Cascais holds beauty and history of Portugal

By Ron Beasley


I’ve never visited a country more charming than Portugal. As you drive across it, there is a beauty and serenity that you scarcely find in other areas of the world.
The resident city for my all-to-brief stay in Portugal was the coastal village of Cascais, about 10 miles from Lisbon. You can easily get there by car after landing at the Lisbon airport via the A5 Lisbon-Cascais highway, or by the frequent and inexpensive commuter trains and numerous buses and limo services. 



Cascais is wonderfully picturesque, with cobble-stone streets and sidewalks and an historic center. There’s a lovely harbor and the ruins of a medieval castle, with an art and sea museum, parks and several small sand beaches nearby. 
The village has numerous hotels and tourist apartments, and many good restaurants of varying cost and fare. It’s a good base if you want to visit Lisbon, Estoril or the medieval city of Sintra. 

Cascais is surrounded by popular beaches such as Guincho to the west and the lush Sintra Mountains to the north. Some of the shoreline has craggy ocean-carved cliffs and rock formations and European tourists come here for the wonderful seascapes and other natural vistas. 
Cascais is also developing as a popular golf destination and there are 10 golf courses located in the area. Surfing, sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are also popular and in 2007 the town hosted the ISAF World Championship sailing series for dinghies and racing yachts.

Cascais also is the site for international tennis and motorcycling events, and the Estoril Circuit race track is world famous in auto racing circles. For many years, Cascais hosted the Portugal Grand Prix, and the city’s famous Casino is one of the largest in Europe. Near the casino is the Hotel Palácio, or Palace Hotel, where scenes of the James Bond movie Casino Royale were filmed.
Our hotel was the luxurious Five-Star Grande Real Villa Italia, the former home of the exiled King Humberto II of Italy. The property has been completely restored and overlooks the sea. The five-storey Grande Real is a hallmark of subdued beauty and elegance, with 124 guestrooms decorated in ocean colors, contemporary furnishings and marbled bathrooms; with satellite television, minibars, safes and complimentary wireless Internet access. There are two outdoor pools, a health club with fitness equipment, a massage treatment room, a sauna and a steam room, and beauty treatments available in the hair salon. 

If you want to be more centrally located, check out the Villa Galé Village Modern located just a few yards from the Cascais Marina and the center of town. It’s a modern hotel of 233 guestrooms, each with air conditioning, balconies, satellite television and Internet access. 
Another favorite is the Hotel Quinta da Marinha Resort with an 18-hole golf course surrounded by pine trees and located just two miles from the Cascais center. The Miragem is another good choice, with 192 rooms, while the Hotel Da Vila is simply styled with air conditioning, free Internet, satellite television and pay movies.