8th of October, 2016

Cascais: Local Tips, Things to Do, Restaurants & Places to Stay

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Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is a delightful Portuguese fishing town, which has an extensive history and is situated close to some of the finest beaches of the Lisbon region. The charming old town centre of Cascais contains a range of interesting tourist attractions and monuments, while the surrounding coastline offers beaches to relax on and pleasant hiking routes. There is a lot to see and do in Cascais, and this has transformed the town into a respected holiday destination and popular day trip from Lisbon.

Local Cuisine: With its mild climate and close proximity to the ocean, not to mention its rich culinary heritage, the region boasts a wide variety of dishes based largely on fresh fish and seafood.

Sea bass, bream and the unrivalled Cascais sole are among the area’s most popular dishes, freshly cooked and served with the finest ingredients. The sea has much more to offer, of course. Whet your appetite with shrimp, crab, barnacles, crayfish and lobster, all prepared in a unique and traditional way.

To finish your meal, don’t forget to try one of the region’s traditional sweets like travesseiros, Sintra’s famous queijadas or the delicious Cascais areias. Portugal’s egg-based confectionery is unique, not just in Europe but probably around the globe.

Local Wines: Arinto (white), Trincadeira (red).

Things to Do in Cascais

1. Visit the Boca do Inferno
The Boca do Inferno is a beautiful cliff formation close to Cascais. The ceaseless pounding of the Atlantic Ocean on the cliffs chiseled out a small cave, which subsequently collapsed forming a small bay and natural arch. The Boca de Inferno lies 1.5km to the west of Cascais and is a popular walk from the centre of the town.

2. Go Casino Royale
Bond fans after a spritz of espionage head for glitzy Casino Estoril, the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale. Fritter away your euros on a high-stakes poker tournament or check out the spangly Las Vegas–style shows. There’s a first-rate Chinese restaurant on the ground floor.

Address: Av Dr Stanley Ho

3. Beer Cascais
This glorified beer stall inside Mercado da Vila features 15 draft options per day, mostly from Belgium, Germany and the UK, and a small shop where you can buy local and international craft beer, most of which are cold and can be drunk in the pleasant market plaza. It draws a tiny but discerning anti–Super Bock (Portuguese beer) crowd.

Address: Mercado da Vila, Rua Padre Moisés da Silva 41
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4. Santini Ice Cream Parlour
This isn’t any ordinary ice cream parlour— it serves what is considered to be the best ice cream in Portugal. Founded by Atillio Santini in 1949, this historic gelato has impressed a long legacy of visitors including political personalities, curious tourists and even royalty. Get a taste of Santini’s unparalleled flavours!

Address: Av. Valbom, 28 F

5. Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais
This natural park extends from Sintra’s lush mountain range to Guincho beach and the outstanding cliffs of the Roca cape – the westernmost tip of Europe. Popularised as “The place where the land ends and the sea begins” (16th Century writer Luís de Camões), this cape boasts a lovely 18th Century lighthouse and sea views, while Guincho’s naturally sculpted sand dunes and mountainous backdrop create an inspiring setting for surfers and nature lovers. Although famous for hosting one of the leading windsurfing championships in Europe, this beach enjoyed its greatest ‘moment of fame’ when it starred in the 1969 James Bond picture, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.’

Restaurants in Cascais

1. Café Galeria House of Wonders
This fantastically whimsical, Dutch-owned cafe is tucked away in the old quarter. Its astonishingly good Middle Eastern/Mediterranean vegetarian meze buffet downstairs includes a hot-dish add-on for €9.95 (aubergine moussaka, zucchini lasagna etc) amid a warm, welcoming ambience and artwork-filled interior. Don’t miss it!

Address: Largo da Misericordia 53
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2. Bar do Guincho
Sweeping the awards for most dramatic location in Cascais, this good-time bar/restaurant sits tucked behind a craggy ridge on the northern end of Guincho. From the sand, you would never know it’s there, but it is – and it is packed! Revellers rake in the beach-friendly burgers, seafood and salads washed down with cold cerveja (beer). Settle in for the afternoon.

Address: Estrada do Abano, 547

3. Mar do Inferno
Near the Boca do Inferno, this humble-looking place serves superb seafood dishes to ocean views. Its mouth-watering mixed platters for two (€39.50 to €88 – they’ll do the cheapest one for one person!) are legendary. Reserve ahead to score a table on the terrace.

Address: Av Rei Humberto II de Italia

4. Páteo do Petisco
To escape the high prices and tourist masses in the old town, head out to this local favourite in the Torre neighbourhood. It’s a buzzing place, with a friendly, tavern-like vibe and good-value Portuguese-style tapas – ideal for sharing with friends. It’s about 3km northwest of the old town centre, best reached by taxi (around €5). Reserve ahead.

Address: Travessa das Amoreiras 5

5. Baía do Peixe
Seafood lovers take note: Baía do Peixe serves rodizio style, meaning waiters bring around either fish (four or five types, plus squid) or shellfish (including oysters, prawns, crab, cockles and clam dishes) and you select what you like from the plate. There’s a two-person minimum for the shellfish option.

Address: Av Dom Carlos I 6

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