Most visitors to Vila Nova de Foz Côa come for one reason: to see its world-famous gallery of rock art. Although the park is currently an active research zone, three sites are open to the public: Canada do Inferno, Ribeira de Piscos and Penascosa. While Penascosa has some of the most significant etchings, Canada do Inferno – which sits by the half-constructed dam – is the ideal place to understand just how close these aeons-old drawings came to disappearing.
Because the entire valley is a working archaeological site, all visitors must enter with a guided tour. Tours for Canada do Inferno depart at around 9.30am from the park museum in Vila Nova de Foz Côa; for Ribeira de Piscos at around 9.30am from the Muxagata visitor centre on the western side of the valley; and for Penascosa at around 9.30am from the Castelo Melhor visitor centre on the eastern side of the valley (which also offers €20 night tours departing from the museum).
Visitors gather at the various visitor centres, where they’re taken, eight at a time, in the park’s own 4WDs, for a guided tour of one of the sites (two hours at Canada do Inferno, which includes 1km of walking; one hour at Penascosa, with some walking; 2½ hours at Ribeira de Piscos, with 2km of walking). You can take in two sites in one day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. There are guided bike tours (bring your own mountain bike) in similar-sized groups.
Visitor numbers are strictly regulated, so from July to September book a tour through the park office well in advance or you may miss out; reservations are accepted from Tuesday through Sunday. You must book at least a few weeks ahead for bicycle trips at any time.
Make sure you bring comfortable shoes and a hat, sunscreen and water in summer months, as it gets extremely hot in the valley.