Whether it’s a man-made or natural site, traveling to a new destination has long been a form of spiritual practice. Not only does travel refresh and renew our sense of wonder, it’s intrinsically attached to the idea of self-care and a deeper connection to the earth, other people, and the self.
Some highly regarded spiritual destinations have been constructed based on specific belief systems, and some are known as such simply based on energy and vibration.
That said, many sites are still sacred to certain communities, with thousands of years of history and significance attached to them. Yet, as with so many communities who have deeper spiritual connection do, most spiritually-significant sites welcome people of all beliefs who are respectful and committed to a deeper understanding.
These top ten spiritual destinations around the world will help you find a deeper connection to the earth, other people, and to yourself!
The Most Spiritual Places On Earth
Camino de Santiago, Spain
A world-renowned hiking trail in Spain, the Camino de Santiago was originally used as a route for pilgrims to reach the city of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, where (it’s rumored) Saint James is buried.
Later, in the middle ages, the route became very popular when millions of Christians believed that by experiencing the route and landing in Santiago de Compostela they would be spared purgatory after death.
Today, hiking enthusiasts and spiritual seekers of all beliefs frequent the Camino de Santiago. While there are technically many routes that comprise the Camino, the most popular one begins in Saint Jean Pied-du-Port in France, and passes through Pamplona, Burgos, and Leon – a total of about 500 miles.
A route that is truly more about the journey than the destination, the Camino de Santiago tests the mental and physical strength of its travelers, granting each and every one a unique experience.
Known as the “Spiritual heart of India”, Varanasi is India’s oldest city, lies right along the banks of the Ganges, and is dripping in chaos and color. This historical city is said to be the place where Buddhism was founded, and today is a destination where many, including Buddhists and Hindus, go to pray.
Varanasi is a city where cows wander around freely, where bodies are cremated openly in the river, and where your ideas about life and death will be confronted, even if only by yourself.
Cape Reinga, New Zealand
Cape Reinga, traditionally known as Te Rerenga Wairua, is situated on the northern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. Sacred to the Maori people, Cape Reinga is regarded as the “leaping place of the spirits”, as they believe that the souls of recently deceased Maori use the cape as a place to depart earth and enter the afterlife.
Cape Reinga is a beautiful, enchanting environment. Waves crash into rocks as the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, a lighthouse guides the way overhead, and the view goes on for miles. As this is a sacred place, the Maori ask that you do not eat at Cape Reinga, and that you leave the land undisturbed.
Set against a backdrop of lush jungle, Borobudur is located on the Indonesian island of Java and was built from two million stone blocks in the shape of a giant mandala — a diagram of a perfect universe. In true Buddhist vision, the structure is a pyramid of steps that worshipers climb around clockwise, with the middle of the structure representing Nirvana.
Walking the steps at Borobudur is a symbolic pilgrimage that will have you deeply feeling the unique energy of the location. The views aren’t half bad either!
The Dead Sea, Israel & Jordan
What is actually a big lake, the Dead Sea lies just a half-hour from Jerusalem, and is the lowest elevation on earth at 1290 feet below sea level. It’s eastern shore belongs to Jordan, and the southern half of its western shore belongs to Israel. The water in the Dead Sea is ten times saltier than regular seawater, and the air surrounding contains a higher concentration of oxygen.
While the Dead Sea’s waters are undrinkable and are unable to sustain life, this location is believed to be one of the most healing places on earth. Its minerals (primarily magnesium, potassium, and calcium) and salts are often used for medical treatments – treating everything from skin rashes to arthritis.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
A historical group of temples built in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is the largest spiritual complex in the world, and was originally constructed as a Hindu temple that would hold King Suryavarman II’s remains. In time, the structure was transformed into a Buddhist temple and became Buddhist monk gathering place.
One of humankind’s most awe-inspiring constructions, the entire complex of Angkor Wat is energetic and thought provoking. For years, people from all walks have life have been traveling to the site to experience a deeper spirituality, healing, and energy.
Also known as a cathedral without walls, Sedona, Arizona is located about 100 miles south of the Grand Canyon, and is full of intense energy points, beautiful landscapes, and wellness centers.
Said to be home to a number of unmarked energy vortexes, the area was originally sacred to Native American tribes. However, over the years Sedona’s popularity has grown and it has now become a mecca for wellness of all kinds; crystals, aura-readings, card readings, spa’s, yoga, meditation, alternative medicine, mindfulness, and the like.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Located high in Peru’s Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is a feat of engineering performed by the Inca Empire in the 15th century. The site is home to many temples, shrines, and caves, and is most renowned for their advanced civil engineering and way the buildings portray astronomical formations.
Climbing to Machu Picchu has been a journey of deep spirituality for people ever since the site was re-discovered a few hundred years ago. Many sites in the area used for healing and connecting to ancient energies.
Read more: How Ayahuasca Changed My Life
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a 550-million year old giant sandstone formation in the northern territory of Australia. Sacred to indigenous Australians, the site is the subject of creation legends and is the cornerstone of the local culture.
The area surrounding the mystical formation is home to ancient paintings and rock caves, and thus has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Often referred to as the spiritual heart of Australia, Uluru has been drawing in spiritual seekers for years. The site a great place to learn about indigenous Australian culture, witness ancient spiritual rituals, and become grounded and one with nature. However, out of respect for the locals and their beliefs, please do not climb Uluru.
Read more: How to Take a Road Trip in Australia
Sanctuary of Apollo, Greece
The Sanctuary of Apollo, located in Delphi, dates back to around 1500 B.C. and is deeply steeped in ancient Greek mythology. Not only was the site of Delphi deemed the center of the world by the ancients, the site was home to the famous Oracle, which was often consulted about important decisions.
The Sanctuary of Apollo and the site of Delphi as a whole are sure to take your breath away. Set on the side of Mount Parnassus, the site has long been a destination for those seeking advice and divine energy.
The Western Wall, Israel
A surviving remnant of a temple built by King Herod in 20 BCE, The Western Wall in Jerusalem is one of the most precious and symbolic sites in the world for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian people.
The limestone wall was once the Western support wall of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in the Jewish faith, that was destroyed around 70CE by the Romans. The wall is all that remains of that holy site and, because of this, it is also known as “The Wailing Wall” out of mourning for the temple.
Today, the site of The Western Wall is open to all people who regard it for its energy, and thousands pilgrimage here every year to pray.
Temple Circuit, Japan
Also known as the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, the Temple Circuit in Japan is a 1,200-kilometer loop around the Japanese island of Shikoku (meaning “Four Provinces”).
Pilgrims believe that journeying through these four provinces and visiting all 88 official Buddhist temples on the circuit is a path to enlightenment, with temples 1 – 23 representing awakening, 24 – 39 representing austerity and discipline, 40 – 65 representing attaining enlightenment, and 66 – 88 representing entering Nirvana.
Roughly 10, 000 pilgrims visit the circuit and the temples yearly, either by tour bus or on foot. While originally a Buddhist endeavor, today the circuit is completed for religious reasons, spiritual reasons, and tourism reasons alike.