- 1. Praia da Conceição
- 2. Condes de Castro Guimarães Museum
- 3. Praia da Rainha
- 4. Praia do Tamariz
- 5. Praia do Guincho
- 6. Paula Rego Museum
- 7. Casa de Santa Maria
- 8. Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum
- 9. Boca do Inferno
- 10. Cabo da Roca
The main reason most people head to Cascais is for a day at the beach. Praia da Conceição is the one closest to the train station and is also the best one for some sunbathing and to get your feet wet. Overlooked by mansions, it’s the starting point of an oceanfront promenade that goes past several other beaches all the way to Estoril.
See the Praia da Conceição Guide.
Cascais' most iconic monument resembles a fairytale castle. It was once home to a count, but has been turned into a museum, displaying a collection of decorative art, swords, paintings, sculptures, and manuscripts. Outside is a 16th-century chapel and the crystal-clear waters of the tiny but beautiful beach of Santa Marta.
Its name (“Queen’s Beach”) recalls the time when it was the private beach of Queen Amélia in the 1880s, but it’s now accessible to everyone. It’s tiny but the perfect Instagram beach, hidden between rocks and cliffs, right in the pedestrianized center of town. The calm, crystal-clear waters attract families with children, young couples, standup paddleboarders, and teenagers who love to jump off the rocks.
See the Praia da Rainha Guide.
The postcard beach of the Lisbon-Cascais coastline is overlooked by a castle that was originally a fort in the 1600s. It’s one of the most popular beaches in the Lisbon region, thanks to its good transportation links (a train station is right behind it). Part of it is reserved for parasols and sunbeds, but there’s always space to spread the towel on the sand, even on the most crowded days. It’s also a destination on summer nights, due to its bars and late-night party atmosphere.
See the Praia do Tamariz Guide.
It’s windy but beautiful and perfect for surfing and windsurfing (which is why it has hosted international championships). It’s also the biggest beach in Cascais, and its location about 6km (4 miles) from the center of town, in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, means it’s never crowded. It remains a wild beach, with dunes of powdery sand and surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation, and was a backdrop for an opening scene in a James Bond movie ("On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”). There are some excellent restaurants facing the sea, mostly specializing in fish, open throughout the year.
See the Praia do Guincho Guide.
A striking contemporary building displays the art of Paula Rego, one of Portugal’s greatest 20th-century artists. She was born in Lisbon and raised in Cascais, but achieved international acclaim in London. This museum exhibits dozens of her paintings and drawings, which were largely inspired by her childhood and controversial social realities. The building itself (designed by Pritzker Prize architect Eduardo Souto de Moura) is of interest to architecture buffs, but anyone who enjoys art will want to see the exhibitions inside (the permanent and the temporary).
See the Paula Rego Museum Guide.
Built and owned by the same family that originally lived in the mansion that’s now the Condes de Castro Guimarães Museum (see above), this house was designed to be the most perfect example of a Portuguese home. Many of the architectural and decorative details are inspired by Portuguese art and culture, and the interior includes a beautiful series of baroque tile panels salvaged from an old chapel and a convent.
See the Casa de Santa Maria Guide.
This lighthouse stands next to Casa de Santa Maria and dates from 1868. It was completely restored in 2006 and turned into a museum, displaying the tools and equipment necessary to make a lighthouse house. The highlight of a visit is climbing to the top, for a bird’s-eye view of Cascais and the Atlantic.
See the Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum Guide.
Caves and rock formations shaped by the power of pounding waves has given this dramatic site the name of “Mouth of (or the Gate to) Hell.” It’s a popular site for tourists, who take photos of the scenery to the sound of the awe-inspiring noise of the crashing waves.
See the Boca do Inferno Guide.
This mystical cape is the westernmost point in Europe and is visited for its breathtaking scenery. Located between Cascais and Sintra, it’s one of Portugal’s most emblematic sights. Although it officially belongs to Sintra, it’s closer to Cascais. Bus 403 (departing from the terminal under the shopping mall behind the train station) takes you there in just over 20 minutes. Down a cliff, a short walk from the cape, is one of the country’s wildest and most beautiful beaches (Praia da Ursa -- pictured above), but it requires a careful hike down to the sand. Although word of mouth has made it more popular, it’s still only visited by younger and more adventurous locals and tourists, and it’s an unofficial nude beach.
See the Cabo da Roca Guide.