A couple of months ago we went on a little babymoon holiday to Cascais in Portugal.
Portugal is somewhere we love; both of us have holidayed there as children and over the last few years we’ve travelled to the country both for business and for family holidays. I went to Lisbon on a business trip a few years ago and although I didn’t see much, I loved the city and always said that we should go back!
After our 12 week scan with our 3rd baby we started to think about having a babymoon or a break before the baby arrived. Because my parents would be having the girls we didn’t want to travel too far but we also knew we wanted to have some time to relax in the sun…
I love researching holidays so I enjoyed looking at lots of European destinations. It was by reading other blogs that I discovered Cascais, somewhere I hadn’t heard of before but seemed to answer my brief of a city break with some relaxation. Knowing how much I’d loved Lisbon we did some more research into flights and decided it looked like a wonderful place to explore.
Cascais has a rich history as being a traditional but high-end fishing town just 30 minutes down the coast from Lisbon. It’s known as a popular holiday destination with beautiful 5-star hotels lining the coastline, stunning 19th-century mansions and villas, a marina, lots of beaches and a dramatic coastline. Some people will holiday just in Cascais and others will take a day trip to Cascais from Lisbon which is really easy to do with the train station a short stroll from the centre of the town.
The beaches near the town and towards Estoril are a huge reason why Cascais is so popular with holidaymakers. You’ll find both dramatic coastline with cliffs and also sheltered little bays complete with sandy beaches, perfect for little ones.
You’ll also find a beautiful town with cobbled streets, beautifully decorated buildings and lots of traditional shops and restaurants.
Where we stayed
We booked our break fairly late, so we found lots of the hotels we liked didn’t have availability for duration of our stay. We decided as we were travelling without children, moving hotels would be fairly easy so booked into two.
The first hotel we stayed at was the Grand Real Villa Itália. We chose this based on the proximity to the centre of Cascais and the fact it had a swimming pool!
The location for us made it such a wonderful hotel; you’ll find yourself just across the road from Boca do Inferno a popular tourist attraction in the area, a 10-minute stroll from the centre of Cascais and about 5 minutes to the marina. You also have wonderful views of Cascais bay.
The hotel has a rich history as well. Before its current state, it was home to the King of Italy, Humberto II, the “King of May”. The hotel is much bigger than the original residence but the history and grandeur of the hotel remain.
We stayed in a sea view suite and it was one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve stayed in. With a huge bed, views over the pool area and sea and very grand bathroom we felt absolutely spoilt.
Other than the room, this hotel really stood out as one of the most amazing places for us due to the staff. As soon as we arrived they looked after us – we were able to use the stunning spa to shower and freshen up after an early morning flight, they were always happy to help with requests and made us feel very welcome.
We both personally love smaller, boutique hotels and this hotel met that brief – we would absolutely stay there again.
Our second hotel was towards the other side of Cascais, but still within easy reach of the bars and restaurants. Hotel Cascais Miragem is a huge 5-star hotel, complete with infinity pool, two indoor pools, a spa and numerous dining options.
We booked a standard double room and for the price weren’t blown away, but we soon discovered that the draw of the hotel was definitely the facilities. The infinity pool was stunning, with views over to Cascais and nearby beaches it was the perfect spot to relax. Even though the hotel was fully booked for the duration of our stay we found the pool empty on most days due to most of the rooms being taken by business travellers.
What to do
Cascais is a traditional fishing town but there’s lots to explore and plenty of history. There are numerous museums including the Santa Marta lighthouse which is a short walk from the town centre. The Town Museum is located in the centre of town and gives a rich history of how Cascais became the town it is today, who used to live here and covers hundreds of years of history.
The beaches are a huge attraction in Cascais. You’ll find a popular beach in the centre of Cascais which seemed to always have people playing or training for beach volleyball and football. There are also gorgeous beaches down the coast towards Estoril.
Travelling in the other direction (towards Guincho) you’ll find more rugged cliffs that line the coast rather than beaches but these make for beautiful sightseeing. The first famous cliffs you’ll find is the Boca do inferno, ‘mouth of hell’ which was hugely busy and popular with tourists every time we passed it. Further along the coast you’ll find lots of places to stop with amazing views.
We decided to hire bikes for a morning to explore this part of the coastline a little more. We stumbled upon a bike hire shop in the marina and saw that they had electric bikes! Being 5 months pregnant we decided to hire these to make the 9km or so journey a little easier. It’s a mostly flat ride with cycle lanes all the way with the most amazing scenery I’d really recommend doing this! Take a cardigan or coat though if you’re slightly out of season as it did get windy.
We really enjoyed our cycle along the coast. We stopped at various attractions such as the Farol da Guia (a famous lighthouse) along the way before arriving at our destination, Guincho beach. Guincho beach is a huge, popular surfing beach lined with dramatic scenery and sand dunes. Guincho beach is located on the western edge of the Serra da Sintra National Park and it’s protected from tourist development so you’ll find a wild and natural beach area.
On the way back from Guincho beach we stopped at Casa da Guia, which is a shopping area with lots of individual restaurants and a few gift shops around the edge of a beautiful 19th-century mansion renovated by the architect Cláudio Wanderley.
We had lunch at Palagar da Guia, one of the many restaurants there and enjoyed tapas as we looked out to sea. It’s the perfect spot for lunch after a long cycle ride and we really enjoyed trying some different dishes.
The town was one of the huge reasons we chose Cascais, I love to explore and look at all the shops and architecture and Cascais definitely didn’t disappoint. With pastel buildings and amazing tiled buildings, it was a stunning place to explore and photograph.
Don’t forget to stop for gelato and a Pastel de nata also known as Portuguese custard tart as you explore they are absolutely amazing and I might have had one a day! sssshh.
Where to eat
I remember Portugal from my childhood holidays as a place my Mum loved because of the seafood. I think I had my first seabass there so I was excited to eat as much fresh fish as I could (and am allowed being pregnant)!
The first night we went to Reserva da Villa which is a centrally located restaurant overlooking the main beach in Cascais. We had drinks on the terrace first and then moved inside to the beautifully decorated restaurant. The restaurant is part of a B&B and everything is blue – it looked like a stunning place to stay!
We also had dinner at O Pescador, which is in the town centre tucked behind a market area and a beautiful pink building. It seemed popular with tourists as we looked at all the menus so decided to try it. We had a seafood ‘paella’ and it was absolutely delicious. The lobster was one of the nicest I have had and we both really enjoyed our meal, it was really worth having this special dish!
How to get there
Lisbon airport is the closest airport to Cascais. We flew from Heathrow with TAP, but there were also flights with BA, Easyjet and Ryanair. We found TAP to be the best for us (not necessarily the cheapest but Heathrow is our closest airport so the travel time was a factor).
Cascais is about half an hour from the airport and we decided to get an Uber from airport. You could also consider the train from Lisbon to Cascais but this would take longer.
Would we go again?
Yes absolutely, both as a couple but also with children. Marthinal, the popular family hotel chain have a hotel just outside the centre of Cascais so we’d look at that. We thought the girls would love the beaches and if we hired bikes we could cycle to the beaches and the town easily for day time fun or meals in the evenings. Another draw for us is the flight time to Portgual, at just over 2 hours that’s definitely manageable with little ones.
We had the most wonderful babymoon and can’t wait to go back!