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Things to do in Rioja- Part 1

With rolling landscapes of gold, burnt orange and fiery red, Rioja in autumn is a magical place to visit. This autumn harvest season has inspired us to write about the top things to do in Rioja, as this region has so much beauty and culture to offer no matter the time of year. All throughout the year Rioja affords us different opportunities to see the stunning landscapes and wine towns shaped by hundreds of years of wine production follow the natural rhythm of the seasons, and discover their ancient traditions. Dotted with beautiful little wine towns, castles and churches, Rioja holds so much history and culture to discover.

1. Visit the wineries and taste the wine of Rioja

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We all know that Rioja is famous for its exceptionally high quality wine, but once you step inside the boundaries of Rioja you will discover that Rioja and its towns and its people all live for, and by, wine production. Wine has been produced here since the Roman times and has continued uninterrupted since that era, leaving an incredible number of ancient wine growing areas and traditional wineries to visit in its path. Alongside the beautiful old wineries that have been in the area for centuries, there are also new wave of architecturally daring wineries that stand out against the ancient landscapes, such as Marques de Riscal. Whether you would like to visit Rioja wineries on a self-guided Rioja Winery Pass trip and take your time to explore the area, or enjoy an exclusive 1 day tour of Rioja with a senior wine guide, we have something for you.

2. Eat traditional pinchos in Calle Laurel, Logroño

Calle Laurel in Logroño is famous for being a fantastic local street full of traditional Riojan tapas bars, or we should say ´pincho´ (or ´pintxo´) bars, the northern term for tapas. Hailing from the Spanish verb ´pinchar´, to pierce, pinchos traditionally come with a topping fixed to a piece of bread with a cocktail stick. However, the term ´pincho´ can also more recently refer to alternative small plates, which are termed tapas dishes in more southern areas of Spain, such as a small plate of paella.

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Regardless of the terminology, this street is well-known as the most emblematic place to enjoy traditional Riojan tapas in the somewhat unassuming wine town of Logroño (the street itself even has its own website, Calle Laurel). They even have a section online for food intolerances like celiacs, and lifestyle vegetarian or vegan diets (a list of the vegetarian bars are already online, and we have also written to then to request that they also upload the gluten free options for the celiacs). With dozens and dozens of traditional dishes to try, and a glass of fantastic local wine as cheap as 0,80 cents, you could spend all afternoon here bar hopping and trying what there is on offer.

3. Hiking and walking routes

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The vineyards of Rioja in harvest season 

For those of you that love the outdoors, Rioja´s fantastic countryside are full of ancient pilgrim routes. Whether you would like to follow an ancient route from one wine town to another, or walk further afield, Rioja has many walking and hiking options. All around the wine region of Rioja you will find surprising ancient churches and monuments on your walks, as well as walk amongst vineyard landscapes. The famous Camino de Santiago (St James´ Way) also runs various routes through Rioja, which you can join as part of a longer walk to Santiago, or just through Rioja. This is a fantastic way to discover Rioja up close in an ecological and healthy way.

4. Visit the Vivanco Wine museum

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The Vivanco wine museum is a place that is better to visit, to see it and to feel it. It attempts to pay homage to the relationship between man and the vine over the past 8,000 years, and has rooms dedicated to how wine was produced in ancient times, wine making, interactive wine colour and aroma projects, wine art and symbols and the history of how wine was served, plus much more. Seen today as an icon in global wine culture, the museum has 6 exhibition rooms and is an absolute not-to-be-missed visit for anyone who likes wine.

5. Visit a medieval castle

Rioja´s castles are proof of its fearless and medieval past, reminding us of battles and ancient nobles. There are some impressive castles in Rioja, such as the Davalillo castle (a short 6km drive from the tiny town of Briones), the ruins of the Castle of Cornago (which you can take a guided tour of), and the ruins of the Castle of Clavijo (which is free to visit). On particular castle that is worth visiting is the castle of Sajazarra. Although the castle is not open to the public, the castle can be visited if contact is made directly with the owners, as the castle is maintained to a certain level of quality and is decidedly better shape than other castles of the area that are today without roofs and windows. If you are interested in visiting this castle, please do get in contact with us.

 

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The castle of Cornago in the small town of Cornago

6. Attend a local festival

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 The wine battle in Haro traditionally starts outside the town in the countryside

 

It is no surprise that many local festivals in Rioja revolve around the grape harvest season, and are centred around the humble grape. Two very special festivals that take place in Rioja, which we also talked about in our previous post on the best food festivals in Spain, are located in Logroño and Haro.

In the 3rd week of September the local town of Logroño celebrates the San Mateo fiesta, perfect timing for the harvest season in Rioja. You can join in with grape stomping, do some local wine tasting, listen to live local music and soak up the festive atmosphere, and even stay at a wine hotel in the area. The king of Rioja festivals, though, can be found at the wine battle of Haro. Similar to the famous Tomatina festival in which participants throw tomatoes, the wine battle consists of throwing- yes, you guessed it- wine

 

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Marqués de Riscal winery tour with lunch

This offer includes: guided winery tour in English of Marqués de Riscal winery and tasting of 2 wines And the gastronomic option at a restaurant located near the Marqués de Riscal winery in Elciego to enjoy a traditional Riojan tasting menu with wine You will not find this offer on any other site. Marqués de Riscal is one of the most visited wineries in Spain. A tour of the winery is a journey through the past and the present of Rioja wines

Tues-Sun Elciego, Rioja Alavesa 1.5 hour tour plus lunch

Rural getaway in Elciego

Hotel Agroturismo Valdelana is located at the premises of a 15th century cellar and at walking distance to the emblematic Marqués de Riscal winery. During your stay you will stay at this pleasant small hotel you will be able to stroll through its picturesque streets and enjoy the wine culture of this traditional town of Rioja

Year round Elciego, Álava From 1 night

Spa and wine getaway in Laguardia, Rioja

Laguardia is one of Rioja´s and Spain´s most beautiful villages. A getaway in Laguardia offers the opportunity to enjoy fantastic landscapes, gastronomy and wines. Besides that you can also find a relaxing environment and full spa services at one of the local hotels

All year round Laguardia From 1 night

1 Day Rioja traditional private tour

Our Rioja private tour has it all: high-end wines with above 90 Parker points, tastings at 4 different wineries, a fantastic meal…. All part of an itinerary that will stop at the most amazing examples of fantastic architecture with the purpose of wine making. Your tour guide will ensure you enjoy a great day. Our tour is personal, informal, informative and fun! PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOUR DESIRED DATE IS NOT AVAILABLE ON THE CALENDAR

Year round Rioja 7 hours

1 Day Wine Tour in Rioja from Bilbao

A perfect introduction to the wines of the Rioja region. A self-guided tour in Rioja, including regular bus service from Bilbao. From the bus station, you will walk to 2 of the best wineries in Haro, the wine capital of Rioja. Enjoy a winery visit & wine tasting guided by an English-speaking wine professional. Continue your thirst for Rioja wines with a second wine tasting. Half & full-day option available. Choose our full-day tour option for a quality Riojan meal at a local restaurant and extra free time to explore Haro

Tuesday to Saturday Haro, La Rioja Half-day or full-day

Rioja Winery Pass

A self-driven itinerary that includes visits in English and wine tasting at 2 or 3 iconic wineries in Rioja. 4 or 6 wines tasted at these fantastic wineries. Our Rioja Winery Pass is the simplest way to book your winery visits in Rioja and taste highly-rated Rioja wines. Great value for money to ensure you will have visit some of the "must see" wineries Simply select if you prefer 2 or 3 wineries and pick-up your date. We also offer 2 excellent lunch options. 2 of the wineries are in Haro, in at Elciego. You will receive an itinerary with full details including confirmed time

Every day except Sun Rioja 1-1.5 hours per winery

San Sebastian or Bilbao to Madrid via Rioja

Travelling by plane is good but enjoying wine country on your way to Madrid from North of Spain is simply amazing! With this 2 day tours you will enjoy 2 fantastic private wine tours, one in Rioja and a second one in Ribera del Duero. We use luxury vehicles and you will enjoy the company of expert bilingual local guides. Beautiful scenery, top rated wineries and vineyards, excellent food and a great hotel for your night in Rioja…

Upon request Departs from Bilbao or San Sebastian 2 days, 1 night

Winery hotel in Rioja

An excellent way to get to know Rioja and its wine region is to stay at a hotel located at a winery. Hotel Eguren Ugarte is surrounded by vineyards. Hotel customers enjoy a visit to the winery with wine tasting and a tapa. Explore the world of wine with this stay at a unique hotel surrounded by vineyards

All year Near Logroño and Vitoria 1 night

Ribera del Duero & Rioja Private Tour

A combination of 2 private tours in one with hotel accommodation. Get to know the wine regions of Ribera del Duero and Rioja on an easy and exciting 3-day trip from Madrid. You will visit some of the most interesting wineries in 2 of the best Spanish wine regions. Perfect tour for red wine lovers and for those looking to explore wine country without having to drive. At the end of the tour, be transported back to Madrid or continue on your own to northern Spain, Barcelona, etc…

Upon request Departure from Madrid 3 days, 2 nights

Walking tour of Rioja

A fantastic walking and wine tour to enjoy Rioja on foot. The itinerary is a moderate rated walking tour, which offers daily walks of approximately 15 kilometres. You will walk amongst beautiful little villages of this part of Northern Spain, hundred-year-old vineyards, visit lovely wineries, stay in charming family run hotels and enjoy the best local gastronomy. Haro is only 1 hour from Bilbao and we can arrange transportation from Bilbao

April - October Rioja 5 days, 4 nights

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