The best independent guide to Cascais
The best independent guide to Cascais
Cascais is the premier holiday destination of the Lisbon coastline. This is a traditional and charming Portuguese fishing town, which has responsibly developed into a popular resort town.
Historically, Cascais was the summer retreat of the Portuguese nobility, and today the town is an elegant fusion of its illustrious heritage, with the expectations of the modern tourist.
Found within the cobbled streets of the historic centre are lavish villas, an imposing fort, fascinating museums, along with lively bars and restaurants which give Cascais its buzzing holiday atmosphere. Cascais boasts so many interesting sights and attractions, that it is regarded as one of the best day trips from Lisbon.
The beaches of Cascais are glorious; surrounding the town are the beautiful beaches of the Portuguese Riviera, while to the north is the wild and untamed Serra de Sintra coastline, with its vast surfing beaches and dramatic natural scenery.
Cascais is so much more than a beach-based holiday destination; just a short train ride takes you to the centre of vibrant Lisbon, or to the north is Sintra with its whimsical palaces and cooling hills.
There is so much to love about Cascais, either as a holiday destination or for a day trip, and this article will provide you an introduction to this wonderful town.
Related articles: A day trip to Cascais – Cascais’ beaches – Sintra guide
The beautiful beaches of Praia da Conceição and Praia da Duquesa
The ornate 19th-century mansions and villas
The Cabo da Rocha, the most westerly point of mainland Europe
The Castro Guimarães Museum and the Parque Marechal Carmona
Cascais is a stylish and sophisticated town, which has responsibly grown from a minor fishing port into a popular holiday destination. For your holiday, you will struggle to find a better location than Cascais; there are world-class hotels, family-run restaurants and lively nightlife, all set within the traditional streets of the historic centre.
Cascais boasts a wide variety of cultural sights and enjoyable activities, while the beaches of the region are stunning. From Cascais, there are many fascinating day trips, including; Lisbon, Sintra, Ericeira and Praia das Maçãs, all of which are easily accessible by public transport.
Simply put, Cascais is a wonderful destination for a holiday.
Highlights for a holiday to Cascais
• Visiting the colourful Pena Palace in Sintra
• Surfing at Guincho beach
• Relaxing on Carcavelos beach
• Watching the sunset at Cabo da Rocha
• A day trip to the Alfama, Baixa and Belem districts in Lisbon
• Hiking/cycling through the dramatic scenery of the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais
Related articles: Cascais 1 week – Cabo da Rocha – Our guide to Lisbon
The Praia da Ribeira beach in the centre of Cascais
Cascais is one of the best day trips from Lisbon, as it offers a variety of historic monuments, grand 19th-century villas and informative museums.
At the heart of Cascais is the pretty historic centre, with its traditional Portuguese character and numerous restaurants and shops. Along the waterfront is the fishing harbour, the exclusive marina complex and the Cidadela de Cascais, a restored fort that contains an upmarket artisan hub.
Added to the day trip could be a visit to the Boca do Inferno cliffs and the fashionable town of Estoril, both of which are connected to Cascais by scenic coastal walks. Cascais is an enjoyable day trip, and is easy to travel to, being connected to Lisbon by a direct train service (details further on in the article).
Highlights for a day trip to Cascais
• The Castro Guimarães Museum
• The Boca do Inferno cliffs
• The picturesque Praia da Rainha beach
• The beachfront promenade from Cascais to Estoril
• The Mercado da Vila market
• The Casa das Histórias Paula Rego art gallery
• The pretty Parque Marechal Carmona park
Below is an interactive map for a suggested day trip to Cascais. The tour begins at the train station (1) and ends at Estoril station (25).
Sights of the day trip: 1) Estaçao Comboio Cascais 2) Praia da Rainha 3) Rua Frederico Arouca 4) Palácio Seixas 5) Praia da Ribeira 6) Praça 5 de Outubro 7) Forte de Nossa Senhora 8) Centro Cultural de Cascais 9) Marina de Cascais 10) Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães 11) Parque Marechal Carmona 12) Casa de Santa Maria 13) Farol de Santa Marta 14) Boca do Inferno 15) Casa das Histórias Paula Rego 16) Museu do Mar 17) Igreja da Assunção 18) Largo Luís de Camões 19) Praia da Conceição 20) Praia da Duquesa 21) Palácio dos Duques de Palmela 22) Piscina Oceânica Alberto Romano 23) Praia do Tamariz 24) Casino Estoril 25) Estação Do Estoril
Related articles: Day trip to Cascais - Day trips from Lisbon
Cascais is the ideal holiday destination if you want more than just beautiful beaches and glorious weather for your holiday. There are museums, art galleries, challenging hiking trails, boat trips, and Lisbon is only a short train ride away.
In the summer, Cascais is a popular family holiday destination, attracting a diverse mixture of European nationals, while on either side of the peak months, Cascais is a favourite with couples of all ages and nationalities.
Note: Cascais is not a destination for groups wanting to excessively drink or have a loutish holiday – for this, head to the Strip in Albufeira.
Hidden courtyards in the historic centre of Cascais
Cascais has hot, dry summers, pleasant spring and autumns, and mild but possibly wet winters. The tourist season extends from Easter until October, and the peak season is July and August. Late spring and early autumn (September) are the best time of the year to visit Cascais and the Lisbon coastline.
The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from mid-May until the end of September, but the sea temperature is always cold, only reaching 21C in the mid-summer.
Cascais is expecting a sell-out summer season for 2023, as more visitors seek holidays to safe and established destinations within Europe.
In 2023, Cascais and the Lisbon region is expecting to attract many new tourists, and this will be in addition to the large number of returning visitors - who know just how great the region is. Due to this increased popularity, Cascais is expecting a sell-out 2023 summer season. We strongly advise you to book your flights and accommodation as soon as possible before prices increase and sell out.
The map below displays the best hotels and accommodation in Cascais; if you adjust the dates to your holiday, it will display current prices and availability.
Cascais has a wonderful coastline of beautiful sandy beaches.
There are four fantastic beaches within walking distance of the historic centre of Cascais; the Praia da Conceição, the Praia da Duquesa, the Praia da Rainha and the Praia da Ribeira. These beaches offer golden sands, calm sea waters and outstanding tourist facilities.
Surrounding Cascais are two contrasting coastlines; the wild and windswept surfing beaches to the north of Cascais, and the family-friendly beaches to the east.
The finest surfing beach of the region is the Praia do Guincho. Onto this vast sandy beach, huge Atlantic waves roll in, and the beach is surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais.
The Portuguese Riviera extends for 16km to the east of Cascais, and the numerous sandy beaches are sheltered from the might of the Atlantic Ocean and the strong sea breezes.
These sandy beaches are a favourite with the residents of Lisbon and include the Praia de São Pedro, the Praia de Santo Amaro de Oeiras and the Praia de Carcavelos – the best beach of the Lisbon region.
Related articles: Cascais beach guide
The Praia de Carcavelos beach is a huge beach and is very popular during the summer months
The Praia do Guincho is exposed to the huge waves and strong winds that blow in from the Atlantic, but this makes it ideal for experienced surfers and kite surfers.
Cascais is a great holiday destination for families and young children. There are many hotels designed for families, and children will be welcomed in all restaurants and tourist attractions. The beaches of Cascais are safe, with clean and calm sea waters, and are supervised in the summer. Cascais is significantly calmer than the larger resort towns along the Algarve coastline.
Portugal, in general, is a very safe country, and the Portuguese are a family-focused nation. Everyone who works in tourism speaks a range of European languages, and language will never be an issue.
Advice: If you are restricted by school holidays, always book accommodation and flights as far in advance as possible.
Related articles: Lisbon for children and families
The coastal walk from Cascais to Estoril
If you are 20-30 and want a varied and exciting holiday, you should seriously consider Cascais.
The beaches are beautiful, there are numerous exciting activities, and the nightlife is social, attracting a diverse range of people. Only a short train ride away is the major city of Lisbon, with its progressive attitudes, vibrant artisan scene and buzzing nightlife.
Generally, Portugal is an inexpensive holiday destination, with food, drink and transport significantly cheaper than many other European beach resorts in Greece or the Balearic Islands.
Cascais is connected to Lisbon by a direct and regular urban railway. This train departs Lisbon from the Cais do Sodre train station, and the journey takes 33 or 40 minutes, with a ticket costing €2.30/€4.50 (single/return).
The best way to travel from Lisbon airport to Cais do Sodre train station is by the metro - take red metro line from the airport and then change to the green line at the Alameda metro station. A single metro ticket costs €1.50 and is charged to the reusable "Navegante" card, which costs €0.50 for the initial purchase.
Related articles: Lisbon to Cascais – Airport to Cascais – Lisbon to the city centre
The Lisbon to Cascais train
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 changed when King Luís I (1838 - 1889) proclaimed Cascais as his preferred location for his royal summer retreat.
The decampment of the Portuguese nobility from Lisbon to Cascais during the summer months encouraged the high-society of 19th-century Europe to flock to Cascais as well. This influx of money and political power funded the construction 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.