Only 30km west of Lisbon, Cascais is one of the most popular day trips during a stay in the Portuguese capital. In addition to being a haven for expats who seek to live close to but not in the capital city, many Portuguese natives also enjoy living there.
Originally a fishing village, it has blossomed into a posh place to see and be seen. While the wealthy population may be causing housing prices to rise and the city to become less affordable, there are still many activities and sights in town and nearby that are very affordable—many are even FREE.
So don’t let the town’s upscale reputation fool you, you can enjoy an amazing day, weekend, or week in Cascais without breaking the bank.
You may even be tempted to move to Portugal after checking out this list of 12 activities that even the thriftiest traveler can enjoy!
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Walk along the Paredão | FREE
Starting from Praia da Conceição in Cascais and winding along the beach all the way to Praia da Azarujinha in São João do Estoril there’s a pedestrian promenade (Paredão).
Take in the sights of the sea, watch the runners jog by, grab a coffee at one of the beachfront cafes, or find the beach that calls to you and plop down for a while.
Head to the beach | FREE – 25€
With more beaches than you can count on two hands. Whether you like high winds and big waves, or shallow calm water with rock formations to explore, Cascais has a beach for everyone.
With several options within walking distance of the train station including a beach smack dab in the middle of the historic old town, finding your own little stretch of sand isn’t difficult.
Feel like splurging? Two chairs and an umbrella will only set you back about 25€ for a full day at most places.
Feel like getting a little further out of town? Take the bus or rent a free city bike (Bica) and head down the coast to Praia do Guincho.
Explore the citadel art district and bookstore | FREE
The fortified Citadel in the Marina is filled with galleries, studios, and a space for artists to display their work. Don’t miss Deja Lu, a used bookstore with a large selection of English language books.
Take the train to Lisbon | €2.25/€1.15 (adult/child) one way
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to get from Cascais to Lisbon is by the scenic, waterfront train that runs along the Linha de Cascais.
The journey to Lisbon takes 40 minutes and there are departures several times per hour all day long. The train terminates at Cais do Sodre station.
Walk from the train station along the waterfront for a great view of Almada across the Tagus River and continue all the way to Praça do Comércio before turning up into the Baixa neighborhood.
From there you can explore the most popular areas of Lisbon or hop on a tram to explore even further.
Museu da Vila | FREE
In the center of this historic town center, take the time to visit the small but free museum that tells the story of how the fishing village of Cascais came to be. Learn all about the history of Portugal and Cascais before you set out to take in the town.
Take a hike | FREE
If you have a car, you can drive north up the coast and take a hike up to the abandoned convent, Capela de Nossa Senhora da Peninha.
The start of the hike begins about halfway between Cascais and Sintra, and at the peak, you can explore the convent grounds and take in the sweeping views of Praia do Guincho and beyond.
On a clear day, you can see all the way to Ponte 25 de Abril, the Lisbon bridge that connects the capital with Almada and is reminiscent of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Take a surf lesson | 40€
If you watched the documentary series 100 Foot Wave and are inspired to try your hand at surfing in Portugal, taking a lesson at a popular beach in or near Cascais is a great way to get started.
Several companies offer individual lessons, as well as packages, at Praia do Guincho and Praia de Carcavelos just a few train stops away.
Feast on seafood or Portuguese delicacies | €-€€
No matter what your budget is, you can always find great seafood and traditional Portuguese food.
The trick to finding the best deals is to stray away from the most popular tourist areas and seek out more local restaurants instead. Better yet, as a local where their favorite place to eat is and head there.
At Baia do Peixe overlooking the Cascais Bay, you can get a mixed grill platter of seafood complete with salad and sides for only 24€ per person.
Visit Cabo da Roca | FREE (+ bus cost)
Take a short 15km drive north or catch the bus from Cascais Villa to visit the westernmost point of continental Europe. At Cabo da Roca, explore the cliffs and take in the sites of the lighthouse, monument, and the Atlantic Ocean.
From there you can take a hike along the ancient coastal paths and venture as far as Praia da Ursa to the north, a hidden cove beach about an hour’s hike (1km) from Cabo da Roca, or Praia da Adraga to the south, a beautiful beach with restaurant and snack bar surrounded by cliffs and cave rock formations (2km).
Stroll Through Marechal Carmona Park | FREE
Fancy chasing chickens, watching turtles sunbathe on rocks, or wandering through shady trails? Then head over to Marechal Carmona Park.
You can walk or park in the paid lot (~2€), bring a picnic or grab a snack from the cafe, and check out the calendar for any events being held, as there are often music festivals and the like going on.
There’s a great kids’ playground with areas for older and younger children as well as ruins to explore, a large open green space, and even a giant checkerboard.
Watch Waves at Boca do Inferno | FREE
If you’re lucky enough to visit Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell) when the tides are just right, you will see quite a show.
When the tides come from just the right direction, the seawater crashes into the cave and splashes all the way up the rock wall. It’s quite a spectacle.
There’s a nice coffee shop there as well to enjoy a cafe al fresco after watching nature’s show.
Swim Under Santa Marta Lighthouse | FREE
One of the most iconic photo op locations in Cascais, don’t miss the most Instagrammable moment at Santa Marta Lighthouse.
Located between Boca do Inferno and the marina, you get the best view of the lighthouse from the stone bridge that crosses the streambed.
During low tide, you can even walk down into the streambed for a stroll or a dip in the water.
It’s a popular spot with locals, don’t be shocked if you find wily teenagers jumping from the bridge during high tide or you find sunbathers on the rocks flanking the water.
Cascais on a Budget
It’s definitely doable. The sheer beauty of the town is worth a visit, but in addition to its looks, it offers plenty of affordable fun.
Written by Allison Baxley, Renovating Life
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