The Atlantic on your doorstep
The most central Cascais beach is the Praia da Ribeira, also known as the Praia do Pescador, or Fishersman’s Beach. As its name would suggest, it is full of fishermen in search of a catch in the shallow waters and as a result is not considered a swimmer’s beach. However, flanked as it is by historical buildings and offering views to town and sea, Praia da Ribeira is a delightful place to relax on the golden sands and watch the world go by under the rays of the warm summer sun.
Accessible via steep steps close to the train station is the Praia da Rainha, or Queen’s Beach. Named as such for its popularity with royalty in times gone by, the Praia da Rainha acted as a private beach to the great and the good whose former mansions remain perched on the rocky cliffs above to this day.
Nestled between the Albatroz Hotel and Chalet Faial, Conceição Beach is a wide stretch of sand flanked by a boardwalk raised above the beach, lined with shops and restaurants. A much larger space but still accessible on foot from central Cascais in just a few minutes, Conceição Beach forms a lively centre with a bar, changing facilities and a wide range of watersports to choose from including diving, sailing, fishing and windsurfing.
Praia da Duquesa sits side by side with Conceição Beach and connects with it via a small channel at low tide. Praia da Duquesa is named after the Palace of Palmela’s Dukes, which overlooks its shores. The beach offers great diving conditions with clean, calm waters providing excellent visibility as well as being a popular sailing and windsurfing spot just like its neighbour.
Heading east from Cascais towards Estoril is another triplet of beaches – Tamariz, Poça and Azarujinha, each with their own identity yet sharing the same sandy stretch of coastline. Praia do Tamariz was the first of the beaches in Cascais to gain popularity. It is easily accessible by car and by train, with easy access from Estoril’s train station and is separated from the gardens of the famous Estoril Casino by a linking tunnel. By day it is a lively, cosmopolitan beach with many amenities, including watersports facilities, bars and beach restaurants, whily by night the Praia do Tamariz comes alive with the overspill from local bars, restaurants and of course the Casino, creating a fun, party atmosphere popular amongst the younger crowd.
Close by, Praia da Poça has found fame for its outdoor cafés and restaurants and its proximity to the Forte Velho, or Old Fort, a favourite Estoril night spot within easy reach of the Casino. Praia da Poça has a resident lifeguard during daylight hours, an on-site tourist information point and excellent accessibility for those with limited mobility.
The last of this trio, Praia da Azarujinha, or Azarujinha’s Beach, sits next to Praia da Poça and is well worth making the trip for its dramatic yet tranquil beauty. Hidden from the road it is nestled at the foot of the main coastal cliff, which curves around it in a semi-circular shape. Like most of the well-tended beaches in the area, Praia da Azarujinha also boasts an on-site lifeguard with plenty of visitor facilities and a popular restaurant located right on the sands.
One of the most famous beaches to the east of Cascais is the Praia de Carcavelos, located some way further towards Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon. Here windsurfing, bodyboarding and surfing are the order of the day, but not for the faint hearted as the Atlantic waves can be large and forceful. Conditions are often perfect for experienced riders however, and this is a favourite location for hosting some of the most well-known international competitions. Praia de Carcavelos is easily accessed by car and boasts several bars, restaurants and sun terraces.
Heading west from Cascais the landscape becomes more wild and rugged as the sandy beaches and rocky outcrops head towards Portugal’s most westerly point. Praia do Guincho is one of the most sought-after beach locations in the area, offering a wide stretch of sandy beach and some of Cascais’ most luxurious accommodation and restaurants. Surfing and windsurfing are popular pastimes on the Praia do Guincho but watch out for strong currents and be sure only to swim when the resident lifeguard is on duty.