Escape far from the madding crowd and discover the beauty and charm of this exclusive seaside resort
Everyone loves Lisbon; between the narrow cobbled backstreets and sunshine yellow trams, the spirit of the city is infectious and carries long into the night. But when you need to take a break from this vibrant cosmopolitan capital, the exclusive seaside resort of Cascais is just a short distance away. Take a look at our day-tripper’s Cascais guide for the perfect day out by the sea.
This historic fishing village and harbour first caught the attention of kings and nobility during the early 20th century, and it soon became a fashionable summer playground for the European social elite. Today the charm is quite irresistible: attractive pedestrian streets scattered with gourmet restaurants and designer boutiques, while luxury villas and mansions remain hidden in the hills.
First things first, visitors must acquaint themselves with the roots of Cascais at the intimate Museu do Mar, where an eclectic array of traditional artefacts, paintings, and old photographs are gathered together to help illuminate the village’s maritime past. Meanwhile at the imposing 19th century mansion of Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães, an impressive collection of gold and silverware, antique furniture, and priceless artwork illustrates the other side of the story. Don’t miss the fine Oriental silk tapestries and Arabic cloisters, nor the historic 16th century manuscript that details Lisbon before the devastating earthquake of 1755.
Having worked up a healthy appetite, seek out sustenance at one of a handful of luxury Michelin star restaurants located in Cascais, including the classic Portuguese restaurant Luzmar. More humble offerings come by way of O Pescador: a traditional fisherman’s tavern in the heart of the Old Town, where market-fresh seafood is the proud speciality. Alternatively, opt for a private gourmet picnic in the shady retreat of Parque Marechal Carmona, which comprises a beautiful rose garden, palms and eucalyptus, and various flowering shrubs.
A leisurely post-luncheon stroll leads you along the coast to the dramatic ‘mouth of hell’ or Boca do Inferno, where waves crash violently into the rocky caves with a terrible, ear-splitting roar. No wonder the famous occultist Aleister Crowley chose to fake his own death at this legendary spot in 1930 – it’s very convincing. Appreciate the scene from a distance at restaurant Mar do Inferno, where the ocean views and seafood platters are enough to justify a second lunch.
Rent a bicycle or a scooter to explore the famous Praia do Guincho, which lies nine kilometres northwest of Cascais, and is rumoured to be the best beach near Lisbon. Powerful waves and strong undercurrents means the water is dangerous for swimmers, but surfers and windsurfers will be in their element: both world championships have been hosted here in the past, and novices are invited to take lessons with Moana Surf School based on Guincho Beach.
If you’d rather stay out of the waves, relax outside at the beachfront Bar do Guincho as the sun sinks into the deep Atlantic Ocean: the perfect way to wind down to your day out in Cascais.