House of Travel logo

10 Of The Eeriest Ghost Towns You Can Visit

South Georgia
South Georgia 2
Kolmanskop 2
Hashima Island
Hashima Island 2
Kayakoy 2
Craco 2
Pyramiden 2
Lile aux Marins

10 Of The Eeriest Ghost Towns You Can Visit

story by: Tom Ricketts

The likes of New York, London, Los Angeles, Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai are some of the biggest and most visited cities in the world. We go to the cities for soaring skyscrapers, jampacked concerts and sports events, pulsating nightlife and endless arrays of tourist attractions. But funnily enough, we also seem to be fascinated by the other end of the scale… ghost towns. Maybe we’ve all been watching a bit too much Walking Dead? Or a few too many wild wests? Whatever the reason, they are amazing to see. And there’s certainly some impressive examples around the world…

Whaling villages, South Georgia
Almost on the edge of the world is the island of South Georgia, about 1,400 kilometres southeast of the Falkland Islands and one of the closest places to Antarctica. Needless to say, living was tough down here and only the hardiest of souls could handle it. The main population was made up of seasonal sailors there to hunt whales and seals. Several whaling settlements were established on the island and they were in operation up until the 60’s when the whales and seals had become so sparse it was no longer economical to operate there. The sailors quite promptly up and left without demolishing any of buildings, and even ships moored at one of the wharves which have since sunk, and now make for a popular tourist attraction.

Varosha, Cyprus
This is certainly a riches to rags tale. In the first half of the 1970’s, Varosha was a famous European beach resort and one of the rising destinations of the world. Europeans flocked to the highrise hotels lining the golden beaches, and even celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Brigitte Bardot were regular visitors. But that all changed on one terrible day in 1974 when Turkey invaded the island nation. Fearing a massacre, the city emptied and has been part of the no go zone on the divided island ever since. Today the beach is still lined with highrise hotels, however they haven’t seen a guest in 40 years. The city has sat and crumbled over the years, with many buildings now just being empty shells. The city is still off limits, but you can get amazing views from just outside the barriers, or by passing by in a boat.

Kolmanskop, Namibia
An invasion has taken place here too, but of a very different kind. Starting at the start though, the town was established in the early 1900’s when diamonds were found in the area. Word got out and the town was suddenly chocca full of people searching for their fortune. But it wasn’t an overnight story, the town prospered for 50 years and at its height had a school, hospital, trams, theatres, a casino and even its own power station! But in the 50’s, the diamonds were exhausted and the population left as quickly as it arrived. Since then the desert sands have slowly been reclaiming the town and much of the buildings are slowly being swallowed by the moving sand dunes. It’s now a popular tourist attraction.

Hashima Island, Japan
Lying 15 kilometres south off the coast of Nagasaki is one of the more impressive ghost towns, Hashima Island. As recently as the 1970’s over 5,000 people crammed into highrise apartment buildings on the small 16 acre island. They were there for the undersea coal reserves which of course, ran out. The population all left and the island fell into disrepair. However it has recently had a new lease on life and has been fixed up as a tourist attraction. It’s also been given UNESCO World Heritage status!

Skard, Faroe Islands
Located on the remote Faroe Islands far in the North Atlantic Ocean is the ghost town of Skard. Tragedy struck the village two days before Christmas in 1913 when the entire male population of seven men died when their fishing boat sank in the notoriously rough waters surrounding the islands. Within six years the widowed wives and their children had all abandoned the village.

Kayakoy, Turkey
A little known war took place between Turkey and Greece from 1919-22 in which both countries squabbled over post WWII borders. At the time many Greeks lived in the coastal regions of western Turkey controlled by the Turkish, and many Turks lived in Greek controlled lands directly to the west of Istanbul. To cut a long story short, the two countries agreed on a land swap and population exchange to end the war. Entire villages in each region were emptied as citizens relocated. One of the best preserved villages is Kayakoy which still has hundreds of abandoned houses and churches.

Craco, Italy
Craco, one of the more spectacular ghost towns lies in southern Italy. The town is extremely old, dating from somewhere around 540. The town existed for hundreds of years until the 1920’s when the land surrounding the town became over farmed and tough to grow crops on. This, combined with mass emigration to the US, started the towns downfall. The town survived a major landslide in 1963 and devastating floods in 1972, but could not safely rebuild after an earthquake in 1980 and was then abandoned. It’s now a popular film set and has featured in many films including James Bond, Quantum of Solace.

Belchite, Spain
Another ghost town with some impressive ruins is the Spanish city of Belchite. It too had existed for hundreds of years until the Spanish Civil War came to town in 1939. Royalist and Republicans forces fought a bitter battle here because of its strategic location to nearby Zaragoza, one of Spain’s main cities. The town was completely destroyed in the battle. The soon to be infamous General Franco declared the city be left as a memorial to war and the citizens built a new town adjacent to the ruins, which shares its name today.

Pyramiden, Norway
Named for a nearby pyramid shaped mountain, Pyramiden was a town for employees of a Swedish coal mining operation set up in 1910. It was sold to a Russian company in 1927 and at its peak had over 1,000 inhabitants. The Russian company closed in 1998 and the town was abandoned within six months. The Norwegians are trying to make the town a tourist attraction today and have even opened a hotel in the town!

L'ile-Aux-Marins, Saint-P​ierre and Miquelon
The small territory of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is France’s sole remaining territory in North America and lies just off the coast of the Canadian island of Newfoundland. The town was established in 1604 and once had a population of 700 people. Its remoteness led to it being abandoned in 1965, but thanks to its charming houses and church, it is regularly visited by tourists who pass by on cruise ships.

> Read more Inspire articles here

Enquire Now


HOT Privacy Statement

* required fields

Sign up for House of Travel emails: