Eight days are enough to road trip through northern Spain. On this itinerary, you'll drive from Madrid north through the stunning La Rioja wine country, of course stopping for a tasting or two. The experience culminates on the coast of Basque Country with city tours of Bilbao and San Sebastián, both home to a rich culture and incredible food.
Private Rioja History & Wine Experience, San Sebastián
- Learn about Rioja's rich winemaking history and how to taste its delicious varietals
- Tour Marques del Riscal winery, designed by famed architect Frank Gehry
- Discover one of the oldest wine estates in the area, featuring underground wine cellars
- Enjoy pintxos and more local wine in medieval Laguardia
Know before you go
Tastings at two wineries plus three pintxos and three wines as a light lunch.
What you'll do
Your journey to Rioja, one of Spain's most famous wine regions, begins with a hotel pickup from San Sebastián. Travel two hours south with your private guide in a comfy, air-conditioned vehicle, enjoying views of the area's rolling countryside grooved with vineyards. Rioja's wine history dates back to Roman times, and the region is now home to over 500 wineries thanks to its climate and fertile soil. Rioja is Spain's oldest Designation of Origin (DO), which was established in 1925.
Your first stop is Marques del Riscal winery, designed by the same architect behind the Mueso Guggenheim, Frank Gehry. Admire the building's distinctive curved, titanium-and-steel structure, reminiscent of Gehry's other famous works. Here, the owners will take you on a walk through the vineyards, teaching you how their signature varieties are produced, concluding with a wine-tasting session.
Next, you'll continue to one of the area's oldest estates, a 15th-century vineyard with wine caves and cellars over 26 feet (8 m) below the ground. Meet the resident viticulturists and explore the facilities to learn about the entire wine production process, from vine to bottle. End with a second wine tasting guided by your expert sommelier.
Afterward, your driver will continue to Laguardia, a medieval walled town set on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards and the Cantabrian Mountains. Take a walk through this atmospheric town, which was founded in the 10th century during the kingdom of Navarra, with defensive tunnels built into the hillside, which are now primarily used as wine cellars. Interesting sites in Laguardia include the Iglesia de San Juan and Plaza Nueva in front of the Iglesia de Santa María de los Reyes.
Your guide will take you to a popular eatery in town, where you'll savor a light lunch of regional cuisine. Enjoy three wines accompanied by three typical pintxos, such as tortilla (Spanish omelet) and patatas bravas (fried potato). Afterward, it's time to return to San Sebastián, where your guide will drop you off at your accommodation, bringing your day trip to a close.
- Private, local guide
- Transportation in a private vehicle with air-conditioning
- Access to two wineries in Rioja
- Wine tastings at wineries
- Three pintxos and three wines as a light meal
Itineraries with Private Rioja History & Wine Experience
Spend a delectable three weeks traveling through Spain from north to south and enjoying its world-class food and wine as you go. This 21-day gastronomic vacation will take you from Barcelona across the nation to Basque Country. From there, travel to the capital of Madrid and finally down into Andalusia, the birthplace of flamenco. Throughout, you'll dine on regional specialties like tapas, plus enjoy vineyard tours and guided visits to olive groves.
Wine, cheese, tapas, pintxos — this gourmet tour around northern Spain is a treat for foodies! Start in the capital city of Madrid, where you'll go on a tapas tour around local bars to learn the proper way to order small plates paired with drinks. Then hop in a rental car and drive north to the wine country of La Rioja, where you'll tour family-run wineries and blend your own wine to take with you. Continue onward to the culinary hot spot of San Sebastian, sampling pintxos (Basque-style tapas) at traditional bars in the old city. Then finish the trip with a tour of Bilbao and an excursion into the surrounding countryside to see how Basque cheeses are produced.