For thousands of years, travel wasn’t for a vacation. It was part of a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage, or a missionary trip. So, let’s find a destination this year that enables you to find inspiration, discovery history and ignite or renew your faith. You don’t have to be of a specific faith to be drawn to these temples, churches, and shrines. There are so many options and they can certainly be mini-trips within a larger trip.
Israel: See in person the revered and holy places you’ve only read and heard about like Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Cana. Cross the Sea of Galilee, visit the River Jordan and explore Jerusalem – important to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Greece: Follow the footsteps of Paul the Apostle as you retrace all the places where he lived and preached on a journey thru the Greek Islands, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus, Turkey.
Italy: Explore the rolling hills and lively cities of Italy while visiting some of the world’s most incredible religious sites and relics in Rome, Vatican City, Assisi, Venice, and Pompeii.
France: Visit the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral or the brilliant white Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris. Or, make your way to one of the world’s most revered pilgrimage sites – Lourdes in Southern France to visit the moving Grotto where Our Lady appeared.
Portugal: Visit Fatima to explore the famous Basilica and tombs. Travel to the important towns of Aljustrel and Valinhos.
Czech Republic: The Spanish Synagogue in Prague was named for its Spanish Moorish style architecture and features stunning stained-glass windows and a permanent exhibition highlighting Jewish history.
England: St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was where Prince Charles and Lady Diana wed. St. Paul’s dome served as a model for the U.S. Capitol. Generations of royals were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey, in London. This stunning 1,000-year-old medieval cathedral hosted the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Spain: The Basilica de Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was begun in 1882 and is slated to be completed in 2026. The 18 bell towers represent Jesus, Mary, the four evangelists, and the twelve apostles. Or visit Alhambra in Granada, the greatest monument of Islamic Spain, this palace was begun in the 9th century and extended by Spain’s monarchs for a millennium. The last Moorish ruler departed in 1492.
Germany: Follow the trail blazed by the religious leader Martin Luther. Witness a performance of the Passion Play which has been performed every 10 years for 400 years in Oberammergau. Visit Gutenberg to see a copy of the world-changing Gutenberg Bible. Or visit the great Gothic monument that took 600 years to complete – the Cologne Cathedral.
Tokyo, Japan: The tranquil Meiji Shrine attracts 30 million visitors annually, as does the Sensoji Temple. The Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a quick day trip from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.
Mexico City: Several million people visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe each year to pay their respects to an image of the Virgin Mary.
Varanasi, India: The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples.
Amritsar, Punjab, India: the Golden Temple was built by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev, in the 16th Century. In 1604, he completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism. There are four doors to get into the temple symbolizing the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions.
Istanbul, Turkey: Intricately patterned blue and white tiles adorn the walls of this house of worship – the Sultanahmet Camii (also known in English as the Blue Mosque). While the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sofia) retains an East-meets-West spiritual aura reflecting its history as a church, a mosque, and a museum.
New Delhi, India: The white lotus-flower-shaped Baha’i temple uses three layers of nine “petals” to represent the world’s nine major religions and to accentuate the principles of peace, purity, and unity of all religions.
Malaysia: The most popular Hindu shrine outside of India can be found eight miles north of Kuala Lumpur near the ancient Batu Caves. The limestone caves are believed to be 400 million years old. A 140-foot-tall statue of Lord Murugan took 15 expert sculptors three years to build.
Hong Kong: The Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha – the 85-foot tall seated Giant Buddha raises his right hand in blessing to the 3 million visitors who climb more than 200 steps to reach the statue’s base.