Traditional holiday destinations with pilgrimage sites may be more competitive by taking advantage of their ability to attract religious travellers as well as those who are keen to visit such locations because of a cultural interest. In order to be more competitive, host authorities should identify the motivations of tourists who visit pilgrimage sites. In this study, the motivations of the Russian and German tourists visiting Saint Nicholas Church in Antalya were investigated. By using a scale obtained from previous literature, the importance of each motivation was clarified depending on nationality. The results show that 'the history of the church' is the most important motivation for both groups. There are also significant differences in motivations of the Russian and German tourists according to demographic characteristics such as gender and age. The study concludes with a discussion of the findings and some managerial implications. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.