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, Estoril remains a well-to-do, less touristy option than Cascais with a nice beach and casino. While some overnight guests may end up wishing they’d stayed in livelier Cascais, those looking for more peace and quiet will find a burgeoning guesthouse scene that yields some of the area's most memorable options.
Estoril was where Ian Fleming hit on the idea for Casino Royale, as he stalked Yugoslav double-agent Dusko Popov at the casino. During WWII, the town heaved with exiles and spies (including Graham Greene, another British intelligence man and author).