Cascais: Hotels and History

Beach house in CascaisNestling by the sea, protected from the Atlantic rollers and within sight of the Sintra mountains lays Cascais, a picturesque town with superb sandy beaches and rocky coves.

It is frequently said that the Lisbon Coast is Portugal’s Côte d'Azur, and chic Cascais is fast becoming its San Tropez!  This may be a slight exaggeration but with its superb hotels, assured sophistication and easy access to and from the Capital, it is an undeniable fact that as holiday destinations go, Cascais is certainly one of the smoothest.  Its beaches are acres of soft, golden sand whilst the old town offers a charm of its own, with excellent but affordable gastronomy and a photo opportunity around almost every corner.  Indeed, so attractive is this area that several well-known personalities from screen and sport have their villas tucked away in the hills behind the town.

Cascais lanesCascais began life as a fishing village, perfectly placed in the lea of a headland and at the mouth of the River Tejo, indeed, fishermen still set out from the small quay where you can find them with their colourful boats and pots.

The earliest colonisers of Cascais arrived around 5,000BC and the village has had a history of visitors including the Romans and the Moors ever since, not all of them welcome; it finally became Portuguese in the XII century. The Spanish occupied Cascais in the late 1500s and the French invaded during the Peninsular Wars, after which the area suffered a drop in trade and some considerable poverty; thankfully the visitors these days are of a more peaceful disposition.

Cascais Square and Mayor's officeMayor's office and town squareThe town’s fortunes were revived when, in 1870 King Luis I converted the Citadel into his summer residence; nobility and the fashionable followed in their droves. Between the wars Portugal’s first electric railway was built between Lisbon and Cascais, this further spurred tourism and economical development. And when many VIPs and heads of state deployed there during the Second World War, its future as a chic destination was sealed.

Cascais is located on the Portuguese Lisbon Coast, approximately 30Kms (19 miles) from Lisbon. It’s easily reached in about 25 minutes by rail; trains departing frequently from Lisbon’s Estação Cais do Sodre.

Accommodation and hotels in Cascais are top notch. Recommended are:
Villa Italia Hotel Cascais for its superb quality and service.
Quinta da Marinha Hotel Cascais complete with golf course.

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