A roadtrip from Lisbon to Fátima, Portugal

Hey all! Here in Portugal we’re full swing with Summer and it’s super hot! I have tried to go often to the beach after work though, you might be seeing some pictures in my Instagram if you follow me there. So here I am talking about a day trip from Lisbon that is quite common. I did it with my family last June because I didn’t go there for long. I am talking about Fátima Sanctuary, the largest Christian Catholic devotion place in Portugal. The sanctuary story started in 1917, the year when it is claimed that Our Lady appeared to three little shepards (Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta) in that place for the first time in May 13th and every month until October 13th. Story says that the Virgin asked the shepards to pray for peace and the end of the 1st World War, in which Portugal fought. Next year the 100 years of the apparitions will be celebrated. It is a very important place in Portuguese popular culture and it is a cult place where believers generally make promises to Our Lady of Fátima and go there to light candles or even go there by foot to pay the promises. Whether you’re religious or not, I think it’s worth to make a visit to judge it for yourself.

Fátima Sanctuary. Photo by A Pulgarita

However, the nice charm of going to this place is that you can stop on the way on some interesting places for sightseeing and this makes a nice daytrip from Lisbon. However, if you don’t have a car, you can always go by bus with Rede Expressos. We took a path first along Tagus river and then on the way back closer to the beach. The places we stopped at are in the following map and the whole trip is 350 Kms. Since it’s a very long trip, I advise you to leave early in the morning (7-8 a.m. the latest) to have time for all. Following I will show a breakdown of what we saw (bear in mind that most of the stops were very quick ones!)



This city has close to 30,000 inhabitants and it is known as the Portuguese Gothic capital due to the several Gothic arquitecture examples. However, most of these monuments are abandoned. We only went to Portas do Sol to walk a bit, in a garden where you get a stunning view of the Tagus river.

Santarém city walls @ Portas do Sol
The view over Tagus


This is a quite small town with 3000 inhabitants. It is right on the Tagus bank and it has some sightseeing points for the river but we didn’t go to these but I’m sure it makes for a nice hike. We stopped right by the bullfighting square. I don’t like bullfighting at all but I think some squares are spectacular, such as the one in Campo Pequeno in Lisbon. This one is more simple but quite beautiful!

I love these Moorish inspired doors and tiles!


You enter this place and it is absolutely huge and majestic. It was a quite calm day here but I’m sure next year with the 100th anniversary will be small for everyone who will want to go. I went to Basilica of Our Lady of Fátima, the main one with the high tower with the crown, all marble inside with a stunning carved in stone image of the apparition, and the tombs of the three shepards. The shepards are in the process of becoming Saints now. I also went to the small Chapel of the Apparitions, where the image of Our Lady of Fátima is, since this is said to be the place where the holmoak where the Virgin was standing when she appeared was. Finally I also went to the more recent Basilica of the Holy Trinity, opened in 2007 and inspired by Orthodox and Byzantine art. The Sanctuary also has two statues of two Popes connected to Fátima: Pope Paul VI, for being the first Pope to visit Fátima in the 50th anniversary of the Apparitions, and Pope Saint John Paul II, since, after the murder attempt he suffered in the 13th of May of 1981 in Rome, he said that Our Lady of Fátima helped keeping him alive. Since then he visited Fátima three times.

Basílica of Our Lady of Fátima
The main square of the Sanctuary
Chapel of the Apparitions
Basilica of the Holy Trinity

Porto de Mós

This town is 18 Kms west of Fátima and is known by its original castle in a pentagonal shape with two towers with green tiled roofs, like no other in Portugal. This castle exists since the moorish occupation and suffered several renovations, with the structure we can see today dating from the 15th century. I paid 1.51€ to visit the castle and while you see it very quickly, it’s worth it to go to the towers and enjoy the view!

Castle of Porto de Mós. Picture taken from the Porto de Mós municipality website.
View over Porto de Mós
The tiles look like fish scales!


If you’re into surfing you might have already heard of Nazaré. This town is known for the huge waves off the coast, and this is where Garrett McNamara broke the record for the highest wave ever surfed at 30 m tall! But there is much more to know about it. The place has a legend in a place where a small chapel is, Sítio da Nazaré (literally meaning “place of Nazaré”), where it is said that D. Fuas Roupinho, an important nobleman of the 12th century, was hunting and, without seeing, went straight into a cliff and almost falling over, when he saw a cave where an image of Our Lady was. He prayed and the horse he was sitting on miraculously stopped and both were saved. The chapel, Ermida da Memória, was erected to thank for the miracle. If you see the cliff from the beach of Nazaré, you san see that it resembles an horse hoof. Another curious sight are the ladies wearing the traditional costumes, with seven skirts that are related to fishing tradition. I went to both Sítio, where you get a great view without falling over, and to the seaside, where we saw ladies selling sun dried fish, a thing I never saw before. This place is so charming, it’s much more than surfing culture!

Sítio da Nazaré
That water!
Nazaré beach
That fish!

São Martinho do Porto

I was completely charmed by this beach too. I had never been here before and the aura is so peaceful. The beach is on a bay, which means super calm sea, despite of the cold water. We stopped here for a very short time and just take a few pics but it’s on my list of future beach destinations!

Like a swimming pool!

Foz do Arelho

This beach is unique in the sense that you can get both a saltwater beach turned to the Atlantic Ocean like most and also a sweet water beach by turning to the shore of Óbidos Lagoon. Or try both just by walking a few meters. The views from the cliff above are great and the beach itself too!


The lagoon side
And the sea!


This town is one of the most charming places in all Portugal and comes in all the guides. The whole town is inside walls and it is known for the narrow streets and ginjinha (a sour cherry liquour). It even has churches turned into libraries! Unfortunately it was a very short stop to see the walls and the castle from outside because we have been here plenty of times. I actually spent my New Year’s Eve in Óbidos last time and I want to write a more detailed post about the time from the notes I took back then but here’s a teaser to see how beatiful it is (and also because the photos I took during this trip are not good).

Walking in the walls of Óbidos. Yeah, it’s Winter here.

Did you visit any of the places listed here? Any additional tips that you want to provide about them?


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  1. Aggy
    January 5, 2017

    I really want to go back to Portugal now! Those places look really gorgeous in your photos. Do you think I can visit them by bus/train instead of taking a car?

    1. A Pulgarita
      January 5, 2017

      Some of them you can 🙂 You can catch a bus from Lisbon to Santarém, then from Santarém to Fátima. I think there’s also a bus from Fátima to Nazaré and then Caldas da Rainha, and from there you can catch a quite slow regional train that stops in some of the beaches I showed, like São Martinho do Porto. If you need help with itinerary planning if you ever come back let me know 😉

  2. Russell
    February 8, 2017

    What a great read! Thank so much for sharing, Catia 😃

    We haven’t had the the chance to visit Portugal yet but it’s definitely on our To Travel List so we’ll be referring to this post for places to visit during our stay.

    Thanks for the great photos too ❤️

    1. A Pulgarita
      February 9, 2017

      Thank you so much Russell! It’s definitely a nice roadtrip, I look forward to your pictures when you go there so that I miss my country even more right here from the USA 😉


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