The best independent guide to Cascais
Cascais is a traditional Portuguese resort town that is situated on the beautiful Lisbon coastline. There is a lot to see and do in Cascais, and the town is a great holiday destination for tourists wishing more than glorious beaches for their holiday.
Within Cascais are grand 19th-century mansions, formal parks and interesting museums, all of which are centred around a delightful old town. The region surrounding Cascais offers many fascinating day trips, and these include historic towns, stunning natural scenery and, of course, vibrant Lisbon. A rental car is not necessary to get the most from the Cascais region, as there is excellent public transport throughout the Lisbon coastline. This guide will provide an overview of the popular day trips from Cascais.
The following is a list of the most popular day trips from Cascais.
Note: this article does not consider the beaches of the Cascais region, for a guide to the beaches please click here.
Our recommended order for the day trips from Cascais are:
• Lisbon (Baixa & Alfama)
• Sintra (Day 1)
• Lisbon (Belem)
• Obidos, Batalha and Fatima
• Mafra and Ericeira
• Setubal, Sesimbra and Serra da Arrabida
• Sintra (Day 2)
• Cabo da Roca, Guincho beach and Serra de Sintra
Lisbon has so much to offer visitors, as it effortless blends heritage and history with progressive attitudes and cool artisan scenes. Alfama and Baixa are the most popular tourist districts of Lisbon, which contain many of the capital’s most iconic monuments and sights. Alfama is a maze of narrow streets, which wind up the steep hill from the Tejo estuary up to the vantage point of Lisbon castle. Baixa is the impressive centre of Lisbon that comprises of grand avenues and magnificent plazas, all of which were completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1755.
Lisbon is less than 40 minutes away from Cascais and is connected by a direct and inexpensive train service, which terminates in the Cais de Sodre train station. From this station there is a scenic waterside walk to the Baixa district. There are enough sights and activities in Lisbon to easily fill three full days of sightseeing, and the train service makes it effortless to visit from Cascais. Lisbon has great nightlife, fantastic restaurants and there are simply too many tourist attractions to list here!
Related articles: Our Lisbon guide - Cascais to Lisbon - Alfama district - Baixa guide
Sintra is set amidst the hills of Serra de Sintra and this pretty town was a favourite with the Portuguese nobility. The town contains three palaces, a ruinous castle and a plethora of other grand mansions and villas. As there is so much to see and do in Sintra it is suggested to divide an excursion into two days; with the first day visiting the Palácio Nacional, Castelo dos Mouros and Palácio da Pena, and the second day visiting the Quinta da Regaleira, Palácio de Seteais, Palácio de Monserrate. The standout monument of Sintra is the beautiful Palácio da Pena.
Sintra is a very popular day trip from Lisbon (and Cascais) and the town can get very crowded in the summer – our advice is always start a day trip to Sintra early in the day. There is a direct bus service from Cascais to Sintra, which removes the need to travel into Lisbon.
Related articles: Sintra Guide - Day trip to Sintra - Cascais to Sintra
Belém is the prettiest districts of Lisbon and lies on the western boundary of the capital. The Belém district is a unique area of Lisbon, with wide-open parks that span the banks of the Tejo River. Historically, Belém was where the 16th century voyages of discovery originated from and later on, where the wealthy of Lisbon resided. Located in the district are some of Lisbon’s finest monuments, which include the charming Torre Belém, the discovery monument and the Jeronimos Monastery. Belém makes for an enjoyable day trip from Cascais and is connected to the Lisbon-Cascais railway.
Related articles: Belém guide
The Lisbon suspension bridge on the edge of the Belém district
Contained within the town of Mafra is one of Portugal’s most exuberant and lavish palaces. This huge complex of over 1,200 rooms, contains its own monastery, grand basilica and one of the greatest libraries of Portugal. A day trip to Mafra often includes Ericeira, as apart from the palace there is not much else to see in the town. Ericeira is a scenic fishing town that is situated on a coastline of outstanding surfing beaches. Being a popular surfing destination has transformed sleepy Ericeira into a trendy surfing hub, where historic buildings sit next to trendy surfing bars. Unfortunately, there are no bus services from Cascais to Mafra or Ericeira, and a rental car is needed – there are bus service from Lisbon, but this makes the day trip too long for most visitors.
Two of the region’s best beaches are easily accessible from Cascais as day trips and should not be missed by tourists. The Atlantic Ocean facing Guincho beach is a favourite for surfing and body boarding with massive swells that are regarded as some of the finest in Portugal. Guincho beach lies north of Cascais and is located in a wild and rugged landscape with minimal tourist development, protect as a national park.
Carcavelos beach is the preferred beach of Lisbon’s residents, which offers a wide golden beach of soft sand, clean and safe waters and great facilities. The beach is easily accessible from Cascais, suitable for families and a great place to spend a day.
Related articles: Cascais beach guide
The Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point of Portugal and mainland Europe. This barren, wind-blasted landscape of massive cliffs and raging seas makes for an enjoyable, short excursion from Cascais. The main attraction of the area is the raw natural beauty and the cliff top hiking trails. There is a bus service to Cabo da Roca from Cascais, which continues onto Sintra. With a rental car the entire Serra de Sintra could be explored including Guincho beach.
The Cabo da Roca coastline of massive cliffs