There’s a sense of faded grandeur to Estoril, a slow-paced beach resort that sprang up around a famous casino built in the 1910s. A beachy sibling to better-known Cascais only 1.2mi (2km) away, base yourself in this sunbaked pleasure town for the gleaming beaches, cocktail bars and mellow vibes of its glamorous nightlife.
Did you know that this corner of Portugal has some James Bond history? The spy’s creator Ian Fleming visited in the 1940s, basing himself at the Palacio hotel and meeting spies such as Dusko Popov, who is said to have inspired his suave protagonist. At the hotel’s checkerboard-floored, wood-panelled bar you can choose from five styles of martini (shaken, not stirred) along with canape selections featuring caviar and foie gras. Very 007.
For a proper cocktail in stylish but relaxed surroundings, it has to be Umbar. Set back on Rua Biarritz, close to the Jardim do Estoril park, this after-work hotspot gets packed with slick locals clinking cool mixology creations made by expert bar staff. Expect refreshing punches served in ceramic cacti, martinis topped by a smoking cigarette, a house cocktail in a lime-green lightbulb – each serve is unbelievably photogenic.
Portugal loves a dive bar and arriving at this strange, smoky little venue feels like you’ve stumbled into someone’s living room. Mismatched furniture, ’70s and ’80s pop-rock on the stereo and no-frills beers and whiskies all contribute to the shabby-chic nature of this spot. Regulars love how it hasn’t changed for years while hipsters love it for a nightcap with character. It probably isn’t the place to order anything more complex than a mojito.
This glossy beach restaurant, with loungers and parasols, is just as good for an impromptu drink on the sands as it is for a bite to eat. Order long, fruity cocktails with nibbles like deep-fried shrimp as you gaze out over the petite, triangular Praia da Rata beach, with its seawater tidal pool that kids love to paddle in. The cocktail list runs the gamut of lighthearted holiday fare: pina coladas, tequila sunrise, daiquiris and caipirinhas. This is partway between Estoril and Cascais – a great pitstop for a drink en route.
A high-living pool party with cushioned loungers and a swim-up bar, this tanning spot is just across the promenade from Tamariz Beach, boasting sprawling sea views. There’s a bar deck for dressed-up drinks as well as a sushi restaurant and service to your canopied double sun lounger – there’s a reasonable day fee for taking one up. Snacking on spicy tuna rolls and sipping champagne while watching the beautiful people bathe is the best bit of spending a day here.
With a firmly millennial, pop-up spirit and a prime location near many of Estoril’s best hotels, this terrace bar excels at craft cocktails. From fig-laced pisco sours to creations with basil and balsamic vinegar, this is cutting-edge mixology, enjoyed with chilled-out DJ beats and views of Estoril’s rooftops all around. At sunset, the sky and sea turn pinky-blue, the lights go down and the music goes way up.
Since sibling town Cascais is only a stroll along the seafront away, you’ll likely want to stop there for a drink, too. The swankiest address is the rooftop at Hotel Baia, a nautical-but-nice affair with navy-and-white sofas and an immaculate glass-wrapped terrace that looks out over the boats in the harbour. Stopping by in the daytime? Commandeer one of the low bean bag chairs facing the ocean and order a refreshing detox juice.
Nurse your hangover in one of Estoril’s top hotels, or discover holiday rentals in nearby town Cascais, now bookable via Culture Trip. Spend your day exploring Cascais with its historic architecture and breathtaking beaches, before lining your stomach in the town’s best restaurants.
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