The 7 most amazing pilgrimage paths you’ve never heard of

Pilgrims walked the St. Olav Ways in Norway from 1031 until the 1500s, when the Catholic pilgrimage was banned following the Protestant Reformation. In 1997, Norway revived the ancient routes and included signage for them. Today, you have your choice of six pilgrim routes, all of which lead to the impressive Nidarosdomen cathedral in Trondheim. If you’re unsure which route to choose, it’s hard to go wrong since all 1,200 miles of the St. Olav Ways pass through quaint villages and peaceful landscapes.

That said, the majority of pilgrims opt for the 400-mile Gudbrandsdalen Path, which starts in the old part of Oslo and takes a little over a month to complete. From the capital, the route heads north past lakes and through valleys before reaching the remote Dovrefjell mountains. If you’re a serious walker, you’ll revel in the challenge the Arctic highlands present. Once past the snowy peaks, the highest of which is 7,500-foot-high Snohetta, pilgrims make their way down into the country’s prized fjord lands. In general, the trail is well-marked, but beware of unpredictable weather — even in summer.

Although pilgrimmages were traditionally done for religious purposes, people today undertake them for a variety of reasons. Maybe you want to walk to enjoy an active vacation or experience a country in a different way. Perhaps you’re drawn to pilgrimages for the opportunity to reflect on life. Is that reset button calling your name? The reasons for wanting to do a pilgrimage are as varied as the pilgrimage paths themselves.

From the snow-capped peaks of Tibet to the deserts of the Middle East, this list of lesser-known pilgrimage paths has something for every pilgrim.


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