HOW TO GET TO LA RIOJA

Perfect location

La Rioja is the perfect location to explore northern Spain.

You can go from east to west or west to east.

It kind of falls in between the triangle formed by Barcelona (east), San Sebastian and Bilbao (north) and Madrid (center) so having your base in Rioja means it is convenient to move around and explore the must-sees of northern Spain before you head down to the south (Madrid).

La Rioja within Spain convenient base

Where to fly to?

Which airport to fly to when visiting La Rioja

The best option and the easiest for you is flying to Bilbao airport (BIO).

Bilbao is a 90-min drive to Logroño.

Distances

Here’s some guidance about distance and drive time.

We chose Logroño as your main reference within La Rioja, as it’s the capital city and the largest town (152,000 residents). We also included the towns of Haro and Laguardia.

Bilbao-Rioja region

-Bilbao to Logroño (136km/84mi) 90-min drive.

-Bilbao to Haro (95km/53mi) 45-min drive.

-Bilbao to Laguardia (110km/68mi) 90-min drive.

In case you fly to Barcelona or Madrid, these are the distances Barcelona to Rioja region and Madrid to Rioja region you need to consider:

-Barcelona to Logroño (478km/297mi) a 4h30min/ 5-hour drive.

-Madrid to Logroño (324km/201mi) is a 4-hour drive.

Where to stay in Rioja?

What are you looking for?

The question here is to find the right balance that suits your interests.

What are you looking for? The tranquility of the countryside, the nightlife of a bigger town, a variety of dining options, a mix of everything…?

It also has to do with the size of the party. If you are a couple it’s easier to accommodate your interests. When the party is bigger  (family or friends), the trick is to agree some musts beforehand to make sure your base will reasonably meet everyone’s needs.

Shall I stay in a main town or shal I pick a smaller place in the countryside? We get these questions everyday when people are planning their trip to Rioja so this may help you decide.

MAIN TOWNS

A larger town will naturally offer a wider range of dining and leisure options, transportation and general services. But since La Rioja is Spain’s second smallest region (316,000 residents), even the larger towns here offer a nice balance of tranquility and nightlife.

Bear in mind that Logroño has 152,000 residents, so almost half of the total population of La Rioja lives here. So when it comes to where to stay in La Rioja, big town options mean something different than in other regions of Spain.

Logroño: it’s the largest town and the administrative capital city of the La Rioja region.

Booming with life and culture, leisure activities are in a reasonably concentrated area for all to enjoy,  it also guarantees entertainment for all ages. Lively daylife with an amazing ratio of bars per head, it also offers an interesting nightlife with terraces and disco bars.

Location wise, it sits right in the north-center of the Rioja wine country and it’s very-well connected by both road and rail, this therefore makes it a natural choice as a base and for touring the region on your own. It has a train station and a bus station.

Accommodation: plenty of AirBnb, boutique 3-star hotels and 4-star hotels. Eating: from tapas bars to renowned traditional eateries, informal dining bistros to Michelin-star restaurants (Ikaro and Kiro-Sushi).

Logroño is renowned for its shopping activity (actually it’s been awarded as best shopping city in Spain). Dating back to the 9th century, this once walled-city is also a main stop along the Camino de Santiago. What to do: tapas crawl, shopping, wander around and sit on a terrace with a bottle of wine.

Haro: with 11,000 residents, this wine-devoted town boasts the largest concentration of centennial wineries in the world, known as the Railway Station District.

Haro breathes wine (they proudly call themselves “the Rioja wine capital”) and it sits right in the middle of the Rioja Alta subarea.

It’s only a 45-min drive from Bilbao so it’s perfect for a Rioja wine tour from Bilbao. Everyone will agree that wineries in Haro rank amongst the best Rioja wineries, as they offer tradition and top quality. The great news is that you can easily walk to the wineries (20 min-walk from the center) so if your main interest is purely tasting Rioja wines, staying in Haro seems like a good choice.

Accommodation: AirBnb, appartments, 3-star and 4-star hotels. Eating: tapas bars to traditional restaurants. What to do: winery visits and tapas crawl in “La Herradura” (horseshoe district)

Santo Domingo: with 6,000 residents, this small town is perfect if your main interest is history and cultural heritage. It is a main stop along the Camino de Santiago or Jacobean Way (600 km Christian pilgrimage route) and it has an impressive Cathedral.

Accommodation: Parador de Santo Domingo.

All the villages we have listed offer ATM. For taxi services, ask your hotel to book it on your behalf.

COUNTRYSIDE

The countryside in Rioja retains the essence of the region: the tranquility of rural life, the hill-top walled-towns, the silence, the walks, the unparalleled views and awesome cuisine.

There are multiple quaint villages with breathtaking scenery that offer just that: slow life. If you stay in the countryside you will get to see the natural pace of Riojans and a more in-depth experience.

So if tranquility is a must for you, we’ve got good news: your decision on where to stay in La Rioja has just made itself!

You will probably see on your internet search that many boutique hotels in the region are in the countryside.

Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa: in our opinion these two areas offer some of the most charming countryside hotels within Rioja.

The range covers cozy family-run hotels, wine-themed hotels, contemporary architectural high-end hotels, boutique accommodation and 4-star hotels.

Laguardia: with 1,500 residents, this hill-top medieval town overlooking the valley is one of the most charming and well-known villages of the Rioja Alavesa subarea.

The walled town of Laguardia is beautifully preserved and the locals take so much proud of it. Officialy listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, it’s featured in many travel guides and blogs so booking well in advance is recommended.