by Barbara Ann Weibel of Hole In The Donut
Just north and west of Lisbon is Cascais, Portugal, long a playground for the rich and famous. Built on a slight hill, the streets leading down to the town square and beach are paved with chunks of white marble that have been laboriously hand-placed to create a relatively flat road surface. Over the years, thousands of cars and pedestrians have polished the marble to a high sheen that reflects the colors of the houses lining these narrow curvy streets, hugging each other like one big, happy family.
Huge purple, lavender and peach blooming Bougainvillas overhang fences and balconies and provide some little privacy between the structures. Everything is sun-splashed and the quality of the light here gives the impression of row after row of whitewashed houses with red tile roofs, although many are painted in a palette of pastel hues.
At the foot of town lies tiny Ribeira Beach, tucked between the main square and the Atlantic Ocean and lined on both sides by regal old mansions owned by the Portuguese aristocracy who have been coming to Cascais for summer vacations since its inception. More commonly known as pescaderos (fisherman’s) beach, Ribeira is not considered good for swimming, as it fronts the harbor that is still actively used by fishermen. It is, however, a wonderful place to lie in the sun and watch people.
From the central square, walk southeast along the high rocky cliffs upon which multi-million dollar mansions perch to Rainha Beach, a minuscule pocket of sand snugged into a notch in the rocky cliffs that is just large enough for a dozen or so beach umbrellas.
Still further down the coastline is Conceicao Beach, a much wider strip of golden sand with an elevated boardwalk running the length of the beach. Conceicao is by far the most popular of Casacais’ beaches, as it provides restrooms, changing facilities, equipment rentals, and beach activities such as volleyball and parasailing. Numerous shops and restaurants line the boardwalk, making it the perfect place to spend a day lying in the sun, eating, and people watching.
Not only is Cascais home to some of Portugal’s best beaches, it is the perfect location for anyone seeking days full of sun and nights full of entertainment. Just a few miles down the road the famous Estoril casino beckons, and Lisbon, which is an easy 30 minute train ride away, is home to world class museums, entertainment, and shopping.
Photos courtesy of Barbara Weibel