9 of the world's most beautiful places of worship (and how to visit them)

August 15, 2018

National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures show you some of the world’s most sacred places of worship—sites that have long stood as spiritually significant. During Oaxaca’s Day of the Dead festival, walk by candlelight to see shrines built by locals in honour of their ancestors. Take to the Ganges River’s shores, where countless people make the pilgrimage to one of the most holy Hindu sites in India. Visit Japan’s iconic “floating” Torii Gate in Miyajima, beckoning visitors to the sacred Shinto temple that lies on the island’s shore. On a National Geographic Journeys tour, experience the globe’s most hallowed places—held sacred by people all over the world.


What’s there: Day of the Dead celebrations

What it is: In Mexico, citizens honour — and celebrate — their ancestors annually in a three-day celebration of life and loss. The festivities have taken place in the Latin American country for thousands of years.

How to visit: Check out our Day of the Dead in Oaxaca tour


What’s there: The Dome of the Rock

What it is: There is no shortage of sacred sites in Israel—from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus is believed to have delivered his Sermon on the Mount. But while Israel is steeped in Judeo-Christian history and significance, it also contains the Dome of the Rock, a significant Islamic shrine in Jerusalem.

How to visit: Check out our Explore Israel & Jordan or Israel and Beyond tours


What’s there: The monastery at Petra

What it is: Jordan’s iconic carved rock-face monastery was dedicated to Obodas, a Jordanian king who, after his death—and before Christianity came to Jordan—was revered as a god.

How to visit: Check out our Explore Jordan tour


What’s there: Boudhanath Stupa

What it is: A 36-metre-tall stupa in Kathmandu used as a place of meditation for Buddhists, which according to legend, has been in place for more than 1,500 years.

How to visit: Check out our Nepal: Himalaya Highlights tour.


What’s there: The Ganges

What it is: One of the holiest rivers in the world, the Ganges—which flows for more than 2,500 kilometres—is revered as sacred by India’s practicing Hindus.

How to visit: Check out our Discover India, or Explore India & Nepal tours.

Sri Lanka

What’s there: The Temple of the Tooth

What it is: A Buddhist temple in Kandy that contains a tooth of the Lord Buddha. According to Buddhist legend, whoever possessed the tooth had control over Sri Lanka — in fact, the Dāṭhāvaṃsa (which tells the history of the tooth) claims a war was once fought over the relic.

How to visit: Check out our Discover Sri Lanka tour.


What’s there: Lhuendrup Nunnery

What it is: A residence and education centre for Buddhist nuns, characterized by stunning white walls and a remarkable golden dome.

How to visit: Check out our Wonders of Bhutan tour


What’s there: Ninja Temple

What it is: Despite its name, the Ninja Temple has nothing to do with spies — it is in fact a 17th century Buddhist temple.

How to visit: Check out our Iconic Japan tour

Myanmar (Burma)

What’s there: Kuthodaw Pagoda

What it is: A beautiful golden pagoda that houses the world’s biggest book: five-metre-tall slabs inscribed with Buddhist scripture.

How to visit: Check out our Heart of Myanmar (Burma) tour.

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