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Your guide to Cascais
Welcome to Cascais
This colourful fishing village turned lively coastal resort is neighbour to Portugal’s cool capital, and makes a great base for combining several holidays in one. One of Europe’s most exciting cities is within easy reach, but Cascais has all the advantages of a seaside stay, with beaches, surf, and a smart marina, plus a lively Old Town whose cobbled streets are packed with villas, seafood restaurants, and cultural sites. Day-trippers come down from Lisbon to see the medieval Nossa Senhora da Luz fort, the Citadel Palace, and the Paula Rego contemporary art museum, and stay for sundowners in the salty air.
Several cheerful little beaches are linked by a promenade that extends to glam Estoril, the neighbouring resort to the west. Both are key locations on the coastal stretch known as the Portuguese Riviera, which runs east to Lisbon via Carcavelos, popular for its beach bars, and the Tagus river estuary. Cascais is an easy stepping-off point for adventures on the wilder surf beaches of the west coast, or for heading into the mountains around the captivating hilltop town of Sintra.
The best time to stay in a holiday rental in Cascais
The weather in Cascais is pretty glorious year-round: hot and dry in summer, mild in winter, and warm enough to feel like summer in spring and autumn. Surfers will find the biggest waves between October and March. Traditional celebrations run through the year, starting with New Year’s, then the week-long Mardi Gras in February. Easter’s processions and religious festivities are followed by the Festas dos Santos Populares, celebrating favoured saints in June. In July, folks come out for the excellent Jazz Festival, along with Portugal’s oldest Handicraft Fair, in Estoril, for entertainment and handmade products from around the country. There’s also a traditional Sea Festival in August, dating to the 15th century, giving thanks and prayers for fish and the safety of local fishermen.
Top things to do in Cascais
Surf at Guincho Beach
Surfing is a big deal in Portugal, with much of the long, narrow country butting against the Atlantic. Cascais is tucked into a bay and therefore doesn’t bear the brunt of the most powerful rollers, but to the west, the beach of Guincho is popular for surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing, with a large expanse of sand and lovely seafood restaurants. It’s part of the unmissable Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, a lush protected landscape rising up into the craggy Serra de Sintra mountains.
Boca do Inferno
This dramatic sea arch and chasm formed by the collapse of a sea cave lies on the western end of the promenade, and is an impressive sight to behold. In winter, storms make the seawater shoot upwards through the rocky hole like an erupting volcano. The cafe here is a top spot for watching the sunset.
Train your eye to spot the traditional azulejo ceramic tiles that adorn the facades of buildings all over Portugal and you’ll find it impossible to walk past without taking a photo. Wander through the streets of the Old Town on a visual treasure hunt for many gorgeous examples.