Cascais (Portugal)

Cascais is a wealthy suburb and charming Portuguese fishing village that also possesses amazing, wild and rugged surfing beaches just outside of the town.  Unlike many other beach resorts on the southern Algarve coast, which suddenly sprung up with the advent of mass tourism, Cascais has been established as a holiday destination for many years.  Yet, many tourists short on vacation time only go out to Cascais for a day trip.

Yes, the town of Cascais makes for an enjoyable day trip from Lisbon but it’s really best suited as a destination for an extended holiday, especially for families.  A day out is just way too short to get into the beach groove this small village has on tap.  We are very fortunate to have unlimited time on this journey because Cascais is the type of place that you would rarely get the chance to plunk down for an extended stay and that would have been a shame as it’s such a relaxing, laid back beach and fishing town.  We were in Cascais for 5 days and felt it was the perfect amount of time before moving north along the west coast and less touristy areas of Portugal.

The protected beaches/coves (Praia da Rainha, Praia da Duquesa) directly in town were nice and mellow but if you want to experience the wild surfing beaches on par with the great Hawaiian beaches, you must make your way (about 15 km) outside of town.  The dedicated bike/jogging path, with incredible ocean views, skirts the cliffs and ocean below.  We rode our bikes along this scenic path and simply chilled on the beach all day.  If you are a beach lover or surfer and appreciate great waves, then the beaches of Praia Guincho, Praia da Arriba and Praia da Cresmina are muy perfecto.  Now, here is the drawback.  Cascais beaches are on the west coast of Portugal and face the Atlantic Ocean.  What does this mean?  It means the ocean water was cold as shit.  The surfers did not seem to mind as they were all in wet suits.  I was told even during the peak summer months, the ocean is still real cold.  Therefore, I must take some points away from the greatness of this place.  I guess this explains the popularity of the beaches on the southern Algarve coast which sit on the warmer Portugal waters and are more comfortable to swim in.

The Airbnb we chose in Cascais was the perfect choice as it was located on a quiet village street with a real sense of living in traditional neighborhood.  Airbnb just continues to deliver us awesomeness and it’s such a far better experience than staying in a cramped hotel room.  The key to Airbnb is learning to weed thru the many options as there is definitely the potential to get a lemon.  I have read about many Airbnb customers that had shitty hosts and that could easily ruin the experience.  However, these crummy experiences tend to arise when choosing the cheaper properties with little to no reviews posted.  I have acquired a keen eye on picking the right places and have luckily been fortunate to have been hitting it out of the park with our Airbnb selection process.  However, I know it’s inevitable that we will strikeout along this journey.

Americans are pissed and rightfully so.  You sit down in every single restaurant in Portugal and the waiter brings over a basket of freshly baked bread, fresh cheese spread and some olives.  You think to yourself, wow, nice touch. You proceed to woof down the bread, fresh cheese spread and tasty olives.  Everything is cool.  You finish your delicious meal and when you get the bill, you see that you have been charged for the bread, cheese spread and olives. Items you never even asked for.  Lesson learned.  They nailed us the first time and that was the last time.  Try this stunt in America and see all out war when the bill arrives.

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