It had been less than a year since we last visited Portugal — we were even surprised we returned so Soon. On our previous visit, we had enjoyed Portugal and had explored it from one end of the country to the other we made an effort to fit it in on a planned adventure in Spain that included a transatlantic cruise from Barcelona Because we could only fit in a week, we decided to focus on our favorite Portugal destination Lisbon and its famous beach town Cascais about 20-miles north of the city.
Cascais is a little more expensive than many of our Portugal destinations, but it is still far more affordable than anything on the California coast.
It also has a nice blend of locals and visitors. Too many visitors often turn a town into a Disneyland-like version of itself. Cascais felt real, with grocery stores, farmer’s markets, movie theaters, shopping centers, and shops catering to the needs of residents, not just visitors.
It’s many parks draw local families and kids as well as tourists looking for a seat in the shade.
As much as we enjoyed our previous visits to the area, our seven days here proved to be richer and more exciting than we expected. Our focus was food, history, and art, and we were not disappointed – in fact, we were blown away by our culinary, finds. A real bonus was making wonderful new friends, who showed us their favorite dining spots.
Cascais is the difficult-to-pronounce former fishing village and retreat for nobility.
Although fishermen still call Cascais home, their catch most likely ends up on restaurant menus of the many restaurants serving tourists and locals who flock there throughout the year. Most visitors wander the town’s narrow cobblestone pedestrian streets of the seaside old town flanked by eateries and shops housed in colorful contemporary and 19th-century buildings.
While many of the dining spots in the Old Town area are just fine or even outstanding, there are more than a few that are tourist traps serving unappealing, poorly prepared meals at premium prices. Make sure to consult TripAdvisor or get recommendations from your desk clerk or host if you’re in a home share.
Cascais also offers dining to suit every culinary whim and wallet, and while the biggest concentration of eateries is in the historic center, we found that most of the best are tucked away in the narrow back streets of the town.
In general, the restaurant standards are high and prices are pleasantly low. We also noticed that most restaurants were locally owned and operated. Service is generally good and friendly, although at peak times servers are spread thin so it’s best to adopt the unhurried Portuguese pace and relax. Don’t expect the waiter to the bring check; like most European countries you must ask for it.
We were fortunate on this visit to meet with local American expats to help us find the out-of-the-way places that the locals frequent and visitors delightfully discover.