Cascais, a paradise close to the heart of Lisbon, Portugal
This beautiful fisherman’s village 30km from Lisbon is distinguished by the intense smell of the sea, the tasty fresh grilled fish and by its outstanding landscapes that you’ll find along the coastline, it’s a town you’re sure to remember.
How to get there?Arriving from Lisbon airport, jump into the subway directly from the “Aeroporto” line and change trains at “Alameda” station towards Cais do Sodré. Hop off at Cais do Sodré and then take the service too Cascais which departs every 15 minutes and enjoy the ride along the coast, soaking in the beautiful views of the river Tejo along with the scenic tranquillity of the Atlantic ocean until you finally arrive at Cascais central station. The whole journey shouldn’t take you more than an hour or two. If you decided to visit Cascais another day, just take Lisbon metro wherever you are and get to Cais do Sodré station. From there, you can take most trains to Cascais.
Once in Cascais
- Once at the Train Station seaside and after feeling dazzled with Cascais’s picturesque beauty, pick the street right opposite to you and start enjoying the summer ambience that locals enjoy throughout the year.
- Although you’ll see a lot of tiny interesting streets, you’ll soon find the main street; just keep following it (or explore the others, because you’re unlikely to get lost ). You’ll arrive at “Baía de Cascais“ (Cascais Bay) where you’ll see the beach called “Praia dos Pescadores – Fisherman’s Beach, and you’ll find lots of fishermen going about their daily business along with their gorgeous tiny boats anchored in the bay in preparation for the next catch.
- Walk along the shore and be sure to pass by the Fortress of Cascais and by the Marina of Cascais.
Farol de Santa Marta (Lighthouse of Santa Marta)
- After passing by Marina de Cascais, prepare yourself for one of the most outstanding views you’ve ever seen: the sea and a lighthouse, the light, the shinning green and blue water. A true living dream. You will love it.
- Enjoy the view and make sure to take photographs to show to your friends or keep them for yourself.
Boca do InfernoKeep walking for about 20 minutes further past the marina, and you’ll soon arrive at a place called “Boca do Inferno”, directly translated as the mouth of hell but loosely translated to, ‘The gates of Hell’. It’s called this because you can actually visualize a mouth or entrance hole inside the rock formations that seem to be a collapsed cave. The sea enters this hole with great strength, which can scare the bravest during winter days when the sea is more agitated. It’s a great place to sit and contemplate the blue ocean and is definitely a wonderful spot to enjoy sunsets alone or with friends. Although being a very busy spot during summer, somehow people tune into the calm vibes of the place and eventually, the ambience becomes very peaceful.
Guincho Beach’sOnce you’re there, you can either turn around and head back into Cascais town centre or continue walking along the shore, soaking in the beautiful seascape. If you’re really into walking, you can continue walking along the coast for about 8 km until you get to ‘Praia do Guincho’, considered one of the 7 most beautiful beaches in Portugal (a feat, considering that Portugal has hundreds of them!). It’s usually windy there so do take a coat with you. And remember that if you choose to head that way, you’ll have to walk back to Cascais, or if you can simply hop on the 405 bus at Guincho and enjoy the ride back into Cascais.
Activities in Cascais:You have a lot of other options too to explore and enjoy Cascais, some favourites include:
- Free Walking Tours Cascais – meeting point at Cascais Train Station. They take people on tours every day during the summer season and offer a pre-booking service throughout the rest of the year. You'll get to explore Cascais with a local and learn about Portugal/Cascais History.
- Ride one of the bicycles provided by Cascais Council called “Bicas” (will cost you €4/day) or rent one at another place (there’s one on the back side of the restaurant called “Jardim dos Frangos” – recommend for chicken lovers) and enjoy the ride to Guincho!
- Take Surfing/Bodyboard/Stand-up paddle/Scuba Diving classes at Cascais beaches, Guincho will be best for surfing lessons.
- Of course, there are nice museums too, but those are best saved for a rainy day, some of which include the Museu Casa de Histórias da Paula Rêgo, my favourite.
- Cascais has a local market where you can buy fresh vegetables, fruits and other organic homemade delicacies typical of Portugal. The market is open every Wednesday and Saturday morning. Just ask one of the locals for directions and they’ll easily point you in the right way.
- After having fun in Cascais, you’d be well-placed to visit other gorgeous places around Cascais such as Cabo da Roca (the most westerly point in Europe with views to match) or the romantic village of Sintra in the mountains overshadowing Cascais. Just head to the Bus Station, near Cascais Train Station, and pick bus 403 or 417, respectively.
What to eat:
- As mentioned before, Cascais is a fisherman ‘s village and you will easily find fresh fish in every restaurant!
- Head to Santini for truly authentic Italian ice cream. You won’t want to miss the best authentic ice creams in town, brought to Cascais by an Italian man called Attilio Santini, they’ve come to be very famous and are now considered one of the best ice creams in Portugal! Visit one of the two shops in the town centre.
- If you happen to be vegan/vegetarian, Cascais is your place too. Just head to “House of Wonders”, sit at the rooftop enjoying the view and ask for their delicious vegan/vegetarian dishes.