1. The fishing town & former royal summer retreat breathes history
Cascais (pronounced as “kush-kaish”) was originally a typical fishing village. However, since King Luis choose Cascais as his royal summer retreat in 1870, the once quiet fishing village became known as the Court Town. The Citadel governor’s residence was transformed into a royal palace where the court would be installed.
Along with the court, the town attracted royalty, nobles, and aristocrats. Hence, with the construction of beautiful villas and mansions, the village turned into a glamorous beach town. King D. Carlos, who succeeded his father D. Luis, also loved the town and continued to pass his summer vacations in Cascais. Similarly, as Cascais grew, also the neighboring towns Monte Estoril and Estoril turned into glamorous beach resorts, with sophisticated hotels and even a casino.
When walking around in the narrow streets of Cascais’ historical centre you will immediately feel the harmony between the traditional Portuguese charm of the fishing town and the cosmopolitan beach town.
Tip: walk along the Rua Fernandes Thomas, the Avenida Valbom and the Avenida Dom Carlos. Then continue through the streets at the left of the Camera Municipal to breathe in the best of Cascais’ history!
2. The Portuguese Riviera, beaches for every taste
The 17 km long coastline of Cascais stretching from Carcavelos to Abano is often referred to as the Portuguese Riviera. This part of the Lisbon coast is indeed a magnificent holiday destination in Portugal with a variety of 20 (!) beaches to choose from.
When arriving from Lisbon by train, just walk 3 minutes to the nearest beach, the tiny Rainha beach. Soak in the view and take a left to reach the beach boulevard (called Paredão). You will pass by the golden sandy beaches of Conceição, Duquesa, Moitas until you reach Tamariz beach right in front of the Estoril train station. Tip: on busy summer days, make sure to continue to walk until you reach the less touristy beaches of Poça and Azurujinha. Those smaller golden sandy beaches along the boulevard are perfect for travelers wanting to sunbathe and relax.
Cascais is lively summer or winter. With an average of 300 sunny days per year, the Paredão is always full of people strolling, jogging or working out. Imagine yourself walking along the Cascais – Estoril beach boulevard in this video.
Those who prefer dramatic scenery and powerful waves, should definitely check out Guincho beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal! Also the nearby unspoiled beaches of Abano and Cresmina are worth a visit. The most sustainable way to get there is to go by bike! You can rent a bicycle from one of the Mobi Cascais bike stations or from one of the rental shops in the centre like Portugal Rent Bike. For more info about the beaches in Cascais check letsgotoportugal.com/Cascais-best-beaches
3. Breathe fresh air in the green parks and forests
Cascais is one of the towns in Portugal with the best quality of life. Not only is it a beautiful coastal town, but it is also surrounded by green parks and forests. Being able to breathe fresh air and stroll in the many parks is said to be one of the secrets of the longevity and happiness of the Cascalenses.
The Marechal Carmona Park, just behind the Marina, is a beautiful park with cafe and playground for the kids. It is a wonderful spot to take the family for a picnic or to have a rest in the shade on hot summer days. Another park close to the center is the Palmela Park, where kids can attend a treetop path run by the company Pedaços de Aventura.
Our favorite park is the Sintra – Cascais Natural Park. This park offers amazing hiking trails while you can enjoy stunning views over Cascais and Cabo da Roca. We love to go drive up to the Peninha sanctuary and soak in the amazing view over Cascais from there. Another great spot is the beautiful organic farm Quinta do Pisão. Here can pick your own vegetables and enjoy a great day with the entire family exploring the various trails.
4. One of the most picturesque seaside towns in Portugal
Located on the Portuguese Riviera, the beautiful seaside town of Cascais lies just outside Lisbon. Sure is that this pleasant town full of heritage and history is one of a kind. The town contains many incredible instagrammable spots as you will quickly notice upon arrival.
Amongst the Portuguese, Cascais has the reputation of being home to the wealthy, as it is the town where the current president of Portugal lives and where rich families of Lisbon spend their weekends and holidays. Certainly, Cascais has a touch of class.
The charming old town has retained so much of its Portuguese character and fishing town heritage. It is a delight to wander through the streets of the old town and admire the beautiful floor patterns. The traditional fishermen’s houses are so picturesque and have been converted into cool shops, vibrant bars and family-run restaurants. Tip: make sure to explore the old town without map or any specific destination in mind. You will stumble upon some incredible spots and it is the best way absorb the unique culture and atmosphere of Cascais!
Furthermore, when you walk a bit west of the old town and look out to the ocean, you will discover a dramatic coastline dotted with stunning rock formations. Make sure not to miss Boca de Inferno (10 minutes walk from the centre) and Guincho Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal.
5. A gastronomic paradise
Cascais has an amazing collection of great restaurants with excellent menus based largely on fresh fish and seafood. A true paradise for foodies with prices matching every pocket. Certainly there are many fish restaurants but actually almost any world cuisine can be found in Cascais.
Some restaurants are small cozy cafés in narrow streets in the historic center whilst others offer superb views of the ocean and are located along the seafront serving gourmet dishes. One of the 26 Michelin starred restaurants of Portugal is located in Cascais: Fortaleza do Guincho.
For a selection of our Cascais insider restaurant tips check Letsgotoportugal.com/where-to-eat-in-Cascais
6. Cascais contains a Museum Quarter and is a hub for urban art
Aside from its beaches, Cascais has also plenty of palaces and museums, which are all within an easily walkable distance located in the so-called “Museum Quarter“.
First of all start with a visit of the Town Museum (Museu da Vila) located in the city hall where you can learn about Cascais’ history. Then move on to the Museum of the Sea and the Paula Rego House of Stories. Furthermore, cross the Marechal Carmona Park and visit the Castro Guimaraes museum, which is housed in one of the most architectural interesting buildings of Cascais. The building was once an aristocrat’s residence and is an elaborate mix of gothic, Portuguese and Arabian stonework. Another popular spot is Centro Cultural de Cascais, a bright pink building, formerly a convent, that now hosts a variety of exhibitions. For nautical lovers there is a Lighthouse Museum built into the Santa Marta Lighthouse, showcasing lighthouse technology.
Art lovers should also visit the Citadel Art District in the renovated 16th-century citadel complex, where they can find galleries and art studios.
Finally, Cascais is becoming a growing open-air art gallery with a beautiful collection of urban art. The yearly Muraliza and Infinito festivals have invited renowned Portuguese street artists to Cascais to express their art on façades, walls and even electrical power boxes. Make sure to spot the many beautiful pieces of street art in the historic centre of Cascais. Another interesting area for street art lovers is the Torre district, where several grey building façades turned into amazing pieces of art. A must see for urban art lovers!
7. Cascais is a very international & welcoming town
Cascais, a town with approximately 200.000 inhabitants, is a very welcoming town. It is considered home by people from all over the world. Many foreigners looking for a new place to live fall instantly in love with Cascais. The quality of life, the amount of sunshine, the pristine beaches, the Portuguese hospitality, the great variety of restaurants, the easy way of living…All those elements contribute to Cascais’ unique lifestyle, consisting of a perfect balance between nature and cosmopolitanism, between modern technology and history, between the Portuguese identity and globalism.
Cascais is a vibrant town. There are many things going on all the time (music, culture, sports, you name it) and there is a lively expat community in Cascais with many networking opportunities. Actually, when living in Cascais you are blessed with sun, sea, relaxation and peace and are only 30 km away from a European Capital. You don’t need anything else!
8. Cascais has a magnificent Marina
The Cascais Marina is a great, tranquil place to stroll around and enjoy the views of the impressive collection of yachts, sailboats and catamarans. The marina has all the necessary back up services for both residents and visitors. In the last few years Cascais has become the venue for world-class international sailing regattas. The complex features boutique shops and several high and bars and restaurants where it is great people watching.
Tip: Make sure to head to the Marina around sunset to take stunning pictures of the sun setting over the Lighthouse. Afterwards have dinner in one of the great fish restaurants. Marisco na Praça where you just select the fresh catch of the day is one of our favorites!
9. Sports and healthy lifestyle
Cascais residents love to work out and go for a run or walk along the Paredão. The beach boulevard is 2750 m long and connects Conceição beach in the center of Cascais with Azarujinha Beach in Estoril. There are a few outdoor gyms where you can keep in shape. Our favorite is this gym with a view of the ocean located in between Boca do Inferno and Casa da Guia.
For those wanting to cycle there is the amazing bike path connecting the Cascais Marina and Guincho beach, 8.7 km long along the beautiful Atlantic Coast.
Cascais is of course also known for the many water sports activities. Surfing, body board, kite surfing, fishing, sailing, scuba diving, water skiing and stand up paddle are just some of the water sports you can try in the blue waters of the bay of Cascais, Guincho or Carcavelos. Guincho beach is considered one of the top surfing spots in Europe with many international surfing competitions taking place here.
No wonder Iron Man choose Cascais as its base for the yearly Iron Man race in Portugal since 2017. The unique scenery in Cascais offers one of the most beautiful race courses ever designed for a triathlon and one of the most amazing experiences of an athlete’s lifetime. Check this video for a few impressions!
10. Cascais is one of the best golf destinations in Europe
The Cascais region has many courses available that offer the perfect setting for every level of golfing expertise.
Designed by renowned architects, the golf courses are set in beautiful locations some overlooking the sea and others tucked away with the Sintra hills as backdrop. Given the mild and pleasant climate it is possible to play a round at any time of the year. The golf clubs are open to visitors and have club houses, driving ranges, putting greens, bars, restaurants and shops. Golf equipment is available for hire at most courses. If you are a newcomer to this relaxing sport, professionals are available to give lessons.
Cascais is home to the Oitavos Dunes, positioned number 55 in the prestigious Top 100 Courses in the world and number 1 golf court in Portugal.
Check this link for detailed info about the 11 golf courts in and near Cascais.
How to Get to Cascais From Lisbon?
The best way to get to Cascais from Lisbon is by train. Trains depart every 20 minutes from the Cais do Sodre station in Lisbon and it takes about 40 minutes to get to Cascais center. Tickets can easily be purchased from the station the day of travel ( approx €2.20/€1.10 adult/child). Instead of buying single tickets it is recommended to buy the rechargeable Viva Viagem Card which you can top up according to your needs and offers more favorable rates.
Tip: Make sure to sit on the left side going to Cascais for the best seaside views! For the time table of the trains to and from Cascais check de website of Comboios de Portugal.
If you are driving, the journey is about 30 km on the A5 and takes about 30 minutes. You can also opt for the scenic Marginal road which runs along the seaside and takes a bit longer because of the traffic lights, but the beautiful scenery makes up for it!
Read more here about what to see & do in Cascais.
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Are you looking for a place to stay in Cascais? Check out Cascais Holiday Apartment for your family holidays in Cascais.
Contact us in case you wish to receive our recommendations for boutique guesthouses or design hotels in Cascais or in case you wish to live in Cascais!