Overview of Cascais
Cascais is a picturesque coastal town located on the western edge of the Lisbon region in Portugal. Historically, Cascais was a fishing village but has now developed into a popular tourist destination known for its stunning beaches, beautiful parks, historic architecture, and cultural events.
Cascais is situated on the Estoril Coast, which is a stretch of coastline that runs from Lisbon to Cascais. It is surrounded by the Sintra Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, offering a beautiful landscape that attracts visitors from all over the world.
The town’s historic center is a maze of narrow streets and alleys lined with traditional Portuguese houses painted in pastel colors, which gives it a charming and laid-back vibe. The town’s architecture is a mix of traditional Portuguese buildings and grand mansions from the 19th and early 20th centuries, which were built during the period when Cascais became a popular destination for wealthy Europeans.
Cascais is also known for its beautiful parks and gardens, such as the Marechal Carmona Park and the Palmela Park, which offer stunning views of the coastline and are perfect for relaxing and picnicking.
In addition to its natural beauty, Cascais has a thriving cultural scene with several events taking place throughout the year, including music festivals, art exhibitions, and street markets.
When to Visit
Cascais is a destination that can be visited throughout the year, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to do and your personal preferences.
The peak tourist season in Cascais is during the summer months of June to September, when the weather is warm and sunny and the beaches are at their best. This is also the busiest time of the year, with crowds of tourists flocking to the town. If you’re looking for a lively atmosphere, plenty of outdoor activities, and a chance to soak up the sun, then the summer months are ideal.
If you prefer cooler weather, then the best time to visit Cascais is during the spring (March to May) or autumn (October to November) months. During these months, the temperatures are milder, and there are fewer tourists, making it a great time to explore the town at your own pace. Plus, the spring months bring colorful blooms to the gardens and parks in and around Cascais, which is perfect for nature lovers.
If you’re interested in surfing, then the best time to visit Cascais is during the winter months of December to February, when the waves are at their biggest and most challenging. This is also the time of year when you can catch some of the biggest surf competitions in Europe, such as the Billabong Pro Cascais.
How to Get There
From Lisbon International Airport
The most convenient way to get to Cascais from Lisbon International Airport is by train. The train station is located just a short walk from the airport terminal, and trains run every 20-30 minutes. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes, and trains terminate at Cascais station.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi or Uber, which takes around 35-40 minutes depending on traffic. The cost can vary, but it’s usually between €30-€40.
From Lisbon City Center
If you’re already in Lisbon city center, the easiest way to get to Cascais is also by train. Trains depart from the Cais do Sodré train station, and the journey takes approximately 35 minutes. The trains run every 20-30 minutes, and tickets cost around €2-€4 each way.
You can also take a bus from Lisbon to Cascais, which takes around 45 minutes. The bus departs from the Sete Rios bus station and terminates at the Cascais bus station. The cost is around €4-€5 each way.
Alternatively, you can hire a car and drive to Cascais. The journey takes around 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic, and there are several car rental companies located in Lisbon.
From Other Cities
If you’re coming from other cities in Portugal, you can take a train or bus to Cascais. The train network in Portugal is extensive, and there are several daily trains that run between major cities and Cascais. You can check schedules and buy tickets on the Portuguese Railways website.
The bus network in Portugal is also reliable, and there are several daily buses that run between major cities and Cascais. You can check schedules and buy tickets on the Rede Expressos website.
Where to Stay
- Grande Real Villa Italia Hotel & Spa: This luxury hotel is located just a few minutes’ walk from the beach and offers a private beach area, outdoor pool, and spa facilities. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, with balconies and sea views in some of them. The hotel also features several restaurants, including a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a rooftop bar with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Farol Hotel: This boutique hotel is housed in a renovated 19th-century mansion and overlooks the sea. The rooms are individually decorated and feature modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. The hotel also has a rooftop bar with panoramic views of the ocean, a Mediterranean-style restaurant, and a wellness center with a sauna and Turkish bath.
- Casa Vela Guesthouse: This charming guesthouse is located in the heart of Cascais and offers comfortable rooms with private bathrooms and free Wi-Fi. The guesthouse features a cozy lounge area with a fireplace, a sunny terrace, and a garden. Breakfast is included in the room rate and is served daily in the dining room.
- Cascais Bay Hostel: This budget-friendly hostel is located just a few minutes’ walk from the beach and offers dormitory-style rooms with shared bathrooms. The hostel features a communal kitchen, a lounge area with a TV, and a sunny terrace. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the hostel is a great choice for travelers on a budget.
- Sheraton Cascais Resort: This upscale resort is located just a short drive from the center of Cascais and offers spacious suites and villas with modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. The resort features several swimming pools, a spa with a sauna and Turkish bath, and several restaurants serving local and international cuisine.
What to Do
1. Visit the Museum Quarter
The Museum Quarter of Cascais is a must-see for history and art enthusiasts. Here, you’ll find several museums and galleries, including the Paula Rego Museum, the Casa das Historias, the Municipal Museum, and the Condes de Castro Guimaraes Museum. These museums showcase a wide range of exhibits and collections, from contemporary art to antique furniture and artifacts.
2. Explore the Seafront Promenade
The seafront promenade of Cascais is a great way to take in the fresh ocean breeze and enjoy the stunning coastal views. This promenade stretches along the waterfront, connecting the charming town center to the picturesque fishing village of Cascais. Along the way, you’ll find several restaurants, cafes, and shops, as well as parks and gardens.
3. Take a Boat Tour
One of the best ways to explore the coastline of Cascais is by taking a boat tour. There are several options available, from sunset cruises to dolphin-watching tours. You can also rent a kayak or a paddleboard and explore the coves and cliffs at your own pace.
4. Go Surfing
Cascais is a popular destination for surfers, thanks to its consistent waves and ideal surfing conditions. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, you can find a surf school or a rental shop that will cater to your needs. Some of the best surf spots in Cascais include Guincho Beach, Carcavelos Beach, and Praia Grande.
5. Discover the historical centre of Cascais
The tours are designed for all ages, it’s an interactive and engaging way to discover the history, culture, and hidden gems of Cascais. You’ll learn fascinating facts about the city, solve riddles, and most importantly, have lots of fun! These tours are perfect for families, friends, and solo travellers who want to explore the city in a unique and exciting way.
As you follow the tours, you’ll explore Cascais. You’ll discover some of the neighbourhood’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Marina de Cascais, Praia de Santa Marta, Bairro Amarelo, Palacete Seixas and many more exciting sights in the neighbourhood.
But the tours are not only about sightseeing, as you wander through the streets, you’ll be solving riddles and answering questions that will lead you to discover hidden gems.
The tours are self-guided, so you can start and finish it at your own pace, you can also take as many breaks as you like. The tours are designed to be completed in around 2 hours, but you can take as long as you like to finish it.
The scavenger hunt is not only fun and unique, but also affordable, making it accessible to everyone. Learn more here.
6. Play Golf
Cascais is home to several world-class golf courses that offer stunning views and challenging holes. Some of the most popular golf courses in Cascais include the Oitavos Dunes Golf Course, the Estoril Golf Course, and the Penha Longa Golf Course. These courses are open to visitors and offer a range of services, including equipment rental and lessons.
6. Attend a Music Festival
Cascais hosts several music festivals throughout the year, featuring local and international artists from a variety of genres. Some of the most popular festivals include the Cascais Groove, the Cascais Jazz Festival, and the EDP Cool Jazz Festival. These festivals are a great way to experience the local culture and enjoy live music in a beautiful setting.
These are just some of the many things to do in Cascais. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure, or culture, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you in this charming coastal town.
If you have extra time, there are several day trips you can take from Cascais, including:
Sintra is a picturesque town located just 20 minutes from Cascais. It’s known for its stunning palaces and castles, including the famous Pena Palace. The town is nestled in the hills, surrounded by lush forests and gardens. Some of the top attractions in Sintra include:
- Pena Palace: This colorful palace is one of the most popular attractions in Sintra. It’s perched on a hilltop, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
- Quinta da Regaleira: This romantic palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens and features underground tunnels and hidden grottoes.
- Moorish Castle: This medieval castle dates back to the 8th century and offers panoramic views of the region.
- Sintra National Palace: This palace is located in the heart of Sintra and features impressive Gothic architecture and beautiful gardens.
Portugal’s capital city is just a short train ride away from Cascais, making it an ideal day trip destination. Lisbon is known for its historic sites, museums, and shopping. Some of the top attractions in Lisbon include:
- Belem Tower: This iconic tower dates back to the 16th century and is a symbol of Portugal’s Age of Discovery.
- Jeronimos Monastery: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a masterpiece of Portuguese Gothic architecture.
- Castelo de Sao Jorge: This medieval castle is located in the heart of Lisbon and offers panoramic views of the city.
- Alfama: This historic district is known for its winding streets, colorful houses, and traditional Fado music.
Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of continental Europe and is located just 30 minutes from Cascais. It offers stunning views of the sea and rugged coastline. Some of the top attractions at Cabo da Roca include:
- Cabo da Roca lighthouse: This historic lighthouse dates back to the 18th century and offers panoramic views of the sea and coastline.
- Praia da Ursa: This secluded beach is located near Cabo da Roca and is known for its unique rock formations.
- Cascais Natural Park: This park covers an area of over 10,000 hectares and is home to a variety of wildlife and flora.
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