Over the past few years I have discovered so much about this beautiful part of Portugal and one of the places I love to return to is the historic, wonderful and fascinating city of Cascais.
Less than one hour from Lisbon this region offers a lifestyle most of us dream about. Not only does Cascais have some of the best golf courses in Europe they can also boast of having every unbelievable water activity under the sun. For the less adventurous like myself, how about a leisurely trip on a solar powered boat or a luxury yacht around this beautiful Estoril coast.
Originally a fishing village Cascais is a popular holiday destination were fresh seafood is featured on every menu in every restaurant. Codfish is a national favourite served many different ways, octopus also a favourite is generally served with garlic, olive oil, potatoes or salad. Fear not meat eaters you will discover a variety of dishes made from the best and freshest produce this region has to offer. If you are a wine lover then you are in for a treat as Portugal now produces some of the best wines in the world. Study the wine list or better still ask your server to recommend, you can’t go far wrong with the house choice as it’s usually very good and reasonably priced.
Sites to See
Popular tourist attractions include the 19th Century Casa Santa Maria, this incredibly beautiful building was built by Irish tobacco millionaire Jorge O’Neil. O’Neil also built the nearby Castro Guimaraes Museum, his personal and private art collection displayed within the museum is really worth seeing. When O’Neil became bankrupt in later years he was forced to sell his beloved home to Castro de Guimares. When the Count and Countess died they bequeathed the house to the people of Cascais.
In the hills above Cascais is the beautiful village of Sintra. Once a summer retreat for Portuguese royalty and nobility this village attracts visitors from over Europe and beyond. There are many palaces and magnificent historic buildings to explore, Pena Palace is one not to be missed as it is considered one of the most important parts of Sintra’s UNESCO World Heritage site.
All fascinating stuff, would have loved to have spent more time exploring these incredible sites, definitely next time!
Cascais hosts thee most fantastic Cool Jazz festival. This event takes place each year in July and has been running for the past eighteen years. We were lucky to be at this year’s fantastic Cool Jazz event, the atmosphere was totally electric. Van the man and his fabulous backing group were the main attraction, as well as these super stars there were some absolutely fantastic Jazz musicians playing in various parts of the park. Warm summer evenings, Cool Jazz, happy people picnicking in the park, swaying to the music. Don’t miss it!!!
Stay and Play
There are many excellent hotels to choose from within the region Cascais, we stayed at the fabulous five star Onyria Quinta Da Marinha, the resort consists of a luxury hotel an 18 hole Championship golf course with excellent practice facilities, a leisure centre and spa.
We loved the course, the challenge, the scenery and the convenience of just having to walk a couple of hundred yards from the hotel to the first tee!
The elevated greens and tees boxes, are typical of designer Trent Jones. The Par 3, 5th is interesting and challenging. Don’t under club here as there is a lake in-front of a raised green which is surrounded by bunkers. One of the most stunning and famous holes in Portuguese golf is the 13th hole, par 4. which slopes down towards the sea, a photograph of this hole was used to promote ‘Golf In Portugal’ for many years.
Rooms at Quinta Da Marinha hotel are designed in a contemporary fashion, bedrooms are spacious and comfortable, with generous size balconies which have views over the course and the pool area. Quinta Da Marinha is a relaxing place to spend a week or two, the staff are just so welcoming and friendly.
There are two superb restaurants within the hotel, the excellent gourmet Rocca Restaurant features traditional Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine, the wonderful dishes are prepared and exquisitely presented by Chef Fernando and his team. The Five Pines focuses on buffet style themed dishes in the evening, continental and cooked breakfasts from early morning. The Trent Jones bar, located by pool offers light meals during the day, in the evening guests can enjoy drinks, listening to music while watching the sun go down.
The Monte Mar Restaurant just a couple of kms. from the hotel is well worth a visit. Enjoy catch of the day while listening to the sound of the waves breaking over the rocks beneath. There is always wide variety of seafood on the menu, dishes including hake with cockle rice, yummy seafood cataplana as well as Portuguese dish “iscas”, a delicious and beautifully presented liver dish.
At Quinta Da Marinha it’s all about relaxing, making things happen at your leisure.
Penha Longa exclusive Golf Resort is situated within the Sintra- Cascais Natural Park, a protected national nature reserve. This unique resort comprises of a five star luxury hotel, a 27 hole golf course and a 14th century monastery and chapel.
The 18 – hole Atlantic course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. is ranked in the top 30 courses in Europe and top 10 in Portugal. The layout stretches over the beautiful and mystical rolling Sintra hills. Perfectly maintained fairways meander through natural woodland, around lakes presenting a challenge at every turn.
The 9-hole Monastery course also designed by Trent Jones Jr. is the perfect compliment to its sister course. Although less challenging than The Atlantic, is an exciting and enjoyable trek, a course that suits players of all levels. The landscape is very beautiful, soft rolling fairways flanked by olive, eucalyptus, cork oak trees.
At Penha Longa you will feel a wonderful sense of being at one with nature, as I sit here at my computer, the rain dancing on the window sill, golf course closed, I think back to warm sunny days golfing on these beautiful fairways.
“The very best courses are those where nature has provided, the canvas and my job is to discover her secrets and reveal them.”
Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Octavos Dunes is a Championship course, that has hosted the European Tour Portuguese Open many times. Oitavos is an incredibly beautiful course and like any course by the sea can be quite challenging on a windy day. Oitavos is designed in three dramatic different layouts, one through beautiful umbrella pines, the second is characterised by sand dunes and the third layout along the coast. The native flora and fauna are strictly protected throughout the area.
Hills expertly linked this magnificent natural landscape into the design making Oitavos Dunes a unique and pleasurable challenge.
The excellent facilities include a “state of the art” clubhouse and practice area, a superb restaurant and bar with panoramic views over the course and ocean.
“The main goal when I would start designing a golf course was to make it playable for all of those who might play it, from the best golfers to the higher-handicap golfers who might shoot 100 or 110,”
The late Arthur Hills.
Cascais has something for everyone, great golf courses, fabulous beaches, unique Museums, tennis, sailing and more. everyone is extremely friendly and oh so welcoming. LOVE PORTUGAL.
Getting to Lisbon could not have been easier or more civilised, we flew with TAP Air from Dublin, the whole experience was superb!
For further info. or to book with TAP please visit flytap.com.