Cacilhas – A Great Lisbon Day Trip

Written By Becky Gillespie

Staying in Lisbon for a few days and looking for something new to do? I’ve got a great place for you to visit just a 10-minute ferry ride from Cais do Sodré, one of the largest transportation hubs in the city and right in the middle of all the tourist action. It’s called Cacilhas!

Taking the Ferry to Cacilhas

Ferries leave from Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas every 15 minutes from 5:35 am to 1:40 am. These are commuter ferries so taking a ride will make you feel like one of the locals. The last train back from Cacilhas is at 11:30 pm. You can try to get a photo of the Ponte 25 de Abril during your crossing, but it’s honestly best to save your pictures until you reach the other side.

A couple with the Cacilhas ferryboat in the background, Pedro Ribeiro Simões, Flickr

The ferry drops you off right at the intersection of all the fun. Locals often connect to a regional train here that travels further into Almada while a lively mix of tourists and Lisbon residents either turn right and begin walking down the Tagus along the pier or head towards Cacilhas’s main street known as Rua Cândido dos Reis.

When I got off the ferry for the first time in Cacilhas, I honestly wasn’t that impressed with the immediate surroundings. It looks like the pauper compared to the prince across the Tagus in Cais do Sodré. But, as you start walking down the pier and watch the fisherman stare out at the river holding their poles or peek into the abandoned factories and warehouses on your left-hand side, the water just far enough away to not spray up into your face, you will discover the raw charm of Cacilhas. This place feels like a rough-and-tumble adventure with plenty of jaw-dropping beauty along the way.

Fisherman, Matt Leys, Flickr

Let me bring you back to where we got off the ferry because this is the order that I would do things on your day trip to Cacilhas.

1) Lunch First on Rua Cândido dos Reis

There is nothing quite like Cacilhas’s main street in the center of Lisbon. Each time that I visit Cacilhas, I feel like I’m visiting a Greek Island that packs all of its restaurants closest to the harbor in order to make the biggest impression on hungry tourists. Unlike Greece and even the center of Lisbon, the variety of different cuisines on Rua Cândido dos Reis is impressive for a single street and leaves visitors spoiled for choice.

So do you go local and try Portuguese cuisine or do you try one of the many different ethnic cuisines? Of course, it’s entirely up to you, but I prefer Portuguese fusion, which I will recommend in the list below. The great news here is that there is something for everyone. If one of you feels like pizza, another wants octopus, and someone else wants sushi, no one will go home hungry! Let’s take a look at some of the best restaurants on this street.

Restaurante Farol de Cacilhas

“Farol” means “Lighthouse” in Portuguese and sits at the edge of Cacilhas, as the name might suggest, close to where you alight from the ferry. It offers a range of traditional Portuguese dishes including bacalhau assado à lagareiro (codfish with olive oil and baked potatoes) and other fresh seafood dishes. This restaurant provides adequate service, but it is not the best Cacilhas has to offer, in my opinion. So, if you’re looking for something more unique, keep walking down the main thoroughfare.  

Os Cunhados

Os Cunhados stands out for its delicious roasted chicken with homemade sauces. Roasted chicken served with piri piri sauce is a favorite meal for the Portuguese people. If you’re a chicken fan and also love a bit of spice, tuck in for some of the best chicken in Lisbon.

Boteco.47

When I mentioned Portuguese fusion earlier, this is actually one of the places that I had in mind. You can choose from a selection of tapas served with an interesting mix of ingredients from friendly, knowledgeable staff. Be sure to try the ceviche, sardines, and a dessert called brigadeiros. The menu changes slightly every day and the staff can explain each dish to you. Try to book ahead if possible.

Kamikaze

So your friend that wants sushi? This is the place. Mind you, it’s not great sushi, but it will do the job. Pad Thai here is another favorite, but it’s not going to taste exactly like you expect in Thailand. Still, it’s impressive that sushi has made it to Cacilhas and you have the option.

Pita Gourmet

This is a Greek chain in Lisbon that has its own branch next door to Kamikaze. Perhaps it opened here because the owners also felt like they had just landed on a Greek Island when they first walked up Rua Cândido dos Reis. If walking around Cacilhas has made you hungry for Greek food, this is the place.

Máfia das Pizzas

If you passed on the Japanese and the Greek, why not try something even more familiar right next to Pita Gourmet – Máfia das Pizzas. That’s right – the mafia have also made it to Cacilhas – and they brought the pizza. Choose from a number of different pizzas and pastas here and have a familiar favorite. I do like the name and, hey, there’s always that moment when you feel like pizza.

Arco Bistro

Keep walking a few buildings past Máfia das Pizzas and you will find Arco Bistro on the right-hand side, one of the newest and highest-quality restaurants on the street. Ladies and gentlemen, we have returned once again…to Portuguese fusion. If you like your food inventive and delicious while also keeping it local, this is the place for you. Try the seabass or octopus with potatoes. You can’t go wrong with the price/quality ratio and the friendly service here.

The Corkman Irish Pub

At the other end of the spectrum and also at the end of the line of restaurants on Cacilhas’ main street lies the Corkman Irish Pub. What more can I say except that they have typical Irish pub food and drinks along with a cheery pub quiz on Sundays? This recommendation is more for those staying in Lisbon for a while. I wouldn’t stop in if it was my first time in Cacilhas.  

2) Time to Put on Your Walking Shoes

Once you’ve finished lunch on Rua Cândido dos Reis, it’s time for a walk and some gorgeous views. Walk back towards where you arrived on the ferry and head down the path along the pier. This is where you will see a few fishermen and a line of abandoned warehouses.

Archway, Cacilhas, Achim, Flickr

In case you’re wondering, the area where these warehouses sit has been deemed unsafe for new construction so the buildings remain as remnants of times gone by. Some enterprising people have set up small shops inside these buildings including one vintage/antique shop with a man often trying to bring people in to make a donation. Keep walking and you will reach two restaurants at what appears to be the end of path. Walk past these restaurants for the next stop in our itinerary. We will come back to them later for dinner.

A walk through Cacilhas, forever_carrie_on, Flickr,

Elevador Panorâmico da Boca do Vento

Just beyond Ponto Final, which you have now discovered is not the Final Point, you will see a huge elevator called the Elevador Panorâmico da Boca do Vento. It is free to take the elevator although there can sometimes be a wait. Once at the top, you are greeted with breathtaking views of the river and Lisbon’s skyline. The elevator’s upper platform is an ideal spot for capturing the beauty of Lisbon from a unique perspective.

Elevador Panorâmico da Boca do Vento with Jardim do Rio at the bottom, Colin Hepburn, Flickr

From the top of the elevator, it is possible to walk to Cristo Rei, the famous statue of Jesus Christ with his arms outstretched facing Lisbon. This statue of Christ was patterned after the more famous one in Rio de Janeiro and expresses gratitude for Lisbon and its people escaping the perils of WWII.

Cristo Rei Lisbon, David Lurie, Flickr

Be forewarned, however, that the walk to the statue is around 2 km one way and takes longer than you think. You might want to stop at the elevator itself and arrange to take a car later from the ferry point to reach the statue.

Jardim do Rio

 After you get back down the elevator, sprawl out in the lush grass of the Jardim do Rio at its base. Take a break and watch the boats go by along the Tagus River, pull out a book, or enjoy a quiet conversation. You might even be offered a caipirinha by a street vendor or hear a guitarist practicing a new song.

3) Time for Dinner with Beautiful Sunset Views

After you’ve recovered from your walk in Jardim do Rio, it’s time for dinner and the biggest attraction in Cacilhas – the gorgeous sunset views. There is something so relaxing and inspiring about enjoying a glass of Portuguese wine sitting at the edge of the Tagus with the incredible Ponte Abril de 25 in the background. Let’s dive into your two dinner options.  

Atira-te ao Rio

The first is called “Atira-te ao Rio,” which translates to “Throw Yourself in the River.” While it has the opposite of a romantic name compared to its more famous neighbor “Ponto Final” (Final Point), the views here are still quite nice and it’s easy enough to walk around the edge of the restaurant and see the views that everyone is getting at Ponto Final. The insider tip here is that it’s much easier to get a reservation at Atira-te ao Rio, which can be done on their website compared to Ponto Final, which only takes phone calls and books out well in advance.

Atira-te ao Rio is celebrated for its rustic charm and dining here feels like a serene escape, with the gentle sounds of the river complementing the tasty dishes. Although you can see Lisbon on the other side of the river, you feel like a world away.

Atira-te ao Rio, encantadíssim, Flickr

Ponto Final

A short walk beyond Atira-te ao Rio leads to Ponto Final, a restaurant with one of the most romantic sunset views of Lisbon. The terrace seating of Ponto Final juts directly over the river, offering diners a unique experience as they enjoy the fresh local cuisine. While the food is delicious, the incredible views and element of discovery when you first turn the corner along the path and spot this restaurant are what give it its cachet. Try to book at least two weeks in advance if you’re trying for the golden hour, which is usually around 8:00-8:30 pm in summer. You might have more luck on a weekday or a slightly earlier dinner time.

Ponto Final, Udo Steinkamp, Flickr

Final Thoughts

Cacilhas is so close to the heart of Lisbon and yet seems like a world away. It has a raw yet traditional vibe that brings you much closer to the river and provides a different experience to the tile-lined narrow streets of central Lisbon. Although it is touristy in its own right, the journey on the ferry and the walk along its abandoned piers will make you feel like one of the locals. I would recommend that you wait for a sunny day to enjoy this day trip to the fullest. For those looking to explore beyond the well-trodden paths of Lisbon, Cacilhas is a destination that should not be missed.

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