Find out what to visit in Foz Côa for an unforgettable family holiday, filled with magic and adventure, art and history, in contact with Nature and with the best that the Douro region has to offer. The tourist offer is vast and diversified, since Vila Nova de Foz Côa is the only municipality in the country with two World Heritage Sites: the Palaeolithic engravings of the Côa Valley and the Alto Douro Wine Region. The Foz Côa itinerary that All About Portugal has prepared for you includes, of course, a visit to the largest open-air gallery of Palaeolithic art in the world – at night or in daylight, by boat or by jeep, more or less radical, the Côa Museum has the ideal programme for you. Moreover, be sure to visit the farms where, for centuries, the best wine in the world has been produced, and challenge your senses with the aromas and flavours of the region, discover the most beautiful viewpoints and be amazed by Nature in its pure state.
Côa Valley Archaeological Park
A tour of Foz Côa must include a visit to at least one of the main rock art centres in the Côa Valley, a World Heritage Site since 1998: Canada do Inferno, Penascosa and Ribeira de Piscos. The experience will lie somewhere between time travel and an Indiana Jones-style adventure - with less action, but a lot of excitement. Discover the archaeologist in you and let yourself be impressed by works of art over 20,000 years old. The Côa Valley Archaeological Park offers guided tours in all-terrain vehicles.
Night visit to Penascosa
If in daylight the engravings of Penascosa impress, at night magic happens! The visit starts with the last rays of the sun, but don't be intimidated – the route is short and easy. On five shale cliffs, dozens of images parade: deer, goats, horses and aurochs, often superimposed. The fascinating play of light and shadow created by the guide – or by the moon – not only helps to highlight the motifs, sharpening their lines, but also to almost bring them to life. It will, for sure, be the highlight of an unforgettable family holiday.
And if, to rock art and dazzling nature, you can add a more or less radical activity, travelling along a section of the Côa River aboard a kayak? It doesn't need a lot of technique, just some physical stamina – even children are welcome! Take the trip unhurriedly and observe the "excess of nature" around you. At the Fariseu, in addition to a picnic with a tasting of regional products, you will be able to observe, among other figures, the recently discovered 3.5-metre aurochs, the largest outdoor engraving in the world.
It is the most recent (and ecological) way to visit the Côa Valley Archaeological Park: aboard a boat powered by solar energy and built only with sustainable materials. The boat travels a 4-kilometre stretch of the Côa River, between the Canada do Inferno pier and Sítio do Fariseu. While enjoying a glass of wine and dried fruits from the region, discover the fauna and flora, see the almond trees, olive trees and vineyards, dovecotes and mills. The tour does not include a visit to the rock art centres, but it is an excellent programme for your family holiday.
The fascination of visiting the Côa Museum begins abroad. The building, camouflaged on top of a hill facing the mouth of the Côa River, is a privileged viewpoint for two world heritages: the Palaeolithic engravings and the Douro Wine Region. Its permanent exhibition serves as a travel guide, providing explanations on the more than 1200 carved rocks in around 80 sites and recalling ancient battles against the construction of a dam that would have sunk them forever. To close with a flourish, surrender to the flavours of the extremely rich Douro cuisine at the Côa Museum Restaurant.
Ervamoira Site Museum
In the heart of the Côa Valley Archaeological Park, among almond trees and vertically planted vineyards, Quinta de Ervamoira is the perfect place to taste some of the best wines, in harmony with the most sublime gastronomic delicacies of the Douro region. You can also visit the small museum dedicated to the history of the farm and its wines. The Côa Museum has programmes for a joint visit to the farm and the engravings of Ribeira de Piscos, the most difficult to access nucleus in the Park.
Quinta do Vesúvio
The farms are, without a doubt, an attraction to visit in Foz Côa. Quinta do Vesuvio is one of the largest and most beautiful farms in the Douro and, still, a well-kept secret. It owes its unshakable prestige to Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, a legendary figure in the history of Port Wine. With its doors closed to the public for several years, it is now possible to enter the Quinta and discover its charms. The programme includes a jeep tour through the vineyards, a visit to the mythical winery, wine tasting and lunch on the veranda of the manor house. Also, the view is breathtaking!
Prazo Archaeological Station
When we talk about what to visit in Foz Côa, it shouldn't be confined to the county's borders. Set out to discover the neighbouring towns, which are also full of charms and undiscovered stories. Did you know, for example, that in Freixo de Numão there are ruins known as the “Portuguese Machu Picchu”? Make no mistake, it's just an unambitious miniature of the lost city of the Incas, but it's worth a visit. Observe the remains of the various civilizations that passed through there, from the Neolithic period to the Roman occupation and the Middle Ages.
Horse of Mazouco
It is located in the municipality of Freixo de Espada à Cinta and requires a trip of about an hour, but it's worth every minute! The Horse of Mazouco was the first rock carving discovered in the region, in 1981. Set out on an adventure and descend the small and bumpy slope that will take you very close to the Stream of Albagueira, merging with the Douro. On a slate panel that has withstood the test of time, this little horse figure, measuring just 62 centimetres, seems suspended in the air, ready to jump. Believe us: magic happens there.
There is no lack of viewpoints in the Douro region, and few disappoint. But, of course, there are some more exciting than others. In Freixo de Espada à Cinta, the Carrascalinho Viewpoint is one of them. The last kilometre is on unpaved terrain, so it's best to go on foot. Once there, be amazed by the overwhelming nature. There, the Douro River runs very narrow between deep cliffs and untouched by the hand of Man. It doesn't take much luck to spot eagles soaring with wings wide open. Enjoy the silence and take lots of pictures. You'll want to remember the moment forever.