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Cascais Portugal Tourism Guide – Fully Updated for 2018!
Cascais is a delightful Portuguese fishing town, and is the Lisbon’s coastline most popular holiday destination. The town is situated on a beautiful coastline, and during the summer it is a bustling resort, with a buzzing holiday atmosphere.
Historically, Cascais was a minor fishing village, until King Luís I (1838 - 1889) choose it as his royal summer retreat. Trailing the Portuguese nobility were the high society of Portugal, who in turn constructed lavish villas, ornate mansions and exquisite gardens.
Today, Cascais is an elegant fusion of decorative 19th-century architecture, traditional Portuguese charm and outstanding tourist facilities, which together creates a magnificent holiday destination.
The Castro Guimaraes Museum
Cascais also makes for an enjoyable day trip from Lisbon, by offering historic buildings, interesting museums and a pretty town centre. As for beaches, there are two distinct coastlines; to the east are calm, family friendly beaches, while to the north are the wild and rugged surfing beaches of the Serra da Sintra.
Cascais is the finest resort town of the Lisbon region, and this article will provide an introduction for visitors who are considering a holiday or day trip to this wonderful town.
Highlights of Cascais Portugal
The stunning Guincho beach in the Serra de Sintra National Park
Why have a holiday to Cascais?
As a holiday destination, you will struggle to find a better location than Cascais; there are world-class hotels, family run restaurants and a buzzing nightlife scene, all set within the traditional streets of the historic centre.
There is a lot to see and do in Cascais, and the beaches of the region are simply fantastic; Guincho is an incredible surfing beach, while Carcavelos beach is ideal for families and sun-worshippers. For those who tire of the wonderful beaches, there are many interesting day trips, including; Lisbon, Sintra, Mafra, Ericeira and Praia das Maçãs, all of which are easily accessible by public transport.
The beachfront promenade to Estoril
Cascais is a resort that has grown and matured responsibly, while still retaining its fishing and royal heritage. There is a sophisticated and prosperous ambience about Cascais, and the appearance the town is not afflicted by ugly apartment or skyrise hotels.
In the summer Cascais is primarily a family holiday destination, with a diverse mix of European nationals, either side of the peak months it is a popular location for couples of all ages. Cascais should never be considered as a destination for drink-fuelled groups or loutish holidays; Cascais has a touch of class.
Cascais as a day trip
Cascais is one of the best excursions from Lisbon, as it offers a variety of historic monuments, grand houses and interesting museums. At the heart of Cascais is the pretty Old Town, which has retained its traditional Portuguese character, and is a great location for lunch, being filled with numerous family-run restaurants.
Along the waterfront is the fishing harbour, the exclusive marina and the recently restored fort, which also contains an upmarket artisan hub. Extending from Cascais there are two scenic walks, either to the Cabo da Roca cliffs or fashionable resort of Estoril.
There is a lot to see in Cascais, and it is a great day trip for all ages. It is very easy to travel to Cascais from Lisbon, being connected by a direct and inexpensive train service (details later on). For a guide to day trip please click here.
The pretty historic centre of Cascais
Cascais for 2018
The Portugal is currently experiencing an unparalleled rejuvenation within tourism; new businesses are opening, hotels are being refurbished and there is a sense of confidence and optimism about the Lisbon region. Cascais is expecting a fantastic 2018 season, and this follows the sell-out summer of 2017.
This does mean that to secure the best prices, accommodation and flights must be booked far in advance. Fortunately, many of the hotels reserved via the larger booking websites do not require a deposit, therefore negating any monetary penalty if plans are changed. If you are seriously considering a holiday to Cascais, our advice is to book now, as the best places will sell out. For a summary of the best hotels in Cascais please click here.
Overlooking the fishing harbour of Cascais
Cascais for families and young children
Cascais is a great destination for young children and families. Having children also, we would recommend Cascais based on the following:
• The beaches are safe, with clean and calm sea waters, which are supervised in the summer.
• Children will be welcomed in all restaurants and the Portuguese are a very family focused nation.
• There is a lot to entertain children in Lisbon, which is only a short train ride away (for a guide please click here).
• Supermarkets stock all common items, and pharmacies are widely available all minor ailments.
• English is widely spoken by all who work within the tourist industry, language will never be a problem.
• It is only a short transfer from the airport to Cascais.
The main issues, which are general to the whole of Portugal, is the intense summer heat and that the main resorts will be very busy in the summer. If you are restricted to visiting during holidays always book as far in advance as possible.
When to Visit Cascais?
Cascais has long hot summers, pleasant spring and autumns seasons, and mild but possibly wet winters. The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from mid-May until the end of September.
The sea temperature of Cascais is always chilly, even in the summer when the water temperature only reaches 21C.
The Average Weather of Cascais Portugal
Cascais for twentysomethings and young couples
Great weather (yes), inexpensive (yes), lots to do (yes), nightlife (yes), drunken parties (no).
Twentysomethings and young couples wanting a fun and varied holiday should seriously consider Cascais, as it provides beautiful beaches, numerous day trips and social nightlife.
Cascais is unlike many other resort towns, as it is not stuck in the middle of nowhere, close by is Lisbon, and this is a vibrant and diverse city.
The Cascais region is set up to be explored; there is extensive public transport, and English is widely spoken by all. Portugal as a whole is an inexpensive holiday destination with food, drink and transport significantly cheaper than many of the other popular European resorts (Greece or Balearic Islands).
For flights, all of the low-cost airlines fly into Lisbon and for the best value choose holiday dates either side of the school holidays.
Does Cascais have great beaches?
Surrounding Cascais are two contrasting coastlines; the northern wild and rugged surfing beaches and the family-friendly beaches that extend to the east. Guincho beach is considered as one of the finest surfing beaches of western Portugal and is set amidst the stunning scenery of the Serra de Sintra Natural Park.
The coastline to the east of Cascais is lined with great beaches, including Carcavelos and São Pedro beaches. These beaches are a favourite with the residents of Lisbon, who flock to them during the long, hot summer months.
This coastline is easily accessible from Cascais, as it is served by the regional railway that connects Lisbon and Cascais. For a guide to the beaches of Cascais, please click here.
The beaches of Cascais
Why is Cascais known as the Town of Kings and Fishermen?
Unlike many other Mediterranean beach resorts, which suddenly sprung up with the advent of mass tourism, Cascais has been established as a holiday destination since the early 19th century. Historically Cascais was a minor fishing port but this forever changed when King Luís I (1838 - 1889) proclaimed Cascais as his favoured destination for his summer retreat.
The grand 19th century buildings of Cascais
The decampment of the Portuguese nobility from Lisbon to Cascais during the summer months encouraged the 19th-century high-society of Europe to flock to Cascais as well. This influx of money and political power funded the construction throughout the town of grand residences, lavish entertainment venues and fine parks.
The two extremes of people who lived in the town gave rise to Cascais’ popular nickname of "The Town of Kings and Fishes". This trend of the high-society has continued through to the present day, with many of Lisbon’s rich and famous living within the vicinity of Cascais, providing the region with a prosperous and sophisticated atmosphere.
Travel from Lisbon (and the airport) to Cascais
Cascais is connected to Lisbon by a regular and inexpensive railway. The train departs from the Cais do Sodre train station (green metro line), the journey takes 30-40 minutes, and a return ticket costs €4.30; for a full guide to the Lisbon-Cascais train service, please click here. Travel from Lisbon airport to Cascais using public transport requires both the metro and train and takes around 1.5 hour, for a guide to travelling to Cascais from Lisbon airport please click here.
The Lisbon to Cascais train