Praia da Ursa has a stunning landscape of sea stacks
It’s one of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches, but it’s often nearly deserted. It’s right by Cabo da Roca, which means that this is the westernmost beach in mainland Europe.
The trail that leads to the beach
Because it takes some effort to reach (you’ll have to follow a path that goes down a cliff), it’s wild and unspoiled, so those who dare to come here usually take advantage of the isolation and sunbathe nude. It’s therefore an unofficial naturist beach, but you may keep your bathing suit on and simply enjoy the natural beauty around you.
Praia da Ursa is known as a nude beach
The water is cold and the waves quite strong, so it’s a beach for photos and sunbathing, but not for swimming. There are no lifeguards.
Its name (“Bear Beach”) comes from the so-called “rocha da ursa” (“bear rock”), one of two colossal sea stacks which locals say has a shape resembling a bear holding its cub, when seen from the north.
Praia da Ursa is not easy to reach, but the beautiful scenery is the reward.
As there are no facilities of any kind, remember to bring water and food if you plan to spend the day here. Also don’t forget your parasol if you want some shade -- don’t stay anywhere near the cliffs, as rocks may fall.
The water is rarely calm at this beach, so swimming isn't recommended.
This is not a beach for families with children or for older people who may not be fit enough for the hiking adventure. But everyone else will find that the effort to reach it is more than worth it, as the stunning landscape is quite a memorable reward -- just be sure to wear appropriate shoes for the hike.
How to Get to Praia da Ursa
Turn right on the road before you reach the lighthouse of Cabo da Roca
If you don’t have a car, it takes some time and effort to reach Praia da Ursa. From Lisbon, take the Cascais train from Cais do Sodré station, which departs every 20 minutes. Once in Cascais (40 minutes later), cross the road from behind the station to the CascaisVilla shopping mall. Below it, you’ll see the town’s bus terminal. Hop on bus 403 of the Scotturb company, which departs every 30 minutes. Its final destination is Sintra, but it stops in Cabo da Roca (in less than 25 minutes). The stop is right by the lighthouse, and from there to the track that leads to the clifftop above Praia da Ursa, it’s about a 15-minute walk (you may also ask the driver to drop you by Praia da Ursa, and the bus makes a stop right before it reaches Cabo da Roca).
There are two paths down to the sand -- take the one on the left, since for the one right in front (which would be more obvious) you practically need to be a mountain climber. The descent is quite a hike, taking as much as 20 to 25 minutes (use good footwear for the irregular surfaces, and take baby steps).
If you’re in Sintra, take bus 403 that goes to Cascais, departing every half hour from the train station. It stops in Cabo da Roca in about 35 minutes.
If you go by car, you may park for free in a small parking lot close to the path that leads down to the beach.
By Uber, it should cost 20 to 25 euros from Lisbon (taking about 40 minutes), and around 10 to 15 euros from Cascais or Sintra (less than 30 minutes).
Take the trail to the left, not straight ahead at the top of the cliff.
Hotels by Praia da Ursa
The closest hotel to Praia da Ursa (it's a 5-minute drive or a 30-minute walk) is quite breathtaking. It's perfect for couples, offering beautiful sea and sunset views. It features a terrace with a swimming pool and a bar, while inside are double rooms and a 1-bedroom apartment in contemporary-retro style. There's also the option of a mobile home.
Other Beaches by Praia da Ursa
The closest beach to Praia da Ursa is Praia da Adraga, which is also among the most beautiful in the Lisbon region. It’s the first beach to the north and can be reached in about 15 minutes by car. It’s also possible to hike there, taking less than one hour.
Also in about 15 minutes by car is Sintra’s largest beach, appropriately named Praia Grande. Another 5 minutes to the north (20 minutes from Praia da Ursa) is Praia das Maçãs, known as one of the most family-friendly beaches in the region.
Attractions by Praia da Ursa
Going for a day at the beach in Praia da Ursa is always combined with a visit to the cape that marks Europe’s westernmost point (Cabo da Roca). It’s a very beautiful and popular tourist attraction, and a place where you’ll want to take selfies at. After that, you may head east to the fairytale palaces of Sintra or south to the sandy beaches of Cascais.