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7 Top Destinations for Mythology Lovers Around the World

Take an epic journey to the lands of legends.

The Temple of Poseidon at sunrise with hikers milling about.
Hi, I'm Margot!

Margot Bigg is a journalist who has lived in the UK, the US, France, and India. She’s the author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur and a co-author of Fodor's Essential India and Fodor's Pacific Northwest. Her stories have appeared in Rolling Stone India, National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, and VICE.

Stories have played an integral role in shaping society since time immemorial, and learning about a place’s mythological past can tell you a lot about how its people once lived, and what they valued. If you’d like to deepen your knowledge of ancient belief systems or want to learn about the origins of traditions that thrive to this day, here are seven destinations you won’t want to miss.

1. Egypt

The Giza Pyramids in Egypt with camels and hikers in the foreground.
There's nowhere like Egypt's pyramids.Photo Credit: AlexAnton / Shutterstock

Visit temples honoring Horus and Isis.

Egypt is a mythological powerhouse, and many of the country’s most popular attractions are directly tied to traditions of the ancient world. The best place to start is in Cairo, where you can learn about beliefs and traditions from the deep past at the Egyptian Museum and visit the nearby Giza Pyramids, all in one day.

A short flight or overnight train ride away, Luxor is another must for fans of ancient myth, offering the densest concentration of temples and related sites in the country. Give yourself a few days to explore spots such as the Karnak Temple and the Valley of Kings, or take a Nile River cruise to Luxor from Aswan that includes stops at the Temple of Horus (at Edfu) and the Philae Temple, dedicated to the goddess Isis.

2. Greece

The Temple of Olympian in Greece on a sunny day.
The stories of the Greek gods are some of the most famous on the planet.Photo Credit: Anna Psaroudakis / TripAdvisor

Delve into Greek mythology, right at the source.

Although the Greek gods haven’t been worshipped by significant numbers in over a thousand years, their legacy is very much alive and thriving in Greece, where great care has been taken to preserve and restore relics of the past. Athens is home to some of the biggest names, including the Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. An hour or so from Athens, the ancient Temple of Poseidon is close enough to visit on a quick sunset jaunt, while Delphi—famed for the fortune-telling Oracle of Apollo— is within easy day-tripping distance away.

3. Ireland

An aerial view of the green Hill of Tara in Ireland.
Delve into Ireland's folklore.Photo Credit: MNStudio / Shutterstock

Archaeological finds reveal Celtic lore.

Ireland has a deeply rooted culture of storytelling that predates the introduction of Christianity to the island. In fact, ancient Celtic paganism was an oral tradition, leaving archaeologists (with the help of writings by early-Christian scholars) to do much of the decoding, without the help of written texts. Fortunately, many archaeological sites remain on the island to this day, particularly in the Boyne Valley. These include the Newgrange burial mound, attributed to the ancient Tuatha Dé Danann (a tribe who were believed to live between the earth and the Otherworld), and the Hill of Tara, once believed to be a portal to the Otherworld.

4. Japan

Izumo Taisha, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan.
Izumo Taisha has a rich story.Photo Credit: mTaira / Shutterstock

Connect with a rich spiritual past in forest settings.

Japan is full of sites ranging from ancient shrines to forests believed to be the abodes of deities, and offers ample opportunities to learn about ancient mythology and Shinto beliefs and traditions. Many of Japan’s sacred spots are related to creation myths, from the Izumo Taisha shrine—one of the oldest Shinto shrines in the country—to the Takachiho Gorge, where the sun goddess Amaterasu spent time in hiding. Yoshino Kumano National Park, on the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail, is another must-visit, and many of Japan's myths are set in the area that this park now protects.

5. Mexico

Chaccobhen ancient Maya site in Mexico with people milling about.
Chaccobhen is where to get to know Maya culture.Photo Credit: Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock

Let the tales of Mayan ruins unfold.

Learning about ancient Mayan culture is a big draw for many visitors to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Archaeologists are active in the region, looking for clues into both the lifestyle and the belief systems of the people who once lived here. Many of the area’s ruins are popular attractions, including Chacchoben, Coba, and the granddaddy of them all: Chichen Itza. Cenotes, water-filled sinkholes that dot the region, were believed to be gateways to Xibalba—the Mayan underworld—and were a popular place to pray to the rain god Chaac during times of drought.

6. Sicily

A sunny day at the Fountain of Arethusa.
Get to know Italian myths at the Fountain of Arethusa.Photo Credit: Yury Dmitrienko / Shutterstock

Host to Greek gods and goddesses.

The Italian island of Sicily makes tons of appearances in Greek mythology. Dionysius, the god of wine and merriment, lived on the island and allegedly imprisoned his enemies in a cave now known as the Ear of Dionysius. The island’s Mount Etna, where Zeus trapped the deadly monster, Typhon, is also where Hephaestus, the god of fire and metallurgy, forged his creations. Legend has it that Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, was born on the offshore island of Ortygia. Ortygia is also home to the Fountain of Arethusa, which is where the nymph Arethusa was believed to have emerged to the earth's surface.

7. Sweden

Autumn foliage by the water in Uppsala in Sweden.
Sweden is at the heart of Norse mythology.Photo Credit: Shooting Wild Photography / Shutterstock

Immerse yourself in Norse legends—and pay a visit to Troll Mountain.

Fans of Norse mythology—and Viking history—will find plenty to do in Sweden, from visiting burial mounds in Uppsala, where the Temple at Uppsala—a major Norse religious center—once stood, to checking out ancient runestones found across the country. Stockholm’s Viking Museum is a good place to get a feel for the historic people and legends of Scandinavia. Further afield, Åsnen National Park has its own Troll Mountain, believed to be where trolls spend their Christmas holidays. The park is about an hour's drive from Sagomuseet, a museum that focuses entirely on folklore and oral traditions.

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