Monday, 30 July 2012


This is my last post of my travel series about my holiday in France and Portugal during June and July 2012.

When in Portugal I was based at my sister´s house in Cascais, and since it´s such a charming place I wanted to end this series with a post about the town.

Cascais, is a small town on the Estoril coast, about 25km from Lisbon, just a 40min ride by train from Cais do Sodré station in Lisbon.

Once a fisherman´s village it is now a very popular residential area, as well as very popular with tourists due to the proximity to Lisbon, the white sandy beaches, the marina, sophisticated nightlife, proximity to the Casino in Estoril, and the charming historical centre with cobbled streets.
Cascais Bay and beach
Largo Camões with pubs and restaurants surrounding the statue
The centre is easily explored on foot, but you can also hire a free bike from the Town Hall (BiCas scheme) to ride around, and you just need your ID and accommodation address. Due to their popularity and depending on the time of year, the bikes aren´t always available, so first come, first served.
There is also a bus route (BusCas) which goes around town and surrounding areas, and at a cost of 50cts is very good value. You can get in at the Cascais train station and it comes around every 10minutes.

When I was there, I was lucky to see Europe´s biggest concentration of Harley-Davidson´s - 12000 bikes for the 21st European Rally, held in June 14-17, a colourful and fun event, with over 60 thousand people flocking to Cascais to have a look at the emblematic bikes and enjoy the party atmosphere.

A stage for live entertainment was set up on the beach
Harleys everywhere!
The Fortress of Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our lady of the Light), with its triangular layout, is a military fort built in the 16th century to defend the Portuguese coast. From 1871 until the implementation of the Republic, the fort was used as a royal residence for King Luis I, and it was here that he died. 
It was in Cascais, that the royal family acquired the habit of going to the beach. From then on, prominent families started building their palaces and mansions in Cascais, turning it into a famous and cosmopolitan area.

The fort later became the official residence of  President Oscar Carmona who lived here during his term in office.
The fortress of Our Lady of the Light
A luxury hotel - Pousada de Cascais - is now set within the wall of this fortress, with spectacular views to the sea or over the internal patio spaces. It has bars, restaurants, shops, indoor pool and spa and conference rooms and each room is unique.

The town hall, located in the Praça 5 de Outubro (5th of October square) is a building from the 18th century, which was damaged in the 1755 earthquake but was restored in 1821. It is a charming building covered in hand painted tiles (azulejos) outside and inside. On the outside walls, in-between the balconies there are panels of tiles with Saints. One of the evenings, when we went to the city centre, there was a light show being projected on the walls of the Town hall.
Light show over the walls of the Town Hall
Tiles Saints in-between the balconies at the Town hall
Branching out from the Square there are some interesting cobbled streets to explore, full of restaurants, souvenir and speciallity shops.
Walking along the cobbled streets of Cascais
If you like visiting Museums, go to Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães - a 19th century mansion complete with castle turrets and Arabic cloister, built by Irish aristocrat Jorge O´Neill as a holiday home, and later sold to the Counts de Castro Guimarães. The palace was decorated with Oriental furniture and tapestries and 17th century tiles and it houses an impressive collection of 25,000 books.  It´s built in a cove and during high tides the base of the building is touched by the waves.
Museum Castro Guimaraes
For a beautiful view of the coast go past Boca do Inferno - (Mouth of hell) right next to the Marina just outside the centre of Cascais. When the sea is rough it beats against the rock and creates a booming noise and the sea sprays everywhere.
Santa Marta Lighthouse
Walk or drive further along Estrado do Guincho to "Casa da Guia", a beautiful mansion transformed into a mini-shopping centre with restaurants and boutiques. Because this is set into an enclosed area with gardens you cannot take the cars inside. Magnificent views of the cliffs can be had from the esplanades of some of the restaurants.
View from Casa da Guia
The marina with the fort in the background
The whole family enjoying their favourite flavour

Before leaving Cascais, don´t forget to buy an ice-cream at Santini´s, the famous Italian Ice cream parlour in existence for over 60 years.

There is a huge variety of ice cream flavours to choose from which vary with the seasons.
The Cascais shop in Avenida Valbom, is open between April to October, and there is a shop in Estoril and Chiado (in Lisbon).

As we sat enjoying our ice-creams my South African nephew who is a football fanatic noticed that one of the Portuguese soccer players - Carlos Martinswas in the shop and asked to pose with him for a photo, which made his day. 
(Sorry the wikipedia article is just in Portuguese). 
My nephew Roberto with soccer player Carlos Martins

Hope you have enjoyed the armchair trip around France and Portugal.

I will now settle back to my day to day life in Perth and will return to blogging about the A-Z of Australia series.


  1. fab post! another place to add to my list of 'must visits'!

  2. I was just over at 'Piglet in Portugal' and read about your caterpillar infestation and your looking for an organic control, I have a suggestion: diatomaceous earth food good
    That stuff is amazing, it kills all sorts of creepy crawlies including spiders which is what we bought some for.
    The way it kills the insects/bugs is it gets into their exoskeleton and they dehydrate or dry out.
    If you decide to try diatomaceous earth make sure that it's 'Food Grade' that you buy.
    It's got a ton of uses and is even safe for animals to eat, people eat it too for various reasons, but I don't think it's been approved for human consumption yet.
    I hope this helps. :)

  3. We love Cascais and hope to visit again later in the year. We went with some friends last time and they took us to a little Italian restaurante, the food was delicious and so reasonably priced!

    Can't wait to go back, it's so nice wandering round.

    Last time we went we stayed in Estoril, OK, but would rather stay in a little place in the centre of Cascais.

  4. OK, not sure what happened to my last comment - it just disappeared when I pressed published :(

    I love Cascais and can't wait to return. :)I especially love taking the train. We stayed in Estoril last time we went, but nxt will def be Cascais

  5. Thanks for visiting Alyson, Carole and EC. Cascais is a lovely and friendly town.

  6. EC - thanks for the comments about my black caterpillar infestation. I will check where I can buy the diatomaceous earth, as it sounds great for all my crawlies.

  7. Ah que passeio tão bom ´por Portugal! Fiquei com saudades...

    Enquanto a Sami andava a passear por lá, eu andava a explorar a Australia e a Nova Zelandia. Gosto muito das duas! Cada uma à sua maneira proporcionaram-me duas semanas excelentes!

  8. Sara - Espero que a viagem á Austrália tenha trazido os resultados que esperava. Gostaram de Brisbane?

  9. I have enjoyed your trip Sami, your photos and information has been excellent. I can see why you loved Cascais so much and why it's popular with tourists. Enjoy the rain and the cooler weather, I know I am.

  10. Thanks Grace, it was a great holiday - I really enjoyed it as a tourist this time!

  11. Possivelmente cruzámo-nos... Também fui ver as Harleys e o light show no edifício da Câmara de Cascais! :-)


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