Lisbon is one of the most charming cities in Europe with its laid-back vibe, great food and wine and a stunning coastline. We’ve pointed the way to romantic Sintra, worth visiting for its stunning natural beauty, and now we go for a touch of glamour in Esotril and Cascais, only 30 minutes from the Portuguese capital. The chic seaside resorts feature golden sand beaches, fine dine options, free bicycles to test your pedal power and golf courses. Is it any wonder that it has been a magnet for the rich and famous?
Estoril is home to Portugal’s first grand casino, known for being the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s first book James Bond novel, Casino Royale. It doesn’t stop there – Palácio Hotel served as the set for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Estoril has evolved into a family-friendly destination for its beaches and seafront promenade.
The former fishing village Cascais has had a Cinderella makeover and emerged as a chic seaside resort. Set against the background of a picturesque historic centre, Cascais has been a haunt for European royalty for centuries. Beaches, good food, shopping, marina, and bicycles available to rent for free) – it’s a perfect break from the city.
Here are five reasons why it’s a great summer destination:
Estoril’s Atlantic-facing beaches have massive waves and big swells, so they are ideal for surfing and body boarding. Praia Guincho beach, located within the Serra de Sintra national park, is considered the best surfing beach in the region.
Bike from Praia Guincho to Cascais
A purpose built cycle path offers a scenic 10 km round trip from the beach to Cascais. The route starts in front of the Castro Guimarães museum, passes the dramatic cliff formation called Hell’s Mouth (Boca Inferno), Casa da Guia, Farol da Guia lighthouse, Forte de São Jorge de Oitavos, wind blasted cliffs of the Serra de Sintra National Park and several beaches later you turn inland. Get a free bike from the Cascais council, pedal at leisure, take in the sights, stop at a cafe… sounds like a perfect half day trip.
Festival of the Sea (Festas do Mar)
Every August, the 10-day Festival of the Sea (Festas do Mar) celebrates the special relationship Cascais has developed with the sea over the centuries. Expect live music, folk dances that concentrate on Praia do Pescador (Fisherman’s Beach), a procession, a fireworks display on the last day and a parade of boats at the Bay of Cascais.
Witness the fury of Hell’s Mouth
Boca Inferno is a dramatic formation near Cascais. The pounding of the Atlantic Ocean on the cliffs carved out a little cave which collapsed. The result is a small bay and a natural arch. It is in winter when you can witness the full fury of the waves. Walk along the pathways to climb down the cliff face it see it from both sides.
Visit the oldest handicraft fair in Portugal
Located behind the Estoril Casino, every summer from late June to early September, the Estoril Handicraft Fair sees more than 100 artisans from all over Portugal demonstrating century-old techniques and tools. Handmade crafts make for a great souvenir as well as a number of open-air restaurants and entertainment performances, such as folk dance demonstrations and fado singing.
For more information, check out www.visitlisboa.com.