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Cascais is a charming coastal town located just a 30-minute drive from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. It is home to aesthetically designed cobbled streets, beautiful promenades and cycle lanes and it is a gateway to the most westerly point of Europe, Cabo da Roca.
Cascais is the perfect place to stay for those looking to explore Lisbon and the extended region without having to part take in the hustle and bustle of the city. It is a beautiful place to sit back, relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
On my recent trip to Cascais, I was lucky enough to explore many of the beautiful treasures the region had to offer and with places such as Sintra and Belém right on the town’s doorstep, I was left feeling like I was living in a real-life fairytale. In this post, we will discuss the top things to do in Cascais Portugal, how to get there, where to stay and more.
How to get Cascais?
One of the best things about Cascais is its close proximity to Lisbon, meaning getting to the beautiful town from the Capital isn’t all too difficult. The train leaves from Santos and takes just under 40 minutes to reach Cascais (Click here for Google Maps Directions). Getting to Cascais from Lisbon airport will require you to get a bus and a train, however, you can always opt into taking a taxi or Uber for a greater price.
I’d recommend booking your stay directly with Hotel Londres to ensure you get the best deal. They often offer a package including both the Buffet Breakfast and room price for the duration of your stay.
Where to Stay in Cascais?
During our stay in Cascais we were hosted by 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 area’s.
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 & 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.
Things to do in Cascais: The Main Town, Marina & Art District
There is so much to see and do in Cascais, it is the perfect addition to an extended Portugal itinerary. Take some time to stroll along some of the regions most beautiful beaches or rent a bike to explore the rugged coastline. Most activities begin at the town centre.
1. Explore the Pastel Streets of the Cascais Old Town
Cascais picturesque old town is the perfect place to begin your vacation. Walkthrough the beautiful lanes, narrow streets and admire the coastal views.
Starting your trip to Cascais in the old town will give you a real feel for the charming region. It will give you the opportunity to submerge yourself in the local’s way of life and experience the relaxed vibes that this beautiful town has to offer.
If you are hoping to purchase a little keepsake from your time exploring Portugal’s silver coast, then the old town is the perfect spot to shop. Consider bringing home some Portuguese souvenirs or perhaps some of the countries famous pastry’s.
2. Explore Cidadela Art District
The purpose of the Cidadela Art District is to serve as a link between art and the public. A place for people to come to relax and admire the talent of various artists. The district is home to 6 galleries from open spaces to author rooms.
The square within the District is a lovely spot to sit down for a chat with friends and relax before continuing to explore the surrounding areas of Cascais.
Onsite, alongside the galleries there is a café, hotel and bookshop, and of course the Cidadela (which means fortress in English).
3. Visit the Cascais Marina
The marina in Cascais is that of a modern design, located just a short walk from the Cidadela. It is a lovely place to go for a stroll or perhaps stop for a refreshing milkshake or pastry in the various cafés along the harbour front.
The Marina is also a popular spot for those who want to take part in some water activities in Cascais from sailing, windsurfing, stand up paddleboarding and more.
4. Santa Maria Lighthouse
Visit one of the most iconic Cascais Attractions, the Santa Maria Lighthouse. The building originally served as a fort which was later transformed into the lighthouse we see today.
It costs 5 euros to enter the museum, which teaches visitors about the history of the building, displays a collection of lights used in various lighthouses throughout Portugal and highlights the history of the countries coastline.
The 5 euro entry fee also includes access to the lighthouses viewing platform which offers breathtaking 360 views of Cascais and the surrounding area’s. The view alone makes the paid entry completely worth it.
5. Palácio dos Condes de Castro Guimarães
Across the street from the Santa Maria Lighthouse lies a rather beautiful building, the Palácio dos Condes de Castro Guimarães. The building fits in well with Cascais fairytale-like feel and it was built by an Irish man, Jorge O’Neil, who wanted it to serve as a family holiday home.
The house was designed using materials only found within Portugal and was heavily influenced by the construction style used by the Moorish, like many other buildings in the country.
The inside of the building displays many aspects of Jorges Irish routes with Shamrocks painted on the ceiling and the Irish Coat of Arms present throughout the decor.
The house was later sold to Castro Guimarães and at his request following his passing, it was donated to the state to be used as an art gallery and museum displaying the wonderful architectural styling.
6. Parque Marechal Carmona
The Palácio dos Condes de Castro Guimarães is on the grounds of the Parque Marechal Carmona, a beautiful place in Cascais for those looking to escape the harsh sun rays.
The park is home to some striking buildings, including, Chapel São Sebastião which survived the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
The park is a wonderful place to walk around and enjoy the range of trees, flowers and wildlife. We came across roosters, turtles and many birds while admiring the grounds of Parque Marechal Carmona.
7. Boca do Inferno (Hells Mouth)
If you are looking to explore the most scenic place in Cascais then consider walking out to Boca do Inferno. The name of this beautiful spot translates to ‘Hells Mouth’ in English.
The Boca do Inferno is a seaside rock formation that soars over the Portuguese coastline. It is the perfect place to go to admire the striking cliff edge, victorious waves and scenic backdrop.
It is possible to walk out onto a viewing platform to catch a glimpse of the waves crashing in and out of ‘Hells Mouth’.
It takes around 10 minutes to reach the Boca do Inferno on foot from Cascais Marina.
8. Have a beach day
Cascais is a wonderful place to visit for those looking for a well-deserved beach holiday. It is located in a part of Portugal known as the silver coast, and with the many beautiful beaches in the area, it is easy to see why. Here are some beaches in Cascais worth checking out:
- Praia da Ribeira de Cascais
- Praia da Rainha
- Piscina Oceânica Alberto Romano
- Praia da Rata
- Praia do Guincho (Outside Cascais check out the rent a bike section of the post for more info).
9. Watch the Sunset
Portugal is known for its beautiful weather which means odds are you will withness your fair share of sunsets while in Cascais. A popular spot to visit for golden hour is none other than the beautiful Boca do Inferno. Here you will see the sky change colours as the sun sets beyond the rocks.
If you are looking for somewhere a little less crowded then consider visiting the Marina at sunset. Due to the area’s size, you will have a lot more space to move around.
Cabo da Roca (Europes most westerly point) is also a fantastic place to watch the sky change from morning to night, however, it is important to note it is not located in Cascais but quite nearby.
10. Take in the Views at Europes Most Westerly Point – Cabo Da Roca
Cabo Da Roca is a famous spot near the town of Cascais. It is the most westerly point in Europe. It hosts some epic coastal views and is the perfect place to sit back and relax while enjoying the incredible scenery.
To get to Cabo Da Roca from Cascais you can take the 403 bus route. The journey is 40 minutes long but the views along the way are spectacular. It will cost you €4.50 but believe the price is completely worth it.
There is a bathroom and restaurant on site which is important to note as it is easy to spend a couple of hours here admiring the scenery.
If time allows I recommend sticking around for sunset because it is sure to be a good one!
11. Eat some of the most delicious foods
Cascais is the perfect place to visit for those looking to sample some of the nicest Portuguese cuisines. The city is famous for its seafood and egg tarts. I have listed down below some of our favourite restaurants from our trip so you too can check them out.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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).
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.
12. Stroll Along the Estoril to Cascais Promenade
One of the nicest things to do in Cascais is go for a stroll along the Estoril promenade. This walk will take about 30 minutes in total to complete and you pass by some of the most beautiful beaches, fairytale-like buildings and a selection of restaurants if you fancy something to eat.
We walked the Estoril Promenade to and from Hotel Londres twice a day and the views never got old. It also felt perfectly safe at night, in fact, I found it rather relaxing. The area was far less busy and the waves were always a little crazy at night time. Nothing beats the relaxing sounds of nature.
13. See Cascais from a Different Perspective by going on a Boat Tour
If you are looking to add a little bit of adrenaline to your trip to Cascais why not consider booking a boat tour. This is one of the best activities in Cascais, an experience that will give you the opportunity to see the town and surrounding coastal areas from a whole new perspective.
During our trip to Cascais, we went on a boat tour with Aqua Start. Both skippers were more than welcoming and were happy to show us about Cascais wonderful coastline.
We got to see some of the towns iconic landmarks such as the Santa Maria Lighthouse, Estoril Promenade and the Boca do Inferno from a whole different angle. We loved every minute of it!
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.
While it is possible to rent a bike for free at the local tourist office we decided to get our rentals from SLAM for extra security. The bikes came with a lock and key which allowed us to head off and explore a little further.
15. Go Surfing
Portugal is known worldwide as one of the best surf destinations in Europe. There are many beaches in and around Cascais that offer excellent surf opportunities with the most famous being the Praia do Guincho Beach.
I must warn you though, the waves are HUGE. So, if you are a beginner it is best to get lessons prior to entering the water. Check out Moana Surf School for lessons and rentals.
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.
16. Take a Day Trip to Sintra
Sintra should be a must on anyone’s bucket list, as it is easily one of the best cities to visit in Portugal. Sintra makes visitors feel as they have left modern-day life behind and somehow transported into a real-life fairytale. Located on the edge of a large mountain range lies the picturesque village of Sintra, the town is the gateway to lavish palaces, magical forests and lush green hills.
Taking a day trip to Sintra from Cascais is super easy due to both areas’ close proximity to each other. An uber will take 20 minutes to reach the main town of Sintra, while the 417 bus will take 40 minutes but it is a budget-friendly way to visit the beautiful region.
First Stop: National Palace of Pena
When you first arrive in Sintra head straight towards the National Palace of Pena. This is the most popular attraction in Sintra and can get rather busy as the day goes on. Take your time here, enjoy the awe-inspiring architecture, the views of the surrounding mountains and relax in nature as you explore the palace grounds.
Second Stop: Sintra National Palace & Town
After exploring the grounds of the National Palace of Pena hop on the 434 bus to Sintra National Palace. Take some time to explore the palace, the nearby winding streets and shop for any souvenirs you would like to take home.
This is also a good spot to stop for some lunch, we ate in Tasca Saloia which offered a wide range of Portuguese Cusine. And it was Delish.
Thrid Stop: Quinta da Regaleira
Once you are well-rested, it is time to head to Quinta da Regaleira, my favourite palace in Sintra. The palace is only a 10-minute walk from Sintra National Palace so there is no need to take the bus. I recommend you spend around 2 hours here as there is so much to see and do. I’ve highlighted the top attractions down below:
- Capela da Quinta da Regaleira
- Gruta do Labirinto
- Initiation Well
17. Take a Day Trip to Bélem
If you are looking to visit another magical place near Cascais then consider taking a day trip to Bélem. There is so much to see and do in Bélem that is easy to spend a full day exploring the area’s main attractions. Getting to Bélem from Cascais is super easy, just hop on the Cascais train heading toward Lisbon. The journey will take 40 minutes.
Once you arrive in Belem, I recommend heading towards the Bélem Tower to take some scenic photos. This area gets rather busy, therefore, it can be difficult to catch a snap of the famous landmark without people in the background.
Next, I recommend walking down the waterfront towards the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument. It will cost 6 euros to climb to the top, but in my opinion, it is completely worth it as it offers 360 views of the surrounding area.
A short walk from the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument lies Jerónimos Monastery. The architecture of Jerónimos Monastery is truly unique, you will be in complete awe as you walk around admiring the 16th-century building.
I recommend finishing the day in Bélem back where you initially started, the Bélem tower. This is the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you enjoyed learning about all the top Cascais things to do! If you have any more questions about Cascais feel free to send me a message over on Instagram. I hope you have a wonderful trip exploring Portugal’s silver coast.
Disclaimer: I want to thank Visit Cascais for making our trip to the beautiful region possible, we had the most amazing time exploring the beautiful silver coast. As always, all opinions are my own.
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