The talk around Cascais, Portugal tends to focus on the beaches (it is a great beach destination for both Lisbon locals and international travelers), but I was surprised to find there’s a strong arts culture there. I’m not really a beach person, but I definitely AM an arts & culture person, so that’s what I focused a lot of my time in Cascais on.
Between the galleries and small house museums, you’ll definitely start to notice a creative vibe through town. And it’s especially apparent in the Cidadela Arts District, which is housed within the walls of the old Fortress.
This district was created in tandem with the Pestana Cascais Cidadela, a luxury 5-star hotel. But you don’t need to be a guest at the hotel in order to explore and enjoy this area.
Citadel of Cascais Fortress
Fortress Nossa Senhora de Luz de Cascais was built between the 15th and 17th centuries to protect the town of Cascais. This fortress has been restored and renewed to bring fresh life to it, while maintaining the integrity of the historic structure.
You can walk along the walls, admire the sea views, visit the marina, and explore the arts district.
Cidadela Art District
As you walk through the grand walls of the fortress and into the main plaza, you’ll instantly feel like you’ve been transported to another place. Large sculptures and wall murals dot the space outside of the hotel, giving you plenty to look at.
Inside, you’ll find galleries with local artists’ works, open studios, and artwork throughout the hotel interiors.
This is a great place to wander around for a while, sit, take in the art, and just appreciate the surroundings in a new way.
Pestana Cascais Hotel
As I mentioned earlier, the renewal of the area inside the fortress was spearheaded by the Pestana Collection Hotels. It’s a 5-star hotel with an art-forward theme. From the looks of it, you’ll certainly be living in luxury if you stay here, with easy access to the arts district, restaurants, and amazing views over the water.
I certainly didn’t stay here, but if you’re looking for luxe accommodations, this hotel is worth looking into.
As a visual person who enjoys perusing galleries and museums while traveling, spending time wandering through the arts district and fortress was an hour well spent. There’s no need to spend any money to see and explore this area, and it’s a good break from the beaches.
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