The Most Popular Pilgrimage, Ranked

Choose the pilgrimage you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on May 20, 2024 06:47
People often seek to visit sacred places to experience a sense of connection with something greater than themselves. These journeys, filled with personal significance and spiritual fulfillment, can vary widely in the experiences they offer. By providing a forum to evaluate these trips, our system helps identify the destinations that resonate strongly with spiritual seekers, enriching their journey with foreknowledge and shared insights. Each vote contributed by users like you helps to shape a current and community-driven ranking of these revered destinations. This ongoing input offers guidance to others by highlighting which locations are currently finding favor among fellow travelers. Through collective wisdom and crowd-sourced contribution, this dynamic listing continuously updates, ensuring that each user has access to the latest information and opinions.

What Is the Most Popular Pilgrimage?

  1. 1
    The annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is considered the most significant pilgrimage in the world. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is mandatory for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it.
    Hajj is the most important and widely-known pilgrimage in Islam. It is an annual religious journey that Muslims around the world aspire to undertake at least once in their lifetime. Hajj holds deep religious and historical significance, as it commemorates the actions of the Prophet Muhammad, particularly his final pilgrimage to Mecca in 632 AD. It is considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a fundamental duty for Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey.
    • Pilgrimage destination: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
    • Timing: Dhu al-Hijjah (the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calendar)
    • Duration: Approximately 5-6 days
    • Pilgrimage activities: Tawaf (circumambulation of the Kaaba), Sa'y (seven rounds between Safa and Marwa), Wuquf (standing at Arafat), and more
    • Pilgrim attire: Ihram (simple white clothing)
  2. 2
    Kumbh Mela
    Prashant Kharote · CC BY-SA 4.0
    This Hindu pilgrimage is held every 12 years and rotates between four different locations in India. It is considered the largest peaceful gathering in the world, with millions of people participating in bathing rituals in holy rivers.
    The Kumbh Mela is a major pilgrimage in Hinduism, where millions of devotees gather to take a holy dip in sacred rivers. It is believed to be the largest religious gathering in the world.
    • Origin: Ancient Hindu tradition
    • Frequency: Every 12 years at each of the four locations
    • Location: Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayagraj), Nashik, and Ujjain
    • Duration: Several weeks
    • Attendance: Millions of devotees from various parts of India and the world
  3. 3
    Also known as the Way of St. James, this pilgrimage route in Spain has been popular for centuries. It leads to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
    The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is a popular pilgrimage route in Spain that leads to the Shrine of the Apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. This route has been followed by pilgrims since the Middle Ages and is considered one of the most important spiritual journeys in Christianity.
    • Length: Various routes with varying lengths, the most famous being the Camino Francés spanning approximately 800 kilometers.
    • Starting Point: There are multiple starting points, but the most common one is Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France.
    • Final Destination: The Shrine of St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.
    • Terrain: Includes a variety of landscapes such as mountains, forests, countryside, and urban areas.
    • Markers: The route is marked with distinctive yellow arrows and scallop shells guiding the pilgrims along the way.
  4. 4
    This French town is a major pilgrimage site for Catholics, who believe that the Virgin Mary appeared here to a young girl in 1858. Millions of pilgrims visit the grotto and drink from the spring that is said to have healing properties.
    Lourdes is a town in southwestern France, known for being an important pilgrimage site for Catholics. It is situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains and is famous for the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. The pilgrimage site attracts millions of visitors each year who come seeking healing, spiritual solace, and pilgrimage experience. Lourdes is considered a holy place due to the reported apparition of the Virgin Mary to a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
    • Location: Lourdes, France
    • Significance: Important pilgrimage site for Catholics
    • Sanctuary: Sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes
    • Apparitions: Reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858
    • Visitors: Millions of visitors annually
  5. 5
    This Indian city is one of the holiest places in the Hindu religion. It is believed that dying in Varanasi and being cremated on the banks of the Ganges River can lead to moksha, or liberation from the cycle of reincarnation.
    Varanasi is a city located in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, situated on the banks of the Ganges river. It is considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a deep cultural and religious significance. The city is particularly famous for its ghats (riverfront steps), which are used for bathing, puja (prayer ceremonies), cremation, and various other purposes.
    • Population: approx. 1.2 million (as of 2011 census)
    • Religious Significance: Varanasi is considered one of the holiest cities in India, with many important temples and shrines for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains.
    • History: The city has a rich history dating back thousands of years, with its origins shrouded in myth and legend.
    • Architecture: Varanasi has a diverse mix of architectural styles, with influences from Hindu, Islamic, and British colonial styles.
    • Cultural Heritage: Varanasi is known for its traditional music, dance, art, and cuisine, with many local festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
  6. 6
    Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It contains many holy sites, including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock.
    Jerusalem is a city that holds great religious significance to three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is considered a sacred place and a destination for pilgrims from all over the world. Known as the Holy City, it is home to many religious sites, including the Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The city's rich history and religious significance make it a popular pilgrimage destination for believers of all three faiths.
    • Location: Middle East
    • Country: Israel
    • Religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam
    • Area: 125.1 square kilometers
    • Population: Approximately 900,000
  7. 7
    Shikoku Pilgrimage
    Dokudami · CC BY-SA 3.0
    This Japanese pilgrimage involves visiting 88 temples on the island of Shikoku. It is based on the teachings of Kukai, a Buddhist monk who founded the Shingon school of Buddhism.
    The Shikoku Pilgrimage is a famous pilgrimage route in Japan that covers the island of Shikoku, visiting various Buddhist temples associated with the renowned monk Kūkai. It is one of the most popular pilgrimages in Japan and attracts thousands of pilgrims each year.
    • Total Distance: Approximately 1,200 kilometers
    • Number of Temples: 88 main temples (and numerous sub-temples)
    • Duration: Typically takes about 30 to 60 days to complete
    • Pilgrim's Attire: White clothing, conical straw hat, and walking stick
    • Pilgrim's Book: Pilgrims carry a special book called Nōkyōchō to collect temple stamps
  8. 8
    This Hindu pilgrimage takes place in the Himalayas and involves a trek to the Amarnath cave, where an ice lingam (symbol of Lord Shiva) is believed to form naturally.
    The Amarnath Yatra is a popular pilgrimage in India that involves trekking to the sacred Amarnath Cave located in the Himalayas. It is believed to be one of the holiest places in Hinduism and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The journey to the cave is undertaken by thousands of devotees annually and requires physical endurance and spiritual devotion.
    • Location: Amarnath Cave, Jammu and Kashmir, India
    • Duration: Around 45 days (July and August)
    • Distance: Approximately 46 kilometers
    • Altitude: The cave is situated at an altitude of approximately 3,880 meters (12,730 feet)
    • Significance: Considered one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism
  9. 9
    In addition to being a destination on the Camino de Santiago, this Spanish city is also a pilgrimage site in its own right. It is believed that the remains of St. James are buried here, and the cathedral that houses them is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    Santiago de Compostela is a popular pilgrimage site located in the city of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. It is widely regarded as one of the most important Christian pilgrimage destinations in the world. The pilgrimage is associated with the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), a network of ancient pilgrimage routes leading to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the city's cathedral. Each year, thousands of pilgrims travel the Camino de Santiago on foot, by bicycle, or even on horseback to reach Santiago de Compostela.
    • Location: Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain
    • Pilgrimage Routes: Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James)
    • Shrine: Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
    • Religious Significance: Christian pilgrimage site
    • Pilgrimage Methods: On foot, bicycle, horseback
  10. 10
    This Indian town is where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. It contains the Mahabodhi Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
    Bodh Gaya is a highly revered pilgrimage site located in the state of Bihar, India. It is considered one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites worldwide. Bodh Gaya is associated with the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
    • Location: Bihar, India
    • Religion: Buddhism
    • Significance: Associated with Gautama Buddha's enlightenment
    • Main Temple: Mahabodhi Temple
    • Bodhi Tree: The sacred tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment

Missing your favorite pilgrimage?


Ranking factors for popular pilgrimage

  1. Number of visitors
    The number of pilgrims and visitors that travel to the site each year is an important factor in determining its popularity. This can be measured through attendance records and estimates from religious or local authorities.
  2. Historical and religious significance
    Pilgrimage sites with deep historical roots or a strong connection to religious figures, events, or beliefs are more likely to draw larger crowds and are thus more popular.
  3. Cultural impact
    The extent to which the pilgrimage site plays a role in the cultural identity, traditions, and customs of the people who practice the religion involved. This can include the impact of the site on art, literature, music, and other forms of cultural expressions.
  4. Accessibility
    The ease and affordability of travel to the pilgrimage site also contributes to its popularity. This can include transportation options, accommodations, and infrastructure at the site to support large numbers of visitors.
  5. Geographical location
    Pilgrimage sites located in or near major cities, tourist attractions, or other high-traffic areas may be more popular due to convenience and the broader appeal of the location.
  6. Rituals and practices
    The unique rituals and practices associated with a particular pilgrimage site can also contribute to its popularity. Pilgrims may be attracted to sites that offer specific spiritual experiences, blessings, or opportunities to participate in meaningful rituals.
  7. Media coverage and awareness
    The exposure of pilgrimage sites through different media channels such as movies, documentaries, and news stories can have an impact on their popularity. The more coverage a site receives, the more likely it is to attract attention and visitors.
  8. Safety and security
    The perceived safety and security of the pilgrimage site is essential for attracting visitors. A site's reputation for being well-maintained and secure will contribute to its popularity among pilgrims and other tourists.
  9. Facilitation and support services
    The services available to support pilgrims during their pilgrimage, such as guided tours, accommodations, dining facilities, and other amenities, will affect the site's overall popularity.
  10. Spiritual or emotional experiences
    The personal experiences of pilgrims who visit the site can spread through word-of-mouth and personal testimonials, contributing to the site's popularity. Sites that are known for providing transformative or deeply moving experiences may gain a following over time.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular pilgrimage. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or pilgrimage is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 172 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each pilgrimage once every 24 hours. The rank of each pilgrimage is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular pilgrimage

Pilgrimages have been a part of human culture for thousands of years. They are journeys made by people to sacred or holy sites for religious, spiritual or cultural reasons. Pilgrimages are a way for people to connect with their faith, seek spiritual enlightenment and find inner peace. There are many popular pilgrimage destinations around the world, each with its own unique history and significance. From Santiago de Compostela in Spain to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, pilgrimages continue to be an important part of many people's lives. In this article, we will explore the most popular pilgrimage destinations and what makes them so special.

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