In Spain’s autonomous community of La Rioja, wine is much more than a simple beverage: it’s a shared culture and way of life. La Rioja is one of the world’s top wine regions, producing high-quality bottles that are sold around the globe. And while life in this romantic Spanish region revolves around its star product, this magical spot offers several activities, sites, and experiences that will perfectly complement your love of wine. Here are a few ways you can make the most of your visit to La Rioja (with a glass in hand, of course).
Get into a giant wine fight at La Batalla del Vino
Between La Tomatina in Buñol and the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, there are plenty of festivals that combine culture and sport in Spain. When it comes to La Rioja, La Batalla del Vino pays homage to the essence of the region: vino. Kicking off in the quiet town of Haro on June 29 (the day of the patron saint San Pedro) of each year, La Batalla del Vino is a good-natured fight between two teams who throw down thousands of liters of wine from buckets and squirt guns. When everyone is completely soaked from head to toe, the crowds return to town to celebrate at the Plaza de la Paz, followed by live performances and loud celebrations until the sun goes down.
Hunt for real dinosaur tracks in Enciso
La Rioja’s famous ‘Dinosaur Route’ is where you can literally track and locate the footprints of the giant reptiles that roamed throughout the region millions of years ago. Throughout the southern part of the region, there are several sites of actual dinosaur discoveries, such as Munilla, Igea, and Cornag. The hotspot, however, is the tiny village of Enciso, which boasts more than 1,400 recorded dinosaur tracks.
The Palaeontology Center in Enciso is the perfect starting point before making your way across the bridge and over the river to Cidacos and to Navalsaz. It’s here that you’ll find signs indicating the routes, accessible by a paved road that connects the towns of Enciso and Cornago, with more than seven spots to see. Some places are off road and you’ll need to park and walk to them.
When you finally track down the footprints, you’ll also find life-sized dinos that are perfect for photo ops. As you explore the route, you can really imagine how the dinosaurs looked in the same spots millions of years ago.
Explore a medieval town in Logroño
As one of the smallest regions in all of Spain, what La Rioja lacks in bustling metropolises, it makes up for with its lovely medieval towns. Between famous pit stops along the Camino de Santiago to tree-studded villages with Baroque architecture, exploring the scattered towns of La Rioja is like a trip back in time.
Rich in history and tradition, Logroño is the heart and soul of La Rioja. The town has been exceptionally well preserved since its medieval days and its unique cultural makeup lives on today with rich festivals, performances, customs, and arts. It’s here in Logroño where you’ll also find a superb culinary scene that will rival anywhere in the Iberian Peninsula.
One of the most famous stops along the Camino de Santiago, San Millán de la Cogolla sits in the heart of the Cárdenas river valley. The town’s deep-rooted monastic traditions can be felt throughout its outstanding collection of buildings, as well as its world-heritage Monasteries of Suso and Yuso.
Sip vino and savor the breathtaking landscape
From the moment you arrive in La Rioja, you’ll notice the sheer beauty that exists in the form of ocher-colored earth, vast blue streams, and open landscapes as far as the eye can see. Between snow-capped mountains and seven criss-crossing streams, the various landscapes of La Rioja truly feels like a continent tucked into a small region.
It’s certainly worth renting a car to explore the winding roads, roaring rivers, and rolling hills of this magical region at your own pace. Adrenaline seekers should consider biking through it and admiring the tranquil nature and historic villages. Elsewhere, you can sip, savour, and marvel over wonderful views from almost everywhere in the easy-going La Rioja.