What to see in Portugal’s Riviera town of Cascais

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What to see in Portugal’s Riviera town of Cascais

In this blog, we share what to see in Portugal’s Riviera town of Cascais, when in the Lisbon area. A destination where sophistication and nature collide, giving you a real travel treat.

Cascais town view

Early impressions of Cascais

Our early impressions of Portugal’s Riviera town of Cascais was a classier version of Blackpool. With its London Eye, souvenir lined alleyways, English pubs, busy main road and McDonalds, where scantily clad tourists swarmed through the old town. Although, that first image melted into oblivion with an early morning exploration, where I had the streets to myself. The golden hour light made the colonial, 19th century houses look sultry. The empty promenade and patterned cobbled streets now visible without its scurrying visitors. And the dismantling Easter statues (including the ‘Eye’) brought the town back to its authentic heart.

After a couple of hours, sharing the day with a few hardy joggers, my feelings towards Cascais softened and, despite its trendy vibe, it has a strangely classical feel that endears you to it. It has a charm and architectural delight that drew us into its seaside beauty, framed by the oceanic blues of the sparkling seas and coves of intimate, sandy beaches. The only shock was to see so many homeless immigrants lining the beach with their possessions filling just one carrier bag. It tears at your heart for sure and makes me appreciate the privilege of my life as I know it.

Cascais town highlights

The main ring road through Cascais is one of those visions that makes you want to just pass on through, because it shields the inner quaintness of the place. Thankfully, on this occasion we had plenty of time to really get beneath Cascais’s skin and see its real beauty from the inside out. So once past the McDonalds’ commercialism, you have a pedestrianised street that carries you through the main shopping area. And yes there are, sadly, plenty of souvenir shops. Although with a few excursions down the little alleyways, you stumble upon squares overlooking the sea, steps down to small beaches, streets lined with café bars, and an array of hidden treasures to surprise you.

Whether it’s a bit of shopping in unique artisan shops, a quick swim at Rainha Beach or perhaps even a Thai Foot Massage, there’s something for everyone in the town’s heart. With a market on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, there’s a lure of purchases or perhaps it is the upmarket marina or inner sanctum citadel within the fortress walls that calls you.

There are plenty of places to eat, whilst in the town. May be you fancy a quiet, back street cafe for a smoothie or a classy fish restaurant at Sr Manuel Seafood Bar in the vibrant restaurant alley. Or a perhaps you would enjoy a tipple and a bit of people watching at the Port Tasting Room along the busy high street, with a few tapas to share. Or of course, there are an array of more English-style pub/restaurants in the main square if that’s your preference.

What to see within a stroll of Cascais

From this beautiful Riviera town, you have options of walking left along the promenade towards Estoril, marvelling at the noble looking houses along the seafront. Or you can turn right and follow the coastal road towards Guicho. This was my favourite option, as the walk past the Fortress and marina is just lovely, followed by the most incredible Santa Maria inlet with two very classical houses that you can look around. The Casa closest to the lighthouse is the Casa de Santa Maria, an ornate villa dating back to 1902, which has an amazing collection of Portuguese Baroque tiles. You can visit from Tuesday to Saturday and it costs around €3 to enter in combination with the Lighthouse museum.

Just across the road sits the palatial house and museum of Condes de Castro Guimãres. Built in 1900 by the same Irish aristocrat as Santa Maria, in 1931 it became a museum. You can enter the grounds and courtyard for free, although to explore the house and tower itself, you must pay €4 and it is open from 10am.

Just half a mile further on from this beauty spot, you will find the natural phenomenon of the Boca de Inferno that was once a cave. Through relentless battering by the Atlantic it has since collapsed to form a sea arch. You can see the cave from a variety of vantage points and simply watch as the waves carve yet more of the limestone walls away.

Boca de Inferno, Cascais

Getting to Lisbon from Cascais

Cascais is a fabulous place to base yourself, not only for its own individual charms, also for easy access to Portugal’s capital. By train, which run every 10 minutes and cost €2.40 one way, you can be into the metropolis within 45 minutes. It’s a fabulous ride that hugs the coast on the whole, passing by Estoril and Belém. Terminating at Cais do Sodré, you have direct access to the Time Out Marketplace and Tuktuks that will take you around the main sights of this 7 Hills city for just €100 for 90 minutes.

A day trip from Cascais to London

Conclusions on a visit to Cascais

Whether you love seaside towns, history, museums or just need a pretty retreat from the hype of Portugal’s capital, Portugal’s riviera town of Cascais will do just nicely. If you come with your motorhome, parking in the town is virtually impossible. So we would recommend staying at the Orbitur Guicho Camping, which is just a bus ride or Uber taxi ride away. You could also cycle along the coast and can make the most of being in this sand dune haven. We loved being in this area, and of course being with friends and making the most of sharing an apartment in the heart of the town, gave us perfect access to all its nooks and crannies.

Cascais and the whole coastline around here, is just delightful and we can’t recommend it highly enough. For more information on other Portugal highlights, then check out these posts or if you fancy a 90 second tour, then check out our Facebook Reel.


Published: April 24, 2024
Category: Portugal | Travel


  1. Anna i Portugal

    I lived in Cascais as a child, revisited some years ago. But still I want to go back one day. It really is a beautiful part of Portugal and I understand why there is so many expats living there.

    • Karen

      No way, I didn’t know that. What a small world. No wonder you love Portugal. It certainly captured our hearts. Hope you get to return one day. Kx


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