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Cascais is the sunny gem of the Portuguese Riviera. This atmospheric and beautiful old fisherman’s village and stylish beach resort is located under an hour train ride away from the Portugal‘s capital city Lisbon. Cascais is a perfect spot on the Portuguese Riviera and you can soak in all the wonderful ocean views along the way during the train ride from Lisbon to Cascais, while the train follows the scenic coast line the whole journey.
Cascais is full of pretty boutiques and shops, different type of cafés, restaurants and beach bars. Cascais is touristic, but also very enjoyable at the same time and I have already spent many great days off here on the beach or roaming around the village streets and checking the restaurants. Cascais may be popular among the wealthier people as a holiday destination, but personally I still like its swimable beaches (not windy surf beaches) and its casual vibes, even if luxurious lifestyle isn’t really for me. Cascais also has one of Portugal’s best vegan/vegetarian restaurants, so that alone is already a great reason to visit this town!
HOW TO GET THERE?
You can reach Cascais easily with the train from the Cais do Sodre train station in the center of Lisbon. The return ticket is approximately 5-6 euros and the train goes every 20 minutes. The train ride takes only under one hour and the sceneries during this ride are really fantastic. During the summer months the trains can get pretty full and sometimes you can not trust the air conditioning either. Sometimes you might even have to stand the whole way there, so be prepared with water and maybe take only light packing with you.
OLD FISHERMAN’S VILLAGE AND HOLIDAY RESORT FOR THE ROYALTY
The reputation of Cascais as a famous holiday destination goes all the way back to the 1870s, when King Luis I of Portugal and the Royal family started to spend their summer days in Cascais, which attracted the nobility to the area as well. Also the royalty of other countries around have spent time in this sunny beach town and for the delight of many Bond fans the Casino Estoril* next to Cascais has been an inspiration source for Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale novel.
Before all this popularity and glory Cascais has originally been only a humble but lively fisherman’s village and an important port for the ships and boats heading to Lisbon because of its excellent location.
WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO GO?
Cascais is perfect for a daytrip or for a longer visit. The beaches of Cascais are great for a nice day on the sand and the town is full of nice shops and boutiques to look around. For a day on the beach you should prepare to go early, because they might get crowded during the high season. There is always room for everyone, but if you wish to get a good spot close to the water or a sun chair with an umbrella, (20-25€ for 1 umbrella + 2 chairs) you should start your day early. These beaches are perfect for swimming for their calm waters, but if you are more interested in surfing, you can head out to Carcavelos beach or Guincho beach, that are better for riding on the waves.
For sightseeing you should check out the Cascais Citadel*, a fortress that consists of three different buildings and parts that were used to defend the city of Lisbon from enemies and attacks in the 15th until the 17th centuries. These three parts of the Citadel are: The Tower of Santo António de Cascais, the Fortress of Our Lady of Light, and the former Royal Palace area.
SANTA MARTA LIGHTHOUSE & Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães
The beautiful Santa Marta Lighthouse of Cascais was built in 1867 to guide ships and boats along the rocky shores in the dark and in still functions automatically. The lighthouse works also as a museum and as a popular attraction and it wouldn’t be a miracle if you have seen once or twice a photo taken from lighthouse and small swimming area in front of it. Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães is a former palace next to the lighthouse that also works as a museum for hungry history- and culture lovers.
BOCA DO INFERNO
Boca do Inferno means “the mouth of Hell” and that it surely looks like. Boca do Inferno is rocky gap on a large rocky wall by the sea, where the waves hit hard and the water runs all the way to the end of the gap. This is a famous sight and it’s free of charge just under a little journey from the center of Cascais.
DELICIOUS FOOD AND DRINKS
After relaxing on the beach, walking around the sights and the town, you might feel a bit hungry and thirsty. You should definitely head to the House of Wonders, which is one of the best vegan/vegetarian restaurants I have ever been to! House of Wonders is a fantastic restaurant that offers foods and drinks for vegans and vegetarians and their desserts are amazing. The service is always kind and helpful and you can choose your spot either on the garden terrace downstairs or on the lovely rooftop terrace upstairs with great views all around. Animal friends are also welcome to the garden terrace. You can always go for a cooling cocktail or a delicious natural juice (or just a coffee or beer) even if you are not hungry.
There are of course also many other restaurants, bars and cafés to choose from, so just pick yours from the options around the streets of Cascais. The places on the beach boulevard are pretty touristic and the quality may vary, but you will find good options in the village for sure.
WHERE TO STAY
You can find accommodation from budget hostels to luxury hotels and everything in great locations around the city center and/or beach areas. If you look for more peace and quiet, you can also find a nice place to stay a bit further from the village and enjoy these nice views from a distance. Check out the best places to stay at Hotels.com*.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO CASCAIS? SHARE YOUR PERSONAL TIPS AND EXPERIENCES IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna
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Bairro Alto is a bohemian neighborhood on the other side of Lisbon city center, opposite of the São Jorge Castle in the old town Alfama. Bairro Alto means the high neighborhood and that it really is with all its steep hills and cobblestone streets and the wonderful yellow funiculars taking people up the hills. Bairro Alto is neighborhood that divides opinions, but I personally like this part of the city a lot and I walk the streets of the Alto quite often, because it happens to be close to my current home.
Bairro Alto is nowadays a very popular place to go for the nightlife, but its history goes all the way to the 16th Century. Bairro Alto was the first planned neighborhood outside the medieval city walls and it was very popular among the aristocrats and the merchants. Also the artists and the writers became very fond of the neighborhood and in the 19th Century also the big newspaper houses came to the area. The story also tells, that because the journalists were always working late and they wanted to enjoy a relaxing time after work, the brothels started to arrive in the Bairro Alto area. Still to this current day Bairro Alto remains a popular and lively place for a good night out and instead of brothels it has many different types of interesting small bars with lively and versatile range of music where you can enjoy a delicious cocktail or a cold beer, whatever you prefer. Bairro Alto has something for everyone from Caribbean style bars to Irish pubs and it’s all in this wonderful old town neighborhood.
The vibes of the Alto has already charmed me once or twice as well and my favorite places and my best recommendations are for sure the small and wonderful Caribbean style bars with their tasty and fresh cocktails and reggaeton music. During these times of the Covid-19 it is very important to acknowledge the current restrictions and recommendations for example about the opening hours and the amount of customers for the restaurants and bars. These restrictions and recommendations are updated every week in Lisbon now, so be sure to find out the current situation to avoid any unfortunate surprises while travelling and going out.
HISTORIC AND ICONIC FUNICULARS AND COLOURFUL STREET ART
Although Bairro Alto is an amazing place for the nightlife, it is also so much more than just that. When the party people are still sleeping after a night out, you can head out to the streets to see the colourful buildings and the interesting street art, that has also found its place on the sides of the yellow iconic funiculars.
Because of the hight differences and many steep hills of the Alto neighborhood, it is possible to take the Elevador da Gloria funicular from the Restauradores Square in the city center to get up the hill to Bairro Alto. The Elevador da Gloria funicular was built in 1885 and it will bring you right next to the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara viewpoint, which is one of the most wonderful viewpoints in the city.
I walk past the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara and the Gloria funicular every time I want to go to the Chiado area for a dinner or catch the next train to Cascais for a beach day from the Cais do Sodre Train Station, or if I just want to go and explore the city and the Alto area a bit more. This viewpoint was also the very first viewpoint where I took my first photos of the Lisbon city rooftops.
In addition to the wonderful Elevador da Gloria, there is also another funicular to the high quarter. Elevador da Bica is the most photographed and the most famous of the funiculars and you have possibly seen many photos of this already. You can find the Bica a bit lower than the Gloria and it is located in an idyllic narrow and steep street with colourful buildings around. The Bica was built in 1892 and it was made for bringing people from the Tejo riverside up towards the Bairro Alto.
Usually the Bica is very popular and has many tourists and photographers around it, but now during Covid I had the great chance to enjoy watching the funiculars of Bica pass each other with no other people next to me. The Elevador da Bica has two funiculars, one is always down and one is up and they always pass each other at the same time in the middle of the hill. No need to say – I was very excited when I heard the bells of the carriages ring and they started to come towards each other, passing just in front of me. Yay, my tourist moment was perfect!
OTHER SIGHTS TO SEE
Bairro Alto is not really bathing in the ocean of amazing sights to see, but it does have a few. The decorative baroque style São Roque Church and the beautiful church of Santa Catarina are definitely worth the visit and they are popular places among the locals and the tourists.
CHARMING CHIADO AND THE COLOURFUL PINK STREET
While spending time in the amazing Alto, you should also for sure visit the charming area of Chiado below the Alto. Chiado has also great restaurants and cafes, boutiques and local gems. Most of the Chiado was destroyed in the big fire of 1988, but has been rebuilt and reborn since back to its glory. After Bairro Alto and Chiado remember to pop onto the Pink Street below Chiado, close to the Cais do Sodre Train Station. It is literally a street painted in pink and it has many bars and restaurants around it. Now during the Pride, it also has rainbow-coloured umbrellas decorating the street wonderfully.
Experience the best neighborhoods in Lisbon all the way from Bairro Alto to the old town Alfama and everything in the middle with the local buses, metro and the iconic yellow trams with the Lisboa Card*, easily and all combined in one card.
REMEMBER TO ALSO CHECK OUT THE OTHER ACTIVITIES AROUND BAIRRO ALTO AND LISBON:
Check my previous article about the lovely old town Alfama and other posts about Lisbon also:
- Alfama – The charming old town of Lisbon
- New country, new way of life – First thoughts about Portugal
HAVE YOU ALREADY VISITED THE BAIRRO ALTO? IS IT A YAY OR NAY FOR YOU? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE ON THE COMMENTS BELOW! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna