Cascais and its spectacular coastline are a must-see destination for any visitor to Portugal. Flanked on two sides by the Atlantic Ocean, the region is located just 25 km from Lisbon and its international airport, stretching west in a rectangle from Carcavelos to Guincho Beach. Nearby stands the imposing Cabo da Roca, mainland Europe’s most westerly point.
With its mild year-round climate, the Portuguese Riviera (as the region is known) offers a surprising variety of landscapes and attractions, combining a wide range of possibilities in one very unique destination. From pure leisure to a wide range of sea activities, it simply has it all and offers a new definition of the concepts of ecotourism.
While celebrating more than 650 years as town, Cascais boasts more than 90 years of history in the development of tourism in Portugal, having started all those years ago as an important sun and beach destination of international repute. The richness of Cascais heritage reflects its Royal historic past. To walk around the region is to have the sensation of living in another time, to belong to another world. Since the end of the eighteenth century the region staged many important episodes of the Portuguese history as Cascais was chosen by the Portuguese Royal Family to become its summer residence.
By that time medical doctors from several countries of Europe had advocated the therapeutical advantages of sea baths, seaside season became a social event and the region transformed itself in a fashionable seaside resort. Upgrading the area’s luxury and tradition, to the Portuguese Riviera came members of the European high society, such as exiled kings, writers, famous artists and bankers during the Second World War. It also became the main destination for british, japanese and german spies, like the britsh spy and writer Ian Flemming.
Cascais hosts at the Sea Museum an exhibit focused on maritime ethnography as well as several other rooms dedicated underwater archaeology and to the history and experiences of the fishing community of Cascais. Also related to the sea, the Santa Marta Lighthouse museum gathers representative pieces that illustrate its activity whilst it was a lighthouse, featuring a series of optical devices from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as an audiovisual centre where a multilingual documentary about the lighthouses of Portugal is exhibited.
The coastline is the ideal setting for diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, surfing and kite surfing, which are some of the many sports that can be practiced along our coast. Cascais is always a milestone in the main national and international Surfing circuits. The best waves, the best athletes and the best competitions take place here. Cascais has also been the setting for some of the most important sailing events in the world. Sailing is a regional tradition, with the Cascais Marina as its main location.
Cascais is one of the landmark scuba diving destinations of the WAOH! Route. Two of the most important projects related to the underwater ecosystems are the Cascais Sea Underwater Routes and the Shipwreck Route. The Underwater Archaeology Program of Cascais has further developed an inventory of the underwater cultural heritage of the county. This project stands out because it integrated non-archaeologists in their work, in a reciprocal exchange between science and the local community.