Cheap Hotels In Portugal
Once a sleepy village in central Portugal, Fátima is now one of the world's most important sites for Catholics, welcoming around six million pilgrims a year. In 1917, three shepherd children reported seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary just outside the town, and visitors have flocked there ever since. The town is packed with churches and other religious sites, including the fourth-biggest Catholic church in the world. There are plenty of other things to see and do in and around Fátima, from restaurants serving local specialities to an impressive cave system and even a paleontological site.
You can stay in a Fátima hostel just outside the town centre, surrounded by rolling hills and with a swimming pool in the lush grounds. Start the day with a buffet breakfast, and return later in the evening for traditional Portuguese cuisine at the hostel restaurant. Some hostels in Fátima also have on-site bars where you can try the local wine, vinho verde, or finish the day with a port nightcap.
With fewer than 12,000 permanent residents, the town of Fátima is quiet and residential, full of whitewashed houses with red tiled roofs, date palms and olive trees. Most accommodation options are close to the Sanctuary of Fátima, which is a short walk from the town centre. There are a variety of cafés, restaurants and bakeries catering to visiting pilgrims.
The first stop for many pilgrims in Fátima is the Chapel of the Apparitions, built in the exact place the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary houses the bodies of the three shepherd children, and you can also visit the former homes of two of them. Once you've toured the site, try a change of scene by visiting the Mira de Aire Caves, 15km away, where you'll find stalagmite and stalactite formations going back 150 million years. Or you could head to the Monumento Natural das Pegadas de Dinossáurio de Ourém-Torres Novas to spot dinosaur footprints.
Pilgrims travel to Fátima on foot, having followed one of the traditional routes – the Tagus Way, the Northern Way, the Nazaré Way or the Coastal Way. For non-pilgrims, Fátima is a stop on many north–south bus routes in Portugal, as well as bus connections to destinations across Portugal and Spain. Fátima is a 2-hour drive from Porto and a 90-minute drive from Lisbon.