8 Deserted Ghost Towns You Should Visit

Ghost towns inspire the human imagination and the desire to visit such mysterious places. Whether these places are a historic trading town, nuclear explosion site or town completely submerged by water, these are some of the best deserted places. Such places got stories to tell and a doorway to the past.

1. Chinguetti, Mauritania

the-ancient-mauritanian-city-of-chinguetti-a-unesco-world-heritage-site

Chinguetti, Mauritania © Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

What: Historic trading centre
So how did it become deserted?
The spot was the place to be in the 13th century – a hub for trading and the religious centre for Islamic culture. It’s now well known for its impressive mosque and old libraries.
Can I visit? Why not get into the spirit of the area and take a camel ride over, then wander through the labyrinth-like lanes.
How deserted is it: It’s a UNESCO heritage site so accessible to tourists.

2. Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat, Chernobyl © Getty Images / Lonely Planet Images

What: Ghost town
So 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 and on an organized tour – avoiding any radiation ‘hot spots’.
Deserted factor: No one can live there on account of the radiation and tourism is limited.

3. Bodie, California

Bodie, California

Bodie’s abandoned gold mining town© Getty Images

What: Gold-mining town
So 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 and is 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.
Deserted factor: No one lives there but it is run as a tourist spot.

4. Kolmanskop, Namibia

Kolmanskop, Namibia

Kolmanskop, Namibia© Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

What: Desert ghost town
So how did it become deserted?
Germans looking to make their fortune 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 the ghost town.
Deserted factor: A true ghost town

5. Consonno, Italy

Consonno, Italy

Consonno, Italy© Getty Images/Moment Open

What: Derelict town
So 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
Deserted factor: There is one caretaker on the island, and wanderers are not looked upon kindly.

6. Michigan Central Station, Detroit

Michigan Central Station, Detroit

Michigan Central Station, Detroit© Getty Images/Flickr RM

What: Deserted railway station
So 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
Deserted factor: You can drive past it in the car

7. Lake Reschen, Italy

 Lake Reschen, Italy

Lake Reschen in Italy© Getty Images/Vetta

What: Sunken village
So 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 coined to unify two natural lakes and submerge villages – 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
Deserted factor: It’s in the middle of a lake, so pretty deserted

8. Oradour Sur Glane, France

Oradour Sur Glane, France

Location: Limousin, France
What: Deserted village
What happened: Oradour sur Glane is a relic from World War two. The remains of the village have been left untouched since 1944 and acts as a poignant reminder of the atrocities of war.
Can I visit: Yes, tourists can visit the moving, yet un-missable site
Deserted factor: Very deserted