Renowned for its glorious stretch of white, sandy beach, myriad of shopping opportunities and cosmopolitan vibrancy, the former fishing village of Cascais has reinvented itself into a refined seaside resort and one of Lisbon’s most sophisticated destinations.
Snuggled between the sun-dappled shores of the Cascais bay and Sintra’s dramatic mountain range, this stylish coastal town is situated just a few miles from the mouth of the Tagus estuary and captures the attention of visitors year-round with its delightful maritime feel and contemporary charm.
Cascais's history as a popular seaside resort originated in the 1870s, when King Luís I of Portugal and the Portuguese royal family made the seaside town their residence every September, thus also attracting members of the Portuguese nobility, who established a summer community there and a haven for European royalty who sought refuge in the country’s neutral territory during World War II.
Cascais is known for the many members of royalty who have lived there, including King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and King Umberto II of Italy. Exiled Cuban president Fulgencio Batista was also once a resident of the municipality.
However, while time has shaped this scenic resort into a glamorous centre of culture, nightlife and top-quality living, Cascais has managed to retain the splendour of its seafaring age through its elegant fortresses, lighthouses and 17th Century citadel.
The Largo de Camões square marks the historic centre of Cascais and is a favourite with locals and tourists alike due to the cheerful atmosphere created by its pubs, cafés and restaurants – an especially lively spot in the evening! While in the area, walk around ‘Rua Direita’, the most commercial street in town and find shops, friendly street vendors and nearby shopping centres. There are also several busy weekly fairs in Cascais that are great for picking up traditional Portuguese linen and handicraft items.
Whenever leaving the centre, you may catch a glimpse of the local fishermen mending their nets beside their colourful boats at the quaint Pescadores beach. Contrasting with this picturesque sight is the nearby marina – a modern seafront setting where you can appreciate luxurious yachts, sizzling seafood dishes, trendy bars and boutiques. Cascais is also a magnet for night owls, providing an eclectic range of evening entertainment that offers everything from glitzy cocktail lounges to cosy jazz bars and upbeat clubs.
Marvel at the unspoilt sand dunes and untamed waves of Guincho beach – part of the beautiful Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Situated near the exclusive Quinta da Marinha golf and leisure development, Guincho is especially loved by water sports enthusiasts and popular for its beachfront bar, free-rental bicycles and famous hot dog van! Monuments, museums and cultural performances are also a constant in Cascais, offering everything from classical music concerts to art exhibitions.
Take a stroll on the seaside promenade from Cascais to Estoril – home to one of Europe’s largest and oldest casinos. The Casino Estoril inspired Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel Casino Royale. Boasting deluxe seafront apartments, a fashionable beach and a lively night scene, this resort attracts avid culture lovers and jet-setters from all over the world with its prestigious conferences, international film festival and legendary jazz concerts. Distinguished sports facilities in the area include the Estoril Golf and Academia Internacional de Golfe Estoril Sol golf courses, several tennis courts and a racetrack.
Lisbon is a short car-drive from Cascais and Estoril, although a quick trip on the railway will also take you to the city centre – a pleasant train ride allowing you to admire the beauty of Cascais’ coast merge with Lisbon’s unique, historic appeal.