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Rioja Explorer Reverse

Highlights of La Rioja by car | View photos »

Whether walking through vineyards towards a medieval castle or sipping fine wine over Michelin starred dinner, this Rioja self-drive holiday brings together beautiful walks and some of Spain’s finest gastronomy and wine.

7 day trip described, guide price £1,265pp i

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Sample itinerary

Arrive in northern Spain

Fly to Bilbao today (international flights are quoted separately). Make your way to your hotel, located just across the river from the Guggenheim. You spend one night in the city, staying in a first class hotel in the city centre. This evening you might like to head out into town to try one of the city’s famously good restaurants.

From the Guggenheim to Rioja

This morning take time to explore the old centre of Bilbao, as well as Frank Gehry’s famous titanium clad Guggenheim museum. After lunch, collect your car and drive to the region of La Rioja, just over an hour away. The area of the vineyards is wedged between mountains to the north and south. Stay in a very modern hotel integrated into a very traditional village. It is well known for its fine restaurant so tonight is dedicated to their tasting menu.

Visit wineries, walk through vineyards

Your first visit this morning is to the very new Bodegas Baigorri, a superb example of modern and ancient technology in harness. This afternoon you visit a very different, much more traditional winery. Four generations of the Luis Canas family have been producing wine for the best part of a century, and are a wonderful example of the intimate boutique wines that Rioja Alavesa makes so well. After your tastings, you might like to walk through fields and vineyards to the walled town of Laguardia.

Walk through vineyards to a medieval castle

From the nearby village of Briones, set off walking a relaxed but pretty route through vineyards towards the castle at Davalillo. The valley is wide and open at this point so you enjoy lovely views of the mountains to the north and south, hilltop villages and the castle ahead. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the castle before returning to the hotel to relax. This afternoon, you might like to visit the fascinating museum of Dinastia Vivanco which is dedicated to wine production.

Take part in family-scale winemaking

This morning, enjoy a spot of local, family-run winemaking - very different from the major Rioja players - but great fun, and a very warm welcome. You spend time out in the vines as well as back in the bodega seeing how villagers would make their own vintages. From here, it’s into the old city of Laguardia, the capital of La Rioja. Your guide shows you around the heart of the city before leaving you to check in to your beautiful small city hotel.

Enjoy a free day in Logrono

The day is yours to structure as you wish, there are plenty of options for you - from exploring the food market and wine shops of the city to hikes in the Sierra Cantabria nearby. Whichever you choose, try to work up an appetite for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants anywhere. Ingredients come from the hills around and about, but the food is remarkably sophisticated and delicious, and expertly paired with top notch wines from the region.

Travel home

After breakfast, travel back to Bilbao to drop off your car and fly home.

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Map of the area

"Invaluable guide"

"Invaluable guide"

We had a fantastic time in Rioja, everything was perfect. I cannot stress how invaluable Marina was and the most pleasant and engaging guide any group could wish for. Alison H

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About this trip


Rioja is, without a doubt, the most famous area of wine production in Spain – the name is virtually synonymous with Spanish wine for many people. What is less well-known is the high quality and abundance of food available in these parts, with the fertile valleys, the plains to the south, and the coast to the north creating superb variety. Add in the delightful landscapes of rolling mountains, pretty villages, medieval castles – and of course vineyards – and you have a part of Spain which is a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth.

On this independent self-drive holiday, you get to explore these landscapes at a relaxed pace, taking plenty of time to soak up the culture with time spent with local guides and hosts. Naturally there is no shortage of opportunity to sample the region’s output of food and wine.

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Best time to go i

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Level of activity

As a tailor made trip, the level of exertion on this trip is up to you. The walks on this trip are moderate rather than strenuous. Designed really to introduce you to the full variety of La Rioja's scenery rather than to have you trekking all day long. Most days consist of combinations of walking, a cultural visit or wine based activity, followed by a delicious meal.

Daytime temperatures will range between 15°-30°c. May and June tend to be showery but this is also one of the most beautiful times to visit. The driest month is usually September, with harvest happening usually towards the end of the month. October gradually gets more changeable but benefits from the beautiful colours of the autumnal forests.

Level of comfort

In terms of physical comfort, we use 4* hotels for this hotel - smaller properties with atmosphere and friendly staff. For details, please see the summary section of our detailed pdf itinerary.

In Bilbao this is a first class property in the heart of town. In La Rioja, you stay in a modern hotel in a traditional village, a 4* property famous for its gastronomy. In Logrono, again, it is a 4* hotel but on a small scale, family run and very, very well maintained.

Level of culture

This trip is packed with cultural highlights. You have various interactions with our local guides who are able to share constant insight into the people, landscapes and history surrounding you. And there is a lot to experience...

From the dramatic titanium form of the Guggenheim modern art museum in Bilbao to the wonderfully engaging Dinastía Vivánco wine museum in Briones. From rolling up your sleeves in a tiny family vineyard to sampling fine Rioja in the company of a renowned local winemaker. From the beautiful UNESCO world heritage monasteries of Yuso and Suso to pilgrims passing along the Camino de Santiago. From the informal tapas of Logrono's vibrant Calle Laurel to Michelin starred dining in the tiny rural village of Daroca. From the weather worn necropolis of the Santa Maria hermitage to the dazzlingly well-preserved polychromatic portal of Santa Maria church in Laguardia.

As you can see, there is a lot more to Spain's smallest region than just the wine. More than any other trip in this part of Spain, this is a holiday designed to convey La Rioja in all of its depth and breadth, its beauty and flavour.


There is a detailed itinerary for this trip, in the form set out above. Please get in touch and we can email that to you. We would love to prepare a personalised proposal for you to consider so why not call us on 01273 676 712 and we can get started? To do this properly we want to understand the things you care about and the things you don’t need.

The holiday price is based on two people sharing and includes first class hotel accommodation in double or twin room. It also includes meals as set out in the summary section above as well as guided excursions and activities, as listed.

Compact manual vehicle rental is included (e.g. VW Polo). Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.

International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routings are to fly in and out of Bilbao (airport code: BIO), where this holiday starts and ends.


This is a tailor made holiday, and can leave on a date to suit you, from April to October. The holiday can be run with almost any number of days and can easily be combined with other areas, such as the Pyrenees, Basque country or Picos de Europa.

Next steps...

Contact us today to start planning your own personal adventure

01273 676712

or ask us a question »

The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.

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Request our 5-part Expert Guide to Spain

Enter your email address below and over the next 5 days we will send you our free Expert Guide to Spain:

  • Day 1 - These are a few of my favourite views
  • Day 2 - Our dream day of Spanish food
  • Day 3 - Clichés to avoid, clichés to embrace
  • Day 4 - Why we love Rioja wines
  • Day 5 - Some of our favourite buildings in Spain

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Book Subscribe to The Pothole » Rioja villages below the Sierra de Cantabria Standing outside the infamous Guggenheim in Bilbao Viura Hotel in Villabuena de Álava, Rioja Vineyard and San Vicente de la Sonsierra as background Castle overseeing vineyards with rows of grapes from a hill on a clear summer day The little main square of Laguardia Nightlife of the Calle Laurel in Logrono Cycling is a great way to explore the Rioja region.