Cascais Travel Guide
Overview Once just a small picturesque fishing village, Cascais has
exploded into one of the most bustling, sophisticated holiday
resorts on the Portuguese Riviera. It retains its laid-back
atmosphere, however, and the local fishermen still ply their trade
and auction their catch on the main square.
Cascais town now hosts a plethora of elegant shops, bars and
eateries set around colourful cobblestone walkways, to cater for
the holidaymakers. Besides the lovely local beaches there are some
other great sightseeing opportunities. Cascais' 16th century church
has carved and gilded woodwork and some famous paintings, while the
Cascais Amunicipal Museum is housed in a palace and has some
interesting exhibits and illuminated manuscripts.
The Sea Museum contains everything maritime from model boats to
fishermen's boots, and the 16th century Fort of Cascais offers a
beautiful view and an open-air artillery museum. About two miles
(3km) out of Cascais is a strange rock formation known as the Mouth
of Hell, which is worth a look en route to the lovely beach of
Guincho, a holiday favourite for surfers.
Cascais © Francisco Antunes
Shopping Shopping in Cascais' town centre is an enjoyable pastime,
exploring the Rua da Raita pedestrianised street which offers
numerous small shops selling local wares, including
hand-embroidered linen and hand-painted tiles and other ceramics.
Along the beachfront are the ubiquitous open-fronted stores and
kiosks selling holiday requisites like buckets and spades,
sunglasses and sunscreen. For local colour the place to be is on
the Rua Mercado on Wednesdays or Saturday mornings when the
farmer's market is held, selling fresh produce and plenty of other
goods. Glitzy shopping is at the huge Shopping Cascais Centre, out
of town on the highway to Sintra. There are two floors with
hundreds of stores dealing mainly in clothing, accessories,
furniture and household goods.
Restaurants Cascais is renowned for its quality dining, drawing gourmets
from Lisbon and nearby Estoril. The main restaurant strip of
Cascais is the walk-through Rua Frederico Arouca, and the lively
Largo Luis de Camoes. Here you will find a wide choice of eateries,
most with outside areas, from cafes to traditional taverns, serving
both local fare and international cuisine. Fish restaurants abound;
be warned it is said that one should not eat fish in Portugal on
Mondays, because fishermen do not go to sea on Sundays!
Specialities of the Estoril coast are fish stew, sole, dried
codfish, lobster and crab. Spicy chicken dishes are also popular.
Enjoy the reasonably priced good local wines. Popular restaurants
in Cascais include the Michelin-starred Fortaleza do Guincho, and
the local seafood at Restaurante B and B.
Nightlife The Cascais resort has a vibrant nightlife, offering everything
from traditional Fado to wild dance clubs. Largo Luiz de Camoes
Square is the hub of the hotspots, with a collection of bars and
clubs. Most popular and lively of the clubs, Coconuts, is to the
west of the town on the seafront, with a bar and dance floor. Other
favourites include Baluarte, Ferdi's, O' Neills Irish Pub and Bally
Activities The focus of daytime activity while on holiday in Cascais are
the local beaches, but those who want a break from sand and sun can
tour some worthy local sights, like the Church of Our Lady of the
Assumption, which features paintings by 17th-century female artist
Josefa de Obidos. There are a couple of museums, displaying
maritime relics and items depicting the history of Cascais. The
Parque do Marechal Carmona is also worth a visit, offering shady
picnic spots and a small zoo. Most visitors take an excursion to
the Boca do Inferno, a scenic spot where waves tumble into a hole
in the cliff.
Negatives Visitors staying near the centre of town may find it quite