During World War II, the neighbouring towns grew from picturesque fishing villages to a haven for government heavies, spies and rich families who escaped other parts of Europe to this Portuguese Riviera.

Estoril has its fair share of tourists and swanky hotels and is party central (sophisticated partying, of course, no Walkabout scenes here) for those who venture here looking for some nightlife.

The party place for the town’s glitterati and for those who want to try their luck is the Estoril Casino where you can catch a show or dance the night away in one of the venue’s nightclubs.

And this being Portugal, a round of cocktails won’t scare the pants off the tightest member of your group.

James Bond fans will be interested to know that Estoril is where Ian Fleming wrote Casino Royale and where the original Casino Royale still stands (it’s not open for business, but is more of a crumbling piece of history now).

And, of course, on the Estoril coast there are endless opportunities for tucking into some of Europe’s best cuisine, particularly fresh seafood which, won’t cost the earth.

Make sure you leave plenty of time for lounging around, though. Take advantage of the pool, the deck chairs, the spa and the bar – and tell yourself not to get used to such luxury, because after this it’s back to backpacking.


If there was ever a town where you wish you had your one and only with you, Sintra is it. About a 40 minute bus ride from Estoril, Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage site. What gives it its charm is its royal palace, the Palacio Nacional da Pena, known as one of the most enchanting heritage sites in Portugal.

Perched on top of a hill overlooking the town like a star on top of a Christmas tree, the palace, at an altitude of 400 metres, was built in the second half of the 19th century within a jagged, fortified wall around its hills.

It is known as ‘the romantic dream of an artist King’, a reference to Fernando II, who married Queen Maria II in 1836.

Royals used the palace as a summer residence until the fall of the Portuguese monarchy at the beginning of the 20th century.

The palace is surrounded by lush gardens and parklands that include New Zealand ferns. Admission to the palace and gardens is €7.

Back down the hill in the town centre of Sintra, don’t forget to look up – there’s a great view and photo opportunity of the palace from this angle – particularly the giant, jagged wall that surrounds the majestic architecture.

In the town, you can get lost exploring winding paths and steps lined with shops selling trinkets and handmade pottery.

• Amelia Bentley travelled to Estoril with the Portuguese National Tourist Office (0845 355 1212) and TAP Portugal (0845- 601 0932). Flights start at £86 return.