Only a mere 20 minute train ride away from vibrant Lisbon, you’ll find yourself in a whole other world: Cascais. This little town makes you see a different side of Portugal, even when you don’t have much time to discover much more of the country. Escape the busy city of Lisbon and enjoy the beach terraces, feel the sun radiate on your face, cool of in the ocean waves and explore the unbelievably beautiful surroundings of Cascais.
I visited Cascais in june, when escaping to a surf and yoga retreat that was located right near the beach. While enjoying nothing but the moment I visited the city of Cascais and enjoyed a little trip here and there.
While touristic, Cascais is quiet, small and charming. This old fishermen’s town is the perfect excuse to find yourself out of Lisbon when visiting Portugal. Discover the endless streets with old, charismatic houses, the white colored beaches, the restaurants and so much more! So let me give you al the right reasons why Cascais definitely is worth visiting!
Explore the old town
The old town of Cascais has so many hidden gems that you’ll only find out about when stumbling upon unintentionally. Colorful houses, old buildings that are the home of ateliers or cork-salesmen, small hidden cafés and cheerful neighbours.
Wander away from the shopping streets and blur into the narrow alleys that will take you further and further away. Take the time to let it sink in while hiding away in the shadows from the hot, burning sun. And enjoy.
at one of the beaches
You’ll find that the beaches in front of the old town of Cascais are always packed. Covered in a white sea of beach umbrella’s, carefully hiding away children, tourists and locals that need an escape from the sun. The beaches of Cascais are vivid. And even more than offering a place for people who are looking to create a tan line, you’ll find people fishing, getting a gelato, paddleboarding (you can do it too), chilling in their boat, swimming and snorkeling.
It’s funny how one beach can have so many different scenarios. So even if you aren’t looking for a swim – you can always find yourself doing a bit of people-watching here.
Before coming to Cascais I knew very little about Portugese food. But during the week I visited Cascais I learned that the cuisine is one to try for yourself – speaking even as a vegetarian. In my luck Cascais has one of the best vegetarian/vegan restaurants I ever did go to (first photo). So if you want to feast on something healthy and fresh whilst enjoying a great rooftop terrace and colorful juices: visit House of Wonders. On other favorite of me was the Tapas Do Monte – slightly out of the center of Cascais, but the great tapas, friendly owners and the good wine absolutely make up for it.
If you are looking for something to enjoy as a snack, try to find one of these vanilla pastries: Pastéis De Nata. Which really, shouldn’t be too hard to find because this local snack is one of the area’s pride. Or go to Gelados Santini for some of the best gelato of Cascais!
And hike to the palaces
The area of Sintra is one not to forget when you are visiting Cascais. It will take you about an hour to hike up to the Palácio da Pena and the Castelo dos Mouros but once you are up, the view alone will make you see that the climb was worth it. So be sure to wear your sneakers, pack a good sweater and enjoy the endless views – even over Lisbon, the beautiful castle walls and the royal, colorful Palace rooms.
Also, once you’re in Sintra again, be sure to wander around the alleys and visit the little stores that define this little area. There are some great ones in between.
Visit Praia do Guincho
And learn to surf
Of course, the reason why I visited Cascais in the first place should deserve a place on this list. Well earned. While Portugal is known for her monster waves, Praia do Guincho is the perfect place for beginners to catch their first waves and learn all about the sports.
While having a large fear of water, surfing was always something I wanted to learn how to do, and it payed of: I absolutely loved learning how to surf. I immediately felt the rush and adrenaline when standing up on a surfboard to catch a wave – only to speed back into the water and trying to catch the next one.
But next to the fact that Praia do Guincho is great for surfing, it is also a great place to relax and get away from Cascais’ busy tourism. Praia do Guincho is fairly quiet and most of all: located in beautiful surroundings of Portugals coastline.
Explore Cabo da Roca
And find the hidden beach
With a short hike away from the normal world, you’ll at first find yourself at Cabo da Roca, the most Western point of continental Europe, which – admitted – is something to check of your bucket list. But when walking a bit further, following the path along the cliffside, with endless, breathtaking views over the ocean, you’ll find Praia Ursa.
Of all the beaches that I’ve had the chance to visit, without a doubt, Praia Ursa wins. Crashing waves hit the beach so loud that you can hardly speak. But even though the ocean is rough, it feels more calm than ever. Perhaps because the waves block out all your other thoughts. Just you, the ocean, a beautiful view and the sun shining on your face.
I can’t even begin to explain how impressive Praia Ursa is. But one thing you must remember: whenever you get the chance to travel to Cascais – don’t even think about skiping Praia Ursa.