Things To Do in Cascais
Although Cascais might have busy streets during the day, it still has the laid-back ambiance of a small town. An added bonus is the beautiful beaches to relax on and the world-famous surf spots nearby.
Also see: Complete Portugal Travel Guide (3 weeks)
1. Discover Cascais town
The old town of Cascais is beautiful. The feeling of morning walks through the sleepy narrow streets, seeing locals sipping their coffee, is truly unique.
Adopt the slow pace of life and wander through the lanes, admiring the beautifully patterned tiles and the rich pinks of the bougainvillea flowers. Keep your eyes peeled for some amazing street art that has been produced as a result of community art projects.
Additionally, Cascais is shopping heaven! Because of its proximity to amazing surf spots, there are many young, contemporary boutiques. Leave a little space in your suitcase for your Cascais purchases…
2. Take a day trip to Sintra
Sintra is a dream come true for culture lovers. Explore this enormous natural park filled with castles, fairy tale palaces, and exotic gardens. This UNESCO site is one of the top places to visit in Portugal and, therefore, a popular day trip from Lisbon and Cascais. Discover its lush green hills and forests, made possible due to its microclimate. Due to this, it’s best to bring a sweater as it can get a bit chilly.
Tip: There is a bus or hop-on-hop-off bus line that passes all highlights.
More about: Castles and Palaces in Sintra, Portugal
3. Cabo da Roca Peninsula
The lighthouse on the edge of a 160-meter-high cliff is the westernmost point of Europe. There is something special about this solitary lighthouse that watches over the rugged cliffs and the rough oceans.
Take a walk to the lighthouse and prepare yourself for panoramic views over the Atlantic Ocean and the biting winds due to its exposed position.
Cabo da Roca is a perfect place to visit on a journey between Cascais and Sintra, sitting about halfway between the two. Bus 403 stops at Cabo da Roca where you can also change for the bus to Sintra.
4. Relax at one of the many Cascais beaches
Cascais is fortunate to have many wonderful sunbathing beaches. The soft sand beaches are spread along the coastline of the city. Cool down in the (very) cold water at Praia da Ribeira de Cascais, Praia da Rainha or Praia da Conceicao.
If you are looking for more action rather than relaxation, head out a bit further to the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Here you can find world-famous beaches for surfing, one of the most popular things to do in Cascais.
Tip: due to the west-facing nature of these beaches, they’re the perfect place to enjoy a barefoot walk under the sunset.
5. Take a day trip to Lisbon
Lisbon is, without a doubt, one of the greatest cities for a European city trip. It’s rightly compared to San Francisco for its hilly landscape, old-fashioned trams, and mammoth bridges. However, beauty is in the details of Lisbon. In the richness of the colorful tilework, in the elegant details of the architecture, and in the flakiness of the perfect custard tart pastry.
Add to this the vibrant personality of the locals laughing in the streets and chatting across balconies whilst hanging up washing, and you’ll fall in love with the city and its people fast. Make a day trip, or two, easily with the train from Cascais. The journey takes 45 minutes and costs 4.50 EUR for a return ticket.
6. Eat freshly caught Seafood
Portugal is famous for its mouth-watering seafood! Cascais was known mainly as a fishing village until King Luis I decided to take his vacation there. Since then, it has become known for its popularity as a vacation spot, although it is still fundamentally a fishing town.
Because of its history, plus its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it is the perfect place to sample some of the classic Portuguese fish dishes. These include beautifully grilled fish, octopus, bacalhau (shredded salty cod), and seafood stews.
7. Boca do Inferno- ‘Hell’s Mouth’
Visit Hell’s Mouth to feel the power of nature, visible at this sensational location! Once there was a cave here, which fell through, leaving behind a deep hole among the cliffs and a beautiful arch. As a result of this, the waves now smash up under the arch and explode out of the hole, similar to a volcano. This dramatic scene gives the location its intimidating name, ‘Hell’s Mouth’.
The area is located only 2km from the town center, so it can be walked to in 20 minutes or can be cycled to via the cycle path. It’s a good idea to visit the viewing platform at sunset to feel the power of the waves and see the magical colors of the sky as the sun dips down on the horizon.
Tip: Entrance to the viewing platform is free! There is also an excellent seafood restaurant here, providing a romantic setting for your evening meal.
Also, read about the Best City Trips in Europe
8. Santa Marta Lighthouse
The Santa Marta Lighthouse looks as if it came straight out of a perfect holiday postcard. The beautiful white lighthouse, decorated with blue stripes, shines its light out from the palm tree-lined outcrop. The lighthouse was built on the grounds of an old fort, which has now been transformed into a small lighthouse museum. The Santa Marta Lighthouse is well worth a visit to learn some history and walk along this picture-perfect setting.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 10 AM – 5 PM. Saturday & Sunday between 10 AM – 1 PM/2 PM-5 PM.
9. Eat ice cream! (Gelados Santini)
Portugal may not be known for its ice cream, but Cascais is home to an incredibly yummy ice cream shop. Treat yourself to a sweet break at Gelados Santini, described by many as some of the best ice cream in the world! You can try the classic flavors or branch out and try more unique flavors. Such as blood orange, pineapple, and mint, or acai and banana. If you don’t have time to grab one whilst in Cascais, don’t worry, as there are other shops throughout Portugal.
Getting to & around Cascais
Cascais is well located, only a 30-minute drive or train ride from Lisbon. Trains leave every 10 minutes, and seating is unreserved, so simply buy a ticket once you get to the station and hop on.
We recommend to rent a car in through Sunny Cars with free cancellation and insurance included. Book your rental car here.
Once in Cascais, everything can be done on foot. If you’re a keen cyclist, there are some scenic cycle routes out of Cascais and up the coastline. Portugal has pumped a lot of money into making new cycle paths, so there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the views whilst staying safe and away from the road. If you’re arriving in Cascais by car or campervan, there are plenty of suitable parking areas (some of which allow overnight camping).
Also read: How to travel Portugal by Campervan
Best Restaurants & Cafés in Cascais
Its reputation as a fishing village makes Cascais an amazing place to taste freshly caught seafood. Aside from the endless tasty fish restaurants, there is a diverse range of places to eat. For instance, Mediterranean cuisine, Indian food, burgers, and steaks.
- Taberna Clandestina Cascais
- A Nova Estrela
- Malacopa Taco Bar
- Estrela da Serra
- Masala Indian Restaurant
- Taberna Economica de Cascais
Where to stay
To see all the sights and for beach relaxation, it’s best to choose a place to stay on the coastline of Cascais, Portugal.
Best time to visit Cascais
Like many other places in Europe, Cascais gets very busy in the summer. Therefore, it’s best to visit in the late spring or early summer before the holidays begin. At this time of year, you’ll have pleasantly warm temperatures, and the flowers will be in bloom around the city.
Cascais sits at the mouth of the river Tagus, opening onto the Atlantic Ocean, so expect the water to be cold at all times of the year!
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