What is a pilgrimage?
2 Min Read
25 May 2023
What is a pilgrimage?

A pilgrimage is a journey consisting of hundreds of miles, traditionally walked on foot – though you can cycle - to a place of worship or great spiritual significance. Although its true origins aren’t fully known, people of all religions have roamed these routes for centuries. 

From the far-flung lands of Asia and sun-kissed Iberia to the classic landscapes of the UK, pilgrimages can be found all over the world. 

Camino de invierno

  • The Camino de Santiago is probably the most famous - which threads through Spain, Portugal and parts of France.  

  • The Via Francigena which journeys from the Alps, down western Italy to Rome. 

  • The Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan, which takes you on an enlightening trip following the footsteps of the Imperial family. 

  • St Cuthbert’s Way in the UK crosses Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, finishing at Holy Island, one of Europe’s most famous historic and religious sites.

As pilgrimages usually cover long lengths of at least one country, they’re also a savvy way to see multiple countries and entire regions in one fell swoop. You’ll discover new cultures, feel more connected with nature and perhaps learn a thing or two about yourself. 

Some trails take over a month to complete - the ultimate end-to-end adventure. But if that’s a bit much in one go, you can always complete them in stages. We’ve already done the donkey work for you by breaking them up into shorter trips.  

Check out all our eye-opening pilgrimage & camino routes

Pilgrimages vs. The Camino - what’s the difference?

Camino Frances

A pilgrimage is a route or pathway from one place to another, usually ending at a religious location. The ‘Camino’, which translates to ‘path’ or ‘track’ in Spanish, is the name given to a group or a system of pilgrimage routes – known as the Camino de Santiago. This is made up of seven main pilgrimage trails which all lead to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. 

Legend has it that the tomb of St Iago (St James), one of the 12 apostles, is in the crypt of the cathedral in Santiago and this the reason why pilgrims have been walking to Santiago de Compostela since medieval times. Think of pilgrims as the original tourist! 

What are pilgrims?

Historically, a pilgrim was someone who would take a special journey beyond their home comforts towards a sacred site to bring them closer to their religion. Sometimes this would be the only time they left their village and community. 

Nowadays, while that sentiment still rings true and many still travel the routes for religious and spiritual reasons, more and more people are taking to these paths as an opportunity for self-discovery and growth. Be it a personal challenge or a mission to find purpose and meaning. Sometimes, the purpose isn't clear until after the journey is complete, but it can lead to a personal transformation and a new taste for adventure. 

Via Francigena

People often travel these routes with a friend or family member, but you’d be surprised how many solo travelers you come across too. The art of doing something solely for yourself is uplifting, and a pilgrimage can fuel self-empowerment, independence and a feeling of freedom. 

What’s great about these trails is that they come with a sense of community - something our pilgrimage customers tell us is a valuable part of their experience. You may meet fellow pilgrims en route who you can exchange stories with, share your tales from the route so far, or the reasons for taking the journey. A very personal yet social endeavour. 

 

Join our Macs Adventure Facebook Community to connect with over 4,000 members of passionate adventurers and fellow pilgrims who share tips, exchange stories and support eachother.

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Kirsty Schneider

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Kirsty Schneider
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