Lifestyle & Culture

Cascais on foot: A brief guide to exploring the Portuguese Riviera 

Cascais is one of the most beautiful treasures Lisbon has to offer. It used to be the area where the royal families and aristocrats had their summer houses. Nowadays, it’s the most luxurious and wealthy area in the whole Portuguese Riviera district. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been there alone, with family or with friends but there’s so much to see and do that it can get a bit overwhelming. So, pack your best walking shoes, sunscreen, a swimsuit, and follow this guide so you don’t miss anything. 

The Portuguese Riviera includes Cascais, Estoril and Sintra, all of which can be reached comfortably by car. However, the south area of Cascais can be accessed through public transportation. In fact, I highly recommend you to go there by public transportation because parking a car is a bit of a pain. The yellow train line that starts in Cais do Sodré will take you there in a quick and cheap trip. You can go from Lisbon to Cascais in around 45 minutes for less than 5 euros both ways.

Praia da Ribeira and Marina de Cascais

Our first stop is Praia da Ribeira and the walk there from the train station is absolutely charming. You will go through the Old City center with its narrow streets, stone curbs, mini shops and little houses. You will need a lot of energy for this walking tour, so once you reach the beach, you can sit on the sand under the sun and have a pastel de nata and a coffee with the beautiful view of Praia da Rainha. 

Praia da Ribeira

Get on your feet again because right next to the beach, you will see the entrance to the Marina de Cascais and the Citadel. If the weather is hot, I’d recommend you to check out the Marina first, and the Citadel on the way back. The Marina area is really fresh during summer because the path is close to the water and it’s a must-see! To access it, just go through the Passeio Dona Maria Pia and take the stairs at the end of the street. 

Mirador Casa de Santa María

After leaving the Marina, keep walking west on Av. Rei Humberto de Itália and get your swimsuit ready because our next stop is Mirador Casa de Santa María. Now, this is a spot that is perfect to swim and refresh yourself, but depending on the time of the day you go there, it might be impossible to swim because there’ll be no water. So, if you’re lucky enough to see it full of water because the tide is high, go downstairs through the arrow stairs on your left and take a refreshing dip in this calm water! 

Boca do Inferno

After getting yourself dried off, hydrating and reapplying sunscreen, we will continue walking through Av. Rei Humberto de Itália heading west. The walk to our next stop should take around 10-to-15 minutes and the path is pedestrian and bike-friendly. However, the views are so amazing that I’m sure you will stop more than once just to enjoy them and take some beautiful pictures. Almost at the end of the avenue, you will find our next stop and one of my favorite places in the world!

It’s called Boca do Inferno which means something like The Mouth of Hell. I know the name sounds a bit terrifying but I must say that it indeed looks like the entrance to a supernatural place. Plus, the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks is magical. Please watch out and stay safe as the stones can be slippery and the waves unpredictable. The area is accessible all year around except when the tide is very high. 

Citadel of Cascais and Parque Marechal Carmona

After Boca do Inferno, we will head east through the same path where we came from because there are still a couple of things that you definitely must see. The first one is the Citadel of Cascais which includes a fortress, a tower and a palace that has been turned into a hotel. The entrance is free, but there are some areas that belong to the hotel and are not accessible to the public. There is a gallery where you can check some artwork and the architecture of the whole place is just stunning. 

After the Citadel, crossing the street, you will find the entrance to the Park Marechal Carmona where you can either sit under the shade of a tree and rest or keep walking among the trees. There’s a diverse fauna and plenty of spaces to have a picnic, read a book, play sports and enjoy nature. There’s also a small cafe inside if you want to grab something to drink. 

Taqueria Chac Mool

Finally, to end our walk on a delicious note, you can enjoy the wonderful Mexican restaurant where my boyfriend had “the best tacos he has ever eaten.” So, get your expectations high because the drinks are amazing, the food is otherworldly and the prices very affordable taking into account how expensive everything is in the area. The restaurant is quite close to the train station in case you are tired and want to go back home. But, if you still have some energy, make sure to check out the shops in the city center and support the locals.

About the author:

Mónica da Silva comes from a small town near Caracas, Venezuela where she was born. Mónica was raised by her parents and grandparents who left Portugal in the 70s. After living in Germany for some time, she decided to move to Lisbon where she has been since 2018.

She studied Modern Languages and is currently pursuing a degree in European Studies. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and a bit of German. She loves traveling, learning about different cultures and tasting new flavors. You can follow her on Instagram: @monique_df

Read more of Mónica’s posts for Dispatches here.

Read more about Lisbon and Portugal in our Dispatches archives.

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