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What to do in Fatima: religion and tourism

Discover the charms of Fatima, Portugal’s most visited religious shrine

Fatima, a city in the center of Portugal, is the ideal destination for those who want to immerse themselves in spirituality. Around 6 million travelers and pilgrims from all over the world visit it every year.

The city is an important religious tourist destination full of history as the famous Shrine of Fatima is there. Besides this Shrine, there are museums, caves and other places to explore. Do you want to know what to do in Fatima? Read this article to find out!


What is the history of Fatima?

The story of Fatima dates back to 1917, when three shepherd children – Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto – claimed to have had visions of the Virgin Mary in Cova da Iria, near Fatima, for six consecutive months. These three children became known as the “Three Little Shepherds“. According to their reports, when the Virgin Mary appeared to them she gave them messages of peace, penance and conversion.

The most famous event associated with Fatima occurred on May 13th, 1917, when a miracle known as “The Miracle of the Sun” took place, witnessed by thousands of people who claimed to see the sun rotating and emitting vibrant colors. As a result of the apparitions and this miracle, Fatima has become an important pilgrimage site for Catholics from all over the world.


What to visit in Fatima?

Fatima is considered the largest Catholic faith center in Portugal. Most of the tours are dedicated to the Catholic community, but despite being a reference in religious tourism, many people visit the place to learn more about the history of Portugal.

Sancturary of Fátima
Fatima is the main Catholic city of Portugal


Even though the Shrine of Fatima is its most important attraction, there are caves, chapels and museums in the city that further enrich the country’s history. When you visit Fatima, there are a few tourist attractions that you can’t miss:


Sancturary of Fátima

The Shrine of Fatima was built on the site of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary and comprises the Chapel of the Apparitions, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Basilica of the Holy Trinity and the Chapel of the Candles, among other places of devotion.

For over 100 years, celebrations have been held there, not just on religious days, but every day of the year. As well as masses and the beauty of the place, the shrine hosts retreats, confessions, baptisms and weddings.

The site’s three main attractions are:

  • Chapel of the Apparitions, the heart of the Shrine. Built on the spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to the three shepherd children in 1917. It is a place of great devotion, where the believers place candles, pray and contemplate the messages of the apparitions;
  • Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima,built in 1953 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary. The “Three Little Shepherds” are buried inside the church;
  • Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, a modern church inaugurated in 2007, seats almost 9,000 people. Masses are held there daily and there are prayer chapels underground.


Nowadays, this place is known not only for its religious beliefs, but also for its comércio, with many stores selling religious items around the area, also full of hotels and restaurants. To visit this site, there’s nothing better than taking one of our tours with a stop in Fatima. You can also visit other religious cities in Portugal on this same tour.

Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity


Via Sacra (Way of the Cross) and Monument to the Three Little Shepherds

The Way of the Cross represents the path taken by the “Three Little Shepherds” from Aljustrel to Cova da Iria to feed their flocks. It starts at the South Roundabout in Fatima (where the monument is) and ends at the Chapel of St. Stephen and Hungarian Calvary, in Valinhos. The walk is very important for all pilgrims traveling to Fatima.


The Museum of Wax of Fatima

This museum in Fatima contains characters from Catholicism sculpted in wax. The Miracle of Fatima is portrayed there and invites visitors on a journey through the city’s history of faith. There are more than 30 scenes showing the apparition of the Virgin Mary to the three little shepherds.


How to get to Fatima?

Visitors can make the trip to Fatima by car, bus or even walking – many of faithful believers walk the pilgrimage route as a promise or sacrifice from all places to Fatima. Of all the means of transportation, taking a bus/tourism coach is the most convenient option for tourists. If you are in Porto, take our tour to Fatima by a comfortable bus and also have the opportunity to visit the historic city of Coimbra.

If you’re in Lisbon, the distance from the capital to Fatima is only 130 kilometers long. Both cities are so close that a round trip from Lisbon is the most popular option for tourists. You can explore every part of Fatima’s history in just one day. And you can do so with our one-day tour through various Portuguese cities in the center of the country. You can also visit the site of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary and the Shrine of Fatima in this tour too.


When to go to Fatima?

The best time to go to Fatima is when the city’s most respected religious events take place, such as the Candlelight Procession. It is one of the most memorable moments for those who visit the Shrine, a unique experience. Check the Shrine’s official website to make sure you don’t miss the dates.


The Shrine of Fatima is open all year round, but bear in mind that bad weather can make the tour a little less comfortable, as the Shrine is outdoors. Choose dates with a low chance of rain, such as in Summer.

Shrine of Fatima from above


For pilgrims wishing to walk to Fatima, it is important to plan their routes in advance. There are well-established routes for different levels of walking, with accommodation options along the way. There are several Portuguese volunteer groups ready to help. It is recommended that pilgrims are physically prepared and aware of the conditions of the route.


Explore the charms of Fatima now

Fatima, Portugal’s most visited religious shrine, offers a unique experience for travelers and pilgrims alike. The story of the Apparitions of Our Lady, the exciting sights and the atmosphere of spiritual devotion make Fatima an unmissable destination for those seeking an encounter with the Catholic faith.

As you explore Fatima, you will be immersed in the history, traditions and spirituality that surround this holy city. Take this journey and dive into the charms of religiosity. You will certainly be touched by this unique experience.

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