Travelling is discovering

If you have decided to travel more this year, why not book a trip to one of these spiritual destinations and include a little self-discovery on your itinerary?

One of the most popular adventures for soul-searching is the Camino de Santiago, known in English as the Way of Saint James which is listed in the World Heritage List by UNESCO. A network of pilgrims’ ways leads to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain, where it is believed that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow the route as part of a quest for spiritual growth but there are also many organised trips, popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts, as they focus more on the physical side of the challenge.

For something a little less physically demanding, the Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway track in the world at 5,772 miles, stretching across Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok and spanning eight time zones. In just two weeks you can do the full trip, stopping at Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake along the way, or if you have more time, you can add to the trip by continuing your train journey through Mongolia to finish in Beijing, China.

For a proper backpacking adventure, Mount Sri Pada in Sri Lanka is one to consider. Also known as ‘Adam’s Peak’, it is one of the most sacred places in the world and a place of pilgrimage for Christians, Muslims and Buddhists alike. A footprint, 1.8 meters long, which can be found in the monastery on the summit of the mountain, is believed to belong to Adam, Shiva or Buddha, depending on your religion! But it’s not for the faint hearted – there are 4,500 steps to reach the top which stands at 2,243 meters tall.

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and is considered holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam so is a popular destination for those embarking on a spiritual journey. During its long and troubled history, Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, captured and recaptured 44 times and attacked 52 times, so it is really a miracle that there is still so much to see there! Visitors go to Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican on Wednesdays for the chance to see the Pope speak publicly and Saint Peter’s Basilica to see the tomb of Saint Peter. The feet of the thirteenth century bronze statue of Saint Peter have been rubbed smooth by the millions of pilgrims who have come to touch and kiss them over the years. 

These are just a few of the many places which hold historical spiritual significance but, of course, you don’t need to travel abroad to have a spiritual journey. There are numerous religious sites in Britain that are connected by green lanes and public footpaths so that they can be visited on foot in traditional pilgrim fashion. The British Pilgrimage Trust is a great resource for discovering pilgrimages from one day to three months with destinations including Canterbury, Hadrian’s Wall and Winchester. Just make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes!