In the 19th century, Cascais became, like Estoril, a fashionable summer destination, and luxury homes housed the glamorous crowds who thronged there. In the 20th century, enthralled by its wild beaches and lively atmosphere, European royal families turned it into a kind of Portuguese Riviera. This sealed the fate of Cascais. The charm of the small town, however, is intact today: the centre has kept its ancient atmosphere and has many monuments to offer besides the splendid citadel and iconic lighthouse (especially Paula Rego's House of Stories and the bright pink Cascais Cultural Centre).
After a look around the town, a visit to the superb nearby beaches is a must: if you head east towards Lisbon, they are family-friendly and perfect for lounging in the sunshine, whilst to the north they are wilder, and popular with surfers and fans of crashing waves. Another way to enjoy the coastline is to hire a bicycle and ride from Cascais to Praia do Guincho. In the evening, head to O Pescador, a must-visit for seafood lovers. The rustic decor and warm, friendly atmosphere at this former fisherman's lodge is accompanied by a menu featuring dishes such as Mozambique-style prawns with ginger and Malagueta chili peppers, or grilled local octopus with new potatoes.
After a long day exploring, the Grande Real Villa Itália Hotel & Spa is a wonderful place to rest and recharge your batteries, complete with stunning views across the bay. Located in the former residence of Umberto II, the last King of Italy, this 5-star hotel is home to 124 luxury rooms and suites, three penthouses, and Real Spa Therapy, where you will find a selection of premier treatments.
Before enjoying a fabulous night's sleep, however, there is one thing left to do: discover the Boca do Inferno (“Hell's Mouth”), at the town's southernmost tip. This part of the cliff owes its name to the arch that the waves crash through, as well as the hair-raising noise it makes when the ocean is raging. Watching the sunset with the Boca do Inferno roaring in the background is a scene worth of the very best Hollywood films!
Restaurante O Pescador
Rua das Flores 10B
2750 - 348 Cascais
+351 21 483 2054
Menu: around 35 EUR
Grande Real Villa Itália Hotel & Spa
Rua Frei Nicolau de Oliveira 100
+351 21 096 6000
Rooms: from 168 EUR