If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, you may be wondering which destinations to add to your itinerary. While Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve are some of the most popular destinations in the country, there is another gem that you shouldn’t miss: Cascais. Located just a short distance from Lisbon, Cascais is a charming coastal town that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and delicious food and drink. From its stunning beaches to its ancient fortresses and museums, Cascais has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, Cascais is a destination that should be on your travel radar. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the top reasons why you should consider adding Cascais to your Portugal travel itinerary. From its beautiful beaches to its mouth-watering cuisine, you’re sure to fall in love with this picturesque town on the Atlantic coast.
Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider visiting Cascais:
- Beautiful beaches: Cascais is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, including Praia do Guincho, Praia da Rainha, and Praia de Carcavelos. These beaches offer great opportunities for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing.
- Rich history and culture: Cascais is steeped in history and culture, with ancient fortresses, castles, and museums that offer a glimpse into Portugal’s past. The town is also known for its traditional Portuguese architecture, charming cobblestone streets, and colorful buildings.
- Delicious food and drink: Cascais is a foodie’s paradise, with a wide variety of restaurants and bars serving up traditional Portuguese dishes and drinks. From fresh seafood to regional wines, there is no shortage of culinary delights to savor.
- Stunning natural beauty: Cascais is surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes, including the Serra de Sintra mountains, Cabo da Roca cliffs, and the Guincho dunes. These areas offer great opportunities for hiking, biking, and nature walks.
- Accessible location: Cascais is located just a short distance from Lisbon, making it an easy day trip or weekend getaway for those visiting the Portuguese capital. The town is also well-connected to other destinations in Portugal, making it a convenient stop on a larger travel itinerary.
1. Beautiful beaches
Cascais is known for its beautiful beaches, which are among the most popular attractions in the town. One of the most famous is Praia do Guincho, located just a few kilometers from Cascais. This beach is known for its spectacular natural beauty, with cliffs, dunes, and crystal-clear waters. It is also a favorite among surfers, as it offers excellent waves for surfing and windsurfing.
Another popular beach in Cascais is Praia da Rainha, which is located in the town center. This small and charming beach has a calm and clear sea and is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. It is also surrounded by a beautiful landscape, with colorful buildings, palm trees, and flowers.
Praia de Carcavelos is another beach in the Cascais area, which is located about 8 kilometers away from the town. It is one of the largest and most popular beaches in the Lisbon area, with a wide strip of sand and excellent facilities, including restaurants, bars, and surf schools. It is also a great place to catch a stunning sunset.
2. Rich history and culture
Cascais has a rich and fascinating history that spans back to the prehistoric era. The town’s strategic location on the Atlantic coast has made it a coveted destination for various cultures throughout history, from the Celts and Phoenicians to the Moors and the Portuguese.
One of the most significant historical landmarks in Cascais is the impressive Cascais Fortress, which was originally built in the 15th century to defend the town against pirates and enemy invasions. The fortress has since been converted into a museum that offers a fascinating look into the town’s military history.
Another must-visit historical site in Cascais is the Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum, which dates back to the 18th century. The lighthouse served as a beacon for ships traveling along the coast and is now a museum that showcases the life of a lighthouse keeper and the history of maritime navigation.
Cascais is also home to several beautiful churches and chapels, such as the Church of Nossa Senhora da Assunção and the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Guia. These religious sites offer a glimpse into the town’s spiritual heritage and feature stunning architecture and art.
In addition to its historical landmarks, Cascais is also known for its vibrant culture. The town is home to several cultural institutions, such as the Paula Rego Museum, which showcases the works of the renowned Portuguese artist, and the Casa das Histórias Museum, which features contemporary art exhibits.
3. Delicious food and drink
Cascais is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide variety of delicious dishes and drinks that reflect the region’s rich culinary traditions. The town is known for its fresh seafood, which is caught daily by local fishermen and served up in restaurants all over the town. Some of the most popular seafood dishes include grilled sardines, octopus rice, and clams in garlic and white wine sauce.
In addition to seafood, Cascais is also known for its regional wines, which are produced in the nearby Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. The wines in this region are known for their unique characteristics, with many of them featuring grape varieties that are native to Portugal. Some of the most popular wines to try in Cascais include the crisp and refreshing Vinho Verde and the full-bodied red wine, Touriga Nacional.
For those with a sweet tooth, Cascais offers a variety of local desserts, including the famous “Pastel de Nata,” a traditional Portuguese custard tart. Another popular dessert is the “Queijada de Sintra,” a small pastry made with cheese, sugar, and cinnamon.
No visit to Cascais is complete without trying the local specialty, “Ginjinha.” This cherry liqueur is made from a type of sour cherry called “Ginja,” which is grown in the region. It is typically served in a small shot glass and can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with other drinks.
4. Stunning natural beauty
Cascais is blessed with some of the most stunning natural landscapes in Portugal, making it a paradise for nature lovers. The town is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, cliffs, and beaches, offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities and adventure.
One of the most iconic natural attractions in Cascais is the Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point in mainland Europe. The cliffs of Cabo da Roca offer spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and are a popular spot for hiking and sightseeing.
Another natural wonder in Cascais is the Serra de Sintra mountain range, which is located just a short distance from the town. This mountain range is home to several hiking trails, including the popular Pena Trail, which leads to the stunning Pena Palace. The Serra de Sintra is also home to lush forests, tranquil lakes, and ancient monasteries, offering visitors a glimpse into Portugal’s rich history and culture.
If you’re looking for a more laid-back way to enjoy Cascais’ natural beauty, head to the Guincho dunes. These sand dunes are located along the coast and offer a peaceful retreat away from the crowds. The area is ideal for a leisurely walk or a picnic, and you can even try your hand at sandboarding.
5. Accessible location
Cascais is a highly accessible destination, thanks to its proximity to Lisbon and its excellent transportation connections. The town is located just 30 minutes west of Lisbon by car or train, making it an easy day trip or weekend getaway from the Portuguese capital. Lisbon’s international airport is also just a 35-minute drive from Cascais, meaning that visitors can easily fly in and out of the country from this convenient location.
In addition to its accessibility to Lisbon, Cascais is also well-connected to other destinations in Portugal. The town is located on the Atlantic coast, just a short drive from the popular tourist destination of Sintra, home to stunning palaces and castles. The Algarve region, known for its sunny beaches and warm weather, is also easily accessible from Cascais, as is the Douro Valley, famous for its vineyards and wine tours.
Once in Cascais, visitors can easily explore the town and its surroundings on foot, by bike, or by public transportation. The town is compact and walkable, with many attractions and restaurants located within easy walking distance of each other. Buses and trains also run regularly between Cascais and other destinations in the region, making it easy to explore further afield.
How to get there?
Getting to Cascais is quite easy, see the different options we found for you to explore:
- By car: If you’re coming from Lisbon or other parts of Portugal, driving to Cascais is an easy and convenient option. The town is located just 30 minutes west of Lisbon by car, and there are several highways that connect Lisbon to Cascais. There are also car rental options available at Lisbon’s international airport.
- By train: Cascais is well-connected to Lisbon by train, with regular services running from Cais do Sodré station in central Lisbon to Cascais. The journey takes around 40 minutes and offers stunning views of the Atlantic coast. There are also trains that run from other destinations in Portugal, such as Sintra and Porto, that connect to Cascais.
- By bus: There are several bus companies that operate services to Cascais from Lisbon and other destinations in Portugal. Rede Expressos is one of the largest bus companies in Portugal, and offers regular services to Cascais from Lisbon’s Sete Rios bus station.
- By taxi: Taxis are widely available in Lisbon and can be a convenient way to get to Cascais, especially if you have a lot of luggage or are short on time. Taxis can be hailed on the street, or booked in advance through a taxi app or by calling a local taxi company.
- By private transfer: Private transfers can be arranged through tour operators or car rental companies, and can be a convenient and stress-free way to get to Cascais. Private transfers can be tailored to your specific needs and preferences, and can be arranged in advance of your trip.
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