Esoteric Estoril, Cascais & Sintra
With its romantic beaches, beautiful old architecture and the bright neon lights of the Casino Estoril(the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale), the region straddling Portugal’s Estoril coast has a ritzy elegance more often found on the coast of France than in Lisbon.
Sharing a park with the casino is the luxuriously grandiose Hotel Palácio, abounding with elegant villas, sprawling gardens, nose jobs and collagen. More organic is Tamariz Beach and the various stretches of sand surrounding it, where you can stroll down to the Baroque Santo António church. One thing the fashionable do better than plastic surgery and cocktails is a leisurely round of golf at Penha Longa in Sintra – a romantic town that is also alluring to honeymooners not so eager to be seen…
Estoril, Cascais & Sintra’s Top 10
10. Quinta da Marinha One of Europe’s best golf courses and so much more than a way to ruin a good walk.
5. Casa Das Historias Designed to exhibit paintings, drawings and etchings by artist Paula Rego, whatever’s inside this pair of pink concrete pyramids can’t be better than the building itself!
9. Museo do Mar Paints a picture of Cascais’ maritime history with costumes, tools, nets and boats. Small, but also free.
4. National Palace of Pena This sprawling palace and park is a mix of neo-Gothic, Islamic and neo-Renaissance. One of the most beautifully kitsch and romantic places in Portugal.
8. Casino Estoril The largest casino in Europe. Experience the glitz of Vegas without the abject grittiness.
3. Palacio Nacional de Sintra The opulent interior tells a story of its own (just try to ignore the ignorant graffiti).
7. Guincho Beach A true Atlantic beach, windy Guincho provides excellent windsurfing and an attractive alternative to the romantic beach walk.
2. Cabo da Roca The most westerly point of mainland Europe, with majestic landscapes, dramatic cliffs… and cheesy certificates.
6. Boca do Inferno There’s nothing fiery about this treacherous watery cave – the name means ‘devil’s mouth’.
1. Quinta da Regaleira Sintra is known for its magical forests, romantic palaces, and this Gothic manor and garden. If you’re smart, you won’t forget a torch. If you’re lucky, it might thunder…
Estoril, Cascais & Sintra History
- Quinta da Regaleira – Located at the centre of old town Sintra, this palace dates back to 1697.
- Pena Park – This Sintra park is home to Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena), a stunning example of Moorish architecture.
- Moorish Castle –The ruins of this 9th century castle are a Sintra highlight.
- Monserrate Palace – An exotic palatial villa.
- Seteais Palace – A neoclassical palace home to a luxury hotel, restaurant and tourist attraction.
Estoril, Cascais & Sintra Art & Culture
- Toy Museum – A marvellous museum featuring more than 20,000 exhibits.
- Palácio de Conde de Castro Guimarães, Sintra – A grand collection of more than 25,000 books can be found here.
- Estoril Casino – A popular venue for those with money to gamble.
- Museu do Mar – This museum depicts the history of Cascais.
- Semanas de Música do Estoril (Estoril Music Festival) – Held in July and August, this acclaimed music festival attracts famous symphony orchestras and leading choirs from across the globe.
Estoril, Cascais & Sintra Shopping
- A Esquina – This Sintra shop features hand-painted ceramics.
- Almorábida – Located in front of Sintra Palace, this shop sells Arraiolos carpets, lace and copperware.
- Henrique Teixeira – A Sintra antiques shop close to the town centre.
- Shopping Cascais – A large Cascais shopping centre featuring 100 boutique stores.
- Tear Linhos – A Cascais emporium for hand-embroidered goods. This shop is the ideal place to make purchases for friends and relatives back home.
Gay & Lesbian Estoril, Cascais & Sintra
- Lisbon & Portugal Gay Pride – This annual festival is held in late June.
- Hotel da Vila – A modern, gay-friendly hotel in Cascais.
- Baluarte Bar – A spacious Cascais bar popular with the locals finishing work for the day. The venue is a trendy, youth-oriented place open daily from 4 pm to 4 am.
- O’Neill’s Irish Pub – Located within a few steps of Cascais' town hall, this Irish pub is where live Irish music can be heard.
- Adega das Caves – Situated in the centre of Sintra, here tourists can mix with other tourists. The bar specializes in serving up beer and Portuguese wine.
Estoril, Cascais & Sintra Outdoor
- Parque Palmela – An attractive Cascais park maintained by the town hall. Open-air concerts are regularly held here.
- Guincho Beach – Located within easy reach of Cascais, this beach features high waves attractive to windsurfers.
- Grande Beach – Watch windsurfing championships at this glorious Cascais beach or simply relax on the shore in either the sun or the shade.
- Ribeira d’Ilhas Beach – Located north of Ericeira, surfing and body boarding are popular on this beach.
- Cascais Marina – An active marina attractive to sailing enthusiasts. Regular sailing competitions are held around Cascais Bay.
Estoril, Cascais & Sintra Sport
- Watch motorsport events at the Estoril Circuit.
- Enjoy a game of golf or watch a championship at the Cascais Belas Country Club.
- Catch tennis stars in training at the Quinta da Marinha in Cascais, home to six tennis courts.
- Witness the Global Champions Tour, an annual five-star equestrian event at the Manuel Possolo hippodrome in Cascais.
- Catch show jumping at the Cascais Equestrian Centre.
Estoril, Cascais & Sintra Events
The Sintra Festival is a series of summer events taking place in a range of locations.
The Estoril International Craft Fair (June to August) is the oldest in Portugal, showcasing the creations of over 300 artists and many equally talented chefs.
July brings the Cascais Cool Jazz Fest. You may forget the names of the acts, but you won’t forget the open-air experience.
July’s Estoril Music Festival has broadened its horizons in recent years to include orchestral and choral concerts plus workshops for those who don’t simply want to watch.
Cascais’ Festival of the Sea in August features marine-themed processions and ends with a bang when the fireworks come out.
When To Go
The Costa de Estoril’s ruggedly romantic landscape also comes with cold weather and lots of rain.
Even at the height of summer temperatures seldom exceed 27°C (81°F) and are cooled by sea breezes.
May to September sees the best of the weather, but correspondingly more people.
Car rental companies abound around Estoril, and renting a vehicle is the best way to see the scenic Cascais coast.
Walking is ideal within the small town, although the hills present more of a challenge.
In the town, anyone unfamiliar with European driving (and parking) may struggle when it comes to driving, but buses are cheap and reliable.
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