Cascais, traditionally a seaside fishing village, underwent significant development in the 14th century, when it was a busy port of call for ships on their way to Lisbon.
But it was in the late 19th century, when sea-bathing became popular, that Cascais was transformed into a very fashionable seaside resort. The chief architect of this transformation was King Dom Luís I of Portugal, who converted the fort into the summer Residence of the Portuguese monarchy. The example was followed by the nobility, who built mansions and fine villas, where they would spend the hottest part of the year, utterly changing the face of the former fishing village.
Cascais then became a cosmopolitan town, attracting visits by the curious, whose access was facilitated by the opening of the railway line between Pedrouços and Cascais in 1889.
Cascais nowadays is a lively, cosmopolitan place which retains a certain aristocratic atmosphere. It is worth a walk along its streets, with their excellent quality shops, or spending some time relaxing on one of its numerous belvederes.
The beaches continue to be one of the main attractions of Cascais, and one can choose between those in the bay, sheltered by the town, and the ones a bit further away in the Guincho area (now part of the Sintra-Cascais National Park), which are excellent for surfing and windsurfing.
A natural curiosity on the way out of Cascais is the Boca do Inferno (Hell's Mouth), a recess of the coast surrounded by craggy rocks and caves, providing a fantastic spectacle when the sea dashes against them on stormy days.
Another outstanding feature is the food, especially fresh fish and shellfish, which can be sampled in the many local restaurants.