1 Transylvania, Romania

The homeland of the original Prince Vlad III (or Vlad the Impaler), Dracula’s home province is rich in creepy castles and blood-soaked myths: perfect for Halloween holidaymakers.

While Bram Stoker, Dracula’s author, has painted Romania’s largest region as a dark, foreboding place of mountains, cob-webbed castles and sallow-faced nobles with sharp teeth, it’s actually quite the daylight destination.

But that doesn’t mean it’s without its smattering of scary locales, the kind of places in which you’d expect to find a menacing menagerie of wolves, bears and bats. Bistritza, name-checked by Stoker, is one of them. So is the Saxon fortress town of Sighisoara, the birthplace of the 15th count himself, whose deeds were even more dastardly than those of the infamous vampire.

Sighisoara is an essential stop on any tour of Transylvania, with a much-photographed plaque referring to the father of Vlad the Impaler, which reads enticingly “Vlad Dracul”.

Hire a car and visit ‘Dracula’s Castle’ – or Bran Castle – close to the city of Brasov. Complete with a museum offering Dracula mugs, T-shirts and tea cloths, Prince Vlad himself stayed here for a few nights.

The Transylvanian Society of Dracula runs a tour following in the footsteps of the villain, and includes spending Halloween in the castle.

There are plenty of other creepy castles where you might imagine the old count flapping his cape and laughing in suitably sinister fashion.

This includes the Poenari Castle ruins in Wallachia, where Vlad lived. He turned the former citadel of the Basarab rulers into his own fortress, perched high on a steep precipice. After his death, the castle fell into ruin, but it is still standing in part, and said to be one of the most haunted places in the world. You need to climb 1500 steps to get there.

Up the spook factor on your trip by staying at the Dracula Castle Hotel in the town of Turda, complete with stone grotto bathrooms and a medieval banqueting hall.

See: romaniatourism.com

2 Salem, Massachusetts

There’s no place in the US spookier than Salem, which is forever branded with the hysteria surrounding the great witchcraft trials of 1692.

Throughout the month of October, this fabled town celebrates its macabre past, in which scores of villagers were sentenced to death by hanging. Choose from ghostly walking tours, haunted house visits, street fairs, trial re-enactments, spooky theatre, seances, carnivals and zombie parades.

See: hauntedhappenings.org

3 Loire-Atlantique, France

Be sure to wrap up warm to stave off the chills when you visit the ruined home of Gilles de Rais (1404–1440) in the Loire Valley.

Here, the man who inspired the tale of Bluebeard, killed hundreds of children – first raping them, then cutting open their stomachs to admire their organs – and stuffed their dead bodies in the walls, dropped them down chimneys, and buried them around the site. Nice.

See: loireatlantique.co.uk

4 Aokigahara, Japan

A cavernous forest at the foothills of Mount Fuji, locals claim this ‘Sea of Sad Trees’ hosts paranormal phenomena.

Though it offers breathtaking views of the mountain, it is also the world’s second most popular suicide spot after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, there are a host of unofficial trails marked in the area for the annual ‘body hunt’ conducted by brave local volunteers. It’s not unusual to find scattered bones or incomplete skeletons in its depths.

See: japan-guide.com

5 Edinburgh, Scotland

Don’t be surprised if you see a few amorphous blobs floating past you as you delve into the Scottish capital’s legendary underground.

They are the reputed ghosts of the hundreds of people believed to have lived, as well as died, in the sub-city vaults of Edinburgh – otherwise known as ‘The City of The Dead’ – between 1788 and the early 19th century. Get a sense of their utter misery by taking a haunted walking tour, or check out the undeniably spooky Mary King’s Close.

See: blackhart.uk.com