Have you ever dreamt about a trip where the distances are short and fun huge? Medieval old towns, beautiful landscapes and the best Spanish wine in tapas bars. If that sounds good to you, here you have the best route: The perfect roundtrip in Rioja.
- 1 The best itinerary in Rioja
- 2 Briones: the rural delight
- 3 Ezcaray: the most picturesque town
- 4 Haro: a must in your perfect roundtrip in Rioja
- 5 Logroño: the capital and the city
- 6 Nájera: pilgrimage vibe on a perfect roundtrip in Rioja
- 7 Sajazarra: a unforgettable surprise on the perfect roundtrip in Rioja
- 8 San Millán de la Cogolla: the origin of the Spanish language
- 9 San Vicente de la Sonsierra: stunning views
- 10 Santo Domingo de la Calzada: a Camino de Santiago essencial
- 11 How to get to Rioja
The best itinerary in Rioja
La Rioja is a small Spanish region famous for its wines. Many people have tasted the wines but very few even know how nice it is to visit. We propose a roundtrip of 180 km within 9 locations to show the beauty and the diversity of this great Spanish territory.
The whole route can be driven in 3 hours but you may need from three days to a week to enjoy it fully. The distances are not long and the road conditions are good. You won’t spend long time driving but you may need time to enjoy the spots of the route. The villages are nice and they have a lot of heritage, good gastronomy, cellars to visit, nearby hermitages and beautiful landscapes.
Briones: the rural delight
Briones is a medieval town, calm and unspoiled. The village is split in two. It is highly recommended to drive to the upper part and park up there, since all the interesting points are there. You can stroll around in a short visit and enjoy the ancient buildings which mainly date back from 16th to 18th Century. If you have longer to spend there you can also stay for lunch in the main square and catch up with the local vibe.
- Follow the ancient walls. It had 6 gates in medieval times. Nowadays only remains Puerta de la Villa and Puerta de la Media Luna from that glorious period.
- Don’t miss Cristo de los Remedios hermitage
- Take your time in the center and visit Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Plaza de España, La Casona and the town hall building.
- You can go to Torre del homenaje, the remains of the castle at the top of the village and admire the Ebro River from there.
- For accommodation in Briones we recommend Casa Rural El Meson, a cute country house with all the facilities. Take a look here!
Ezcaray: the most picturesque town
Ezcaray is a very beautiful town at the shore of Oja River and close to the Sierra de la Demanda mountain range. The town first developed thanks to the textile industry and later on grew wide thanks to tourism. Even so, the vibe is still very rural. Its colorful houses with wooden elements are very picturesque and the local gastronomy is excellent.
- Don’t miss Royal Cloth Fabric Factory of Santa Bárbara. A construction dating from the mid-18th century. Period in which the importance of the textile sector in Ezcaray became important. Today is partially an inn and there are some offices of the town in it.
- At the entrance of the town there is Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor, an impressive church.
- Plaza del Kiosko is the main square of Ezcaray and the best place to look for a place to eat or drink.
- For accommodation in Ezcaray we recommend Apartamentos La Demanda, located in the Kiosko square with the best location and views in town.
Haro: a must in your perfect roundtrip in Rioja
Haro is the main spot to understand the culture of Rioja wine. This is the real capital of wine where they created a neighbourhood (Barrio de la Estación) close to the train station just to export wines to France. You can find there and visit very important Spanish cellars such as López de Heredia, CVNE, Gómez Cruzado, Bodegas Bilbaínas, Bodegas Muga y Bodegas Roda.
In Haro, you will be able to enjoy the historic heritage of its ancient streets and buildings as well as its gastronomy. In Herradura quartier you won’t miss Logroño in quality and quantity of tapas bar to enjoy small portions of delicious food and excellent wines.
- Visit Barrio de la Estación and enjoy wine tastings and cellar visits, but call a taxi or have a walking distance accommodation.
- Visit Haro during the Wine Battle on 29th June. It is wild and unforgettable. It is a very popular event so it is wise to book ahead.
- Enjoy a coffee or something strong in Plaza de la Paz, the main square and the heart of Haro.
- Take a long walk around and admire the many historic buildings and churches around.
- Don’t forget to go to Briñas Bridge. It is not in the center but the visit won’t disappoint you.
- For accommodation in Haro we recommend Eurostars Los Agustinos. Originally a 14th-century convent, it offers unique accommodation in the La Rioja region.
Logroño: the capital and the city
This is the capital of La Rioja that was disputed by different kingdoms in history because of its strategic location surrounded by the Ebro river. Logroño has been and is still nowadays one of the most important towns on Camino de Santiago, the famous Saint James pilgrimage path.
Logroño is recognized worldwide and very much visited for having one of the most incredible tapas streets, Calle Laurel. Nevertheless, Logroño is much more than wine and tapas. This is a small city with a great heritage, nice vibe and modern culture the visitor can discover.
- Visit Plaza del Mercado and Calle Portales. This is the heart of Logroño, a perfect place for breakfast in the mornings and a drink on a terrace in the evenings.
- Get into Concatedral de Santa María de la Redonda. This is a church built on dry vineyard branches to make it stable since they found underground water. It was a practical solution but don’t pretend this is not the perfect metaphor.
- Get into the more modern vibe and enjoy a brunch in Paseo del Espolón.
- Visit Plaza de Santiago, also known as Plaza de la Oca. There you will find a giant Oca game as a symbol of Camino de Santiago.
- Calle Rua vieja, the Saint James path crossing Logroño. This is one of the oldest streets in Logroño and it was used as Camino de Santiago. Still currently known, an ancient building is a free hostel for pilgrims like centuries ago. One more very interesting thing about this street is the underground cellars, called calados. This is a very ancient method of storing the wine and some of those cellars date back to 16th century,
- Admire the Ebro River views from Puente de Hierro, the main bridge of the city.
- For accommodation in Logroño we recommend Hotel Calle Mayor. The owners managed to make a design hotel in a former 16th-century mansion in Logroño’s historic centre.
Nájera: pilgrimage vibe on a perfect roundtrip in Rioja
The pilgrims along the history turned Nájera into an important point on the Camino de Santiago. From the 17th century though, the town started to lower its influence in the region and nowadays is a small town with nice heritage to visit and an important and not spoiled place to catch up the real vibe of the pilgrimage.
- Don’t skip to visit Monastery of Santa María la Real (11th century). It is same impressive inside than from the exterior.
- On the other side of the river you will find the awesome Monastery of Santa Elena.
- You can ascend to the ruins of the old Alcázar. From there we have a viewpoint with panoramic views of the town. In addition, you can access one of the caves carved into the rock created by the inhabitants of the region as a refuge during the third century.
- For accommodation in Nájera we recommend Apartamentos Turísticos Lozano. Good clean and modern facilities in the very center of the town.
Sajazarra: a unforgettable surprise on the perfect roundtrip in Rioja
Sajazarra is a town included in the list of the most beautiful towns in Spain for its historical, cultural and architectural heritage. It is highly recommended on your perfect roundtrip in Rioja. The small historic center of Sajazarra is made up of medieval-looking parallel streets, surrounded by two concentric ones and the ancient wall. Sajazarra is a perfect place to relax and visit during a rural getaway thanks to its beautiful stone houses and its imposing castle.
- The castle will amaze you! That would be your priority. It dates back to the 16th century and it is very well preserved.
- Go to Santa María de la Asunción Parish Church. This is a building of the 18th century that fits very well with its neighbours’ patterns.
- Look for a dragon. If you go to the Town Hall Square you will find one.
- For accommodation in Sajazarra we recommend Hotel Boutique Posada de Sajazarra. Take a look on our link, it is simply awesome!
San Millán de la Cogolla: the origin of the Spanish language
The monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla is split in two: Suso and Yuso. Suso, the upper one, is the oldest and dates back to the 6th century. Yuso is the newest dating back to the 11th century and keeps a reproduction of the first words in Castilian language which were written in it.
Yuso is a big monastic complex converted into a proper museum. The best way to arrive to San Millán de la Cogolla is by car. There is a nice free parking lot just in front of the monastery. To Suso it is not possible to drive, you must purchase your tickets in Yuso and wait for the courtesy bus. It is worth it, you will just jump back in time!
San Millán de la Cogolla tips:
- Visit both monasteries and compare them learning about the evolution of the architecture.
- Have a coffee in one of the nearby restaurants, they have excellent views either to the monastery or to the small villages of the valley.
- Visit Berceo and enjoy the hometown of one of the most important writers in Spanish history.
- If you want to spend the night in a authentic place, just stay in Hostería del Monasterio de San Millán.
San Vicente de la Sonsierra: stunning views
San Vicente de la Sonsierra is a nice village where you can take a walk and a relaxing drink in its Plaza Mayor. You will be surrounded by stone ancient buildings and local kids playing. This is a very Besides the Obvious town but highly recommended on your perfect roundtrip in Rioja.
But if you want to get impressed you will need to climb a bit to reach Torre del Reloj in the castle area. Up there you will find an awesome church, Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor, and really impressive views to the valley and Ebro River.
San Vicente de la Sonsierra tips:
- Don’t miss to get down to the Medieval bridge. You won’t regret it!
- Visit the hermitage of San Juan de la Cerca which is one of the first primitive Gothic constructions that exist in Rioja.
- For accommodation in San Vicente de la Sonsierra we recommend Hotel Villa Sonsierra. A very surprising stylish hotel in a countryside environment.
Santo Domingo de la Calzada: a Camino de Santiago essencial
Once upon a time, the pilgrims who crossed Rioja used to rest on the banks of the Oja River, in the Hojuela forest. It was here where Santo Domingo built a bridge over the Roman road to cross Oja River in order to make the passage easier for pilgrims. On this same road he built a hermitage and a Pilgrim Hospital in the second half of the 12th century, giving rise to the town that later became an important artistic, religious and economic Medieval city.
Santo Domingo de la Calzada tips:
- Visit the cathedral and discover the medieval secrets of a pair of chickens
- Get up to the free-standing tower of the cathedral.
- Identify the Camino the Santiago path and walk it from end to end of the town. Camino de Santiago should be very present on your perfect roundtrip in Rioja.
- To stay in town we recommend Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada, an impressive hotel is housed in a former hospital building dating from the 12th century.
How to get to Rioja
- Flying: La Rioja has Agoncillo Airport. This is located just 14 kilometers from Logroño, so reaching the capital of La Rioja from the airport is just 10 minutes by car, it is possible to rent a vehicle at the terminal and reach the city.
- Train: Renfe operates in Rioja and connects the region with many national and international routes. You can check your options here with Trainline.
- Bus: There are many companies operating in Rioja. Alsa, Bilmabus, Grupo Jiménez, La Estella or Unión Alavesa in terms of national destinations. Flixbus is a good option for international routes to Logroño.
- Car: This is probably the best option since it will be very convenient to move around the region and visit all the spots of this route.
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