It’s the time of year where many of us are missing summer and craving some of that sunshine we got so used to. So why not hop on a plane and go get some of it in Portugal?

It seems as though everyone is well acquainted with the country’s capital, the beaches in the Algarve and the Porto wine region. But have you been to Cascais? I’m here to make a strong case for it as a summer beach destination and as a place to chase the Mediterranean sun towards the end of the year too.

Cascais offers much of what Lisbon does and is just a short drive or train ride from the capital – meaning you can enjoy good food and wine, plus the beach, in no time at all.

Staying at the Grande Real Villa Itália was a perfect choice as it’s a short walk from the town centre but also offers guests the peace and tranquility of being that little bit removed from the buzz. Plus, there’s gorgeous sea and pool views for those whose balconies face that way – it’s a glorious wake up call.

While many might visit Cascais for the day, I found that the few days I had were all too short and am already planning to visit this charming seaside town again. As someone who tries to do all she needs to in a city or town, just in case another visit in the future isn’t possible, that’s saying something.


Currently in bed craving clams and custard tarts, let’s start by talking about the food. Portuguese food is never a let down and Cascais steps up to the plate (quite literally), feeding it’s tourists and locals the best of what the country has to offer.

For a trendy and ambient buzz, Taberna Clandestina is the perfect choice. Offering up various croquettes, meat and cheese boards and carpaccios to start, it’s all washed down beautifully with a glass – or bottle – of vinho verde. The selection of beers and rosé also do not disappoint. For mains, I could not recommend the grilled octopus more, as well as the traditional Portuguese salted cod fish with egg and potatoes.

Seafood fans need to visit two eateries in particular – Azimut – which is a casual beach side dining spot, offering up the traditional way of cooking clams in vinho verde, garlic and coriander or parsley, as well as octopus salad and a mango seabass dish that is impressive to both the sight and stomach.

O Pescador is another casual restaurant that is perfect for dinner. Upon entering, guests feel like they’re walking into a fisherman’s tavern and if the nautical decor doesn’t have you intrigued, the smell you are immediately immersed in will. The menu is vast but forget everything you’ve heard about suspiciously long menus as none of it applies here. From the typical national dish cataplana (of which there are a variety of choices, I chose prawns and fish) to sting ray with plantain, there’s so many options from which to choose and it is all delicious.

Taberna da Praça is worth visiting for the fact that it is situated within the Fortress Nossa Senhora da Luz, alone. When in doubt, order the whole menu, is what I always say, and that’s exactly what was done here. It’s always a good meal when the servers have to play Tetris with the plates and add another table to your sitting. From garlic prawns and fried courgette flowers to a chopped tender meat dish called pica-pau in an addictively-tasting house-made sauce, this focus group found nothing bad to say about any of the dishes. Scrambled eggs come with tomatoes and asparagus, as well as the classic cod fish and the mussels and monkfish stew is truly special.

Now while my writing might suggest otherwise, there are reasons to visit Cascais that are unrelated to food, too.


I was lucky enough to be taken on a tour of the Quinta do Pisão national park, where we learned all about the sustainable initiatives of the nature reserve – as well as being able to walk the Mirandesa donkeys (native to northern Portugal) that live there (sadly, food aside, I am too old and big to safely ride them).

We embarked upon one of the hiking trails, learning about how the working farm is responsible for local products via its agriculture, forestry and dairy farming. We were treated to a picnic lunch, as hikers are offered this, as well luxury camping packages, before returning to the shop to purchase some local fig jams and honey.

Embrace the sea air and enjoy views from the harbour on a private boat trip – or climb your way up to the lighthouse and look out onto beautiful sea views. The town itself is adorned with cute trinket shops and cafes, should you wish to grab an ice cream and wander through the streets.

For those wanting a more guided visit of the city, the team at Shortcuts Tourism are your guys – for example, did you know that during World War Two, Estoril, Cascais became a centre point for spies and double agents due to Portugal’s neutrality. The Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was largely filmed in Portugal and the cast stayed at Palacio Estoril Hotel in 1968. José Diogo, who still today remains one of the Heads of the Concierge Desk, played a small part in the film handing room keys to James Bond, when he was just 18 years old.


A popular excursion for people visiting Cascais is to travel to neighbouring Sintra. A 20 minute drive or 45 minute journey via public transport is all it takes and soon I found myself transported to this medieval-style town. I say this mostly because Sintra is known for its various castles, all of which are worth visiting.

Most people will be familiar with the vibrant red and yellow hues of Pena Palace and I must confess I was slightly disappointed to find out this was not where we would be visiting during our own trip. However, never one to not hold my hands up to being proven wrong, this is exactly what Andre did. We visited the Monserrate Palace and it was absolutely stunning. From the grounds to the beautiful architecture, it is well worth the visit and, once again, I’m already planning another visit to see some of Sintra’s other palaces.

In between a traditional cherry liqueur chocolate cup shot and a ‘Sleepy Pillow’ cake from best known bakery in Sintra, Piriquita, founded in 1862, I also managed to squeeze in a visit to the National Palace and Gardens – so I’m gradually working my way through my list.

Top tip: take a jumper or jacket as Sintra is known for its own microclimate and it’s often far chillier there than in Cascais.

Although lying on one of the beautiful beaches is pretty fabulous, Cascais is a great place to escape for a long weekend – have I convinced you to book your next break here?

Fly to Lisbon with TAP Air Portugal, with flights from £39.12 one way.


Always looking for exciting opportunities to travel, eat fabulous food, and enjoy the fashionable-side of life, Amira writes with passion, enthusiasm and genuine interest.

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