If you like the idea of life by the sea in a stunning and practical location, consider joining the large international community living in Cascais. It’s one of Portugal’s best-known and most desirable areas. It combines the convenience of living near a large city with the comfort and pace of a smaller town. The thriving city of Lisbon is just 40 minutes away by road and rail. The sparkling ocean is always close, with a choice of vibrant town beaches and wild, sweeping surf spots. Join us to discover Cascais.
Many international residents are happily living in Cascais – an areas of Portugal that’s been popular with overseas guests for centuries. In this guide to living in Cascais, we cover ten key points about its many attractions. We also look at the practicalities of settling into the area.
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Cascais has a rich history
Like many places in Portugal, Cascais has a long history of overseas visitors, especially the British. In 1953, the casino in Estoril – part of the Cascais municipality – was the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Cascais was also home to King Edward VIII in 1940. He was one of many royals from across Europe who found a haven in Portugal during the second world war. However, these royals were following 600 years behind the footsteps of the Portuguese aristocracy, who built the city’s castle back in the 1300s.
Cascais continues to attract international residents, and not just the rich and famous. Cascais is popular with people taking up employment at Lisbon’s multinational companies and tech startups. It’s also a great choice for retirees who want to enjoy the sun and sand, but also want easy access to city culture.
Cascais is a perfect balance of village and city
Maria Bravo of agency IAD Portugal describes Cascais as a “small fishing village that retains its traditional features.” She also comments that it doesn’t feel overpopulated.
Cascais is particularly popular with international residents due to its safe feel, proximity to Lisbon, and wealth of international schools. These include American, German and Swedish schools. Bravo comments that the local schools are excellent quality also.
Cascais can undoubtedly get busy, especially when the town centre is thronged with day-trippers from Lisbon, or attendees from events at the upscale marina. However, much of the time the pace is calm and relaxed, giving residents the best of both worlds.
Lisbon is your playground
Travelling between Cascais and Lisbon is an experience in itself. You have the choice of taking the oceanfront road (the marginal) or relaxing on the train. The train tracks hug the coast for most of the way, making for a wonderfully scenic journey. (Sit on the left of the train facing Cascais for the best views).
Trains between Cascais and Portugal’s capital are frequent and inexpensive. You can also get a train back to Cascais as late as 1.30am. This makes nights out in Lisbon completely feasible.
Lisbon’s many attractions are the subject of many other articles. Suffice to say that if you are living in Cascais, you get all the benefits of Lisbon, but without the need to live in the city itself.
Cascais is certainly not cheap, but you can save a few euros by understanding the local market and negotiating effectively. Read our guide, How to Negotiate Abroad, for essential tips on how get a better house for your money.
The weather is warm and reliable
While it’s important to remember that Cascais isn’t as far south as Portugal’s Algarve, the area still delivers warm weather for much of the year. The long summer runs from May to October, with average highs between 22 and 28 Celsius. Higher temperatures than that are far from unusual, but the Atlantic breeze does much to increase the comfort factor.
Winters are mild too, with average highs of 15 degrees Celsius, even in the coldest months of December and January.
Cascais is extremely popular with overseas residents
Cascais attracts residents from far beyond Europe, with many of them moving to the area for work. Companies including Google, Uber and Mercedes have all taken up home in Lisbon.
Lisbon has emerged as a major hub for startups and tech firms since the financial crisis. One of the most recent companies to take up home in the city is Zalando, a German fashion platform. Some people have even gone as far as describing Lisbon as “the California of Europe” due to its flourishing startup scene.
Cascais is great for food
Cascais excels in its choice of restaurants. As well as traditional Portuguese options, there are places that reflect the area’s cosmopolitan clientele:
Stand-out choices include:
Jardim dos Frangos: A piri piri chicken restaurant with a rapid turnover of simple, tasty food. The atmosphere is buzzing and the place is packed in the summer, with people enjoying churrasco chicken, chips and cold beer. If the queue’s too big, takeaway is always an option.
Fortaleza de Guincho: A short drive out of Cascais town centre, and right at the other end of the scale! This Michelin-starred restaurant is part of a stunning historic hotel, overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic. The menu changes daily, and local seafood features heavily.
Bangkok Thai Moods: A Thai restaurant with several outdoor tables. You’ll find it on a cobbled street in central Cascais. Perfect when you fancy a change from Portuguese fayre, this restaurant offers authentic and spicy Thai food. It enjoys a solid local reputation.
There are plenty of markets
Cascais’ municipal market opens six days per week. It’s at its busiest in the mornings, but there’s still some activity until mid-afternoon. This is perfect if you’re a late-riser! The main town market offers everything from meat and fish to snacks and baked goods. In addition, there’s a “traditional market” offering crafts, artisan products and bric-a-brac every Wednesday and Saturday.
Beyond Cascais itself, there are plenty of other markets in the municipality. These include regular events in Carcavelos, Parede and Estoril. All of them offer an enticing glimpse of day to day Portuguese life.
You may struggle to choose a single favourite beach
While plenty of people choose to flop down on the sands of Cascais’ golden town beaches, many locals have a favourite that’s a little more out of the way. It only takes a ten-minute journey to find solitude, especially outside of peak season.
Popular choices include:
Guincho – a wild and dramatic Atlantic beach that’s hugely popular with surfers.
Praia de Adraga – a stunning cove complete with Instagrammable rock formations, just up the coast towards Sintra. This beach is a bit of a poorly-kept “secret,” and very popular with locals.
Praia do Tamarix – a family-friendly beach, complete with lifeguards and all the practical facilities you need for a day out with the family. It’s located near to Estoil casino.
There’s plenty of choice in the property market
Maria Bravo of agency IAD Portugal paints a very positive picture of the property market for those thinking about living in Cascais. She states that there are currently “several (new) developments being finished and placed on the market.” This is increasing the choice of property in the area.
If you’re ready to buy in Cascais (or elsewhere in Portugal), contact us to plan your next move. We can introduce you to a trusted estate agent and lawyer. Call us on 020 7898 0549 or email email@example.com.
If you’re interested in investing in the area, the rental market is thriving too. This applies to both long-term and short-term rental properties. The popularity of Airbnb has led to a dearth of long-term rental properties, making such homes a great potential investment. There’s certainly no shortage of demand.
Living in Cascais is an option, regardless of your budget
Bravo singles out the Cascais areas of Bairro do Rosário and Guia for particular praise. She states that these neighbourhoods have everything foreign residents typically look for – such as plenty of shops and cafés, wide pavements for jogging and cycling, and easy access to schools and other amenities. These areas are particularly great for growing families.
These more traditional areas are very convenient and offer homes starting at just €150,000.
Those seeking bargains could consider up and coming areas such as Torre and Amoreira. These more traditional areas are very convenient and offer homes starting at just €150,000. These are also areas earmarked for regeneration, which could make them a great investment for the future.
Regardless of the area you choose, living in Cascais is a true pleasure – one that overseas residents have enjoyed for centuries.
This five-bedroom villa overlooking Guincho beach offers a unique combination of isolation and convenience. While its sea-view location provides an enticing “end of the earth” feel, motorway links to central Lisbon, the airport and beyond are right there, making trips in and out extremely straightforward.
The villa has a modern, spacious design. It includes a pool, multiple terraces, and a stunning kitchen with an island centrepiece. It’s on the market for €2,400,000.
This luxury condominium apartment (below) is part of a prestigious Sheraton resort. As well as purchasing the property as a permanent home, you have various other options including part occupancy and leaseback.
The apartment has three bedrooms, stunning hotel-style bathrooms, and a modern, minimalist kitchen. Residents have the option of making the use of the resort facilities, including sports, spa and concierge services. The apartment is on the market for €1,295,000. Click the link for further details.
This bright three-bedroom apartment (below) is in a quiet residential area and overlooks the golden sands of Estoril. The apartment is brand new and features state-of-the-art fixtures and fittings. Multiple balconies provide lots of options for enjoying the area’s reliably warm summers. On the market for €500,000. Click the link for further details.