The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal

The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal

The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal

Most trips to Portugal include stops in Lisbon, Porto, Sintra and the Algarve, and there’s another spot well-deserving of a visit: the coastal town of Cascais. One of the best day trips from Lisbon, it seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of the country’s capital thanks to its sun-soaked beaches, palm-fringed mosaic sidewalks and ocean viewpoints. Best of all, many tourists overlook this spot, making it a great place to get away from the crowds.

From exploring fortresses to marvelling at the rocky cliff sides, here are some of the best things to do in Cascais Portugal. 

Cascais Beach in Portugal

Relax on a Cascais beach

Cascais’ perch on the North Atlantic coast means it’s teeming with beaches, including a few found right in the centre. Praia da Conceição, Praia da Duquesa and Praia da Poça are in the heart of the action, and are great for swimming since the still bays are protected from ocean waves. Framed by winding promenades, sparkling golden sand and dazzling azure water, they’re the perfect spot for soaking up the sun during your holidays in Cascais.

Cascais Beach in Portugal
The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal

Walk through the old town

Patchwork patterns combine to make artful pedestrian walkways in the charming town centre, where vibrant flowers drip out of window boxes perched on wrought-iron balconies and sunshine casts a glow over the pastel-hued storefronts. There are plenty of souvenir stalls and a la carte restaurants popular with day-trippers, along with winding laneways which are perfect for getting lost in.

The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal
The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal
The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal
The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal

Explore the fortress and Cidadela Art District

A 15th century fort guards Cascais’ picturesque harbour, making it a favourite spot for photographers and history buffs alike. While there’s not too much to see inside Cidadela de Cascais, it’s well worth walking around as it leads straight into the ultra-modern art district, which features white-washed walls which are the ideal backdrop for the colourful murals and sculptures scattered around the sun-soaked plaza.

The arts district in Cascais, Portugal
The art district in Cascais, Portugal

Tip: If budget allows, book a room at the Pestana Cidadela Cascais, a trendy, artsy hotel built right into the fortress. Despite being close to the action it’s a surprisingly quiet spot—perfect for enjoying unobstructed ocean views from the rooftop pool deck.

Marvel at Boca do Inferno

It’s safe to say Boca do Inferno is one of Portugal’s most underrated attractions, and a must-do when you visit Cascais. Jutting out of the rocky cliffside against a pool of aqua-marine water, this spectacular natural phenomenon was created by the sea and spray hammering into the rock and carving an archway out of a collapsed cave. Its name means “mouth of hell”, but there’s nothing hellish about the gorgeous scenery.

Boca do Inferno in Cascais, Portugal
Boca do Inferno

Boca do Inferno can be seen from the boardwalk, or on one of the many viewing platforms that grant unobstructed views. There are also a few restaurants nearby for those needing a mid-day break, as well as a handicraft market.

Boca do Inferno in Cascais, Portugal
Boca do Inferno

Wander around the Museum District

Art lovers may want to head over to the Museum Quarter, which houses works from famed Portuguese artists. A popular spot is Centro Cultural de Cascais, a bright pink building that was formerly a convent and now hosts a variety of exhibitions.

Centro Cultural de Cascais is one of the best things to do in Cascais, Portugal
Centro Cultural de Cascais

One that’s not to be missed is the Castro Guimarães museum, which dates back to the 1900s and is a great example of so-called “summer architecture.” Today it holds an art museum and public library, but most visitors are wowed by the grounds themselves. The castle-like estate is surrounded by fountains and gardens, and borders a shaded public park and quiet cove, which is a peaceful spot for soaking up both the sun and scenery.

Cascais, Portugal
The Castro Guimarães museum
The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal
The Castro Guimarães museum

Cascais most famous and postcard-worthy spot also happens to include a museum, called Casa de Santa Maria. The Mediterranean-style villa was built in 1902 as a summer home for royalty, and features touches like traditional painted tiles, arches and an oil-painted ceiling. It shares the coastline with a towering blue and white, red-topped lighthouse overlooking the turquoise bay, combining to create a dreamy view best seen from the adjoining stone bridge.

Lighthouse in Cascais, Portugal
Casa de Santa Maria

Cycle along the bike path

There’s truly no better way to explore a place than on two wheels, and Cascais makes it easy thanks to its ocean-front bike path. The Ciclovia begins just outside town past the marina on Avenida Rei Humberto II de Italia, and hugs the coast for five kilometres all the way to the Guincho beaches.

The best part is that visitors can borrow a bike for free (!!) compliments of the municipality, so there’s no need to try and line up bicas in advance. There are multiple pick-up areas, including at the main tourist office in the town centre.

The bike path in Cascais, Portugal
The Ciclovia

Head down the road to Estoril

Got time to spare? Then walk, bike or drive down the road to Estoril, which boasts more beaches (though not quite as nice as the ones in Cascais) and an ocean boardwalk perfect for cycling or jogging. It’s famous for its palatial casino which is framed by a labyrinth of perfectly-manicured gardens, and is the place to be for those who have Lady Luck is on their side!

A castle in Estoril, Portugal
Estoril, Portugal
Estoril, Portugal
A beach in Estoril

What to do in Cascais

There are plenty of great tours in Cascais, including day trips from Lisbon to Cascais. A few good options include:


Where to stay in Cascais

  • Grande Real Villa Italia: If you want a hotel that embodies Portugal, then this is it. Adapted from the old houses where King Umberto II of Italy lived when her was exiled to Portugal, this elegant, historical hotel also has a private beach and stunning view of the coast. Click here to book
  • InterContinental Estoril: This beachfront property has received rave reviews ever since its renovation, and staff will make you feel pampered during your entire time there. Facilities include an outdoor pool, sauna, steam room, and a fabulous breakfast. Click here to book
  • Casa Vela Guest House: If you’re looking for somewhere private and intimate, then Casa Vela is your spot. This Cascais accommodation option feels like a sanctuary with its extensive outdoor gardens, waterfalls and lakes. Each room is uniquely styled and breakfast is included. Click here to book




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29 thoughts on “The best things to do in Cascais, Portugal”

  1. Pingback: A grand European adventure with Air Transat: London and Portugal - Globe Guide

  2. I love such towns that are not over touristy and still very beautiful. I’ve only been to Lisbon and Castelo Branco in Portugal 3 months ago, but would really love to explore more of the country. And I love your photography!

  3. Oh my goodness Cascais looks gorgeous! I’m having mega regrets about missing Portugal on our Europe trip over the spring. Our next trip is definitely going to include it and I’m so glad to have this to work with. I can’t believe there are bikes available for free usage – that’s wonderful. Your pictures are stunning, by the way!

  4. Haha, I love the giant binoculars in the art district!! And anywhere called ‘mouth of hell’ would SO get a visit from me – I couldn’t bear not to see it in person. The Cascais scenery looks so good it’s almost unreal and I like that it’s quieter, too. With so much to see and do it sounds like the perfect holiday destination!

  5. Wow, I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve heard of Cascais, thanks for the introduction! The whole destination looks stunning, from the beaches to the charming watercolored buildings, and cultural heritage in old town. And OMG Boca do Inferno is beautiful – bonus that it’s off the tourist radar and you can escape the crowds. Sounds like the perfect vacation!

  6. Wow, this area is just stunning. I’ve never heard of it. I’m a huge fan of rock formations, so I know that Boca do Inferno would just blow my mind! Plus, what a cute city! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Visited Lisbon last year, but only for a couple of days. Next time I must spend an entire week here and visit Cascais. Seems like a fantastic place. Thanks for sharing the information.

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  13. I stumbled across your information a few days before our departure and included two days in Cacais. What a great suggestion. Perfect end to our wonderful trip through Portugal. Thank you!!!

  14. I stumbled upon Cascias when lecturing in Lisbon for 2 weeks almost 20 years ago. Portugal has much to offer (not least of all are the people I met) but Cascias is most strong in my memory. Beautiful, peaceful, friendly. I still dream of returning. Maybe next year?

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