Cascais is a quaint coastal town found just 30km from Lisbon, Portugal. Once a former fishing village, Cascais is now a popular tourist destination, showcasing some of the best Portugal has to offer. With its lively marina, great food scene, rich history and stunning beaches, it’s the perfect place to spend the weekend or just a day trip from Lisbon. Here are my top things to do for a day trip to Cascais.
Best Things To Do In Cascais
Cascais is a very walkable town so most places are easily accessible on foot. As everything is close to each other, I’d suggest mapping out a route with everything you want to see and loop round the city.
Boca do Inferno
Boca do Inferno, otherwise known as Hell’s Mouth, is a sea arch formed in the cliffs just west of Cascais center. It was originally a sea cave, but the force of the Atlantic Ocean caused it to collapse, leaving behind a chasm and sea arch. Depending on when you go, you’ll see the dramatic scene of crash waves through the arch. I visited during the day, but have heard the sunsets are magical! There is a viewing platform, which is free to enter, but this is open weather-permitted. I found I got a better view of Boca do Inferno by walking further up the street and avoid the viewing platform altogether.
It took roughly 25 minutes to walk there from the town center. However, there is a bike path alongside it, so consider renting a bicycle as an alternative route.
Cascais Old Town
One of my favourite things to do in Cascais was to stroll around the old town, getting lost down all the winding side streets. The architecture here is your stunning classic, colourful buildings found throughout Portuguese towns. Although it’s less hectic than Lisbon, Cascais still has that lively vibe with people eating and drinking along the streets.
There’s something for everyone here, from tourist-shops selling knick knacks to high-end boutiques.
Marina de Cascais is the third largest marina in Portugal and definitely worth a visit during your stay. Located just south of the Citadel, the Marina’s 600-berth keeps Lisbon’s most affluent yachts and boats. There are shops, bars, and restaurants around here to enjoy while you take in the incredible ocean view. These are on the more expensive side compared to the shops and restaurants further into town. I would imagine walking round here during sunset would be stunning! This whole area, and the main promenade by the beach, are really nice to walk around. There are also plenty of benches to sit and watch the world go by.
You wouldn’t be surprised to know, that this seaside town is home to a number of spectacular beaches. Praia da Rainha is probably the most famous one – a small, sandy beach accessible by stairs. I went on a weekday in March, so had the place to myself. I can imagine it’s packed in the height of tourist season in the summer though!
Just further along from here, you can find another popular beach – Praia da Ribeira de Cascais. This is another small, sandy beach where you’ll be able to rent sunbeds for €30/day and enjoy the beach bars. Further along is Praia da Duquesa, a large beach with more sunbed options and activities to join. These are more spacious, so I’d imagine they’re a better option if you’re going during a busy season. All three beaches were swimming-friendly, but the water was freezing! I’ll have to try again in July. There are other beaches further along the coast, however, I didn’t have enough time to check them out.
Cascais Citadel and Fortress
A trip to Cascais isn’t complete without exploring the remains of forts built in 15th and 17th centuries. The Fortress played an important role in Portugal’s history, as it defended the coastline of Cascais and River Tagus estuary. It’s very impressive to walk around and seeing the constract between it and the modern architecture.
Explore Cascais on bikes
A great way to see Cascais is to rent a bike and explore the city. There are several bike rental shops in the center, offering everything from road bikes to gravel bikes. Cascais has over 400 cycling routes in the city and surrounding areas. Here is a great site to check out different routes recommended by other cyclists. And if you’re a passionate cyclist, Cascais hosts several cycling events every year, including the Ironman!
The Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum
Built in 1868, on what was once the most southern tip of Cascais, the Santa Marta Lighthouse played a crucial role in defending the coastline. Now, it’s home to a museum showcasing the lighthouse of Santa Marta throughout time and the history of lighthouses in Portugal. Even if you decide not to visit the museum, its worth walking around the area and admiring the lighthouse.
Entry to the Santa Marta Lighthouse Musuem costs €5 and is open Wednesday-Sunday.
Cascais has an unbelievable amount of restaurants, cafes, and bars given how small it is. A few streets I’d recommend wandering down to grab a bite to eat include:
- Run Amarela / Yellow Street – a cool area with painted streets filled with bars and restaurants. Prices were a little higher here due to it being popular with tourists. Definitely worth checking out even if you don’t eat anything
- Largo Luis de Camoes – plenty of restaurants to choose from here and down its side streets
- Alameda Combatentes da Grande Guerra – as above, lots of choices here and on the side streets off it.
Visit a Market
There are several markets dotted around Cascais. I used this TimeOut guide before my trip for ideas and ended up going to the Mercado da Vila. This huge market is located a short walk from the city center and is home to a wide selection of food – including cheese, fish, fresh produce, baked goods and meats. You’ll also find clothing, bags, jewellery, plants and gifts. It’s open every day and you can spend some serious time here. I had a lovely coffee and pastry, whilst enjoying the buzzing vibe of the market! I heard from other travelers that the Boca do Inferno market is also worth visiting too.
Museu Condes de Castro Guimaraes
The Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães boasts an impressive art collection, rare pieces of Indo-Portuguese furniture, prehistoric archaeological remains and a 25,000 book library. After visiting the musuem, you can wander round the surrounding Marechal Carmona Park, where you’ll be treated to stunning traditional tiles and a small zoo. If you’ve been to Sintra, you might notice the similarities between achitectural style! The musuem was designed by Luigi Magnini who also designed Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra!
Other Things to Do in Cascais
As I did a day trip from Lisbon, there were a few recommendations that I didn’t have time to explore. This included Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cabo da Roca and Praia do Guincho. There is also a 27-hole golf course and a range of watersports available, from kayaking to paddleboarding.
Related: Ultimate Travel Guide to Lisbon
How to get to Cascais from Lisbon
The best way to get to Cascais from Lisbon is by train. The train runs every 20 minutes from Lisboa Cais do Sodre station and will take approximately 40 minutes. The journey follows the coastline west of Lisbon, giving you a pretty and scenic trip.
Tip: On your journey back to Lisbon, head into the Time Out Market located by the Cais do Sodre station. It’s a great place to grab something to eat or drink, with a buzzing atmosphere!
How much does it cost to get to Cascais from Lisbon
A single train ticket will cost 2.25/1.15 (adult/child) as it’s a four-zone fare. Return tickets aren’t available so be sure to buy a single on the way back. The train ride is free if you have a Lisboa card.
Alternatives are driving or taxi, which takes 40 minutes. There are also public buses, but note, the journey will take between 1-1.40 hours and it’s more expensive than the train.
With so many things to do in Cascais, you can easily spend several days here. Given my limited time in Portugal, I was only able to manage a day trip from Lisbon. I would absolutely go back in the future and stay for the whole weekend. Let me know if you make it to Cascais!
Happy Travels x