The best independent guide to Cascais
The best independent guide to Cascais
Cascais is a charming beachside town that makes a fantastic choice for a day trip if you’re based in or around Lisbon. Found within Cascais are grand 19th-century villas, a pretty harbour, fascinating museums and glorious beaches.
Cascais was historically a minor fishing town, but this all changed in 1870 when King Luís I decreed that it would become his summer residence. This influx of nobility and the Portuguese elite transformed Cascais into a sophisticated and refined resort town, with impressive villas being constructed along the beachfront and within the town itself.
This exclusivity continues today, and Cascais remains one of the most desirable destinations in the Lisbon region. It offers an elegant blend of fishing heritage, 19th-century grandeur and the excitement of modern tourism.
Cascais is a popular holiday destination, but is equally suited to a day trip, with numerous attractions and activities that can easily fill a day of sightseeing. This article will provide a guide for your day trip to Cascais, helping you get the most from your visit here.
The Condes de Castro Guimarães - The most extravagant of the many ornate 19th-century villas found within Cascais.
The Paredão de Cascais - The pretty coastal footpath that connects Cascais to Estoril, passing the region's many beautiful sandy beaches. This is one of the area's best short walks on a sunny day.
The Boca do Inferno – A unique cliff formation on the rugged coastline to the north of Cascais.
The Praia da Rainha – A small, picturesque beach that nestles within the Cascais coastline. The beach is so pretty that in 1889 it was chosen by Queen Amélia as her private beach.
Cascais is a fantastic destination for a day trip from Lisbon. The town's varied selection of historic buildings and beautiful beaches, along with its vibrant atmosphere, means it will appeal to a wide range of tourists.
Cascais offers a hassle-free day trip, as the town is connected to Lisbon by a direct and inexpensive train service.
All of the main tourist attractions in Cascais can be easily walked to, with none of the steep hills that you would encounter in Lisbon and Sintra. As Cascais is a bustling resort town, there is a wide selection of restaurants, bars and shops to choose from.
Cascais is a wonderful destination for a day trip that combines some beach time with sightseeing. The morning could be spent exploring the town, and when the temperature rises in the afternoon you might want to relax on Praia da Duquesa beach.
Insight: Cascais is a great choice for couples, where one person prefers the beach and the other gets restless. The beaches are amazing, and there is a lot to see and do in the town.
Related articles: Cascais introduction – The best sights of Cascais
The Praça 5 de Outubro is the heart of Cascais
The map below displays a suggested day trip to Cascais. The tour begins at Cascais train station and ends at Estoril train station, where it is possible to catch the same train back to Lisbon. The total tour is 11km, but it can be reduced to 3.2km if you don't include the Paredão de Cascais and the Estoril section. (Note: zoom out to see all of the points)
Key: 1) Cascais train station 2) Rainha beach 3) Rua Frederico Arouca 4) Palácio Seixas 5) Ribeira beach 6) 5 de Outubro Plaza 7) Cascais fort 8) Cascais cultural centre 9) Cascais arina 10) Condes de Castro villa 11) Marechal Carmona park 12) Casa de Santa Maria 13) Cascais lighthouse 14) Boca do Inferno 15) Paula Rego art gallery 16) Sea museum 17) Igreja da Assunção 18) Largo Luís de Camões 19) Conceição beach 20) Duquesa beach 21) Palmela Villa 22) Alberto Romano sea swimming pool 23) Forte da Cruz and Tamariz beach 24) Estoril Casino 25) Estoril train station
Insight: You could also add a visit to the Cabo da Roca to your plans for a day trip to Cascais. This headland is the most westerly point of mainland Europe and is a region of towering cliffs facing the massive Atlantic waves. It doesn't take long to see the area (about 20 minutes), but it makes an interesting addition to a Cascais day trip.
Related article: The Cabo da Roca
The powerful lighthouse at the Cabo da Roca
It is very easy to travel to Cascais from Lisbon, as they are connected by a direct train service. The train departs from the Cais do Sodré train station in Lisbon, which is connected to the green metro line. The train journey to Cascais (€2.40/€4.80 single/return) takes 40 minutes and is very scenic as it follows the 'Portuguese Riviera' coastline.
Insight: Sit on the left side (southside facing) of the carriage when departing Lisbon for the best views of the coastline.
Related articles: Lisbon to Cascais
The train from Lisbon to Cascais
Another popular day trip destination within the Lisbon region is the town of Sintra. Nestled within the cooling hills of the Serra de Sintra, it boasts extravagant villas, ancient castles and the magnificent Palácio Nacional da Pena.
Sintra has many more varied sights and attractions than Cascais, which makes it better for a day trip – therefore Sintra should be visited before Cascais. The issue with Sintra is its popularity, which means there can be frustratingly long queues for everything during the peak season.
Insight: Never try to combine Sintra and Cascais in a single day of sightseeing. Each town needs at least one day to fully appreciate, and Sintra needs almost two days.
Related articles: Sintra guide
The beautiful Palácio Nacional da Pena in Sintra is one of the finest tourist attractions in Portugal
If you have limited time or do not want the hassle of public transport, an organised tour is a fantastic way to discover both Cascais and Sintra. We have worked with GetyourGuide.com for the previous seven years, and some of their best tours of Cascais and Sintra include:
• Cascais, Sintra and Cabo da Roca full-day tour from Lisbon (€63)
• Sintra, Cascais and Cabo da Roca Coast Day Tour (€85)
• Sintra Highlights Full-Day Tour (€65)
The tour begins at the railway station (1). The first sight you will see is the pretty Praia da Rainha beach (2), with this secluded location having once been a favourite with Queen Amélia during the 1890s.
From the beach, wander down the bustling shopping street of Rua Frederico Arouca (3), which leads into the historic centre of Cascais. The Cidade Velha is filled with grand 19th-century buildings, such as the Palácio Seixas (4), which overlooks the popular Praia da Ribeira beach (5).
The Praça 5 de Outubro (6) is the main plaza of Cascais, and found here are the town hall and a statue of King Pedro I. To the rear of the plaza are numerous shops and restaurants if you are seeking refreshments or food.
The Praia da Ribeira beach at the centre of Cascais
The tour continues by wandering past the fishing harbour to the impressive Fortress Nossa Senhora da Luz de Cascais (7). This historic fort has now been transformed into an upmarket artisan centre.
A walk around the perimeter of the fort's walls takes you past the colourful Centro Cultural de Cascais (8) (€5 admission), ending at the exclusive Cascais marina complex (9).
The Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães (10) (€4 admission) is the most elegant building in Cascais. Behind the 19th-century villa is the Parque Marechal Carmona (11), with its duck lakes and peaceful gardens. The Casa de Santa Maria (12) is another grand villa, which sits next to the blue and white Santa Marta lighthouse (13).
The Casa de Santa Maria and lighthouse
The next section follows the coastal road for 800m to the Boca do Inferno (14), a sea arch and collapsed cave onto which powerful Atlantic waves crash.
The Casa das Histórias Paula Rego (15) (€5 admission), displays the powerful work of figurative artist Paula Rego. Next door is the Sea Museum (16), detailing the fishing heritage of Cascais.
The walk back into the town centre passes the Igreja da Assunção (17) and the neo-classical Casa Sommer.
The centre of Cascais is a convenient location for lunch, with many food options along the Rua Visconde da Luz (18) or near the Jardim Visconde da Luz.
There’s many places in Cascais for lunch
For the latter part of the day, we’d suggest a walk along the Paredão de Cascais, a scenic coastal promenade between Cascais and Estoril. From the Praia da Duquesa it is 1.7km to Estoril train station, where a train can be caught back to Lisbon.
The promenade first passes the two busiest beaches of the Cascais region, the Praia da Conceição (19) and Praia da Duquesa (20), which will be crowded with tourists in the summer. Standing on the headland is the mock-gothic Palácio dos Duques de Palmela (21). Beyond the headland is the Piscina Oceânica Alberto Romano (22), a seawater swimming pool.
The promenade ends at the Forte da Cruz and the Praia do Tamariz beach (23) in Estoril. Estoril has a reputation for sophistication and is famed for the Estoril Casino (24). The tour concludes at Estoril train station (25).
The Alberto Romano sea swimming pool
The Casino Estoril
There is no need for a rental car for a day trip to Cascais, but if you do have one you could add the following sights:
• Casa da Guia, an upmarket shopping area set within the grounds of a stately house. There are many good food options here
• The scenic drive along the N247 road between Azóia and Almuinhas Velhas
• The stunning scenery of Guincho beach
• Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe
• Santuário da Peninha, a little chapel and best view point of the Serra da Sintra region
• Forte de São Jorge de Oitavos, a small fort north of Cascais
Note: There is very limited car parking in Cascais, especially in the summer - we never recommend driving to Cascais for a day trip.