For those who are interested in traveling to spiritually fulfilling destinations, there are a variety of places to visit that are well within budget. You don’t have to break the bank to get a taste of a destination with spiritual significance.
Here is a list of 25 spiritual and metaphysical travel destinations you need to check out.
Machu Picchu | Peru
Is there any spiritual destination in the world with a more evocative and mysterious reputation than Machu Picchu in Peru? I’ve visited many holy sites around the world, and I can’t think of many that can compare.
Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century during the glory years of the Inca Empire. Just like their Incan ancestors, many in the Andes still believe that apus, or spirits, live in the mountain peaks. You can also see the three main totems of the Inca incorporated in many designs in the region: the condor (representing the world of the gods), the puma (symbolizing the world of humans), and the snake (which represents the underworld and the dead). Machu Picchu’s location was likely chosen in part because of its proximity to mountains and a river considered sacred by the Incas. Its plazas include multiple shrines, temples and carved stones, some of which are oriented to astronomical events such as the winter and summer solstices and spring and fall equinoxes.
Scholar and explorer, Johan Reinhard, suggests that Machu Picchu formed the cosmological and sacred geographical center for a vast region. It was the hub of a spiritual web, connected to other holy sites in the region and to celestial bodies in the sky, surrounded by deities who lived in the surrounding mountain peaks and the river far below. it’s easy to feel the pull of the sacred at this site, as if you are also being drawn into that web.
Brandon and I reached Machu Picchu by way of the Salkantay Trail, a gorgeous 4 day hike through cloud forest, mountains, and alpine lakes and rivers. I couldn’t recommend a better way to trek to this astounding religious site.
Chichen Itza | Mexico
Chichén Itzá is the largest of the ruined Mayan cities on the Yucatán Peninsula and one of Mexico’s most-visited tourist destinations. According to mythology, the Maya worshipped approximately 250 gods whom it was believed, lived on the peaks of mountains. Thus, grand pyramids were constructed to represent mountain tops where the leaders of the people could commune with the deity. The most awe-inspiring of the many stone structures at Chichén Itzá is “El Castillo” or the castle.
The Temple of Kukulkan, the Feathered Serpent God (also known as Quetzalcoatl to the Aztecs and Toltecs) is the largest and most important ceremonial structure at Chichen Itza. Called El Castillo (the Castle) by the Spaniards, the ninety-foot tall pyramid was built during the 11th to 13th centuries directly upon the multiple foundations of previous temples.
What is truly spectacular is the special effect which occurs during the spring and fall equinox. As the sun begins to set on these two particular days every year, a shadow is cast which gives the illusion of a massive snake slowly slithering down along the side of the pyramid. Approximately 5 hours later, it connects with a serpent head at the base of the structure.
To walk the grounds and view these masterpieces, one cannot help but wonder why this superior cult consisting of remarkable mathematicians, architects, painters, sculptures, astrologists, and linguists abandoned what was at the time, one of the most flourishing centers of the Mayan empire.
You can’t miss the cenotes- which the Mayan believed led to the underworld- while you’re in the area.
The Dead Sea | Palestine/Jordan
If you find yourself in Jordan, or on the West side in Palestine, the Dead Sea is a necessary visit. It is the lowest point of the Great Rift Valley that runs for 4,000 miles from East Africa to southern Turkey. With water that is ten times saltier than sea water, it is the saltiest body of water in the world. It is also the lowest spot on earth, 1290 feet below sea level.
Cleopatra knew about the healing properties at the Dead Sea thousands of years ago. Today, the same healing powers are still sought by people seeking long-lasting relief from incurable chronic conditions such as psoriasis, asthma and arthritis.
The Dead Sea is a place of bibilical prophecy. Though the Dead Sea itself is never mentioned in the New Testament, the sea and its surrounding area holds many insights into Christian history. A few miles north of the Dead Sea, at the shore of the Jordan River (the Dead Sea’s only water source), lies the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. It is considered one of the most sacred Christian sites in the Holy Land.Scripture promises, through a prophetic vision recorded by the prophet Ezekiel, that the Dead Sea will live again one-day. When the coming Messiah rules the earth in the Millennial Kingdom, the vision shows that water will flow from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, causing swarms of living creatures to live in and fishermen to line the banks of the Dead Sea.
Sedona | Arizona, USA
There is so much more to Sedona than meets the eye. Locals call Sedona “the Cathedral without Walls” Beneath the endless beauty beats a healing heart. Sedona has long been regarded as a place both sacred and powerful. It is a cathedral without walls. People travel from all across the globe to experience the mysterious cosmic forces that are said to emanate from the red rocks of this region. They come in search of the vortexes.
Sedona vortexes are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex. Vortexes are located at some of the most devastatingly scenic spots found among the towering red rock formations.
Sedona has developed a worldwide reputation as a place of enlightenment. This is home to a large community that promotes a variety of alternative healing and spiritual practices. The raw physical beauty of the landscape recalibrates your sense of wonder- and challenges your belief in the here and now.
Mount Kailas | Tibet
In the remote corner of the exotic west of Tibet, the pristine Mount Kailash dominates the entire region’s landscape. The celestial beauty of Mt. Kailash is not only fascinating, it is also the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Bon religions from around the world.
Revered by four Asian religions comprising millions of people, Tibet’s Mount Kailash is certainly one of the world’s most sacred places. Pilgrims journey to Kailash to complete a 32-mile ritual circumambulation. Most take one to three days to complete the circuit, although some devotees spend up to a month doing full body prostrations along the ground. All pilgrims respect the sacredness of the mountain by not climbing it.
Mount Kailash is revered as the 7th (Crown) Earth Chakra by many new-age believers. It is said to connect us to Mother Earth’s Kundalini energies.
To Tibetan Buddhists, Kailash is the home of the tantric meditational deity Demchog. Hindus view Kailash as the throne of the great god Shiva, one of the most significant deities. Jains revere Kailash as the site at which their first prophet received enlightenment. And long before Buddhism took root in Tibet in the 7th century A.D., Kailash was venerated by the Bönpo, practitioners of the indigenous religion of the region.
St Peter’s, Vatican City | Italy
The center of Christianity, St. Peter’s Basilica and its glorious dome dominate over the rooftops of the Eternal City. St. Peter’s was until recently the largest church ever built and it remains one of the holiest sites in Christendom. It is one of the most-visited sites in all of Rome, both for its artistic beauty and for its importance to Catholic worshippers. The Vatican is the place where history, faith, and art combine in a unique synthesis of majesty and beauty. The millennia of history of this city lives within each monument: basilicas, churches, catacombs.
Tour the catacombs and bathe in the spiritual awe of this Christian epicenter.
Uluru is considered Earth’s “Root Chakra” point, part of the energy Ley lines and vortexes that criss-cross our planets crust.
The Anangu people of Uluru have lived there for thousands of years and they are still the traditional landowners today. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is recognised by UNESCO in two ways: for its geological formations and rare plants and animals, as well as for its cultural importance. The red rocks are millions of years old and the Anangu people belong to the oldest culture known to man. One of the most iconic attractions in Uluru is the rock art. These are records of the communities that have occupied this land dating back 5,000 years. They are also an integral practice within the communities for religious ceremonies, teaching and expression to this day.
The Dreamtime Stories of the Indigenous Shamans detail this evolution of the formation of these lands and the Aboriginal laws of existence. These sacred tales are told through song and dance, but are only accessible to join if invited personally. However, the festivals in the area and culture centre performances are open to all. They’re a fantastic way to experience tradition with all of the senses.
Crater Lake | Oregon
Crater Lake is a spectacular mountain lake in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Widely renowned for its great depth and beauty, it is also a sacred lake revered by the Klamath Indians.
Crater Lake was formed roughly 6000 years ago when the volcanic Mount Mazama blew its top in spectacular fashion. The eruption, estimated to have been 42 times more powerful than Mt. St. Helens’ 1980 blast, reduced Mazama’s approximate 11,000 foot height by around half a mile.
The mountain peak fell into the volcano’s emptied neck and magma chamber, and Crater Lake was formed in the new crater. The waters are formed from rain fall- leaving the most pristine blue imaginable. They are some of the cleanest waters in the world, devoid of any living beings, and as crystal clear as the sky.
Crater Lake has long been revered as sacred by the Klamath tribe of Native Americans, whose myths embody the catastrophic event they witnessed thousands of years ago. The central legend tells of two Chiefs, Llao of the Underworld and Skell of the World Above, pitted in a battle which ended in the destruction of Llao’s home, Mt. Mazama.
Today, Crater Lake remains a revered sacred site for vision quests and other spiritual pursuits, for all interested in Native American spirituality. This spectacular lake is a place of religious-like awe.
Stonehenge| United Kingdom
The megalithic ruin known as Stonehenge has created an enigma for many centuries, although many groups such as pagans and druids believe that the stone circle was used for rites and ceremonies, there is no conclusive proof to the purpose of the stones. Stonehenge as we know it was finally completed about 3500 years ago. Containing more than 350 burial mounds including Stonehenge Avenue, the Cursus, Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, this landscape is a vast source of information about the ceremonial and funerary practices of Neolithic and Bronze Age people.
Stonehenge continues to have a role as a sacred place of special religious and cultural significance for many, and inspires a strong sense of awe and humility for thousands of visitors who are drawn to the site every year – especially during the winter solstice, or shortest day of the year.
In ancient Pagan traditions, the winter solstice was a time to honor the cycles of life and death and celebrate the sun’s rebirth as the days would slowly begin to lengthen in the months leading into spring. Many modern practitioners of Pagan and earth-centered spiritual traditions observe the holiday, and at Stonehenge, the celebration is particularly special.
Stonehenge as well as the surrounding areas of Glastonbury, Somerset, Shaftesbury and Dorset all form the Heart chakra of Mother Earth. Where Stonehenge is constructed is the strongest point of all of this energy. The Female Ley Line connects Uluru to Stonehenge.
Angkor Wat | Cambodia
You don’t have to be religious to undertake spiritual travel and seek out transcendental experiences. SImply walk the temple pagodas, join monks in spiritual blessings and walking meditations; or indulge in traditional Khmer therapies and cuisine.
Iconic Angkor Wat was originally built as a Hindu temple of god Vishnu to see over the Khmer Empire that ruled during that time. Built by King Suryavarman II, it served as his state temple and eventual mausoleum and, breaking from the Shaiva tradition of his predecessors, he dedicated it to Vishnu.
The entire complex is magical. The energy is almost palpable, perfect for anyone looking for a serene, life changing experience. Though Angkor Wat itself is a spiritual hub, you don’t have to travel directly here to experience deep inner-work. Cambodia’s history runs like an underground river through the country, but it’s not without it’s own dark side. Look around- and behold the life force that holds Khmer people together through despair, genocide, and repair.
Mecca (Makkah in Arabic) is the center of the Islamic world. Mecca is the birthplace of both the Prophet Muhammad and the religion he founded. Located in the Sirat Mountains of central Saudi Arabia and 45 miles inland from the Red Sea port of Jidda (Jeddah), ancient Mecca was an oasis on the old caravan trade route that linked the Mediterranean world with South Arabia, East Africa, and South Asia.
The city of Mecca achieved its major religious significance following the birth and life of the Prophet Muhammed. In 630 Muhammad took control of Mecca and destroyed the 360 pagan idols, with the notable exception of the statues of Mary and Jesus. The idol of Hubal, the largest in Mecca, was a giant stone situated atop the Ka’ba. Following the command of the Prophet, Ali (the cousin of Muhammad) stood on Muhammad’s shoulders, climbed to the top of the Ka’ba and toppled the idol.
Forbidden to persons not of the Muslim faith, Mecca came to symbolize for Europeans the secrets and mysteries of the orient, and as such became a magnet for explorers and adventurers. A few of these daring travelers, such as John Lewis Burckhardt from Switzerland and Sir Richard Burton from Great Britain were able to convincingly impersonate Muslim pilgrims, gain entrance to Mecca, and write wonderfully of the holy city upon their return to Europe..but others were not so lucky. To this day, Mecca remains strictly closed for persons not of the Muslim faith.
Source Of The Ganges, India
In a country where practically everything in nature is venerated, the Ganges is most holy. According to Hindu mythology, the Ganges was once a river of heaven that flowed across the sky. Long ago, she agreed to fall to earth to aid a king named Bhagiratha, whose ancestors had been burned to ash by the angry gaze of an ascetic they had disturbed during meditation. Only the purifying waters of Ganges, flowing over their ashes, could free them from the earth and raise them up to live in peace in heaven.
As the Ganges brought to life the ashes of Bhagiratha’s ancestors, so all Hindus believe that if the ashes of their dead are deposited in the river, they will be ensured a smooth transition to the next life, or freed from the cycle of death and rebirth. Hindus may travel great distances to scatter the ashes of loved ones in the Ganges.
The banks of the River Ganges host hundreds of Hindu festivals and celebrations each year. The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu festival during which pilgrims to the Ganges bathe themselves in the sacred waters. The festival occurs in the same place only every 12 years, though a Kumbh Mela celebration can be found annually somewhere along the river.
Most people who visit the Ganges River come because they have a spiritual thirst they want to be quenched.. Others come in a desperate, last-resort attempt to have a divine interaction that can change the course of their eternity.
Unfortunately, the river has become extremely polluted, and sickens millions of people every year. Due to the number of cadavers dropped into the water and other environmental toxins, many are sicked from drinking the sacred waters. With the addition of rotting animal carcasses, a foamy layer of scum is often seen along some parts of the river. Many cities on its banks have inadequate sewer systems and sewage treatment plants, adding to the toll of children who suffer and die from water-borne diseases. Though it remains a very important part of Indian life, the Ganges is in dire need of help.
Temple Circuit, Japan
On the Japanese island of Shikoku there are 88 temples, a number equal to the evil human passions as defined by the Buddhist doctrine. If you want to free yourself from every one of these passions in a single hit, you can do so by completing the 88 Temple Circuit. Traditionally the 1500km route was walked, even though there’s a space of more than 100km between a couple of the temples.
If you can’t make it to temple circuit, Kyoto is full of many gorgeous temples waiting to be discovered
Kyoto | Japan
Kyoto is the ancient imperial capital of Japan, with more than 1200 years of history. Visitors here can wander amid exquisite gardens, tour serene Buddhist temples, cross paths with a geisha, and take part in a tea ceremony. Best of all is simply wandering the streets of the city, absorbing the sights, smells, and sounds of this remarkable place.
Also see: Kamakura, Japan
Mount Sinai, Egypt
In the rugged high desert of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula lies a land with immense historical and religious significance to the world’s three great monotheistic religions. The Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions all have deep ties to the landscape and monuments of this region. Mount Sinai is venerated by the three faiths as the place where God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses.
Both a chapel and a mosque sit atop Mount Sinai, as well as a rock impression resembling a camel’s hoof. The chapel, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was built in 1934 from the remains of a chapel built on Emperor Justinian’s orders. The remains of other chapels lay along the 4,000-step pathway to the summit, known as the Path of Moses. Another chapel, dedicated to St. Catherine, is located atop the 8,668-foot Mount Catherine.
Mt Sinai is also said to be a part of Gaia’s throat chakra!
The Sinai is a holy land and many people come as genuine pilgrims. Apart from Mt. Sinai there are many other religious places. It is also an ideal location for other spiritual and nature based activities, to relax, clear your mind. Today, it’s full of places to practice yoga, experience religious education, receive reiki, or relax and enjoy spas and the ambiance of the monasteries.
Byron Bay | Australia
Byron bay is a little town situated at the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. The local Arakwai Aboriginal people named the area Cavvanbah, meaning meeting place and it was traditionally a place of healing and fertility. Captain James Cook named Cape Byron after John Byron, circumnavigator of the world and grandfather to the poet , Lord Byron.
Byron has only been a town for just over a century. Before that the Bundjalung people came to this secret bay when they were sick, or to give birth, believing it to be a healing place. Today, its a destination for healing retreats, surf, and wellness. It’s considered one of the world’s energy vortexes, though not one of the main ones connected to Gaia’s chakra system.
The Western Wall | Jerusalem, Israel
The Western Wall, or “wailing wall” is a surviving remnant of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. The Temple was the center of the spiritual world, the main conduit for the flow of Godliness. When the Temple stood, the world was filled with awe of God and appreciation for the genius of the Torah.
Although other parts of the Temple Mount retaining wall remain standing, the Western Wall is especially dear, as it is the spot closest to the Holy of Holies, the central focus of the Temple. The foundation stone, which is beneath the Dome of the Rock and where the holiest part of the temple was, is still the holiest place in the world for the Jewish nation.
Three times a day, for thousands of years, Jewish prayers from around the world have been directed toward the Temple Mount.
Mount Shasta | California, USA
Mount Shasta is an ice-topped volcano that draws outdoor adventurers and spiritual seekers. Various legends say it’s home to a sacred spring, beings who have transcended the physical plane or a crystal city full of ancient foes of Atlantis.
Mount Shasta straddles the territories of the Shasta, Wintu, Achumawi, Atsugewi and Modoc tribes. Not surprisingly, the imposing mountain shows up in a lot of tribal myths and stories.
Many know Mt. Shasta as the root chakra. It is a very grounded place being atop the volcano. Mt. Shasta in Northern California is considered all around the world to be a portal for spiritual discovery. There have been many strange, unexplained occurrences that happen in Mt. Shasta.
Mount Shasta is in the geographic region that was once, and always is because everything is now, “ancient” Lemuria. It is a dimensional gate to the Lemurian civilization, reminding us of how we can live in harmony on Earth.
Mount Shasta co-creates an energetic Vesica Pisces with the Sedona Vortex. Together, they are connected by a line of energy and their radiating electromagnetic fields combine, immersing the geographic locations between them in a resonance of 33 cycles per second
Assisi | Italy
This medieval hill town in central Italy claims two of the world’s most-beloved saints: St. Francis and St. Clare. For centuries, pilgrims have trekked to Assisi to walk the same steep and narrow lanes on which a rag-cloaked radical monk named Francis preached an antimaterialistic message 800 years ago, rocking the medieval Roman Catholic Church.
Today, Assisi tauts many yoga and meditation centers, and draws many types of spiritual tourists looking for a deeper connection to our physical earth
Petra | Jordan
One of the world’s most visually stunning archaeological sites, Petra (meaning ‘the rock’ in Greek) is an abandoned necropolis of temples and tombs cut into towering cliffs of red, pink and orange sandstone.
The city of Petra is situated at the beginning of Wadi Musa, meaning the Valley of Moses, and this site had long been venerated as one of the traditional sites where Moses struck the ground and the water gushed forth. The region was also revered by the Nabataeans as the sacred precinct of their god Dushara.
Petra is astronomically aligned. The Nabataens built their cathedrals and holy sites with the stars in mind. “During the winter solstice in Petra, the setting sun creates effects of light and shadow around a sacred podium inside the monument known as Ad Deir, or the Monastery, where the Nabateans may have held religious festivities.” – Nat Geo
Nazca Lines | Peru
Professor Clive Ruggles, of the University of Leicester, says the spiral shape traced in the Peruvian desert are likely to have been a labyrinth, created as a spiritual path.
The huge images, which include hundreds of animals and complex mazes in the Nazca desert, can only clearly be seen for the air giving rise to a number of explanations as to who they were intended for.
Prof Ruggles believes the Nazca Lines were not created to be seen at all, but to be walked in single file as part of a spiritual ritual.
“The labyrinth was probably constructed during the middle part of the 800-year-long Nasca period, around A.D. 500. Unlike some of the famous zoomorphic figures, its irregular form provides no reason to speculate that it might have been intended to be viewed from the air, but rather to be experienced from within. It was meant to be walked,” Ruggles wrote on his website.
Recognizable only from the air, the lines, geometric designs and images of animals and birds, some up to 900 feet long, have been a source of mystery since their discovery over a century ago
Lake Titicaca | Peru, Bolivia
Lake Titicaca is a beautiful and much-venerated sacred lake that lies on the border between Peru and Bolivia, near Copacabana. According to Incan mythology, it was from Lake Titicaca that the creator god Viracoca rose up to create the sun, moon, stars, and first human beings.
In 2000, an international archaeological expedition discovered an ancient temple submerged in the depths of Lake Titicaca. The huge structure is nearly twice the size of a soccer field (660 feet long), and was found by following a submerged road that begins near Copacabana. The temple is estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,500 years old.
Several of the 41 islands in the lake are also regarded as sacred. Especially important is the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), located on the Bolivia side. There are also two mountains on the islands, Paccha Mama (Mother Earth) and Paccha Tata (Father Earth), and both are sacred sites.
Lake Titicaca carries a converging balance of male and female energy, giving it a particularly strong tie to the spiritual kundalini energy also known as the sexual energy of the earth. The sacral chakra exists a couple of inches below the navel. It falls in line with the hips, womb, and genitals, embodying pleasure and creation. Lake Titicaca is known as the Sacral Chakra center of Gaia, mother earth.
Great Pyramids | Egypt
An alternative belief about the pyramids is that they were used as powerful healing chambers and not as burial sites at all. Perhaps the Egyptians had access to some advanced knowledge that we just don’t yet know about…
Pyramids are believed to be extremely sacred in many cultures around the world. Many churches are built with pyramid-like steeples and ancient pyramid structures can be found not just in Egypt, but in South America and parts of Asia.
At the spiritual level the pyramid is a symbol for the integration of self-and soul. In dreams the pyramid can stand for the death, but it also contains rebirth. The base of the pyramid stands for the body, the sides show the spiritual attempts, the point symbolises the harmonious union of the human with the ‘higher self-‘ (God).
The Great Pyramids and Mt Sinai together form the The 5th (Throat) Earth Chakra.
Bagan | Myanmar
Known as one of the most important archeological sites in Asia, Bagan is filled with over 10,000 buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries that have survived from the 11th century. Riding around the dirt roads that lead in zig-zag patterns from one site to another, its hard not to get chills from the energy of the area. The sunrise and sunset are pure magic in the area, providing gorgeous views of the sandstone structures.
Myanmar is a land of secret wonders, religious spirituality, human warmth. Tradition of the past, old-world atmosphere, and brutal development of its capital Yangon make it a unique place to visit.
It’s by far one of my favorite countries that I’ve had the opportunity to see, and provided me the perspective I needed to dive into my own spiritual journey.
Check out these posts:
- Where to See Sunrises in Bagan
- Where to See Sunsets in Bagan
- 5 day Myanmar Itinerary
- Photos to Inspire a Myanmar Trip
La Mezquita, Córdoba, Spain
Known locally as Mezquita-Catedral, the Great Mosque of Cordoba is one of the oldest structures still standing from the time Muslims ruled Al-Andalus (Muslim Iberia including most of Spain, Portugal, and a small section of Southern France) in the late 8th century. Cordoba was the capital and heart of Muslim Spain.
People of the Islamic Faith have built gorgeous structures all over the world. The great Mosque is a wonderful example of the Muslim world’s ability to brilliantly develop architectural styles based on pre-existing regional traditions. Here is an extraordinary combination of the familiar and the innovative, a formal stylistic vocabulary that can be recognized as “Islamic” even today.
It is believed that before the construction of the Mosque, both Muslims and Christians shared the use of the Visigothic church of St Vincent. The Visigoths were one of the “barbarian tribes” that prompted the collapse of Rome. What you may not know that the Visigoths were Christian “heretics” that lost out at the Council of Nicea.
Seen from the streets outside, the Mosque is an undistinguished building, its size deceptively concealed by its modest height which rises only to some 40ft. Despite its deceptive appearance, La Mezquita and the surrounding area permeate the area with a rich history of many types of worship.