Cascais, Lisbon

With an ideal centralized location on Portugal’s western coastline, Cascais is a major scenic resort and travel destination. The locale is rich in history and is resplendent with some of the most beautiful, unique natural and architectural sites of note in the region. Often praised for its natural beauty, its charming beaches, excellent restaurants and vibrant nightlife, Cascais is only a short drive of 30 kilometers (20 minutes) westward from Lisbon. It has been a premier resort location for centuries, drawing visitors from across the country and around the world. The resort is especially noted for its fine seafood cuisine, its constant cast of star visitors, its pristine golden sandy beaches and dazzling marina.

Cascais is home to some of the top-rated golf courses on the globe. Its lavishly restored and maintained palaces and grand homes are excellent sources of the history and artistry of the locale. The many highly rated hotels of Cascais offer a vast abundance of charming luxuries and amenities. In addition, the varied nightlife of the area offers something to entertain and delight people of every age, background and walk of life. There are numerous top quality restaurants with the finest in cuisine, decor and service, and visitors find many opportunities to dance until dawn or enjoy the exquisite beauty of life by the sea in the night hours. In fact, the festive town bars and late night spots often entertain guests into the early morning hours when they stroll through the streets and down to Cascais’ prime beach, O Pescador. Whether guests are staying a couple of days or for longer vacations and getaways, they never tire of the elegant and relaxing, leisurely lifestyle experienced in Cascais.

As a sophisticated seaside resort, Cascais has a prime location on the breathtakingly beautiful scenic western coastline of Portugal, in close proximity to Lisbon. The picturesque drive along the Marginal coast road from Lisbon is a favorite excursion among visitors from everywhere. Cascais is also easily accessible from Lisbon’s airport by bus and from central Lisbon by train, making travel to and from this exquisite region a simple trip for all travelers. Formerly the place of residence of the Portuguese royal family, Cascais is associated with much mystery, allure and intrigue. Visitors revel in the many facts, legends and myths relative to the colorful history of this amazing travel destination.

Popular Restaurants, Bars and Nightspots in Cascais

For many visitors, a favorite place to start the nightlife is a lounge party at sunset in the Blue Bar, a noted poolside bar on the rooftop of the Baia Hotel. After taking in the bay’s panoramic views, the next stop is the Baia Grill Restaurant on the ground floor for an excellent seafood dinner. The popular eatery of Hemingways is a favored drinking post at Cascais Marina. It also offers fine contemporary European cuisine with an extensive wine list. On weekend nights, there are DJs, dancing and plenty of good times for all. More dancing is in store at Coconuts nearby. This popular nightspot has two dancing rooms and a lovely outdoor terrace as well as opportunities for guests to sing for the house or enjoy impromptu performing by others.

Adventurous guests often visit nearby Estoril to the east of Cascais to experience the atmosphere and excitement of the Casino Estoril, Portugal’s oldest casino and also Europe’s largest one. In the middle of summer, free nightly concerts are held at the casino, and other performances and events are presented all through the year. Various eateries are available at the adjoining beach, Carcavelos Beach, where guests can enjoy the gorgeous sunset over the Atlantic Ocean while sipping cool drinks of their choice.

The Rich History of Cascais

Cascais was a quiet seaside village until the 19th century when Portuguese royalty chose it as their favorite summer residence. During the early 20th century, many European noblemen and their families found safety during World War II in this region, due to the strong Portuguese commitment to neutrality. Today, both wealthy and less wealthy guests, residents and summer visitors enjoy the calm scenic beauty and vibrant social life in Cascais. Early buildings of Cascais Old Town date from the 17th century, including lighthouses and the Old Town citadel. The town’s main square, the Largo de Camões, is a popular central meeting point for residents and visitors.

A few streets away is the famed Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. Inside, in the nave, visitors can view paintings by a noted 17th century female artist, Josefa de Óbidos. The altar was built in the 16th century, and the many hand-painted Portuguese tiles are from the early part of the 18th century. Other points of major interest include Museu do Conde de Castro Guimarães and the nearby magic and majesty of mountainous Sintra, historical home of palaces and enchanting architecture. The world-renowned Quinta da Regaleira, an early 20th century estate featuring an unusual combination of styles, was designed by Italian architect Luigi Manini for millionaire António Carvalho Monteiro.

Scenic Beaches of Cascais

Some of Portugal’s most picturesque beaches can be found in Cascais and the surrounding region. Wide expanses of shimmering gold-colored sand interspersed with rocky areas and private coves adorn the coastline to satisfy every taste in beach type and setting. At the center of Cascais beach life is the Praia da Ribeira or Praia do Pescador (Fisherman’s Beach). Although this beach is primarily for fishing rather than swimming, it offers lovely views of the sea and nearby historical structures.

Convenient to the Cascais train station is the Praia da Rainha (Queen’s Beach), known for its royal and celebrity patrons and the nearby cliffside mansions. In close proximity to luxury hotels is Conceição Beach featuring a popular bar and a large choice of watersport attractions like sailing, fishing, windsurfing, swimming and diving.

Nearby is Praia da Duquesa, named for the Palace of Palmela’s Dukes located above the beach. This beach offers very good visibility and is popular for watersports. East of Cascais and heading toward Estoril visitors will find three more attractive beaches adjacent to one another along the coast---Tamariz, Poça and Azarujinha.

To the west of Cascais is Guincho beach, one of the best beaches for the practice of kitesurfing, windsurfing or surf. With a natural beauty of rocky clifs and a big golden sand, this windy beach is well know for all lovers of water sports who often come to enjoy one of the wonders of Cascais.

The Bay of Cascais has long been recognized as home to early sea exploration plans during the Age of Discovery by famous Portuguese sailors. D. Carlos I, Portugal’s last king, started an oceanographic laboratory here that is currently world-renowned. Today, Cascais Marina provides 650 mooring berths for boats as large as 36 meters along with a quay for extra-large yachts. In addition, it offers a comprehensive modern marina maintenance area and a full-facility helipad. Cascais continues to be a haven for worldwide travelers and residents with a passion for life by and on the sea.