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Is Cascais Worth Visiting? (The Pros & Cons)

Cascais, a charming Portuguese seaside town, known for it’s picturesque beaches, beautiful architecture and rich history. 

Located just 30 minutes outside of Lisbon, Cascais has become a popular destination for tourists looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. 

But is Cascais worth visiting? 

That’s exactly what we are going to discuss today. Like everywhere, the town has its pros and cons, and I am going to break them down for you in this post.

Disclaimer: I want to thank Visit Cascais for making our trip to the beautiful region possible as some of my visits to the town were part of a press trip, we had the most amazing time exploring the beautiful silver coast. As always, all opinions are my own.

Pros of Visiting Cascais

I’m not going to lie, I fell in LOVE with Cascais on my first visit. The town has so much to offer for both locals and tourists alike. First, I want to highlight some of the pro’s for those planning a visit to this Portuguese gem. 

✅ Great Location

One of Cascais’s main appeals is it’s location, it spans along Portugal’s beautiful coastline. Visitors can expect to find some golden sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking cliffs.

While the town is considered a city, it definitely has the peaceful and relaxed atmosphere of a town or village. Going there is the best way to relax and get away from busy city life.

✅ Fantastic Beaches

And on that note, Cascais’s location means it is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Portugal. 

Praia da Conceição, Praia do Tamariz, and Guincho Beach are just a few examples of the beautiful beaches you can find here.

So, whether  you want to soak up the sun, take a dip in the ocean, or try your hand at some water sports, Cascais has got you covered.

✅ A Surfers Paradise

Cascais is not just a haven for conventional beach goers–it’s also a dream destination for surfers.

Cascais has some of the best surfing spots in Portugal because it is right on the Atlantic Ocean.

People love Guincho Beach because of its big waves and strong winds, which make it a great place for both new and experienced wave riders.

Along the coast, there are surf schools and rental shops so that everyone can enjoy the waves in Portugal.

So, Cascais should be very high on your list if you like exciting water activities.

✅ Charming Architecture

Cascais is filled with charming and colourful buildings that will transport you back in time. From traditional Portuguese tiles to grand mansions, that will take your breath away purely due to their size.

One of the must-see sites is the Casa de Santa Marta, a beautiful house turned museum that showcases traditional Portuguese architecture and design. 

The Old Town, is quaint, like something out of a fairytale, with cobblestone streets lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes. 

It’s the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and admire the local architecture.

✅ Delicious Food Scene

This coastal town is a hub for fresh seafood, where local restaurants serve dishes made from the day’s catch. Don’t miss the grilled sardines and octopus salad, which are specialties from the area.

The area is also famous for its delicious wines and cheeses, which are perfect for a picnic by the water. Especially by the soaring cliffs of Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in Europe. 

For a true taste of Cascais, head to one of the many street food markets, where you can sample local delicacies and mingle with friendly locals.

Some of my favourite places to grab a bite to eat in Cascais:

Risotto @ Sr. Manuel

1. Sr. Manuel

If you are looking to sample some fresh seafood while in Cascais then I recommend giving Sr. Manuel’s a try. They a decent sized menu with plenty to choose from. The food was more than tasty.

2. The Palm Tree (Instagram)

The Palm Tree is an international bar with a relaxed feel. We were so warm heartily welcomed by the fantastic waiting staff throughout our time dining in the Palm Tree (thanks to Orlando & Mara for looking after us so well).

This is the perfect place to eat for those looking for delicious food, a drink or two and an overall nice atmosphere. I recommend trying the hot stone steak for your main course. It was bursting with flavour and a nice alternative way to enjoy a meal.

3. Nicolau Cascais

Nicolau is a fantastic option for all you brunch enthusiasts. The menu is quite expansive with a range of dishes on offer. Both savoury and sweet.

They also have a nice selection of drinks from cocktails, milkshakes, smoothies and fresh juices.

4. Cantina Clandestina (Instagram)

If you are looking to try some traditional Portuguese dishes, I recommend checking out Cantina Clandestina.

The waiting staff were more than happy to suggest their favourite dishes to try while pairing them with a wine to complement the flavours. The decor in the restaurant really sets the ambience, with fairy lights highlighting the outdoor dining area.

Pancakes @ Nicolau
Tapas @ Malacopa

5. Malacopa

Malacopa is a lovely Mexican tapas bar, with an endless list of tasty bites. There were so many great options to choose from.

And while the portion sizes look small I promise they will leave you feeling full and satisfied. I recommend two tapas per person.

The staff at Malacopa where extremely accommodating making sure we were ok throughout our meal.

6. Bijou de Cascais (Instagram)(Website)

If you are looking for something sweet to eat then you need to make your way to Bijou de Cascais. This stylish bakery offers a range of traditional Portuguese pastries and bites from the famous Pastel de Nata to the Croquete de Carne.

7. La Contessa Carpacciohouse (Instagram)

La Contessa Carpacciohouse is a lovely little restaurant located on a side street in Cascais main town. The area is again highlighted with cute fairy lights, and it is a lovely place to sit down and dine for the night. The menu features a range of raw meats styled as ceviche or tartes and a range of cooked Piadina’s (Italian flatbreads).

8. El Clandestino

The food at El Clandestino was bursting with flavours, my friends tried the traditional Peruvian Sea Bass and I tried the stir fried noodles.

It didn’t feel too heavy yet still left us feeling full and happy. The service was excellent too!

Peruvian Sea Bass @ El Clandestino

9. Marisco na Praça

Marisco na Praça is a seafood resturant with two locations in Cascais, one in the Marina and the other at the market.

We ate in the Market location, I had the steak with mushroom sauce. It was delicious, perfectly cooked and the sauce was something new that I had not tried with steak before. It also came with homemade crisps, which quite tasty.

10. Restaurante Baía

My favourite meal from my second time in Cascais was at Restaurante Baía (where I stayed). I got the mushroom risotto and words can not describe how tasty it was. There was so much flavour.

The service was excellent, and we ate looking out at one of the best views in Cascais.

✅ Rich History

Cascais is a town with a long and rich history, dating back to pre-Roman times. Being once a humble fishing village, it has transformed into an elegant seaside resort over time. 

This is evident in its beautiful architecture, cultural monuments, and museums.

One of the most popular places to visit in town is the Citadel of Cascais, a historic fortress that was built in the 1600s.

It is now a museum that shows the history and traditions of the area. For art lovers, there is also the Paula Rego Museum, which is all about the famous Portuguese artist.

Cascais also has festivals and cultural events all year long that let tourists experience the music, dance, and traditions of the area.

✅ Outdoor Activities

With its proximity to the sea and stunning natural landscapes, Cascais offers a wide range of outdoor activities. From water sports like, sailing, and kayaking to hiking along the scenic coastline. 

I particularly enjoyed renting a bike and riding along the seaside promenade, taking in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

✅ It’s a Great Base

Cascais, with its prime location and excellent transport connections, makes for a great base to explore the rest of Portugal. 

The capital, Lisbon, is just a short train ride away, offering an array of cultural, historical, and gastronomical delights. 

Similarly, the fairy-tale town of Sintra, with its picturesque palaces and fortresses, is within easy reach. 

Cons of Visiting Cascais

While Cascais is undoubtedly a beautiful and charming town, there are some downsides to visiting that should be taken into consideration.

❌ High Tourist Volume

Due to its popularity as a holiday destination, Cascais can get quite crowded during peak tourist season. This can make it challenging to fully appreciate the town’s natural beauty and cultural landmarks.

However, with that being said, the town is far less busy to the nearby capital, Lisbon. So, in that regard , it still offers a quieter and more relaxed vacation compared to other destinations.

❌ More Expensive

Another thing to consider is, while Cascais is a rather afforable place to visit it is definitely more expensive than other Portuguese towns and cities. 

This can make it a less budget-friendly option for travellers, especially when it comes to accommodation and dining.

❌ Limited Nightlife

Cascais has a laid-back atmosphere and is not known for its bustling nightlife scene. While there are some bars and clubs in the town center, it may not be the ideal destination for those looking to party.

Language Barrier

Despite speaking English, I did not have any difficulties with navigating my way through Cascais. However, with that being said, some of the locals may not be fluent in English, so it’s always helpful to have some basic Portuguese phrases and translations on hand. No matter where I travel I always try to use the basics of a language to show consideration to the local people.

Here are some you may find useful on your trip to Cascais:

  1. Hello – Olá (oh-lah)
  2. Goodbye – Adeus (ah-deh-oosh)
  3. Please – Por favor (pour fah-vohr)
  4. Thank you – Obrigado (oh-bree-gah-doh) if you’re male, Obrigada (oh-bree-gah-dah) if you’re female
  5. Yes – Sim (seen)
  6. No – Não (now)
  7. Excuse me – Desculpe (desh-kool-peh)
  8. I don’t understand – Não entendo (now en-ten-doh)
  9. Do you speak English? – Você fala inglês? (voh-seh fah-lah een-glehz?)
  10. Where is the bathroom? – Onde é o banheiro? (ohn-deh eh o ban-yay-roh?)

Tips for Visiting Cascais

Next, let’s take a look at some useful tips that will come in handy for those planning a trip to Cascais!

💡 Visit in the Off Season

To truly enjoy the charm of Cascais without the bustling crowd, consider visiting in the off-season. Spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are ideal times as the weather is still pleasant and the town is less crowded. 

You can explore the picturesque streets, dine at local restaurants, and take leisurely strolls along the beach, soaking in the serene beauty of Cascais at your own pace. 

These are also the most affordable times to visit, I was there in October and loved it!

Cascais is also known for it’s Christmas Markets and Celebrations, yet, you don’t need to worry about snow and ice as the region tends to see mild to moderate temperatures all year round,

💡 Try the Local Cuisine

No trip to Portugal is complete without trying some of their delicious local dishes. In Cascais, you can find a variety of seafood, especially fresh fish caught daily in the Atlantic Ocean.

Some must-try dishes include bacalhau (salted codfish), sardines, and grilled sea bass. Don’t forget to also indulge in the famous Pastéis de Nata (custard tarts) for a sweet treat.

💡 Pack Sun Cream

Never underestimate the power of the Portuguese sun, especially if you’re visiting during the summer season. 

The sun’s rays can be quite strong and may lead to unwanted sunburns if precautions aren’t taken. Therefore, packing sun cream is an absolute necessity. 

Always apply a generous amount of sun cream to exposed skin areas before heading out, and remember to reapply every few hours.

💡 Don’t try do too much

While it’s tempting to pack your itinerary with every sight and experience Cascais has to offer, it’s crucial to remember that vacations are also about relaxation. 

Try not to over-schedule your days, allowing ample downtime for spontaneous explorations or simply lounging by the beach with a good book.

💡 Explore the surround area’s

Ok, so I may be contradicting myself a little here, by saying don’t try do too much but also  encouraging you to explore the surrounding areas. However, Cascais is located in a prime location for day trips.

You can easily take a train or bus to nearby towns such as Sintra and Estoril, both known for their stunning architecture and cultural sites. 

Or take a drive along the coast to visit picturesque beaches in Setúbal or Cabo da Roca – the westernmost point of mainland Europe. 

And, Lisbon is only  a short train ride away, so if youre looking for somewhere quieter to base yourself while exploring the city then Cascais is the perfect option.

Top 10 Things to do in Cascias

There is plenty of things to do in Cascais, we already mentioned the stunning beaches, but here are some other things you don’t want to miss out on:

Cascais Old Town

📍 Explore the Pastel Streets of the Cascais Old Town

The charming old town of Cascais is the ideal spot to start your holiday.

Admire the views of the coast while strolling through the charming lanes and small streets.

The old town gives you a real feel for the cute area. It will let you fully experience the way of life of the people who live there and enjoy the easygoing vibe that this lovely town has to offer.

The old town is the ideal place to shop if you want to buy a small souvenirs from your trip along Portugal’s silver coast.

📍 Santa Marta Lighthouse

The Santa Marta Lighthouse is one of the most famous places to see in Cascais. The building was first used as a fort and was later changed into the lighthouse we see today.

The museum costs 5 euros to get into and shows people about the building’s history. It also has a collection of lights that were used in lighthouses across Portugal and talks about the history of the country’s coastline.

For 5 euros, you can get into the lighthouse and use the viewing platform, which has stunning views of Cascais and the surrounding areas. Just seeing the view alone is worth the price of admission. I spent way longer her than I atticpated just admiring the stunning views.

Palácio dos Condes de Castro Guimarães
Palácio dos Condes de Castro Guimarães

📍 Palácio dos Condes de Castro Guimarães

The Palaça dos Condes de Castro Guimarães is a pretty building that stands across the street from the Santa Marta Lighthouse.

The building fits in well with the fairy tale-like feel of Cascais. It was built by an Irishman named Jorge O’Neil so that his family could have a place to stay on vacation.

The house was built with materials that could only be found in Portugal. Like many other buildings in the country, it was influenced by the Moorish style of building.

Inside the building, there are many references to Jorge’s Irish roots. For example, the ceiling is decorated with shamrocks, and the Irish coat of arms is used all over the place.

After that, the house was sold to Castro Guimarães. When he died, he asked that it be given to the state so that it could be used as an art gallery and museum showing off the beautiful architectural style.

📍 Take a Day Trip to Sintra

Everyone should put Sintra on their list of places to visit because it is one of the best cities in Portugal. People who visit Sintra feel like they’ve left modern life behind and stepped into a real-life fairy tale.

The village of Sintra is set on the edge of a large mountain range. The town is the starting point for visits to beautiful palaces, magical forests, and lush greenhills.

It’s very easy to go to Sintra for the day from Cascais because the two places are so close to each other. The 417 bus will take 40 minutes to get to Sintra’s main town, but it’s a cheap way to see the beautiful area. An Uber will take 20 minutes.

You can also take a 45-minute train ride from Lisbon to Sintra and see it in one day.

📍 Boca do Inferno (Hells Mouth)

If you want to see the most beautiful view in Cascais, you might want to walk out to Boca do Inferno.

The name of this beautiful place in English means “Hell’s Mouth.”

The Boca do Inferno is a group of rocks by the water that rises above the Portuguese coast. You should go there to enjoy the beautiful cliff edge, crashing waves, and scenic background.

There is a platform where you can walk out and see the waves coming in and out of “Hell’s Mouth.”

From Cascais Marina, it takes about 10 minutes to walk to the Boca do Inferno.

📍 Watch the Sunset

For sure, you will see a lot of sunsets while you are in Cascais. Portugal is known for having beautiful weather. A lot of people like to go to the beautiful Boca do Inferno during golden hour. As the sun goes down behind the rocks, this is where you can see the sky change colours.

If you want to go somewhere a little less crowded, you could go to the Marina at sunset. You will have a lot more room to move around because the area is so big.

Also, Cabo da Roca, which is Europe’s most western point, is a great spot to watch the sky change from morning to night. Keep in mind that it’s not in Cascais, but it’s close by. Also, it’s a must-see on any trip through Europe.

📍 Chance your arm at some surfing

Portugal is famous for being one of the best surf destinations in Europe. There are many beaches to choose from in and around Cascais that offer excellent surf opportunities. The most famous being the Praia do Guincho Beach.

Now, the waves can get really big, so it is best for beginners to get lessons. Luckily for us, the waves were relatively small at the time.

We booked with Cascais Routes, they where more than accommodating and patient with my friend Aoife and I, especially considering we fell off the board pretty much every time we caught a wave 🤣

Even if you don’t want to surf, it is always fun to sit back, relax and watch the surfers glide over the waves. They are incredibly talented and watching them will for sure leave you mesmerised.

📍 Rent a car

One of the great things about Cascais is it’s appeal to all kinds of travelling styles. There is something for everyone, from adventure lovers, city breakers, beach goers and outdoor enthusiast.

And the main reason for this is the towns location, it acts as a gateway to Lisbon, Sintra, the mountains and the stunning coastline.

Having a car for some road trip adventures is amazing when visiting Cascais. It gives you the freedom to explore at your own leisure.

The tourism board booked our rental with Europcar and the process was smooth with excellent service from the staff.

Check out my things to do in Cascais post if you would like to find out all of the incredible places we visited.

📍 Go Dolphin Watching

One of the most magical things I did while visiting Cascais was take a Dolphin Watching boat tour with Four Adventures.

It is a morning I will never forget! We saw two different types of families and had the best few hours out at sea.

The Dolphins where so playful, swimming up to the boat and jumping around the water. I was like a 5 years old child, filled with excitement. I just couldn’t contain how happy the experience made me feel.

At the end of the tour they also showed us what Cascais looked like from the water. Getting to see the Santa Marta Lighthouse and the Boca do Inferno from an alternative perspective was a really cool experience.

14. Enjoy the Iconic Cycle Route

Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Cascais is rent a bike and cycle along the incredible scenic coastline. The cycle route is 5 kilometres in total and stretches as far as the Praia do Guincho Beach.

The route itself is relatively easy with no uphill surprises along the way. The only thing to be mindful of is the Portuguese heat, especially if you decide to cycle at midday.

While Praia do Guincho is the main stopping point on the Cascais cycle path there are many awe-inspiring viewpoints every few meters. So, be prepared to stop, with your camera in hand, to capture the rushing waves crashing against the cliffside.

We decided to get our rentals from Aqua Start for extra security. The bikes came with a lock and key which allowed us to head off and explore a little further

Where to stay in Cascais

📍Hotel Londres

For my first trip to Cascais, I stayed in the beautiful Hotel Londres and I couldn’t recommend it more!

The hotel’s modern design & amenities make it the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring Cascais and the surrounding areas.

The hotel staff were more than welcoming and happy to answer any questions we had throughout our trip. Onsite, there is a buffet-style breakfast and restaurant, saltwater pool and bar & lounge area.

Hotel Londres is just a short walk from the Estoril to Cascais promenade, where you can take in the breathtaking coastal views while making your way to Cascais Old Town.

The walk takes about 30 minutes in total and it was one of my favourite strolls throughout the trip. It is also possible to get a direct train if you don’t want to walk the promenade. Although I recommend you do 😉 The views are just too good.

📍Hotel Baía

On my second stay in Cascais I was hosted by the lovely Hotel Baía. The hotels location is perfect for anyone who is looking to explore the towns endless list of things to do with restaurants, shops and activity providers a short walking distance away.

The rooms all look out at Cascais’s main beach, Praia da Ribeira and the views from the balcony are breathtaking. An ideal location to do a little bit of people watching after a long day of exploring 😉

The hotel also has a onsite restaurant, with a buffet breakfast each morning and a la carte lunch and dinner options.

For lunch on my final day, I had the Duck and Mushroom Risotto and it was my favourite meal from the trip. I couldn’t get enough of it.

The staff in the hotel went above and beyond to make sure we were well taking care of. It was a fantastic stay, a place I highly recommend for anyone looking to explore Cascais.

Other Accommodation Options in Cascais

Luxury: The Albatroz Hotel for those seeking a luxurious stay, look no further than The Albatroz Hotel. This distinctive seafront hotel provides a unique blend of old world charm and contemporary refinement. 

Each room is elegantly furnished, offering unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean. Gourmet dining options are available to you at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant. 

Amenities include an outdoor pool, exceptional room service and beachfront acess.

Located within walking distance of Cascais Old Town, The Albatroz Hotel offers an unforgettable experience of opulence and relaxation.

Mid-range:  Casa Vela Guesthouse is a charming bed & breakfast situated in the heart of Cascais. 

The family-run guesthouse offers comfortable rooms with a cozy, homely atmosphere. The staff were incredibly kind and helpful, making our stay even more enjoyable.

There is also an outdoor pool and sun terrace for guests to enjoy, perfect for relaxing after a day of exploring. 

Budget: For those on a budget, hostel Ljmonade is a fantastic option. 

This boutique hostel offers stylish dorms and private rooms, making it an excellent choice for solo travellers or groups.

The common areas are beautifully designed, including a sunny terrace for socialising, making it a popular hostel in Europe.

When is the best time to visit Cascais?

Cascais is a destination that can be enjoyed all year round. However, the best time to visit largely depends on what you’re looking for in your vacation. 

For beach lovers and water sport enthusiasts, the summer months from June to August offer the warmest weather and optimal sea conditions. This is also the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices.

If you’re more interested in sightseeing and avoiding the crowds, the shoulder seasons from April to June and September to October provide milder weather and fewer tourists. 

The winter months from November to March can be quite rainy, but they offer the opportunity for a quieter, more relaxed exploration of the city. They also hold a Christmas  market and festive activities, making it a charming time to visit.

Is Cascais worth it FAQ

Finally, let’s end the post with some frequently asked questions by those hoping to visit the beautiful coastal town.

Is Cascais worth the trip?

Absolutely, Cascais is definitely worth the trip! As you can see from this post, the pro’s off way the cons by a long shot. It is the perfect destination for those looking for a mix of coastal vibes and urban culture. Plus, it’s conveniently located just a short train ride away from Lisbon making it an easy day trip or a great addition to your Portugal itinerary.

How long should you spend in Cascais?

The ideal amount of time to spend in Cascais would be 2-3 days. This allows for enough time to explore the town, relax on the beach, and also take a day trip to nearby destinations such as Sintra or Lisbon. However, if you have a shorter amount of time, even just one day in Cascais can still be enjoyable and give you a taste of the city’s charm.

Which is better Sintra or Cascais?

While both Sintra and Cascais offer unique experiences, your choice ultimately depends on your interests as it is quite hard to compare the two.

Sintra, known for its fairy-tale like palaces and castles, is ideal for history and architecture enthusiasts. It’s a place where you can marvel at the intricate details of the Pena Palace or wander around the mystical Quinta da Regaleira. 

Cascais, on the other hand, is a beautiful coastal town with stunning beaches and a vibrant city life. It’s perfect for those who enjoy water sports, sunbathing, and exploring charming streets filled with shops and restaurants.

Is it better to stay in Estoril or Cascais?

So, on my trip to Cascais I ironically stayed in Estoril, but spent all my time in Cascais. 

I do think there is more to see and do in Cascais itself, but Estoril is a great alternative for those looking for a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere. It also offers easy access to Cascais by either walking along the coast or taking a short train ride.

Can you swim in the sea at Cascais?

Yes, you can absolutely swim in the sea at Cascais. The town is renowned for its clear, blue waters that are typically calm and safe for swimming. 

Additionally, the beaches in Cascais are well-maintained and monitored by lifeguards during the summer months, providing a secure environment for beach-goers. 

Is Cascais Expensive?

While Cascais is more expensive than some other Portuguese towns, it is a fair bit cheaper than Lisbon, making it a popular base for tourists. 

The cost of accommodation, food and activities can vary depending on the season and location within Cascais, but overall it is considered to be a relatively affordable destination in Europe. 

Is Cascais Safe?

Yes, on my trip to Cascais I felt extremely safe, not once did I feel uncomfortable or concerned for my well-being. 

The town has a low crime rate and is generally considered to be a safe destination for tourists.

However, you may on the off chance come across some petty crimes like pickpocketing, but that is much more common in crowed area’s in Lisbon.

What is the weather like in Cascais?

The weather in Cascais is Mediterranean, so the winters are mild and the summers are warm.

All year long, the average temperature is between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius. July and August are the warmest months.

Because it doesn’t rain much in Cascais, it’s a popular place for outdoor activities like hiking, sunbathing, and exploring the beautiful coastline.

Conclusion: Is Cascais a good place to visit?

Yes, in my opinion Cascais is 110% worth the visit. Portugal is one of Europe’s most well known beach locations.

And Cascais makes it easy to see why, with its stunning beaches, charming town center, rich history and affordable prices, it truly has something for everyone. 

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday or an active adventure filled trip, Cascais has got you covered!

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