Spirituality means something different to every person. You could be someone who is a member of a certain faith and who believes in the key points of that faith. Others simply feel they have a spiritual connection that goes beyond what science and logic can describe. Either way, travelling the world in search of places of spirituality is an immensely enriching experience – whether you’re looking for places of religious significance or enjoying the relaxing environment of a spiritual retreat.
The world’s most popular spiritual destinations
These could easily be divided into two categories – religious centres such as Mecca and Bethlehem, and destinations not associated with a specific religion, but focused on spirituality. You may be of a persuasion that for visiting an ancient religious site, such as the birthplace of Jesus, is a lifelong goal. If that is the case you will be glad to know there are straightforward opportunities to do so, with packaged and organised tour specialist covering key sites including everything from Vatican City to the Bahá’í Gardens in Israel.
If spirituality in general is your way of life, you could visit some of the world’s top retreats. You could enjoy a spiritual break while also catering for creature comforts by visiting Song Saa in Cambodia, a Buddhist sanctuary with blessings from Buddhist monks, bio-rhythms and bath rituals – all in wonderful rainforest surroundings. The Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico in the US, features women’s leadership, Tibetan art and lots of nature to admire from basic, austere rooms – ideal for connecting with your real self.
Leaving the beaten track
Perhaps you’ve already visited the most well known places, or perhaps crowds and tour busses simply aren’t for you. That still leaves you with many options. For example, Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe Chapel, France is an incredible site that is nestled in spectacular scenery in the south of France. One of the earliest churches is located in Italy – the Basilica of San Vitale, a stunning UNESCO site with wonderful colourful mosaics.
For an even more intimate experience visit one of the Bruderhof sites in Europe and spend time getting to know and appreciating the community living style. Lesser-known but important sites abound in every religion – in Islam, the place of the Prophet’s first revelation is near Mecca, on the mountain of Jabal al-Nour in a cave called Hira.
Small, secluded and hard to reach retreats can be absolute spiritual nirvana if you are in the right state of mind. Your retreat of choice might have the backing of a religion or spiritual practice, or you may indeed come across a retreat bound by spiritual practices outside of any that you have encountered before.
On a small scale, a spiritual retreat’s intimate arrangements can profoundly affect you. For example, the Orion Healing Centre is on a white sand beach on Srithanu Bay in Koh Phangan, Thailand. In this undisturbed natural environment, you will experience the joy of nature, together with the spiritual boost that can only be gained from extended seclusion.