Evidence of settlements in the region date from Roman times, a second-century villa was unearthed on a hill overlooking the dunes of Guincho. The discovery of tanks and compartments containing several murex shells led some anthropologists to believe that people in this area were involved in the dyeing industry, (murex shells were used to produce Tyrian purple dyes). After treatment, the purple cloth would then be transported to Olisipo (Lisbon) before being shipped to Rome.
The town first came into prominence during the 12th century supplying produce to the increasingly important Sintra nearby. Wine, olive oil, fish, cereals, fruit, seafood and fish were traded farther afield during the 13th century, especially in Lisbon. Consequentially Cascais grew in stature and population. In the 15th century, Cascais became strategically important in the defence of Lisbon. Around 1488, King John II built the first fortifications of Cascais and a small fortress overlooking the ocean. Following defeat to Spanish troops in 1580 led by the Duque of Alba the new masters of Cascais expanded the fort and the citadel took on its flat star-shaped profile.
Cascais's role as a holiday destination started after King Luís II converted the citadel into his summer residence and subsequently became a favourite getaway destination for the Portuguese royal family between 1870 to 1908. The royals started the trend for Lisbon's elite to follow and Cascais turned from being a humble fishing village to a cosmopolitan holiday destination. In 1878 Cascais became the first town in Portugal to have electricity. Today there are still remnants of Cascais's fishing heritage. Daily caught fish is still auctioned at the square near the harbour, colourful boats still bob up and down at the jetties and fishermen are often found repairing their nets on the quayside.
Some of the town's most appealing features are its series of beaches so conveniently located close to the centre. Situated in front of the Praça 5 de Outubro is the Praia do Pescador, also known as the Praia do Ribeira, this beach is skirted by historical buildings and offers impressive views both of the sea and town. Its popularity with local fishermen makes swimming here a bit precarious however it's ideal for sunbathers wishing to take in the scenery and people-watch at a leisurely pace. East along the seafront lies the Praia da Rainha so-called because of its popularity with Portugal's royalty in times past. Accessed via steps it maintains the feeling of a private beach, still overlooked on the cliffs above by the mansions of Portugal's former elite.
Further east still are the twin beaches of Praia da Conceição and Praia da Duquesa conjoined at low tide. Both have great facilities such as bars, shops and restaurants along a walkway which connects the two beaches. The restaurants here, many serving freshly caught fish, make an idyllic spot for lunch or a sunset dinner. The excellent water conditions at both beaches make them popular places for sailing, fishing and windsurfing. The crystal waters of Praia da Duquesa, named after the Palace of Palmela's Dukes overlooking its shores, are particularly favoured by divers and the beach is host to a diving school.
Just off the Praia dos Pescadores (Fishermen's Beach), this attractive old square is home to the beautiful 18th-century town hall (Camera Municipal) that survived the devastating earthquake of 1755. Its walls are adorned with Azulejos tiles depicting various saints. Above the main portal, the national and provincial flags fly proudly. The date of 1821 carved over the door indicates when the building was restored.
A statue of King Dom Pedro IV commands centre stage in the square beautifully lined by a stunning example of Portuguese mosaic paving (Calçada Portuguesa). Its optical illusion of undulating waves might be a little disconcerting if you've had one too many Guinness's in the O'Neills Irish bar located on the square.
The O'Neils Irish Pub (unrelated to the O'Neils pub chain found in the UK) is a popular watering hole and meeting point for tourists before they head off to a restaurant or other nightspots in the town centre. Live music and sport can often be found here. Irish-inspired food and drinks menus are available. There is seating both inside the pub and on an outdoor terrace.
Daily: 11h00 – 02h00
Praça 5 de Outubro 14, 2750-310 Cascais, Portugal. | 38º 41' 49.9" N | 09º 25' 14.8" W
+351 214 868 230 | Facebook
The hub of activity at lunchtimes and evenings can be found at the Largo Luís de Camões Square. With its concentration of restaurants and bars, the small square doesn't get rowdy however there's usually a cheerful atmosphere night times under the canopies outside. In the centre of the square is the statue of Luís de Camões himself, widely considered to be Portugal's greatest poet, often compared to Shakespeare. Many of the establishments here have joint entrances to the Alameda dos Combatentes da Grande Guerra Street on the opposite side.
Leading off from the Combatentes da Grande Guerra street the Rua Frederico Arouca, better known by its old name the 'Rua Direita' is a pedestrianised street full of boutiques, friendly street vendors, shops and restaurants. When arriving by train this street is often the route taken into the centre of town.
Known locally as the Ponta de Santa Maria Farol the lighthouse started operations in 1868. It now houses a small museum outlining the history of the lighthouse, the men who ran it and historical insights into life in the local area. With rotating exhibits and guest art presentations return visits will never be a repeated experience. A 25-metre climb up to the top is well rewarded with the spectacular views that await you. Entrance is free and the lighthouse is ideally situated as a stop-off point on the way to the Boca de Inferno.
High Season: Tuesday-Sunday: 10h00 – 19h00 | Low Season Tuesday-Sunday: 10h00 – 18h00
Rua do Farol de Santa Marta - 2750-341 Cascais, Portugal.
38° 41' 24" N | 09° 25' 18" W
+351 214 815 382 | firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the most extensive and beautiful gardens in the region, the Marechal Carmona Park, also known as Gandarinha Park, is ideally situated close to the historic centre of Cascais. The park opened to the public in 1940 and incorporates the two former gardens of the Palace Condes de Castro Guimarães and the viscount da Gandarinha's property. The park contains many tall exotic trees, luscious lawns, terrapin-filled ponds, play areas, flower beds, shrubberies and various sculptural public art pieces. Its mini-zoo is a delight for the little ones whilst its shaded areas and picnic spots make an ideal respite from the midday day sun.
High Season: Daily: 08h30 – 19h45 | Low Season Daily: 08h30 – 17h45
Praceta Domingos D'Avillez, 2750-475, Cascais, Portugal.
38° 41' 34.9" N | 09° 25' 22.1" W
Dating from the early 19th century the building was the initiative of the aristocrat Jorge O'Neil. The building is a mishmash of architectural styles complete with castle turrets and an Arabic cloister. It was sold to the Condes de Castro Guimarães in 1910, who furnished the building with art of various styles, including an impressive neo-gothic organ. The counts' enjoyment of this extraordinary palace was sadly short-lived, he died in 1927. Yet he had the foresight to donate the building to the Municipality of Cascais. The grounds and library were officially open to the public in 1931. | Tuesday - Sunday: 10h00 – 17h00, Monday: CLOSED
Adult: €5.00, Concessionary: €3.50
Avenida Rei Humberto II de Itália, Parque Marechal Camona 2750-319 Cascais, Portugal.
38° 41' 31.3"N | 09° 25' 18.2"W | +351 214 815 308 | email@example.com | Website | Facebook
Constructed in the 16th century as part of a whole string of fortresses along the Tagus estuary to defend the Bay of Cascais and Lisbon. The complex consists of a central park and four buildings: Santa Catarina or Royal Palace, São Pedro, Santo António and the São Luís hospital. King Dom Luís converted the site into his private summer residence in the 19th century and in 1910 the Palace of the Citadel of Cascais was assigned to the presidency and continues to be the President's summer residence. The Palace first opened to the public in November 2011 after a series of refurbishments, including the Chapel and outdoor spaces.
Adult: €5.00, Concessionary: €3.50
Wednesday - Friday: 11h00 – 17h00, Saturday: 10h00 – 18h00, Sunday: 14h00 – 18h00
Palácio da Cidadela de Cascais, Passeio D. Maria Pia 2750-429 Cascais, Portugal.
38° 41' 37.5"N | 09° 25' 10.4"W | firstname.lastname@example.org
A leisurely thirty-minute trek or a brief cycle ride west along the coast out of the centre of Cascais leads you to the ominously named Boca do Inferno (Hell's Mouth). An impressive geological feature carved out of the 15-20m/50-65ft high cliffs by Atlantic forces, huge waves slam into caves creating plumes of ocean spray and a haunting sound, which might be the origin of the site's name. It was here where the infamous English occultist Aleister Crowley chose to fake his death in 1930 with the help of local poet Fernando Pessoa. The false suicide note is inscribed on a plaque mounted on a rock "Não Posso Viver Sem Ti. A outra 'Boca De Infierno' apanhar-me-á não será tão quente como a tua," which translates roughly to "Can't live without you. The other mouth of hell that will catch me won't be as hot as yours".
Pathways weave their way down the cliff face allowing views from both sides. Along the way, there's a small market selling nicknacks and local crafts. Close by, there is a restaurant and the Café do Inferno offering refreshments and meals.
38º 41' 29.8" N | 09º 25' 49." W
Situated in a picturesque area with a breathtaking view over the Atlantic, five minutes walk out of Cascais town, close to Cascais Fortress and Gandarinha Municipal Park. Hotel Farol offers thirty-three luxury stylish air-conditioned rooms overlooking the sea and an amazing garden, with a private balcony or terrace. All rooms are equipped with minibars, Cable TV, safes, wireless Internet access; private bathrooms feature a shower and jetted tub, bathrobes and slippers.
Farol Hotel, Av. Rei Humberto II de Italia 7, Cascais, 2750 800, Portugal.
38º 41' 25.2" N | 09º 25' 20" W | +351 214 823 490 | email@example.com
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Ideally located in the heart of Cascais on the scenic seafront, opposite Praia dos Pescadores (Fisherman's Beach). Hotel Baia offers 113 beautifully renovated rooms, equipped with bathrooms, air-conditioning, 22" flat-screen TV, hairdryer, telephone, HiFi and safe deposit box. Also on offer is a covered swimming pool ideal for all weathers. The Hotel Baia Grill Restaurant and two bars are at your complete disposal, offering local and international cuisines.
Casa da Pergola, Avenida Valbom, 13, Cascais, 2750 508, Portugal.
38º 41' 58.8" N | 09º 25' 10" W | +351 214 831 033 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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Located in the heart of Cascais and surrounded by magnificent gardens, Casa da Pergola has opened its doors as a family guest house in 1985. Manuel Gonçalves and his daughter, Patricia, invite you to plunge into an atmosphere of beauty and hospitality. The house is filled with historical old family pictures and antique furniture. Each room features central heating and air-conditioning, en-suite, hairdryer, free wifi, and telephone. The owners offer various services such as transfer to/from Lisbon airport, private tours, free bikes etc.
Casa da Pergola, Avenida Valbom, 13, Cascais, 2750 508, Portugal.
38º 41' 58.8" N | 09º 25' 10" W | +351 214 840 040 | email@example.com
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Formerly a traditional fisherman's tavern, situated right in the heart of the Old Town between the sea and the fishmarket, O Pescador Restaurant is as famous for its wine cellar as it is for the delicious fresh seafood it serves. A talented chef prepares light, modern dishes with a delicate touch and a real understanding of flavour. Aided by the fact that, thanks to its marina location, Cascais offers some of the best fish and seafood available, freshly caught in the Atlantic waters offshore, there is a real emphasis on fresh ingredients and good quality which is guaranteed not to leave guests disappointed.
Try the Algarve oysters, full of the flavours of the sea, for a quality start to your meal. Other favourites include carpaccio of tuna and swordfish and octopus. Lobster, freshly handpicked from the lobster tank is a favourite for the main course. Try the red prawns tossed with coriander and thin slices of garlic or, for meat lovers, tenderloin steak in Dijon mustard sauce.
Monday - Saturday: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 23h00, Sunday: CLOSED
10-B Rua das Flores, Cascais, 2750-348, Portugal. | 38º 41' 54" N | 09º 25' 9.1" W
+351 214 832 054 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Website | Facebook
Perched right at the edge of the dunes of the Guincho beach is the Porto de Santa Maria Restaurant. This restaurant is often described as the "place where the sea and the land meet". The Porto de Santa Maria Restaurant perfectly manages to reflect its geographical location on its delicious menu that combines the very best of freshly caught Atlantic fish and seafood, with meat and poultry dishes inspired by centuries of Portuguese culinary tradition.
Fish is hand-selected daily from the local fish market to ensure the freshest possible ingredients are used. House favourites include the lobster carpaccio starter, a delicately flavoured delight, mussels served either natural or Spanish style, crab and clams served four different ways and grilled tiger prawns. Fish and seafood are priced by the kilo for main courses, giving diners the flexibility to order as much or as little as they like to suit the size of their appetite.
Daily: 12h30 - 15h30/19h30 - 23h30
Estrada do Guincho, 2750-640, Cascais, Portugal. | 38º 43' 28.1" N | 09º 28' 31" W
+351 214 879 450 | email@example.com | Website | Facebook
Considered by many to be amongst the best Japanese restaurants in Portugal with a capacity for up to 100 diners, the restaurant has a cosy and relaxed atmosphere with modern, neutral décor and comfortable seating, located on the ground floor of the Hotel Cascais Miragem. The perfect spot to enjoy a light sushi lunch or dinner that combines the delicious fresh fish of the Atlantic waters off the shores of Cascais with all the flavours of the Orient.
Tuesday - Sunday: 12h30 - 15h30/19h30 - 24h00
Hotel Cascais Miragem Ground Floor, Av. Marginal 8554, 2754-536 Cascais, Portugal. | 38º 42' 8.4" N | 09º 24' 37.5" W
+351 214 820 776 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
Only 34.7km (21.6 miles) west of Lisbon Portela Airport
GET A GREAT DEAL ON FLIGHTS:
From Lisbon join the A5 west.
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• Scott URB buses have a number of routes along the Costa do Estoril and SIntra: Scott URB Website