I have fallen in love. With Cascais that is. We booked our summer holiday already before Christmas so it was a long time coming! Also, a friend from work goes there every summer with his family (they have kids around the same age as our little messers) and he’s always telling us stories from their holidays so the expectations were high.
Cascais is a little town on the Atlantic coast about 40 mins’ train ride from Lisbon. It’s big enough to have three beaches within walking distance from the town centre and more than enough restaurants and shops to go through over the ten days we spent there. On the other hand, it’s small enough to have that lazy rhythm of life when your pace walking along the tiny streets has reduced to less than half from the usual pace you race through the streets at home.
The weather was, as you would expect, fabulous apart from a couple of overcast days that we spent doing day trips, one to a nearby town called Sintra and another one to Lisbon. The last two days were a bit showery albeit warm, but we did manage one final trip to the beach on our last afternoon! The kids were happy about that, as was the mummy!
Most of the days would follow the same pattern: slowly wake up and have breakfast out on the patio, then head over to Parque Marechal Carmona nearby to visit a coffee shop followed by a playground. After the playground we’d head back to the apartment for lunch and a siesta.
Once the hottest part of the day is over, we’d pack our bag and go to the beach. We liked Praia da Conceicao as it was close to home but big enough to have room for us! The two beaches closer to town centre were a good bit smaller and could get quite crowded by 3pm.
The kids had so much fun on the beach. We brought beach toys with us and they’d happily spend all afternoon and evening building castles and cannon balling into the waves.
After the beach we’d go back to the apartment for baths and showers and then head to town for some dinner, a walk around town or the marina and a carousel ride at Jardim Visconde da Luz. Needless to say, the usual bedtime of 7.30pm was thrown out the window and the kids didn’t get to bed until closer to 9pm most evenings.
Parque Marechal Carmona is a must, especially with the kids. It’s a very very green park with a lovely pond with ducks and tortoises, a playground, a fabulous cafe (see below), a mini-zoo with some chickens and a couple of peacocks. You can easily spend a day wandering around the park with the kids!
A ver o parque coffee shop in Parque Marechal Carmona. Two Cafe Lattes, a portion of buttered toast, a chocolate croissant and two ice creams for €8. The coffee was the best we had in Cascais! The open space around the terrace and close proximity to the playground was obviously a huge plus. The staff in the cafe were superb and the effort they put in to cleaning a cut Mr Messer got when he fell over in the playground was something else. (It was that time I forgot to bring the plasters with me..)
Burguezza in town for pizzas and beer/wine on the way home from the beach. Sit at the terrace, it’s located behind the restaurant on second level. Garlic bread, two pizzas, a beer and a glass of wine was around €30.
Jardim dos Frangos is great for take away meals on the way home from the beach. Full piri piri chicken to take away for €7 was absolutely scrumptious! We also sat down for dinner one evening. The food was very tasty and the service was good, but the ambience in the restaurant didn’t really float my boat for some reason. I’d prefer the take away to be honest!
Hamburgueria do Bairro is the best little burger place in town! Great menu and you can’t beat the atmosphere and prices: four meals, juice for kids and four beers was around €30.
The Portuguese. Something both myself and Daddy Messer noticed was how friendly and mannerly everyone is. The kids in the playground were very friendly towards our two messers, there was no pushing through or other craziness we sometimes see at the playground back home…
We did two day trips, one to Sintra and one to Lisbon. Both well worth the visit, although you would probably get a little bit more out of Lisbon if you went with adults only!
Sintra is a pretty little town located in Sintra Mountains and is only a short distance from Lisbon or Cascais. From Cascais, there are two buses. The quicker one (number 417) only takes about 30 minutes, where the slower one (number 403) takes a more scenic route but takes about twice as long so we opted for the shorter route as we were travelling with the kiddies! The trip for 2 adults and 2 kids (aged 4 and 5) cost us around €8 one way.
We also took the train to Lisbon. I went to get the tickets for us and the conversation with the lad selling the tickets went pretty much something like this:
Me: Two adults and two children to Lisbon, please.
Lad: Return or one way?
Me: Return, please.
Lad: And what age are the kids?
Me: They’re four and five.
The lad gives me a knowing look…
Lad: You mean they’re four and four
WINK WINK WINK
Me: No, they’re four and five
Cian beside me: I’m not four, I’m FIVE!!!
Lad: But they’re four and four, right…?!?!
The penny finally drops
Me: Oh yes! Sure… Ok…
Lad: That’s €8 altogether then.
I pay for the tickets
Lad: So what age are the kids again?
Me: Four and four!
I can’t remember the exact fare now, but it was around €8 return for the four of us (with the kids being under 5! ahem..). Lisbon looked like a lovely city, but to be honest there wasn’t a whole lot to do with the kids in the city itself. I would love to go back, but in adult company to be able to wander around the streets for days on end. That’s the kind of city it seems like to me!
I would definitely recommend Cascais for a family holiday! There’s enough to see and do to keep you occupied, but it’s small enough to make you relax and to be able to just stroll around. There is absolutely no need to hire a car unless you want to make trips further afield. I’m already planning my next holiday there 🙂
We stayed in a lovely villa Chalet Maria just outside the town centre (10min walk to town centre, 15min walk to Praia da Conceicao), three bedrooms with a lovely patio at the back gave us plenty of room to relax. We booked the accommodation over 6 months in advance and the owner gave us a good rate for the 10 nights.
If you want to see more pictures from the holidays, you can view my Flickr album here.