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Prison Tourism: Tapping Into A Prisoner’s Shoe For A Day

When we talk about brutal and ruthless criminals, we think of fearlessness. But do you know even the most slickest gangsters in the world are afraid of one thing? Death? No, they don’t care about that. It is the Prison. There was a reason why the most notorious criminal of 20th century, Pablo Escobar was afraid of extradition.

We would like to tell you that you could actually be in a prisoner’s shoe for a day and live a life of a convict without really committing a crime. And, who knows maybe you could kick some ass like those shrewd inmates of Orange Is The New Black. Here are certain places perfect to kick off your prison tourism fever!

Alcatraz: San Francisco, USA

Source: Flickr

Let’s start with the most celebrated and high-security prison of all time “Alcatraz”. Alcatraz has been a renowned host for various Hollywood flicks. Be it, The Rock (1996), Murder in the First (1995), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and many more. Alcatraz sits 1.25 miles offshore from San Francisco, in the San Francisco bay, California, United States.

It is the same jail where America’s most famous mafia mobster was once kept. It was none other than the “Scarface” Al Capone himself. The jail was eventually shut down in 1963 but is open for tourists. Imagine the ghost of Al Capone lurking around at midnight?  Good enough motivation for prison tourism, eh?

Pianosa: Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy

Source: Flickr

This prison sits solitarily in the island of Pianosa which is in the Tuscan archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. What’s historic about this place Napoleon paid a couple of visits as well to this almost uninhabited island now. Post his admission, Pianosa has been a host to some callous Italian mafias over the years. Pianosa also has a lushy flora and exhaustive marine life.

Not to mention, there is a museum that exhibits the prison history of guards and convicts which is a must visit if you’re into the penitentiary. The walls of this prison still feel surreal even though the area has been inactive since 1998. Also, there are numerous ghost sites around the area. A brave heart is all you all got to be to pay this island a visit.

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Hotel Katajanokka: Helsinki, Finland

Source: Flickr

This prison is still very much intact and alive in terms of its infrastructure. The hotel cherishes its historic relevance and has black bars in front of windows and stairways which add to its prison theme. Not to mention, you can purchase the traditional black and white striped shirts and other various prison souvenirs as well including a ball and a chain and guilty stickers!

In a nutshell, it’s the perfect place to spin off your prison tourism storybook if you aren’t really ready to hit off a real prison. Perhaps too, in quieter moments, guests will ponder on life in a real prison. There’s definitely something alluring about this place and we are sure it’s worth your visit.

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Port Arthur: Tasmania, Australia


This is perhaps the most interesting destination on this list. Port Arthur is a former convict settlement in Tasmania, Australia that has now been transformed into an open air museum. The place used to be a penal colony for British convicts back until 1853 and turns out, it was also the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in 1996. Known as a place for both punishment and pleasure, Port Arthur is now one of Australia’s intriguing destinations.

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There are various convicts stories screeching throughout the corridors of this settlement and the idea of prison tourism at this site is anything but hair raising! Visit the penitentiary and a night walk through the dead Cemetery or maybe even a cute little visit to the solitary dormitories of convicts, you are more than likely to hear the cries of the ghosts of the past.

Sangareddy Prison, Hyderabad

Source: Telangana Tourism

In the Sangareddy district of Telangana State, sits a prison which is truly one of a kind. Sangareddy Prison dates back to 1796 and spreads across an area over 3 miles. The prison is now noted as a Heritage Jail and has a male wing and a female wing. Sangareddy now also serves as a museum. The Telangana prison has tourist programme “Feel the Jail” through which tourists can experience life as prisoners by paying just 500 bucks per day.

Now, isn’t that perfect? In case, you’re one of them, give this 220 year old heritage penitentiary a visit and kick off your prison tourism diaries. Just one more thing, don’t try to escape.

Robben Island Prison, South Africa


Robben Island is an island in the Table Bay of South Africa and is home to the ill-famed Robben Island Prison. It is the prison where the former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela spent 18 of the 27 years of his exile. Many political prisoners made home here. No wonder the place is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can even visit the cell where Mandela used to sleep for 18 years.

There are guided tours for learners who get to visit the various heritage sites that reflect the Island’s longstanding multi-layered history such as the Lime Quarry, the Bluestone quarry, the army & navy bunkers and even the Maximum Security Prison where scores of South Africa’s freedom fighters had been incarcerated for years.

Fascinated much? These are in fact the perfect kickoff points for your strangest fantasies.. With the prison tourism fever catching up with the younger lot, consider these places if you happen to have caught the fever too!

Also read about this mysterious island called Crete: An Island Like No Other

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