Approximately 30 kms West of Lisbon, lies Cascais, an enchanting coastal town on the Portuguese Riviera. Spectacular azure seas, skies and yellow sandy beaches make Cascais one of the highly recommended day trips from Lisbon.
Azure sea, azure skies
It was formerly a fishing village and is now a much loved vacation spot visited by locals and tourists alike, particularly in the blazing Portuguese summer. Although the likes of McDonalds, a hypermart and various tourist traps have also found their home here, the town is nonetheless a stunning setting.
Beach front dwellings and yellow sandy beaches
Stately mansions notwithstanding, Cascais still manages to exude a quaint village feel with low buildings, cobble stone streets, a belfry and brightly coloured blooms bobbing from flower pots on balconies.
Quaint village feel
The streets are busy, but in meandering through little laneways, it is possible to discover some little visited café or shop. On the shimmering blue water, rowboats, tourist boats and yachts are all moored alongside each other, and a myriad of water activities can also be found.
Boats, boats and yacht
Cascais dazzles the eye with its charm, but also with the glare of the scorching sun. Sunglasses are a must. There is something for everyone here. Be it lounging in the sun, strolling on the beach and promenade, cycling, swimming, shopping, eating, people watching, or if you're game, all the above.
Cascais and surrounds
There are a number of beaches in the area to explore which you can do by hiring a bike from the local council. The rental is actually free for the day and all that is required is to leave a form of photo ID. But this is a very popular activity and the bikes get snapped up quickly.
From the fridge magnet vendors to exclusive boutiques selling designer swimwear, there is shopping and browsing to be had for all. Portuguese souvenirs include beautiful hand painted ceramics, tiles, knitted and embroidered clothing and household items like tea towels.
Browsing the local wares
One of the symbols and popular souvenir items of Portugal is a rooster. Portugal is also famous for cork trees which are used to make everything from bags, belts and shoes to jewelry and household items. The requisite souvenir hats, caps, bags, T-shirts, lighters, artwork and shell jewelry are also in endless supply.
Food trucks, cafes, restaurants, lemonade and ice cream stands all jostle for your attention. Here you can sample the famous Portuguese seafood stew, or the summer favourites of grilled Portuguese mackerel or cod fish. And don't forget the incomparable Portuguese tarts for dessert. There are also plenty of international and fast food options available for a range of budgets.
The mean streets of Cascais
Closing up shop for the day on the beach
Getting to Cascais can be done either by a scenic 30- 40 minute train ride along the coastline, or by bus which is slightly longer and not as nice a trip. Driving there is not generally recommended given there isn't much parking around.
Take the train from Lisbon to Cascais from Cais do Sodre Station, the final stop on the green metro line. A one way ticket to Cascais will currently set you back the princely sum of €2.15/€1.10 per Adult/Child. Be warned there are generally lengthy queues (can go over an hour) for the train to Cascais in the summer and especially on the weekends. I did observe batches of 3-4 people in the train queue agreeing to carpool together by taking a taxi, which would cost approximately € 12- 16 per pax. An uber to Cascais might be an option as well, if you had enough people to split the cost.