There is no Lisbon without Cascais. This picturesque town is located just 30 minutes from Portugal’s capital and is a must-visit location. Often compared to the French Riviera, Cascais retains a lot of its old fishing village charm which is complemented by the town’s noble, almost aristocratic feel.
Its desirability as a holiday resort dates back to 1870 when King Luis I and the Portuguese royal family chose it as their residence every September. The town has attracted various members of the Portuguese nobility, which has made it one of the wealthiest municipalities in the whole peninsula.
With its cobbled streets nestled among lavish villas, the impressive variety of Michelin-starred restaurants and plenty of thrilling water activities, Cascais is so much more than just a one-day stop. It’s a coastal paradise.
Best Beaches in Cascais
If you’re looking to unwind on some of Portugal’s glorious beaches, Cascais is the ideal place. This location is home to stunning stretches of rugged and sandy coastline, complemented by outstanding facilities which cater to all ages.
Praia da Rainha
Thanks to its proximity to Cascais Old Centre, this beach is particularly famous among locals and tourists. The “Queen’s Beach” owes its name to Queen Amélia, who used to visit often. Sheltered by small cliffs and the town above, this pretty space offers a peaceful atmosphere.
Praia da Conceição
This beautiful beach is enclosed by Cascais Bay and, along with Duquesa Beach, is one of the largest beaches in Portugal. Thanks to its calm waters and low current levels, it’s ideal for families with children. If you want your holiday to Portugal to be all about sunbathing and relaxing, Praia da Conceição is the place for you.
Praia do Guincho
Located on the western edge of the Sierra de Sintra National Park, this beach is part of a nature reserve, making it a great base for exploring the local wildlife. Boasting 800 metres of shoreline and some of the biggest waves from the Atlantic Ocean, Praia do Guincho is also great for water sports, namely surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Plus, the beach was also a filming location for one of the James Bond films.
Praia da Rata
Edged by a coastal promenade, midway between Cascais and Estoril, this sandy beach is known for its great waves and fun jetty. There is also the Piscina Oceânica Alberto Romano, a public saltwater swimming pool ideal for the younger ones.
Museums and Architecture
Cascais is not only a top destination for beaches and nightlife, but it’s also home to a unique historical and artistic heritage. Its artsy vibe creates a mix of modern and traditional, with fascinating contemporary museums and old churches dominating the landscape.
Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães
Visit the Museum Condes de Castro for an unforgettable Renaissance experience. Once known as ‘Torre de S. Sebastião’, it was founded by Jorge O’Neil in the 1900s and converted into a museum in 1931. Home to unique designs, jewellery, monumental sculptures and paintings, a trip to this museum is a must.
Santa Marta Museum & Lighthouse
If you’re looking for picture-perfect spots, a visit to Santa Marta Lighthouse should be top of your list. Built in 1867 to guide ships away from Cascais’ dangerous rocky shores, the lighthouse still runs automatically to this day. And if you want to learn more about the history of the lighthouse, you can look around its museum.
Casa de Santa Maria
This is one of Cascais’ most romantic places and your go-to spot for breathtaking pictures. It was designed by Raul Lino in the early 1900s and was a private home for almost 100 years until it was acquired by Cascais City Hall and opened to the public. The villa is an architectural delight, with National Baroque-style tile panels, stunning works of art and two balconies to admire the wonderful view.
The Art District
If you’re an art fanatic, you’ll love Cascais’ Cidadela Art District. As the hub of cultural creation and a source of inspiration for whoever visits, you can find everything here, from art galleries to small house museums, art studios to project rooms.
Fortress Nossa Senhora da Luz de Cascais
Built between the 15th and 17th centuries to protect Cascais from invaders, the fortress has recently been restored to give it a fresh lease of life. Walk along the walls, visit the marina and admire the beautiful works of art by local artists.
Pestana Cascais Hotel
The renewal of the district was spearheaded by the Pestana Collection Hotels. This five-star hotel offers luxurious accommodation near the Art District and is a real celebration of art, contemporary and traditional.