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With over 50 years of experience and expertise, we're passionate about providing unbeatable vacations on the water.
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18 amazing destinations
Our extensive network of bases across 9 countries means you can enjoy a return-trip or choose from a wide selection of one-way routes.
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World’s largest fleet
We have more river and canal boats available than any other operator, available to hire between April and October. Our wide range of boats sleeps between 2-12 people.
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No boat license required
That's right! You can rent and captain your own boat for a short break (3 nights minimum), a week or longer. We'll show you everything you need to know before you set off.
  • Gold Trusted Service Award
    Gold Trusted Service Award
    Awarded by Feefo, which independently collects reviews from our customers, the award recognizes businesses that consistently deliver a world-class customer experience.
  • rozet badge
    Boating expertise since 1969
    With over 50 years of experience and expertise, we're passionate about providing unbeatable vacations on the water.
  • Kompas
    18 amazing destinations
    Our extensive network of bases across 9 countries means you can enjoy a return-trip or choose from a wide selection of one-way routes.
  • Boot
    World’s largest fleet
    We have more river and canal boats available than any other operator, available to hire between April and October. Our wide range of boats sleeps between 2-12 people.
  • Boei
    No boat license required
    That's right! You can rent and captain your own boat for a short break (3 nights minimum), a week or longer. We'll show you everything you need to know before you set off.
  • Gold Trusted Service Award
    Gold Trusted Service Award
    Awarded by Feefo, which independently collects reviews from our customers, the award recognizes businesses that consistently deliver a world-class customer experience.
  • rozet badge
    Boating expertise since 1969
    With over 50 years of experience and expertise, we're passionate about providing unbeatable vacations on the water.
  • Kompas
    18 amazing destinations
    Our extensive network of bases across 9 countries means you can enjoy a return-trip or choose from a wide selection of one-way routes.
  • Boot
    World’s largest fleet
    We have more river and canal boats available than any other operator, available to hire between April and October. Our wide range of boats sleeps between 2-12 people.
  • Boei
    No boat license required
    That's right! You can rent and captain your own boat for a short break (3 nights minimum), a week or longer. We'll show you everything you need to know before you set off.

Haunted holidays: 5 European destinations with spooky folklore stories

If you’re looking for a holiday rich in culture and history, you’re spoilt for choice in Europe. The continent is full of fascinating destinations with centuries worth of stories to tell — and some of them have pretty scary endings! Across the UK and Europe there are a hundreds of chilling folklore stories, ranging from the slightly scary to the downright terrifying.  

 

Looking for inspiration planning a spooky getaway? Long-standing boating holiday experts Le Boat are here to share five destinations with some of the most frightening folklore stories, including areas which many believe are still haunted to this day. As well as being frightening yet fascinating places to explore, all five of these destinations can be reached via boat. Travelling on the water is a great way to see a place from an entirely new perspective and you don’t even need a licence or any experience to drive a boat in most of Europe, so why not give it a go on your next trip? 

Le Boat - the spookiest folklore stories

5. Drumnadrochit, Scotland

Scotland

If you spend long enough in this quaint Scottish village, you may find the most famous creature in Scottish folklore, the Loch Ness monster. The earliest supposed recorded sighting was in 565 AD by Irish monk Saint Columba, who saw the burial of a man who locals claimed was attacked by a “water beast” while swimming in the river. It wasn’t until much later in 1933 when other reports of sightings started to emerge. This is around the time construction for the A82 road started, which many believed disrupted the beast and caused it to emerge. Since then, there have been numerous supposed sightings of a huge creature with a long neck and large back humps being spotted in the loch, although most are sceptical about these encounters.  

 

While Loch Ness spans over 37km, Drumnadrochit is considered by many to be the mythical beast’s home. On your visit you can truly immerse yourself in the history of the monster, by visiting the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre and Nessieland. There are plenty of other attractions to enjoy in the village as well, including visiting the historic Urquhart Castle ruins and going on picturesque walks around the area.  

 

Spooky rating — 6.5/10: If the freshwater creature does exist, seeing it would no doubt be a scary sight. By most accounts, Nessie is a huge creature unlike any other which would likely give visitors of Drumnadrochit quite the shock. Supposed sightings of the elusive beast are so infrequent that if it does exist, we’d like to believe that it wouldn’t want to hurt us. However, the earliest recorded experience of the monster did supposedly end in fatality, so it’s impossible to rule this out!

4. Klosterstraße monastery ruins in Berlin, Germany

Germany

Berlin is home to many spooky stories and hauntings, but one of the oldest and most scary stories concerns the ruins of an old Franciscan monastery on Klosterstraße. The monastery was home to Father Roderich, a man who was chased out of his hometown after having an affair and took shelter in the monastery in the 14th century.  

 

He supposedly became angrier and more bitter as time went on due to his treatment and began picking fights with anyone who came to the monastery doors. On one occasion he got so angry with a stranger that he locked him in the cellar. He later found out that the stranger was actually his long-lost son, but when he went down to the cellar to save him it was too late as he’d already died. Roderich was punished and killed for the murder of his son, and legend has it that he has haunted the monastery ever since.  

 

There are plenty of other scary places to explore in the city too, from the creepy torture chamber in Berlin Dungeons to the citadel which is supposedly haunted by a woman trapped in the walls. For fans of less frightening history, the museum island is sure to satisfy your thirst for culture.  

 

Spooky rating — 7/10: The folklore behind this haunted monastery is more tragic than frightening. However, seeing the ghost of angry and bitter Father Roderich would no doubt send shivers down your spine!

3. Palazzo Mastelli in Venice, Italy

Italy

While considered by most to be the city of love, Venice has its fair share of scary stories and myths. From Poveglia Island, which was used as a place to isolate victims of the plague in the late 18th and early 19th century, to many supposedly haunted crypts throughout the city, it’s safe to say that fans of ghosts and scary folklore won’t run out of attractions to explore here.  

 

But one of the most interesting (and scary) stories is of the statues located in the square behind Palazzo Mastelli palace. Legend has it that these three statues are of Afani, Rioba, and Sandi, three wealthy merchants from around 1100 AD, who were cursed by an elderly Venetian woman after trying to sell her poor quality fabric for an extortionate price. She is believed to have cursed the money she gave to them which turned them into stone.  

 

Of course, this beautiful city is full of attractions which aren’t scary too. A gondola ride is a fantastic way to soak up the scenery, and you can even get around on a boat of your own to explore the city at your own pace.  

 

Spooky rating — 8/10: The thought of being turned into a statue is simply terrifying, making this a particularly frightening story. But as long as you don’t try to sell your possessions for extortionate prices in Venice, you should be safe from this curse.

2. Oxford Castle, England

England

Oxford is perhaps most well known for being home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, but locals know a much scarier side of the city. The famous Oxford Castle has been believed to be haunted for hundreds of years. There have been numerous reported sightings, but one of the most famous is the ghost of Mary Blandy. Mary was sentenced to death in 1752 for the poisoning of her father but has been spotted lots of times since on the castle mound by both staff and visitors. Another frequently spotted ghost is that of Empress Matilda, who was actually declared as Britain’s most seen ghost in 2009 (Oxford Castle & Prison). 

 

Oxford is actually home to a variety of other haunted buildings too, including the university’s St. John's College Library. Legend has it, the library is haunted by the headless ghost of Archbishop William Laud who was beheaded in 1645 for treason. For those looking to include some less paranormal activities in their trip, there are plenty of other things to do here too. One of the most popular attractions in the region is the River Thames, which you can travel on to get here and explore other picturesque villages nearby. If you’re looking for even more water-based activities, you can also spend a pleasant afternoon punting.  

 

Spooky rating — 9/10: Oxford Castle is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the UK, so it’s unsurprisingly near the top of this list. As well as having a long and scary history, there are still supposed ghost sightings to this day, which you can explore for yourself on one of the ghost hunting tours run by the castle.

1. Palavas-les-Flots, France

Camarague

Palavas-les-Flots, in the Camargue region, is one of the area’s most picturesque places. This thriving sea-side town is full of fantastic things to enjoy, from the long sandy beaches where you can try out various water sports, to seeing Camargue’s famous wild flamingos. But the popular town has a frightening past, too.  

 

Dames blanches (white ladies) are one of the scariest beings in French folklore. These supernatural spirits appear as women dressed in white, who hide near the road side, often beneath bridges or in ravines, until they see a vehicle approaching. When passers-by approach, the dame blanche tries to get their attention and asks them for some sort of favour. Sometimes it’s to hitchhike or help her find her way, and sometimes it’s simply just to dance. The legend has it that if you help her, she will allow you to pass, but if you don’t, she’ll toss you into a ditch and leave you there.  

 

While there have been supposed sightings of these mythical beings throughout the countries, one of the most well-known instances occurred in Palavas-les-Flots. In 1981, a group claimed to pick up one of the women in white on the roadside in the town, who asked them to take her to Montpellier. Sat in the back seat, she began screaming “watch out for this dangerous bend” repeatedly, but when the driver turned around he claimed that she vanished right in front of him.  

 

Spooky rating — 10/10: This is easily one of the creepiest folklore stories around. The idea is scary enough in itself, but the fact that most reported instances have occurred in the dead of night makes the dames blanches even more terrifying.

“If you love all things paranormal and you find the spookiest folklore stories the most fun, these destinations are the perfect places to visit on your next getaway. Whether you want to go ghost hunting in Oxford Castle or see the humans-turned-statues in Venice, you’re sure to find your visit as fun as it is frightening.  

 

“And if you’re planning a trip with people who aren’t fans of ghosts and ghouls, the good news is that there is so much more to each of these towns and cities too. As well as being the believed home of Nessie, Drumnadrochit is a fantastic base for exploring the Highlands, including Loch Ness and the majestic Caledonian Canal in Scotland.” 

 

Cheryl Brown, Managing Director of Le Boat

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