If you head south out of The Lumiares in the direction of Chiado – past the Igreja de São Roque (pop in, it’s stunning), through Camões Square and down to the bottom of the hill you will find yourself within spitting distance of Cais do Sodré train station. From here, for little more than the price of a coffee, you can hop on a train to Cascais.
It’s a trip worth taking not least because this is a train journey with a difference. The track hugs the water all the way so the views are fantastic – try and snag a window seat on the left to make the most of it. You get a real sense of the urban (and industrial) heart of the city and, as the estuary gives way to open sea, to the colourful sprawl of the seaside towns.
The journey itself offers a ringside seat to some of Lisbon’s most popular attractions. In Belem alone you trundle past: the new MAAT museum designed by the brilliant and ground breaking British architect Amanda Levete, the Monument of Discoveries celebrating Portugal’s intrepid seafaring past, the wonderfully gothic 16th century Jeronimos Monastery, the iconicTorre de Belem… and so on. There is lots more – too much to talk about here (Belem is a conversation in itself) – but you get the point. This grand dame of railway lines is a great way to get your bearings in a city full of contrasts.
And keep an eye out for the Estoril Casino as you pass through Monte Estoril station, rumoured to be the hangout for spies during the second world war and Ian Flemings’ inspiration for Casino Royale.
The entire journey takes forty minutes or so (half an hour at peak times) before you reach the beautiful town of Cascais. From here you can stroll to any of the trio of beaches that take your fancy – all within easy walking distance of the train station. Meander through the cobbled streets of the old town and potter in the local shops. Choose which seafood restaurant to patronise for lunch – seabass or clams? – all fresh from the local fish market.
To walk off lunch it’s worth tracing the path around the bay and heading up to the marina; from here you get a real sense of Cascais’ history. The walls of the 15th century Cidadela de Cascais provide an impressive backdrop to the spanking new marina that only opened in 1999.
And when you’re ready to head back simply hop on another train (departure every twenty minutes) and press replay. Just remember to sit on the right for the return journey!