Cascais: the golden paradise of Lisbon. While technically outside of Lisbon, Lisboetas often flock to get away from the city and enjoy the blue sea and sky views at Cascais. Besides Sintra, it’s one of the most popular day trips from Lisbon, and I can see why!
Take me to church
I chose to visit Cascais this day because of church, specifically, the Riverside International Church. I visited a church at Porto with the same name, but the headquarters is located at Cascais, so it was an opportune day to visit Cascais. Departing Lisbon at 8:30am, I arrived at Cascais at 9:30am, just in time for church for 10am!
And they played one of my favourite songs right now: “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong! 🙂
After church, I ate some Indian food from an Indian restaurant near the historical city centre. Feeling a bit hungry, I ordered a simple spinach curry and yellow rice. It wasn’t especially delectable, but it was filling enough for an empty stomach.
Full and ready for adventure, I left the restaurant and walked towards the beautiful shoreline. As I was walking, I’ve noticed one thing in Cascais: the houses are incredibly huge! Some of brightly coloured, some were closed off by gates, and some took up complete blocks of land!
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because the city consistently ranks as one of the wealthiest areas in Portugal. Europeans with a ton of disposable income buy property at Cascais for a summer getaway (not that I’d blame them)! 🙂
Boca do Inferno
Boca da Inferno, which literally translates to “Hell’s Mouth”, is a striking painting of the nature’s ferocity. It is appropriately named “Hell’s Mouth” because of the thrashing of the winter waves of the Atlantic Ocean against it. The relentless assault carved out this gaping hole on the cliff, thus peering into “hell.”
During the calm summer months however, the waves are relatively calm and you’re even able to go down cliff right beside the water. I was surprised that there were a lot of garbage in the area; one would think that because it’s a tourist destination, it would be protected and routinely cleaned.
Still, along the dramatic coastline, your eyes are offered beautiful views of the blue sea and sky! The refreshing ocean breeze was very cooling, especially during the summer months. 🙂
While this formation was very cool to look at, I think it was a bit too overrated. That said however, this was a beautiful place to photograph, especially perhaps during winter when the waves are crashing!
Wandering about Cascais
From Boca do Inferno, I walked towards the historical city centre of Cascais, which was bumbling with activity. The charming cobbled-stoned streets and eclectically colourful buildings and is a feast for the eyes!
Every turn, it seems like there is another very picturesque scene of either art, small cafes/restaurants, or buildings against the blue sky. I can tell that the city is vibrant and hip, perhaps catering to the heaps of tourists, young crowds and wealthy jet-setters.
Further in the city, the main street (Passeio Dom Luis I) seems like something you’d see in Hollywood or California (right?)! Palm trees aren’t native in Portugal, but the people want what they want, don’t they? 😆
Just along the road, I visited a small chain cafe called A Padaria Portuguesa. I know it’s a chain, but the decor was so cool! I ordered the usual Portuguese afternoon pick-me-up: espresso and a sweet. My choice today was the pão de Deus (bread of God), and it was gooooood!
Besides the beach, there are a lot of things to do in Cascais, and museums are aplenty! The old town itself is a visual museum!
Many beaches are within walking distance from the hotels and historical centre, and the shore is busy with activity! Perhaps because it was Sunday, which is why it’s so crowded & busy in Cascais.
Condes de Castro Guimarães Museum
First up is the Condes de Castro Guimarães Museum, which was once Count Manuel de Castro Guimarães’ residence in the early 1900s (hence the name). The museum itself is a draw, but the main feature of the museum is its neo-Gothic tower, previously named Torre de San Sebastião (San Sebastian’s Tower).
The museum is a construct of various styles of architecture, not unlike the Pena Palace in Sintra. While once a house, it now accommodates various national and international art.
The surrounding gardens are lush and connect further into the Parque Marechal Carmona. If you check around the mansion, you’ll also see that the house perches over a small cove, complete with its own beach!
Casa de Santa Maria
The Casa de Santa Maria (House of St. Mary) is located just across the street from Condes de Castro Guimarães Museum, which was commissioned by the same person.
One of the most iconic landscape photos of Cascais is of the casa along the coast with the Santa Marta Lighthouse behind it (below)!
Casa de Santa Maria was once the most luxurious residence in Cascais, but now is open for the public to see its extravagance, from the hand-painted ceilings to its classical azulejo (Portuguese painted tiles).
The gardens of the house is also a nice oasis from the heat of the summer sun in Portugal, and I spent some time just relaxing on the bench, listening to my Christian music. 😀
Santa Marta Lighthouse
Last, but certainly not least, is the Santa Marta Lighthouse. The lighthouse is part of Fort of Santa Marta, which was once used to prevent enemy approaches towards Cascais. Nowadays, it houses this lighthouse and museum.
The striking white and blue of the lighthouse is what drew me towards it. Up closer, it seems even more striking!
Unfortunately, because it was late afternoon, the lighthouse was closing soon and I didn’t the chance to go inside (it closes at 5pm). However, the memorable visual of the white facade against the blue sky will forever be engraved in my mind! 🙂
Sea and sky views at Cascais
One of the best things about Cascais is just watching the beautiful cerulean ocean and sky! I cherish these moments because I don’t have the luxury of living by the water.
Back to Lisbon
It’s been a long day, and I made my way back to Lisbon. On the way to the station, I spotted this one restaurant on an alleyway with the most amazing patio, complete with a garden wall!!
On the train ride back to Lisbon, I started chatting with a Mormon (who coincidentally sat beside me), and we started talking about Christianity, Catholicism and the Bible. We had different beliefs but our conversation was still very civil and respectful. This goes to show how different people can still interact and respect each other’s opinions & beliefs.
Winding down in Lisbon
Back in Lisbon, I bought a pastel de nata from arguably one of the best pastelerias in Lisbon, Manteigaria. And I agree! This is definitely the BEST pastel de nata I’ve had in Lisbon! Crispy, creamy and not too sweet!
The day concluded with some Roman pizza near my hostel called Pizzeria Romana al Taglio, which had some vegan pizza options. The line was short, so I ordered the mushroom pizza and zucchini pizza! Both were so good! 😀
At the hostel, I ate my pizza with a glass of wine and chatted with some of my fellow travellers. I met another traveller from the Philippines, who was starting his trip to Europe in Lisbon!
One more day left and I’m leaving Portugal. Man, this trip was too short!!
Many museums in Cascais close on Mondays, so plan accordingly if you are planning to visit this coastal city throughout the week.
Day trip to both Cascais AND Sintra
While some people do this, I do not recommend a day trip to BOTH Cascais and Sintra on the same day! Each deserve their own day trips because there is so much to do in each city.