The distance from Bilbao, a major port city in the Basque Country of Spain, and the renowned wine province of La Rioja is 60-70 miles (97-112 km) depending on where you plan to arrive. The most comfortable way to get from Bilbao to La Rioja is by hiring a private transfer or driving a rental car. The journey takes just about 1.5 hours, driving through Spain's beautiful wine regions.
The bus is an economical choice that takes slightly longer than driving. The train is another option, but takes a bit longer (2.5 hours) and is more expensive than the bus.
For some unique ideas on how to spend your time in northern Spain, check out this 9-day itinerary.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 1.5 hours, more with stops
Getting from Bilbao to the heart of La Rioja province takes just about 1.5 hours along highway AP-68. However, getting to Logroño, the capital of the La Rioja region, takes only 1 hour and 20 minutes along the same route. This route includes tolls—they can be paid via machine using your credit card, or via cash to a tollbooth attendant. Also note that some signs will be in Euskara, the language of the Basque region.
On this journey you'll pass through the green valleys of wine country, with many options for vineyards along the Ebro River to stop at (just make sure to have a designated driver). In addition to smaller villages to visit, definitely spend time in the hilltop towns of Logroño and Haro, both make great home-bases for your trip in La Rioja with lots of options for restaurants and accommodations. Haro is only 1 hour from Bilbao
While having your own car will allow you the freedom to explore the wineries on a whim, if your whole group wants to partake in the festivities, it may make more sense to opt for a private driver—perhaps as part of a broader tour. See this Food & Culture in Basque Country itinerary for ideas.
Duration: 1-2 hours
CuadraBus runs multiple buses daily that are both economical and efficient. The bus from Bilbao to Logroño takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes and makes a stop in Haro just about 1 hour in. Schedules change seasonally, but buses depart every couple of hours. Be advised that holidays and weekends also affect bus schedules.
The bus station in Bilbao is located at Plaza Garellano temporarily. Check Cuadrabus' website to confirm travel times and locations, and to book tickets in advance.
Duration: 2.5 hours
Spain’s state-owned train operator is called Renfe. Renfe operates two daily trains between Bilbao and Logroño which make stops at Haro and two other stops in La Rioja: Calahorra and Alfaro. The trip to Haro is slightly shorter than Logroño. While schedules can change seasonally, the first normally departs Bilbao in the early morning and the second in the late afternoon.
All trains are ALVIA trains and should be taken in the direction of Barcelona. Train tickets can be reserved in advance on Renfe's website, and first-class tickets (turista plus) are available.