Within 40 minutes of landing at Lisbon airport I was in my hotel room in the small coastal town of Cascais. An old fishing village, it still has lots of character and interesting little shops and restaurants to discover among its cobbled streets, museums to explore and a busy marina. Stay in an up market guest house in the centre or one of the lovely hotels by the sea, from quirky and boutique to grand and glorious, there are choices for all budgets. Cascais reminded me of resorts from years ago, charming and unspoilt, a complete contrast from the busy and commercial Algarve that attracts the majority of holidaymakers to Portugal.
Walk a mile or two along the promenade or hire a bike to explore a cycle route at a quicker pace, it won’t be long before you stop to take in another stunning view or stop at a local cafe or bar, for complete peace and quiet continue on and stay in Guincho with its vast empty beaches.
The resort of Estoril is linked to Cascais by a promenade and long sandy beach, it also has a train station with regular departures to Lisbon, just 30 kilometres away for a day out or an easy conversion to a 2 centre holiday.
Lisbon is a delightful city, classical and modern buildings line up side by side and ancient yellow trams rattle alongside buses. After exploring one or more of over twenty museums stop for a break in one of the many squares, discover a street market round a corner and be sure to visit Sao Jorge Castle for spectacular views of the city, Tagus River and the Ponte de Abril suspension bridge.
The famous custard tarts are just one of a selection of delicious local treats available in the many cafe’s spilling out onto the cobbled squares. They originated in Pasteis de Belem cafe in the suburb of Belem where they have been sold since 1834, the Tower of Belem is one of two UNESCO Heritage sites in the city.
Just a short ride out of Lisbon is the stunning hilltop historical town of Sintra, a visit here almost feels like going back in time, its a complete contrast to Cascais and Lisbon and definitely worth a visit and even a stay to give you time explore and walk round the local countryside.
With the distances between each location so small, the Lisbon coast is a fantastic choice for an interesting short break or longer holiday full of contrasts.