A couple of weeks ago, my need for sun, sea and a little luxury took me to Cascais in Portugal. Knowing next to nothing about this coastal town, I have to say that what I found left me suitably impressed.
Formerly a fishing port and only 18 miles from the capital of Lisbon, Cascais only became a popular holiday spot in the late 19th century, when the Portuguese Royal Family took a liking to the area. Nowadays it is a firm favourite with locals and foreign tourists alike.
To get a feel for the area we set about exploring Cascais and the neighbouring town of Estoril (best known for its large casino) on foot. We walked along the coast from Guincho Beach and ended up in the heart of Cascais just over an hour later. The views out across the beaches are spectacular and the pavements are choc-a-bloc with joggers and other smiling holiday makers.
The esplanade from Cascais to Estoril has a genuinely lively holiday feel to it, lined as it is with lots of little bars and restaurants. We spent a couple of hours relaxing on the golden sand of the popular Praia do Tamariz, before retreating to one of the restaurants for some seafood and wine.
It's easy to while away the hours on the esplanade watching all the watersports enthusiasts in the sea. The choppy Atlantic Ocean makes the area a watersports haven, attracting surfers, kite surfers and jet skiers.
For a dose of culture, head back from the beach to the old town, with its winding lanes and historic buildings. Museo do Mar (the Museum of the Sea), Casa Das Histórias Paula Rego (showcasing the works of the Portuguese-born photographer and painter) and the Cascais Municipal Museum are all well worth a visit.
If you can tear yourself away from the beach, then definitely head to Lisbon for the day. The city is just a 30-minute drive from Cascais and ideal for a culture-filled day or lively night out. Home to Gothic cathedrals, the Estrela Basilica and several museums, the Estrela district is steeped in history and great for culture, while Bairro Alto, packed to the rafters with clubs and bars playing live music, is definitely the go-to place for a night on the town.
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