Cascais-Portugal.com

The best independent guide to Cascais

Cascais-Portugal.com

The best independent guide to Cascais

Cascais, Portugal; a tourism guide for 2024

Cascais is the premier holiday destination of the Portuguese Riviera, as well as being a fascinating town to visit as a day trip from Lisbon.

Situated on a coastline of beautiful sandy beaches, it has been responsibly developed into a vibrant resort town, while retaining its traditional and charming Portuguese character.

Historically, Cascais was the summer retreat of the Portuguese nobility, and today the town displays an elegant fusion of its regal and fishing heritage, combined with the facilities expected by modern tourists.

Found within the cobbled streets of its historic centre are grand 19th-century villas, an imposing fort and fascinating museums, along with a variety of lively bars and outstanding restaurants. All of these combine to give the town a buzzing atmosphere, making it a wonderful holiday location.

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 lies the wild and dramatic scenery of the Serra de Sintra coastline, with its vast surfing beaches and towering cliffs.

Cascais is so much more than just a beach holiday destination. Just a short train ride takes you to the centre of vibrant Lisbon, and to the north lies the town of Sintra, with its whimsical palaces and cooling hills.

There is so much to love about Cascais, either as a holiday base or for a day trip, and this article will provide you with an introduction to this wonderful town.
Related articles: A day trip to CascaisCascais’ beaches

Highlights of Cascais, Portugal

Praia da Conceição beach cascais

The Praia da Conceição - The beautiful beach of central Cascais, offering golden sands, calm seawaters, buzzing beach bars and thrilling watersports – making it the perfect spot for both relaxation and fun in the sun.

Castro Guimaraes villa Cascais

The 19th-century villas - The Cascais shoreline is dotted with magnificent 19th-century villas constructed by Portugal’s wealthy as they came to join King Luis I while he spent his summers here. The colourful Condes de Castro Guimarães villa is regarded as the finest.

Cabo da Roca Cascais

The Cabo da Roca - The towering cliffs and wind-blasted landscapes that mark the most westerly point of mainland Europe. The cliffs lie within the protected Serra de Sintra nature park, which is a great region for hiking, cycling and admiring the raw beauty of nature - as long as you are prepared for the blustery, foggy and often chilly micro-climate. Guide to the Cabo da Roca

Cascais to Estoril promenade

The Cascais to Estoril promenade - The scenic coastal pathway built upon the seawalls that protect the coastline between Cascais and Estoril. The pretty route meanders along the coast for 2.5km and passes sandy beaches, grand villas and numerous cafes and beach bars.

Why have a holiday to Cascais?

Cascais is a stylish and sophisticated town, which has been responsibly transformed from a minor fishing port into a popular holiday destination. For your holiday, you will struggle to find a better location than Cascais. It offers world-class hotels, family-run restaurants and a 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 to choose from, 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 Palácio da Pena in Sintra
• Surfing at Praia do Guincho beach
• Relaxing on Praia de Carcavelos beach
• Watching the sunset at Cabo da Roca
• Discovering Lisbon via day trips to the Alfama, Baixa and Belem districts
• Hiking or cycling through the dramatic scenery of the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais
Related articles: Cascais 1 weekCabo da RocaOur guide to Lisbon

Insight: Other locations in Portugal that are similar to Cascais for a holiday include Lagos, Tavira, Sesimbra, Nazare and Vila Nova de Milfontes.

The Palácio da Pena in Sintra

The Palácio da Pena in Sintra

A day trip to Cascais

Cascais is one of the best day trips from Lisbon, as it offers a variety of historic monuments, impressive 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 destination that is easy to travel to, being connected to Lisbon by a direct train service (details further on in the article).

Insight: Our suggested order for day trips from Lisbon are: 1) Sintra 2) Cascais 3) Obidos (half day) 4) Evora 5) Setubal 6) Mafra and Ericeira (combined)

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), and the total route is 11Km. (Note: zoom in or out to see all of the points)

Sights of the day trip: 1) Cascais train station 2) Praia da Rainha beach 3) Rua Frederico Arouca 4) Palácio Seixas 5) Praia da Ribeira 6) Praça 5 de Outubro 7) Forte de Nossa Senhora fort 8) Centro Cultural de Cascais 9) Marina de Cascais (marina) 10) Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães 11) Parque Marechal Carmona 12) Casa de Santa Maria 13) Farol de Santa Marta lighthouse 14) Boca do Inferno 15) Casa das Histórias Paula Rego 16) Museu do Mar 17) Igreja da Assunção church 18) Largo Luís de Camões 19) Conceição beach 20) Duquesa beach 21) Palácio dos Duques de Palmela 22) Piscina Oceânica Alberto Romano 23) Tamariz beach 24) Estoril Casino 25) Estoril train station
Related articles: Day trip to Cascais - Day trips from Lisbon

Largo Luís de Camões Cascais

The bars and restaurants on the Largo Luís de Camões

The Nossa Senhora fort

The Nossa Senhora fort

Cascais lighthouse and the Casa de Santa Maria

Cascais lighthouse and the Casa de Santa Maria

When to visit Cascais?

Cascais has hot, dry summers, pleasant springs and autumns, and mild but possibly wet winters. The tourist season extends from Easter until October, and the peak season is during July and August.

Late spring (May to June) and early autumn (September) are the best times of year to visit Cascais. The weather will be glorious and everything will be fully open, but it will be without the extreme hecticness and crowds of summer.

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 height of summer.

The winter months (November to February) can be wet and chilly, and it is better to be based in Lisbon at this time of year. March and April can be surprisingly wet as moisture-laden winds are blow in from the Atlantic.

Cascais weather temperature

The average daytime maximum and nighttime minimum for Cascais

Cascais rainfall sunshine rain sun

The average hours of sunshine per day and monthly rainfall

Cascais for 2024

Cascais is expecting a sell-out summer season for 2024.

This comes on the back of a very popular 2023 season, with an increasing number of visitors flocking to Portugal.

If you are in the early stages of booking your holiday, we strongly advise that you book your flights and accommodation as soon as possible before prices increase and tickets/rooms sell out. The price of flights will only increase, and in the summer months (July to mid-September) the best accommodation in Cascais will be fully booked.

The 4-star Hotel Baia boasts the best location in Cascais, right in the centre of the town and overlooking the Praia da Ribeira beach. The Vila Gale and Eurostars are both good value 4-star hotels that overlook the Atlantic coastline and are within walking distance of the centre of Cascais.

For something a bit more unique, the 5-star Pestana Cidadela lies within the Nossa Senhora da Luz fort.

At the high-end side is the Grande Real Villa Itália, the former residence of King Umberto II, the last king of Italy who lived in exile in Cascais. If you want to treat yourself to the ultimate in luxury then choose the Albatroz Hotel, for a truly wonderful holiday.

At the other end of the scale, Ljmonade is the best hostel in Cascais, but there are few cheap options in Cascais during the summer.

We work with Booking.com, and their map below displays the best hotels and accommodation in Cascais. If you adjust the dates to suit your holiday, it will display current prices and availability.

Booking.com

If the map does not load, a list of the best hotels can be seen here.

Insight: Many hotels offer free cancellation, and this can be a good tactic to secure a low-priced room while allowing you to browse other options up until your holiday dates. We also trust Booking.com, as their hotel reviews are written by visitors who have previously stayed there and we personally use them for all of our travel plans.

Hotel Baia cascais

The Hotel Baia overlooks the fishing harbour and the Praia da Ribeira beach

The holiday and short-term rental dilemma

The rapid explosion of Portugal’s tourism sector and the increased popularity of short-term rentals are having lasting negative effects on the region.

Houses and apartments that once were rented to Portuguese residents are now being used for short-term holiday rentals. This has pushed up rents and house prices in Lisbon, and to a lesser extent in Cascais, making it incredibly difficult for young Portuguese citizens to rent or buy houses.

Because of this, we do not like to recommend holiday rentals in the residential areas of Cascais. For holiday-style apartments with kitchenettes, do have a look at the Hotel Pestana Cascais Ocean.

Does Cascais have great beaches?

Cascais has a wonderful coastline of beautiful sandy beaches.

There are four fantastic beaches within walking distance of the historic centre of the town: the Praia da Conceição, the Praia da Duquesa, the Praia da Rainha and the Praia da Ribeira. Each of these offers golden sands, calm seawaters and outstanding tourist facilities.

Surrounding Cascais are two contrasting coastlines; the wild and windswept surfing beaches to the north, and the family-friendly beaches of the Portuguese Riviera to the east.

The finest surfing beach in the region is the Praia do Guincho. Huge Atlantic waves roll into this vast sandy stretch, which 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 its numerous sandy beaches are sheltered from the might of the Atlantic Ocean and its strong sea breezes.

These beaches are popular 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 in the Lisbon region.
Related articles: Cascais beach guide

Praia de Carcavelos

The Praia de Carcavelos beach is huge, and is very popular during the summer months.

Guincho cascais

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 for a family holiday

Cascais is a great holiday destination for families with 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 waters, and are supervised in the summer. In addition, Cascais is significantly calmer than the larger resort towns along the Algarve coastline.

In general, Portugal is a very safe country, with the Portuguese being a family-focused nation. Everyone who works in tourism speaks a range of European languages, so language barriers should 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

The coastal walk from Cascais to Estoril.

Cascais for twentysomethings and young couples

If you are aged 20 to 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 friendly and sociable, 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.

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.

historic centre of Cascais

Hidden courtyards in the historic centre of Cascais

Travel from Lisbon and Lisbon airport to Cascais

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 tickets costing €2.40/€4.80 (single/return).

The best way to travel from Lisbon Airport to Cais do Sodre train station is by the metro - take the red metro line from the airport and then change to the green line at the Alameda metro station. A single metro ticket costs €1.80 and is charged to the reusable ‘Navegante’ card, which costs €0.50 for the initial purchase.
Related articles: Lisbon to CascaisLisbon airport to Cascais

lisbon to cascais train

The Lisbon to Cascais train.

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 changed when King Luís I (1838 to 1889) proclaimed Cascais as his preferred location for a 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 Fishermen’. 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, giving the region a prosperous and sophisticated atmosphere.

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