Places are not inherently spiritual, but rather become so when we experience a sense of wonder and acceptance, awe or healing by being there and feeling a pure connection to something far greater than ourselves. No matter where we go—whether wondrous cliffs in Ireland or a shopping center in Finland, a turtle reserve or a graveyard—or how we get there, we can be on a spiritual journey. Here are some suggestions to find your own liminal places—spaces between heaven and earth where you can find meaningful experiences both sacred and mundane.
This 41,000-square-mile strip of land along the Pacific coast west of the Andes, punctuated by the Licancabur volcano, considered holy by the Atacameño people, is said to be the best place on Earth for stargazing. Its high altitude, absence of air and light pollution and cloud cover make it an astronomer’s paradise even without a telescope. Centuries before the Europeans arrived, the Indigenous peoples here charted the sun, constellations and planets to navigate time and terrain.
County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Legend has it these fantastic cliffs were built by a giant named Fionn Mac Cumhaill. According to geologists, the 40,000 interlocking columns are the result of a volcanic eruption 56–66 million years ago. As if the stone formations weren’t wondrous enough, Giant’s Causeway is also a protected nature reserve for plants and birds such as rare sea spleenwort, frog orchids, skylarks and linnets.
Navajo and Coconino Counties, Arizona
On the reservation, once you travel a few minutes away from the commercial areas, time becomes irrelevant. The Orayvi mesa is one of the oldest continuously inhabited human settlements (1100 CE) in the Americas.
A change to our personal environment can sometimes help healing, reorienting us toward our spiritual selves. Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau built his famous cabin here just three years after the death of his brother John—what biographers say was the greatest grief of his life. He wanted to partake of the “tonic of wildness.” As he explained in his journal soon after his arrival, “If I am not quite right here, I am less wrong than before.”
Hill of Crosses
It’s estimated there are over 100,000 crosses on this hill. Most are inscribed with names and prayers, spanning languages, nations and religions. Despite the Soviets repeatedly bulldozing the area during their occupation—1944 to 1990—Lithuanians left these crosses and other tokens here in peaceful protest. After regaining their independence, this testament to hope and resilience remained.
Kamppi Chapel of Silence
A shopping center in the heart of a major city might not seem the most spiritual place, but this ecumenical chapel which looks a bit like an elegant alien spacecraft, is just that. It was built specifically for sitting in calm, quiet and reflection. When the Finnish Tourist Board explored what would attract visitors to the country, landscape, education and design were considered, but they landed on an entirely different resource: silence.
These 11 medieval cave churches hewn out of bedrock in the mountains are often described as “prayer in stone.” Columns, windows and plumbing were later added to these remarkable red-stone 13th-century structures. Some contain corridors for ceremonial processions, or passageways to catacombs and hermit caves
Rad al Hadd Turtle Reserve
Every April and August, green sea turtles migrate to these 28 miles of coastline. People migrate, too—to witness the miracle of some 50,000 eggs hatching. Like birds and honeybees, the hatchlings are guided by an inner compass on their path toward the sea. In Arab folklore, the turtle symbolizes patience, humility and persistence: traits that make up faith. Watch the hatchlings yourself, and you’ll know why.
Paro Taktsang Monastery
Paro Valley, Bhutan
The “Tiger’s Nest” is perched on a cliff’s edge, 3,000 feet above the Paro Valley. Its improbable, precarious construction contributes to the almost-visible magic of this holy Himalayan site. Buddhist master Padmasambhava, credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan in the 9th century, is said to have hidden texts and ritual objects amid the area’s caves and lakes to be discovered and interpreted by tertons, or future “revealers.”
Hokianga, New Zealand
On the North Island, the country’s largest remaining tract of native forest was declared a sanctuary in 1952. It is home to giant kauri trees, treasured by New Zealanders and especially the indigenous Māori. Two kauri stand out: God of the Forest is the largest of them all—nearly 11 stories tall; Father of the Forest is said to have been living for almost 3,000 years—the oldest tree in New Zealand and perhaps on Earth.
From Around the World in 80 Spiritual Places: Discover the Wonder of Sacred and Meaningful Destinations by Alice Peck, published by CICO Books 2022