:

  • Lenin Mausoleum- This mausoleum is located in the Red Square in the center of Moscow. Inside, you can view the embalmed corpse of the Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. The body has been on public display since shortly after his death in 1924. The mausoleum is open to the public and free to enter. Stalin’s body was put on display here from 1953-1961 but was removed and buried near the mausoleum.
  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum- This mausoleum is located in Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi, Vietnam. Inside, you can view the embalmed body of Vietnamese revolutionary and president Ho Chi Minh, who died in 1969. The body is kept in a dimly lit glass case which is heavily guarded by military honor guards. The mausoleum is open to the public.
  • Mausoleum of Mao Zedong- This large mausoleum, also known as Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, is located in the center of Tienanmen Square in central Beijing. Here, you can view the embalmed remains of Mao Zedong, who served as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1945-1976. Interestingly, Chairman Mao wanted to be cremated. The mausoleum is open to the public.
  • Kumsusan Palace of the Sun (Kim Il Sung Mausoleum)- This absolutely massive palace is located in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. The building was intended to be the official residence of Kim Il Sung but was converted into a mausoleum when he died in 1994. Inside, you can view the embalmed remains of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung as well as his son and former leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il. Both bodies lie inside of glass sarcophaguses. The mausoleum is open to the public. Foreigners can only enter the palace when they are on an official government tour.

26. Somme Battlefield, France

The Battle of the Somme was a WWI battle fought between the French Third Republic and British Empire against the German Empire. The battle took place between July 1 and November 18, 1916. Over three million men fought in the Battle of the Somme. One million were killed, injured, or went missing, making this the most bloody battle of WWI and possibly the most deadly battle in world history.

Several factors contributed to the massive amount of death in the battle. First, the battlefield was small. The Germans were also well prepared and trained for trench warfare. An incredible amount of heavy artillery was also used in this battle.

The Battle of the Somme ended when British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig decided to stop the offensive near the Somme River. When the battle ended, the British and French armies had gained just six miles of land. Modern historians are not in agreement as to whether or not the battle was a success.

Today, there are a number of monuments, museums, cemeteries, and battle sites that you can visit in Somme. The Remembered Trail leads visitors through some of the most significant locations. It’s is a great place to start in the region. Guided tours of the area are also available.

27. Verdun Battlefield, France

The battle of Verdun lasted from February 21-December 18, 1916, making it the longest battles in World War One at 302 days. This battle was also one of the most costly with up to 1 million casualties between the French and German armies.

Today, you can view the battlefield complete with shell craters that are still visible over 100 years later. You’ll also find several memorials including an ossuary. The battlefield itself contains the remains of 100,000 soldiers. You can also visit the Verdun Memorial Museum which features artifacts from the battle as well as information about the time.

28. D-Day Beaches and Memorials in Normandy

On June 6, 1944, the Allied Forces invaded Nazi occupied France on the beaches of Normandy. This operation, known as Operation Overlord, was the largest amphibious invasion in world history. This event marked the beginning of the liberation of France and Western Europe and eventually led to the Allied victory over the Third Reich on the Western Front. The D-Day invasion of Normandy resulted in 4,000-9,000 German casualties and around 10,000 Allied casualties including 4,414 deaths.

Today, there are dozens of memorials, museums, and war cemeteries along the beaches of Normandy as well as further inland. A few of the most significant D-Day sites to visit include:

  • Beach landing sites- The 50 miles stretch of Normandy beach was divided into 5 sections where the invasion took place. The beach landing sites include Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Today, you can visit each of the 5 beaches. Probably the most popular beach to visit is Omaha. Here, you’ll see German bunkers and the sculpture Les Braves which commemorates the American soldiers who died on D-Day.
  • Utah Beach Museum- This museum outlines the entire D-Day invasion from the planning phase until the end of the battle. Here, you’ll see vehicles, artifacts, and photographs from the massive invasion. The museum overlooks Utah Beach.
  • Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial- This cemetery, overlooking Omaha Beach, contains 9,388 graves of American soldiers who died in WWII. Mostly on D-Day.
  • Overlord Museum- This museum, located near Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, documents the time period between the Allied landing and the liberation of Paris. Here, you’ll see thousands of artifacts from the invasion including tanks and cannons as well as photos and reconstructed battle scenes.
  • Pegasus Bridge- 6000 British paratroopers landed here with supplies and weapons just past midnight on June 6, 1944. Their job was to secure the bridge so German reinforcements couldn’t cross. The current bridge is a reconstruction of the original, which was destroyed.
  • Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy- This museum, which is located in Bayeux, outlines the military operation in detail. Here, you’ll see military equipment, artifacts, photos, and a fantastic short film about the D-Day landings.
  • Caen Memorial Center- This museum outlines the battle of Normandy from the end of WWI all the way to the beginning of the Cold War. This gives you a great overview of the historical events leading up to the war and their effects on Europe and the world. Here, you’ll see letters and personal belongings from soldiers, airplanes, and a short documentary film with footage of the D-Day invasion.
  • Airborne Museum- This museum, located in Sainte-Mère-Église, focuses on the paratroopers who landed in Normandy the night before the attack. Here, you’ll see photos, artifacts, tanks, and airplanes including a WACO glider and C-47 that you can enter.

29. Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland

On September 17, 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia battled Union General George B. McClellan and his Army of the Potomac in the Battle of Anteteitum near Sharpsburg, Maryland. This was the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War with 22,717 dead, injured, or missing. This massive loss of life took place over the course of just 12 hours.

The battle ended when Lee decided to withdraw back to Virginia. McClellan decided not to follow him. The Union claimed victory. After the battle, President Lincoln announced his Emancipation Proclamation which freed 3.5 million slaves.

Antietam is considered to be one of the most well-preserved American Civil War Battlefields. Probably because it was one of the first battlefields preserved in 1890. Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the battlefield or hire a tour guide. You’ll see landmarks of the battle such as the Cornfield, Dunker Church, and Burnside’s Bridge.

30. Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

The Cu Chi Tunnels are a massive network of underground tunnels located outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They were used by Viet Cong soldiers for a number of purposes including hiding spots, supply routes, living quarters, hospitals, and food and weapons caches. They were famously used as a base of operation for the North Vietnamese during the Tết Offensive in 1968.

Life in the Cu Chi Tunnels was difficult. Air quality was poor. The tunnels were cramped and claustrophobic. Food and water were limited. Rodents, ants, snakes, scorpions, and spiders infested the tunnels. Diseases including Malaria and intestinal parasites were common. During heavy bombing campaigns, soldiers had to stay in the tunnels for days at a time.

Today, the Cu Chi Tunnels are a war memorial operated by the Vietnamese government. They are also a popular tourist dark tourist attraction. You can visit the tunnels on a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City. Here, you can crawl through a safe section of the tunnels, watch a short film about the war, and view some different booby traps and trap doors as well as an entrance into the tunnels. There is also a firing range where you can shoot Vietnam War era weapons including an M60 machine gun.

My Experience: Why I Enjoy Dark Tourism

My main motivation to visit dark tourism sites is education. For whatever reason, I wasn’t interested in history when I was in school. I just found it boring. Now, I love history. By visiting dark tourist sites, I have gained a deeper understanding of some of the most significant events in world history. It’s so much more real and engaging when you are standing where an event took place and exploring the landscape and looking at actual artifacts.

It’s also amazing to see how human civilization evolves over the years. For example, 2000 years ago, gladiator games were an acceptable form of entertainment. Most people would not be okay with that today. It is also interesting to see how technology, weapons, clothing, politics, and more have changed throughout the years. The world was a completely different place just 20 years ago. Times change quickly.

I also have a pretty strong morbid curiosity. Dark things simply interest me. I find it fascinating to imagine the horrors that humans have endured and overcome.

Final Thoughts About Dark Tourism

Dark tourism often gets a bad rap in the media. People get the idea that it is disrespectful, voyeuristic, sick, or even unethical. Some country’s tourism departments also try to hide their dark tourism sites because they fear a bad reputation. They may not want people to associate the country with its dark past.

The truth is that most dark tourism is simply educational. People like to visit these sites to learn about their history. They also satisfy our natural morbid fascination. There is nothing wrong with visiting dark tourist places, as long as you do so respectfully.

One important thing to remember is that dark tourism is not a new form of tourism. People have been visiting dark sites for as long as tourism has existed. For example, tourists began visiting Pompeii in the 1800s. The gladiatorial games could be considered one of the earliest forms of dark tourism. Those began when the Colosseum opened in 80 AD. People are naturally interested in these types of destinations and will continue to be.

Dark tourism is also a very broad term. Many of the world’s most visited tourism sites can be considered dark tourism sites. There is also a lot of overlap with mass tourism. Most people don’t travel exclusively to visit dark sites. Instead, they pair dark tourism with regular tourist attractions. For example, if someone is in Hawaii, they may spend a day visiting Pearl Harbor and the various memorials then go to the beach the next day. If someone visits Kyiv, they’ll probably take a day trip to Chornobyl because it’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region. It’s common to pair dark tourist sites with other types of sites.

Hopefully, this guide helps you in planning your visit to some of the world’s best dark tourism sites.

If you’re on the fence about dark tourism, check out my guide to the ethics and criticisms of dark tourism.

Are you a dark tourist? Share your favorite dark tourism destination in the comments below!

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Zachary Friedman

Zachary Friedman is an accomplished travel writer and professional blogger. Since 2011, he has traveled to 66 countries and 6 continents. He founded ‘Where The Road Forks’ in 2017 to provide readers with information and insights based on his travel and outdoor recreation experience and expertise. Zachary is also an avid cyclist and hiker. Living as a digital nomad, Zachary balances his professional life with his passions for hiking, camping, cycling, and worldwide exploration. For a deeper dive into his journey and background, visit the About page. For inquiries and collaborations, please reach out through the Contact page. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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Dark tourism: when tragedy meets tourism

The likes of Auschwitz, Ground Zero and Chernobyl are seeing increasing numbers of visitors, sparking the term 'dark tourism'. But is it voyeuristic or educational?

Days after 71 people died in a London tower block fire last June, something strange started to happen in the streets around it. Posters, hastily drawn by members of the grieving community of Grenfell Tower, appeared on fences and lamp posts in view of the building's blackened husk.

'Grenfell: A Tragedy Not A Tourist Attraction,' one read, adding — sarcastically — a hashtag and the word 'selfies'. As families still searched for missing inhabitants of the 24-storey block, and the political shock waves were being felt through the capital, people had started to arrive in North Kensington to take photos. Some were posing in selfie mode.

"It's not the Eiffel Tower," one resident told the BBC after the posters attracted the attention of the press. "You don't take a picture." Weeks later, local people were dismayed when a coachload of Chinese tourists pulled up nearby so that its occupants could get out and take photos.

Grenfell Tower, which still dominates the surrounding skyline (it's due to be demolished in late 2018), had become a site for 'dark tourism', a loose label for any sort of tourism that involves visiting places that owe their notoriety to death, disaster, an atrocity or what can also loosely be termed 'difficult heritage'.

It's a phenomenon that's on the rise as established sites such as Auschwitz and the September 11 museum in Manhattan enjoy record visitor numbers. Meanwhile, demand is rising among those more intrepid dark tourists who want to venture to the fallout zones of Chernobyl and Fukushima, as well as North Korea and Rwanda. In Sulawesi, Indonesia, Western tourists wielding GoPros pay to watch elaborate funeral ceremonies in the Toraja region, swapping notes afterwards on TripAdvisor.

Along the increasingly crowded dark-tourist trail, academics, tour operators and the residents of many destinations are asking searching questions about the ethics of modern tourism in an age of the selfie and the Instagram hashtag. When Pompeii, a dark tourist site long before the phrase existed, found itself on the Grand Tour of young European nobility in the 18th century, dozens of visitors scratched their names into its excavated walls. Now we leave our mark in different ways, but where should we draw the boundaries?

Questions like these have become the life's work of Dr Philip Stone , perhaps the world's leading academic expert on dark tourism. He has a background in business and marketing, and once managed a holiday camp in Scotland. But a fascination with societal attitudes to mortality led to a PhD in thanatology, the study of death, and a focus on tourism.

"I'm not even a person who enjoys going to these places," Stone says from the University of Central Lancashire, where he runs the Institute for Dark Tourism Research. "But what I am interested in is the way people face their own mortality by looking at other deaths of significance. Because we've become quite divorced from death yet we have this kind of packaging up of mortality in the visit economy which combines business, sociology, psychology under the banner of dark tourism. It's really fascinating to shine a light on that."

Historical roots

The term 'dark tourism' is far newer than the practice, which long predates Pompeii's emergence as a morbid attraction. Stone considers the Roman Colosseum to be one of the first dark tourist sites, where people travelled long distances to watch death as sport. Later, until the late 18th century, the appeal was starker still in central London, where people paid money to sit in grandstands to watch mass executions. Hawkers would sell pies at the site, which was roughly where Marble Arch stands today.

It was only in 1996 that 'dark tourism' entered the scholarly lexicon when two academics in Glasgow applied it while looking at sites associated with the assassination of JFK. Those who study dark tourism identify plenty of reasons for the growing phenomenon, including raised awareness of it as an identifiable thing. Access to sites has also improved with the advent of cheap air travel. It's hard to imagine that the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum would now welcome more than two million visitors a year (an average of almost 5,500 a day, more than two-thirds of whom travel to the Polish site from other countries in Europe) were it not for its proximity to Krakow's international airport.

Peter Hohenhaus, a widely travelled dark tourist based in Vienna, also points to the broader rise in off-the-beaten track tourism, beyond the territory of popular guidebooks and TripAdvisor rankings. "A lot of people don't want mainstream tourism and that often means engaging with places that have a more recent history than, say, a Roman ruin," he says. "You go to Sarajevo and most people remember the war being in the news so it feels closer to one's own biography."

Hohenhaus is also a fan of 'beauty in decay', the contemporary cultural movement in which urban ruins have become subject matter for expensive coffee-table books and a thousand Instagram accounts. The crossover with death is clear. "I've always been drawn to derelict things," the 54-year-old says. As a child in Hamburg, he would wonder at the destruction of war still visible around the city's harbour.

That childhood interest has developed into an obsession; Hohenhaus has visited 650 dark tourist sites in 90 countries, logging them all and more besides on his website . He has plans to put together the first dark tourism guidebook. His favourite holiday destination today is Chernobyl and its 'photogenic' ghost town. "You get to time travel back into the Soviet era but also into an apocalyptic future," he says. He also enjoys being emotionally challenged by these places. "I went to Treblinka in 2008 and heard the story of a teacher at an orphanage in Warsaw who was offered a chance to escape but refused and went with his children to the gas chambers. Stories like that are not everyday, you mull over them. Would you have done that?"

But while, like any tourism, dark tourism at its best is thought-provoking and educational, the example of Grenfell Tower hints at the unease felt at some sites about what can look like macabre voyeurism. "I remember the Lonely Planet Bluelist book had a chapter about dark tourism a while ago and one of the rules was 'don't go back too early'," Hohenhaus says. "But that's easier said than calculated. You have to be very aware of reactions and be discreet when you're not in a place with an entrance fee and a booklet." Hohenhaus said he had already thought about Grenfell Tower and admits he would be interested to see it up close. "It's big, it's dramatic, it's black and it's a story you've followed in the news," he says. "I can see the attraction. But I would not stand in the street taking a selfie."

A mirror to mortality

An urge to see and feel a place that has been reduced to disaster shorthand by months of media coverage is perhaps understandable, but Stone is most interested in the draw — conscious or otherwise — of destinations that hold up a mirror to our own mortality. "When we touch the memory of people who've gone what we're looking at is ourselves," he says. "That could have been us in that bombing or atrocity. We make relevant our own mortality." That process looks different across cultures — and generations — and Stone says we should take this into account before despairing of selfie takers at Grenfell Tower or Auschwitz.

"I've heard residents at Grenfell welcoming visitors because it keeps the disaster in the public realm, but they didn't like people taking photos because it's a visual reminder that you're a tourist and therefore somehow defunct of morality," he explains. "We're starting to look at selfies now. Are they selfish?" Stone argues that the language of social media means we no longer say "I was here", but "I am here — see me". He adds: "We live in a secular society where morality guidelines are increasingly blurred. It's easy for us to say that's right or wrong, but for many people it's not as simple as that."

"Travel itself is innately voyeuristic," argues Simon Cockerel, the general manager of Koryo Tours , a North Korea specialist based in Beijing. Cockerel, who has lived in China for 17 years and joined Koryo in 2002, says demand has grown dramatically for trips to Pyongyang and beyond, from 200 people a year in the mid 1990s, when the company started, to more than 5,000 more recently. He has visited the country more than 165 times and says some clients join his tours simply to bag another country, and some for bragging rights. But the majority have a genuine interest in discovering a country — and a people — beyond the headlines.

"I've found everyone who goes there to be sensitive and aware of the issues," he says. "The restrictions do create a framework for it to be a bit like a theme park visit but we work hard to blur those boundaries. More than 25 million people live in North Korea, and 24.99 million of them have nothing to do with what we read in the news and deserve to be seen as people not as zoo animals or lazy caricatures."

More challenging recently has been the US ban on its citizens going to North Korea, imposed last summer after the mysterious death of Otto Warmbier. The American student had been arrested in Pyongyang after being accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster. Americans made up about 20% of Koryo's business, but Cockerel argues the greater loss is to mutual perception in the countries. "The North Korean government represent Americans as literal wolves with sharpened nails," he says. "At least a few hundred Americans going there was a kind of bridgehead against that. Now that's gone."

At Grenfell Tower, responsible tourism may yet serve to keep alive the memory of the disaster, just as it does, after a dignified moratorium, at Auschwitz and the former Ground Zero. Hohenhaus says he will resist the urge to go until some sort of memorial is placed at the site of the tower. At around the time of a commemorative service at St Paul's Cathedral six months after the fire, there were calls for the site eventually to be turned into a memorial garden. The extent to which Hohenhaus and other dark tourists are welcomed will be decided by the people still living there.

Five of the world's dark tourism sites

1. North Korea Opened to visitors in the late 1980s, North Korea now attracts thousands of tourists each year for a peek behind the headlines.

2. Auschwitz-Birkenau The former Nazi death camp became a memorial in 1947 and a museum in 1955. It's grown since and in 2016 attracted a record two million visitors.

3. 9/11 Memorial and Museum Built in the crater left by the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the museum, opened in 2014, has won plaudits for its portrayal of a disaster and its impact.

4. Rwanda Visitor numbers to genocide memorials have grown in Cambodia and Bosnia as well as in Rwanda, where there are several sites dedicated to the 1994 massacre of up to a million people. The skulls of victims are displayed.

5. Chernobyl & Pripyat, Ukraine Several tour companies exist to send visitors to the exclusion zone and ghost town left otherwise empty after the nuclear accident in 1986. All are scanned for radiation as they leave.

Published in the March 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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How to visit dark tourism destinations in an ethical way

Anita Isalska

Jan 28, 2021 • 6 min read

Abandoned ferris wheel in amusement park in Pripyat, Chernobyl area

Abandoned ferris wheel in amusement park in Pripyat, Chernobyl area © Hellen Sergeyeva / Shutterstock

Even if you don’t consider yourself a dark tourist, it’s natural to be intrigued by sites associated with death and tragedy. Concentration camps, disaster memorials and other dark tourism sites preserve the evidence of humankind’s worst cruelty. They also offer stories of hope and solidarity from the bleakest chapters of world history. 

A sign with a skull and crossbones stands between two sets of wire fencing. The text says "Halt! Stoj!"

Although dark tourism is often motivated by a desire to learn or pay respects, it can still be controversial. Some visitors can cause offense by taking ill-conceived photos, or by treating a site of tragedy like a theme park. After all, dark tourism sites don’t exist in a vacuum: lives unfold nearby, and local people tread a tightrope between honoring the memory of past horrors and stepping out from their shadow. 

These five dark tourism destinations memorialize terrible events, and each one requires a thoughtful approach from visitors. Touring these sites can be perspective-altering, even life-changing, provided you go with kindness and care – here’s our guide to being an ethical dark tourist.

A gateway with writing in wrought-iron above it saying "Arbeit Macht Frei" which translates to "Work will make you free".

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial & Museum, Poland 

During WWII, more than 1.1 million people were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz-Birkenau . Now preserved as a memorial, these notorious concentration camps bring in enormous numbers of tourists (more than 2.32 million people in 2019). 

Many tourists arrive at Auschwitz-Birkenau on day trips from charming Kraków , 65km east. There’s a similar day-trip effect at other sites of former concentration camps, such as Terezín (north of Prague ) and Dachau (outside Munich ). The challenge is transitioning between holiday mode – selfie stick aloft, picnic packed, sunhat and novelty T-shirt – to a mindset appropriate to seeing the place where Jewish and Roma people, as well as prisoners of war and LGBTIQ+ people, were tortured, starved and murdered.

Respectful photography sounds obvious, but officials at the site need to repeatedly remind visitors . Don’t strike an enigmatic pose on the railway lines that brought hundreds of thousands of people to their deaths. Reconsider whether selfies are appropriate: by their nature they center on you rather than those who suffered here.  

A room with walls and a central display covered with black-and-white head shots of people.

Killing Fields and S-21, Cambodia

More than 1.7 million people were murdered in the Cambodian genocide of 1975–79. The S-21 prison and interrogation cells in Phnom Penh are where the Khmer Rouge tortured thousands. If they weren’t murdered on-site, victims would be taken to Choeung Ek’s Killing Fields , 15km south. The Killing Fields are now a memorial site and S-21 is conserved as the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum . 

Up to 800 people visit the Killing Fields each day, most also paying a visit to S-21 where guides – some survivors of the genocide – lead visitors between rusty bedframes and bare-walled cells. Though there are concerns that the site cannot handle the increasing volume of tourists, locals are generally pleased to see visitors. Tourism represents more than 15% of Cambodia’s GDP. As well as boosting the economy, visitation of Khmer Rouge–era sites ensures their preservation and encourages confrontation of the country’s history. 

Although most are respectful, it’s not unusual to see tourists ignoring signs prohibiting photography or walking directly across mass graves. Bone fragments have been stolen, while graffiti has been left in Tuol Sleng. Visit with environmental and emotional sensitivity: observe signs, watch where you’re treading, refrain from photography at sensitive locations and hire a local guide to ensure your tourists dollars go straight into Cambodians’ pockets. 

A man stands alone under an archway in a park. In the distance through the arch is what's left of the dome damaged by the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.

A-Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima, Japan

After US Army Air Forces bombed Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, the Japanese city became forever associated with death on an apocalyptic scale. Hiroshima was flattened by the atomic blast. More than 70,000 people were killed instantly, and a similar number died later from terrible burns and radiation-related illnesses. 

The A-bomb dome , the only major structure to have survived, stands as a witness to that day. Nearby, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum displays harrowing reconstructions of what the victims endured, as well as thoughtful messages of optimism for world peace. 

This history is a heavy burden for Hiroshima. While it’s important to devote time to Hiroshima’s dark tourism sites, it’s equally worthwhile to learn about the city beyond the bombing. Understand hundreds of years of history at Hiroshima-jō , the faithful rebuild of a 16th-century castle. Take a ferry to Miyajima Island to admire temples and spot miniature deer. Talk to local people about their town, if you can. Above all, leave with memories of Hiroshima as a living town, rather than a by-word for wartime horror.

A memorial flame is lit in the foreground, with a cityscape stretching out in the distance.

Kigali Genocide Memorial, Rwanda

Tourists need to be especially considerate when visiting a place associated with a very recent tragedy. The Kigali Genocide Memorial remembers the victims of 1994’s 100-day genocide of the Tutsi people. One-quarter of a million people are buried in mass graves, killed by the Hutu extremists and their supporters. Video testimony by survivors of Rwanda ’s genocide, accompanied by heart-rending descriptions of children who were murdered, make this a confronting place to visit.

Thoughtful conduct is paramount, and this extends to giving your full attention to displays that you read. Ideally, do some research before arriving and be attentive to what you see and read. People who lost their loved ones in the genocide come to the memorial to remember those who were killed. The least that visitors can do is give their undivided attention.  

Old white teddy bear in an abandoned kindergarten

Chernobyl, Ukraine

The 1986 explosion at Chernobyl’s nuclear power plant has gone down in infamy. The accident caused dozens of deaths, innumerable radiation-related illnesses, thousands of evacuations and a toll on wildlife that is still being debated and calculated. 

In 2019, HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl beamed a blow-by-blow account of the disaster onto screens across the world. Local tour guides received heightened interest in trips around the "exclusion zone," the badly contaminated 2600-sq-km area that was evacuated after the blast. 

A TV series can have a dangerous distancing effect, but despite the occasional influencer using the site as staging for photoshoots, the exclusion zone is no movie set. Tour guides urge visitors to protect themselves by wearing long-sleeved clothing and refraining from touching anything. Custodians of the carefully guarded area scan visitors after their visit, to make sure radioactive dust isn’t clinging to their clothing. 

It’s painful for a country when land is poisoned and people displaced; it’s even more unsettling when a place becomes a macabre curiosity around the world. But be prepared to challenge your preconceptions about Soviet-era wreckage and wildlife-free wastelands. Against advice, as many as 200 people still live in the exclusion zone. Younger Ukrainians eager to build something positive from Chernobyl’s grim legacy offer photography and educational tours, and have even hosted a music festival in the zone. As with so many other dark tourism sites, an ethical visit to Chernobyl requires an open mind.

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11 Of The Best Dark Tourism Destinations For First-Timers

Dark tourism is relatively new in the world of travel, and these destinations are perfect for those looking to get a taste of it.

Netflix's hit series  Dark Tourist opened viewers' eyes to a niche that's been a part of travel in one way or another for centuries. Humans are naturally drawn to the macabre. It stirs something inside to witness places associated with darkness, a somewhat unexplainable thirst to understand things that seem unbelievable.

Though dark tourism has come under criticism for being exploitative, visiting sites with dark histories is an indispensable way to learn about how things happened, why they did, and how they can be prevented in the future. These destinations around the world are perfect for travelers interested in learning about the world in a way that's often missing from formal education.

*Note: As always, it's essential to be respectful of one's surroundings when traveling. Due to the nature of these places and their sensitive history, it's vital to be especially respectful when visiting. 

Updated by Lauren Feather, February 18, 2022: The world overflows with just as much horrific history as that which is glorious. Many of the planet's most devastating events still echo suffering of past where they once happened, and it's possible to visit such places in order to learn all about them. With dark tourism popularity on the rise, much of the world's most discerning travelers with an interest in natural disasters and volatile history choose to enrich their learning by actually visiting the areas where such events took place. As such, some of the most popular places were darkness once occurred have been added to this fascinating yet macabre list of dark tourism destinations. And as always, please tour these places respectfully and with an open mind and heart.

11 Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland

The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano put Iceland on the global map in April 2010. Most people had never even heard of it, until the massive ash cloud it spewed out grounded flights for over two weeks. The ordeal cost the European economy about five billion dollars, however tourism in Iceland has since accelerated, and consequently, helped to compensate the loss.

Before the volcano let rip, most travelers wouldn't even think of visiting the Land of Fire and Ice , but thanks to the fame it achieved (for somber reasons albeit) tourists from all corners of the world have added the cold northerly country to their bucket lists. From glaciers, icy lagoons, and the legendary Northern Lights to the midnight sun and the volcano that caused all the chaos, travelers have so much to do and see in this chilly country of spectacular icy scenery.

Related:  10 Things To Do In Iceland (That Aren't The Blue Lagoon)

10 Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii is perhaps one of the first dark tourism sites to gain popularity, attracting international travelers for over 250 years. The fallen city is one of the best-preserved places to see Ancient Roman architecture, due significantly to the violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Volcanic ash blanketed the city, somewhat ironically protecting the structures from the elements. The residents trapped in Pompeii perished, their bodies transformed into plaster statues. Mount Vesuvius remains active, and scientists say the volcano is overdue for an eruption.

Related:  Pompeii Was Destroyed 1,924 Years Ago, But Many People Still Don't Know These Things About The City

9 Catacombs - France

Tourists flock to Paris' Catacombs to witness a massive, real-life underground graveyard that's inspired literature and film over the years. During the 18th-century, Paris' population expanded faster than its cemeteries could, and overcrowding meant burials posed a threat to human health.

Officials decreed to use the city's underground quarries as makeshift cemeteries, at first simply tossing the deceased into the tunnels. Eventually, the remains were stacked in an orderly fashion, with skulls lining the walls like a macabre interior design choice. Upon entrance, visitors are greeted with an exhibition room to learn about the history of the Catacombs, and two kilometers of tunnels are open for observation.

Related:  The Paris Catacombs Are The Final Resting Places Of Six Million People, And You Can Visit Them

8 Auschwitz - Poland

The atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust are among the worst in human history. It's unfathomable to consider how human beings were held against their will, forced to labor, starved, abused, experimented on, and exterminated. There is no nice way to put it, and it serves no purpose to surround the tragedy with euphemisms.

Visiting the notorious concentration camps of Auschwitz allows people to feel the weight of the atrocities in a way that learning about them through the pages of a book never could. It's a sobering experience that forces people to confront the harsh realities of impenetrable darkness and learn about the events that led to such a deep stain in the fabric of human history.

7 Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia is home to the stupefying Angkor Wat, which is one of the world's largest and most impressive religious monuments that's a UNESCO listed temple. Despite its intrigue and beauty, it doesn't overshadow its horrific past and the people who are still recovering from the suffering they endured under the Khmer Rouge regime only a few decades ago - during which an estimated one million people were brutally murdered.

Travelers with a discerning eye can get a feel for the dark times and misery when they visit the Tuol Svay Prey High School and the killing fields of Choeung Ek, which, in spite of the scars that are still present, are ever important grounds in Cambodia's volatile history that played a crucial role in the country becoming what it is in the modern day.

Related:  A Travel Guide To Cambodia: Tourists Should Plan Their Trip Around These 10 Things

6 Hiroshima - Japan

Since its invention, nuclear weaponry has gripped humans in fear. Drills during the Cold War sent children beneath their desks in preparation for an attack. In recent years, the possibility of nuclear war regularly echoes from the nightly news. Several countries currently possess bombs powerful enough to wipe out entire nations, a sad fact considering the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

The A-bomb destroyed the city and took the lives of thousands of innocent people. The residents of Hiroshima are fiercely dedicated to promoting peace on a grand scale. To visit Hiroshima is to witness the strength of humanity to rebuild. UNESCO designated the A-bomb Dome a World Heritage site, the building preserved as a reminder of the horrors of nuclear warfare.

5 Port Arthur - Tasmania

Located on the Tasman Peninsula is one of several convict sites steeped in dark history. Convicts at Port Arthur were subject to brutal floggings, hard labor, and long stints in solitary confinement, a practice that's frequently called into question for its cruelty. Many men lived and died within the walls, their hard work responsible for large chunks of architecture in Tasmania. Guided tours and interactive exhibits educate guests about Port Arthur's history, leaving none of the dark bits out of the stories.

Related:  Here’s Everything You Can Do In Tasmania During Your First Time There

4 The 9/11 Memorial & Museum - United States

Two decades have gone by since the attack on the World Trade Center, and people can still vividly remember exactly where they were when it happened. Thousands of people lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and the New York City skyline changed forever. In the aftermath, the country put all its differences aside and united to rebuild.

People slowly cleared the rubble, dust, and debris. Life resumed as it has and will continue to in the wake of tragedy. Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum are among the top-visited dark tourist destinations worldwide. It is difficult to imagine what the city looked like 20 years ago on that fateful day. It's amazing to think about how human beings can come together to tend to the emotional wounds left behind by such events.

3 Berlin Wall - Germany

A majority of the Berlin Wall was dismantled after the Cold War, but fragments throughout Berlin serve as a reminder of the negative impacts division has on society. The large concrete barrier separated East and West Berlin for nearly 30 years. An area known as the "death strip" contained guard towers, beds of nails, barbed wire, and more, the defenses intended to keep people from crossing.

In 1989, the world watched on as the Berlin Wall fell, symbolically reuniting Germany and marking the fall of Communism in Europe. The remnants of The Berlin Wall are scattered throughout the world, but the largest portions can be found in Berlin. Stunning graffiti from past and present add pops of color to the city, a reminder of art's transformative and healing power.

2 Chernobyl, Ukraine

There's not a soul in the world that doesn't know about the devastating event that took place in Chernobyl in 1986, where a nuclear power plant explosion set off an apocalyptic chain of events that saw the place become a dangerous, desolate wasteland. The bravest of travelers can take guided tours of the uninhabitable, decaying city of Pripyat to see a real-life post-apocalypse that still continues today , where empty schools, abandoned residences, rusted structures overgrown with greenery, and derelict buildings stand as a reminder of the horrors that once occurred.

At the time, local communities were told they were only evacuating their homes for three days, however, what they didn't know was that they were never going to return ever again. Countless power plant staff, rescue services, and civilians died as a result of the tragedy - some right in the aftermath, whilst others suffered for many years, eventually passing of terminal diseases like cancer - caused by exposure to the dangerous radiation emitted by the power plant's explosion.

Related:  Chernobyl: Over 35 Years On, Is It Actually Safe To Visit?

1 Darvaza Gas Fire Crater, Turkmenistan

A large crater has been burning in Darvaza, Turkmenistan for 50 years now, attracting tourists to witness the site commonly referred to as the "Gates of Hell." The natural gas field in the middle of the desert collapsed in the 1960s. It was set ablaze in 1971, though there are no solidified records of who did it or why. The dark tourist destination in the desert is a popular spot for wild camping, and thousands of travelers head to Turkmenistan to observe a piece of the earth on fire.

Next:  Dark Tourism: What It Is And How To Do It Respectfully

Dark Tourist Trips

Dark Tourist Trips

A Dark Tourism Travel Agency

Welcome to Dark Tourist Trips!

About dark tourist trips.

The aim of this page is to promote dark tourist attractions, events, sites, other curious topics and to show tourists the darker side of tourism. I want to remove some of the negative connections with Dark Tourism, focus on the educational side and make Dark Tourism accessible for all.

The site also features…

  • Nuclear Tourism
  • Grief Tourism
  • Tombstone Tourism
  • The Paranormal
  • Ghost Tourism
  • Disaster Tourism
  • Adventure Tourism
  • Urban Exploration

What is Dark Tourism? 

“ Dark Tourism (also black tourism or grief tourism) has been defined as tourism involving travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy… The main attraction to dark locations is often their historical value rather than their associations with death and suffering”

”Dark Tourism is the most educational form of travelling possible”

Dark Tourism also known as black tourism or grief tourism is tourism that is associated with death or tragedy. Some popular dark tourism sites are: 

  • Concentration Camps (Auschwitz, Dachau)
  • Sites of Nuclear Disasters (Chernobyl, Fukushima)
  • Memorial Sites (Ground zero NYC, Hiroshima Peace Memorial) 
  • Cemeteries and Crypts
  • Dungeons and Prisons
  • Historical Battlefields
  • Historical and Heritage sites
  • Museums and Education centres

Recently this area of tourism has sparked the interest of the media and general public and the motivations of people who visit these sites varies greatly. 

Why is Dark Tourism important?

  • Learn about the past and try not to make it our future. This is more important than ever in our particularly divisive political climate
  • A way to understand a culture/time in history and observe it with with respect and an open-minded curiosity
  • Remind you of the important aspects of life, an opportunity to open up difficult conversations and to pay respect
  • Takes you out of your comfort zone and at the same time providing education

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This website allows you to request a Dark Tourist Day Trip itinerary for a future trip or to get some ideas.

Please take a look around and let me know of your own Dark Tourist Trips so I can feature them on the page, you can send photos via the email address below, Also you can follow us on Facebook! 

https://www.facebook.com/darktouristtrips/

Our Email address is [email protected]

Dark Tourist Trips have been featured in the New York Times Newspaper!

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The Rise of Dark Tourism [2022 Study]

dark tourism companies

There’s a good chance you’ve heard the term “dark tourism” before.

Perhaps, you even ventured out to some morbid destinations yourself, such as the 9/11 Memorial Museum in NY or the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Hawaii.

After all, dark tourism—visiting places where some of the darkest events of human history unfolded—has been all the rave in recent years. In part, thanks to the HBO miniseries “Chernobyl” and Netflix series “Dark Tourist.”

That’s why at Passport Photo Online, we’ve decided to survey 900+ Americans to shed some light on the topic of dark tourism, discover travelers’ motivations for visiting macabre destinations, as well as explore the controversy and ethics behind it.

Key Takeaways

the rise of dark tourism (key takeaways)

  • 82% of Americans have visited at least one dark tourism destination. Of the remaining 18% of US travelers who haven’t engaged in dark tourism yet, 63% said they are interested in it.
  • The leading motivations for traveling to morbid destinations are the educational aspect that comes with it (52%) and a desire to pay tribute to people affected by the grief event (47%).
  • The top three most popular dark tourism destinations are the Pearl Harbor National Memorial (45%), Ground Zero (44%), and the Catacombs of Paris (43%).
  • Most Americans have a positive (46%) or very positive (18%) attitude toward dark tourism—only 9% are against it.
  • 57% of travelers have no liking for fellow tourists taking selfies at macabre destinations.

Dark Tourism: Why Travelers Flock to Sites of Tragedy

dark tourism: why travelers flock to sites of tragedy

As the first order of business, we wanted to gauge the popularity of dark tourism in the US.

It turns out a full 82% of Americans have visited at least one dark tourism destination in their lifetime: 83% of men and 81% of women. Here’s also how different demographics compare:

  • Gen Zers (25 or younger): 91%
  • Millennials (26–38): 83%
  • Gen Xers (39–54): 80%
  • Baby Boomers (55+): 71%

As for the remaining 18% of US travelers who haven’t engaged in dark tourism yet, we asked if they’re generally interested in visiting morbid destinations: 63% said “Yes.”

We then asked the respondents about their key motivations for engaging in dark tourism. Below are the results:

  • I enjoy the educational aspect that comes with dark tourism: 52%
  • I wished to pay tribute to people affected by the grief event: 47%
  • I wanted to emotionally absorb myself in a place of tragedy: 46%
  • I was looking to discover a place with a story rather than just visit a trendy destination: 45%

As you can see, the educational aspect came out on top. That’s not all that surprising since dark tourism destinations usually provide travelers with authentic artifacts and help gain a more profound understanding of past events.

Next, we asked Americans what types of dark tourism they find the most appealing:

  • War/battlefield tourism (recreational travel to active or former war zones): 56%
  • Disaster tourism (visiting locations at which environmental disasters, either natural or man-made, took place): 56%
  • Cemetery tourism (type of travel aimed at exploring cemeteries for their artistic, architectonic, historic, and landscape heritage): 53%
  • Ghost tourism (any form of travel or leisure that involves encounters with or learning about ghosts or hauntings): 52%
  • Nuclear tourism (visiting places where there have been atomic explosions): 50%
  • Holocaust/Genocide tourism (travel to places associated with the deliberate mass killing of a particular nation or ethnic group aimed at destroying that nation or group): 49%
  • Prison and persecution site tourism (involves heritage-related leisure visits to prison museums/attractions or former sites of incarceration): 48%

War/battlefield tourism and disaster tourism took the cake, with 56% of the vote for each. 

Note that there’s a degree of overlap, of course, between the presented categories. Yet, a given site can be appealing to the traveler for more than one reason. Hence, the overlap merely reflects reality.

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Dark Tourism Destinations Intrepid Travelers Want to Visit the Most

dark tourism destinations intrepid travelers want to visit the most

At this point, we wanted to ask Americans what dark tourism destinations they’d love to visit the most in their lifetime. 

We presented the respondents with a list of the most popular dark destination and asked them to take their pick.

See the results below, along with some snappy information about some of the less-obvious places.

  • Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Hawaii : 45%
  • Ground Zero, New York : 44%
  • Catacombs of Paris, France (underground ossuaries, which hold the remains of 6M+ people in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone quarries): 43%
  • Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, Japan : 42%
  • Wreck of the Titanic, North Atlantic : 41%
  • Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, California : 40%
  • Auschwitz Concentration Camps, Poland (a complex of 40+ concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during WWII and the Holocaust): 39%
  • Bran Castle, Romania (famous for spawning the original vampire legend of Count Dracula): 39%
  • Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine : 37%
  • Fukushima, Japan : 35%
  • Wuhan, China : 34%
  • Choeung Ek, Cambodia (a former orchard and mass grave of 17,000+ men, women, and children killed during the reign of the Khmer Rouge): 32%
  • Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Rwanda (a memorial commemorating the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which holds the remains of 250K+ people): 32%
  • Aokigahara Forest, Japan (associated with suicide and eventually becoming known by the nickname “the Suicide Forest,” the forest has gained a reputation as one of the world’s most-used suicide sites): 32%
  • Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Ukraine [post-war] (one of the most emblematic points of the Siege of Mariupol during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine): 31%

Predictably, places historically near and dear to Americans have risen to the top, with the Pearl Harbor National Memorial (45%) and the World Trade Center site (44%) taking the first two spots.

We also went out on a limb and included the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, as an option, which was picked by 31% of Americans. 

Although the Russia-Ukraine war rages on, we hope people will take an interest in visiting said place after Ukraine’s victory to learn first-hand about the bravery of the Ukrainian soldiers and pay tribute to those who perished defending their motherland.

The Controversy and Ethics behind Dark Tourism

the controversy and ethics behind dark tourism

It’s not all black and white when it comes to dark tourism.

While most Americans have a positive (46%) or very positive (18%) attitude toward it, some (9%) have no liking for it, our study finds.

Here’s a quick rundown of the main arguments against dark tourism:

  • It exploits human suffering: 22%
  • Dark tourism sites are sometimes presented with a bias, watering down or whitewashing part of history: 18%
  • It desecrates the sites of human suffering and death: 18%
  • I just don’t understand the appeal: 16%
  • I view it as perverse or inappropriate: 13%
  • It’s voyeuristic: 12%

It’s important to note that whether dark tourism is ethical or not in many ways comes down to your past experiences, upbringing, and culture, among others. Hence, the attitude will vary from person to person.

As our penultimate question, we asked the survey respondents what they think of fellow tourists who take selfies at dark tourism sites. Sadly, it’s not uncommon to see people walking around with selfie sticks and snapping smiling pictures in Chornobyl or at the gates of Auschwitz that infamously read “Arbeit Macht Frei.”

Thus, our study finds that 57% of travelers have a negative or very negative attitude toward tourists taking selfies at morbid destinations.

Lastly, we asked the survey participants what they think of travelers who break the rules of certain dark tourism places. A good case in point is Fukushima, where some adventurous spirits try to explore the red zone, which is forbidden due to its dangerous radioactivity.

The result?

Over half of Americans (51%) disapprove of travelers who break the rules of dark tourism sites—rightfully so.

In summary, dark tourism remains controversial to some. That said, if you’d like to visit a macabre destination, it’s critical to behave respectfully. Here are a few pointers that might come in handy:

  • Always respect the rules of the site.
  • Stay sober and quiet.
  • Only take pictures when it’s allowed. Selfies are somewhat OK if you don’t get in anyone’s way, hold up the tour, or pose disrespectfully.
  • Avoid causing damage to the site or stealing anything.
  • Don’t talk on your phone. Ideally, put it on silent.
  • Refrain from talking negatively about the victims of the tragedy the site commemorates.

Methodology

We conducted an online survey of 937 US respondents via a bespoke online polling tool in May 2022. This study was created through multiple steps of research, crowdsourcing, and surveying. All survey participants’ responses were reviewed by data scientists for quality control. ​​The survey had an attention-check question.

Fair Use Statement

Did our findings help you learn more about dark tourism? If you believe your audience will be interested in this information, feel free to share it. Just remember to mention the source and link back to this page.

  • Dimitrovski D., Milutinovic S., “Dark Tourism as Educational Tool: The Kragujevac October Memorial Park”
  • Giray L., “Ghost Tourism: The Thrill Of Fear (Without The Danger)”
  • Hohenhaus P., “Categories of Dark Tourism”
  • Hospitality ON, Dark Tourism: Harder, Better, Faster, Darker
  • McIntosh A., Harkison T., “Prison Tourism”
  • Sampson H., “Dark Tourism, Explained”
  • Where the Road Forks, “Dark Tourism Ethics and Criticisms”

Max Woolf

As a Digital PR specialist and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Max has 5+ years of writing experience. Over the course of his career, Max’s work has garnered significant attention, with features in numerous prominent publications such as The New York Times, Forbes, Inc., Business Insider, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, BBC, TechRepublic, Glassdoor, and G2.

Aero Travels

  • Dark Tourism Holidays

DARK TOURISM HOLIDAYS

If you are looking to break away from the norm and explore a place that is associated with a dark past, you have definitely come to the right place. Dark tourism holidays takes you to places that are identified with death, disaster, tragedy, suffering, destruction and even paranormal activities. Although visiting Dark tourism holidays is not something to be overjoyed about, it will give you an adrenaline rush and a surreal feeling which will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Added to that, it also allows you to literally take a walk down memory lane and get a deeper understanding of these destinations. So, if you are a curious George, thirsty for a unique and out of this world experience, dark tourism holidays are perfect for you.

How can I pick the perfect Dark tourism holidays?

The perfect choice for your dark tourism holidays depends on what you are most keen to see. Although dark destinations are sites involved with much tragedy, death and destruction, they can take many forms. Disasters can happen in many different ways, be it, natural or industrial. Thus, there are different types of dark tourism destinations for you to choose from. To name a few:

– Disaster area tourism – Grave tourism – War or battlefield tourism – Holocaust tourism – Genocide tourism – Prison tourism – Cold war and iron curtain tourism – Terrorist tourism – Murderers and murderous places tourism – Dark amusement tourism

Dark tourism holidays will definitely take you out of your comfort zone, but it will provide you with invaluable knowledge and information about some of the most tragic events in history. It is a way of understanding the past, in order to make a better future.

Still don’t know what dark destination to pick for your trip? Then head over to our very own blog to find an article on some of the most iconic dark tourism destinations in the world.

Why should I book my dark destination with Aero Travels?

As renowned travel agents in the UK, we at Aero Travels are always looking to provide unique experiences to our customer. We strive to break the taboo associated with dark destinations and provide our customers with the opportunity to witness the culture, significance and rich history found in these places.

We have put together some amazing dark tourism packages for you to explore and witness some of the most talked-about dark destinations in the world. That means you don’t have to worry about booking flights, accommodation or tours because we will be doing all that for you. All you need to do is simply choose the dark destination you wish to explore and we will take care of the rest.

dark tourism companies

Bucharest Holiday

2 nights Flights Hotel bed and Breakfast Dracula's Castle Tour

dark tourism companies

Paris Catacombs Tour

2 nights Flights Hotel Bed and Breakfast Basis Catacombs of Paris Tour

dark tourism companies

Pompeii Mt.Vesuvius Holiday

3 nights Flights Palazzo San Michele bed and Breakfast Basis Dracula's Castle Tour

dark tourism companies

  • Aokigahara Forest, Japan

5 nights Flights Agora Place Asakusa bed and Breakfast Aokigahara Forest Trekking Tour

dark tourism companies

Killings Fields - Cambodia

5 nights Flights Pacific Hotel Phnom Penh bed and Breakfast Killing Fields and Prison S21 Tour

dark tourism companies

Hiroshima , Japan Dark Holiday

5 nights Flights APA Hotel Hiroshima-Ekimae Ohashi bed and Breakfast Basis Hiroshima Peae Walking Tour

dark tourism companies

The Day of the Dead Festival - Mexico

5 nights Flights ibis Cancun Centro bed and Breakfast Basis The day of the Dead Festival

dark tourism companies

The Dungeons of London

3 nights April-September 2022 ibis London Earls Court bed and Breakfast Basis The Dungeons London Entrance Ticket

Dark Tourism Holidays FAQ

Visiting dark tourism destinations allow travellers to walk back in time and take a glimpse into the darkness that existed at some point in history. It also allows them to understand the pain and suffering that the victims had to experience as well as their unwavering perseverance. Today, dark tourism holidays have become widely popular among travellers as it is a unique, intriguing, interesting and not to mention educative experience. Many people go in search of dark destinations to learn and better understand a grim incident or situation that occurred in the past and to pay their respects.

Dark tourism is definitely not for the faint-hearted. If you are hoping to visit any dark tourism destinations, ensure that you are comfortable with where you are going and what you will be witnessing. That being said, it should also be noted that travellers of various age groups; that is from young students to senior citizens, have shown much interest in dark tourism. Thus, it is safe to say that its appropriateness has nothing to do with age, but with one’s mindset.

Dark tourism holidays can vary from visiting a light dark destination such as the London Dungeons, where people have fun, to tourists visiting scenes of mass death or extreme tragedy like Pompeii in Italy, where you feel the pain and suffering that was caused. Thus, the dark tourism spectrum on one end will take you to extremely dark destinations that often involve an educational element such as The Killing Fields of Cambodia. Or on the other hand, it will take you to a lighter dark destination like the Dracula Castle in Bucharest where it is more commercialized and displays romanticized versions of dark history, for fun and entertainment.

The main purpose of dark tourism sites around the world is to commemorate the dead and educate oneself. It allows visitors to emotionally absorb themselves in a place of tragedy and to educate themselves to ensure that history will never repeat itself. People need to immerse themselves in the culture and tragic pasts of different parts of the world in order to truly reflect on history.

  • Disaster Tourism
  • Grave Tourism
  • Holocaust Tourism
  • Cold War and Iron Curtain Tourism
  • Nuclear Tourism
  • Prison and Persecution Site Tourism
  • War or Battlefield Tourism
  • Genocide Tourism
  • Terrorist Tourism
  • Dark Amusement Tourism
  • Murderers and Murderous Places Tourism

Although dark tourism sounds like a dangerous concept and many people perceive it as visiting ‘dangerous places’, it most certainly is not dangerous at all. Dark tourism is merely tourism that directs travellers to places that are identified with death and tragedy. Most of these locations are completely harmless now and does not put your life at risk. Thus, it is important to bear in mind that dark tourism is not about putting people’s lives at risk. These destinations were indeed dangerous at some point in history however, not so much anymore.

Dark tourism holidays are indeed important to society as they give a positive impact to the economical side of view by generating income for the affected communities. Furthermore, it benefits both the residents and the tourists emotionally and creates awareness to ensure that history will not be repeated. Dark tourism definitely takes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to experience new things and change your view of the world.

Dark tourism is also known as Black Tourism, Morbid Tourism, Thana Tourism and Grief Tourism.

When embarking on dark tourism holidays, it is important to keep in mind that it is a sensitive destination and there is a different set of manners that are required, no matter how dark.

  • Don’t touch anything.

One of the most common mistakes that tourists make when visiting most destinations is touching ruins, artefacts, monuments, gravestones or whatever is there in plain sight. This is completely unacceptable, especially when visiting dark tourism destinations as these places should be visited with the same kind of respect as visiting a religious site.

  • Learn a little bit about the cultures and religions outside of the clichés.

Familiarize yourself with a little about the history of the places you visit and create cultural awareness within yourself beforehand. Furthermore, have an open mind when visiting these destinations instead of blindly believing everything you see and hear.

  • Rethink when and where you take selfies.

Be mindful of where you are and behave respectfully. Dark tourism spots are to be treated extremely delicately, so busting out your selfie stick and snapping away is not something that should be practised at such sites. First, check if photography is permitted and act accordingly.

  • Dress and behave appropriately.

Most dark tourism site around the world have witnessed great tragedy and loss. Thus, when visiting such places it is necessary to dress appropriately and show your respect to the departed souls as well as the community.

  • Chernobyl, Ukraine
  • Auschwitz Concentration Camps, Poland
  • Pompeii, Italy
  • Hiroshima, Japan
  • Catacombs, Paris
  • Killing Fields, Cambodia
  • The Day of the Dead Festival, Mexico
  • Dracula Castle, Bucharest
  • The London Dungeons, England

Book your holidays now

Call 0203 983 9653 , to speak to a travel consultant

Related Articles

Dark tourism explained by british tour operators.,  top 10 dark tourism destinations to visit in 2022/2023.

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Graphic of Taylor Swift with computer cursor bars across her face.

Inside the Taylor Swift deepfake scandal: ‘It’s men telling a powerful woman to get back in her box’

AI-generated porn, fuelled by misogyny, is flooding the internet, with Taylor Swift the latest high-profile casualty. Victims say social media platforms are failing to take it down – will they now start taking it seriously?

F or almost a whole day last week, deepfake pornographic images of Taylor Swift rapidly spread through X. The social media platform, formerly Twitter, was so slow to react that one image racked up 47m views before it was taken down. It was largely Swift’s fans who mobilised and mass-reported the images, and there was a sense of public anger, with even the White House calling it “alarming”. X eventually removed the images and blocked searches to the pop star’s name on Sunday evening.

For women who have been victims of the creation and sharing of nonconsensual deepfake pornography, the events of the past week will have been a horrible reminder of their own abuse, even if they may also hope that the spotlight will force legislators into action. But because the pictures were removed, Swift’s experience is far from the norm. Most victims, even those who are famous, are less fortunate. The 17-year-old Marvel actor Xochitl Gomez spoke this month about X failing to remove pornographic deepfakes of her. “This has nothing to do with me. And yet it’s on here with my face,” she said.

Noelle Martin is a survivor of image-based abuse, a term that covers the sharing of nonconsensual sexual images and explicit deepfakes. She first discovered her face was being used in pornographic content 11 years ago. “Everyday women like me will not have millions of people working to protect us and to help take down the content, and we won’t have the benefit of big tech companies, where this is facilitated, responding to the abuse,” she says.

Martin, an activist and researcher at the Tech & Policy Lab at the University of Western Australia, says that at first it was doctored pictures of her, but in the past few years, as generative AI has boomed, it has been videos, which are mostly shared on pornographic sites. “It is sickening, shocking,” she says. “I try not to look at it. If I do come across it, it’s just …” She pauses. “I don’t even know how to describe it. Just a wash of pain, really.”

Even if the images aren’t particularly realistic, “it’s still enough to cause irreparable harm to a person”, she says. And good luck trying to get the images removed from the internet. “Takedown and removal is a futile process. It’s an uphill battle, and you can never guarantee its complete removal once something’s out there.” It affects everything, she says, “from your employability to your future earning capacity to your relationships. It’s an inescapable form of abuse, that has consequences that operate in perpetuity.” Martin has had to mention it at job interviews. “It’s something that you have to talk about on first dates. It infringes upon every aspect of your life.”

When the campaigner and writer Laura Bates published her book Men Who Hate Women , an investigation into the cesspits of online misogyny, men would send her images that made it look as if Bates was performing “all kinds of sex acts, including individuals who sent me images of myself changed to make it look like I was giving them oral sex”. It’s hard for people to understand the impact, she says, even when you know it’s not real. “There’s something really visceral about seeing an incredibly hyper-realistic image of yourself in somebody’s extreme misogynistic fantasy of you,” she says. “There’s something really degrading about that, very humiliating. It stays with you.” And that image can be shared with potentially millions of people, she adds.

Deepfake pornographic images and videos are, says Bates, “absolutely circulated within extremist misogynistic communities”. What was particularly notable about the Swift abuse was “just how far they were allowed to circulate on mainstream social media platforms as well. Even when they then take action and claim to be shutting it down, by that point those images have spread across so many other thousands of forums and websites.”

Portrait of Laura Bates.

A 2019 study from the cybersecurity company Deeptrace found that 96% of online deepfake video content was of nonconsensual pornography. When the vast majority of AI is being used to create deepfake pornography, she points out, “this isn’t a niche problem”.

It is, she says, “just the new way of controlling women. You take somebody like Swift, who is extraordinarily successful and powerful, and it’s a way of putting her back in her box. It’s a way of saying to any woman: it doesn’t matter who you are, how powerful you are – we can reduce you to a sex object and there’s nothing you can do about it.” In that way, it’s nothing new, says Bates, “but it’s the facilitated spread of this particular form of virulent misogyny that should worry us, and how normalised and accepted it is”.

We know, says Rani Govender, a senior policy and public affairs officer at the NSPCC, “that this is an issue which is absolutely impacting young people. In the same way that other forms of image-based sexual abuse work, it particularly impacts girls.” There have been cases of children creating explicit deepfake imagery of other children, often using apps that “strip” a subject in a photo. “Then this is being sent around schools and used as a form of sexual harassment and bullying. Fear is a theme that comes up a lot: worrying that people will think it’s real, that it can lead to further sexual harassment and bullying. [There is] worry about what their parents might think.”

One 14-year-old girl told the NSPCC’s ChildLine service last year that a group of boys made fake explicit sexual images of her and other girls and sent them to group chats. The boys were excluded from school for a time, but returned, and the girls were told to move on, which they struggled to do. Another girl, 15, said that a stranger had taken photographs from her Instagram account and made fake nudes of her, using her real bedroom as a background.

Govender says this kind of material is created by strangers online as part of a grooming process, or can be used to blackmail and threaten children. AI has also been used to generate images of child sexual abuse, which are shared and sold by offenders. Even children who haven’t been targeted are still vulnerable to seeing the proliferation of deepfake pornography. “There’s already a big challenge with how much explicit and pornographic material is easily available to children on social media sites,” says Govender. “If it’s becoming easier to produce and share this material, that’s going to have really negative impacts on children’s views of the seriousness of these images as well.”

The campaign My Image My Choice was started by the creators of the 2023 film Another Body , which is about an engineering student in the US who sought justice after discovering deepfake pornography of herself. A lot of the media coverage of AI, says the film’s co-director Sophie Compton, “was exclusively focused on threats to democracy and elections, and missing the violence against women angle. What we’ve seen over the last couple of years is the development of this community that was pretty fringe and dark and intense entering the mainstream in a really concerning way.” Women started getting in touch with her: “The number of responses we got was quite overwhelming.” For women who work online particularly, such as YouTubers, many “have basically had to accept that it’s part of the job, that they are going to be deepfaked on a huge scale”.

The word deepfake – now used as a catch-all term to describe any digitally manipulated image or video that can look convincingly real – was originally coined to refer to pornography, points out Henry Ajder, a deepfakes and AI expert who has been researching this for years, and has advised the UK government on legislation.

Film still showing mockup of AI program generating 12 pictures of a woman’s face with different expressions.

In 2017, Reddit forum users were putting female celebrities’ faces into pornographic footage. It was Ajder’s research in 2019 that found that almost all deepfake content was pornographic, and by 2020 he was discovering communities on the messaging platform Telegram “where hundreds of thousands of these images were being generated”. As AI quickly developed, it “changed the game yet again”. People using open-source software – as opposed to AI tools such as Dall-E 3 or Midjourney, which have been trained to prohibit pornographic content – can essentially create what they like, which can include extreme and violent fantasies made real.

Swift is not a new target, says Ajder, who remembers explicit footage and images of her circulating five years ago. “What is novel in this case is the way that this content was able to spread on an open, popular social media platform. Most of this stuff prior has been shared in places like 4chan, Discord communities or on dedicated deepfake pornography websites.”

Over the past six years, Ajder has spent a lot of time “in pretty dark corners of the internet, observing the characteristics and behaviours, the ways that these people who are creating this interact. It’s safe to assume that the vast, vast majority are men. I think a lot of people targeting celebrities are doing so for sexual gratification. It’s often accompanied by very misogynistic language – it may be sexual gratification, but it’s very much coupled with some pretty awful views about women.”

He has seen men targeted, too, particularly in countries where homosexuality is forbidden, but the victims are overwhelmingly women. There have been cases, he says, where images have been created as “revenge porn”. “It’s also been used to target female politicians as a way to try to silence and intimidate them. It really does manifest a lot of the challenges that women already face, but provides a whole new visceral and very potent weapon to dehumanise and objectify.”

Is there a financial motive? “Yes and no,” says Ajder. “Some websites have certainly profited, whether that’s through advertising revenue, or through charging [for images].” But with the leaps forward in technology, it has become more accessible than ever. “What previously might have been computationally very intensive and difficult can now be run on a gaming PC or a high-powered laptop.”

Ajder believes millions of women and girls have been victims of this. “The amount of people that I now hear from in schools, and workplace contexts, who are falling victim to this is unsurprising, but still incredibly disturbing,” says Ajder. “While it’s sad that it’s taken one of the biggest celebrities in the world to be targeted for people to acknowledge how big a problem this is, my hope is that this can be a catalyst for meaningful legislative change.” It should be “very clear”, says Ajder, “that if you are creating or sharing or engaging with this kind of content, you are effectively a sex offender. You’re committing a sexual offence against another human being.”

Under the UK’s new online safety act, the sharing of nonconsensual deepfake pornographic material is illegal. “I don’t think anyone’s expecting large numbers of criminal convictions, but technically a lot of the sharing of these images of Taylor Swift would have constituted a criminal offence,” says Clare McGlynn, a professor of law at Durham University and an expert in image-based abuse. She and others have been campaigning to change the law on altered images for many years, “but largely we were shouting into the void”.

For years, she says, the government’s line was that the harms of fake images were not significant, “although, of course, they just asserted that without actually speaking to victims. It’s a broader issue of online abuse against women and girls not being taken as seriously. People are not understanding that the harms of this can be profound and devastating and are constant and ongoing – it doesn’t just happen and you can then try to get over it and move on with your life. It’s always likely to be on the internet, always reappearing.”

McGlynn believes the Online Safety Act is a missed opportunity. “The offence is just about the distribution of an altered image – it’s not about its creation.” And it lets platforms off too easily. She says draft guidance from Ofcom, the regulator, is “relatively weak and focuses on individual pieces of content”, rather than the entire systems that facilitate abuse. “It’s not yet taking as strong a position to try and get the platforms to really do something.” Social media companies such as Discord will point out they have moderators, while X says it has a “zero tolerance” policy towards posting nonconsensual nudity, although when an image can be viewed tens of millions of times before its removal, that starts to look a little hollow.

AI is clearly only going to get better and become more easily available, with concerns about fake news, scams and democracy-shaking disinformation campaigns, but with deepfake pornography, the damage is already being done. “It’s somewhat unique, compared to some of the other threats that AI-generated content poses, in that it does not have to be hyper-realistic to still do harm,” says Ajder. “It can be clearly fake and still be traumatising and humiliating. It’s already very potent.”

But still it could get worse in ways we have, and haven’t, thought of. Ajder is concerned about AI-generated audio, which can replicate someone’s voice, and as the pace of developments within virtual reality picks up, so will the possibility of sexual abuse within it. “We’ve already seen cases where you can quite crudely put the face of someone on to an avatar that you can effectively manipulate however you want, sexually. I worry that the very fast-evolving space of synthetic AI-generated video combined with virtual reality is going to lead to more abuse, particularly of women.”

We need to get over the idea that because it’s online, or that it is labelled as fake, it isn’t harmful, says Bates. “People think this isn’t violence,” she says. “There isn’t any accountability for tech companies who are allowing this stuff to proliferate; there isn’t any kind of any retribution for allowing this to happen.” Whether you’re a girl at school, or a woman whose photograph has been copied, or a global pop star, once those images are out there, points out Bates, “it’s already too late”.

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The multibillion-dollar sleep tourism industry is booming as more Americans travel to rest in AI-powered beds and suspended cocoons

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More travelers are forgoing itineraries jam-packed with activities from dawn to dusk. Instead, they’re consulting pillow menus and retiring on the early side.

Welcome to the age of sleep tourism, where a growing number of hotels are offering amenities and services, including access to a slate of in-house sleep experts, to help guests get a healthy dose of rest. The sleep tourism market is estimated to grow by nearly 8% and by over $400 billion between 2023 and 2028, according to an analysis by HTF Market Intelligence . 

“Guests are increasingly valuing sleeping when they’re traveling and getting a good night’s rest on the road,” says Rebecca Robbins , a sleep scientist at Harvard’s Division of Sleep Medicine and co-author of Sleep for Success! . 

The growing $814 billion wellness tourism industry has capitalized on an overwhelming interest in “slow travel”—voyaging for relaxation and reconnecting with wellness habits. In one recent survey , a vast majority of respondents—over 94%—said they want to experience slow travel. This comes as more hotels across the globe are becoming ambassadors in sleep tourism, offering sleep trackers, retreats and guidance from sleep doctors.

“Gone are the days of traveling and coming home exhausted,” Robbins says. “The idea that travel could restore you—to cognitively learn things and experience new things and also physically and mentally get the rest you need to power your trip and to allow you to return home rested—is a really exciting proposition.”

In a survey of over 600 travelers, Robbins, who also teaches sleep science classes at Sonesta hotels, found only one in three were satisfied with their sleep during their last travel experience. “One of the most important outcomes from that study found that sleeping while traveling was a significant predictor of the likelihood a guest would return.” 

Robbins says while hotels often focus on promoting their nightlife options and restaurants, they can also benefit from travelers’ desire and need to improve their sleep. “After all, hotels are the core provider of a good night’s rest,” she says.  

Sleep tourism hot spots  

Hotels have long provided amenities like masks, blackout shades, and comfortable pillows, but many brands are expanding their suite of sleep-boosting offerings. Several of Hilton’s locations offer “power down” amenities, including temperature-adjusting mattresses and dim light settings, according to Amanda Al-Masri, the vice president of wellness at Hilton . 

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“We know a good night’s rest can make or break a trip as well as provide major positive benefits for creativity, mood, and brain health,” says Al-Masri, who notes that Hilton’s latest wellness trends report found the number one reason for travel is to rest and recharge.

Other Hilton properties are similarly expanding their sleep-boosting services. The Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel , offers guests pillow menus, while Conrad Bali has an additional paid experience called SWAY, where guests enjoy a 60-minute sleep therapy session while suspended in cocoon hammocks. 

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“Travelers engaging in sleep tourism are taking that extra step and seeking out unique experiences, amenities, and environments that help them achieve their sleep and relaxation goals,” says Al-Masri. 

Park Hyatt New York offers a Bryte Restorative Sleep Suite , a 900-square-foot room with an AI-powered smart bed to adjust mattress pressure points. The room also has essential oil diffusers and sleep-related books. London-based hotel Zedwell offers soundproof rooms free of distractions like TVs and monitors. Sonesta’s Rest & Renew program at the four-star Benjamin Royal in New York offers sleep kits with masks, a sleep lullaby music library, white noise machines, ten different pillow options , and a power napping kit.  

For those who want to dedicate their entire getaway to wellness, Six Senses , with locations across the globe, including in Greece, India, and Fiji, gives guests a curated sleep program. The stay includes sleep meditations and a two-night sleep tracker, providing insights into sleep duration and quality, along with guidance from in-house sleep doctors. A five-night stay starts at over $1,000, and guests can typically go from three to 10 nights.

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The prioritization of sleep education

Robbins says the collective sleep epidemic plaguing many is cause for concern as optimal sleep remains a vital pillar of healthy physical and mental well-being. One in three adults do not get the recommended hours of sleep each night, perpetuated by 24/7 technology and the rise in mental health conditions like anxiety and depression that can keep people awake. 

The discrepancy paints a larger picture highlighting the undereducation in sleep science, Robbins says. “There’s really no formal education,” she says. “There’s a tremendous opportunity to improve our collective sleep health.” 

For many, there’s no better time to prioritize sleep than on vacation . For those who can access them, amenities that can help improve sleep quality and duration include thick curtains to block out light, a distraction-free room, and resources on wind-down routines such as mindfulness guides.

Travelers who return feeling rejuvenated just may use what they learned in their daily life once the hustle commences. 

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World Energy

Rosatom Starts Production of Rare-Earth Magnets for Wind Power Generation

TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom has started gradual localization of rare-earth magnets manufacturing for wind power plants generators. The first sets of magnets have been manufactured and shipped to the customer.

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In total, the contract between Elemash Magnit LLC (an enterprise of TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom in Elektrostal, Moscow region) and Red Wind B.V. (a joint venture of NovaWind JSC and the Dutch company Lagerwey) foresees manufacturing and supply over 200 sets of magnets. One set is designed to produce one power generator.

“The project includes gradual localization of magnets manufacturing in Russia, decreasing dependence on imports. We consider production of magnets as a promising sector for TVEL’s metallurgical business development. In this regard, our company does have the relevant research and technological expertise for creation of Russia’s first large-scale full cycle production of permanent rare-earth magnets,” commented Natalia Nikipelova, President of TVEL JSC.

“NovaWind, as the nuclear industry integrator for wind power projects, not only made-up an efficient supply chain, but also contributed to the development of inter-divisional cooperation and new expertise of Rosatom enterprises. TVEL has mastered a unique technology for the production of magnets for wind turbine generators. These technologies will be undoubtedly in demand in other areas as well,” noted Alexander Korchagin, Director General of NovaWind JSC.

For reference:

TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom incorporates enterprises for the fabrication of nuclear fuel, conversion and enrichment of uranium, production of gas centrifuges, as well as research and design organizations. It is the only supplier of nuclear fuel for Russian nuclear power plants. TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom provides nuclear fuel for 73 power reactors in 13 countries worldwide, research reactors in eight countries, as well as transport reactors of the Russian nuclear fleet. Every sixth power reactor in the world operates on fuel manufactured by TVEL. www.tvel.ru

NovaWind JSC is a division of Rosatom; its primary objective is to consolidate the State Corporation's efforts in advanced segments and technological platforms of the electric power sector. The company was founded in 2017. NovaWind consolidates all of the Rosatom’s wind energy assets – from design and construction to power engineering and operation of wind farms.

Overall, by 2023, enterprises operating under the management of NovaWind JSC, will install 1 GW of wind farms. http://novawind.ru

Elemash Magnit LLC is a subsidiary of Kovrov Mechanical Plant (an enterprise of the TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom) and its main supplier of magnets for production of gas centrifuges. The company also produces magnets for other industries, in particular, for the automotive

industry. The production facilities of Elemash Magnit LLC are located in the city of Elektrostal, Moscow Region, at the site of Elemash Machine-Building Plant (a nuclear fuel fabrication facility of TVEL Fuel Company).

Rosatom is a global actor on the world’s nuclear technology market. Its leading edge stems from a number of competitive strengths, one of which is assets and competences at hand in all nuclear segments. Rosatom incorporates companies from all stages of the technological chain, such as uranium mining and enrichment, nuclear fuel fabrication, equipment manufacture and engineering, operation of nuclear power plants, and management of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. Nowadays, Rosatom brings together about 350 enterprises and organizations with the workforce above 250 K. https://rosatom.ru/en/

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Metallurgicheskii Zavod Electrostal AO (Russia)

In 1993 "Elektrostal" was transformed into an open joint stock company. The factory occupies a leading position among the manufacturers of high quality steel. The plant is a producer of high-temperature nickel alloys in a wide variety. It has a unique set of metallurgical equipment: open induction and arc furnaces, furnace steel processing unit, vacuum induction, vacuum- arc furnaces and others. The factory has implemented and certified quality management system ISO 9000, received international certificates for all products. Elektrostal today is a major supplier in Russia starting blanks for the production of blades, discs and rolls for gas turbine engines. Among them are companies in the aerospace industry, defense plants, and energy complex, automotive, mechanical engineering and instrument-making plants.

Headquarters Ulitsa Zheleznodorozhnaya, 1 Elektrostal; Moscow Oblast; Postal Code: 144002

Contact Details: Purchase the Metallurgicheskii Zavod Electrostal AO report to view the information.

Website: http://elsteel.ru

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  2. What is Dark Tourism? Top 10 Dark Tourism Sites

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  3. The Rise of Dark Tourism

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COMMENTS

  1. Dark Tourists

    October 21, 2020 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 Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial & Museum (Yerevan) October 20, 2020

  2. Dark Tourism: Destinations of Death, Tragedy and the Macabre

    170 The Aokigahara forest in Japan, known as the suicide forest, is a dark tourism destination. Ko Sasaki for The New York Times By Maria Cramer Oct. 28, 2022 North Korea. East Timor....

  3. 17 Must-Visit Dark Tourism Destinations Around The World

    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.

  4. Dark Tourism Market Demand, Size & Value 2022

    Report Dark Tourism Market Dark Tourism Market Dark Tourism Market by Type, Booking Channel, Tourist Type, Tour Type, Age Group & Region | Forecast 2022 to 2032 Market Insights on Dark Tourism covering sales outlook, demand forecast and up-to-date key trends Request Sample, It's Free Get Free Brochure Report Preview View ToC Request Methodology

  5. What's Dark Tourism? And Why Is It So Popular?

    Researchers have found evidence of dark tourism going back throughout history. You might be surprised at some of the most popular. Colosseum (Italy):The Colosseum was a gory battlefield for hundreds of years. While it's an architectural wonder, it also has a deadly history. Auschwitz (Poland):Visiting any concentration camp from the Nazi era ...

  6. Dark tourism: when tragedy meets tourism

    Grenfell Tower, which still dominates the surrounding skyline (it's due to be demolished in late 2018), had become a site for 'dark tourism', a loose label for any sort of tourism that involves visiting places that owe their notoriety to death, disaster, an atrocity or what can also loosely be termed 'difficult heritage'.

  7. Dark tourism, explained: Why visitors flock to sites of tragedy

    Dark tourism refers to visiting places where some of the darkest events of human history have unfolded. ... travel companies that bring people to the area said they saw a visitor increase of 30 to ...

  8. Top Seven Dark Tourism Destinations in the World

    Some of the world's leading dark tourism hotspots are: Chernobyl. Murambi Genocide Memorial, Rwanda. Hiroshima. 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Auschwitz-Birkenau. Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, Cambodia.

  9. 30 Dark Tourism Destinations and How to Visit

    Suicide Forest (Aokigahar), Japan Fukushima, Japan Robben Island, South Africa Pearl Harbor, Hawaii The Colosseum, Rome Mount St. Helens, Washington Montserrat Anne Frank House and Museum, Amsterdam Various Nuclear Test Sites The Catacombs of Paris Warsaw Ghetto, Poland Perm-36 Gulag, Russia

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    Grenfell Tower, which still dominates the surrounding skyline (it's due to be demolished in late 2018), had become a site for 'dark tourism', a loose label for any sort of tourism that...

  11. How to visit dark tourism destinations in an ethical way

    While it's important to devote time to Hiroshima's dark tourism sites, it's equally worthwhile to learn about the city beyond the bombing. Understand hundreds of years of history at Hiroshima-jō, the faithful rebuild of a 16th-century castle. Take a ferry to Miyajima Island to admire temples and spot miniature deer.

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  16. The Rise of Dark Tourism [2022 Study]

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  17. Dark Tourism Holidays

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  18. Dark Tourism Explained by British Tour Operators

    01. Disaster Area Tourism This type of dark tourism involves visiting places that have been subjected to natural or man-made disasters. This allows tourists to experience the disaster area first-hand, and witness its destruction fully and accurately.

  19. Dark Tourism In Australia: 12 Macabre, Strange & Interesting Destinations!

    Given the extreme risks involved, there are currently no dedicated tour companies for this particular dark tourist attraction. We therefore don't recommend visiting this ghost town, but it can't be denied that this is one of Australia's darkest destinations. Location: Unknown Tags: Dark History; Disaster Tourism 2. The Kiama Blowhole

  20. Inside the Taylor Swift deepfake scandal: 'It's men telling a powerful

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  22. The multibillion-dollar sleep tourism industry is booming as more

    The growing $814 billion wellness tourism industry has capitalized on an overwhelming interest in "slow travel"—voyaging for relaxation and reconnecting with wellness habits. In one recent ...

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    TVEL Fuel company of ROSATOM and the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India signed the contract for supplies of uranium fuel pellets for the units of Tarapur NPP powered by BWR reactors. According to the contract, in 2019, several dozen tons of the pellets produced by Machine-building Plant (MSZ JSC), a fabrication facility of ...

  24. Rosatom Starts Production of Rare-Earth Magnets for Wind Power

    06 Nov 2020 by Rosatom. TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom has started gradual localization of rare-earth magnets manufacturing for wind power plants generators. The first sets of magnets have been manufactured and shipped to the customer. In total, the contract between Elemash Magnit LLC (an enterprise of TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom in Elektrostal ...

  25. Metallurgicheskii Zavod Electrostal AO Company Profile

    Full name: Metallurgicheskii Zavod Electrostal AO Profile Updated: August 10, 2023. Buy our report for this company USD 29.95 Most recent financial data: 2022 Available in: English & Russian Download a sample report. In 1993 "Elektrostal" was transformed into an open joint stock company.