Biking in Rioja, Spain!
Hemingway, Wine and the Camino de Santiago
Our adventure starts in Pamplona, the capital of Navarre, which is notoriously famous for the ‘running of the bulls’. This stunning old city was one of Hemingway’s haunts and the inspiration for his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. The hotel he loved, the beautiful and atmospheric 5-star La Perla, is our home for two nights. We check out the bars and eateries Hemingway immortalized, and on a walking tour we discover Pamplona’s history, which dates back to Roman times.
Cycling out of Pamplona, we follow part of the ‘Camino de Compostela’ the ancient pilgrimage route into Rioja, an iconic wine growing area set in a stunning valley flanked by serrated limestone cliffs.
Over the following days we explore medieval hilltop villages and ancient monasteries, cycling along ancient Roman roads and quiet lanes between orchards and vineyards.
We visit estates where some of the world’s most iconic wines are made including the famous Marqués de Riscal, designed by the architect Frank Gehry and the Ysios Winery, designed by Santiago Calatrava as well as Muga in Haro.
We also visit smaller vintners who lead us into their labyrinths of caves where wines are aged according to ancient family traditions.
And of course, we feast on traditional Spanish tapas and pinchos and enjoy exquisite tasting menus.
Our accommodations are mostly beautifully restored heritage buildings, including a 12th century pilgrims’ hospital, a 14th century convent, a 16th century palace and a 19th century flour mill. And to treat those cycling muscles, one of our hotels has an oil and wine spa!!
If you love wine, history, fabulous food and moving through beautiful scenery on two wheels, this trip is for you!
Suitable for cyclists of all levels: For beginners we recommend e-bikes as there are some challenging climbs – which more experienced (and fit) cyclists will enjoy on conventional hybrid bikes.
This exploratory trip is led by Hidden Places founders, Maria Coffey and Dag Goering, along with our team of highly professional bike and cultural guides. We have excellent bikes (including electric assist) and a support vehicle for our luggage and the odd lift when we feel like taking it easy.
Day 1 – Welcome to Pamplona
We meet you at Pamplona Airport and transfer you to our 5-star hotel in the heart of historic Pamplona. In the evening we have a briefing with our local guide, then head out for a welcome dinner.
Day 2 – In Heminway’s Footsteps – Pamplona
We have a walking tour of Pamplona, which winds up with a typically Spanish late and long lunch! In the afternoon we have a bike orientation, when your bike will be specially fitted for you.
Day 3 – First ride: Pamplona to Estella – Distance: 48km
Pamplona is the first city on the ancient El Camino pilgrimage route and today we ride along some of these iconic roads, as well as quiet rural lanes. We pass through picturesque villages and vineyards, and at Muruzábal, we stop to visit Santa María de Eunate, a magical 12th Century Romanesque church.
Day 4 – Into the Land of Wine – Estella to Viana – Distance: 40 km
Today we wheel into La Rioja, internationally renowned for its fabulous wines. Our route takes us along quiet country roads, over medieval bridges and past ancient churches and monasteries. Our home for the night is a historic hotel in the ancient centre of Viana.
Day 5 – Tapas and Calados – Viana to Laguardia – Distance 35 km
Into the heart of wine country! We cycle to the gorgeous hilltop medieval village of Laguardia, which we explore on foot. Then we visit small winery, El Fabulista, with its typical calados where the wine is aged in barrels. Dinner tonight is a fantastic tasting menu accompanied by the wines of this special area.
Day 6 – A Sea of Vineyards – Laguardia to Haro – Distance: 32 km
Leaving Laguardia we cycle to the famous and iconic Ysios Winery, designed by the world famous architect, Santiago Calatrava. Our route takes us a through a vast expanse of vineyards, whose colours change with the season. Our destination is the lovely old town of Haro. Before heading to our hotel, in a restored medieval convent, we stop to visit the one of famous vineyards of Haro, Viña Tondonia or Muga.
Day 7 – Wine Culture Museum – Haro – Santo Domingo de la Calzada – Distance: 34 km
We pedal through vineyards to Briones, where we stop to visit the Wine Culture Museum, of Dinastía Vivancos. Then we head through a beautiful remote area on our way to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, a village on Way of Saint James.
Day 8 – The Pilgrim’s Way – Santo Domingo de la Calzada – Nájera – Distance: 40 km
Our route today takes us along the Camino, the Way of Saint James, where we’re likely to see modern day pilgrims on their way West. The terrain is hilly and leads us through a bucolic landscape beneath the rugged Ezcaray Mountains. The final stretch is along a beautiful rural path through old vineyards, as we descend to Nájera.
Day 9 – Down the Ebro River – Nájera to Logroño – Distance: 37 km
No visit to Rioja would be complete without a visit to the famous winery, Marqués de Riscal, designed by the architect Frank Gehry. From there we follow the famous Ebro River to our final destination, Logroño. We go for a stroll around the town and sample the “tapas y pinchos” in the Calle Laurel, before our celebratory dinner.
Day 10 – Farewell
After breakfast, say good bye to new found friends and transfer to the airport.
We think of our itineraries as melodies: they have a beginning and an end, a certain arc, dramatic highlights and a few surprises. We like to improvise, to adapt to the mood of our guests or to circumstances that arise — an invitation to a traditional wedding, say, or a local ethnic festival…
Crafting beautiful, harmonious trips with delightful twists is our trade mark and passion.
Where does the trip start and end?
The trip starts in Pamplona and ends in Logrono. Tranfers to Bilbao or Pamplona can be arranged at the end of the trip.
What are the physical activities on the trip and what level of fitness do I need?
A reasonable level of fitness is required. The cycling is relatively easy, with short distances (max 50 km per day) but there are a number of hilly sections and climbs. For this reason we suggest electric assist bikes for beginners. Experienced, fit cyclists will enjoy doing the tour on our standard hybrid bikes.
What are the bikes like?
We use high quality hybrid bikes as we will be both on smooth roads and unpaved country lanes. Electric-assist bikes are available for an extra fee. Feel free to bring your own bicycle seat or pedals if you feel this will add to your comfort.
What is Spanish food like?
The cuisine of the region is one of the main features of this trip! We will be savouring pinxos that are each a miniature work of art, exquisite local meals in traditional restaurants and some very sophisticated ‘out there’ dishes: a true culinary adventure!
I'm a vegetarian, is that a problem?
Not at all, but please let us know in advance, and advise us on your dietary preferences.
Do I need a visa?
US and Canadian citizens do not require a visa for Spain.
Do I need any special insurance?
Medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, is mandatory on all our trips. We also strongly advise you to purchase trip cancellation insurance.
Do I need vaccinations?
Your routine vaccinations (tetanus/diphtheria, polio, etc.) should be up to date.
What does the trip price cover?
Airport transfers on the first and last days of the trip, all cultural tour guiding and entrance fees, all accommodation and meals, water throughout the trip, hybrid bicycle and guide fees.
What does the trip price not cover?
International and domestic flights, airport transfers not on the first or last days of the trip, beverages except for bottled water, alcoholic drinks, personal insurance and gratuities. The use of an e-bike is not included in the base price and will cost an extra US $ 170.
How can I access cash when I'm on the trip?
ATMs are readily available through out the trip.
What clothes and equipment will I need?
When you sign up for the trip, we will provide you with a comprehensive clothes and equipment list.
I’m travelling alone, is that a problem?
Absolutely not. We have many guests who travel with us on their own. They appreciate the camaraderie of our Hidden Places groups and usually go home with new-found friends. Prices are quoted on a shared room basis. If you require a single room, a Single Supplement will apply.
From US $5950 per person
Private: Apr through Oct
4 and 5-star hotels, historic boutique hotels and comfortable country inns.
8 guests maximum
Begins in Pamplona, Spain
Ends in Logrono, Spain
Bicycling (30 to 50 km per day) with e-bike option; cultural tours; wine tasting and culinary adventures and a few surprises!
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