Cascais, former residence of the royal family and pioneer of tourism in Portugal, is a very charming village.
Dominated by the bay and the imposing Cidadela fort, the historic centre is brimming with architectural treasures of a religious, military and civil nature. Likewise, the museums of the Sea, Casa das Histórias de Paula Rego, and the Municipal Museum Condes de Castro Guimarães are also must-see attractions.
Cascais is easily reachable from Lisbon by car or by train (40min), from the Cais do Sodré station. A return ticket costs approx 10€ (june 2014) and can be bought from the automatic ticket machines. Remember to keep the ticket as it will be checked and punched by the conductor in both directions. Carris operate a bus between Cais do Sodre and Lisbon Airport every 20 mins. It is a yellow 'Aerobus' no. 1 and leaves from outside the terminal. Costs €3.50 one way (June 2014). Cais do Sodre is the last stop.
A car ride between Lisbon International Airport and Cascais can range between 30 minutes and 1h15 (on rush hours).
Cascais, once a fishermen's harbour, is a nice and sophisticated town, also a great gateway to explore the beautiful gold sand beach of Guincho.
The town is small enough to explore entirely by foot. To get a feeling for the life it's best to stroll around on foot. Uphill, beyond the town centre there are numerous narrow cobbled streets to explore with interesting architecture, plants and animals to see.
Riding a bicycle in Cascais is one of the "must do" things. From the beach you can venture further up the hill towards the westernmost point of continental Europe mainland and even Sintra using the nice roads while crossing the heart of this incredible nature reserve so close to the capital city of Lisbon
Basic bicycles are available to rent for free (providing you have ID and your accommodation address) through the municipal council's BiCas scheme. Bicycles are available from several locations around the town. The tourist office will have further information. These bikes are heavily (mis)used by locals, students, and budget minded visitors and often not available when needed, when available most times not in the best safety and enjoyable conditions thus the common breakdowns.
Other companies operating in nearby you better consider Lisbon companies so you can easily get there on train, get a bike to explore Lisbon and then bring over to Cascais with you, or have a bicycle delivered at your hotel doorstep.
Companies operating from Lisbon include Bike Iberia (Phone: +351 96 963 0369), ), established in 1999 they are located in Lisbon Downtown right off the train station of Cais Sodre (end of the line from Cascais train station) on Largo Corpo Santo, 5. They are open Monday to Sunday from 9:30am offering Guided Bike Tours, Private trips, Group or family friendly activities. Road or Off-road, performance or relaxed, urban on country riding. From Children Bikes and Trailers, City bikes and Touring Quality bikes to Full Suspension or Carbon.
From Sintra (you can take the Stage Coach hop on hop off bus)you may also consider Cycling Rentals (Phone: +351 92 213 4857), ) who offer guided and self guided Road and Off Road day trips for all levels of rider. They have a good selection of race, touring, mountain and electric bikes available for local hire or extended rental and can deliver bike to your hotel or accommodation. Their office is located near the historic center of Sintra.
By Scooter, Moped or Motorbike
Riding a Scooter bike is always a great and affordable way to get around Cascais, one of the "must do" things. From going to the beaches, riding around Cascais, Lisbon, Sintra or Cabo da Roca. Also the only way to cross over the bridges in Lisbon on two wheels.
Quality Scooters are available for renting at affordable prices (you need to be at least 18, have your Passport and Valid Driving License). Riding around is generally safe, relaxed and lots of fun!
Companies operating from Lisbon include Scooter Lisbon (Phone: +351 96 963 0369), ) located in Lisbon Downtown right off the train station of Cais Sodre (end of the line from Cascais train station) on Largo Corpo Santo, 5. They are open Monday to Sunday from 9:30am offering quality 125CC vehicles with automatic transmission. Check with them for Scooter Guided Tours or Rentals from only a few hours to multi day rentals. Beware that one day rental means the scooter has to be returned on the same day during working hours (until 6:30pm) and there is a higher price for a full 24h rental. Check your scooter very thoroughly when receiving it, or you will end up paying for the wear and tear caused by the other customers before you.
A looped bus line, BusCas, serves the town and the nearby surrounding area. For travelling further afield there is an extensive bus service, mainly operating from the bus station beneath the shopping centre opposite the train station. Taxis are always available and easy enough to find in the centre of town.
Cascais is the dormitory of the Lisbon international working community and the "younger set" who enjoy the diverse and sophisticated nightlife.There is a famous beach and casino in Estoril.
One of the most outstanding palaces is the Palácio de Conde de Castro Guimarães that is open to the public and exhibits its own grand private collection that includes over 25,000 books and such rarities as an illustrated book by Duarte Galvão(1455-1517).
Also, most of the pre-historic finds from the Grutas de Alapraia are stored here.
These were a series of underground caves only discovered in the late 19th Century.
The Grutus do Poço Velho are located in the centre of the town and date back to the Neolithic period.
On a much more modest scale is the Museu do Mar that depicts the story of Cascais and its fishing history.
Just outside the town is the famous Boca do Inferno in which the sea on rougher days hammers into the rock and creates a booming noise and a spectacular spray thus creating its name which in English means "mouth of hell". Boca do Inferno Guide
Today, Cascais now boasts a smart new Marina with lovely yachts adding a further attraction to the town.
The Parque Palmela is an attractive park created by the Duques de Palmela and now maintained by the Town Hall and in which open-air concerts are often held.
Within easy reach of Cascais is the famous beach at Guincho with its high waves that attract windsurfers from all around the world as having some of the best rollers in Europe.
The next town to the east of Cascais is the resort town of Estoril with its popular Casino. You can walk to Estoril from Cascais along the beachfront esplanade, passing many beachside bars and restaurants.
To the north and within easy reach is the romantic and fascinating town of Sintra and which was made famous to foreigners after a glowing account of its splendours recorded by Lord Byron.
It seems that the Estoril Coast is a magnet for those looking to practice every type of sport and leisure activity. Besides excellent facilities and all the professional staff and necessary equipment, the region boasts a wide range of natural advantages such as pure air, temperate year-round climate and close proximity to the sea and mountains.
Beginning on Avenida Rei Humberto II de Italia, just outside town past the marina, is a cycle lane and footpath extending the whole 5 km to Guincho beaches. This route runs beside the sea and is ideal for morning and evening strolls. The almost perennial North Atlantic sea breeze lends a refreshing air, especially during the hot summer months. Along the way you will find Boca Do Inferno, the famed "Mouth of Hell", where there is also a snack cafe, seafood restaurant and vendors of touristy gifts.
The marina area is very active. Sailing enthusiasts will find sailing schools open at the weekend, while regular competitions and leisure vessels can always be seen around Cascais Bay. On some of the beaches it’s very easy to hire boats and go water-skiing.:
Like on the south coast, the big waves and strong winds on the west coast provide perfect conditions for surfing, windsurfing and body boarding. The world championships of these sports are regularly contested at the beaches of Guincho, Grande and Ribeira d’Ilhas north of Ericeira.
Here, golfers will find a large number of courses concentrated in a very small area, the majority of which are designed by the world’s best architects. This means that you can choose from a wide variety of courses that cater for players of any age or ability, right up to the highest international standards. The mild and pleasant climate offers perfect golfing conditions right through the year. Numerous golf courses are located in the area:
Estoril’s famous motor-racing circuit hosts many important car and bike competitions, such as the Motorcycle GP Championships. It can also be arranged for individuals to experience the thrill of motor racing first-hand.
The variety of forest paths and excellent facilities throughout the region are a major attraction for those who enjoy horse riding. Here you’ll find a good selection of riding schools where you can hire horses and learn to ride.
Every year a five star equestrian event is taking place In Portugal called Global Champions Tour. It is a social gathering for all horse shows’ amateurs and professional riders at the Manuel Possolo hippodrome in Cascais.
If the thrill of show jumping excites you, check what’s on at Quinta da Marinha or the Cascais Equestrian Centre.
A selection of excellent food and drink can be found on the Estoril Coast if you know where to look. Cod, seabass, and squid are the most popular dishes, and many other types of seafood are available at good establishments. Within central Cascais good food, and especially good value, can be hard to find. Taking time to scout out genuine Portugese eating houses is worth doing however, as the tastiest and most interesting dishes often exist in tucked away more modest restaurants, where locals tend to dine.
For the best food in town skip the "Indian", "Italian" and "English" restaurants and head into the residential part of town, or walk down the coast to an establishment with fresh fish and a sea view.
Bacalhau occupies top spot in terms of culinary richness. You can choose from a 100 different recipes! And if you’d like to try a typical meat dish of the region, we suggest Leitão de Negrais or Mercês-style pork.
Find yourself a restaurant that takes its deserts seriously, and finish your meal with one of the local sweet specialties: Travesseiros, the famous Queijadas de Sintra, Fofos de Belas, Areias de Cascais or Trouxas de Malveira. Portuguese egg-based confectionary is unique and delicious, and a fine companion for some after dinner port.
Vino Verde, "green wine", is a refreshing, slightly sparkling accompaniment to Portugese meals, and shouldn't be missed. Portuguese red wines are on a par with those in France, Italy and Spain. The main demarcated regions are found in the Douro, Dão and Alentejo, but the Estoril Coast produces very small quantities of its own fine wines in Carcavelos and Colares, a rare pleasure that you might have the opportunity to try.
Vinho de Carcavelos, Estação Agronómica Nacional Tel. (00351) 214 40 35 00 Adega Regional de Colares, Open from 9am-1pm and 2pm-6pm every day. A tasting of these fine wines can be organised in advance for a minimum of 10 people Tel. (00 351) 219 28 73 33, Alameda Coronel Linhares de Lima 24, 2705-135 Colares.
Cascais is in the development phase and several holiday apartment buildings & hotels are currently under construction. The corso (beach road) is busy at night so ensure you room is not directing to it.