If La Rioja is Spain’s wine capital, then Haro is the wine capital of La Rioja. This small town lies just a 35-minute drive to the northwest of Logroño and is home to some of the region’s best bodegas (wineries). Haro is also where the famous Batalla del Vino festival (Wine Battle) takes place each June, when people soak each other with over 500 litres of red wine. Some of the best bodegas to visit in Haro include Bodegas Muga, López de Heredia and Bodegas Roda.
Vitoria-Gasteiz is the little-known capital of the Basque Country and lies just one hour and twenty minute’s drive to the north of Logroño. Like Bilbao and San Sebastian, it’s known for its excellent Basque cuisine – check out some of our picks for the top fine dining restaurants in Vitoria-Gasteiz. One of the must-visits while in the city is Artium, a modern art museum, displaying works by the likes of Miró, Picasso, Tàpies and Chillida.
Sória is another little-known Spanish city, which shouldn’t be overlooked. It is situated in the region of Castilla y León and can be reached by taking a car or bus an hour and a half to south of Logroño. The city sits along the River Duero and is home to to an array of charming medieval streets and splendid Romanesque architecture. Make sure to visit the churches of Santa María and San Juan de Rabanera, as well as the ruins of the monastery of San Juan de Duero. The impressive Plaza Mayor in the centre of the city is worth a visit, too.
Two of the most famous monasteries in the La Rioja region are San Millán Yuso and Suso, which are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are both located in the village of San Millán de la Cogolla, around a one hour journey west of Logroño. The Yuso Monastery dates back to the 16th century, while the Suso Romanesque church and monastery was the first place where Castilian literature was produced.
The town of Enciso is at the centre of La Rioja’s dinosaur country – yes that’s right, not only is La Rioja famous for its wine, but also for its dinosaurs. Here, you can let out your inner child at the Palaeontological Centre and learn more about these fascinating pre-historic beasts. The centre also gives information about nearby dino sites – including Conargo and Era del Peladillo in Igea, where you can see fossils and real dinosaur prints.
Famous for its crazy Running of the Bulls Festival, known as San Fermín, Pamplona is capital of the Navarra region and is a great city to visit even when the festival is not on. Other than the bulls, it’s mostly known for its historic centre, citadel and old city walls, which are among the best-preserved in the whole of Europe.
If nature is more your thing than history and wine, then La Rioja has plenty of that, too. One of the best natural areas is the Sierra de Cebollera Nature Reserve, which lies just 50 kilometres from Logroño. Formed by glaciers millions of years ago, today it is covered in forests of pine, beech and oak. There are many trails through the reserve where you can spot wildlife such as deer, wild boar and Iberian partridge.