Catholic shrines in Korea have been recognized as not only religious pilgrimage destinations but also cultural heritage sites related to a century-long persecution that produced thousands of martyrs. In order to play the multiple roles of the shrines, it is needed to understand how to manage sustainable development and preserve the tangible cultural assets. However, there has been limited effort to conduct empirical study to articulate experiences of pilgrims who are the actual visitors of the shrines. Therefore, the objective of this study is to explore various motivations for pilgrimage and experiences perceived by pilgrims in Korean Catholic shrines. By adopting exploratory research design, in-depth interviews with 16 pilgrims were conducted and content analysis was adopted to analyze the dataset. The findings showcase that psychological factors, religious and spiritual factors, historical factors through enlightenment of martyrdom and leisure related factors are identified to be vital motivators. Especially, it is noted that achievement and knowledge sharing intention are supplementary motives. In addition, pilgrims’ experiences during their pilgrimage journey are structured into four sequential stages: preparation, on the way, activities at shrine and routinization of pilgrimage in everyday life. Based on the lived experiences structured according to the psychological process and their consciousness, it is discovered that pilgrims have obtained symbolic, experiential, functional and other aspects of pilgrimage experiences. The study results suggest empirical implications of future direction for sustainable development and management of religious shrines. As a result, it is hoped that this study will eventually contribute to knowledge base on growing phenomenon of domestic pilgrimage and the essence of pilgrimage experience in the field of tourism studies.