8 Eerie Ghost Towns to Explore

From a former gold-mining town to a 13th-century trading center, get ready for some spooky vibes.
The ancient Mauritanian city of Chinguetti, a UNESCO world heritage site
Chinguetti, Mauritania © Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery
By Alison Mann

The image of once-bustling towns that, for one reason or another, have been deserted and lost in time is always intriguing. Ghost towns inspire the human imagination and put our desire for exploration into overdrive. Whether it's an historic trading town, a nuclear meltdown site or a town completely submerged by water, what follows are some of the most interesting deserted places in the world.

Take a scroll through this collection of creepy, awe-inspiring and downright awesome places humans have left behind.

1. Chinguetti, Mauritania (pictured at top)

What: Historic trading center
How did it become deserted? It was the place to be in the 13th century, a hub for trading and the religious center for Islamic culture. It's now well known for its impressive mosque and old libraries.
Can I visit? Get into the spirit of the area with a camel ride over, then wander through the labyrinth-like lanes.
How deserted is it? It's a UNESCO heritage site so it's accessible to tourists.


Pripyat ghost town on the edge of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in Ukraine
Pripyat, Chernobyl © Getty Images / Lonely Planet Images

2. Pripyat, Ukraine

What: Ghost town
How did it become deserted? Perhaps one of the most famous deserted cities in the world, it was abandoned after an explosion at the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986. The city now sits preserved, like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie.
Can I visit? It is possible to visit the exclusion zone with a pass from the Ukrainian government on an organized tour — avoiding any radiation "hot spots."
How deserted is it? No one can live there due to the radiation, and tourism is limited.


The famous Bodie gold mining ghost town in California, which is now a State-run park
Bodie’s abandoned gold mining town © Getty Images

3. Bodie, California

What: Gold-mining town
How did it become deserted? Like something straight out of a Wild West movie, Bodie is an original gold-mining town from the late 1800s. It's preserved by the California State Parks System in a state of "arrested decay." It comes accompanied by the obligatory ghost stories of former residents haunting the village.
Can I visit? Sure can, and you won't find any commercial facilities either, adding to the ghost town atmosphere.
How deserted is it? No one lives there but it is run as a tourist spot.


Kolmaskop ghost town in the Namibia desert was abandoned by German prospectors and is now being reclaimed by the desert
Kolmanskop, Namibia © Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

4. Kolmanskop, Namibia

What: Desert ghost town
How did it become deserted? Germans looking to make their fortunes in the desert founded Kolmanskop in the early 1900s. It was abandoned in 1954, within just 40 years of being built. The desert is now devouring the town and the houses are filled with vast swathes of sand.
Can I visit? It is possible to roam around.
How deserted is it? It's a true ghost town.


Cosonno abandoned resort town in Italy was planned as Europe's Las Vegas in the 1960s but has been abandoned for decades
Consonno, Italy © Getty Images/Moment Open

5. Consonno, Italy

What: Derelict town
How did it become deserted? In the 1960s Italian entrepreneur Mario Bagno had some big dreams: to create the Las Vegas of Italy. Work had begun on the town, which was set to attract the luxury-loving elite, but disaster struck. In 1976 a landslide wiped out the only road into the town and construction promptly stopped. It was briefly re-opened as a care home, but closed in 2007.
Can I visit? It is not open to the public.
How deserted is it? There is one caretaker on the island, and wanderers are not looked upon kindly.


The abandoned Michigan Central Station in Detroit, USA closed in the 1980s and has since been used a movie set
Michigan Central Station, Detroit © Getty Images/Flickr RM

6. Michigan Central Station, Detroit

What: Deserted railway station
How did it become deserted? The station was built in 1913 with grand plans that it would be a gateway to the Midwest. Unfortunately, when Detroit's economy stated failing, so did the station, and the last train chugged out in the late 1980s. It has been used for Hollywood films including "Transformers" and "Four Brothers."
Can I visit? Access is restricted.
How deserted is it? You can drive past it in a car.


Lake Reschen in Italy has a submerge town beneath its surface and the church tower still rises above the water
Lake Reschen in Italy © Getty Images/Vetta

7. Lake Reschen, Italy

What: Sunken village
How did it become deserted? Lake Reschen is perhaps most famous for the submerged church's bell tower, which sits in the middle of the lake. In 1939, plans were made to unify two natural lakes and submerge the village of Graun and part of Reschen. Work finished in 1950, submerging 163 homes and 523 hectares of cultivated land.
Can I visit? Sure, take a wander over when the lake is frozen.
How deserted is it? It's in the middle of a lake, so pretty deserted.


Ourador sur Glane  ghost town in Limousin, France was abandoned during World War Two
Ourador sur Glane © Getty Images/Moment Open

8. Oradour-sur-Glane, France

What: Deserted village
How did it become deserted? Oradour sur Glane is a relic from World War II. The remains of the village have been left untouched since 1944, acting as a poignant reminder of the atrocities of war.
Can I visit? Yes, tourists can visit the very moving site.
How deserted is it? Very deserted.

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