Day 1 in Fatima
Welcome to Portugal! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Make your way to Fatima and arrive at your hotel. Check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do!
Many of you will arrive in Fatima by way of Fatima bus station, located on the southern end of the Sanctuary of Fatima. As you travel toward the Sanctuary from the bus station on Avenida de Dom Jose Alves Correia da Silva, you will notice a pilgrimage community center on your right called the Paul VI Pastoral Center. It is open to all pilgrims; feel free to visit and grab something to eat at their cafeteria if you wish.
The streets that border the Sanctuary to the left and right are Rua Joao Paulo II and Rua Conego Nunes Formigao respectively. Enter the Sanctuary on the side of Rua Nunes Formigao, taking time to view the Berlin Wall Monument beforehand. The land on which the Sanctuary is built was once an olive field called the Cova da Iria. As you enter the Sanctuary, the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, the Statue of Pope John Paul II and the Fatima High Cross will be on your left. Take time to walk through the square and pay your respects at the modern, circular basilica and the equally contemporary High Cross. On the other side of the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, there is a gilt bronze statue, the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, surrounded by a fountain. Pilgrims are encouraged to drink the blessed water from the fountain (and you can even take some home if you like).
Heading north through the square, you will see the open-air Chapel of the Apparitions, which was the very first chapel built on the site and the one the Virgin Mary had demanded of Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta when She appeared to them in 1917. Next to the Chapel is the Great Holmoak, which is the tree on which the children witnessed the majority of the 1917 apparitions. The large basilica, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, was dedicated in 1954. The tower was modeled after Clerigos Church Tower in Porto. Many pilgrims pray at each of the fifteen altars inside, which correspond to the fifteen decades of the Rosary. The tombs of Francisco and Jacinta Marto are also located inside this Basilica.
Day 2 in Fatima
Begin the second day by walking the Via Sacra from central Fatima to Valinhos. Valinhos was an open field a hundred years ago, and Lucia saw the Angel of Portugal with her cousins at the Loca do Anjo, south of the terminus of the Via Sacra. The Via Sacra is lined with Stations of the Cross, culminating in a visually striking religious monument built by Hungarian immigrants called the Calvaro Hungaro. Approximately a quarter-mile from the aforementioned monument, down the Rua dos Valinhos, you will see a humble building which is now a living museum. This is the house Lucia Santos grew up in. Going up the Rua dos Pastorinhos, past the parking lot, you will see another house that`s open to the public: the house where Francisco and Jacinta Marto lived.
Make your way up the Avenida dos Pastorinhos toward Fatima and re-enter town via the southern roundabout, or the Rotunda dos Pastorinhos, featuring statues of the shepherd children on the grassy knoll. Exit the roundabout at Rua Francisco Marto and visit the Museu de Arte Sacra e Etnologia de Fatima to view religious art as it relates to Fatima and Portugal, with the collection spanning from the 14th century to today. Then visit the Fatima Wax Museum, located on Rua Jacinta Marto, and view the story of Fatima as told through wax sculptures.
If it isn`t too late in the day, take a shuttle (weekdays only) to Grutas da Moeda, which features some of the most stunning limestone caves open to the public in all of Portugal. Before sunset, visit the Dinosaur Footprints Monument on the edge of Serra de Aire Natural Park, located about five miles southeast of Fatima. Over 1,000 dinosaur footprints have been uncovered at this former rock quarry, dating back over 175 billion years!
Day 3 in Fatima
Arrange for transportation to take you east to Tomar, a beautiful and historic city located on the banks of the Navao River. The UNESCO World Heritage Site complex consisting of the Convento de Cristo and Tomar Castle are gorgeous and overlook the town below. Spend the rest of the morning exploring the town`s sights, such as the uniquely Gothic Igreja de Sao Joao Baptista, the semi-urban flowering park Mata Nacional dos Sete Montes, and the largest Jewish history museum north of Lisbon, the Sinagoga de Tomar (Museu Luso-Hebraico).
In the afternoon, drive to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the breathtakingly-beautiful and iconic Batalha Monastery, built in a Gothic, Manueline and Perpendicual architectural melange. Spend the remainder of the afternoon five miles north in Leiria, where you can stroll the town`s old-world streets, walk the grounds of the Medieval Leiria Castle, and view one of the most noteworthy Renaissance cathedrals in Portugal, Leiria Cathedral. If there is time at the end of the day, return to Fatima and visit the Igreja Paroquial de Fatima, where the three shepherd children were baptized.
Additional Days in Fatima
A little over 40 miles north of Fatima, one of Portugal`s most storied cities, Coimbra, sits proudly on the banks of the Mondego River. Coimbra is known all across Portugal for its eponymous university, which is considered to be one of the top institutes of higher learning not just in Portugal, but in the entire Lusophone world. The city is also well-known for being the seat of Portuguese royalty for over a century. The historic center of Coimbra is well-preserved, thanks to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just ten miles south of Coimbra, on the road back to Fatima, lie the remains of the Roman settlement of Conimbriga. Conimbriga, a walled settlement encircled by a nearly mile-long stretch of fortifications, included a forum, a basilica, aqueducts, shops, and homes of various sizes. It was built between the second century before the Common Era and the first century of said era. Excavations uncovering the settlement`s buildings began in 1899 and have continued since then. It is the most-preserved Roman settlement in Portugal today.
Before heading back to Fatima or Lisbon, drive west toward the coast and stop at one of Portugal`s most beautiful fishing villages, Nazare. The boats of Nazare, first designed by the Phoenicians, are a vision straight off a postcard. Nazare is home to a number of beaches for those who wish to sun-bathe and frolic in the waters of the Atlantic. Before you go, make sure to take in the beautiful panoramic views at the vista point Miradouro do Suberco, 300 feet above the town.
Your Last Day in Fatima
Depart your hotel and head to the airport for your return home. If you have purchased a private transfer, a representative will meet you at the hotel in time to take you to the airport for your flight out. We hope you enjoyed your visit to Fatima.