From history and architecture to beaches and nature, there are many interesting and exciting tours within easy reach of Cascais, Portugal. So if you are here for a limited time, how do you plan your itinerary to get the most out of your visit?
The Guincho and gastronomy one-day tour embraces two of the most sought-after aspects of Cascais lifestyle and culture all in one easy package. Set off early from your base in Cascais for a fun-packed day full of exciting sights. Your tour will take you northwest up the coastline several kilometres out of town, past a varied landscape of sand dunes, rocky outcrops, steep cliffs and secluded coves. This area, along with the inland plain and hillsides that rise to meet the palaces of the historic town of Sintra, all form part of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, a national protected area that also encompasses a number of UNESCO World Heritage Landscapes.
Today’s trip, however, clings to the rugged coastal scenery that boasts panoramic views at every turn over the turquoise waters of the Atlantic and over the skyline towards the Americas beyond. As you work your way along the coast you will be greeted by myriad scenic variations, some welcome and some hostile – all of which perfectly encapsulate the turbulent but exciting past of Portugal itself.
Our first stop is at the Boca do Inferno. Literally translated as the Devil’s Mouth, the Boca do Inferno is a large rock formation that juts out into the Atlantic waters and meets the waves with such crashing blows that they are forced up and out to erupt through a small hole at the top, sending huge water sprays many metres into the air and drenching all that falls beneath it. Catch it at high tide and it is hard to get close enough to this dramatic phenomenon to fully appreciate it, while catch it at low tide and the drama is lost. When the conditions are right, however, this is a sight not to be missed in your explorations of the Cascais – Guincho beach area.
Next up is Cabo Raso. Topped by a lighthouse and the Sao Bras de Sanxete fortress this rocky cape is one of the most picturesque spots on the coast and is the perfect location for giving your inner photographer a workout. The 13-metre-high lighthouse at Cabo Raso dates back to 1894 and is fully operational, highlighting the dangers posed to uninformed or unwelcome sailors who find themselves steering their path too close to the mainland.
Guincho is the next stop on our tour. This wide stretch of golden sandy beach is one of the largest in the area. Backed by wild dunes and flanked by rocks on either side it offers the perfect combination of flat beach, ideal for sand-based fun and wild waters, perfect for surfing. Bordered by several well-known restaurants this is the perfect spot to relax and take stock of your surroundings over a memorable meal of freshly caught fish or seafood.
Lunch at Furnas do Guincho restaurant is hard to beat. This is a restaurant where the design of your surroundings is as exquisite as the design of your meal. Plenty of glass floods the interior with natural light, providing panoramic views out over the Atlantic from its elevated position and yet the décor is warm and sophisticated, with warm reds, browns and creams combining to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Barnacles are the house speciality and a trip to the Furnas do Guincho restaurant would not be complete without sampling them. However, there are many more familiar items on the menu including swordfish, juicy prawns and tasty crab as well as a list of wonderful white wines (and reds) to wash it all down.
Head north to Cabo da Roca in the afternoon, the most westerly point of Portugal – and of mainland Europe, for more photo opportunities and the chance simply to say that you have been there. You have two choices from Cabo da Roca – either return to your hotel in Cascais or, if budget permits and you came prepared, stop once again at Guincho before sundown and check in at the Fortaleza do Guincho hotel. This is a spectacular five-star hotel located in a renovated fortress dating back to the seventeenth century. It occupies one of the most unique settings you could imagine and each of its exquisitely designed rooms is tastefully decorated in an style that is absolutely befitting of its setting.
Complete your perfect day with a perfect meal in the Fortaleza do Guincho restaurant, run by the renowned three-Michelin-starred chef Antoine Westermann before retiring to your room, ready for to wake up to a gourmet breakfast and the chance to plan another day of exploration and discovery in beautiful Cascais.