In the heart of the Douro’s terra quente (hot land), this once-remote, whitewashed town has been on the tourism map since the 1990s. That’s when researchers – during an environmental impact study for a proposed dam – stumbled across an astounding collection of Palaeolithic art. These mysterious rock engravings, which number in the thousands, blanket the nearby Rio Côa valley. Archaeologists brought the petroglyphs to the world’s attention, and the dam builders backed down when the whole valley was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
You may find the climate startlingly Mediterranean if you’ve just come from the mountains. Summers here are infernally hot, with temperatures regularly exceeding 45°C. But if you come in late March, you’ll be treated to cooler climes, wildflowers and blooming almond trees.