I love to visit international metropolises buzzing with activity. The hum of the subway, the aroma of artisan coffee, the bustle of locals and tourists — the combination is intoxicating for a seasoned traveler. But lately, I’ve found myself branching out a bit in search of something deeper. I started to explore places that held more than landmarks. I wanted to adventure to spiritual travel destinations that also held meaning, the type of meaning that has nothing to do with me or my small personal experience.
Apparently, I’m not alone because spiritual travel destinations across the globe are really having a moment right now. That’s probably why you’re starting to see more social media posts from Bali, the Maldives, and other spiritual travel destinations. And while these high-profile locales are certainly worth the visit — you’ll see some of them on my ensuing list — you might not realize that there are lots of lesser-known spots with equally spiritual significance all across the world.
Perhaps one of the most spiritual places on earth actually resides right here in the U.S. in an unexpected place: Arizona. Sedona’s spiritual-font status largely stems from its large population of various healers, shamans, psychics and reiki practitioners. But it’s also thanks to a spa that transcends this world, the lauded Mii Amo Resort and Spa. Its Spirit of the New Moon therapy treatment, offered only on days near the New Moon, is said to help you manifest deep desires via pampering treatments.
I’d never even heard of Bhutan before I began researching spiritual travel destinations — you might be in the same boat. But as soon as I discovered it, I knew it had to be on my to-see list. This tiny country tucked away in the Eastern Himalayas emphasizes the importance of communing with nature. As you hike the Himalayas and stay at various resorts tucked away in the valleys, you’ll probably discover a level of zen you never knew was possible. Pay a visit to the local monasteries for the full Bhutan experience.
The Maldives is a cluster of islands off the coast of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. They’re home to some of the most stunning natural features of any place in the world, like the bioluminescent beach on Mudhdhoo Island. Bioluminescent beaches literally glow to life, thanks to a chemical reaction between ocean critters and the waves themselves. If you come to the beach on Mudhdhoo Island in the evening, you’ll see a sea of sparkling stars creeping across the beach.
Given that it’s home to more than 1,600 Buddhist temples, it’s obvious why Kyoto ranks highly on my list of top spiritual destinations I’m desperate to see. The first thing I’ll do when I visit? Traipse the winding streets to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, an edifice that dates back to the eighth century. From behind its red gates, the view of the spiritual city stretching out below is a stunning sight to behold.
Legend has it that Manco Capac, the leader of the ancient Incan people, actually was born of a rock on the Isla del Sol (“Island of the Sun”) at the heart of Lake Titicaca. That’s right — he literally broke out of the rock to lead his people. I can’t think of anything more mystical than that. That’s why I’m looking forward to exploring this lake on the border of Peru and Bolivia, an awe-inspiring example of Mother Nature. Just the hike to the lake, nearly 12,500 feet above sea level, will be a spiritual experience.
Not every spiritual destination boasts sunny skies and balmy breezes. Case in point: Avebury in the UK. At the heart of this otherwise nondescript English town, a series of concentric circles lined by large stones serves as a reminder of the people who lived here in 3650 BC. Although the exact purpose of the circles remains unknown, historians theorize they had something to do with ancient rituals and ceremonies performed at the time. One thing is clear: spiritual vibes here and deep and strong, so it’s a must-see.
From the sandy deserts of Sedona to the glow-in-the-dark beaches of the Maldives, the world is a big and mystical place just waiting to be explored. As a travel addict myself, I fully intend to discover every inch of it that I can — including these life-changing spiritual travel destinations. These are the magical locales I’m yearning to see across the globe. Do any of them call out to you? Then maybe it’s time you join me on my journey and book a trip to Kyoto, Peru or Avebury. Who knows what you’ll find when you arrive.