Situated at the gates of Lisbon, where the Tejo River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Cascais wonderfully combines mesmerizing views and down-to-earth Portuguese tradition. When you consider the stunning beaches, palm-lined mosaic pathways and favorable seaside location, it’s easy to see why King Luís I chose Cascais as his own personal summer retreat. The extravagant villas, ornate mansions and manicured gardens left over from the presence of Portuguese nobility and high society maintain an aura of royalty and today it’s seen as one of the world’s most leisurely destinations.
By all accounts, Cascais is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets – the traditional Portuguese charm, wonderful architecture and world-class dining scene are only bolstered by the stunning coastline. Meanwhile, the busy marina injects the town with a splash of life every summer, still retaining that same feeling of exclusivity.
Where to Stay
You will find a diverse choice of luxurious hotels in Cascais. Located in the city center, where all festivities happen, or further away from the buzz, on top of the cliffs battling the steadily incoming waves, emanating the call of the sea so familiar to the Portuguese. The glamorous Hotel Albatroz sits within the heart of Cascais and will conquer your senses with ease. The resort rises above the Atlantic and affords breathtaking views of the water and bobbing yachts in the distance.
The handsome whitewashed building was originally built in 1870 as a summer house for the Dukes of Loulé and the interiors epitomize old-world opulence with marble floors, chandeliers and chilled champagne. The exclusive collection of suites are cozy and inviting with floral wallpapers, carpets, and linen-clad beds. With rooms having access to the swimming pool overlooking the sea and facing the ocean, it is easy to imagine a quiet day of sunbathing while still being close to all.
Where to Dine
Portugal is well-known for its superb gastronomy and Cascais takes that to another level completely. Restaurants serving excellent seafood, freshly-caught fish, hearty steaks and other typical Portuguese dishes can be found in every corner of Cascais. For an extraordinary dinner to last a lifetime, you can do no better than the Fortaleza do Guincho restaurant. Holding a Michelin star since 2001, this distinguished establishment serves French-inspired cuisine with a traditional Portuguese touch.
Fortaleza do Guincho is located directly on its namesake beach, which is one of Portugal’s premier surf locations. The constant winds not only make for perfect surf conditions but also for a dramatic orchestra of distant ocean sounds, making for an unforgettable culinary experience unique to Portugal.
What to Do
Despite the sun-kissed location and great climate, Cascais is not only a thrilling summer destination. Whether you’re looking for that sparky evening by the beach or to simply enjoy the splendid scenery that once inspired Sir Ian Fleming’s thrilling espionage dramas, Cascais will not disappoint. This beautiful village is known for its packed year-round calendar of activities and events.
The entourage of the Volvo Ocean Race became a regular visitor lately and during this summer, the Rolex TP52 World Championship will be held in Cascais. No wonder, since the waters of Cascais offer some of the best conditions in the world for sailing. The immediate proximity to the Atlantic and the constant wind changes keep challenging participants to be always on the edge.
It is said that the Casino Estoril, just minutes away from the Cascais center, was the inspiration for the James Bond epic Casino Royale, as the creator of the iconic British spy once called Cascais his home. From simple slot machines to the classic card games in the upper floors, the casino will not bore you.
For the lovers of sophisticated racing machines, a visit to the Autódromo do Estoril is an absolute must. The legendary Formula One track has not seen a Grand Prix since 1996, but other events fill the stands with the smell of gasoline frequently. Back to the center of Cascais, the Casa de Histórias Paula Rego invites to learn visually and acoustically about the meeting of contemporary art and Portuguese tradition. A certainly unique venue in this little pearl by the Atlantic.
What to Pack
With the intense sun of a Portuguese summer and a cool breeze, you’ll not only want your outfit to prioritize comfort but also reflect the beautiful surroundings and laid-back nature of Cascais. While the traditional-style Portuguese pavement is certainly visually lovely, these cobblestone streets are can also be a pain to walk in. Many times, they’re slanted, slippery when wet and are simply a nightmare for heels. Instead, opt for a pair of flats, which offer the perfect middle ground of elegance and comfort.
Boasting timeless appeal and maximum comfort, these A.Emery Hazel Leather Sandals were designed with vacation strolling in mind. The pair is crafted from smooth black leather with slender hand-rolled straps and the label’s signature square-toe silhouette with tie-fastening ankle straps to get them secure. Cascais is the perfect place to make an elegant yet subtle statement – and these Emili Bella Swarovski-Embellished Linked Hoop Earrings do just the trick with Swarovski crystal embellishments and a 14k yellow gold-plated double hoop design.