The Spanish region of La Rioja lies in the north of the country, surrounded by the Basque Country, Aragón, Navarra and Castilla y León. If you’re thinking of going for a short break, here are ten things to know before visiting La Rioja.
It’s Spain’s best wine destination.
La Rioja is Spain’s biggest and best wine destination. The region produces 280 to 300 million litres of wine per year and comprises approximately 63,593 hectares of vineyards. It’s here where you can sample the best of the country’s reds at some of the top wineries.
If you’re coming from abroad, it’s best reached from Bilbao.
La Rioja does have an airport, but it’s mainly for domestic flights, so if you’re travelling here from abroad, the best way of reaching the region is from Bilbao Airport. From here, it’s just an hour and a half drive south.
The tapas are just as good as the wine.
You’ve more than likely heard of Andalusian-style tapas, and Basque pintxos, but have you heard of Riojan tapas? La Rioja, and the city of Logroño in particular, has its own style of tapas. Here, many bars specialise in one specific ingredient; for example, there is one bar that only serves mushrooms and another that specialises in spider crab fish cakes. Read our list of The Best Tapas Bars in Logroño to learn more.
Its capital, Logroño, is well worth a visit.
The Riojan city of Logroño is not very high on travellers’ lists of the top Spanish cities they want to visit, but it should be. It may not have lots of famous attractions, but it’s charming, pretty and has a lovely Old Town centre. Some of the places to see here include history museums, science museums, historic bridges and churches.
It’s dotted with many important pieces of religious architecture.
As well as wineries, La Rioja is known for its magnificent pieces of religious architecture. Among the most famous are the Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada and the UNESCO World Heritage Suso and Yuso monasteries in the town of San Millán de la Cogolla.
It’s the birthplace of the first written words in the Spanish language.
It’s said that the first words in Spanish were written down in the Yuso Monastery in the 11th century, when texts were being translated from Latin. These were known as the Glosas Emilianenses. It was also here where the first known Spanish poet, Gonzalo de Berceo wrote down his first verses.
It’s home to some amazing natural attractions.
As well as bottle green vineyards, La Rioja comprises, high dramatic mountain ranges, other-worldly lunar-like landscapes, rolling hills and winding rivers. Some of the best places to see the natural side of La Rioja are the Sierra de Cebollera Nature Reserve and the Arnedillo Biosphere Reserve.
It’s best to hire a car to explore it properly.
La Rioja is a remote region of Spain, filled with fields and vineyards. It only has one city, and the rest of the places are small towns or villages. There are buses with routes between some of the towns, but the best way to explore it properly, especially the more remote vineyards, is to hire a car.
The Camino de Santiago runs through the region.
The famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route runs through the region of La Rioja and the city of Logroño, meaning that the people here are used to international travellers, and there are lots of inexpensive places to stay and eat.
It’s an excellent place for adventure sports.
Drinking wine is not the only sport visitors can enjoy in La Rioja, there’s everything from horse riding and hiking to hot-air ballooning over the vineyards and driving 4x4s across its rocky landscapes.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.