For a taste of the seaside, head to Cascais. This is Lisbon’s coastal gem, a small town lined with beaches, elegant palaces, and a bike-friendly promenade.
You could spend a whole week in Lisbon and never run out of things to do, but why not explore further out and see a different side of the city? If you feel the urge to see the ocean, hop on a train to Cascais.
In the 19th century, this seaside town was the summer getaway of Portuguese royalty, and you can still admire their imposing mansions as you walk along the waterfront today.
Beyond the beaches, Cascais is full of attractions, from art museums to relaxing parks and a lively food market.
If you’re planning a day trip to Cascais, here are the best tips on what to do and where to eat.
What to do in Cascais
1. Relax by the beach
One of the main reasons people visit Cascais is to hang out by the beach. There are five beaches in the center of Cascais, so you can choose which one you like.
Near the train station, you’ll find Praia da Conceição and Praia da Duquesa. These two beaches are right next to each other and provide easy access to bars and ice cream kiosks.
A bit more hidden is Praia da Rainha, which translates as Queen’s Beach. It used to be a private beach for Queen Dona Amélia, but these days everyone is welcome here. Because it’s so small, it gets crowded very quickly, so we suggest going here later in the evening.
Opposite the town hall, there’s Praia da Ribeira, also known as Praia dos Pescadores. There are a lot of fishing boats in this area, so it’s not the best for swimming, but there’s plenty of room to bask in the sun.
When the tide is low, you can also relax at the tiny cove of Praia de Santa Marta near the marina, or sit by the rocks and enjoy the view of the lighthouse.
Insider’s tip: Every year in August, locals head to the promenade opposite Praia dos Pescadores to see Festas do Mar, a free music festival which ends with a fireworks show.
2. Wander around the old town
Once you’ve seen the beach, take some time to wander around the old town. Most tourists head straight to Rua Frederico da Arouca or Largo Luís de Camões, but it’s worth taking a detour and exploring all the other side streets.
Rua da Saudade, for example, is much quieter and hides a stairway to Praia da Rainha, while Rua Afonso Sanches is full of local restaurants. As you walk, make sure to look down and admire the traditional mosaic floors, too. The best example is the wavy pattern near the town hall and the Baía de Cascais.
3. Explore the museum quarter
Most cultural sights in Cascais are within a small quarter known as Bairro dos Museus. The main highlights are the Casa das Histórias de Paula Rego, the Museum Condes de Castro Guimarães and the Santa Marta Lighthouse.
You can buy individual tickets for each place or get a one-day ticket for €13 (available at the museums themselves), which gives you access to all the attractions. It’s a good option if you plan on visiting more than two museums.
4. Check out the yachts at the Cascais Marina
You may not own a yacht, but you can always pretend you do as you walk past the Cascais Marina.
Set below the Citadel of Cascais, it’s one of the largest marinas in Portugal and hosts several sailing events throughout the year. There are also a few bars and restaurants here, but they’re not as lively as the ones in the center.
5. Take a stroll through Parque Marechal Carmona
Parque Marechal Carmona is the perfect place to escape the crowds. Inside, you’ll find two playgrounds, a kiosk overlooking a pond, and plenty of grass space to sit on. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a peacock or two during your stroll.
There are several entrances to the park, but the main ones are next to the Museum Condes de Castro Guimarães and the one at Avenida da República.
6. Admire the views from Boca do Inferno
You can’t leave Cascais without visiting Boca do Inferno. Set a few minutes away from the town center, this astonishing cliff formation offers the best sea views in town. The cliffs form an open cave, and when the waves get rough, water splashes out everywhere. That’s why people call it Boca do Inferno, which means Hell’s Mouth in Portuguese.
Insider’s tip: If you have time, we recommend renting a bike and following the coastal trail from Boca do Inferno to Guincho.
7. Visit the Cascais Market
Like most food markets in Lisbon, this one has been completely renovated and is now home to a variety of bars and restaurants. It’s quiet during most of the week, but visit on a Wednesday or Saturday morning, and you’ll experience the traditional farmer’s market. During these two days, the outdoor plaza comes alive with colorful stands of vegetables, fruit, and delicious cheese.
Insider’s tip: The Cascais Market hosts several events throughout the year, from craft beer festivals to Christmas fairs. Make sure to check their Facebook page before you go.
8. Follow the promenade to Estoril
Along the coast of Cascais, there’s a promenade lined with bars and cafés, called the paredão. It starts behind Praia da Conceição in Cascais and stretches for nearly three kilometers ending at São João do Estoril.
Even in the winter, this is a favorite spot for runners and dog walkers. If you’re up for it, after visiting Cascais, you can follow the promenade to Estoril and catch the train back to Lisbon from there.
Things to do in Cascais at Night
When the sun goes down, Cascais becomes much quieter. You can take this opportunity to take a stroll by the beach or get a late-night gelato from Santini. Created by an Italian immigrant back in 1949, this ice cream shop is a local favorite, and it’s open until midnight!
There are also many bars in Cascais where you can grab a drink. From Wednesday to Sunday, head to the Cascais Jazz Club and enjoy their live music sessions.
If you ended up in Estoril, you should visit the Casino. Besides the gaming rooms, they also host several shows, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their agenda.
Where to Eat in Cascais
- Mar do Inferno: Set near Boca do Inferno, this place serves delicious seafood and grilled fish. Book ahead, and you might get a table with an ocean view.
- Baía do Peixe: Head here for the all-you-can-eat fish buffet. The deal usually includes soup, four types of fish and a dessert for under €20.
- House of Wonders: Just off the touristy Rua Federico Arouca, you’ll find this hidden restaurant serving veggie-friendly treats and fresh juices. If it’s sunny, make sure to climb up to the rooftop terrace.
- Taberna Clandestina Cascais: This small tavern serves a mix of Portuguese and Italian snacks. Head here for a light meal paired with a glass of wine.
- Cantina da Vila: There are many restaurants inside the Cascais Market, but this one is our favorite. The menu focuses on Mediterranean cuisine with a contemporary twist. During the week they have a lunch deal for less than €10, but we love the quiet atmosphere at night, too.
How to get from Lisbon to Cascais
There’s a direct train connection between Lisbon and Cascais. The train departs from Cais do Sodré, and from there it’s a pleasant trip to Cascais as you travel along the coast. It takes around 35 minutes to get from Lisbon to Cascais, which is the last stop.
A ticket costs €2.25 each way, but if you plan on using the train often, we recommend getting the Zapping card. With this card, tickets will be cheaper, and you can use it all over Lisbon for bus, metro, and trams. You can buy both of them from the machines or the ticket office by the train station.
READ MORE: The Complete Guide to Public Transportation in Lisbon
Insider’s tip: If there’s a line to buy tickets at Cais do Sodré, go downstairs to the metro and use one of the machines there. It only works if you’re buying the Zapping card, but you’ll get to the beach faster!
Joana is a Portuguese travel writer based in Lisbon. On her blog City Odes, she writes about the hidden gems of Portugal, fun road trips and train rides worth taking. When she’s not typing away on her laptop, you can find her drinking an IPA on one of Lisbon’s latest craft beer bars.