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Estoril Portugal Guide - Fully Updated for 2020!
Estoril is a stylish and sophisticated resort town, situated on the beautiful Costa do Estoril coastline. The town strikes the perfect balance between Portuguese charm and outstanding tourist facilities, to create the ideal destination, if you want more than just great beaches for your holiday.
Estoril is at the heart of the Portuguese Riviera, a region infamous for 20th century exiled kings and spying during WWII. These secret and underhand negotiations were played out in the grand casino, while the prominence of Europe’s ousted royalty, gave Estoril an air of prestige and refinement. This reputation for exclusivity continues through to today; found in Estoril are fine dining restaurants, world-class golf courses and the largest casino of the Iberian Peninsula.
For non-Ferrari owning tourists there is still a lot to enjoy about a holiday to Estoril. There are the glorious beaches of the Costa do Estoril, the picturesque town of Cascais is close by, while to the north are the scenic hills and palaces of Sintra. For a dose of culture or a big night out there is Lisbon, only a short train ride away.
There is so much to love about Estoril and the Costa do Estoril, and this guide will provide an introduction to this wonderful region.
Related articles: Cascais guide – Sintra guide - Lisbon guide
Highlights of Estoril
Highlights of the Estoril region
Some of the most popular activities and sights during a holiday to Estoril include:
Why have a holiday to Estoril?
If you tire of the beaches, there are many entertaining activities and day trips. There is surfing on the Praia do Guincho, the dramatic scenery of the Cabo da Roca, the hiking trails of the Serra de Sintra hills, or luxurious spas to simply unwind in.
The Costa do Estoril is a favourite for golfing holidays and found within the region are five world-class courses: The Oitavos Dunes, the Quinta da Marinha, the Clube de Golf do Estoril, the Penha Longa and the Pestana Beloura.
During the summer, Estoril has a classy and social evening atmosphere; with delicious food served in the varied restaurants, entertainment in the Casino and then later the bars and clubs of Cascais.
Related articles: Cabo da Roca - Sights and activities of Estoril
Estoril and Europe’s exiled nobility
Estoril and the Portuguese Riviera has had a long association with Europe’s deposed nobility; with many attracted by the glamour of the casino, the fine weather and most importantly the neutrality of Portugal during WWII.
The Portuguese Riviera was initially founded by King Luís I in 1870, when he decreed that the area be the royal summer residence, but the real international attention was in the 1940 and 50s.
After King Edward VIII abdicated from the British throne, he spent much of his time in Estoril, and this is where he conducted many of his wartime negotiations with Germany before being banished to the Bahamas for the remained for the war. King Juan Carlos I of Spain spent much of his early childhood in Estoril, and is here in their former home, the Villa Giralda, that he accidentally shot and killed his younger brother, Alfonso in 1956.
The last Italian king, Umberto II, spent much of his 37 years of exile in the Costa do Estoril. Other disposed European royalty came to live within the Portuguese Riviera included king Miklós Horthy of Hungry, Carol II of Romania, and Giovanna the Tsaritsa of Bulgaria.
Estoril casino was infamous for spying, secret negotiations and covert monitoring, and these political intrigues were the inspiration for Ian Fleming's first James Bond book, Casino Royale. Later Estoril Casino was the centrepiece for the 1970s James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which only enhanced the glamourous reputation of Estoril.
Who should Visit Estoril?
Estoril for 2020
Portugal’s tourism is experiencing a massive resurgence, visitors number have dramatically increased, new businesses are opening and after many years of self-doubt, there is a real confidence about the country.
It is expected that 2020 will be a record year for visitor numbers, based upon the sell-out year of 2019, this does mean that hotels and flights will sell out, especially during the peak season. Our advice to you is to book your holiday as soon as possible.
Below is a map showing the location of the main hotels and accommodation in Estoril. If you adjust the dates to your holiday it will show current prices and availability.
Note: if you scroll the map to left (west) it will also display accommodation options in Cascais.
The Beaches of Estoril Portugal
The finest of these beaches is the stunning Praia do Guincho, which is set on the edge of the Serra de Sintra National Park and is just a 10-minute drive from Estoril.
To the east of Estoril is a coastline filled with large sandy beaches and an assortment of small resort towns, all connected by the regional railway. The best beaches of Estoril-Lisbon coastline are the Praia de Carcavelos and the Praia de São Pedro, and these beaches are extremely popular with the residents of Lisbon, who flock to them during the summer weekends. For a full guide to the best
Related articles: The beaches of the Cascais Estoril region.
What about a day trip to Estoril?
Travel from Lisbon to Estoril
Estoril is connected to Lisbon by a regular and inexpensive railway. The train departs Lisbon from the Cais do Sodre train station (green metro line) and the journey takes 30-40 minutes, with a single ticket costing €2.20/€1.10 (adult/child).
Lisbon airport is within the city limits and the journey from the airport to Estoril requires both the metro and the regional train. The total time takes around 1h30min but costs less than €7 per person.
A pre-booked transfer costs around €40 and will be significantly more if hiring a taxi directly from the arrivals lounge at the airport.
Related articles: Lisbon to Estoril
When to Visit Estoril?
Estoril has long hot summers, pleasant springs and autumns, and winters that are mild but possibly wet.
The weather in central Portugal is suitable for spending time on the beach from mid-May until the end of September, while the height of the summer season aligns with the summer holidays of July and August.
The Average Weather of Estoril Portugal
The best time of year to visit Estoril is during the late spring or early autumn months, when the weather is pleasantly warm but without the summertime crowds.
Estoril is not a winter sun destination and the winter weather can be disappointing, with an equal number of wet days and bright sunny days. The hotels, cafes and restaurants of Estoril do not shut down for winter as it is a major town with a large permanent population.
What about Estoril for a family holiday?
The Portuguese believe in the importance of the family, and children will be welcomed throughout the country.
Estoril could be considered as an "easy" family holiday destination, as within Estoril there are numerous family friendly resorts and English is widely spoken by all who work within tourism.
The beaches of Estoril are children friendly with clean and calm seawaters, which are supervised by lifeguards during the summer.