Day trips: Sintra, Cascais, Estoril..., Lisbon
Cascais is a town right before cascais and is famous for 2 things: the Casino and the F1 racing track...
The Casino is very much active and attracts a lot of people, I personally have never entered it, so I can't say if it is any good. According to the site, it's Europe's largest. The F1 is actually not located in Estoril... it is about 20 minutes away, between Cascais and Sintra and just borrows the name, so don't expect to see it unless you drive there on purpose.
There is also the Estoril tennis open, which, once more, only borrows the name as it is played either in Lisbon (Estádio Nacional do Jamor) or Oeiras.
I personally don't find Estoril particularly interesting, although you might want to check out the beach at night, during the summer, as there are a lot of bars and occasionally live music and there used to be a nightly firework show at midnight. Don't know if it still going on, but it might be worth a trip, at least for one evening.
Another very interesting activity is the "Feira do Artesanato" (Arts and Crafts Fair), on a space right behind the Casino. There are usually some very nice restaurants and a lot of stands that sell traditional pottery, tiles, glasswork, etc. Although it has become a bit touristic, I still enjoy going there. It is open in the summer months and usually closes end of August.
I wouldn't bother going there in the winter.
What makes it so popular then? It is a nice residential area, with some nice hotels and, if you have a car, you can access some nice beaches, golf courses, Sintra and Cascais are very close and, of course, you have the Casino. I think it is more destination for Luxury travel than anything else.
On our second day in Lisbon, we took a very cheap and short train ride out of the city to the nearby town of Sintra. For hundreds of years this place had been the summer retreat for Portugese Royalty with its tree-covered mountains and cool Atlantic Ocean airs.
However, our first task on this visit was a strenous but enjoyable hike up the mountainside and through its forest to the old Moorish castle, built high above in the 8th century. This was one of the highlights of our entire trip to Portugal. Such a beautiful day, amazing views of both Sintra and the Atlantic Ocean. It was so great just to wander along the ramparts at our leisure, and the crowds were not bad at all. Only E3.50 each to enter the Castle.
See my 'Sintra' page for all the details! Just do it if you are ever in Lisbon.
Part two of our trip to Sintra involved touring the former summer palace of Portugese Royalty. Shown here (in a 3X zoom shot) from the Moorish Castle perched above the town, the twin white kitchen chimneys are the trademark sign that you are in Sintra!
Tours of the National Palace of Sintra cost us E3 per person and it allows a tour (no photos) through many of the rooms in the palace, allowing you to see just how Royalty lived in those days. The Palace was first begun by King Joao I in the late 1300s and was expanded and continued to be used by Royalty for 500 years, up until the 1880s.
This and the Moorish Castle were only two of Sintra's attractions - due to time constraints, we did not make it to the equally impressive Pena Palace, perched in the Serra de Sintra mountains even higher than the Moorish Castle!
Sintra on my personal opinion manages to be, one of the most romantic places I've ever been, a wonderfull place to go backpacking in the woods and mountains, it's a place with a gorgeous calm beach a couple of Km away and, what I think that is one of the most amasing things is that it has its own clima, wich is just wonderfull during the summer.
Beautifull palaces, absolutly gorgeous restaurants, very interesting craft and... imagine, no trafic! So if your coming by car, you'll be asked to leave it outside this gorgeous town located in this beautifull valey.
Must try the sweets and typical pastries.
There's many splendid beaches just near Lisbon. It's a great way to spend the afternoon. Lisbon summers are hot and muggy; jumping into the cold Atlantic waves is the best way to cool down.
The closest beaches are just west of Lisboa, near Oeiras and Carcavelos. To get there, take the train heading towards Cascais from Cais do Sodre. There's also beaches in Estoril and Cascais, but they cater more towards tourists.
If wanting to venture south, there's more than 30 kilometers of beach lining the Setúbal Peninsula. Via public transportation, the journey will take 45-60 minutes (depending on where you choose to go).
Look at my Beach pages for more information:
Costa da Caparica, South of Lisbon
Oeiras, west of Lisbon
Cascais, further west of Lisbon
It is a special place, you can easily get there from Lisbon.
Cabo de Roca is the farthest situated west part of the Europe situated on the land. We have even bought the special certifikate that we both have been to that place. There are great view from this place, you can see the enormity of Atlantic Ocean. I have seen the Atlantic first time in my life so I was very glad with it and moved...
It is very nice place to visit it with few wonderful castles. It is really worth to see it. We didn't have the luck with this travel. At that day it was the heavy rain, so heavy that when we arrived to the first castle in Sintra they say that the all structures were closed. There wasn't electricity because of the heavy rain! We were really angry with this fact. So, we only could take the photos outside the castles.
Sintra is really nice place for one day excursion from Lisbon so I recommend you it.
Sintra is a city located just about 30-40 minutes away from Lisbon.
It is surrounded by mountains and beaches and with a lot of forest.
This is one of my favorite places in Portugal and I go there everytime I have the chance.
It is an old Moorish city, recaptured in 1147, there is really a lot to see: from the two castles on top of the hill, one (Castelo dos Mouros) medieval-style stone castle and the other (Palácio da Pena) colourful and unique to the fabulous "Quinta da Regaleira".
Its Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage and if you go there you will understand why.
I am planning to add a page on Sintra later.
Cascais is another town not far away from Lisbon which is quite famous. Why? Because it has a relaxed atmosphere, a lot of foreigners (believe it or not, many people want to mingle with their own instead of meeting locals when on holidays...) and is quite nice overall.
When I worked in Portugal, almos all my expatriate colleagues lived in Cascais as it was relatively close to work and had the qualities I mentioned above, so if you come here, you will find a LOT of tourists, mainly from the UK, Sweden and other nordic countries.
I particularly like to come here in the evening and in the summer as there are some very nice nightclubs/bars in the area and, in this case, the international environment actually helps.
It's also home to a very famous disco/nightclub called Coconuts.
A Cascais page is coming up soon.
The train from "Cais do Sodre" in Lisbon will take you to the center of Cascais and you really don't need a car to see all the main points of interest. Should you be interested in exploring the country side, do rent a car as it is difficult to reach, for instance, "Boca do Inferno" on foot.
Visit the westernmost point of Europe: Cabo da Roca, which is described by the Portuguese national poem Luís de Camões as the place, where the land is over and the sea begins.
It is more a geographical experience than a touristic attraction, but it is worth to see.
Cabo da Roca offers a monument, which announce its geographical status, a light tower and a restaurant.
Cabo da Roca is a atmospheric place due to its cliffs and the atlantic waves lashing towards the European continent.
You get a document in the local tourist information, which proves, that you were there, but I dissuade. It costs from 5 -10 € and you'll probably have a better memory of this place, if you just sit down and drink a beer and take some fotos.
Maybe travelling to the statue is a bit much for what you get in return? For sure a great view! You can have some fun along the way too. Take the ferry at Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas (0,6euro and a boattrip is always fun). To reach the statue take bus #101 from the bus station, opposite from Cacilhas ferry terminal. (0,8 euro) To go to the top of the statue by elevator they charge you 2,5euro.
Enjoy the view.
Why not take the train back to the city? It goes over the bridge! Go right at the traffic circle at Christo Rei. Follow the road all the way down until you reach the main road. Go right and follow until you reach the train station of Caparica. It 's a 20 minutes walk ( only downhill ! :-) )Another 1,4 euro will bring you over the bridge back to Lisbon. Buy until Campolide Station. Take the train with direction : Roma-Areeiro
Sintra is an absolutely must-see if you visit Lisbon, it offers a great variety of cultural building combined with a beautiful landscape.
Sintra's top attractions are:
Palacio Nacional de Sintra:
Inside of the plain white, former summer residence of the Portuguese kings, you'll see interior design of heydays of the nation. Especially remarkable are the phantastic wood ceiling, which are carved and painted.
From far away you will see the palace's conical, giant twin-chimneys, which are also Sintra's landmark.
Afterwards take some time to strive threw the historical village of Sintra.
Castelo dos Mouros
My personal favourite in Sintra: Wander around the remains of an old moorish castle. Enjoy the shady areas and the astonishing views to the city of Sintra and the Palácio da Pena.
Palácio da Pena:
Some call it the "Portuguese Neuschwanstein", but do not expect too much. It is beautiful from outside, especially from Castelo dos Mouros at afternoon (best time for foto shots!), and the furnishing reveals an unbelievable pageantries, but you have to pay the highest entrance fees for it and it is the longest way to walk (The palace is on the highest point of the area) and it still needs much renovation. Finally, in my opinion Palácio da Pena can't hold a candle to Bavarian Neuschwanstein at all.
If you have enough time hike downwards through the Parque da Pena, but be careful do get not lost.
Note, that all attractions around Sintra are relatively far away (although connected with ScottURB Bus Nr. 434), so you'll need good shoes (and even good condition) to enjoy.
Sintra is a must see for any visitor to Lisbon. Though it's quite close to the city it feels a world apart from Lisbon or anywhere else in Portugal.
Sintra was once the summer home of the Portugese monarchy and before that of the Moorish leaders in Lisbon. There are three sights that everyone comes to see: the Palacio Nacional, dating from Moorish times, but used mainly by the Portugese Kings and Queens, the fairytale like Palacio Pena, built in the 19th century, and my favourite site, the ruined Castelo dos Mouros, an impressive fortress on top of one of the hills in Sintra.
Since the closure of Rossio station for upgrading, trains to Sintra leave from Entrecampos or Sete Rios in the north of the city and it takes about 25 minutes to get there.
Someone asked me advice for a nine days visit to Lisbon in winter, and I think that it will be usefull to post it here.
Nine days in Lisbon, in winter, may be two much (three or four will do), but you may travel around (a car will be the best way):
Reserve at least one day to Sintra, Ericeira (Seafood lunch), Mafra, Cascais and Estoril.
Do a full day trip to Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazaré (sardines for lunch), and Obidos (if you missed it you may stop in Mafra in your return).
Another full day to Évora and Monsaraz (beautiful and with a "presepio (Nativity scene in full size paper figures)" in the streets).
The mentioned suggestions are "must see" - they are wonderful all year around, and most of them not too compromised by eventual bad weather.
With time, you may also travel one day to Ribatejo - Tomar is great, and Santarém also interesting, and/or another day to Sesimbra and Arrábida (this in a clear dry day)
Thousands of Portuguese head south to Algarve in New year's eve. If you want action that's the place, two hours driving from Lisbon.
Cascais has a large harbor with many Yachts and there are several small sandy beaches both in and around the town. Easily reached from Lisbon by car, (A5 Lisboa-Cascais highway), or by frequent inexpensive trains and bus’s makes it popular with Portuguese and Foreign holiday makers and day trippers.
The Citadel, an art and sea museum, parks and of course the charming cobbled streets of the historic centre make this town a great place to visit. It has many hotels and tourist apartments with a wide range of good restaurants at varying costs. It is a good base for those visiting Lisbon and the surrounding areas without staying in the bustle of the City yet still in an equally urban and sophisticated environment.