Cascais, just 15 miles (25 kilometres) from Lisbon, has been one of Portugal's coolest areas since the 19th century. At that time it was the summer resort of aristocrats and King Louis I, but now it’s the first choice of families, couples and tourists of all nationalities as one of the best destinations in the country. To convince you to consider Cascais in your search for the best area to live in Portugal, we reveal all the secrets of this seafaring city.
The beaches and nature of Cascais
Any hour of the day is charming in Cascais. First thing in the morning we recommend that you visit one of its 17 beaches, with crystal-clear waters and white sands, framed by mountains, cliffs and dunes, in areas where you can practise surfing, sailing and fishing. The best-known beaches are Praia Do Guincho, Praia da Duquesa and Praia Dos Pescadores and they say that the waters around there have healing powers...
Leaving the beach, you can take a walk or run along its "Marginal", a seafront promenade with incredible views and the best sunsets.
Another of the pleasures of living in Cascais is being in contact with nature, like spending your afternoons strolling through the inland Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, one of Portugal's most romantic landscapes that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Closer to the sea, you can visit the great Faro de Roca, the westernmost point on the Portuguese mainland.
Another place not to be missed is the Boca do Inferno. This set of limestone rock formations, eroded by the sea, has cavities where "hellish" noises are heard. Legend has it that a sorcerer was in love with the most beautiful woman ever and captured her. When a gallant soldier tried to save her, the wizard made the rocks open with a brutal sound, swallowing the two lovers. Although the history of the place is a little tragic, its beauty is unparalleled and certainly deserves a visit.
To end your afternoon, you can do any number of activities, but the two that most delight the visitors and inhabitants of the city alike are horse riding and golf. Cascais has several equestrian schools and hosts many equine competitions every year at the National Hippodrome of Manuel Possolo. Horse lovers are in for a treat in Cascais, being able to enjoy riding classes and hacks through forest trails and even on the beach.
The region’s other great specialty is golf. Cascais has become a fashionable golf destination, boasting a total of seven different 18-hole courses. Take your golf clubs and try each and every one of them to see which you like best, all the while enjoying views of the mountains and the beach visible anywhere on the course.
Nights in Cascais
In the evening, we recommend a visit to the Estoril Casino, where you can try your luck at the casino that inspired Ian Fleming himself to write the original James Bond story. This casino, the largest in Europe, is sure to provide some memorable nights of gambling, fun, entertainment and glamour.
If you’re one of those people who likes to keep partying through daybreak, Cascais has just the thing for you. In autumn and winter, there are several bars and discos where music and cocktails never stop flowing. With the arrival of summer, the doors swing open and the party moves to outdoor terraces and rooftops, as well as beach parties on the sand.
How to get from Lisbon to Cascais
25 minutes by car or 30 minutes by train are all you need to get from Cascais to Lisbon. You can live in a quiet seaside paradise and visit the cosmopolitan capital whenever you want.
Just 35 minutes from Cascais is Lisbon International Airport, which flies to lots of international destinations so you can pop home in a jiffy. Cascais also has its own airport, Cascais Airport, for private chartered services.
Where and What to Eat
In Cascais, the main specialty is fresh seafood and they do it so well. We recommend some of the best restaurants in the area:
- Marisco na Praça: Located within the Mercado da Vila de Cascais, the fish and seafood at this restaurant is served fresh and at affordable prices. You should also try their feijoada of snails and prawns, or the delicate baby calamari.
- Moules & Gin: In this fashionable Portuguese restaurant, the mussels are prepared in a novel way – they leave behind their usual garnish of beer and are instead served with the finest Gin & Tonic in Cascais.
- Mar Do Inferno: This is one of the most renowned restaurants in the city, located close to the Boca do Inferno landmark. Here, celebrities and footballers enjoy the best gastronomy available and impeccable service. Try the barnacles, crab and prawns, all washed down with a typical Portuguese wine or beer.
If you have a special love for sweet food, you can't go to Cascais without trying one of the typical "Pastéis de Nata" from this area, the "Bolas de Berlim", which are cream-filled puff pastries that are sold and eaten right on the beach. Then, Cascais also has great ice creams from the famous Santini’s gelateria... all excellent reasons to put the diet on hold.
Where to stay
When you go to check out Cascais with your own eyes, we recommend you stay in one of these, the best accommodations in the city:
- Farol Design Hotel (Av. Rei Humberto II de Italia, 7): An ancient mansion for nobles and aristocrats, the Farol is now a designer boutique hotel that effortlessly combines past and present. Its rooms that almost touch the sea, some with a whirlpool on the terrace, are perfect for watching the sunset with a glass of wine in hand.
- Hotel Martinhal: This hotel is perfect if travelling with the family. 5-star service, exclusive rooms, fully furnished cottages and villas, restaurants, a spa, swimming pools and, best of all for parents, a spectacular Kids Clubhouse to entertain the little ones. The hotel’s motto is "Martinhal, where parents can drink coffee with the foam still intact".
Your wallet will thank you
If you plan to live in Cascais, you will be pleased to know that, although the standard of living in the city is high, the cost of living is considerably lower when compared to other major European destinations. Here you will find a paradise by the sea, without burning through all those savings!