The Estoril coast, incorporating holiday hotspots like chic Cascais, and surfing meccas Ericeira and Carcavelos, offers the best of several holiday worlds. Great beaches and a choice of historic sights and resort activities combine with the Estoril Coast's close proximity to Lisbon City Centre. The choice of outdoor leisure sports around Estoril won't disappoint, with everything from golf, tennis and surfing on the menu. Cascais, with its modern marina, plays host to worldclass sailing competitions. There's also a huge choice of restaurants in the Estoril area. Checkout the Visit Estoril weblink/restaurant section for details on choice here.
Public transport links by mainline rail are superb from bases such as Cascais and Estoril into Cais do Sodre at the heart of Lisbon city centre. Road networks are excellent into the area too, with circular roads bypassing central Lisbon. The Estoril coast is also a mecca for golf fans. There's a choice of championship golf courses here, plus one of Europe's largest casinos is here in Estoril. If you're looking for beach holiday bases, but still want easy access to the historic sights and museums in Lisbon city centre then the Estoril Coast is the perfect choice.
The historic heart of the Estoril area is Sintra - not least for its elevated state situated as it is on the Serra de Sintra which rises up above the surrounding coast.
The Estoril Coast's favourable mild climate makes it an all year round beach holiday choice, with plenty going on out of season in golf courses, the casino and nearby Lisbon city centre.
Being so close to central Lisbon, the Estoril coast has always been at the heart of political and military strategy - look at the number of forts along its coast, built to ward off attacking pirates.
A favoured base for royalty, note the huge number of royal homes and palaces around the Estoril coast (Dictator Salazar also had a holiday home here), with the striking National Palace of Mafra being one of the most ornate. The Estoril coast was actually one of Portugal's first tourist destinations - royalty came, and others followed from 1870. The area has an air of mystery, akin to other playgrounds such as Monte Carlo. Peel back the mysterious surface though, and discover accumulations of wealth, a history of espionage, and a historically royal playground.
Estoril coast beaches are today one of its biggest attractions and many have Blue Flag beach awards. The casino town of Estoril boats pretty Tamariz beach which is good for bathing and nicely sheltered. Move further along the coast to Cascais and the urban beaches here are pleasant. A fishing centre of old (one of Cascais's beaches is called Fishermen's Beach) there's also a modern Marina at Cascais.
On the South Coast nearest Lisbon city centre there's a choice of cove beaches. Travelling west from Lisbon along the Cascais line, the first beach you come to is pretty Torre beach between S.Juliao da Barra fort and Picina Oceanica. Good bathing to be had here, plus excellent local facilities including bars and restaurants.
Move further west to renowned Carcavelos beach - you're moving towards the end of the Tagus Estuary here. Popular with body boarders and surfers, Carcavelos's endless sands pull in the crowds night and day. Here there's a superb choice of restaurants and bars, plus easy access into central Lisbon.
Other beaches on Estoril's South coast include small beach bay Parede towards Estoril. Waters here are rich in iodine and have long been considered to have therapeutic qualities. Around Sao Pedro and Sao Joao do Estoril the beach scene gets more cliff like, but there are small beach bays here too, which tend to be popular with surfers.
Moving west on the Estoril Coast things get a little more wild., particularly north of Cabo Raso on the Guincho coast.
Cliffs mingle with beach bays, and the waters again here are rich in iodine with therapeutic qualities. Gincho's long beach has big surfing waves - indeed World and European surfing championships have been held here!
North of Cabo da Roca sits Adraga beach with its character rock formations. Reach it from Almocageme via the road between Cabo da Roca and Colares. Also near Colares is Praia Grande. More surfing here, it's a mecca for surfers and has played host to World Body Board and European Surfing Championships! (note also dinosaur footprints seen on surrounding cliffs here).
Other beaches lining the Atlantic coast up here include Praia das Macas, a large sandy beach, Azenhas do Mar witih it's natural seawater swimming pool, Magoito - a quiet remote beach signposted off the main Sintra Ericeira road, S.Juliao, Ericeira which is popular with surfers and there's a fishing port here and finally to the north of Ericeira Ribeira d'Illhas, essentially a beach regarded as one of the world's best surfing beaches. Surfing Championships are also held here.
One of the most impressive forts or Cidadela on the Estoril coast is Cascais Cidadla dating from around 600AD. See also Oitavos Fort. Famous palaces and houses include the Marques de Pombal's Palace and estate in Oeiras, the Queluz National Palace commonly known as a mini Versailles which served as official residence for visiting foreign dignitaries and the Mafra National Palace and Convent. Head to UNESCO site Sintra and go palace mad, for here sits the National Palace of Pena, the Sintra National Palace, the Monserrate Palace and Estate, Regaleira Palace and Estate and the Seteais Palace - to mention a few!
Museum wise, knock yourself out at museum rich Sintra and Cascais (see Sintra & Cascais tourist info on this website). Museum choice in Cascais includes the Cascais Town Museum and Cascais Cultural Centre. Checkout the interesting Gunpowder Factory and Museum in the Oeiras area next to Ribeira de Barcarena if you've had enough of the palaces and find out about the origins of gunpowder and how numerous explosions at this factory killed workers here. Checkout the Portugese Institute of Architectural Heritage weblink right for details and listings of all the Sintra/Cascais/Estoril Palaces and estates in the area.
Cascais Tourist Info Centre, Rua Visconde da Luz, 14-14-A 2750 Cascais. Open Mondays to Saturdays, 9am to 7pm. Sundays and holidays, 10am to 6pm. Tel (351) 21 4868204.
Estoril Tourist Information, Arcadas do Parque, Estoril. (Just opposite Estoril Train Station). Tel (351) 214663813. Open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 7pm. Sundays and hollidays, 10am to 6pm.
Another feature enhancing the Estoril Coast as a holiday destination is the selection of stunning natural parks in the area. Sintra particularly heaves with leafy parks.
The main Sintra Cascais Natural Park offers a diverse selection of scenery which includes forests, lagoons, dunes, stunning beaches and high cliffs which reach a peak at Cabo da Roca. Not by accident is the Serra de Sintra area classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and all this rural beauty is just a stones throw from Lisbon city centre!
A visitor favourite is a ride on the small red tram from Sintra to Colares, which winds its way through the Serra valley. Checkout too Azenhas do Mar, a tiny cliff village.
The Serra de Sintra rises up at the heart of the Sintra Cascais Natural Park. The temperature can drop up here so have a jumper to hand. The Serra is essentially a mountain - Monte da Lua (Mountain of the Moon) and is covered in thick vegetation. At the top sits dramatic Pena Palce and Park - you can walk up via trails and paths. Fairytale Sintra sits within this rural elevated bubble, offering a host of historic palaces and buildings, mini parks such as Monserrate Park and one of the best contemporary art galleries in Portugal - the Sintra Modern Art Museum on Av.Heliodoro Salgado.