Christian pilgrimage was first made to sites connected with the ministry of Jesus. Aside from the early example of Origen, who "in search of the traces of Jesus, the disciples and the prophets", already found local folk prompt to show him the actual location of the Gadarene swine in the mid third century, surviving descriptions of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Jerusalem date from the 4th century: The Itinerarium Burdigalense ("Bordeaux Itinerary"), the oldest surviving Christian itinerarium, was written by the anonymous "Pilgrim of Bordeaux" recounting the stages of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the years 333 and 334 Pilgrimage was encouraged by church fathers like Saint Jerome and established by Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. Pilgrimages also began to be made to Rome and other sites associated with the Apostles, Saints and Christian martyrs, as well as to places where there have been apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
Under the Ottoman Empire travel in Palestine was restricted and dangerous. Modern pilgrimages in the Holy Land may be said to have received an early impetus from the scholar Ernest Renan, whose twenty-four days in Palestine, recounted in his Vie de Jésus (published 1863) found the resonance of the New Testament at every turn.
Major Christian pilgrimage sites 
- Međugorje - Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary from 1981 up to the present time.
- Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida - one of the largest churches in the world and receives about 8 million visitors per year.
- The several churches and basilicas in Lourdes - associated with Marian apparitions receive over 5 million pilgrims a year, making Lourdes the second most visited Christian pilgrimage site in Europe after Rome.
- Paris - the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, and Basilica of Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre
- Basilica of St. Thérèse (Lisieux) - in Normandie. The second pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes with over 2 million visitors per year.
- Bethany, site of the resurrection of Lazarus
- Jerusalem, site of the Passion (The Via Dolorosa) and Resurrection of Jesus.
- Mount Tabor, site of the Transfiguration
- Nazareth, hometown of Jesus
- Sea of Galilee, site of Jesus' early ministry.
- Mount Carmel
- The House of Peter in Capernaum.
- The Jesus trail.
- Vatican City - Location of Saint Peter's Basilica, relics of various saints, relics of the Passion, important churches and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.
- Rome - on roads such as the Via Francigena. Site of the deaths of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and other early martyrs.
- Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church - the Padre Pio shrine located in San Giovanni Rotondo of southern Italy; also Pietrelcina as the birthplace of Padre Pio
- Basilica of St. Francis - in Assisi; also church of Saint Clare
- Loreto - in the Marche; home of the Basilica della Santa Casa
- Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe - one of the largest churches in the world and receives about 20 million pilgrims per year. It can accommodate 40,000 people for a mass.
- Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, where the Black Madonna of Częstochowa is housed permanently. It receives about 4.5 million pilgrims a year.
- The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Licheń in Licheń Stary, the home of the image of Our Lady of Licheń, known as the Sorrowful Queen of Poland. This expansive complex receives well over a million pilgrims a year.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima - is one of the largest Marian shrines in the world. Our Lady of Fátima is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary according to her apparitions to three shepherd children at Fátima on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917. Fátima, Portugal, receives about 4-5 million pilgrims a year.
- Sanctuary of Christ the King - is a famous Catholic monument and shrine dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, place of many pilgrimages.
- Balazar - an important pilgrimage destination since the 20th century due to Alexandrina Maria da Costa, died 1955, who gained fame as a Saint, beatified by Pope John Paul II.
- Sopoćani monastery in Stari Ras, World Heritage site
- Peter's Church in Stari Ras, the oldest church in Serbia (World Heritage site)
- The Virgin's Church of the Studenica monastery near Kraljevo, World Heritage site
- Church of St Nicholas, Patriarchate of Peć, the ancient seat of the Patriarchs (World Heritage site)
- Our Lady of Ljeviš in Prizren, burned down during the 2004 unrest in Kosovo (World Heritage site)
- Church of the Visoki Dečani monastery (World Heritage site)
- Church of the Žiča monastery in Kraljevo, the royal church of the medieval Serbian kings
- Church of the Mileševa monastery near Prijepolje is known for its remarkable frescoes
- Santiago de Compostela - in Galicia on the Way of St. James (Galician: O Camiño de Santiago). This famous medieval pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James is still popular today.
- San Sebastián de Garabandal - a rural village in Cantabrian mountains were occurred the famous apparitions of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Michael the Archangel.
- Sanctuary of Chandavila - a Marian shrine dedicated to the apparitions of Our Lady of Sorrows in La Codosera, province of Badajoz.
- Sanctuary of Onuva - a Marian shrine dedicated to the apparitions of Our Lady of Graces occurred near La Puebla del Río, province of Seville.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Umbe - a Marian shrine dedicated to the apparitions of Our Lady of Sorrows in Umbe, near Bilbao, Biscay.
- Sanctuary of the Holy Christ of Agony - shrine with the Miraculous Crucifix where Jesus Christ appeared alive on the Cross, situated in Limpias, Cantabria.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Covadonga - a significant Marian shrine situated in the Peaks of Europe range of mountains, Asturias.
- Constantinople (today Istanbul). Former capital of the Byzantine Empire and the see of one of the five ancient Patriarchates and first among equals among the Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Hagia Sophia, former cathedral and burial place of many Ecumenical Patriarchs.
- House of the Virgin Mary located in Ephesus. The former home of the Virgin Mary until her Assumption/Dormition currently a shrine. It was blessed and declared a place of pilgrimage by Pope John Paul II.
- Antioch. Early Center of Christianity and official seat of the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Home to many old Christian churches.
Other pilgrimage sites 
- Etchmiadzin (Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin). Etchmiadzin is the spiritual and administrative centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church
- Mariazell. Marian Shrine to Austria and Hungary
- Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec, associated with miraculous healings.
- Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, in honour of Our Lady of the Cape.
Costa Rica 
- Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, traditional site of the Burning Bush and the reception of the Ten Commandments has been commemorated since the time of Constantine the Great
- Monastery of Saint Anthony, a Coptic Orthodox monastery/cathedral located in the Eastern Desert. It is a very important model for many monastics.
- Kirkkokari, the only Roman Catholic pilgrimage site in Finland.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. A very important marian apparition shrine to Catholics.
- Cathedral of Chartres.
- La Salette, Our Lady of La Salette
- Saint Catherine Labouré of Paris
- Pellevoisin. Apparition of the Virgin Mary.
- Taizé Community, modern monastery that actively encourages pilgrimages to it.
- Basilica of the Vierzehnheiligen.
- St. Maria in der Kupfergasse, Cologne
- Wittenberg. Church of Martin Luther and center of the Protestant Reformation.
- Mount Athos. Orthodox monastic centre.
- Patmos. island of Revelation.
- Saint Nicholas of Spata Road to Saint Nicholas.
- Goa. St. Francis Xavier
- St. Thomas Mount. Place where St. Thomas was martyred.
- Vailankanni. 16th-century Marian apparition site.
- Padua, St Anthony, relics
- Sacri Monti. The Sacred Mountains of Piedmont and Lombardy.
- Turin, the location for the Shroud of Turin.
- St. Peter's Basilica, the burial place
- Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum and Monument, Site of the execution of twenty-six Japanese Christians in 1597.
- Mount Nebo, traditional site of the death of Moses.
- Mukawir, the Herodias fortress where John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded.
- Um Qais, the city is mentioned in the New Testament as the site where Jesus cast out demons and sent them into pigs, which then ran into the sea.
- Jordan River, this site has been recognized as the real (and only true) site where Jesus was baptized by all the major traditional Christian Churches.
- Hill of Crosses, near Šiauliai,
- Žemaičių Kalvarija, Samogitia,
- Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, Vilnius,
- Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Important shrine near Mexico City, on Tepeyac Hill where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan.
- San Juan de los Lagos
- (Heilige Stede)Holy Site, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Kapel in 't Zand, Roermond of Limburg
- Lourdesgrot or Lourdes Grotto, a 1:13 scale replica of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes of Massabielle, France found in the Lourdeskapel (Scheveningen), The Hague-Scheveningen, Netherlands
- National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. One of the most venerated Marian images in Asia.
- Our Lady of Manaoag is one of the Philippines' most widely visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage sites and the patroness of the sick, the helpless and the needy.
- Quiapo Church. Home to the much venerated Black Nazarene, a much venerated statue of Jesus Christ which many people believe has miraculous attributes
- Góra Świętej Anny
- Kalwaria Zebrzydowska
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Ludźmierz in Ludźmierz
- Sanctuary of St. Hedwig in Trzebnica
- Supraśl Lavra
- Święta Lipka
- Iași, Moldavia. 14 October is the most important day for Orthodox Christians, Saint Parascheva's Day. Over 1 million pilgrims from all over Romania and neighboring Orthodox countries queue to touch the Holy Relic.
- Miercurea Ciuc, Transylvania. Whit Sunday gathering of (mostly ethnic Hungarian) Catholics.
- Shrine of Our Lady of Litmanová, a Marian apparition.
- Turzovka - place of Marian apparitions.
- Ávila, St Theresa of Avila, relics
- Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza. It's reputed to be the first church dedicated to Mary in history.
- Caravaca de la Cruz, Region of Murcia
- Montserrat, Catalonia. The Virgin of Montserrat is housed permanently in the monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat.
- Santo Toribio de Liébana, Cantabria.
- The Way of Saint James. The Way of Saint James is the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried.
- House of the Virgin Mary. Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of Virgin Mary as a pilgrimage place for Christians.
- Constantinople. Present city, Istanbul; The world-wide capital of the Greek Orthodox Church and home to many of the oldest churches in the world. It is home to the Church of St. George, Istanbul seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople leader of the Greek Orthodox Church.
- Canterbury Cathedral, England. Associated with Saint Thomas Becket
- Glastonbury, England. Saint Joseph of Arimathea
- St Andrews, Scotland. It is said that Saint Andrew was given, by God, directions to the location of St Andrews
- Walsingham, England. Virgin Mary apparition site
- Holywell, Wales. St Winefride's Well is alleged to be the oldest continuously operating pilgrimage site in Great Britain
- St David's, Wales. Pilgrimage site since canonisation of the saint in the twelfth century
- St Albans Cathedral, England. Associated with the country's first martyr, Saint Alban
- Lindisfarne, England. Saint Cuthbert's remains were removed in 875 and finally transferred to Durham Cathedral in 1104
- Bromholm Priory, England. Claimed to possess a piece of the True Cross
- Struell Wells, Northern Ireland. Traditionally associated with Saint Patrick
- Carey, Ohio to the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. Catholic pilgrims from the Middle East journey here to mark the Feast of the Assumption.
- The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
- The Black Madonna Shrine in Eureka, Missouri.
- El Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico
- Mission San Xavier del Bac, in Tucson, Arizona
Record-breaking pilgrimages 
World Youth Day is a major Catholic Pilgrimage, specifically for people aged 16–35. It is held internationally every 2–3 years. In 2005, it was held in Cologne, Germany. In 1995, the largest gathering of all time was to World Youth Day in Manila, Philippines, where four million people from all over the world attended.
In the media both manifestations are usually referred to as 'pilgrimages', but actually in the strict meaning of the word they are not pilgrimages as they are (each time) once-only religious gatherings for a specific purpose (funeral, religious renewal for the youth) and not focused at a shrine based cultus-object for veneration. However, since the funeral, the proper grave of John Paul II is actually indeed becoming a new site of pilgrimage in Rome.
See also 
- Quoted in Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version, 1992:235.
- General context of early Christian pilgrimage is provided by E.D. Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage in the Late Roman Empire AD 312-460 1982.
- Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur
- House of the Virgin Mary listing at www.Ephesus.US
- Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation official website
- "World Youth Day". Retrieved 10 March 2011.