Stretching for over 30km west of Lisbon, the Estoril coast makes for an easily accessible and enjoyable trip from the city – the train line that hugs this dramatic coast is worth the trip alone. Much of the coast is backed by a seafront promenade, along which you can walk or cycle, and the lively resorts of Estoril and Cascais in particular make pleasant alternatives to staying in Lisbon.
The first suburb of any size after Belém is OEIRAS (pronounced oo-air-esh), where the Rio Tejo officially turns into the sea. The riverside walkways and the beach here have recently been cleaned up, though most people still swim in the ocean pool alongside the sands. The only reason to stop here is to see the Palácio do Marquês de Pombal, at Largo Marquês de Pombal, the erstwhile home of the rebuilder of Lisbon. Now an adult education centre, the grand house can be visited by appointment only (t 214 465 300, w egeac.pt), although the attractive gardens are open daily (9am–9pm, until 6pm from Oct–April; free).
The next town along the line, CARCAVELOS has the most extensive sandy beach on this part of the coast and is popular with surfers and windsurfers. To reach the beach, it’s a ten-minute walk from the station along the broad Avenida Jorge V. Try to visit Carcavelos on Thursday morning, when the town hosts a huge market; turn right out of the station and follow the signs.
With its fine beach, casino and surviving grandiose villas dotted among the modern apartments, you can see why ESTORIL (pronounced é-stril) was the favoured haunt of exiled royalty during the earlier half of the last century. These days it’s a lively resort, its centre consisting of the palm-lined Parque do Estoril, surrounded by bars and restaurants and the enormous casino. The Feira Internacional Artesanato – handicrafts and folk music festival – is held here in July.