Cascais is a fantastic location for a 1 week holiday, and combines the best of a bustling resort town with the close proximity of a major city. Cascais is a traditional Portuguese town, and has a delightful historic centre, filled with grand 19th-century architecture, pretty parks and interesting museums.
Within the region surround Cascais are many enjoyable day trips, including Lisbon, Sintra and the beautiful natural scenery of the Serra de Sintra. Cascais is the perfect destination for tourists wanting a varied holiday, and this guide will provide a suggested 1-week itinerary.
• Day 1 – Explore Cascais and Estoril
• Day 2 – Beach Day
• Day 3 – Lisbon (Alfama and Baixa)
• Day 4 – Sintra (Palácio da Pena, Castelo dos Mouros and the Palácio Nacional)
• Day 5 –Guincho Beach (Bike ride) and Cabo da Roca
• Day 6 – Lisbon (Belem)
• Day 7 – Sintra - Day 2 (Quinta da Regaleira, Palácio de Monserrate and Palácio de Seteais)
Cascais elegantly blends 19th-century architecture with traditional Portuguese charm, to create an interesting days sightseeing. Within the historic centre is a fort, a fishing harbour, the grand Guimaraes mansion and the Casa Santa Maria. Along the coastline is the Boca do Inferno cliff formation and this leads back to the Paula Rego art gallery, the Sea museum and the Parque Marechal Carmona.
For the afternoon there is a delightful beachfront promenade between Cascais and Estoril. This pleasant 2km walk passes a series of pretty little beaches and luxurious villas, before ending in the stylish resort town of Estoril, which is famed for its casino.
Related articles: 1 day in Cascais.
Cascais is situated on a beautiful coastline of glorious and varied beaches. The beaches to the east are characterised by golden sands, calm sea waters and excellent tourist facilities, making them ideal for families. The beaches to the north of Cascais are wild and rugged, and face the might of the Atlantic Ocean with massive waves and windswept beaches.
For the first day on the beach, it is suggested to visit the eastern coastline (as they are closer to Cascais and suitable for all). Praia da Duquesa is the main beach of Cascais, Praia do Tamariz is an excellent beach in Estoril, and the Praia do Carcavelos is the most popular beach of the Lisbon coastline. Both Praia Duquesa and Tamariz can be walked to, while Carcavelos is connected by the train.
Note: The weather is warm enough for spending time on the beach from May until the end of September but sea temperatures are always chilly.
Related articles: Cascais beach guide.
Lisbon is the vibrant capital of Portugal, and no holiday to Cascais is complete without visiting this exciting city. The suggested areas to begin exploring Lisbon are in Alfama and Baixa, and these two districts can fill an entire days sightseeing. Baixa is the grand centre of Lisbon, with majestic plazas and wide avenues, and attractions include the Elevador Santa Justa, the Rua da Augusta, and the magnificent Praca do Comercio.
Alfama is a complete opposite to regal Baixa, and is a maze of narrow streets and alleys that climb up the steep hill from the Tejo Estuary to the castle. Contained in Alfama are many of Lisbon’s oldest monuments, including the castle and cathedral, and the entire district is crossed by the quaint yellow tram. Cascais is connected to Lisbon by a direct railway and the journey is less than 40 minutes.
Related articles: Guide to Lisbon - Cascais to Lisbon - Alfama district - Baixa guide
Sintra is an exquisite town that is nestled within the hills of the Serra de Sintra, and was the favoured residence of the Portuguese nobility. Contained within the town are beautify royal palaces and opulent mansion, many of which follow the ornamental Romanticism style of architecture. Sintra is an outstanding tourist destination and there is so much to see within the town that it takes two full days to explore.
On this first day it is suggested to visit the Gothic National Palace, the ruins of the Moors Castle and the beautiful Pena Palace, which is the highlight of the day. These three sights are spread across the hills of Sintra and there is a tourist bus service (number 434, departing from the train station). Cascais is connected to Sintra by the 417-bus route that departs from the bus station and terminates at Sintra train station.
Related articles: Sintra Guide - Cascias to Sintra - Sintra tourist bus (434)
The rugged coastline north of Cascais lies within the Serra de Sintra nature park and is formed of jagged cliffs, raging seas and vast beaches. The finest beach of this region is Praia de Guincho, 8km to the north of Cascais, and is a fantastic location for surfing. There is a cycle path connecting Cascais to Guincho and this is an enjoyable short cycle which is suitable for all. Bikes can be rented for €10 per day or free bikes (called Bicas) can be hired from the train station, for a guide to this bike ride please click here.
The coastline north of Cascais
For those visitors with a rental car, can explore the western side of the Serra de Sintra and include the viewpoint of Peninha Sanctuary, the austere Convento dos Capuchos and the beautiful beach of Praia da Adraga. The final sight of the day is the Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point of mainland Europe. This headland comprises of massive cliffs and dramatic bleak scenery, and is a wonderful location to watch the sunset. Cascais is connected to the Cabo da Roca by a bus service, which continues onto Sintra.
The coastline of Cabo da Roca
Belem is the picturesque district to the west of Lisbon, and contains many of the capital’s most iconic monuments, including the Jeronimos Monastery, Torre de Belem and the Discoverers Monument. The district lines the banks of the Tejo estuary and was where many of the 14th century “voyages of discovery” departed from. These expeditions discovered the sea route to India and Brazil, and the trade that it brought to Portugal helped fund the extravagant Jeronimos Monastery.
The Lisbon suspension bridge
Belem is a district of ornamental gardens and wide open spaces, with pleasant footpaths along the waterfront and views of the suspension bridge. There are many great museums in Belem including the fascinating Museu dos Coches (museum dedicated to horse-drawn carriages), Museu Berardo (art gallery) and the Museu da Marinha. There is a lot to see within Belem and it deserves a whole day’s sightseeing.
Related articles: The Belem district of Lisbon
Torre de Belém
For the final day it is suggested to have a second day in Sintra, which visits the Quinta da Regaleira, Palácio de Monserrate and Palácio de Seteais. The grounds of the Quinta da Regaleira are intriguing, filled with secret passages, decorative battlements and an Initiation Well, that was inspired by the Knights Templar. The Palácio de Monserrate is an Arabic styled mansion with intricate marble and stone carvings. For those visitors wishing a strenuous walk could hike from Seteais Palace up to the grounds of the Pena Palace and on to the viewpoint of Cruz Alto
The Palácio de Monserrate
An alternative day trip could be to the pretty beach resort of Praia das Maçãs. Praia das Maçãs is a traditional Portuguese town that has a sheltered beach that is surrounded by a town of whitewashed houses. Maçãs is a good day trip for a relaxing day on the beach and there is a direct bus service from Cascais.