Planning your trip to Rioja wine region can feel overwhelming: figuring out transportation, do I fly, do I drive, where does Rioja fit into my holiday plans? All these factors plus many other considerations can make it feel like a job in itself!

You might be asking yourself “shall I go to Barcelona, then Rioja and finish off in San Sebastian? or is it better to visit Madrid first and then make my way up to Rioja?” There are plenty of options and you don’t know which best suits your interests.

This post will help winelovers and travelers who are in their initial steps of planning their trip to Rioja in an effective way even though they don’t know where to start from. You will learn how to get to Rioja from Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastian. Here you will find a complete guide on how to get to rioja with the bonus of our local insight. We will also explain which are the best travel options timewise and moneywise so that you can make the most out of your time in the Rioja wine region.
How to get to Rioja
A convenient base for wine and food lovers La Rioja is the perfect location for wine and food lovers to explore northern Spain. It kind of falls in between the triangle formed by Barcelona (east), San Sebastian and Bilbao (north) and Madrid (center). You can go from east to west or west to east. Having your base in Rioja is a smart move, as it is convenient to get around the wine country and then later on explore the must-sees of northern Spain before you head down to the south (Madrid) or the east (Barcelona). Logroño is the capital city of La Rioja -it will show as Logrono– so Logrono is the destination you need to look for in the search box when looking for transportation.

How to travel to Rioja internationally

Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao are popular airports for international flyers.
Bilbao (BIO) is the nearest airport to La Rioja and is the main hub in northern Spain. If you are flying from outside Europe you will find multiple options with a connecting flight to Bilbao from London LGW, Paris CDG, Amsterdam AMS or Frankfurt FRA.

How to get to Rioja from Bilbao

Bilbao Once in Bilbao, the three best options are:

1. Rent a car at the airport and drive

The route is via the AP-68 motorway with toll charges (around 30 Euros toll plus fuel). The journey can take from 45min to 1h30min depending on where you are staying in the region. Here are some distance and drive time from Bilbao to Rioja main towns: Bilbao to Logroño (136km/84mi) 90-min drive. Bilbao to Laguardia (110km/68mi) 75-min drive. Bilbao to Haro (95km/53mi) 45-min drive.

2. Take a bus

Take the shuttle bus from the airport to the Bilbao Termibus station and then catch a bus to La Rioja. The buses run nearly every two hours, with departures scheduled from 7am to 8pm. You can get dropped off in either Haro, Laguardia and Logroño.

3. Book a transfer

Book a private transfer directly to your hotel in La Rioja. It starts from 40 Euros per person for a party of 6 people to 95 Euros per person for a party of 2 people. It’s the most comfortable option and it’s not expensive if you share a transfer with another party. If you need assistance to book a transfer (private or shared with another party), check our Bilbao-Rioja transfer options.

How to get to Rioja from San Sebastian

San SebastianHow far is Rioja from San Sebastian? The beautiful San Sebastian is only 166 km (103 miles) from Logroño. Public transport is not wide, so the quickest and most convenient way to travel is by car, either rental or a private transfer. It’s a scenic 2-hour drive that will allow you to appreciate how much the landscape changes from the ever-green Basque territory to the vineyard and cereal land as you head to the south and enter Rioja.

How to get to Rioja from San Sebastian by car

Duration: 2h The best route is via Autovía A-15: it takes 2 hours (157 km out of the total 166 km are on a motorway). Drive southeast following the A-15 to Pamplona and then from Pamplona drive southwest to take the A-12 highway to Logrono. On this route you will only use the Autopista for about 6km of the journey and the estimated cost is around 15.73€ (Tolls 2.20€ + Fuel consumption 13.53€). You can check the San Sebastian to Logroño route here.
Most people who come to the Rioja wine region want to enjoy the wine, so driving yourself is fine as long as you don’t need to drive back on the same day.
TIP: If you wish to do a trip to Rioja within the day, play safe and book a transfer from San Sebastian. That way you don’t need to have a designated driver and all of you will be able to enjoy the wine. It will also allow you to soak up the dramatic scenery, relax and take a nap on the way back.

How to get to Rioja from San Sebastian by bus

Duration: 2h 15min There is only 1 daily bus, which leaves San Sebastian at 12:45pm and arrives in Logroño at 3pm. The ticket is 17.45 Euros per person. The bus company is La Estellesa. If you are flexible on arrival time, the bus could work for you. You could leave San Sebastian after check-out and explore Logroño in the evening to find your bearings. However it’s not suitable if you intend to do any activity that starts early in the morning. Our advice is: choose the bus only if your travel arrangements allow you to spend an extra day in Logroño.

How to get to Rioja from San Sebastian by train

Duration: 3h Unfortunately there aren’t any direct trains from San Sebastian to Rioja. The nearest train stop is in another province (Burgos), which means you would still need transportation from there to La Rioja. There is a train leaving San Sebastian at 8:57am and arriving in Miranda de Ebro (Burgos) at 10:52am. The extra drive time from Miranda to Logroño is 1 hour. Conclusion: we don’t recommend this option as it involves extra travel arrangements and you don’t really gain much time if you compare it with driving directly from San Sebastian.

How to get to Rioja from Madrid

Madrid Madrid is very well-connected to La Rioja by plane, car, bus and train. Flying is the quickest and driving is the second fastest route. The distance from Madrid to the Rioja wine region is approximately 201 miles (324 km).

How to get to Rioja from Madrid by plane and car

Duration: 2h 30min You need to fly to Bilbao (BIO) and then drive to La Rioja. Flight time is 1 hour, and from Bilbao airport you can rent a car to Logroño, which takes around 1.5 hours. Total travel time is around 2h 30min.

How to get to Rioja from Madrid by car

Duration: 4h Renting a car is a good idea if you are thinking of moving around within Rioja or are heading afterwards to northern areas (Basque country, Asturias, Cantabria). Spain has one of the most modern and well-maintained infraestructures in Europe, there are plenty of high-speed roads so driving from Madrid to La Rioja is comfortable, fast and easy. The best options to drive from Madrid to Rioja are:
A-2 Autovia Madrid-Logroño

A-2 Autovia Madrid-Logroño

Via the Autovia A-2 through Burgos: takes 4 hours (224 km out of the total 324km are on a motorway). Drive north and then east following the A-2, N-120 and A-12.  
A-1 Autovia Madrid Logroño

A-1 Autovia Madrid Logroño

Via the Autovia A-1: takes 4h 10 min (285 km out of the total 353km are on a motorway). Drive east and then north following the A-1, A-15 and N-111. It’s a more scenic route with the final 30 minutes of the journey along some beautiful winding roads in the Cameros mountain range.

Stops Madrid-Logroño

Some interesting stops along the way when driving from Madrid to Logroño are:
City of Burgos and the Cathedral

City of Burgos and the Cathedral

Aranda de Duero, Lerma, Burgos and Santo Domingo de la Calzada via A-2. You will enjoy them if you are keen on gothic style Cathedrals and roast lamb.  
Villoslada: Stop from Madrid to Logroño

Villoslada: Stop from Madrid to Logroño

  If you wish to take a more scenic route, then you could stop at Sigüenza, Villoslada de Cameros and Torrecilla de Cameros via A-1. You will discover charming villages and stunning scenery (not to mention the finger-licking gastronomy!).  

Where to park in Logroño

There are a few free parking lots in the center of Logroño but beware that they can fill up quickly. Search for “Parking Gratuito” to see their location. In case you need secured private parking, rates range from 20.45€/day to 38€ for a 3-day pass.

How to get to Rioja from Madrid by train

Spain has one of the most modern rail networks in Europe that is not only fast and efficient but also reasonably priced. Trains are great for both short and long distance travel. Renfe is the national operator that provides the train service in Spain. Long distance journeys are covered by high-speed trains ALVIA and AVE. You will see two options when booking your train: direct trains with ALVIA and indirect trains with ALVIA and AVE (which require a transfer in Zaragoza). The Madrid train station is Madrid Atocha. There are 2 daily trains that cover Madrid-Logroño Mon-Fri: the quickest is the ALVIA 701 (3h 21min) that leaves Madrid at 6:15pm and arrives in Logroño at 9:36pm. ALVIA train Madrid-LogroñoALVIA 701 Madrid 6:15pm – Logroño 9:36pm. Duration 3h 21min. The single ticket starts from 40.35€ in tourist class.   The other option is the AVE 3143 with transfer (5h 06min) that leaves Madrid at 2:30pm and arrives in Logroño at 7:36pm. You need to change trains in Zaragoza and then wait for 1h 40min until you catch the connecting train to Logroño. AVE train Madrid-LogroñoAVE 3143 Madrid 2:30pm – Logroño 7:36 pm. Duration 5h 06min. The single ticket starts from 79.10€ in tourist class. The waiting time is 1h 40min. The earliest you can arrive in Logroño by train is at 7:36pm with an AVE.
If arrival time is not relevant, we think the ALVIA is a better choice as it will save you almost 2 hours in travel time.  

How to get to Rioja from Madrid by bus

Duration: 4h The bus from Madrid to La Rioja takes 4 hours and there are frequent daily departures scheduled from 7:30am to 7:45pm. It’s a convenient option as you can take the bus directly from the airport (T4 terminal) or from the Intercambiador de Avda. de América bus station located in Avda. de América, 9. Two companies offer a service: PLM offers both direct and non-direct trips whereas ALSA only offers non-direct trips with 2-4 short stops along the way. PLM bus Madrid-LogroñoPLM Autocares: On this Madrid-Logroño trip buses leave from Intercambiador de Avda. de América 9, floor -1, platform 27. The second pickup on route is from airport T4 terminal.  
PLM Madrid-Logroño departures duration
07:30 Madrid 11:45 Logroño  (Mon Fri and Sun) *3 stops. 4h 15min
09:00 Madrid 13:00 Logroño  (Mon-Sun) direct trip 4h
12:15 airport T4 17:00 Logroño  (Mon- Fri) 4h 45min
15:00 Madrid 19:15 Logroño  (Mon- Fri and Sun) *3 stops 4h 15min
16:30 Madrid – 20 Haro – 20:35 Logroño  (Mon- Sun) 4h 05min
At present tickets start from 18,43€ for a single trip and 31,33€ for a round-trip. ALSA bus Madrid-LogroñoALSA: this trip includes 3 stops and the ticket fare is 24,76€ for a single trip and 35€ for a round-trip. The buses leave from Intercambiador de Avda. de América 9, 1st floor.
ALSA Madrid-Logroño departures duration
08:00 Madrid 12:05 Logroño *3 stops 4h 05min
12:00 Madrid 16:00 Logroño *3 stops 4h
15:00 Madrid 19:00 Logroño *2 stops 4h
15:15 airport T4 19:00 Logroño *2 stops 3h 45min
17:30 Madrid 22:00 Logroño *avoid if possible as it has 18 stops
17:45 airport T4 22:00 Logroño *avoid if possible as it has 18 stops
19:30 Madrid 23:45 Logroño *4 stops 4h 15min
19:45 airport T4 23:45 Logroño *3 stops 4h
You can easily get to the Intercambiador de Avda. de América by metro with lines 4,6,7 and 9. Please double check pick up times and prices with both operators as they may be subject to change.

How to get to Rioja from Barcelona

How to get to Rioja from BarcelonaThe distance from Barcelona to Rioja wine region is 297 miles (478 km). Since it’s a longer distance than Madrid, we think taking the train is as good as an option as driving.
  Time wise the train might have a slight edge taking around 4h30min to 5 hours.

How to get to Rioja from Barcelona by car

Duration: 5-6h It’s a longer drive than from Madrid but still easily doable. The route you take depends on how cost-effective and time-effective you need it to be, since it will take up to 5-6 hours. The best options are Autopista AP-2 and Autovía A-2 A-22 :
AP-2 autopista

AP-2 autopista

Via Autopista AP-2: takes 5 hours (462 km out of the 474km are on a motorway). Drive east following the AP-2 and then take the AP-68. Since the Autopista has a toll, the estimated cost is around 90€ (toll 49.40 € + fuel 41€)    
A-2 Autovia Barcelona Logroño

A-2 Autovia Barcelona Logroño

Via Autovía A-2 A-22: takes 6 hours (333 km out of the total 490km are on a motorway). Drive east following the A-2, A-22 and then finally take the AP-68. On this route you will only use the Autopista for about 100km of the journey, therefore the estimated cost is lower at around 50.74 € (toll 7.90 € + fuel 42.84 €)   Please note A stands for Autovía, which is a free motorway, whereas AP means Autopista which is a motorway with toll.
The maximum speed permitted on both Autovía and Autopista (free and toll motorways) is 120km/h whereas on conventional roads is 90km/h. Please note that there are a lot of speed cameras on Spanish roads. Sticking to the speed limit is advisable!
Unfortunately there aren’t really any interesting stops on route from Barcelona to Logroño whithout taking any major detours.

How to get to Rioja from Barcelona by train

Duration: 4-5h 30min There are 1 to 3 daily trains depending on the day of departure. Monday to Friday, the earliest leaves Barcelona at 7:30am and the latest at 3:30pm. The regular scheduled hours are: 07:30am Barcelona –11:23am Logroño 2:10pm Barcelona –5:50pm Logroño 3:30pm Barcelona –7:36pm Logroño The quickest direct journey is the Alvia/Avant 430, which takes 4h 06min. Tranfer trains: the high-speed AVE 3942 -with a very quick transfer in Zaragoza- is a good option as the total travel duration is 3h 55min, slightly shorter than the direct train. TIP: if possible, avoid the AVE 3162 with one transfer in Calatayud, as it takes 5h 36min.

How to get to Rioja from Barcelona by bus

Duration: 6h The bus from Barcelona to Logroño takes approximately 6 hours. There are 6 daily departures, the earliest at 9am and the latest at 8pm. ALSA: this trip includes 3 stops and the ticket fare is 31,40€ for a single trip and 60€ for a round-trip. The buses leave from Estación del Norte, located in Alí Bei street, 80. We think the train is a better choice than the bus, as it’s more comfortable and you will save nearly 2 hours in travel time.
In summary, the train and driving are in that order the most time-efficient options from Barcelona.
  We hope this post has helped you to have a better idea of how to get to Rioja and organize your trip in the way that best suits your interests. If you need any further help please ask, we are happy to help!