"Where are you heading today? "Cascais" we replied

"If you're  off to the beach, then the best place to go is Carcavelos"

This was the advice given to us by our hostel receptionist as we were leaving Lisbon for the day and heading out to the coast about 30km to the west of the city.

Little did we know we were in for a lengthy walk through the blistering Portuguese afternoon sun.

The Train to Cascais Carcavelos

We had read about Cascais in a magazine at the hostel and in the need of some downtime following the TBU conference and our trip around Northern Portugal, Cascais, with its beach, cafes and small shops sounded great.

After a struggle to obtain tickets at Cais do Sodre station (we couldn't figure out the machine and had to join the large queue for the ticket booth) we boarded the train to Cascais.

We were several stops in when the next junction was announced as Carcavelos. Strange, we thought,  as we didn't seem to have travelled that far, yet we trusted the advice given to us and decided to alight the train when it pulled into the station.

A short walk took us towards the Atlantic Ocean and the openness of the beach. And that is all it was.. a beach. A very big beach to give it some credit as it stretched away into the distance to our left. There were one or two cafes within view but the beach was crowded and our idea of hell.

We had two options to hand. One was to jump back on the train and continue to Cascais or we could opt to walk along the coastline and see where it took us. We chose the latter.

The Walk to Cascais

With no idea of how far away Cascais was we entered the unknown.

The beachside pathway soon gave way to  a small cliff to our left and the constant buzz of passing traffic to our right. We walked for what felt like hours but was in fact around 30 minutes before spotting some wooden steps that descended to a small secluded bay below.

Prais das Avencas beach was busy but small enough to be deemed as quiet. While I walked barefoot through the incoming tide Angie braved the cold water for a brief swim.

Overlooking the beach was a small reasonably priced cafe where we ate lunch before proceeding westwards in search of Cascais.

We felt as though we were getting closer when the roadside paths transformed  to a more traditional promenade.

It was in sight. The bay we had seen from miles away turned out to be the place we had been searching for.

Angie took another short swim at the beach at Estoril before we embarked on the final stretch.

We Finally made it to Cascais but...

The road veered into a more residential area with some attractive large houses that now appeared empty and when the train station appeared we knew we had made it.

Three and a half hours after setting off from Carcavelos we had arrived in Cascais and do you know what, it was rather pleasant which made it even more annoying that we didn't stick to our original plan.

Full of thin pedestrianised streets with shops and cafes Cascais seemed the perfect way to spend a day away from Lisbon.

Unfortunately at this point we were so tired from the walk that all we wanted to do was get back on the train and head back to the city for some well deserved rest.

So the moral of the story is, locals do know the best places to go, but make sure you specify exactly what you want to see otherwise you too may end up spending the afternoon walking the coastline of Portugal.

Have you been to Cascais? Is there more to do there than we got to see in a short time?