Hello to all of our blog readers! In the past articles in this column we have visited wonderful places with you: from remote Maidera with its deep history and beautiful beaches, to the sunny and rich in sights of the Algarve. Today, however, we’re going to our favorite town, Cascais. It’s not just an ordinary old town. It’s a coastal paradise with its charming cobblestone streets studded with flowers, beautiful white houses and gorgeous beaches. It’s a place where you’ll find locals and Lisbon weekenders alike. Cascais is connected to both Sintra and Lisbon, and both cities are easy to visit as day trips.
How to get to Cascais
Cascais is very well located, only 30 minutes from Lisbon by car or train. Trains leave every 10 minutes and there are no seats reserved, so simply buy your ticket when you get to the station and you’re good to go!
When in Cascais, everything can be done on foot. If you are into cycling, from Cascais there are several scenic cycling routes along the coast. Portugal has invested a lot of money in creating new bike paths, so you have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the views while staying safe and off the roads. If you come to Cascais by car or camper, there are plenty of suitable places to park (some allow overnight camping).
9 things to do in Cascais
While the streets of Cascais may be bustling during the day, it retains a quiet, small-town feel. An added bonus is the beautiful beaches to relax on and the world-renowned surfing spots nearby.
1. Take a walk around the city and discover all its attractions
The old town of Cascais is beautiful. The experience of walking through the sleepy, narrow streets in the morning, with the locals sipping coffee, is truly unique.
Take in the slow pace of life and wander the streets, admiring the beautiful patterned tiles and the rich pink bougainvillea flowers. Take note of the amazing street art resulting from public art projects.
Cascais is a shopper’s paradise! Thanks to its proximity to amazing surf spots, there are many young, modern boutiques. Leave some room in your suitcase for shopping in Cascais…
2. go to Sintra for a day
Sintra is a dream come true for culture lovers. Explore this huge natural park filled with castles, fabulous palaces and exotic gardens. This UNESCO site is among the best places to visit in Portugal and is therefore a popular day trip from Lisbon and Cascais. Discover its lush green hills and forests, made possible by its microclimate. In this regard, it is better to bring a sweater, as it can be a little chilly.
3. Visit the Cabo de Roca Peninsula
The lighthouse on the edge of a 160-meter cliff is the westernmost point in Europe. There’s something special about this lonely lighthouse, which watches over rugged cliffs and a rough ocean.
Walk to the lighthouse and prepare for panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and piercing winds because of its open location.
Cabo da Roca is an ideal place to visit when traveling between Cascais and Sintra, located about halfway between the two. The 403 bus stops at Cabo da Roca, where you can also catch a bus to Sintra.
4. relax at one of the many beaches around
Cascais is fortunate to have many wonderful beaches for sunbathing. The beaches with soft sand are located along the coastline of the town. Cool off in the cold water at Praia da Ribeira de Cascais, Praia da Rainha or Praia da Conceicao.
If you’re more into active holidays than relaxation, go a little further afield to the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Here you’ll find world famous beaches for surfing, one of the most popular activities in Cascais.
Tip: The fact that these beaches face west makes them the perfect place to walk barefoot under the sunset.
5. Go to Lisbon for a day
Lisbon is without a doubt one of the best vacation destinations in Europe. It’s rightly compared to San Francisco for its rolling terrain, old-fashioned streetcars, and enormous bridges. But Lisbon’s beauty is in the details. In the richness of the multicolored tiles, in the elegant details of the architecture, and in the layering of the perfect custard tart.
Add to that the vibrant personality of the locals laughing in the streets and chatting on balconies while hanging laundry, and you’ll quickly fall in love with the city and its people. You can easily make a day trip or two by taking the train from Cascais. The trip takes 45 minutes and costs 4.50 euros for a round-trip ticket.
6. Try local seafood
Portugal is famous for its freshest seafood! Cascais was known mainly as a fishing village until King Luís I decided to spend his vacations here. Since then it’s been known as a holiday destination, although it’s still essentially a fishing village.
Because of its history, as well as its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it’s the perfect place to try some of Portugal’s classic fish dishes. These include perfectly grilled fish, octopus, bacalhau (shredded salt cod) and seafood stews.
7. Visit Boca de Inferno
Visit the Hellmouth to feel the power of nature manifesting itself in this sensational place! There was once a cave that collapsed, leaving behind a deep hole among the rocks and a beautiful archway. As a result, waves now crash beneath the arch and erupt from the hole like a volcano. This dramatic scene gave the place the frightening name “Hellmouth.”
This area is only 2 kilometers from the city center, so it can be reached on foot in 20 minutes or by bike on the bike path. The best time to visit the observation deck is at sunset, to feel the power of the waves and to see the magical colors of the sky as the sun sinks to the horizon.
Tip: Admission to the observation deck is free! There’s also a great seafood restaurant where you can enjoy a romantic setting for an evening meal.
8. Santa Marta Lighthouse
The Santa Marta Lighthouse looks like it came off the perfect holiday card. The beautiful white lighthouse, decorated with blue stripes, radiates its light from the palm-lined shore. The lighthouse was built on the grounds of the old fort, which has now been turned into a small lighthouse museum. Santa Marta Lighthouse is worth a visit for a bit of history and a walk among this picturesque place.
9. Try the amazing ice cream at Gelados Santini
Portugal may not be famous for its ice cream, but Cascais has an incredibly delicious ice cream café. Treat yourself to a sweet treat at Gelados Santini, which many call one of the best ice creams in the world! You can try the classic flavors, or you can branch out and try more unique flavors. For example, blood orange, pineapple and mint or acai and banana. If you don’t have time to buy one of these in Cascais, don’t worry, because there are other stores all over Portugal.
Reputation as a fishing village makes Cascais an amazing place to sample freshly caught seafood. In addition to endless delicious fish restaurants, there are a variety of places to eat. For example, Mediterranean cuisine, Indian cuisine, burgers and steaks.
Best time to visit Cascais
As with many places in Europe Cascais gets very busy in the summer. So the best time to visit is in late spring or early summer, before the holidays begin. It’s pleasantly warm at this time of year, and the flowers are in bloom all around the city. Cascais is at the mouth of the Tagus River, which outlets the Atlantic Ocean, so the water can be cold at any time of year!