From sampling Spain’s best red wines, to exploring underrated charming cities, and feasting on delicious tapas, there is so much to do in La Rioja.
When you hear ‘Rioja’ no doubt you imagine pouring a lovely glass of red with dinner. Located in the north of Spain, La Rioja is a region famed for its delicious wine! It’s one of Spain’s premier exports, with wineries producing over 300 million litres each year.
While no doubt any trip will feature a lot of wine, there are also plenty of other things to do in La Rioja. It’s a great place for a weekend or short break, or even better as a dual trip, paired with the nearby city of Bilbao. Lots of people describe the region as Spain’s Tuscany, without the tourists!
So, whether you’re already planning a trip to this beautiful wine region of Spain, or are looking for somewhere off the beaten track, it’s time to share the best things to do in La Rioja.
Learn All About Rioja Wine At Vivanco
First and foremost, let’s talk wine! La Rioja is famed for its world-class wines, and no trip to the region would be complete without a trip to one of its 500+ impressive wineries.
There are plenty to choose from, but for the best experience, I’d recommend visiting Vivanco. With vineyards, a winery and a top class museum, it’ll provide the perfect start to your wine-ucation!
The winery and museum are among the best in the world, and the staff here provide informative and fun tours, explaining how wine is produced – from grape to bottle. Plus you’ll finish with a wine tasting session to put all your new knowledge to the test!
They also have a restaurant on site, so one of the best ways to visit is to arrive just before lunch, enjoy a tour and then settle down to enjoy a tasty Riojan meal paired with the wines in the region.
Check latest prices and book a trip to Vivanco here.
Get Outside And Explore Rioja’s Natural Wonders
Along with the beauty of the rolling hills filled with vineyards, there are plenty more places to spend time outside exploring. There are dramatic mountain ranges, forests, lunar landscapes and beautiful rivers.
If you’re a lover of hiking, head to the Sierra de Cebollera Nature Reserve or the Arnedillo Biosphere Reserve. As well as enjoying the nature of the areas you’ll be able to see some of Spain’s wildlife, including birds of prey, deer, wild boars and otters.
Feast On Delicious Tapas
You may not realise that along with great wine, this is also a region famed for food. I guess with Spanish foodie mecca San Sebastian not far away, it gets a little overlooked.
It turns out La Rioja’s principal city Logroño has its own distinct type of tapas. Along just a few streets you’ll find a huge concentration of bars specialising in single ingredient dishes or tapa. The best thing to do is plan your own little bar crawl, enjoying a glass of wine and a dish in each one. Repeat for several hours and you’ll roll back to your hotel in a very happy mood!
Enjoy One Of La Rioja’s Amazing Festivals
From Cadiz to Barcelona and Seville, every single time I’ve visited Spain there’s been a festival of some sort taking place. La Rioja is a great region for festivals, and if I was to recommend just one, it’d be Haro Wine Festival – it’s one of the best things to do in La Rioja!
Taking place each year on 29th June in the town of Haro, the festival involves a celebration of wine, starting with an elaborate procession through the streets and a special mass. The day escalates into a crazy wine fiesta known as the batalla de vino (battle of wine) by lunchtime, when everyone starts covering each other in red wine! It’s certainly a sight to behold!
Take A Day Trip To Bilbao
Culture, art and food combine in the vibrant northern Spanish city of Bilbao. Around an hour and a half from La Rioja, the city makes a great day trip. Your first stop should be The Guggenheim Museum – one of the best modern art museums in the world. Then it’s time to feast on some incredible Basque Country cuisine. It’s a place famed for pintxos – small, tasty snacks, so eating your way around the city is encouraged!
I’d also recommend touring the old town and La Ribera market. It’s a city filled with character and charm, and provides the perfect contrast to the sleepiness of Rioja’s wine country.
Hike Some Of The Camino de Santiago
Each year, thousands of people venture through the region of La Rioja as part of the Camino de Santiago. The historic pilgrimage dates back to the 9th century and while there are several routes, they lead to the town of Santiago de Compostela, the resting point of St James the Apostle.
The route passes through the city of Logroño, and while some spend a month or so completing the entire Camino, many choose to start a leg of it from this city.
How To Get To La Rioja
The closest airport to the Rioja region is Bilbao. From there, you’ll need to organise a transfer or hire a car to reach La Rioja, which will take around one and a half hours.
I hope this has helped you plan an amazing trip around Rioja! Let me know where you visit.
This post was sponsored by Vivanco, but as always all opinions are my own.
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