If there is one thing Salem, Massachusetts is known for, it’s the town’s connection to spirits, haunts and witches. It wasn’t always like this, back when the town was founded in 1626. Today, however, the Salem ghost tours are some of the best in the country (or so they say), and the Salem witch tours available are even better. Just the fact that there are separate witch tours and ghost tours in the town is enough to be impressed!
As mentioned, the town was founded in 1626, by puritans. It quickly became one of the biggest seaports in America and was for a long time the richest town as well (when counting per capita). You’d assume there could be some interesting Salem walking tours taking you through the history of the town and area (actually, there is). So where did the ghosts and witches come in?
Enter the witch trials of 1692, and today, over 300 years later, Salem is considered the Halloween capital of the world. Shortly after the witch trials people were rather ashamed of it, and didn’t focus on it at all. But in 1892, 200 years later, a local jeweller (Daniel Lowe) created a memorial spoon to remember the trials. It ended up selling really well, and so he kept creating “witchy” souvenirs relating to the trials.
This slowly earned Salem the nickname of Witch City, and in turn, the Salem Police Force added a “Witch City” logo to their cars and uniforms. Slowly, but surely, people identifying as witches started moving to Salem, and eventually (in 1972) the Salem Witch Museum opened (book your ticket in advance here). Today, it is believed that 5 % of Salem’s population are witches!
Salem Ghost Tours
Below you’ll find a few ghost tours in Salem you shouldn’t miss if you are visiting. They are all walking tours, and quite fun! If you are looking for something more specific (of course I’m talking about the Salem witch tours), keep scrolling.
Grave Matters Cemetery Tour
Did you know that the Old Burying Point, the cemetery in Salem, MA is one of the oldest in the US? This tour takes you through the cemetery, stopping at some rather famous and interesting graves along the way. During the tour, you will learn about the people whose final resting place is in Salem, and how they ended up there. What’s worth noting is that you’ll see the graves of two of the judges during the witch trials, as well as one of the pilgrims who came on the Mayflower (not many named graves exist of this kind).
Side note: this is not as much of a ghost tour as the others, as it may not be as scary and eerie, but I felt it was worth a mention as it does cover some of Salem’s ghost-related history. I mean, these people may not be haunting you, but they sure are six feet under, which makes for an interesting Salem walking tour.
Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour
I think this is my favourite Salem ghost tour by far. This tour lasts 1,5 hours and takes you through Salem’s haunted sights and history. Learn about the frightening supernatural side of the town, hear thrilling stories of murder and deaths, and visit the sights of the town that may actually be haunted. The total walking distance is a little more than a mile, so it is accessible for most. But perhaps not for those who are easily scared.
For the kids: Mid-afternoon Salem Ghost Tour
I wrote “for the kids”, but this tour is appropriate for anyone who just doesn’t feel like getting too scared. This ghost tour will take you through some of the haunts of the city, including a visit to a house where a sea captain was murdered! But, it’s all in daylight, which makes for a slightly less terrifying setting. This is the perfect tour if you are visiting Salem with kids.
Salem Witch Tours
Now it’s time to list some of the best Salem witch tours available! Most people visit Salem for its witchy history and connections, and so these tours are really popular (i.e. do book them in advance if you know you are going).
Salem Witch Trials Tour
This one is the creme de la creme of the with tours. A walking tour dedicated to the Witch Trials is just what you need when visiting Witch City. These dark events in 1692 when 20 people were executed for witchcraft (and 5 died in jail while waiting to be tried) have stained the town (and also made it famous). This tour is incredibly interesting and takes you through the events that led to the trials and started the whole ordeal. The tour lasts for about 1,5 hours and I couldn’t recommend it enough!
Salem History & Witchcraft Day Tour
Here’s another of the Salem tours it’s safe to bring your kids on! This day tour takes you through some of the eerie (and interesting) history of Salem, in addition to bringing an extra focus on witchcraft and the local witch culture. You know this is going to be interesting when 5 % of the population are witches, right? This tour includes a trip to the Old Burial Point cemetery, and the Witch Trials Memorial (which is right by the cemetery).
Haunt and History Night Tour
I wasn’t quite sure if I should put this one amongst the Salem ghost tours or the Salem witch tours. To be honest, this walking tour covers aspects of both ghosts and witches, but in the end, I decided to put it here. If you can’t quite decide what you want to focus on, this is the tour you should pick. The Salem Haunt and History Night Tour takes you through the beautiful streets of the town, sharing their interesting history and fun anecdotes as you go along. Of course, you will learn about the Witch Trials, but also see some of the filming locations for the movie Hocus Pocus. This is a truly versatile tour of Salem, and quite fun.
There you have some of the best ghost tours and witch tours in Salem. Naturally, there are a lot more to choose from (it is Witch City, after all), but these were the ones I felt deserved a highlight. Regardless of which one you decide to go for, I recommend booking your ticket in advance. As they are walking tours, often with smaller groups, the tours may not run if there are no bookings or no one shows up. By booking your Salem walking tour in advance you are guaranteed a place.
If you are wondering how to get to Salem from Boston, it’s quite simple: by ferry! The journey takes about 1 hour, and you can enjoy some beautiful views of the Massachusetts coastline along the way. It departs from Boston’s Long Wharf and Salem’s Blarney Street several times a day. Just make sure to book your ticket in advance here!
FREE Blogging Course!
Join the FREE 8 Day eCourse covering everything you need to start a (travel) blog.