We were starting to get a bit dejected with the fact that Portugal had put on a travel ban across the whole country to stop people leaving the municipality they are in for a five day period for the November 1 All Saints holiday long weekend. That put paid to our plans to take advantage of the great weather and take a day trip over to Cascais.
But then on Sunday morning as we sat on the lounge drinking morning coffee, Ying read an article where the President clarified that it was a"recommendation" and not a law. 50 minutes later we were packed up and sitting on a train that would whizz us the 40 minutes from Cais do Sodre station to the coastal town of Cascais!
The train runs every 20 minutes from Cais do Sodre to Cascais so there is no need to worry about the timetable. We were very impressed with the cleanliness and punctuality of the train - mostly the scenery! If you can, grab a seat on the left side of the train as you'll get lovely coastal views most of the way.
When we arrived into Cascais we headed to the nearest beach to get a good view of the ocean and to suck in the fresh sea air. The train station is right on the edge of the town so nothing is far and it's a delightful walk through part of the old town to the beach. We hit up Praia da Rainha which is a popular protected sandy beach.
We then took a nice coastal walk from there around the Fort de Nossa and the marina, past two stunning old Portugues waterfront mansions. One of them, the Casa de Santa Maria is now a small museum showcasing the way wealthy Portuguese lived in the 1900's, and as it was the first Sunday of the month it was free entry.
Inside was an amazing house filled with intricate designed floors and ceilings, large living rooms, a large chapel, and amazing views. The tiles on the walls everywhere were stunning, most impressive of all was the grand living room where all the tiles had been painstakingly removed from a 17th convent and re-tiled into this room.
We continued the coastal walk along a rugged cliff area that culminates in a collapsed cave with a natural arch entry. Called Boca do Inferno, it aptly means the Mouth of Hell. Although we had an exceptionally calm day, we could still see the swell pounding into the rocks and could just imagine the scene of roiling white water that would be there on a big seas day.
That was as far west as we went. After turning back around, we then went to exploring the grand Parque Marechal Carmona and the grounds of the stunning palace of the Count of Castro Guimarães. Combined it makes a large sprawling garden filled with trees, ponds, ducks, chickens and peacocks. The roosters were having a merry shouting competition for the time we were there - it was probably our imagination - but they were starting to sound a little hoarse by the time we left.
The parks exit out into a beautiful set of old tree lined streets and open spaces. We enjoyed wandering around this area for awhile and then seemed to be pulled into these gorgeous alley ways that fed back into town. Some of the alleys and the buildings on them really reminded us of the beautiful parts of San Miguel de Allende with the cobble streets, grand walls, colourful designs and the bougainvilleas splashing life everywhere.
The alleys took us back into town past streets painted with fish and packed full of small cafes and restaurants with locals spilling out into the streets on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The center of the town was gorgeous, large trees lined all the streets, beds of well maintained flowers gave some pizzazz to the main street, cute squares were everywhere, and people were going about their day with great enjoyment.
After grabbing some quick lunch and resting our tired legs we decided to walk east towards Lisbon and catch a train from one of the stations that ran along the coast.
The walk to the east was amazing! A really wide, smooth walkway that ran right on the edge of the sea literally went forever (well almost). We walked for about 3kms and passed numerous sandy beaches, rocky beaches, swimming enclosures, rocky promenades, surf breaks with surfers, headlands, castles, forts, cafes & bars, and a lot of people out exercising.
The sea air was fresh, people were enjoying a coastal lifestyle - it really made us think of our life back in Manly (in Sydney) and on the Queensland Gold Coast where people work Monday to Friday but then just spend the weekends enjoying the natural beauty and the lifestyle that brings!
We ended up jumping on the train to head home at Sao Joao do Estoril. As we sat on the train heading back into Lisbon we really saw that the coastal walkway ran pretty much the entire way back to Lisbon, a distance of 30km. So if we get our timing and the weather right - we might walk or bike the whole way!
Heading home from the station we got a great surprise, an incredible sunset from the waterfront of Lisbon itself where the sky was on fire. We stayed and watched that as the colours flamed through the sky and produced some amazing scenery! We felt very fortunate in that moment to have experienced a wonderful day out.
We believe Cascais is not only a perfect day trip destination, but would be a perfect long term base with all that open spaces and nature around! If we find ourselves back in Portugal for a long stay, Cascais would be #1 on our list of places to stay.