Visitors head to Cascais for its beautiful coastline, sandy beaches and local seafood. As December arrives, the town adds another reason to visit: the annual Cascais Christmas Market.
In this guide, I’ll outline essential details, such as the 2023 dates and highlight local specialties.
Cascais mixes traditional Portuguese celebrations with a touch of maritime influence at Christmas.
I recommend soaking up the coastal ambience and witnessing the town’s unique festivities that draw locals and tourists.
Cascais Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Cascais historic centre highlights Portuguese traditions and cuisine.
Stalls showcasing artisan crafts exclusive to the region and unique food stalls serving traditional Portuguese treats. Local performers often entertain visitors.
At the Christmas Village, you can visit Santa’s House and the Enchanted Forest at the Christmas Village and skate at the ice rink.
It’s not just a market; it’s an experience that reflects the heart of the town.
Dates and Location
Cascais Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 29th November 2023 to 1st January 2024.
Location: Historic Centre. The Christmas Village is at Parque Marechal Carmona.
Opening times: 12pm to 8pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: No switch on date.
Santa: Yes, at Santa’s House. There is also an Enchanted Forest.
Ice skating: Yes, at the Christmas Village in Parque Marechal Carmona.
Carousel: All year round at Visconde da Luz Garden.
Ferris wheel: Yes, at Jardins do Casino Estoril.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Coastal location, Portuguese products, good weather.
Food specialities: Bacalhau, pastéis de nata, ginginha shots, bifana sandwiches.
Where to stay: Hotel Baia is a popular choice, located 8 minutes from the event.
Hotels in Cascais
Most visitors to Cascais prefer to stay near the beach, and there are plenty of options with coastal views.
I recommend Hotel Baia as it’s in the Old Town but still well located near the beach. Some rooms have ocean views.
There are many excellent places to stay in Lisbon if you want more options.
To explore more Christmas markets in Portugal, including Cascais, I recommend checking out my Portugal Christmas Markets guide.
Location of the Market
Christmas in Cascais
Bacalhau cakes (Codfish cakes): Originating from Portugal’s maritime tradition, these savoury fish cakes are made from cod, potatoes, and herbs. Deep-fried to perfection, they are a treat for those who love seafood with a touch of local flavour.
Pastéis de nata (Custard tarts): A widely-loved pastry in Portugal, these creamy custard tarts are baked with a flaky pastry shell. You might like to head to Belem to try the original and most famous version of this sweet.
Ginginha (Cherry liqueur): A popular Portuguese cherry liqueur, ginginha is typically enjoyed as a shot. Its sweet yet potent taste makes it the perfect drink to warm you up on a chilly winter evening.
Bifana (Pork sandwich): A simple yet delicious sandwich, bifana consists of thinly sliced pork steak marinated in a blend of spices and white wine. Served in a crusty roll, it’s a fulfilling snack to fuel your market adventures.
Arroz doce (Sweet rice pudding): A creamy dessert, arroz doce combines rice, milk, sugar, and a touch of lemon zest. It’s a nice end to a market meal, often adorned with decorative patterns using cinnamon.
Bolo Rei (King’s Cake): Central to Portuguese Christmas celebrations, this cake is filled with nuts, candied fruit, and sometimes a surprise trinket or coin. Symbolic of the holiday season, it’s a must-try when in Portugal at Christmas.
Filhós (Fritters): A traditional Portuguese treat, filhós are deep-fried pastries that are often flavoured with a hint of orange or lemon zest. Crispy on the outside and soft within, they are typically sprinkled with powdered sugar for a sweet finish.
Sonhos (Dreams): True to their name, sonhos are fluffy, deep-fried dough balls. Once golden brown, they are dusted with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon, making them a dreamy sweet treat.
Vinho quente (Mulled wine): A festive drink to keep the cold at bay, vinho quente is a blend of red wine, sugar, and various spices. Best enjoyed warm, it’s a comforting drink as you stroll through the market.
Queijo da Serra (Serra cheese): Hailing from the Serra da Estrela region, this soft and tangy sheep’s cheese is perfect for pairing with a piece of crusty bread. Creamy in texture, it adds a touch of authenticity to your market experience.
Ameixas d’Elvas (Candied plums from Elvas): Considered a local favourite, these are plums preserved in syrup. They are sweet and slightly tangy and serve as a sweet treat amidst the savoury market fare.
Toucinho do céu (Almond and egg yolk cake): Literally translating to “bacon from heaven”, this is a rich cake made primarily of almonds and egg yolks. Despite its name, there’s no bacon involved, but it promises a great taste.
Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Azulejos (Hand-painted tiles): Cascais has a rich tradition of ceramic artistry, and azulejos are a testament to that. These tiles, often blue and white but available in various colours, depict scenes from history, nature, or abstract designs. They make for a unique wall decoration or coaster and are a true reflection of Portuguese aesthetics.
Cork products: Portugal is the world’s largest producer of cork. You’ll find various items crafted from this material at the market, from handbags to hats and even postcards. Not only are they environmentally friendly, but they also carry a certain rustic charm.
Ginja liqueur: A sweet cherry liqueur, ginja is a souvenir for those with a penchant for unique spirits. While often enjoyed at Christmas markets, bottled ginja from Cascais can be a reminder of your trip or a lovely gift for friends back home.
Embroidery: The region around Cascais is known for its embroidery work. Items such as tablecloths, shawls, and handkerchiefs are often hand-stitched and display intricate patterns, making them both functional and beautiful gifts.
Sea-inspired jewellery: Given Cascais’s coastal location, many artisans create jewellery inspired by the sea. Expect to find necklaces, bracelets, and earrings featuring waves, fish, and shells, all handcrafted and giving a touch of the Atlantic.
Canned sardines: While it might sound unusual, beautifully packaged canned sardines are a popular souvenir from Portugal. They come in various flavours and artistic tins, providing a quirky yet authentic gift option.
Handmade soaps: Enriched with ingredients like olive oil, lavender, and sea salt, the handmade soaps in Cascais are gentle on the skin.
Hand-woven baskets: Artisans in the Cascais region often weave sturdy and pretty baskets. These baskets combine functionality with local craftsmanship, whether used for shopping, storage or as a decorative piece.
Local wines: Cascais and its surrounding regions produce some excellent wines. A local red or white bottle can be an excellent way to introduce friends and family to the region’s tastes.
Ceramic figurines: Inspired by local legends, myths, and everyday scenes, ceramic figurines from Cascais capture the city’s essence. They’re often hand-painted and make for a decorative keepsake or gift.
Sustainable Travel Tips
Here’s how you can travel more responsibly in Cascais this Christmas:
Stay in Eco-friendly Hotels: Cascais takes pride in its commitment to sustainability, with a number of hotels actively using renewable energy sources. When booking your accommodation, look for hotels that clearly state their green energy practices.
Mind Your Food Waste at Markets: The Christmas markets in Cascais are full of delicious treats. However, consider buying portions you can comfortably finish to minimise food waste. If you have leftovers, ask for biodegradable or recyclable containers.
Practice Ethical Consumption: Cascais’ markets have many interesting artisan crafts and local products. While buying numerous souvenirs is tempting, think about what you genuinely need or can use. By purchasing mindfully, you support local artisans and reduce potential waste.
Adopt a Sustainable Diet: The Portuguese coastline, especially around Cascais, provides fresh seafood. But to ensure the longevity of these marine resources, opt for sustainable seafood choices when dining out. Favouring local and seasonal produce reduces carbon footprints and introduces you to authentic Portuguese flavours.
Choose Sustainable Transport: Cascais is known for its walkable streets and efficient public transport. Instead of hiring a car, consider using local buses or trains, which often run on cleaner energy. Walking or renting a bike also allows you to experience the city’s charm and reduce emissions.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Cascais, Portugal. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.