CASCAIS is a coastal town and a municipality in Portugal, 30km west of Lisbon. It is a cosmopolitan suburb of the Portuguese capital and one of the richest municipalities in Portugal.
The former fishing village gained fame as a resort for Portugal’s Royal Family in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Nowadays, it is a popular vacation spot for both Portuguese and foreign tourists. It is located in the ESTORIL COAST (named after ESTORIL, a town in the municipality, in the Greater Lisbon sub-region.
CASCAIS is easily reached from Lisbon by car or by frequent inexpensive commuter trains. It has the ruins of a castle, and art and sea museum, as well as parks and the charming cobbled streets in the historic centre.
The town has many hotels and tourist apartments, and good restaurants of varying costs. It is a fine base to use for those visiting Lisbon and its environs and who prefer to stay outside the city, yet, in an equally urban and sophisticated environment.
CASCAIS is surrounded by lovely beaches such as the GUINCHO BEACH (PRAIA do GUINCHO) to the west, and the SINTRA MOUNTAIN to the north. Some of its shoreline is cliffy, attracting tourists for its seascapes and other natural sights such as the BOCA do INFERNO ( Hell’s Mouth). It is also a golf destination, with over 10 golf courses nearby. Surfing, sailing, windsurfing and kite-surfing are also popular in the region around Cascais, due to favourable weather, wind and sea conditions. In 2007, Cascais was the official host of the ISAF World Championship in Sailing for Dinghies and Racing Yachts. The municipality also hosts International Tennis and Motorcycling events, and for many years hosted the FIA F1 Portugal Grand Prix.
The famous ESTORIL CASINO is one of the largest in Europe. Near the Casino is the HOTEL PALACIO (Palace Hotel), a 5-star hotel, where scenes of the James Bond movie ——— On Her Majesty’s secret Service —– were shot. BOCA do INFERNO is an interesting cliff formation, close to Cascais, which has been given an overly dramatic name of Hell’s Mouth. The ceaseless pounding of the Atlantic Ocean on the cliffs, chiselled a small cave, which, subsequently, collapsed forming a small bay and natural arch. In the summer these waves merely splash around in the open cave, but during winter storms, the full force of the ocean is funnelled into a chasm which gives rise to the name of the rock formation. At Hell’s Mouth there are pathways allowing tourists to climb down the cliff face and view the unique formation from both sides. There is no entry fee to visit Hell’s Mouth and the site is open all the time. The walk to the BOCA do INFERNO takes about 40mins and most visitors spend 30mins just watching the waves smash against the cliffs.
The PRAIA do GUINCHO (Guincho Beach) is a popular blue-flag beach, 5km from Cascais. The beach has preferred surfing conditions. During winter (especially in December), the predominant winds are from the east, and “swells” increase in size, making it a perfect spot for surfing, with multiple beach-breaks providing powerful lefts and rights. There are also several surf-camps and surf-schools that provide accommodation and services, including rentals, repairs and surfing classes. Today, several sporting events are held at GUINCHO regularly, including the Portuguese National Surfing Championship.