It’s hard to compete with Portugal when considering ‘that European destination’ to get you back out on the holiday trail. Amazing cuisine and historic charms aside, the more than 300 average sunny days a year should provide all the motivation needed to rekindle your passion for the great outdoors. This trip focusses on an October visit to the costal town of Cascais and nearby Sintra, with a detailed feature on the capital, Lisbon here following a visit in 2019; o, how much simpler life was back then! But first, a word from our sponsors.
Quinta Da Marinha
An easy 30 minute ride from Lisbon airport, or an even shorter 10 minute dash across town from Cascais train station, the 5* Quinta Da Marinha sits neatly perched amongst gloriously pruned green surrounds. If you are a fan of stick’n’ball, Quinta will emerge as an oasis, with a challenging par 71 course that boasts stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and Sintra Mountains. And with a full set of Taylormade Sims rentable as standard, you’ll be best equipped to take this course on.
Golf is the focus for the many that stay at Quinta so expect a, mature crowd, with limited pool bombs and loud frolicking to break the peace. And with an infinity pool that overlooks the 18th green, you’re afforded ample opportunity to ridicule the frequently terrible golfing efforts of your fellow guests as they complete their €80 round (play and stay packages available).
The 5* facilities you’d come to expect all check out, with the added bonus of a thrice daily, complementary car service to and from the centre of Cascais. Should you miss one of these, a €5 Uber ride will see you into town.
A peaceful stay, Quinta is ideally positioned to explore everything Cascais has to offer while being in range of the stunning Sintra and capital, Lisbon.
Cascais has long attracted holiday seekers to its sandy beaches, most notably royals from all over Europe, some of whom went as far as to establish permanent residency in this beach side town. The result? A municipality now one of the wealthiest in Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula, consistently highly ranked for its quality of life.
What to do
With close to 18 months spent indoors, we’ll be forgiven for skipping the whole host of museums that document Cascais’s past, present and future. Instead opting for long days at the many beaches, strolling off heavy seafood lunches and soaking up the rays. Add to that a few days spent golfing and day trips to Sintra and Lisbon, Cascais served well as a beachside base camp, with its plethora of buzzing bars of great use when riding out long, relaxing evenings.
Where to eat
You’ll be hard pressed to eat badly here, so drop your guard, move away from the safety of your hambúrguer, and embrace the Mediterranean diet that keeps the local retirees sea diving and looking beyond fresh in vintage Raybans.
Jardim dos Frangos – a legendary spot for grilled, Piri Piri chicken and steak.
Fast paced and buzzing all day, take a pew for either lunch or dinner for a bite of simple local cuisine at its best. Although renowned for its Piri Piri chicken, sizzled over roaring coals, keep in mind the Portuguese do not mess around when serving up the most perfect of steaks and grilled sardines. At these prices, just order everything in full confidence that you’ll likely be back here, at least twice, during your trip.
There are a number of seafood restaurants in Cascais serving up their take on the local catch, with consistently fresh ingredients the common denominator.
Monte Mar – a top quality seafood restaurant owned by Quinta da Marinha hotel.
Take full advantage of the free transfers to/ from Quinta da Marinha hotel. The cold Atlantic sets the scene here, dominating the horizon on arrival and maintaining a focus inside with its abundant seafood delicacies served to perfection. The steaming, silky smooth seafood stew provided a perfect accompaniment to the evening Autumn chill, a dreamy plate of epic portions.
Mar do Inferno – dining here, you can be safe in the knowledge that nobody in Cascais is eating better.
A real dining experience, take on a seafood platter and have little to no shame of being hands on with the selection of crab, lobster, sea snails, clams, prawns, bruxas (mini lobsters), the list goes on.
Marisco na paca – fronted by a fish monger, dodge the queue of locals buying their weekly fish and grab a table safe in the knowledge that plates here are as fresh as they get.
Once you’ve made your selections, sit back and soak up the views of Cascais Marina and Santa Marta Lighthouse while your food is expertly prepared. Embrace the garlic butter infused steak sandwich for dessert, a Portuguese essential after an onslaught of seafood.
Camera at the ready, be prepared for one of the more memorable day trips when visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The goal here is to reach the Sintra-Cascais Nature Park without exerting too munch energy and, given the 210 meter ascent from the centre of town to the summit of the Castelo dos Mouros, we suggest a friendly Uber ride. But first, lunch.
Romaria de Bacho
A standout meal, stopping off here for either lunch or dinner is a Sintra itinerary essential. Alongside cozy interiors expect authentic, flavour packed plates, well washed down with local grape juice.
For an afternoon pick me up, don’t resist, join the queue at Piriquita and nab yourself a travesseiros with a double espresso to power you through the sights. These cream filled puff pastries are thee signature dessert of Sintra and no trip is complete without a thorough dusting of puff pastry flakes all over your shirt.
With your typical beach holiday or city break pushed to one side, this trip offers a perspective to Portugal more in tune with small town, good living. A perfect reintroduction to international travel, the Lisboa region’s diverse landscape is well worth exploring, with dense green mountains fortified by the historic relics that have closely watched the Atlantic coastline for over a thousand years.