If you’re visiting Lisbon, make sure that you set aside a day or two to explore Sintra, a nearby town which is home to magnificent castles and breathtaking beaches. One of these is Praia da Ursa, which is a bit tricky to reach, but is absolutely worth the trip and the hike! If you’re wondering how to get to Praia da Ursa in Sintra, read on.
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How to get to Praia da Ursa
From Lisbon or Cascais on public transportation
From Lisbon, you can take a train to Cascais (the beach suburb outside of Lisbon), and then take bus 403 from Cascais to Cabo da Roca, where there is a lighthouse and visitor center near the head of the trail that takes you down to the praia.
Check out rome2rio for all the options for getting from Lisbon to Praia da Ursa on public transportation.
With an Uber
We ordered an Uber to take us to Praia da Ursa from Cascais, where we were staying. It cost us 14 euros.
What to bring to Praia da Ursa
There are no facilities (i.e. bathrooms or places to get food) at Praia da Ursa, so make sure you bring everything you need!
We brought packed lunches, bottles of water, sunscreen, towels, hats, and flip flops to change into on the beach.
There are no changing rooms or bathrooms, either, although there are some places where you could have a cheeky change behind a rock if you needed to.
Visit Cabo da Roca
We explored the area around the lighthouse and took in some gorgeous views of the sky stretching far out over the water. You can visit the lighthouse, but we decided to head straight for the beach.
Remember, you should use the bathroom at the visitor center before starting the hike to Praia da Ursa!
Walk from Cabo da Roca to the Praia da Ursa trailhead
The woman in the visitor center told us to walk back out to the main road and continue down it for about 800 meters until we saw a sign for the beach.
There are no sidewalks on the road, and there’s a traffic (lots of tour buses on their way to Cabo da Roca). We kept our eyes peeled for the sign, but we never ended up finding it. When we figured we had reached about 800 meters, we decided to take the next path and hoped it would lead us to our destination.
We walked for a while, and then came upon this, so we knew we were on the right track.
You’ll eventually come to a small parking area. There are three very faint, very thin trail indicators to choose from. We had heard that the one furthest to the left was the easiest, so we took it.
Note: After the trip we tried to trace our route on Google Maps and found out that there was an earlier point where we could have turned to get to the beach. Clearly, we missed it, but if you do the same, don’t worry, because you can get to the beach from the parking lot too, like we did.
The trail to Praia da Ursa
The trail is treacherous. It’s both rocky and sandy. The loose parts give way, and you can slip at a moment’s notice.
At one point, I was staring at the beach below, trying to drink in every drop of what I was seeing and called out to Jeremy, “The trail’s really not that bad, is it?” and then promptly slid about 20 meters before catching myself on a rock.
Definitely wear good walking shoes.
Slipping and sliding your way down really isn’t a problem, because you’ll be seeing this in front of you, urging you to make it, to not give up, to get down there and enjoy what this amazing world has to offer:
After about 30 minutes, we finally made it down, and I’m happy to say it was worth every step.
What to expect from Praia da Ursa
We walked along the beach with our mouths hanging open, aghast at how beautiful it was. The turquoise sea swirled over warm, beige sand, and reached out to meet a bright blue and cloudless sky.
We made our way to the rocky edge of the beach where there were no other people. Excited by the prospect of enjoying the view completely unobstructed, we eagerly rounded the corner, only to come face to undercarriage with a nude, elderly sunbather who had secreted himself in between the rocks. He looked like a beef teriyaki strip. His genitals, once presumably normal-looking and healthy, now brought to mind a Slim Jim. He gave us a lazy glance and flipped it from its resting place on one thigh to the other. Must have even tan lines, mustn’t we?
We spent the day walking back and forth on the golden sand, wading into the chilly water, and eating our lunch one forkful at a time because the minute we opened our food containers, we were swarmed by bees. More on that below.
Don’t go to Praia da Ursa if…
You’re unable to complete a difficult hike
Like I said above, the hike really isn’t that easy. It’s about 30 minutes down, and it’s very slippery. The hike up, needless to say, is more strenuous. If you have trouble getting down, you’ll definitely have trouble getting up.
You’re allergic to bees
Every time we opened our lunch boxes, bees started to appear. If you are allergic and were stung, there would be no way that you could make it to medical care in time.
You have a problem with elderly nude sunbathers
You don’t want to be in the sun all day
There isn’t much shade on the beach, although you can find some nooks and crannies near the rocks. You probably won’t want to haul an umbrella down the rocks with you, so be prepared to be in the sun.
All things considered, including the difficult hike down, the geriatric genitalia and the bees, it was an unforgettable day. Don’t miss this spot if you’re in Lisbon!
Want to explore more of Sintra and the area around it?
Check out this full-day tour, which takes you to Sintra, Cabo da Roca, and Cascais. It’s nice and small (eight maximum participants) has been given a 4.9/5 rating by 1,740 travelers!
Check out my other Portugal posts!
Trying to figure out where to stay in Lisbon? Here’s my post on why you should consider basing yourself in Alfama, the city’s oldest district.
If you want to have some superlative seafood in Lisbon, head to Cervejaria Ramiro!
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