The stunning holiday destination of Cascais is a piece of paradise on Portugal's Estoril Coast. A suburb of the capital Lisbon, Cascais gained fame during the late 19th century and 20th century when it was used as a resort by the Portuguese royal family. Today, the coastal and cosmopolitan city is visited by travelers from around the world looking to unwind on its pristine beaches. Take advantage of its seaside location and visit spots like Praia de Carcavelos and Praia do Guincho to the north, or just soak in the atmosphere of the charming and picturesque town.
Areas & Neighborhoods in Cascais
São Domingos de Rana - The civil parish of São Domingos de Rana is home to some of Cascais's most impressive architecture. See the Church of São Domingos de Gusmão, which began construction in 1710, or go back in time at the Roman Villa of Freiria, which was constructed in the 2nd century. The Roman Villa of Outeiro de Polima, which features a Domus and necropolis, is also located in São Domingos de Rana.
Estoril - Estoril is a former parish of Cascais that is now part of the new Cascais e Estoril parish. The area is known for the idyllic beaches that line the shore, as well as the Estoril Circuit, which hosted the Forumla One Portuguese Grand Prix from 1984 to 1996. Estoril is also home to the Estoril Casino—the largest in Europe—and the Verdades-Faria Museum, which features a collection of musical instruments curated by Michael Giacometti. The Cascais-Estoril Promenade is a popular boardwalk that follows sea walls and sea defenses on the shore, ending at Praia da Azarujinha beach in Estoril.
Sintra-Cascais Natural Park - One of 13 natural parks in Portugal, the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park lies between the municipalities of Cascais and Sintra in the north. The park encompasses the Serra de Sintra Mountain Range as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Castle of Moors. Revel in the natural wonders of the area, including Cabo de Roca—the westernmost point of mainland Europe—and Praia do Guincho, one of the most popular surfing beaches in Cascais.
What to See in Cascais
Cascais is surrounded by natural beauty, from its gorgeous beaches to the Sintra mountains to the north. The Boca do Inferno, or Hell's Mouth, is a unique cliff formation to the west of the city where waves from the Atlantic Ocean carved a cave which later collapsed, forming a natural arch. The western sea cliffs of Cascais are a popular spot for photography and watching the sunset as well. Historic landmarks within Cascais include the Cascais Castle, a 15th century fort that looks out upon the Atlantic and the River Tejo, and the Casa de Santa Maria, a breathtaking 19th-century state home near the Cascais Lighthouse.
Sightseeing in Cascais
Cascais is best known for its amazing and varied beaches, which are best enjoyed from May to September. The beaches in the east, such as Praia do Duquesa and Praia do Tamariz, are marked by warm golden sands and calm waters, making them ideal for families and those looking to relax. In the north, beaches such as Praia do Guincho and Praia da Cresmina are hotspots for surfing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing thanks to powerful waves and sea swells that roll in from the Atlantic. Praia de Carcavelos is Cascais's most popular beach, being the largest expanse of sand on the Estoril Coast and blessed with medium waves perfect for swimming or surfing. The sprawling Cascais Marina is another popular spot in town for water activities such as fishing excursions, dolphin-watching cruises, and scuba diving lessons. The marina, opened in 1999, also hosts important sailing events and has hosted events such as the America's Cup World Series and the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships.
Away from the shore, the Castro Guimaraes Museum hosts a diverse collection of 17th century art, antique furniture, and a 16th-century illustrated manuscript that has the first known representation of Lisbon. The museum's architecture is another highlight, as it mixes mock gothic, classical Portuguese, and Arabian stonework into one. Dues to its proximity to Lisbon and Sintra, day trips out of Cascais are another alternative to relaxing on the beach. Lisbon is connected to Cascais by rail, making journeys a snap, while the drive to Sintra brings you through incredible natural scenery to Romantic and royal palaces.