A Day in Sophisticated ESTORIL and CASCAIS

Another very popular day trip from Lisbon is a short train ride to the very popular beaches of Estoril and Cascais. Albeit not really dreamy, especially on hot summer days, a day in these sophisticated retreats on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean can be the perfect break from Lisbon’s big city life.

Wild waters on the shore of Estoril, in the community of Cascais.
Estoril is not only this sophisticated beach retreat. It’s also prone to the forces of nature.

If you spend more time in Estoril, you should stay away from the beach and go on a day trip to Sintra. Even by public transportation, this town of palaces is less than an hour away.

Estoril

Estoril is the last stop before Cascais. So it’s very convenient for visiting both destinations on one day – if you don’t like it….the next train goes about 20 minutes later.

Beach of Estoril
Beach at Estoril – a bit more mundane than Cascais – with the Forte da Cruz-restaurant in the backdrop.
(Photo: anonym, Praia do Tamariz – Estoril, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 2.0)

Estoril – located 25 kilometers from Lisbon and easy to reach by regional train – has been a very popular beach and retirement destination for many years. Today, the town is home to about 6,000 people, many of which are retired and wealthy ex-pats for instance from Germany.

The town center is arranged around a beautiful park, the Jardim do Estoril. However, what attracts most of the rich crowds is the casino. This gamblers’ paradise makes Estoril one of the most expensive places to live not only in Portugal, but on the entire Iberian Peninsula.

Jardim do Estoril and the casino – proof that rich doesn’t necessarily mean pretty.
(Photo: kenward, Linha de Cascais DSC 0241 (17296423451), cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 2.0)

Another attraction is, of course, the beach which is not the greatest one I’ve ever set foot on. Nevertheless, if you just need a short break from Lisbon’s hustle and bustle, it’s totally fine. Actually, it’s nicer than the city beach of Cascais, so if you are not driving but come here by public transport, it’s much better to hit the beach in Estoril.

None of the city beaches are secluded dream destinations – but for a beach break from Lisbon’s hustle and bustle, they do.
(Photo: Dora Dragoni, Estoril, Praia da Poça – panoramio, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 3.0)

However, if you have your own car and travel more independently, the beaches west of Cascais are more pristine.

Cascais

Mainly the proximity to these gorgeous beaches makes Cascais one of the cities with the highest quality of living in Portugal.

Beach of Cascais
Beach at Cascais – not a dream beach from a catalog, but a nice option for a quick dip.
(Photo: Husond, Cascais beach 02, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Located about 25 kilometers west of Lisbon on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, you can easily get to Cascais by public transportation in less than an hour.

A pedestrian street in Cascais’ town center.

In fact, besides being a pleasant beach destination, Cascais offers also cultural attractions, mainly galleries and museums presenting art. You find them around the so-called Museum Quarter. Many of these venues are housed in mansions that used to be private residences.

Today, a lot of them belong to the municipality.

Recommendable Exhibitions

Hence, if you want to take a break from the lazy beach life, you’ll find a good number of galleries definitely worth a visit.

There is also the wonderful Casa Verdades de Faria, the museum of Portuguese music. It hosts an important collection of musical instruments, collected by Michel Giacometti.

Casa Verdades da Feria housing the Museum of Portuguese Music.
 (Photo: Roundtheworld, EstorilMusicMuseum2, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Interesting are also galleries such as the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, presenting – according to its name – paintings of Paula Rego and her husband Victor Willing.

Or the Casa Duarte Pinto Coelho, a former guardhouse of the Condes de Castro Guimarães Palace, that houses – you probably guessed it – the art collection of designer Duarte Pinto Coelho.

Condes de Castro Guimarães Palace also houses a museum. On display are paintings, sculptures, furniture, and antique dishes.
(Photo: swissbert from Switzerland, 2016-10-21 Cascais 6190 (30870302001), cropped to 1102×735, CC0 1.0)

To learn about Cascais’ past and history, visit the Museu do Mar. Founded in 1992, it deals with the town’s past as a fishing village.  Another one is the Museu da Vila, the town museum, also providing a glance at the town.

How to Get There

Cascais is connected to Lisbon and the neighboring eastern community of Estoril via the suburban trains of the Linha de Cascais.

It is the final stop on the regional train coming from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré station. The trip takes 30 to 40 minutes and costs only 2,25 €uro. Once in Cascais, you can continue to farther beaches. Or, once you’re done swimming and sun-bathing, a visit to Sintra is a great alternative.

Note: The Lisbon card covers also rides on regional trains to places like Cascais, Estoril, and Sintra.

Estoril and Cascais were only two of the many beautiful places I’ve visited in Portugal. To read about the others, go to the main post and take your pick!

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