Portugal is experiencing a tourism boom as figures reveal 2016 welcomed a significant number of religious tourists throughout the year.


The EU’s official bureau of statistics has released data, which combined with other known figures, reveals that a big section of the country’s visitors last year can be attributed to religious tourism.

The data reveals that 60.6 million tourists arrived to Portugal during 2016. The Sanctuary of Fàtima welcomed over 5 million visitors – both domestic and international – over the course of last year which equates to a huge slice of the total tourism numbers. It is estimated that 90 percent of pilgrims to Portugal would have visited Fàtima.

While there are no official statics on what percentage of the sector religious tourism comprises in Portugal, it is thought to be in the region of 10 to 14 percent.

These are significant numbers, and Ana Godinho, the Secretary of State of Tourism, said during an official trip to Brazil that 3.3 million visitors each year could be attributed to Portugal’s religious tourism.

These figures are certainly interesting but not all that surprising. The tourism ministry has said that around 75 percent of Portugal’s heritage sites have a religious trait.

There are truly myriad sites to visit when in Portugal, making it an ideal holiday for singles over 50.

Beyond the Sanctuary of Fatima – a fascinating group of Catholic buildings and structures that includes the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary – Portugal is also home to the Bom Jesus do Monte, a sanctuary outside Braga that is renowned for its incredible Baroque stairway that climbs 116 meters.