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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 06 February, 2024
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Rioja’s people have been making wine for over 2,000 years, and in recent decades it has become one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world. Rolling hills and lovely landscapes make an ideal setting for winery-hopping, and estates welcome visitors for tours and tastings.

Recently, estate owners have started to commission some of the world’s greatest architects to build new bodegas (wineries), and the region has become renowned for its striking avant-garde architecture. Look out for the spectacular Bodegas Ysios in Laguardia by Santiago Calatrava, Tondonia in Haro, with a pavilion by Zaha Hadid, and Frank Gehry’s undulating Hotel Marques de Riscal in Elciego.

Stop by the Vivanco family’s wine museum for an insight into the history of winemaking in the region.

Recommendations

8

Bodegas Jilaba

Araba, La Rioja, Spain

views over a long series of wine barrels

This very friendly and welcoming vineyard has beautiful views to go with its informative guided tour and tastings.

Best for ages 18+

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Bodegas Ysios

Araba, La Rioja, Spain

External view looking to the entrance. The curvy building has mountains behind

In a gorgeous mountain setting, taste superb wines in this bodega with a mountain-inspired design, by Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava.

Best for ages 18+

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CVNE (Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana)

Haro, La Rioja, Spain

couple looking at wine vats

One of the biggest wineries in Spain, CVNE offers a range of tours including lunches, cellar tours and children’s workshops.

Best for ages 18+

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Bodegas Finca Valpiedra

Fuenmayor, La Rioja, Spain

silver wine vats in a row

Near the banks of the Ebro River, this beautiful, historic vineyard offers 4×4 tours, cellar tours and tastings.

Best for ages 18+

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Bodegas Gomez Cruzado

Haro, La Rioja, Spain

man giving a talk on wine

Excellent guided tours and tastings can be booked seven days a week in this historic boutique winery in Haro.

Best for ages 18+

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Bodegas Javier San Pedro Ortega

Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain

Bodegas Javier San Pedro Ortega

Now in the hands of the fifth generation, this bodega has an extremely cosy wine bar and delicious lunches.

Best for ages 18+

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Bodegas Rafael Lopez de Heredia Tondonia

Haro, La Rioja, Spain

External view of the visitor centre

Visits are limited at this historic vineyard near Haro, but Zaha Hadid fans will love seeing the architect’s decanter-shaped Pavilion.

Best for ages 18+

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Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture

Briones, La Rioja, Spain

Interior of museum showing tools and equipment for making wine

A well-equipped, new museum created by the winemaking Vivanco family, that explains the history of winemaking in the Rioja region. For an extra few Euros, you can get a guided tour with wine tasting. There’s also a superb restaurant devoted to Riojan cuisine. Closed Monday & Tuesday.

Adult price: £13

Best for ages 18+

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Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

There are many options for organised Rioja tours leaving from Bilbao or San Sebastián – or you can tour the wine regions yourself by car. This is simple and fun, but it does require planning. Most estates are happy to give you a tour, but you’ll need to call or email in advance. The regional tourist office has details of vineyards that offer tours and tastings.

When to do it

Surprisingly, many vineyards welcome visitors during the grape harvest in September – October, when they’re busiest; this is the best period to come and learn about wine in Rioja – though the weather isn’t always at its finest. Avoid winter, when the vines are bare and the wines are stored away in vats.

Who to go with: organised tours

5

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa Wine Tour

Pamplona

Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa Wine Tour
In this tour we will go to the principal wine areas in Rioja, Rioja Alta & Rioja Alavesa, where you will enjoy the experience of learning about 6 centuries of winemaking tradition, in 3 different style wineries from the best professionals in Rioja. For lunch we will go to a medieval village founded in the 10th century and you will eat local food paired with the traditional wine that locals drink in the ara; an amazing experience that you can't miss!

Price: €300

Min age: 9

Rating 4.98 / 5 [106 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Semi-Private La Rioja Tour of 3 Premium Wineries from Bilbao

Bilbao

Semi-Private La Rioja Tour of 3 Premium Wineries from Bilbao
Discover what makes La Rioja Spain's premier winemaking region on this vineyard and winery tour from Bilbao. Visit 3 top wineries to taste the bold, fruity red blends that put Rioja on the wine lover’s map, and admire the architectural styles of other estates, including one designed by Frank Gehry. Stroll inside the city walls of the medieval Basque town of Laguardia on a guided walking tour, and enjoy the stunning scenery found in the region. A visit to 3 historic and emblematic wineries is included to highlight the absolute pinnacle and prestige of the La Rioja winemaking. These estates produce wine that rates in the top 100 of Rioja wines with more than 90 Parker Points. There will be tastings of both red and white wines so you will have a thorough overview of the La Rioja wine region.

Price: €285

Min age: 18

Rating 4.97 / 5 [88 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Full-Day Private Cultural and Gastronomic Adventure in Rioja

San Sebastian

Full-Day Private Cultural and Gastronomic Adventure in Rioja
Villages and wines. Wines and villages. It’s all about visiting some and drinking the others. There’s a bit of everything: medieval villages enclosed behind walls, young and daring wines, the longest river in Spain and a typical Riojan meal consisting of four dishes and designed to be paired with a local wine. You can’t go wrong with a plan like this.

Price: €375

Min age: 0

Rating 5 / 5 [64 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Rioja Wine Tour: 2 Wineries Visit with Tasting from San Sebastian

San Sebastian

Rioja Wine Tour: 2 Wineries Visit with Tasting from San Sebastian
Spain is widely famous for its wines' high quality, and the cradle of these wines, the land that provides its name to the apellation of La Rioja, is not far from San Sebastian. Enjoy visiting two wineries (bodegas), have a relaxing walk through the vineyards, learn the wine-making process from the grape harvest to the aging and finish the experience with a wine tasting in each winery to taste some of the best Rioja wines.  Two different wineries will be visited in order to learn the difference from one winery to the other. Along the day we will also visit a charming medieval village, Laguardia.

Price: €220

Min age: 0

Rating 4.64 / 5 [54 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Rioja Wine Tour: 2 Wineries From Bilbao

Bilbao

Rioja Wine Tour: 2 Wineries From Bilbao
"The Rioja region is one of the most specials in the whole country due to its climate and terrain, suitable for wine production since Roman times. Today vineyards and wineries can be found in any corner, creating a unique atmosphere that should not be missed. In this activity you will be able to visit two different wineries, small and medium in size, to find out the contrasts between the different forms of wine production. We will also visit the medieval town of Laguardia, where time seems to have stopped, to contemplate a panoramic view of the entire region. You don't need to be a wine expert to enjoy this activity! You just need the desire to enjoy an unforgettable day in an incredible atmosphere."

Price: €220

Min age: 0

Rating 4.98 / 5 [54 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

4

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Bilbao

Basque Country, Spain

Exterior view of the museum

Renowned for its Guggenheim Museum and edgy arts scene, this northern Spanish city has delicious Basque food and nearby golden beaches.

San Sebastian

Basque Country, Spain

Concha beach with beachfront hotels

A grand but charming beach resort in northern Spain famous for its glut of Michelin-recognised restaurants and superb pintxos. Thie foodie destination is also a short hop from the world-class wines of La Rioja.

Basque Country

Basque Country, Spain

External view looking to the entrance. The curvy building has mountains behind

Fascinating ancient traditions, world-famous gourmet treats, Spain’s finest wine region and a gorgeous golden coastline.

Pamplona

Navarra, Spain

Pamplona

A vibrant Basque city on the Camino de Santiago, home to Spain’s most famous festival (San Fermin), a gorgeous cathedral and a lively bar and tapas scene.

Round-ups

1

Round-ups that include this experience

13 Best wine regions

Multiple countries

A bucket full of grapes placed underneath a vineyard plant

The world’s greatest wine regions – where you can sip the world’s greatest wines at source, and tour the vineyards to learn how they’re made.