Our top five pilgrimage walks

A pilgrimage walk can mean something different to everyone on the trail. A means to reconnect with nature, a religious rite of passage, or simply an active way to spend time with friends. Whatís clear is that in many instances, it is not so much the destination that is the ultimate goal, but the sheer pleasure of being on the journey itself. On the Camino de Santiago through Spain and parts of Europe you pass through many historic communities that add a soulful quality. On the Pilgrimsí Way in Southeast England the landscapes have an old-world pastoral quality that lifts the spirits, and in Japan, walks such as the Nakasendo Trail and the Shikoku Pilgrimage offer the chance to experience the warmth of Japanese hospitality at traditional ryokans, and sink into a relaxing onsen after a long day on the hoof.
Camino de Santiago, Spain

Camino de Santiago, Spain

The Camino de Santiago is actually a sprawling network of routes across Europe, all of them culminating at the cathedral in Compostela de Santiago in Galicia, northwest Spain, where it is said that Saint James was buried. Many thousands of walkers collect the stamps in their ĎPilgrim Passportsí every year, enjoying the blissful Galician scenery, the historic towns and villages along the way, which often have significant religious architecture of their own, and the chance to meet fellow pilgrims from all over the world.
When to depart: All year round but best time is April Ė June or September

Our top selling trip: Sarria to Santiago de Compostela walking tour

See all our trips: Camino de Santiago vacations

Read more: Camino de Santiago travel guide
Kumano Kodo Trail, Japan

Kumano Kodo Trail, Japan

Pilgrims have been taking the Kumano Kodo Trail for centuries, and at many points it really does feel as though time stands still. Linking three sacred shrines and many other temples, the Kumano Kodo Trail takes you through almost ethereal landscapes of bamboo forest, wide river valleys and soaring mountains. Some sections can be arduous, but if you want to feel at one with nature this trek will not disappoint.
When to depart: April to May, October to November

Our top selling trip: Kumano Kodo walking vacation

See all our trips: Japan walking vacations

Read more: Japan walking vacations travel guide
Nakasendo Trail, Japan
Back in the 17th and 18th centuries the Nakasendo Trail between Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) was thronged with feudal lords and their entourages, merchants and bands of samurai. Today people walk it for fun rather than business or warmongering, covering small sections that are easygoing and scenic, linked by public transport. The most popular places to overnight along the way are always the ryokan guesthouses. You may want to bring along a set of earplugs, as the walls between rooms are often literally paper-thin.
When to depart: March to July, September to November
Our top selling trip: Nakasendo Trail, walking tour
See all our trips: Japan walking vacations

Our top Pilgrimage walking Vacation

The Northern Way holiday, San Sebastian to Bilbao

The Northern Way vacation, San Sebastian to Bilbao

Walk along the lush green Basque coast in Northern Spain

From Ä675 to Ä750 8 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made from the end of March to mid October
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Pilgrimage walking or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Pilgrimsí Way, England

Pilgrimsí Way, England

Immortalised in Geoffrey Chaucerís Canterbury Trails, the pilgrims in question were undoubtedly on to something: 14th century trailblazers. The route from Winchester Cathedral to the tomb of Thomas Becket in Canterbury cathedral, almost 200km in length, immerses you in some of Englandís most bucolic landscapes. It also takes you past Chawton and Rochester, former homes of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens respectively, meaning the Pilgrimsí Way is also a journey through Englandís literary heritage.
When to depart: All year round but winter is tough going. Chaucer himself recommended April.
See all our trips: England walking vacations
Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail, Japan

Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail, Japan

The Shikoku Pilgrimage, looping around Shikoku Island in southern Japan, is an epic 1,200km in length and can take up to two months to complete in its entirety. Pilgrims, henro, can frequently be distinguished by their white clothing, conical hats and walking sticks. The route links 88 temples linked to the Buddhist monk, Kobo Daishi, and will usually begin or end at Mount Koya, the base of Shingon Buddhism.
When to depart: All year round
See all our trips: Japan walking vacations
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Mario Cales] [Onsen: japanexperterna.se] [Monument of the pilgrims, Burgos: Bjorn Christian Torrissen ] [Nara-ken: vbo] [The Nakasendo highway, between Tsumago and Magome: User:Daderot] [Pilgrim's Way - St Martha's Hill: Peter Bailey] [Temple gate, Konsen-ji: Reggaeman]