Most people make the mistake of thinking that Cascais is just a day trip from Lisbon, but having spent some time in Cascais as a digital nomad I not only fell in love with the lifestyle there, but also discovered that there are so many things to do in Cascais, Portugal.
In fact, when a local told me that usually people visit as a day trip from Lisbon, then in the future they return to make Cascais their base for a holiday instead, it didn’t surprise me at all.
This coastal beach town is vibrant and colourful but also laidback and there really are activities in Cascais for everyone.
So whether you’re planning which Cascais attractions to visit, want to find the best Cascais beaches, discover Cascais restaurants or perhaps you want to plan what to do in Cascais on your trip - read on for 41 of my favourite things to do in Cascais Portugal.
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41 things to do in Cascais, Portugal
1.Unique boat trip along the coast in a solar powered boat
A boat trip is one of the top things to do in Cascais and is a great option for Cascais sightseeing from the water. But whether you’d prefer a quieter boat trip or you’re environmentally conscious, why not book a solar powered boat?
We booked a solar powered boat trip with Aqua Start who own the only solar powered boat in this area and only one of two solar boats in Portugal (at the time of writing!)
The boat has 6 panels, so 6 batteries and can seat 4-6 people. Being solar powered means it’s a slower paced and completely quiet boat - perfect for a relaxing exploration of the dramatic cliffs, Cascais beaches and famous spots like Boca do Inferno.
2. Enjoy one of the many Cascais beaches
If you look on a map, you’ll see that beaches in Cascais and along this stretch of coast are plentiful! My favourite beach on the trip was actually Praia do Guincho which is about 30 minutes cycling or a 10 minute drive along the road from Cascais. It’s famous for its sand dunes, beautiful boardwalk, powdery white sand and being a kite surfing beach.
If you’re looking for Cascais beaches closer to the town, here are my favourite beaches to check out:
Praia da Ribeira (main Cascais beach)
Praia da Rainha
Praia da Ribeira de Cascais
Praia da Duquesa
Praia da Rata
Praia do Tamariz
Praia da Poca
3. Hire a bike and cycle along the coastal cycle path to Praia do Guincho
Now I’ve mentioned Praia do Guincho I have to recommend that you visit - although be prepared it can get pretty windy out there even on a hot and sunny day.
There is a dedicated cycle path that’s well-maintained from Cascais all the way along the coastal road to the beach. So you don’t have to worry about cycling on the road.
We hired our bikes from Aqua Start (the boat hire also does cycle hire) and they offer regular bikes and ebikes depending on your preference. It is slightly uphill on the way back towards Cascais and if it’s windy in hindsight I wish we’d got an electric bike!
Once you get to Praia do Guincho you can walk across the boardwalk that protects the sand dunes and head down to spend some time on the beautiful beach, watch the wind surfing and there’s a cafe and bar there too so you can spend the afternoon.
4. Explore the streets of the historic quarter
Cascais was originally a fishing village over 600 years ago and the historic area of the city is still full of character, colourful houses, cobbled streets and tiny alleyways.
The historic quarter is a Cascais must see and I highly recommend just spending an hour or so to explore and get lost in the area. Visit in spring to see the beautiful bougainvillaea bloom.
5. Buy the 10 euro museum pass and explore the Museum Quarter
Cascais can be expensive, but one of the best things to do in Cascais for value for money is to get the 24 hour museum pass.
You can buy it online here or just on the door at any of the museums. It costs just 10 euros and allows you to visit 13 museums in the Cascais Museum Quarter in the 24 hours that it’s active for. We used it at:
Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães
Santa Maria House and Museum
The Santa Marta Lighthouse
But check the website for all included Cascais attractions.
6. Have a unique stop at House of Wonders cafe
The House of Wonders cafe is an experience in itself and if you’re a coffee enthusiast or cafe lover, you need to add this to your list of places to visit in Cascais.
The cafe is split across two buildings, on 2-3 different levels plus a roof terrace. The cafe is vibrantly decorated, full of colourful ornaments, mismatched furniture, plants and cosy corners. Don’t miss a coffee here!
7. Get incredible fresh seafood at Taberna da Praca
Located in the Cascais Citadel, Taberna da Praca is a fine dining experience where I had the best tuna, best octopus and the best steak of my life. If you’re a foodie, don’t miss this spot!
8. See the famous view of Santa Maria House and Sanra Marta Lighthouse
Santa Maria House Museum is included in the museum pass and it’s right next door to the lighthouse so you can visit both at the same time.
The Santa Maria House is a 20th century villa located on the waterfront and the colourful tiling here was my favourite - and the views of course!
9. Visit Boca do Inferno
Boca do Inferno translates as “Mouth of Hell” and it’s a dramatic rock formation in the cliffs just outside Cascais. The huge waves here have eroded it into the dramatic cavernous hole you see today.
It's about a 20 minutes walk from Cascais or you can stop there with your bike when you cycle out to Praia do Guincho. It’s free to visit and one of the top things to see in Cascais, Portugal.
10. Walk along the Boardwalk from Cascais to Estoril
If you start walking along the Cascais waterfront east towards Estoril (the next town along), you’ll find yourself on a walking path that follows the coastline right next to the beaches.
This is popular for cyclists, walkers and joggers at all times of day. There’s also beach access and a few cafes and bars dotted along the way. It’s the perfect way to start a day with a morning walk along the boardwalk and takes about 30 minutes each way.
11. Swim in the picturesque Piscina Oceanica sea pool
Along the Cascais boardwalk as well as access to several beaches, there are also a couple of ocean swimming pools. These pools are man made structures but the waves crash over the top at high tide to fill them with water to swim in.
Piscina Oceanica is my favourite because there’s also a nice large deck area with parasols to sit and enjoy the view or dry off after your swim - one of my favourite Cascais, Portugal things to do by the water!
12. Climb to the top of Santa Marta Lighthouse for the best views
Unfortunately the lighthouse was closed for renovation when I visited but I’m reliably told that these are the best aerial views of Cascais and the coast. Plus this blue and white lighthouse with the red roof is an icon of Cascais. It’s one of the best places to visit in Cascais, Portugal - don’t miss it!
13. Get Pastel de Nata at A Bijou de Cascais
You can’t go anywhere in Portugal without getting the BEST (in my opinion) Portuguese pastry - a pastel de nata.
If you’ve not had one before it’s basically an egg custard tart with plenty of sugar and locals highly recommended getting one from Bijou de Cascais - I can only say I agreed with them, make sure you add it to your Cascais to do list!
14. Try local craft beers at the Crafty Cellar
If you’ve read any of my blogs before you’ll know my partner and I are always on the hunt for craft beers, breweries and taprooms - we just love the friendly welcoming culture of craft beer and it was no different in Cascais.
We found this taproom called the Crafty Cellar and instantly hit it off with the staff and also a couple from Germany/Slovenia who we’ve stayed in touch with!
Located in the old town area, the taproom has indoor seating but we sat outside so we could people watch of course!
15. Get ice cream at Santini’s
You have to visit one of Portugal’s longest running family-owned ice cream parlours – Santini’s. They have two locations in Cascais and have been running for 70 years with a few locations in Cascais, Lisbon and Porto. All ice cream is hand made and uses natural ingredients and fresh fruits.
The ice cream parlour I visited is on the famous Rua Frederico Arouca, the vibrant heart of the city full of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes.
An Italian once told me you can tell a good ice cream shop if the ice cream is hidden away i.e. not piled high in fridge cabinets. I can confirm that Santini meets the criteria!
16. Visit the Cascais Citadel
It’s worth even a quick walk through the Cascais citadel as this and other fortifications along the coast here all made up parts of Lisbon’s defences.
The sheer size of the citadel is incredible to see and the fortress dates back to 1594. It was also once a royal residence.
17. See the Cascais street art
Cascais surprised us with the amount of street art and you can spot it everywhere, but there’s a famous street called R. Ribeira das Vinhas if you want to see a collection of it in one place.
18. Buy local produce at Mercado da Vila market
The Cascais market runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays and it’s worth going along to Mercado da Vila just to see the sheer size of the market and the vibrant colours and smells of all the produce.
The fresh produce inside is amazing and so cheap! There’s also a meat and fish market with amazing prices for fresh catch. Clothing and homeware stalls are outside.
19. Relax in the lush greenery of Parque Marechal Carmona and see the turtles in the pond
We loved the green outdoor space in Cascais and the city has definitely done great things to make the Parque Marechal Carmona a beautiful, calming space for everyone to use.
In the summer the park comes alive with jazz festivals and outdoor cinema events But the sounds of the peacocks and the adorable turtles in the pond make it worth a peaceful wander through to escape the heat of the day.
20. Enjoy a music festival at Parque Marechal Carmona
Speaking of the festival, make sure you check out what events are happening during your visit. Because salaries are lower in Portugal, the price of tickets for events and music festivals are lower too and it might be worth getting tickets!
Check out events here.
21. See a unique Portuguese-Irish decor at Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães
This was my favourite museum that we visited in Cascais because the decor is so beautiful and such a unique blend of Portuguese, Irish and other European styles. If you visit one museum, this is my pick for one of the best things to see in Cascais.
Look out for the shamrocks painted on the ceiling! Definitely one of the most beautiful things to see in Cascais.
22. Get incredible pasta at Cantina Clandestina
I have to caveat this by saying I’ve never been a massive pasta fan, I like it but I’d always pick pizza. However this Portuguese tapas style restaurant is partly owned by an Italian, so we knew we had to try the seafood pasta - it was the best pasta I’ve had in my life, so perfectly al dente I can’t even explain. If all pasta was like that, I’d eat it more.
This is a really vibrant, casual food spot in the old town area, they don’t take reservations after 6pm (unless you’re a big group) so be prepared to wait - but it’s worth it.
23. Dine and drink in a train carriage
Looking for somewhere unique to eat or drink in Cascais? We stumbled on Trem Velho by accident and it’s a converted train carriage - so cool!
Head here for casual pub style food and it’s right on the beach so you can expect beach views too.
24. Take a day trip to one of the many palaces in Sintra-Cascais Natural Park
Most people know Sintra for the colourful red and yellow Pena Palace or perhaps the dramatic Quinta da Regaleira. But there are over 10 palaces and estates to visit and many more still privately owned after the region became a popular place for royalty and nobility to escape the summer heat in the 1800s.
Pena Palace is the most popular but also extremely busy. You can beat the crowds by visiting outside the season in winter, or why not head to one of the lesser known palaces like Monserrate or the Chalet of the Countess of Edla.
We went on our tour with Tuga Trips.
25. Don’t miss historic Sintra town while you’re in Sintra
Many people visit one of the palaces in Sintra and don’t realise there’s a whole historic town to visit too. Sintra is actually far bigger than I realised!
Explore the winding streets, visit the famous bar that Lord Byron visited, try the Licor de Ginja which is cherry liqueur in a chocolate cup from serving windows in the street. And don’t miss trying the famous pastries, Travesseiros, which translates to pillow cushions. These are sweet puff pastries that originate from Sintra and you absolutely need to try them at the famous pastry shop, Casa Piriquita.
26. Play golf at one of the seven Cascais golf courses
While I’m not a golfer, Cascais has no less than seven golf courses! Definitely one of the top things to do in Cascais Portugal if you’re a golfer.
Cascais actually has a unique golf booking system that’s unlike anywhere in the world. People who play can also buy the tee times at our website, the reservation system is connected to all the region’s golf courses system so you can book and pay for your tee times in real time here.
27. Go hiking and see the donkeys in Quinta do Pisao
I was amazed to learn that basically everything above Cascais on a map is Natural Park area, which means plenty of walking trails and outdoor activities in Cascais.
Quinta do Pisao is a nature reserve with farm animals roaming including donkeys and sheep. You can even book to take the donkeys on walks (children can also ride them) and check out the produce at the farm. But enjoying the hiking trails is well worth it and they’re pretty easy for a leisurely walk.
28. Take a day trip to the most western point of Europe - Cabo da Roca
Not far from Cascais is the westernmost point in Europe - Cabo da Roca. Take a drive up there to see dramatic coastlines, huge cliffs and beautiful beaches - a great option for a day trip from Cascais.
29. Visit the underrated Monserrate Palace
I’ve already briefly mentioned Monserrate Palace and due to its location in the Sintra hills, large buses can’t get to it, only cars and small minibuses. So if you’re looking to beat the crowds in Sintra, Monserrate Palace is the place to go.
The stunning Monserrate Palace is an ornate Moorish architecture villa built in the 19th century by Sir Francis Cook. Although you can see gothic, Indian and English architectural influences and the microclimate of Sintra has allowed the garden to be organised into geographical areas with plant species from all over the world thriving here across 80 acres of parkland.
The Palace and Park were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape in 1995. The last family to own the villa had to sell all the furniture, so the inside is empty, but the lavish style and decor are still spectacular to see. There are also two cats who live here now despite the house being empty and the site run by the Sintra Parks service!
It’s around 30-40 minutes from Cascais and tickets cost 10 euros.
30. Enjoy pizza by the beach at Capricciosa
If you’re looking for a casual lunch spot or places to eat in Cascais with epic views, it doesn’t get much better than a pizza restaurant, Capricciosa.
Overlooking Praia da Duquesa, there’s an indoor restaurant, terrace and beach bar.
31. Explore the shops, cafes and bars at the Marina
The Cascais marina was recently renovated and it’s a modern, clean area with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to enjoy. We really liked Kafeine for a quick coffee stop!
32. Go stand up paddle boarding Praia da Duquesa
Of course water activities are one of the best things to do in Cascais, Estoril and along this whole stretch of coastline.
Down at Praia da Duquesa, you’ll see a gazebo stand for Cascais Paddle Surf where you can rent stand up paddleboards in Cascais, join group paddleboards, try out XL paddleboarding or stand up paddleboard yoga!
33. Have a unique dining experience at Moules & Gin
A simple concept but an absolute must-try in Cascais if you’re a lover of mussels. Simply pick your style of mussels which all come with french fries or pasta, then pick your gin and enjoy this unique restaurant in Cascais!
34. Learn to surf (or just go and watch)
The stretch of the Atlantic Coast near Cascais is home to record breaking waves thanks to a natural dip in the sea floor which pushes the waves higher than normal this close to the coast.
Even if you just cycle down to Praia do Guincho you’ll see consistently large waves. A short drive up the coast is Ericeira which is known as the surf capital of Europe with 8km of beach to surf off.
If you fancy watching people ride these epic waves it’s easy to do in and around Cascais, or learn to surf with Cascais Surf School.
35. Swim at the tidal beach at Santa Maria
You’ll no doubt have walked over the unique stone bridge on your way to Santa Maria House and the Lighthouse, but you can also go down to the rocks along the water down by the bridge and sunbathe, picnic and even play in the sand when the tide is out.
Just make sure you don’t get caught down there when the tide is coming in!
36. Watch the locals playing footvolley at sunset on the Bay of Cascais
We were fascinated by locals playing a version of volleyball with their feet at the town beach and it turns out it’s literally called footvolley and it came from Brazil.
Each evening we enjoyed a beer at golden hour and sat on the wall along the beach watching a game and the dogs trying to join in too!
37. Take a day trip to Lisbon
There is an easy, direct train from Cascais to Lisbon that runs throughout the day between around 6am and midnight. The route takes you along the coast on a very scenic train ride, straight into Lisbon, so you can enjoy a day trip to Lisbon and all the sights and sounds of the city!
38. Enjoy drinks with a view at Hifen
On the palm tree lined avenue, Dom Carlos I, you’ll see a restaurant overlooking the beach and the bay that makes the perfect spot for drinks (and food!) overlooking the water.
They have balconies and outdoor seating and although we didn’t eat there, it’s very highly reviewed!
39. Buy beers from the supermarket and enjoy them on the beach
Start a conversation with a Portuguese person and ask them which national beer they prefer - Super Bock or Sagres?
It’s a question that divides the nation!
So naturally you’ll need to taste test them both to make a decision. Grab a bottle of each from a supermarket or local store and try them out at the beach! This is also a great way to enjoy yourself if you’re looking for things to do in Cascais on a budget!
40. Go hiking in Parque Urbano Penhas do Marmeleiro
This parkland area is just north of the city and will take you all the way to the Sintra area if you want! But it’s full of well-maintained paths, walkways and walking areas to enjoy nature and gardens.
As well as great hiking near Cascais, it also has incredible views of the valley if you walk along the wooden boardwalk and there’s a large children’s playground too so the whole family can enjoy it!
41. Take a day trip to charming Azenhas do Mar
This feels like a bit of a Portugal hidden gem to be honest! Just a short day trip from Cascais, Azenhas do Mar is a charming fishing village perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic.
It’s on the Sintra section of coastline and is full of charming Mediterranean style white houses perched on the cliffs (think Cinque Terre but Portugal!)
It’s a beautiful town to explore and a great day trip, plus there are lots of great beaches in and around Azenhas do Mar too.
Summary: What to do in Cascais, Portugal
Most people underestimate Cascais as just a day trip from Lisbon. But hopefully this guide to Cascais things to do, what to visit in Cascais, where to go in Cascais and where to eat in and around Cascais has given you plenty of inspiration to make the most of your trip to Cascais, Portugal.
Cascais really is the ideal destination for those who don’t love a big, bustling city and prefer a slower pace with an outdoor lifestyle - Cascais offers so many activities and things to do. Cascais tourism board is working hard to make the town more than just a day trip destination and I was honestly blown away by how much the town had to offer!
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