Cascais Portugal – Tourism and Holiday Guide

Cascais is a charming Portuguese fishing town that is situated on the western edge of the beautiful Lisbon coastline. Cascais is a historic and prosperous town that is filled with grand houses, carefully maintained parks and numerous free museums. There is a lively and social atmosphere about the town and it is only a short walk to glorious sandy beaches. Cascais’ varied sights, attractions and activities make it a fantastic holiday destination or enjoyable day trip from Lisbon. This guide will provide an introduction to Cascais and links to further in-depth information.

Highlights of Cascais

The wild and rugged surfing beaches of Guincho.

Guincho beach Cascais

The stunning Guincho beach in the Serra de Sintra National Park

The pretty historic centre of Cascais, filled with traditional restaurants, open air cafes and late night bars.

 Cascais Portugal

The Praia dos Pescadores beach (Praia Ribeira)

A stroll along the beach front promenade that connects Cascais to Estoril..

promenade Cascais portugal

The promenade is very scenic and a pleasnt walk

The Castro Guimaraes museum and the impressive 19th century architecture found throughout Cascais.

Castro Guimaraes musuem Cascais

The Castro Guimaraes musuem

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 Fernando II (1816-1885) proclaimed Cascais as his favoured destination for his summer retreat.

 Cascais castle

The castle over looks the exculisve marina 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 high-society has continued through to the present day, with many of Lisbon’s rich and famous living within the vicinity of Cascais, and provides the region with a prosperous and sophisticated atmosphere.

19th century of Cascais

The grand 19th century buildings of Cascais

Why have a holiday to Cascais?

Cascais is a fantastic holiday destination; it is only a short train ride to vibrant Lisbon or bus ride to charming Sintra and the Serra de Sintra National Park. The beaches of Cascais are simply fantastic; Guincho beach is a tremendous surfing beach, while the Praia de Carcavelos is a massive beach easily accessible by train. For a suggested itinerary for a 1 week holiday to Cascais please click here.

Castro Guimaraes museum

Cascais offers exceptional value for money and contains a wide range of hotels that are able to cater for all visitor types. At the centre of Cascais is the old town, which has retained its traditional appeal and is an enjoyable place to relax during the day. As the sun sets, the fine restaurants serve up freshly caught fish or other local specialities. The trendy bars are lively and continue late into the night – but Cascais is a resort firmly aimed at couples (of all ages) and young families and not for groups looking for cheap drink.

Is Cascais a good day trip from Lisbon?

Cascais is one of the best day trips to take from Lisbon as it offers an enjoyable variety of historic monuments, grand houses and interesting museums. There are pleasant coastal walks either along the cliffs to Cabo Rocha, or along the beach promenade to Estoril. In Cascais there are sufficient sights and activities to fill a day’s sightseeing.

Estoril Casino

Estoril Casino is close to Cascais

The direct train means that it is very easy to travel to Cascais and the town offers a selection of good restaurants and cafes for a relaxing lunch. An excursion to Cascais is highly recommended for visitors on a longer holiday to the Lisbon region. The suggested order of excursions from Lisbon is; Sintra, Cascais, Obidos, Sesimbra (Serra da Arrábida) and then Mafra. For a guide to the best day trips from Lisbon please read this article.

fishing harbour of Cascais

Overlooking the fishing harbour of Cascais

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 beaches of Cascais

The beaches of Cascais

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.

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) and the journey takes 30-40 minutes. A return ticket costs €4.30 and 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 hour, for a guide to traveling to Cascais from Lisbon airport please click here.

lisbon cascais train

The Lisbon to Cascais train

When to Visit Cascais?

Cascais and the Lisbon region have long hot summers, pleasant spring and autumns seasons, and mild but possibly wet winters. The weather in central Portugal is suitable for spending time on the beach from mid-May until the end of September. The sea temperature of Cascais is always cold, even in the summer when the water temperature only reaches a chilly 18C.

Weather cascais

The Average Weather of Cascais Portugal

The first two weeks of June are the Popular Saint celebrations and there will be traditional dances, grilled BBQs and decorations through-out the town and Lisbon. The best time of year to visit Cascais is during the spring or early summer months, when the weather is pleasantly warm and the region does not feel overrun with tourists.

Cascais is a major town so the hotels, cafes and restaurants do not shut down for winter but the weather could be poor, with an equal number of wet days and bright sunny days. For a full guide and more weather charts for Cascais please click here.

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The best guide to Cascais