Portugal City Guides: Cascais
Cascais (pronounced cash-kaysh) is a relaxed, yet vibrant Atlantic resort west of Lisbon.
Cascais is known for its traditional black and white calçada wave-patterned pavements, fine seafood restaurants and lively seafront street cafes.
As well as soaking up the sun and relaxing in pavement cafes, Cascais has a number of interesting sites for visitors from the capital or people who base themselves in the town. These include a number of museums grouped in the Bairro dos Museus or Museum Quarter, which are detailed in a brochure from the Tourist Office.
The Casa das Histórias Paula Rego is dedicated to the paintings, drawings and graphic work of the UK-based, Portuguese artist Paula Rego. Set in a beautifully designed building by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto Moura (who also designed Braga Municipal Stadium and the Trinidade metro station in Porto), the Casa das Histórias is a great place to spend a couple of hours admiring the art and maybe stop for lunch or a drink in the pleasant cafe/restaurant.
Virtually next door, the Museu do Mar (Tel 214 825 400) charts Cascais' connections with the sea. The museum is housed in the former Sporting Clube de Cascais, sponsored by King Carlos I (1863-1908), which was the venue for open-air games including tennis, cricket and the first game of football played in Portugal.
The Parque Municipal da Gandarinha is a pleasant open space containing the nineteenth century stately home of Irishman Jorge O'Neill - the Museu Condes de Castro Guimaraes (Tel 214 825 407). The palatial residence was commissioned in 1900 by Jorge O'Neill, a personal friend of King Carlos I of Portugal and a Portuguese-Irish aristocrat. The house was acquired in 1910 by Count Manuel de Castro Guimarães, who donated the residence to the state on his death in 1927.
The Palácio da Cidadela was initially constructed in the 16th-17th centuries to defend the mouth of the River Tagus. From the 1870's part of the fortress had become the summer residence of the Portuguese royal family. After the establishment of the Portuguese republic in 1910, Portugal's presidents continued to enjoy its location and charm.
Renovated in 2004, the Palácio da Cidadela has become an art space occupied by a number of museums, shops and restaurants. These include the Casa do Cartoon, which exhibits graphic humour from the press. The original Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Luz reopened to the public in April 2016 after a restoration. The opulent Pousada de Cascais is also located within the walls of the citadel and boasts an indoor swimming pool.
Close to the Palácio da Cidadela is the Centro Cultural de Cascais housed in a restored convent, which now stages prominent exhibitions of both classical and contemporary art.
The Casa Duarte Pinto Coelho displays a collection of 19th century terra-cotta ceramics and Chinese glassware in a former Guard House all amassed by the Duarte Pinto (1923-2010) - a Portuguese interior decorator and friend to the rich and famous including European royalty and Indian maharajas.
The Casa de Santa Marta was designed by the prolific architect Raul Lino (1879-1974) at the beginning of the 20th century for Jorge O'Neill. Lino also designed a number of other residences in nearby Sintra and Estoril (including the Casa Verdades de Faria, also for O'Neill, which houses the Museu da Musica Portuguesa), but this lavish residence is considered one of his finest creations.
Virtually next door is the Santa Maria Lighthouse Museum - a 19th century lighthouse built over a 17th century fort, which is now a museum highlighting the history of lighthouses along Portugal's coast.
The Museu da Vila, housed in the Town Hall, introduces the history of Cascais from prehistoric times to the present day.
The pleasant Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Church of Our Lady of the Assumption) dates originally from the 16th century but has been restored on numerous occasions over time. The interior includes 18th century azulejos tile work and a some historic religious art.
Cascais Tourist Office
Rua Visconde da Luz 14
Tel. 214 868 204
9am-7pm Mon-Fri; 9am-8pm July/Aug.
Getting to Cascais
Cascais is best reached by train from Cais de Sodre on the Cascais Line (Linha de Cascais) to Cascais Station at the end of the line. Trains run every 10-12 minutes. Some trains may involve a change at Oeiras.
Take the A5 Lisbon-Cascais highway.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Cascais
Cascais is blessed with accommodation options to suit all budgets from top class hotels to economical hostels. The five-star boutique Farol Hotel is right on Cascais' marina and features a seawater pool. Close by are the four-star Villa Gale Cascais, and the five-star Grande Real Villa Italia with classical decorations, a spa and an outdoor pool. The large Hotel Baia overlooks the harbour and has a rooftop pool with outdoor terrace and bar. See here for a complete list of hotels in Cascais.
Drinking & Entertainment
The main bar and restaurant strip in Cascais is centered on the pedestrianized Rua Frederico Arouca and the more raucous Largo Luis de Camoes. There's a colorful market every Wednesday on Rua do Mercado and an early morning fish market between Praia da Ribeira and Praia da Rainha.
Cascais has a choice of places to eat including Portuguese, Thai, Chinese and Indian restaurants. For expats there is also a number of British and Irish pubs serving Guinness and British beer. For a local experience head to the outside bar and cafe near Jardim Visconde da Luz.
Largo Luis de Camoes 4A
Tel: 214 483 319
O'Neills Irish Pub
Rua Afonso Sanches 8
Tel: 214 868 230
The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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