Fátima is located in the heart of Serra de Aire, Ourém county. It is famous worldwide due to the report of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported by three little shepherds from May 13 to October 13, 1917. Geographically, it is at the confluence of three provinces: Ribatejo, Estremadura and Beira Litoral. A strategic location that makes this city a starting point to visit and absorb the subcultures and landscape diversity of the regions. 120km from Lisbon and 194km from Porto, the easiest way to get to Fátima is by the A1 highway or IC9 national road . Here it is, a script with lots of nature, outdoors, science and history. Everything you want for 48 hours of extreme leisure.
After a hearty breakfast at the hotel (Lux Fátima and Lux Fátima Park are 1 minute walk from the center), start with a walk to the Sanctuary of Fatima and the main square. Fátima is a small, straight city and almost all hotels are within walking distance. The most famous attraction of the destination is a must-see by all who have an interest in the spiritual side of life and the curious minds. Under normal conditions, celebrations are held almost every hour.
After visiting the Sanctuary, take a morning break at the mythical Apollo Café, now renovated and one of the oldest eating and drinking places in the city, a place where tourists and locals get together. If the weather is good, sit outside in the terrace, on Rua Jacinta Marto, with a view to Luís Kondor square.
For the other destinations you will need a car. In the late morning go to Pia do Urso, 7km from the center of Fatima, and you will find your first stop in the surroundings: Pia do Urso Sensory Ecopark. It is worth seeing the rebuilt houses and going through the sensorial pedestrian route, adapted for the blind. Here you can have lunch at the Piadussa restaurant, with a cozy atmosphere and traditional Portuguese food, such as octopus à lagareiro and veal cutlet. There is also the option of taking your own picnic to Pia do Urso park. On sunny days is a great choice for nature lovers.
Start the afternoon with a visite to Mira D’Aire Caves, the largest caves in Portugal, about 9 km away from Pia do Urso. They are open all year and the adult ticket costs € 7.
From here, head to the Fluvial Beach of Olhos de Água, on a beautiful 17km route that circles the Aire and Candeeiros Mountains. The source of the river Alviela gave Alcanena a beach with clear waters, without currents, good for children. You should not miss the walk to the source with several small caves on the way.
At 200m distance is the Alviela Live Science Center – Carsoscope. The permanent exhibitions include Geódromo – a virtual reality simulator with a capacity for 16 people, which takes visitors on a 175 million-year-old journey, until the time when the dinosaurs “designed” their footprints on the limestone rock of Serra de Aire. In the exhibition Quiroptário you can find out more about bats’ habitat, as well as other species of fauna that share the same shelters. Admission for adults is €4.5, closed on Mondays.
At the end of the afternoon, return through Torres Novas. Visit the Jardim das Rosas and Jardim da Avenida, ideal for taking a travel photo. Both well maintained, located by the pools and the river Almonda, overlooking the castle. The last departure of this trip is the Castle of Torres Novas, a well-preserved monument, where you can go around the walls and get a superb view over the city and the mountains. Return to Fátima and at the end of dinner, if you still have energy left, take a walk along the 2.2km of the pedestrian circuit (and bike path) on Avenida D. José Alves Correia da Silva.
Start the day with a visit to the Natural Monument of Dinosaur footprints , 11km from Fátima. It is a pleasant place to spend some time and learn more about the Jurassic period, 175 million years ago. The dinosaur footprint trail is fun and very educational. The friendliness of the guides and the passionate way they lead us through the 20 tracks of dinosaur footprints are a plus. Admission for an adult costs €3. Closed on Mondays.
From the “Jurassic” to Constância, on the A23 highway, it is about 44km of an easy route. The average cost to get there is €5.76 (toll €0.80 + fuel €4.96). Spend the rest of the morning on a visit to the Live Science Center – Astronomy Park. Start with the walk to the «Outdoor Park», consisting of 8 modules inspired by astronomy and visit the Planetarium, which provides a different way to enjoy the night sky. An individual ticket costs €2.5.
Once in the Médio-Tejo area 10km away from the Science Center, the visit to the Tropical Butterfly Garden is very worthwhile. Butterflies are inspiring insects, with a very light body and wide wings, they have a sublime and delicate flutter. You can see several tropical butterflies including one of the largest in the world that can go up to 30cm. It is advisable to schedule a visit. The entrance fee is symbolic: for an adult 2.5€. It is located in the Environmental Park of Santa Margarida, also very pleasant, with a wide range of equipment and various thematic activities, including a Picnic Park where you can relax and eat.
On the way back to Fátima it is difficult to choose where to stop because there are many places of interest. Take the N3 road and start at Almourol Castle – the great guardian of Tejo river, with so many secrets kept. The visit to the castle, which is located on an islet of the largest river in Portugal, includes boat transfer and entrance to the Templar Interpretation Center of Almourol (CITA), and a single ticket is 4€.
After the castle, go through Tomar and visit Convent of Christ, seat of the religious and military orders of the Temple and Christ, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. The visit takes about an hour and costs 6€. Then, take a rest by the Nabão river on one of the terraces overlooking the Parque do Mouchão, or Parque da Cidade de Tomar.
There are two more interesting places on this trip and with free access: the Aqueduto dos Pegões, just outside Tomar and, without having to change your route, the newly opened Baloiço do Talegre, where you can end your tour with a super sunset photo of Serra de Aire e Candeeiros view, in the small town of Alburitel.
* Due to the pandemic situation, the Butterfly Garden is temporarily closed, as well as all types of caves. Alternatively, it is recommended to follow your trip more calmly.