Only 30 minutes from the heart of Portugal’s capital city Lisbon, the elegant town of Cascais offers something truly unique. Here, we discover a perfect balance between sophisticated contemporary urban living and just about all one could dream of in terms of natural beauty.
Cascais is home to a flourishing expat community and attracts a dizzying array of international royalty, celebrities, and sports superstars thanks to its undeniable allure.
Considering its size, with residents only numbering around 200,000, Cascais serves up a veritable feast of culture, cuisine, history, entertainment, and activity.
It’s been the chosen summer destination of Portugal’s most prestigious elites since the 19th century, and today Cascais continues to evolve and blossom as a prosperous place to be, for a diversity of locals and expats alike.
If your curiosity is piqued, read on to discover 21 must-know facts about living in Cascais as an expat!
1. Cascais is the gem of the Portuguese Riviera
Many have heard of the French Riviera, but have you heard of the Portuguese Riviera?
Spanning Westwards from the city of Lisbon towards the Atlantic coastline, this affluent region is renowned for its luxury, its climate, and its attractiveness—while enjoying far lower price tags than its French counterpart.
Within the Portuguese Riviera, we find spectacular Cascais, fairytale-like Sintra, and storied Estoril.
While each of these locations offers a distinct charm, many would argue that expats in Cascais have set down within the true gem of this exciting portion of Portugal.
A life spent living in Cascais can be defined by its chic atmosphere, historic features, picturesque landscapes, sun-soaked beaches, and an upscale urban aesthetic. What could be better?
2. Cascais boasts a beautiful climate
Whether hoping to escape long and cold winters or overbearingly hot summers, you’ll be delighted by the climate in Cascais!
Despite being nestled against the Atlantic coast, Cascais is rarely visited by unpleasant weather. This is because the town is graciously sheltered by the Serra de Sintra, which dutifully buffers against unwelcome coastal winds.
Fair weather dominates at least two-thirds of the year, with summer highs reaching around 30ºC (86ºF) and happily no sign of the choking heatwaves that are often experienced a little further inland.
Living in Cascais you can anticipate pleasantly mild winters with periods of rain, and seasonal nighttime lows rarely dipping below 5ºC (41ºF).
That said, when exploring properties, do keep those lower temperatures in mind, as many older Portuguese homes are not well insulated—something easily forgotten in the summer sun!
3. Expats in Cascais join a thriving community
Unsurprisingly, Cascais attracts all manner of expats—ranging from digital nomads to retirees, and from everyday families to the rich and famous.
When the town’s many aspirational qualities and amenities are infused with the laid-back Portuguese attitude to life, the source of its gravitational pull is obvious!
If you are hoping to begin making connections before arriving, you can touch base with other expats in Cascais via Facebook groups, such as Expats Cascais.
Another reason that many are drawn to Cascais is its strong residential real estate market.
With attractive tax benefits on the table and a positive outlook for the Lisbon area in terms of continued growth, many expats are setting their sights on this region as not only a wonderful place to call home but also a savvy investment opportunity.
4. Cascais is fantastically connected
When laying fresh roots in Europe, choosing the right spot is a must, but having the chance to explore further may also be a priority!
If you adore the idea of convenient weekend getaways always being within reach, then living in Cascais is ideal. The same can be said if you want to visit or invite family living in other countries.
With Lisbon on the doorstep, expats in Cascais can make the most of the city’s large international airport which provides an ever-ready link to the rest of Europe and beyond.
There is also easy highway access and fantastic train and bus connections—both for travel nationally and internationally.
5. Cascais is home to countless spectacular beaches
Even though Cascais meets the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Mediterranean, it still offers a host of spectacular beaches.
The town’s signature calm waters and gentle breezes can be attributed to the locales uniquely sheltered landscape and South-facing position within the protective mouth of the river Tagus.
These happy conditions mean that sunbathing, swimming, and water sports are simply waiting to be enjoyed by expats in Cascais.
Residents can choose from a selection of idyllic beaches that front both the town itself and many nearby natural settings—with cafes, equipment rental, and beach bars abounding!
Of course, many look to the West coast of Portugal for its surfing prowess. If that describes you, then Guincho beach, the local surfer’s paradise, is the place to be.
6. Real estate in Cascais is notoriously expensive, but there are bargains to find
Portugal is often favoured by expats for its relatively affordable real estate, however, this is not something for which Cascais is famed!
The Portuguese Riviera is one of the most expensive places in the entire country when it comes to purchasing residential properties in Portugal.
Cascais is populated by a staggering array of multi-million Euro homes—although those with a keen eye and quick trigger finger can hope to jump on more affordable options as they arise.
Those on a tighter budget may be able to find a studio or one-bed apartment for under 1,000€ per month if renting, or under 150,000€ for purchase.
Of course, prices tend to depend on neighborhood, and increase skyward at pace.
More affordable properties tend to appear on the East side of town.
Moving towards the other end of the purchasing scale—whether your vision includes a spacious and modern home surrounded by nature or a decadent and historic Portuguese mansion—expats in Cascais are spoilt for choice!
7. The Cascais coastline is a water sports haven
We touched upon the surf culture on tap for those living in Cascais, but water-related fun only begins there.
For expats waiting to unleash their inner sailor, the town’s large marina offers a fantastic base from which to explore the nearby coastline.
If windsurfing, water skiing, paddle boarding, or kayaking are more your thing, discover fantastic equipment rental shops and instructors ready to help you get started or hone your skill.
The Cascais waterfront often hosts international sailing events, but if you prefer something more sedate, you can simply hire a banana boat!
8. Cascais is ideal for expats seeking an active lifestyle
When living in Cascais, it’s easy to harmoniously balance free-flowing Portuguese wine and decadent pastries with getting active in a variety of ways.
The Cascais area boasts some of Portugal’s finest golf courses, and the town is dotted with mature and beautifully maintained parks.
A feature of some of the beaches and parks of Cascais is exercise equipment—ranging from outdoor gym setups to a skate park!
If you love nothing more than a stroll, then the picture-perfect seawall pedestrian path that stretches the few kilometres between Cascais and São João do Estoril awaits.
For those with a more adventurous spirit, the Sintra-Cascais nature reserve offers trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and more.
9. Wining and dining in Cascais is fantastically affordable
The name of the town Cascais itself alludes to the town’s excellent reputation for seafood. Its origin can be found in the phrase “monte de cascas,” which means mountain of shells!
Today, wonderfully fresh seafood is always on the menu, but so too is a growing array of international cuisine for those who enjoy a varied palate.
When eating out, just as reflected in property prices, Cascais costs vary widely—but a lunch-time “prato do dia,” which means a plate of the day, may cost as little as €8 while enjoying a three-course meal in the evening is possible from as little as €20 per person.
10. History buffs will love living in Cascais
When walking the cobbled streets of Cascais, one experiences the sense that a rich and colourful history lingers beneath your feet!
The location has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic era—so hundreds of thousands of years. Expats taking in the town will see stunning architectural remnants of a mixed Roman, medieval, and Arabic heritage.
Anyone wanting a history and culture fix can make their way to the town’s Museum Quarter—yes, you read that right!
A fantastic array of interesting exhibits can be found, focusing on everything from ancient antiquities to contemporary art. A mix of both permanent and temporary installations ensures that there is always something new to appreciate.
11. The cost of living in Cascais is high for Portugal but competitive internationally
We’ve dipped into real estate, but what about other costs of living?
Daily essentials for those living in Cascais—from groceries to utilities—are comparable with prices you’d pay if living in Lisbon.
When framed by living costs across Portugal, Cascais seems pretty expensive, but when compared to desirable city locations across the continent, living in Cascais appears far more agreeable.
While supermarket shoppers will find the familiar in Lidl, Continente, Jumbo, or Pingo Doce, those wishing to dive into the culture and keep costs low will enjoy buying their weekly groceries from the colourful stalls within the covered Mercado da Vila.
Public transport is fantastically affordable with train and bus passes starting from only a few Euros. The location you choose in Cascais will dictate whether you’ll want to keep a car.
12. Cascais residents make room for an influx of tourists
Anyone living in Cascais will need to be ready to embrace the annual flow of tourists.
Sometimes also known as “O Triângulo Dourado” or The Golden Triangle, the Portuguese Riviera attracts a stream of people from Portugal and abroad in the warmer months.
This should certainly be a considered factor for expats exploring the area. In Cascais alone, it is estimated that as many as 1.2 million tourists touch down in the town’s hotels each year.
13. Cascais is great for a shopping fix
If fantastic retail therapy is on your must-have list for the perfect expat destination, then Cascais won’t disappoint.
The town’s old centre is packed with characterful boutiques and thriving street markets, and there are two large and contemporary shopping malls for those who want to savour the latest collections from all the big-name brands.
Of course, with all the thrills of the city of Lisbon only a short journey away, an enthusiastic shopper will never run out of options!
14. Cascais is popular among international retirees
When looking for a dream retirement location, nobody wants to compromise.
Culture, relaxation, beauty, and climate will be on the must-have list for most, and for this reason, Cascais remains ever-popular with expat retirees.
The right location means having everything on your doorstep, from beach bars to fine restaurants—and all the necessary amenities within walking distance.
The streets of Cascais are flat, making it a great destination for those with mobility in mind. Do be aware, however, that the town’s polished cobbles call for practical footwear!
In Cascais, golden years can be spent among a strong retiree expat community, and within a location where English is usually spoken. Although, those who do their best with the language will get to enjoy far more of Portugal’s warm and welcoming culture!
15. Education options in and around Cascais are top-notch
If you’re not at retirement age yet but are instead seeking the right setting for your children, Cascais offers an impressive range of educational options.
The surrounding area is home to a full spectrum of state schools, private schools, and international schools following a variety of curriculums.
Casting the net a little wider, the proximity of Lisbon means access to outstanding higher education institutions.
An interesting fact: the municipality of Cascais boasts twice the national average of people who attended higher education. Good looks and smarts? What a catch!
16. Cascais is a very safe place to live
For expats of any age, safety is always going to be a concern. The good news is that Cascais enjoys a phenomenally low crime rate.
In fact, Portugal itself was recently awarded the 4th spot among the safest countries in the world!
The only security concerns to be mindful of here are petty thefts in touristy areas when the season is in full flow. If you keep your valuables close and are mindful of leaving anything on display in your car, you are likely to never encounter an issue in Cascais.
18. Cascais serves as a surprising entertainment hub
One might imagine that high-profile international acts would only land in Lisbon within a country as small as Portugal—and that wouldn’t be so bad for those living in Cascais considering its closeness.
However, the wealthy populous and glamorous location actually mean that Cascais draws an impressive range of live music events, entertainers, and sporting events annually.
Expats in Cascais will discover that there is almost always something exciting going on, and the social scene of the town is both charming and vibrant.
As a valued visit on the itineraries of the world’s jet setters, meeting a diversity of people and making new networking connections is no problem in Cascais!
19. Cascais offers fewer job opportunities, but Lisbon is within reach
For aspiring expats who want to redefine their professional lives as well as their location, it is prudent to plan ahead when considering Cascais.
The town is dominated by tourism and service industries, and these positions tend to be poorly paid in comparison to the costs of living in Cascais.
It’s best to be aware that the minimum wage in Portugal is particularly low—currently sitting at only around €660 per month. This makes commuting to Lisbon or building an income online more realistic options.
20. Cascais offers excellent healthcare options
Portugal is renowned for its outstanding national healthcare, and legal residents are able to take advantage of state-funded health support.
When you get your Numero do Utente, you can expect to pay only small administrative charges for consultations and treatments.
Balancing the best of both worlds, many expats in Portugal also take up supplemental health insurance, which can start from as little as €50 per month or opt for international health insurance that can cover them in several countries.
Cascais in particular offers several large and reputable hospitals, and a Centro do Saude, which is where residents will connect with their allocated family doctor.
21. You too can live the “Shaken, not stirred” lifestyle!
We’ve already painted a picture of the magnetism of Cascais to explain why it’s one of the best places to live in Portugal. But rather than taking our word for it, you can consider the opinion of James Bond creator Ian Fleming!
Cascais and the immediately neighbouring beach town of Estoril attracted an intriguing dose of mystery and scandal during World War II. The Casino Estoril was particularly noted for its espionage-tinged scene and served as the inspiration behind Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.
Today, expats in Cascais can do Bond proud, whether they sip a Martini on the beach, or enjoy a taste of glitz and glamour in a quick visit to the popular Casino!
So there you have it—a whistle-stop tour of living in Cascais for expats. Do let us know if we missed anything, and of course if this radiant expat destination has stolen your heart!