What are the world’s most spiritual places to travel to?
When it comes to broadening your horizons and recharging your batteries, a vacation could be just the thing you need.
Of course, not all travel destinations offer the same thing – which is part of the beauty of travel in general – but for those in search of a more meaningful and spiritual travel experience, this post will be exploring the globe to find some of the most spiritual places on Earth.
Whether you simply want to find a place that offers the peace and tranquility you crave in your busy daily life or you’re hoping to strike a stronger connection with nature, yourself and other people, you’ll find all the inspiration you need for finding the perfect spiritual travel destination.
So keep reading to discover this list of the most spiritual places to travel to…
1. Camino de Santiago, Spain
Spiritual travel is often more about the personal journey you take than the actual destination – and the world-renowned hiking trail of Camino de Santiago in Spain is definitely one of those travel destinations.
And that’s why Camino de Santiage is top of our list of spiritual places to travel:
Many travelers in search of enlightenment have walked this ancient Christian pilgrimage route, embarking on an adventure of self discovery.
This enchanting and challenging landscape winds its way from southern France to its final destination in Santiago de Compostela, testing your mental and physical strength at every turn.
From rustic camping spots to luxurious hotels, you can choose how you travel this trail and of course how much of it you take on – the full 500 mile stretch is not for the faint-hearted!
Whether you choose to tackle a small stretch or conquer the whole route, this trail guarantees each traveler a unique experience and plenty of opportunities for reflection and contemplation along the way.
2. Varanasi, India
No spiritual travel destination list would be complete without a mention of India’s oldest city, Varanasi, that hugs the banks of the infamous Ganges river.
Commonly referred to as the ‘spiritual heart of India’ this colorful and chaotic city is a must-see spiritual Mecca. It’s easily one of the world’s most spiritual places to travel to.
Thought to be the founding place for Buddhism, this historical city is brimming with sacred temples and palaces and even the river is considered sacred and holy.
All year round people flock to this spiritual city to pray, bathe in the river to cleanse their souls and seek spiritual enlightenment either from their own experiences or from spiritual advisors that can be found on almost every corner of the city.
For the uninitiated, it may take some getting used to seeing sacred cows wandering freely through the streets and frequent cremations of bodies in the river, but this is all part of the experience.
If one place is likely to alter your perception on the meaning of life (and death), Varanasi is sure to be it.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, your lifestyle choices or your own idea of what spirituality means, it’s hard to visit this spiritually charged city and not feel affected in some way or another.
3. Cape Reinga, New Zealand
If awe-inspiring nature is your idea of a spiritual haven, then New Zealand’s Cape Reinga, that can be found at the northernmost point on the North Island, is a must-visit.
Originally called Te Rerenga Wairua “leaping place of the spirits”, this cliff top is considered sacred by the indigenous Maori people, who believe this cape is where recently deceased souls leave earth and head down into the afterlife.
The lonely lighthouse and ancient pohutukawa tree are the defining landmarks of this end-of-the-world worship place.
From the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below to the epic views of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean, this cape delivers a dramatic setting that instantly conjures up a deep feeling of connection to the earth.
Humbling, inspiring and captivating to any visitor, it’s the type of spiritual experience that will stay with you for a very long time.
4. Timanfaya National Park,
Many spiritual places offer visitors a deep connection to the earth, demonstrating the sheer power and beauty of Mother Nature. One such place is Lanzarote’s Timanfaya Park with its eerie, out-of-this-world landscape.
While it may not be your typical road to enlightenment, we’d defy anyone who visits this dramatic, lunar landscape not to experience a sense of wonderment and self-realisation.
A trek or even a camel ride through this bleak and awe-inspiring park could be just the journey you need to gain a whole new perspective on the world.
Whether you round off the day with some meditation on the balcony of your private Lanzarote apartment or choose to camp out under the stars, this volcanic island and its prized Timanfaya National Park gives travelers a humble realisation of how incredibly unique our planet is.
5. The Dead Sea, Israel
Following on the natural theme for spiritual travel, the Dead Sea in Israel is truly a wonder of the natural world and one of the best spiritual places to travel to.
Lying 1,290 feet below sea level, this salt water lake (sorry, it’s not actually a sea) is the lowest elevation on earth and lies just 30 minutes outside of Jerusalem.
Surrounded by mountains, the Dead Sea is a breathtaking sight that instantly calms and soothes the soul.
Throw in its unique geographical position and climate, that make the salty water and surrounding mud boast excellent healing properties, and you have a spiritual match made in heaven.
The high levels of magnesium, potassium and sodium in the water and surrounding soil are thought to help a number of ailments from skin conditions like psoriasis and acne to arthritis and back pain.
However, you don’t have to be in search of specific healing to benefit from a trip to the Dead Sea.
Let your thoughts drift away as you float weightlessly in the water or feel invigorated on the inside and out by smearing yourself in the mineral-rich mud – either way, you’ll leave the Dead Sea feeling refreshed and revitalized for the road ahead.
6. Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto in Japan is situated in the Kansai region and has long been a place of spiritual significance within the Japanese culture.
Originally called Heian-kyo, which translates as ‘Capital of Peace and Tranquility’, this ancient city is a place of pilgrimage for many Japanese and now global travellers.
Within the city, visitors will discover thousands of places of worship, including 90 Christian churches, 400 Shinto shrines and 1660 Buddhist temples dotted along the narrow, quaint streets.
However, one of the most impressive and awe-inspiring buildings has to be Fushimi Inari Shrine that sits high on a hilltop overlooking the city below.
This is one of the most beautiful spiritual places to travel to:
Built in the 8th Century, this picture-perfect place of worship offers complete peace and serenity away from the crowds with the chance to gain a whole new perspective of the world below and life in general.
Whether you choose to travel here with your own itinerary or go on a guided excursion, this sacred place offers something to see at every turn and, as such, is a truly unique travel experience.
7. S’Gang Gwaay, British Columbia, Canada
Off the west coast of Canada lies the Haida Gwaii archipelago that was first inhabited by the Haida people some 8000 years ago.
While people still live on the island, the Haida village of S’Gang Gwaay lies abandoned since 1880, yet tokens of the previous inhabitants and their heritage still remain.
For history lovers and spiritual seekers alike, a visit to S’Gang Gwaay offers an eerie and sobering insight into the decline of an indigenous population.
Yet something about the overgrown decay of this place with totem poles that are being claimed back by nature is surprisingly apt – demonstrating the Haida’s deep-seeded connection to nature.
Breathtaking and peaceful, Haida Gwaii is only accessible by boat from the mainland and allows no more than 12 visitors at a time, meaning there’s no crowds to detract from the ancient majestic charm and wild natural beauty of this place.
8. Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia
Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca perches high in the Andes Mountains as one of the world’s highest lakes.
Elevated at 12,510 feet above sea level, the mere sight of this expansive lake is impressive in itself – yet it’s spiritual significance as a core part of the Inca civilization makes it even more spectacular.
Why is it one of the best spiritual places to travel to?
Marooned on the lake is the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), which the Inca civilization believed to be the birthplace of leader Manco Cápac, who appeared from the rocks of the island. As a result, this island became an integral place of worship for the Incas.
Today, the ancient ruins of temples are still a visible reminder of its significance and you can even stay on the island if you want more time to soak up the spiritually charged atmosphere.
Whether you simply marvel at the shimmering, still water from the edge of the lake or venture over to the sacred Isla del Sol by boat, it’s easy to lose yourself in quiet contemplation with such awe-inspiring surroundings.
9. Avebury, Wiltshire, England
The quaint village of Avebury is nestled in the picturesque county of Wiltshire in southwest England. It’s home to a curious collection of megalithic stone structures that are blended within the village.
Classed as a World Heritage site along with nearby Stonehenge, this mystical place has perplexed historians and archaeologists for centuries as to why and how the stones are there.
The common theory is that they’re part of a Neolithic ceremonial or ritual ground.
Wandering through the village that’s divided by these concentric stone circles and man-made mounds, it’s hard not to find yourself seeking the answers to the greater purpose of this place and contemplating your place in the universe as a whole.
The site is dotted with footpaths, allowing you to roam freely across the landscape.
If you’d prefer some local insight, you can join a number of guided tours. Whichever preference you decide, this quaint nook in the English countryside is sure to keep you pondering about the universe and your role in it.
10. Crater Lake, Oregon, USA
For those in search of peace and quiet on their journey for spiritualism, it doesn’t get more remote and tranquil than Crater Lake in Oregon.
There are two conflicting theories on how this spectacular lake came to be, which only adds to the charm of the dramatic landscape and it’s spiritual appeal.
The first theory comes from the Native Americans, who claim the crater and subsequent lake were formed during a hellish battle between Chief Llao of the Below World and Skell, Chief of the Above World.
The second theory is scientific, claiming that Mount Mazama erupted 8000 years ago, leaving an all-mighty crater where the top of the volcanic peak once stood.
Whichever theory you believe, the results are an overwhelming lake that can be explored on foot with well-trodden trails. You can even sail out to the small island in the centre called Wizard Island.
Again, there are contrasting stories as to how the island was formed – it could be Llao’s head protruding from the underworld or a cinder cone that was formed during the eruption – you decide which one you choose to believe.
The beauty of this place, is that all these theories do is allow your imagination to run wild as you contemplate the splendor and the power of Mother Nature in all its glory.
11. Arenal, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is among the world’s best destinations for ecotourism, and anyone who visits will have the opportunity to reconnect with themselves and with nature during their journey.
Arenal Volcano in northern Costa Rica combines much of what makes the country special for so many people. The active stratovolcano rises more than 5,000 feet above the verdant rolling hills that surround it. That provides a unique backdrop for any number of spiritual activities, from jungle hikes to canopy adventures to yoga sessions.
While Arenal hasn’t erupted for several years, its geothermal energy creates hot springs where guests can soak, relax, and enjoy the water’s many therapeutic benefits.
All the while, visitors will be surrounded by Costa Rica’s unparalleled wildlife — playful monkeys, colorful frogs, soaring toucans, and much more. In fact, Costa Rica boasts 5% of the world’s biodiversity in spite of its small size.
Bordering Arenal Volcano is an enormous lake, which generates much of the power that runs Costa Rica’s electric grid — which is 99% clean energy.
Nearby Laguna Cote is Costa Rica’s largest natural lake. Remote and pristine, it was a destination frequented by indigenous communities. More recently, aerial photographs of the region captured an (alleged) UFO at Cote, only adding to the area’s allure.
Travel agencies like Costa Rica Escapes offer vacation itineraries for families, honeymoons, and adventure seekers to experience the spiritual and authentic side of Costa Rica. You definitely want to be careful to avoid big-box resorts as you won’t see the true wonders of Costa Rica to the same degree.
So that’s it for our top spiritual places to travel to:
Whether you’re seeking spiritual guidance in a religious manner or simply wish to find a deeper connection to nature and the universe, we hope this list of spiritual travel destinations leaves you feeling inspired to set sail on your own journey of discovering and relaxation.
Nick Ball is Marketing Manager at Optima Villas and has lived on the island of Lanzarote since 2001.