Cascais (Portugal)

Cascais is a coastal municipality with a unique landscape; the 97km2 territory is bordered by both the Atlantic Sea and the UNESCO protected Sintra mountain range.

With a coast line filled with beaches, the municipality is a thriving international tourist destination, known for its vast array of biodiversity and plentiful natural resources. In recent years, Cascais has witnessed a drive towards sustainable tourism.

The preservation of natural resources affords citizens in Cascais with a high quality of life and makes the region attractive to investors. Innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in the services and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sectors, ensure economic growth in the area.

The municipality is focused on safeguarding and improving the quality of life of the citizens of Cascais, enhancing sustainability, and promoting local technology and innovation.


Sustainability focus: Green urban areas incorporating sustainable land use

Cascais is bordered to the north by the Sintra-Cascais mountain range, a UNESCO classified and protected site, and to the west and south by the oceanic coastline, with riverbeds and valleys connecting these two areas. For many years, these riverbeds have been seen as flood zones without potential for conservation. However, as these riverbeds and valleys connect the urban, denser residential centres with the naturally protected landscape, they have great potential to become green corridors.

This is the case for the 10km long Vinhas river, which for many years was affected by flooding and residual drainage. It was largely abandoned by older families, who previously used it for agricultural purposes and rural activities.

The Vinhas river stream was given a new lease of life through cleaning the river bed and surrounding areas, re-establishing old agricultural land for land owners to use properly, and adapting the area to the risks of occasional flooding.

The waterbed in the north of the river (near the river’s source) was achieved through using natural engineering solutions. The Vinhas river forms part of the award winning Quinta do Pisão project, a natural farm where over 350 hectares of agricultural land was restored through traditional means. Local families can visit the farm to learn more about how it works and buy fresh produce. Natural indigenous trees and vegetation were planted on the farm to prevent and control the rise of invasive species.


The need to knows

  • One third of Cascais’ area is protected landscape
  • Over 17 beaches with excellent water quality and golden classification
  • Over 110 hectares of urban green spaces
  • 203,000 planted trees
  • 70,000 yearly visits to environmental centres
  • 22,000 environmental volunteers
  • 500 urban allotments
  • The Ribeira das Vinhas greenway connects the centre of Cascais to the heart of the Natural park through 5km along the river
  • The Quinta do Pisão has over 350 hectares of naturalised protected land


  • Cascais is classified as one of the world’s top 100 Sustainable Tourist destinations
  • Awarded gold by QualityCoast, the largest international certification programme for sustainable tourism destinations

What the city has to say

“In Cascais, we are committed to having a city designed for people to live in. This is being achieved by focusing on education and knowledge, health and safety, culture and, of course, the environment. Examples of excellence in environmental policies integrated into the overall strategy of the city hall include the ecological corridor of Ribeira das Vinhas, a climate change readiness effort that both increased the quality of life and the safety of citizens; and Quinta do Pisão, a 300 hectare natural farm and heritage site, which is a prime example of the sustainability and nature preservation policies of the municipality and which will help protect territorial identity for generations to come.”

Carlos Carreiras, Mayor of Cascais

ICLEI and Cascais

Cascais has been an ICLEI member since March 2009. They are a signatory to the Aalborg Charter and the Aalborg Commitments.



To learn more about the Quinta do Pisão project, visit: Archive

Photographs provided courtesy of the city.