With its swish hotels, turreted villas and glitzy casino, Estoril (shtoe-reel) once fancied itself as the Portuguese Riviera. The rich and famous came here to frolic in the sea, stroll palm-fringed landscaped gardens and fritter away their fortunes. Though it still has a whiff of faded aristocracy, those heady days of grandeur have passed. Today, there isn’t much to Estoril aside from its beach and casino, and overnight guests may end up wishing they’d stayed in livelier Cascais.
Estoril was where Ian Fleming hit on the idea for Casino Royale, as he stalked Yugoslav double agent Dusko Popov at its casino. During WWII, the town heaved with exiles and spies (including Graham Greene, another British intelligence man and author).
The bus and train stations are a stone’s throw from the beach on Avenida Marginal, opposite the shady Jardim do Estoril. The casino is at the north end of the park.