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Praia, Cascais, Mexilhoeiro
©Arlindo Camacho Mexilhoeiro

Eating, shopping and sightseeing: the best things to do in Cascais

Because there is more to this town than good beaches, surfing and fresh fish.

By Editores da Time Out Lisboa
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To its idyllic beaches we can add a full range of events, fantastic restaurants, lots of space for sport activities and, of course, some history lessons. For those who think Cascais has nothing more than beautiful beaches and surfing, we have 30 things that suggest otherwise and give you something to spend a full day on (or as much time as you want) in the town, with activities from sunrise to sunset. Between eating, shopping and sightseeing, you're sure to get the urge to go for a swim. If the weather is not up to it, then you can take a break for a coffee and a savoury or sweet treat.

Jardim, Passeios, Actividades, Parque Marechal Carmona, Cascais
Jardim, Passeios, Actividades, Parque Marechal Carmona, Cascais
©Duarte Drago

1. It has a green heart with activities for all ages

Attractions Parks and gardens

Cascais has a number of parks and gardens - some even the townsfolk don’t know about, imagine that! - but the one with the most fans is Parque Marechal Carmona, where there is entertainment for all ages. For the younger ones, there are two playgrounds, one for infants and the other for older kids. They have swings, slides and other amusements, as well as curious peacocks, ducks, cockerels and hens; for the kids there is also a children’s library, as well as OHficina, a laboratory for exploring improbable materials, and the Cascalitos activity club. There are lots of discrete corners for young lovers and a large lawn for sunbathing, while on the upper level there is something for plants lovers, dozens of flowerbeds. It is also home to the Condes de Castro Guimarães museum, which will take you back to when the aristocracy lived here.

Restaurante, Cascais, Esplanada, Terraço, House of Wonders
Restaurante, Cascais, Esplanada, Terraço, House of Wonders
©Manuel Manso

2. The House of Wonders is wonderful. Always

Restaurants Vegetarian

This vegetarian restaurant, with its enchanting terraces, was already one of the best reasons to visit Cascais. Even if only to drink a fruit juice or savour a snack from the Middle East. With the passage of time, this space has gained new features: first there was the patio in the square out front, where you can smoke and take your dog; then, moving down towards the centre, is the restaurant in earnest, with a hot and cold buffet and terrace. All vegetarian, all with Middle Eastern flavours and all very good. It is no wonder that the House of Wonders is one of the best healthy restaurants in Lisbon, with its constantly changing menu featuring dishes that vary according to the seasonal nature of the ingredients, including raw food dishes (raw and vegetarian food) created by the chef, Fionna Lynne Harrower.

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Mercado, Frescos, Mercado da Vila, Mercado Saloio
Mercado, Frescos, Mercado da Vila, Mercado Saloio
©DR

3. The market that sells more than fresh produce

Things to do Markets and fairs

Cascais market, which in 2014 was renamed the Mercado da Vila, was first held in 1952. A few years ago it was completely changed to become a centre for restaurants, bars and temporary markets, the three essential sections of which are:

Fresh Produce
You can get fish, fruit, vegetables and flowers there every day, but the real market, the one full of vendors with their colourful stalls, takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Portuguese market, which takes place on Wednesday mornings alongside the fresh produce market, is set up in the open-air car park and sells everything from footwear of all sizes to crockery for the kitchen. And you can even haggle.

The Residents
Cantinho da Luísa, known for its cheeses and sausages, also serves sandwiches, cakes and bread; at HM Caneira you can stock up on roast suckling pig; Lugar dos Frutos Secos sells all the dried fruits you can imagine for making granola. There is also a wine bar and an artisan beer bar.

The Restaurants
If you’re looking for pizza and pasta go to Gulli, an Italian restaurant that uses quality ingredients; for Iberian petiscos (tapas) and good meat, there's Rubro; for a real seafood meal, there's nothing like Marisco na Praça; the healthier options are at Local - Your Healthy Kitchen; while Portuguese snacks for sharing around the table can be found at Páteo do Petisco. They all have terraces.

Compras, Loja, Cascais, Cura Style Essentials
Compras, Loja, Cascais, Cura Style Essentials
©Joana Freitas

4. There are cures for almost all ailments.

Shopping Boutiques

The size of CURA STYLE Essentials in Monte Estoril, is in inverse proportion to the products it sells. Minimalist clothing and accessory brands, ranging from Portuguese brands such as +351, with T-shirts and men’s swimwear; Kimono with its sunglasses and watches; and Le Mot, with its T-shirts featuring French slogans, to other brands from abroad. There are also CURA-label wallets, perfumes and clothes.

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Pastelaria, Cascais, Areias, Bijou
Pastelaria, Cascais, Areias, Bijou
©Joana Freitas

5. It's worth trying the traditional confectionary

Restaurants Pastelerías

Areias, classic dry cakes that once crushed resemble a child’s bucket of sand, were first recorded in Cascais during the 19th century; Cascais nozes (walnuts), which are more moist cakes, were first made in the 16th-century Nossa Senhora da Piedade Convent (which was built where Cascais Cultural Centre now stands). They have a crispier glazed sugar coating, with half a walnut on top. Both are on sale at Bijou de Cascais, a classic pastry shop and the ideal place for a coffee and cake.

Desporto, Cascais, Sup-paddle board, Ocean Activities
Desporto, Cascais, Sup-paddle board, Ocean Activities
©Joana Freitas

6. You can paddle on a board

Attractions Beaches

The calm waters off Paredão, Conceição and Duquesa beaches can be boring for those who enjoy the waves, but they are a delight for people who have discovered the wonders of stand-up paddle (SUP). You can learn the technique in no time: all you have to do is hire a board, put on your lifejacket, grab your paddle, climb on board and enjoy. Dimitar, owner of the SUP board company Ocean Activities, which has been based at Conceição Beach for many years, takes care of everything.

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Fitness Park da Guia
Fitness Park da Guia
©Duarte Drago

7. It’s an open-air gym

You are likely to encounter a lot of people in sportswear as you walk around Cascais. The Paredão (esplanade) and the Ciclovia (bike path) invite you to improve your physique on rides that can be fast or slow, while the gym that opened on Diana Spencer Avenue, near Casa da Guia, in 2017, with its eight training stations, adds to the fun. There are information posts on how to use the equipment without causing injury, with the best bit of all being left until last: The Guia Fitness Park has a beautiful view of the sea.

Restaurante, Petisco, Cascais, Taberna Clandestina
Restaurante, Petisco, Cascais, Taberna Clandestina
©Duarte Drago

8. Traditional drinks and petiscos (tapas)

Restaurants Snack bars

It's called the Taberna Clandestina (Clandestine Tavern), but there's very little clandestine about it - not least because the terrace and the window facing Rua Amarela where you perch to order drinks is very conspicuous. Inside there are nooks and crannies, all made for sharing meals. During the daytime it is a petisco (tapas) restaurant - mainly cheese and charcuterie boards – then when the sun goes down it turns into a bar. As it's not easy to get a table and they only accept reservations up to 7pm, many people just stop by Clandestina, as it's known, for a gin and tonic, a glass of Portuguese or Italian wine, a beer or a house cocktail with lemon juice, basil, ginger beer and gin.

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Compras, Loja, Decoração, Cabinet of Curiosities
Compras, Loja, Decoração, Cabinet of Curiosities
©Arlindo Camacho

9. It’s also worth satisfying your curiosity

Shopping Home decor

Get ready to enter the most eccentric house in Estoril. The Cabinet of Curiosities is a series of small rooms that form an enchanted world in which you can find ornaments that are different from anything you have ever seen, all handpicked by the owner, Gracinha Viterbo. It has furniture, cushions, lamps, pictures, carpets, fashion accessories and even fresh flowers.

Restaurante, Cozinha de Autor, Salada de Polvo Grelhado, Fortaleza do Guincho
Restaurante, Cozinha de Autor, Salada de Polvo Grelhado, Fortaleza do Guincho
©DR

10. It won a Michelin star ten years ago

Restaurants Haute cuisine

The address is always the same: the Fortaleza do Guincho restaurant, first in the hands of an Austrian, then a Frenchman, who passed it on to a Portuguese, who in turn passed it on to another Portuguese-born chef, Gil Fernandes. As soon as the Portuguese chefs arrived, they began investing more in ingredients from the sea, always keeping everything seasonal. All washed down with excellent wines from the hotel's incredible cellar.

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Escultura, Cascais, Terra Mar, Vhils, Pedro Pires
Escultura, Cascais, Terra Mar, Vhils, Pedro Pires
©Arlindo Camacho

11. It’s an urban art centre

Since 2014, Cascais has hosted the Muraliza festival, which is responsible for painting several of the town’s walls with the colours and designs of Portuguese street artists such as Gonçalo Mar, Kruella d'Enfer and Mário Belém. Much of the work is in the Torre district, which in 2018 hosted the Festival Infinito for the first time, increasing the number of walls with murals from 13 to 21. Also check out “Terra Mar”, by Vhils and Pedro Pires, a work that represents a fisherman from Cascais; and “One Strange Rock” by Bordalo II, which was commissioned by National Geographic, both of which can be found at the Museu do Mar Rei D. Carlos.

Livraria, Livros, Cascais, Dejá Lu
Livraria, Livros, Cascais, Dejá Lu
©Joana Freitas

12. Second-hand books – why not?

Shopping Bookshops

It's called Déjà Lu, it's on the first floor of the Taberna da Praça restaurant and it's a special bookshop, with “second-hand books" on sale for charity: 100% of the profits are donated to associations linked to the Down syndrome charity Trissomia 21. Instead of the classic divisions by sections, the books are organised in original ways such as “books that make me scaaaared” or “naughty literature”.

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Restaurante, Cozinha Japonesa, Cascais, Confraria
Restaurante, Cozinha Japonesa, Cascais, Confraria
©Joana Freitas

13. Confraria continues to be one of our passions

Restaurants Japanese

This year, one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in Cascais celebrates its 12th anniversary. 12 years of charming visitors with its fusion-inspired cuisine that also has a place for traditional dishes and one of the best salads in town (a legacy of the old French cafe that used to be there). It serves good sushi at mealtimes and salads at any time of day. Sit on the terrace on sunny days.

Museu, Casa das Histórias, Paula Rego, Cascais
Museu, Casa das Histórias, Paula Rego, Cascais
©Arlindo Camacho

14. Obligatory stops in the Cascais Museums Quarter

Cascais created a true cultural microclimate with the establishment of what it called the Museums Quarter. The concept is simple and only requires you to take a short stroll around the perimeter of the area in which many of the town’s cultural facilities are concentrated. Conceived by Cascais council and the D. Luís I Foundation, the Museums Quarter stands out due to its strong innovative component and its cultural coherence. If you want to visit a number of the buildings, then it pays to buy the single ticket. It costs €13 and gets you in to them all. Ready for the marathon? The Cascais Cultural Centre, Casa Sommer, Conde Castro Guimarães Museum, Casa das Histórias de Paula Rego and the Casa de Santa Maria are just some of the obligatory stops on this cultural itinerary. The Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art is scheduled to be the area’s next big attraction, but we don’t yet know when it will open.

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Restaurante, Cascais, Carpaccio, La Contessa
Restaurante, Cascais, Carpaccio, La Contessa
©Duarte Drago

15. There’s a colourful street that has become a gastronomic hub

The phenomenon happened over a few summers, on Friday and Saturday nights and on the eve of public holidays. Then in 2020 it got a new lease of life and a new name. Rua Amarela (Yellow Street) is a group of restaurants that literally take to the streets and serve their customers at tables set up in the middle of the road, which was purposely closed to traffic for the event. There are several spaces in an area that includes R. Nova da Alfarrobeira, R. Alexandre Herculano and R. Afonso Sanches, where you can choose from tartars, carpaccios and piadinas from La Contessa, hamburgers from Hamburgueria do Bairro, mussels from Moules & Gin, petiscos (tapas) from Taberna Clandestina, tacos from Malacopa, noodles from Soya or steaks from The Grill.

Drogaria, Mercearia, Drogaria Costa, Cascais
Drogaria, Mercearia, Drogaria Costa, Cascais
©Joana Freitas

16. Discover one of the country’s oldest general goods stores...

Shopping

Which, I might add, is still open. The Drogaria Costa is in the centre of the town, and is one of the few stores of its kind still in existence. It has been a family-run business for 127 years, selling mops and detergents, brooms and watering cans, extension leads and paintbrushes. It has everything: even a homemade oil for cleaning furniture, which they sell in bulk.

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Compras, Drogaria, Cascais, Cajoar
Compras, Drogaria, Cascais, Cajoar
©Ana Luzia

17. ...And another that sells the best crockery

Shopping Grocery stores

For many locals, Cajoar is the best general goods store along the Cascais Line (and in the world), capable of resisting the age of the big supermarkets and having everything a family needs. And this does not only mean the protective rubber on car windows or all manner of lightbulbs, it also means collections from two of Portugal’s most famous ceramic factories: Bordallo Pinheiro and Vista Alegre.

Mexilhoeiro
Mexilhoeiro
©Arlindo Camacho

18. It has a natural solarium where there is never any wind

It is called Mexilhoeiro, located on Avenida Rei Humberto II de Itália and the worst kept secret in Cascais. It is not for children: in fact, the unstable cliffs sign is there to warn you of the danger (prohibition?) involved in descending, but there is always someone who will run the risk and go down the stone stairs to lie on the rocks in the sun, in one of the only places where there is never any wind, even on days when the town is being blown upside down. Park next to the yellow hot dog van, make your way down the steps and stretch out on a flat rock. From there you just have to throw yourself into the sea. Carefully, of course.

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Hífen - Mousse de Chocolate
Hífen - Mousse de Chocolate
©Manuel Manso

19. You can have dinner and go out at night without getting in the car

Restaurants Snack bars

It is not a punctuation mark: Hífen is a restaurant facing Cascais bay, which is unlikely ever to be confused with a dash or a hyphen. In this duplex there is a bar on the ground floor that you want to be well connected to the kitchen. There are communal tables (two seat more than ten), sharing plates and a nice cocktail list that includes a celery caipirinha. The specialties are the steak sandwiches on Madeiran beer flatbread (a collaboration with Central de Cervejas), Madeiran limpets (lapas à Madeirense) and, for dessert, a mousse that is a statement: “we hate liquid chocolate mousse”. At the weekend there is music until 2am.

Restaurante, Petiscos, Cascais, Páteo do Petisco
Restaurante, Petiscos, Cascais, Páteo do Petisco
©Joana Freitas

20. There’s no place like Páteo do Petisco

Restaurants Snack bars

If you are looking for a restaurant that celebrates petiscos (tapas), then this is the place. A group of waiters patrol the indoor rooms and terrace, carrying platters of potato skins, padrón peppers, eggs with asparagus, alheira croquettes, steak sandwiches and steaks. A more Portuguese flavour does not exist. You won’t find lower prices around here. Don't forget to order the bucket of minis to go with it - the opener is hanging on the table for some reason - and the house dessert at the end to finish off in style. It has a younger brother in the Mercado da Vila and a more refined cousin on the road to Guincho (Páteo do Guincho)

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Parque das Gerações, Skate, Cascais
Parque das Gerações, Skate, Cascais
©Manuel Manso

21. There’s a skate park for all ages

Attractions Parks and gardens

It's called Parque das Gerações (Generations Park) for a reason, as it is always full of people of all ages. It opened in 2013 after winning the Participatory Budgeting (orçamento participativo) competition that allows residents to voice their opinions and pitch ideas for new projects. It has around 10,000 m2 of ramps and gradients divided into a number of zones. Perfect for skateboarding, cycling or roller skating. And it doesn’t matter if you have no experience, because the best athletes on wheels and those new to the sport, who can barely balance on their boards, are all welcome here. And the cherry on top is that it all has a sea view.

lambrettazzurra
lambrettazzurra
©Arlindo Camacho

22. The best pizzeria has an unusual story

Restaurants Italian

Humberto, a Brazilian who became famous in Cascais thanks to a brand of bikinis in the 1990s, decided to study Italian cuisine, become a pizzaiolo and bring to the town the genuine Neapolitana pizza, complete with thick edges and a moist centre, and made with traditional flour from old Neapolitan mills, to enrich the palate. You’d better book in advance if you want a seat at Lambrettazzurra. And before you tackle the pizzas, don't forget the delicious Italian cheeses, salamis and hams, the burrata from Campania and the famous San Marzano tomatoes that grow on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.

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Marisco na Praça, Marina de Cascais
Marisco na Praça, Marina de Cascais
©Joana Freitas

23. You don’t need a boat to walk around the Marina

Attractions Public spaces

This is a Cascais project from the 21st century and has space for 650 boats. It has already been the stage for a number of sailing activities and offers very favourable conditions for this type of event. If you’re a boat owner, you probably know all this already. Here are some ideas for ordinary mortals to tackle Cascais Marina. The Marina is a place where anyone can go to buy a newspaper, walk the dog, have a coffee, take photos - if you walk through it, the scenery is quite beautiful - have meals, buy nautical articles, drive a go-kart and even buy a fur coat. Yes. One of the best fur shops in the country, Casa das Peles, can be found here. It also has a crossfit box and a few bars for the night owls. In terms of food, you can grab a some petiscos (tapas) at Valério, eat an entrecôte with chips at the Brasserie de L'Entrecôte, enjoy pizzas and pasta at the Mercearia Vencedora or sit down to a seafood meal and enjoy the views from the Marisco da Praça’s beautiful terrace.

Restaurante, praia, guincho, esplanada
Restaurante, praia, guincho, esplanada
©Manuel Manso

24. The Bar do Guincho is worth visiting at any time of year

Bars and pubs Café bars

It is an icon among locals, with people frequenting it whatever the weather. On sunny days you can top up your vitamin D, on windy days you can have lunch sheltered from the breeze but still in the sun, and on cold days you can enjoy its cosy fireplace. In any conditions, order the starter petiscos (tapas) and then finish off with some Guincho fried egg toastie.

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Restaurante, Hot Dog Fusão, Cachorro Quente
Restaurante, Hot Dog Fusão, Cachorro Quente
©Joana Freitas

25. Hot Dog Fusão

Restaurants Hot dogs

OK, we might not have tasted every hotdog in the world, but we know these are special. They are sold from the Hot Dog Fusão, a kiosk in Casa da Guia, and consist of a fluffy bread roll, a sausage that is always hot, two homemade sauces - white and pink - that make all the difference, topped off with potato sticks. You can add a number of other ingredients, such as cheese or carrots, before unceremoniously devouring it. Perhaps not the best place to go on a first date, because you're guaranteed to get sauce all over your nose. And why not wash your meal down with one of the fresh fruit juices on the menu?

Duna da Crismina, Passadiços, Cascais
Duna da Crismina, Passadiços, Cascais
©Duarte Drago

26. It has a dune to be explored

Attractions Parks and gardens

There are protected areas all over the world (and quite rightly so). The Cresmina Dune is one such place. You are not allowed to walk on the sand, but there are several boardwalks that allow you to explore the dune at your leisure. You can start at the Cresmina Dune Visitor Centre (Núcleo de Interpretação) where you can join a guided tour or pick up a leaflet describing the local flora and fauna and then walk all the way to Guincho. Before or after your walk, you can sit on the terrace with its views of the Serra de Sintra and of the sea, and order a salad, a crepe or toasted Scandinavian bread, all washed down with natural fruit juice.

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Museu, Cascais, Farol de Santa Marta
Museu, Cascais, Farol de Santa Marta
©Duarte Drago

27. It has a century-old lighthouse restored by avant-garde architects

Museums History

The Santa Marta Lighthouse, which is still an active aid to navigation, was completely restored by the Portuguese architects Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus in 2007. Outside there is a grand terrace facing the sea that you can visit for free; however, it is inside, in the old keeper’s house, that you can learn more about the place. In the first area there are some objects related to Portuguese lighthouses, such as Fresnel lenses, which were created especially for lighthouses, then in the second area you can read a description of the daily life of a lighthouse keeper, and a keeper’s diary. To learn even more, spend 15 minutes watching the film about Portuguese lighthouses. In 2020 a new terrace cafe, Lusophonica, opened with its own radio station.

Museus, Museu da Presidência, Palácio da Cidadela de Cascais
Museus, Museu da Presidência, Palácio da Cidadela de Cascais
©Joana Freitas

28. Visit the Portuguese royal family’s summer residence

Attractions Historic buildings and sites

Once a fishing village, Cascais’s fate changed in 1870 when King Luís decided to turn Cascais Citadel into his summer residence. And so it remained until the monarchy was overthrown in 1910. It went on to become the official and summer residence of several of Portugal’s presidents. After many years of neglect, in 2004 the Museum of the Presidency of the Republic began work restoring the citadel, which today receives guests of the Presidency and which has rooms set up for this purpose. You can visit some of the palace’s restored rooms, including the noble salon, the Arab room and the incredible enclosed balcony with its wonderful views over the bay.

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29. The fishing tradition extends beyond the restaurants

If you ask locals why they wouldn't swap Cascais for any other place, they will probably tell you that it has to do with the proximity to the sea. It's a pleasure to see it every day, and it's even more of a pleasure to swim in it for half the year - or all year round if you wear a wetsuit - and it's a pleasure to take advantage of what it gives us. It is therefore noteworthy that one of the town's commercial activities is the sale of articles made from shells, where several generations of women from Cascais families have come to buy a necklace, a bracelet or earrings. The stalls have been set up in the Largo Cidade de Vitoria, some for 40 years, having spent a lifetime facing the bay. Here they sell necklaces, wind chimes, lamps, all made from items that come from the sea - even if the beads are, to this day, ordered from other countries.

Gelado, Santini, Vanitini
Gelado, Santini, Vanitini
©DR

30. Cascais is in a serious relationship with Santini

Restaurants Ice-cream parlours

Santini. It's a name you'll remember forever once you've had your first taste of one of their ice creams. It's said to be the best ice cream parlour in Portugal, and if it's not the best, it's pretty close. It was first sold by Attilio Santini on Tamariz beach, Estoril, in 1949. Attilio was an Italian who moved to Portugal and who brought with him the history of his family, which had been making ice cream in Italy since the 19th century. From Tamariz beach it moved to Avenida Valbom, right in the heart of Cascais, where it gained legions of fans who came from all over the country just to try the ice creams and who waited six months for the shop to open again (until the mid-noughties it only opened in the summer). In 2009, part of the company was bought by local businessmen, although a part remained in the hands of the Santini family. Since then it has opened more shops and developed more flavours, while always maintaining its high quality.

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