Cascais: A Family Holiday
Only 45 minutes by train, visiting the harbor of Cascais has become an increasingly popular day trip.
We stayed a few nights, in an effort to try to maximize the holiday vibe.
Historically, Cascais was a fairly insignificant fishing village.
However, by the mid-1800s, King Luís chose the town as his royal summer retreat, bringing attention to the overlooked coastal getaway.
Consequently, extravagant villas were constructed, making it a desirable summer holiday for nobility.
Today, when walking around Cascais, the combination of ornate 19th-century architecture with old Portuguese is tangible.
We had a stellar, albeit tight, apartment located directly in the center of town. We made do with the space.
It was the rooftop that won us over. And totally compensated for the lack of space downstairs.
We enjoyed happy hour each evening, once the sun wasn’t as strong.
Later in the week, friends came in to join our nightly ritual, which was lovely.
Cascais is known to have two very differing coastlines.
The eastern beaches have calm waters, but can be exceedingly crowded in the summer.
Whereas the northern beaches are renowned surfing beaches along the Serra da Sintra. The dramatic coastlines have fierce, whipping winds.
We spent majority of our time along the northern coast. More specifically, on Cresmin Beach, near the more popular Guincho Beach.
I think we all agreed, our favorite part of our time in Cascais was renting bikes.
There's a fantastic path to Guincho, roughly six miles northwest of Lisbon along the shoreline.
It’s a wonderful way to see some of the natural landscape outside of the downtown.
I will warn, the road to the beach is extremely windy and not in your favor. Plus, it’s on a slow and steady incline.
Some of us were quicker than others (re: I struggled keeping up).
Once we did reach the beach, it was stunning.
And because the wind was so extreme, there were very few people on the beach. A far cry from the overcrowded beaches closer to the city center.
We rented an umbrella and wind protector—which I highly recommend—and took in the crashing waves. Unfortunately, this part of the Atlantic was a bit too cold to dive in.
Regardless, we enjoyed it so much, we rented bikes the very next day to go right back.
On one of the days, we stopped in a local village nearby for lunch. We ordered shandy’s, panini pressed sandwiches, and snails. It was super satisfying.
The following day we packed a picnic, but were able to explore a bit more. We found it most enjoyable to escape the crowds, which is quite accessible on two wheels.
Cascais is largely known for the beautiful beaches, however, I was surprised how much more there was to it.
The historic buildings, the charming town center. There’s loads of restaurants and cafes and beachy shops on Rua Frederico Arouca.
Behind our airbnb, winding lanes granted us another neighborhood to get lost in.
It quickly became our favorite area to grab dinner, al fresco.
We tried the skillet octopus and the infamous salted cod (in which Will was not a fan).
There’s not a ton of variety from salted fish to salted fish restaurant. So as a welcome change up, we tried the chicken piri piri at Somos Um Regalo. The restaurant serves one thing and they do it well: flavorful barbecue style grilled chicken.
Caiscas was our last stop with my parents. So the celebratory holiday environment felt suiting. And the scenery itself was picturesque. Portugal has so much to offer. But with limited time, there’s ample to experience around Lisbon itself.
I appreciate we didn’t try to travel too far. I feared rushing through Lisbon. But with Sintra, Belém, Cascais, it’s as if you’re experiencing ten different cities in one. The terrain alone changes drastically. With Lisbon’s popularity increasing, it’s constantly changing. I’m grateful we were able to share Lisbon, but have new experiences as well.