The sun is shining, the red wine is flowing, and the culture is booming! Welcome to Rioja, Spain, your all-in-one stop for the ultimate Spanish experience.
Nothing compares to the wonderful people you will encounter, the food you will (definitely) be eating, or the stunning views that will steal your breath away. Get ready for some in-depth knowledge, fun facts, and a small language lesson.
¿Estás listo? ¡Vamos a empezar! (Are you ready? Let’s begin!)
Where is Rioja Spain?
Located in the northern part of Spain, La Rioja is one of the many provinces that make up this stunning country. It is situated in the north of the Iberian Peninsula and has a population of about 315 675 people (which makes it the least populated region in Spain).
On its borders is the province of Alava to the north, Navarre to the northeast, Aragón to the southeast, and finally Castilla y León to the west and south.
A map of Rioja is a great way to really get the lay of the land. Tour guides and local shops would always have some maps up for grabs, but if you want to plan ahead of time, take a look at this detailed map
With this, you can “map out” all the activities you want to tackle. Plus, you can plan which wine farms to visit next, always a good thing!
La Rioja: Plan the Best Spanish Holiday
So you are looking to visit the beautiful La Rioja province, but have no idea where to start? Let’s kick things off with a quick list of things you can expect in this stunning region.
- Culture: Nothing beats the Spanish people. Hospitality is almost a standard, with everyone taking on a friendly and welcoming approach.
- Cuisine: While tapas is a popular refreshment around the world, expect to find some dishes unique to this region. Many bars and eateries specialize in one ingredient, which is something to look forward to.
- Nature: As with any beautiful, scenic region, be prepared to be wowed daily. There are some awesome natural beauties to behold, so remember to live in the moment (but also bring a camera).
- Wine: Be prepared to consume, partake or otherwise peripherally enjoy great Spanish wine and an even better time. Red wine especially will be flowing freely and often.
- Extreme Sports: If you are keen to get your adrenaline fix, they also have a host of sports, extreme or leisure, to get your blood pumping. Expect some hot-air ballooning, 4X4 drives, and horse riding.
As you can expect, traveling through this amazing province is quite something, which is why we recommend driving. That’s right, driving yourself around is the best way to fully experience the people and the culture.
You are given the opportunity to get up close and personal with the locals, the architecture, and the land. You get the chance to experience things first hand, explore at your own pace, and make some unforgettable memories.
Even changing an unplanned flat tire out in the countryside is sure to be a breeze, as your surroundings will keep you chipper and cheerful. Driving yourself just opens up so many roads, all you need to do is pick one and see where it leads.
Best Time to Visit La Rioja, Spain
Deciding when to visit a place can genuinely make all the difference in the world. According to the locals, the best time to visit Rioja is during the Autumn (Fall) season.
With the beautiful natural backdrop of gold, crimson, and indigo, the region really blossoms in terms of picturesque scenery. Stunning vistas and landscapes await, as well as more temperate weather (between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F)) and a great selection of local wines make this the easy choice.
What to Do in Rioja
So you have arrived in Rioja, but you’re not sure what to do first? No worries; we have a to-do list of some of the activities and things you absolutely must do. If you want to kick things off with a nice day tour based in Logroño, we would recommend the Biarritz and French Basque Coast tour (it includes lunch!).
Tapas in Calle del Laurel.
To put it simply: you can’t go wrong picking a tapas or traditional food joint in this area. Bubbling atmosphere, stunning food, and great wine that pair with almost anything.
Wine tasting in Bodega La Rioja Alta
Learning about the history and tradition involved in the making of your new favorite wine, what more could you ask for?
Sightseeing in Iglesia de San Servando y San German.
View some of the epic architecture that will surely be the talk of your trip. Stunning Churches and Cathedrals, these beautiful arches might even inspire a spiritual journey (take a look further down).
Get some fresh air and explore what nature has to offer. The Sierra de Ceboller Nature Reserve has some spectacular wildlife on display. You might also be tempted to visit the Arnedillo Biosphere Reserve, as it contains some of the beautiful plant life you have come to see in and around the region.
Battle of the Wine!
This epic festival, otherwise known as La Battala del Vino, is the epitome of Spanish wine culture.
Besides being a good reason to spend your day amongst the vineyards of Rioja, the real festivities are in the camaraderie with your friends and fellow combatants. Every year on the 29th of June, locals and visitors alike come together in the Haro wine yard to celebrate El dia de San Pedro.
Getting sloshed on wine is the absolute jubilance that the Spanish people are known for. Festive, welcoming, and downright fun, this event really is the highlight of the season. You should definitely plan on being absolutely drenched!
Rioja: An Autonomous Region Of Spain
Something that you might have heard, but are unsure about is that La Rioja is an Autonomous state in Spain. What this actually means, is that Spain itself is split up into several communities, each with its own rules and regulations, to an extent.
They are allowed to self-govern within certain limits outlined in the constitution and their autonomous statutes. All of this is just a different way of saying Rioja, as well as the other Spain regions and provinces, are all their own mini countries! How cool is that?
Interesting Things About La Rioja
As with any place worth visiting, there are a few things you should definitely know before heading to La Rioja. These can be things like what to expect when exploring, how things work, and any specifics on what you should bring with you.
- To kick off our list, we have (arguably) the most important reason to visit: Wine. But more importantly, the history, the culture behind your favorite glass. Visiting the actual farms, seeing the processes and effort that goes into making wine is enlightening.
- The local airport is mainly used for domestic flights. Thus, if you are arriving from an international destination, the best place to reach the region is Bilbao. Plus, you have the opportunity to try out this exciting 7-day tour that sets out from Bilbao.
- A perfect pairing with your wine would be the special local tapas. Hopping from place to place should be a breeze, as there will most likely be many visitors to share a ride with. Local transport options are abundant, including hiring a car, getting a chauffeur, taxis, and even guided tours to bring you from palace to place.
- The capital city, Logroño, should be on your bucket list. While it may not have an overwhelming amount of attractions, it makes up for it with charm and character. The stunning Old Town center, history and science museums, and historic bridges and churches make up some of the architecture to be on the lookout for.
- Besides the numerous wineries and historical buildings, La Rioja also has some beautiful religious architecture. Some of them include the Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, and the UNESCO World Heritage Suso and Yuso monasteries.
- Interesting fact: Rioja is the origin of the first words written in the Spanish language! Written down in the Yuso Monastery in the 11th century, they were done while translating texts from Latin. They were known as the Glosas Emilianenses.
- Last but not least, there is a famous pilgrimage route that runs through the entire region of La Rioja, Spain. Called the Camino de Santiago, this route runs through the capital of Logroño and ends at the Cathedral of Santiago. The popularity of this route also shows just how welcomed international guests are in this beautiful region.
Comencemos Nuestro Viaje – “Let’s start our journey”
The time has come to kick off our adventure into the wonderful world of the Spanish people. There is so much to experience here, a mere week or two almost won’t cut it!
But the best part about such a fantastic destination is the fact that you can come back again and again. So invite your friends, book your flights, and freshen up on your conversational Spanish. Rioja awaits.