Monday, June 25, 2018

Rail Trip Portugal - 6th Whistle Stop: CASCAIS - ESTORIL - BELEM

It was my last day in Portugal. Others would have taken it easy, maybe do some final souvenir shopping, have a last croqueta de bacalao and a glass of vinho verde or port in Lisbon.

One of Belém's most iconic monuments is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the Monument of the Discoveries on the bank of the Tagus river. 

Not me.
I was travelling with hand luggage - an according post shall follow soon - so shopping was basically off the table. I had far too much vinho verde and port over the past week, anyways, and I had to get up at 4.30 in the morning, so I did not want to jeopardize my cheap ticket for a private fare-well-party.

View from the Bairro Alto neighborhood on beautiful Lisbon.

And although I by far hadn't seen everything I wanted to see in Lisbon - and by very far not everything there is to be seen - I decided to treat myself to a final beach day. Fortunately, Cascais and Estoril are only a short 40 minutes from Lisbon's Cais do Sodré station - and the historic paradise Belém is on the way.

Travelling teaches you a lot of things. The lesson I repeated on this trip is:
Racing makes days longer.
Do you know this phenomenon how time seems to pass much slower when you permanently change your spot or at least do something different every day?

We used to make fun of Japanese tourist groups visiting nine European countries in seven days.
Of course, this is not a way to really get to know a country or even get a feel for its culture and atmosphere - especially when travelling in a group where you, in addition, have to interact with your co-travellers.

But there is something to it: Every day feels like an individual, complete little vacation in itself.
It stretches days to weeks and weeks to months. Not on the calendar, but in your system.

Therefore, I couldn't believe that I've been to Portugal only one week by then - it felt like a month....or some undefined amount of time.

On the beach at Figueira da Foz only a couple of days ago....feels like ages!

This was not a great cognition, this is a well-known effect. As soon as you get used to a place and get into a certain routine, time seems to pass faster; which is good when it comes to my everyday routine: time practically flies.

A week working to me is over in a blink of an eye.
A week on the road seems like forever.

But you have to keep on moving. Staying, for instance, two weeks in one place, the first week will seem much longer than the second one - which becomes a routine, however pleasant it may be.

You cannot outsmart time, but you can outwit cognition: No 'let's rent a cabana for two weeks', nope: becoming a nomad does the trick!

Therefore: A new destination every day - and on the last day, there were even three!


Cascais is the final stop on the regional train coming from Lisbon's Cais do Sodré station. At a price of 2,25 €uro, you have 365 trains per day. From there, you can continue to farther beaches - or, once you're done swimming and sun-bathing, by bus to Sintra.

Note: If you get a Lisbon card, regional connections on urban trains to places like Cascais, Estoril, Sintra and many more are included!

Beach at Cascais - not a dream beach from a catalog, but a nice option for a quick dip.
(Photo: Husond, Cascais beach 02, cropped to 1102x735, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Pedaço de Glamour above the Praia da Conceição - eye-turner and fancy restaurant.


Estoril is the stop before Cascais. So it's very convenient for visiting both destinations on one day - if you don't like it....the next train goes about 20 minutes later.

Beach at Estoril - a bit more mundane than Cascais - with the Forte da Cruz-restaurant in the backdrop.
(Photo: anonym, Praia do Tamariz - Estoril, cropped to 1102x735, CC BY 2.0)


Belém, in the western outskirts of Lisbon, used to even have its own parish till 2012. Although the Belém area is only a bit over 10 square kilometers in size, there are some of the most impressive attractions here to be found - i. a. the famous - and delicious - Natas de Belém.

The Museum of Presidência da República seen behind the Jardim Afonso de Albuquerque with the great man's statue.

Definitely the most impressive complex at Belém: The Jerónimos Monastery.

Mesmerizing shadow show on the cathedral's gallery.

Vasco de Gama's tomb.

Another impressive, yet very modern structure in Belém is the Centro Cultural, housing i. a. the Museu Coleção Berardo, the Berardo Collection Museum  

Les Baigneuses by Niki de Saint-Phalle is greeting the visitors at the Berardo's entrance.

The world famous Belém tower protected Portugal against its enemies.

Did you miss this train? Here you can read what happened at all the other whistle stops:

2nd Whistle Stop: FIGUEIRA da FOZ

3rd Whistle Stop: COIMBRA

4th Whistle Stop: LISBON

5th Whistle Stop: SINTRA

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my former trips like e. g. Brazil, while travelling, I'll be posting little stories and reflections on my stay. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy some special moments with me.

If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:


  1. It looks like you had a wonderful time visiting. The beaches look amazingly peaceful indeed.

  2. You have made my yearning to visit Lisbon even stronger after reading this article and seeing the beautiful photos. I will definitely check your other posts for more tips and information when I do go.

  3. How beautiful! It's been a few years since I have visited Europe and I need to go back. Portugal is definitely on my to-see list!

  4. Wow you have been to visit some great places in Lisbon. That beach picture makes me want to take the kids to the seaside.

  5. Se manifique moments captured. Great views and vibes.

  6. Wow! Portugal is soooo beautiful! I love the idea of flipflops on the sand. Maybe I should do that, too. Take a photo of my shoes where we landed. Nice idea! :D

  7. Portugal is so beautiful; The Cathedral, the sandy beaches and Estoril OMG! I love the pretty shades. I definitely wouldn't miss a souvenir from Portugal!

  8. I have to admit the country is a beauty! Love Portugal and I would go back there in a heart beat! Loved yourpicture with the flip flops!

  9. I need to go to Portugal as part of our EU travel challenge. Perhaps I should go solo via train?! This sounds so inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  10. What a lovely little trip this must have been. I've driven from Madrid to Porto and then Porto to Lisbon - via a small seaside town called Nazare (or something similar). That was nice. But I bet it's nicer by train!

  11. Haha maybe the Japanese tourists had the right idea the whole time... But I could never or want to do 9 countries in 7 days. Thanks for sharing some sweet spots around Lisbon - looks absolutely beautiful!

  12. You've brought back some great memories for me of Portugal. I did the same trip to Cascais, Belem and Estoril and loved every part. The pasteis de nata in Belem are incredible, and I could have eaten at least 3! A beautiful part of Portugal.

    1. Belem is just amazing, isn't it? Definitely not to be missed when visiting Lisbon!

  13. I am so glad I came across ur blog .. m just planning my trip in August .. hope August is a good time to visit ? Live ur pictures with flip flops .. might steal ur idea .. hehe ..

    1. I'm not too sure about August - I think it will be very hot. So - more time on the beach for your, right?! 😉

  14. This a good (beautiful, must say ;) ) choice you made rather than spend your last day shopping or lazying around.. bonus it was beautiful, sunny day too! Absolutely loved the architecture of Cascais, Belem and Estoril. These places will defiently make into our list for day trips from Lisbon...:)

  15. I can understand by what you say about everyday feeling like an individual and like a complete vacation. That happens when I visit to some places I fall in love with. Lisbon looks so beautiful and I really love the pictures.

  16. More than the amazing pictures, I always love reading your short stories in between your travel guides. Keep on sharing!

    1. Thank you so much, Karla, that's so encouraging 💖

  17. Hey! Really appreciate your endeavors for sharing the best of Portugal. You drew a wonderful picture of major attractions of this astounding traveler’s paradise. It is a perfect backdrop for travel enthusiasts to unhook from the hustle of insipid daily errands & escape in its calmness & mesmerizing beauty. I am definitely going to travel to Portugal this vacation. I have already applied for Portugal Visa from UK. Yipee!


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