Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Cascais (pronounced 'kush-caish') is a sleepy, charming, and beautiful seaside town located half an hour west of Lisbon in Portugal. We spent about five days in Cascais - but if you only had a few hours to spare, read on to see what are some must-do's.
How to Get There
We landed at the Lisbon airport. From there - we picked up our SIM cards for 20 euros each (5GB unlimited roaming) from Vodafone. I then used my new SIM card and ordered an Uber. This share-riding company is super convenient and very popular all over Portugal. It was the quickest and most economical way for us to make our way to Cascais.
Where to Stay
A group of us friendly Canadians (about 69 to be exact) trekked across the pond to see our dear friends get married in the beautiful country of Portugal. A small group of us stayed in a gorgeous apartment located by Gandarinha - about a ten minute walk to old town Cascais, fifteen minutes to the marina, and only five minutes to Boca do Inferno. The location was perfect for us, awesome supermarket across the street, walking distance to everything but upscale, safe and quiet. I would recommend looking around this area if mobility isn't an issue (although you can drive easily or take a super convenient Uber everywhere within 5 minutes). Otherwise - Old Town Cascais is where all the attractions are at!
Top Three Must-Do's
1. Check out Old Town Cascais
I couldn't get enough of the beautiful hand-chipped, hand-painted, and hand-laid tiles all over the city. The downtown area was where this handcraft was most prominent. It's really these little details that make this town so charming.
The downtown area is filled with cute shops, many local, and some chain stores can be found. Tons of restaurants, bars and cafes with live music all throughout the day. This city does shut down a bit earlier than Lisbon or Albufeira though, so keep that in mind.
What is one thing that comes to mind when I think of Portugal? Tiles! So many gorgeous hand-painted tiles found all over walls, streets, and houses throughout the cities. Cascais did not miss a chance to shine on this front. Combo the tiles with colorful homes - you have me trying to figure out how I can immigrate here stat.
2. Visit the Marina and do a Boat Tour
Where can you get the best view of the city and the surrounding areas? By boat of course! Being a coastal town, there are hundreds of boats, yachts and catamarans for hire. Our group of friends rented a catamaran together - the service included a 2.5 hour tour of the coast, allowing you to take in the gorgeous views of Cascais and the surrounding areas. You can find cliffs and lighthouses along the coast, and maybe even catch a glimpse of a whale or two. Definitely time and money well spent! We sipped on cold drinks, had some snacks, caught some rays and danced the afternoon away.
3. Eat the Seafood!!!
Some of the best meals we had in Portugal were in Cascais. Especially the seafood! Our favorite restaurant was Marisco na Praca (the one on the Marina, but our friends also tried the one in the village and said both are equally excellent). They have all their daily catches and freshest seafood on display at the front of the restaurant. Point to the staff the items you want and ask their chef to prepare it the best way they think that fish should be served, order a bottle of vinho verde - green wine that is native to Portugal, and bon appetit!
One of the must-haves for me were the barnacles. Fishermen risk their lives to scale the side of the tallest cliffs in Portugal to harvest these tasty crustaceans. Barnacles love the salt from the sea, but need air and sunlight to survive - so they cling on the the side of the cliffs where some of the world's most terrifying waves crashes against them. Their journey to survive such harsh environments make their meat that much more sought after. The price tag will reflect that as well. So happy we had a chance to sample them!