Cascais is the town of kings and fisherman – historically home to both. At the foot of the Serra de Sintra National Park, the town is a short drive away from Sintra, Lisbon and so many coastal locations. It’s a place of much wealth and thus great hotels, restaurants, beaches and parks. If you’re staying at least 6 days in Lisbon, it’s suggested you spend at a day in Cascais, Sintra, and Óbidos. Or if you’re more of a beach person, but get antsy and need a day trip or two, Cascais is a great alternative to Lisbon. Ultimately, it’s a relaxing place to be if you’re looking for a beach and a drink – a day away from the city life.
After nearly 16 hours of travel, we arrived midday in Lisbon. We knew we were too spent to take on Lisbon, so we left for Cascais to relax on a beach (thank you to Paul and Katie for the suggestion!). We walked from the Baixa/Chiado neighborhood to the Cais do Sodre train station and used our viva viagem (transportation) card to catch a 40 minute ride to Cascais.
Cascais is the last stop on the train, so you can’t miss it. From there, we followed signs for the beach, passing through a small part of the town and sighting the beach, the umbrellas and the blue water within a few minutes.
Praia da Conceição is one of the main beaches in the Cascais area and is best suited for sunbathers and families. The “wild and rugged” Guincho beach north of Cascais has much more wind and waves for those looking for big thrills like surfing.
We had intentions of relaxing on the beach, maybe even rent out an umbrella or chair. Many others were still enjoying the afternoon sun. We did none of that.
An airy, bright pizzeria sat feet away from the sand. We happily ordered two huge pizzas and Jamesons.
We walked east along the stone promenade towards Casa Faial, passing many other restaurants and bars, even another small beach. Sun bathers and families can also travel more east to Carcavelos beach (30 minutes by train).
We strolled back through the town, stopping briefly among the crowds dazzled by street performers before finding a quiet street that led to Praia da Ribeira de Cascais.
Colossal mansions and hotels surrounded the beach and promenade.
Ali had to find this place she saw pictures of (Casa de Santa Maria – built in the early 20th-century as an ocean-side villa). Because Pinterest!
We continued west along the water, passing many places we didn’t have the time to explore, such as Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Luz (an old fortress), the Palace of Cascais, and Gandarinha Park. We did manage to see a peacock…
It was Chris to the rescue, the one who loves to climb and wander into forbidden places. He found what we were looking for (though, it’s not a hidden destination by any means).
We ventured off the sidewalk down a stone stairway covered by the trees. We passed the entrance of a cozy restaurant and bar with a terraced patio. Casa de Santa Maria came into view. We stood on the rocks, taking in the view of the grand villa and the white Santa Marta Lighthouse. The house was built during the turn of the century, funded by an Irish millionaire with tobacco money.
There are no entrance fees for many of the publicly owned mansions in Cascais, making the Casa de Santa Maria an affordable attraction. (The house is open to tour Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00am – 1:00pm and 2:00pm – 5:00pm).
The hours on the plane had finally caught up to us. We trudged back to the train station, passing people arriving to town to dine and drink on the many sidewalk cafes and bars. But not us – we bobbed our heavy heads all the way back to Lisbon.
If you have any questions about our experience in Cascais, email us!