“Spain is a fascinating mix of people, languages, culture, and food, but if there is one thing all Spaniards share, it’s a love of food and drink.”
Spain and its people seem to have a true zest for life. A calendar and culture alive with feasts and celebrations give the Spaniards an excuse to relax and enjoy life, take in a siesta, and enjoy a glass of wine, even in the middle of the afternoon.
We combine that mode of living with a six-day biking tour through one of Spain’s most beautiful regions, the wine country of Rioja. Rioja is a mostly-flat valley with a river dissecting it and small towns dotting the area. Our biking routes take us to the small towns, nearby wineries, and views that seem to reach forever. Perhaps best, the Rioja region seems to be practically unknown among both foreign tourists and bicyclists, leaving us the area to ourselves.
As on all our Biking Tours, we have three routes from which you can choose each day: short, medium, and long. With a support van in the area driven by one of your guides, you can get as much or as little exercise as you wish. And during the days, you are free to explore the local cities, sample the Spanish tapas, or have a glass of the local vino.
The blend of delicious Spanish food, excellent wine, and a countryside perfect for biking make Rioja the perfect place to find that Spanish zest for life.
Private Tour Info
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Trip Favorite Moments & Reviews
“Everyday was a full day and exceptional! Our guides were great and made everything fun and I always felt “taken care of and safe”. The planning was well researched and it all went well. It was a beautiful trip!”Threse F.
“Beginning the bike ride in the morning and seeing a beautiful rainbow as we biked near the vineyards. Outstandingly beautiful!”Christine V.
- Dates: September 22 - 27, 2019
- Cost Per Person: $2,950
- Optional Single Supplement: $850
- Private Tour Minimum: 8
- Activities: Biking & Wine
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Guides: Iker Garamendi, Jenny Siddall
Other Info: You have the option of renting a regular bike or e-bike for the trip. Regular bike rentals are 25€ per day. E-bikes are an additional cost, please contact us for details.Book this Tour
- Biking among the beautiful Rioja vineyards.
- Savoring the delicious, complex flavors of Spanish cuisine
- Participating in a fun “tapas crawl” (or pinxtos, as they call them in the Basque area), where you'll share small plates with others
We pick you up at 1:00 PM in Bilbao, capital of the Basque lands, allowing you to fly in that morning or arrive the day before. We then shuttle south to the border of Rioja where we'll meet up with our bicycles and take our first ride. You'll have the option to start in the valley just outside Rioja, crossing up and over the hills to earn an incredible first sight of the most famous vineyards in Spain, or do the short route option by starting on the ridge top. Our ride will take us past López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, where we'll take what might be the best wine tour we have ever experienced, and then on to our first night stay in the wine capital of Haro. Distances: 17 kilometers
Today we have a loop ride through the valley floor, visiting towns such as San Torcuato, La Concepción, and Briones before heading back to Haro. You can choose to stop in any of the small towns for lunch and can opt to visit one of the world's best wine museums, the Dinastia Vivanco Museo de la Cultura del Vino. A longer ride will take you to even more quaint towns, including Tirgo, Herramelluri, Villalobar, and Banaras. This evening we will join the Spaniards in one of their most famous customs, eating dinner at local tapas bars in the city center. Distances: 42 or 76 kilometers
One of the things that makes Rioja so interesting for biking is a long, paved bike path running down the middle of the valley. We ride this path today for a good 20 kilometers to the walled town of Santo Domingo for lunch. In the afternoon, we get off the path and take small side roads as we continue to our next hotel in the town of Ezcaray, a ski resort in the winter. You'll have plenty of time to relax in the hotel's accommodating bar or, if you choose, to test yourself on the grueling uphill climb to the ski resort itself. It's a beautiful area and you'll enjoy it, whatever you do. Distances: 36, 57, or 71 kilometers
Today is the longest ride of the week, although you will of course have the chance to take a van shuttle and make it a shorter route. Our main route runs a full 76 kilometers from Ezcaray to our next hotel in the walled city of Laguardia. The scenery en route is beautiful and we pass a number of small towns, have the option to visit the monastery at San Millan de la Cogolla, and definitely stop at the famous Marqués de Riscal winery in Elciego. Our hotel in Laguardia is just outside the town's walls and we walk into the center for dinner tonight. Distances: 42, 76, or 87 kilometers
Our loop ride from Laguardia highlights what is the most idyllic scenery anywhere in Rioja. The route has a few ups and downs but is definitely manageable, and this undulation gives us great views of the valley, turn after turn. We reach San Vicente at mid-day, a fantastic town with a main plaza, outdoor restaurants, and a castle on top of the hill. It's a perfect place to relax a few hours before catching a van back to Laguardia (short route) or riding back via a different route. Tonight we celebrate our cycling (and wine drinking) successes with a final dinner. Distances: 26, 50, or 58 kilometers
You can choose between two loop routes this morning, both heading out to the other side of Laguardia from where we cycled the day before. We then return to our hotel for a shower and, after checking out, catch a bus back to Bilbao for our onward journeys. Distances: 20 or 26 kilometersBook this Tour
NIGHTS 1 & 2 >> HOTEL LOS AGUSTINOS / HARO
This hotel dates back to 1373 when Don Diego Lopez de Haro built the licensed convent. Since then its incarnations have included a military garrison, hospital, prison, and school. The Hotel Los Agustinos now features a magnificent cloister, which is covered in glass. Completely renovated in 2006, the hotel offers wonderful accommodations and cuisine.
NIGHT 3>> HOTEL PALACIO AZCARATE / EZCARAY
This historic hotel is located in a quaint ski town at the base of the mountains. The Palace belonged to the Azcárate family, an influential military family with strong connections in the area. The new renovations have preserved the original design of the facade whilst completely updating the interior to offer all the comforts of a modern hotel.
NIGHTS 4 & 5>> HOTEL VILLA DE LAGUARDIA / LAGUARDIA
This modern four-star spa hotel offers amenities like an outdoor pool, a covered garage for our bicycles, a gym, a reading room, a TV room, a garden, a solarium, an enomatic wine dispenser and even its own wine! It is a fancy place, but you will feel right at home here because of the friendly staff.Book this Tour
Arrival & Departure
We meet you after lunch in Bilbao, Spain on the first day of the trip. If you choose to arrive that day, we will meet you at the airport. If you arrive earlier we’ll meet you at a downtown hotel. We’ll return to Bilbao’s airport the last afternoon of the trip, giving you time to fly out and return home (or extend your stay) that same day.
There are no direct flights from North America to Bilbao (airport code BIO), but flights generally require just one stop in a major European airport before arriving in Bilbao. All flights from North America to Europe are overnight flights. Returning home, you can catch an afternoon flight from Bilbao and return to major North American or European airports that same day.
- Two Zephyr guides, with a third guide added if necessary.
- Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
- All of your dinners and breakfasts are included. Gratuity for these meals is also included. In general, we leave lunches open so that you have time to explore and enjoy the local flavors en route.
- All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
- Some wine tastings included.
- NOT INCLUDED Bicycle rental, beverages, desserts, lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses, and travel to and from the destination.
The average high temperature in Bilbao, our starting and ending point, is in the upper 70s degrees Fahrenheit in September while overnight lows are in the upper 50s. It can rain in September so be prepared for warm days, lots of sunshine, and the chance of rain.
On this tour, you have the option to rent an e-bike. E-bikes are bicycles that use an integrated electric motor that can be used for propulsion. You pedal normally but receive additional assistance from the motor so they will help you up those Spanish hills.
Extending Your Vacation
Certainly spending one day either before or after the trip in Bilbao is a good idea as there is much to do in this city. If you have more time, we suggest renting a car in Bilbao and driving either north into the French Basque country (stopping in the gastronomic paradise of San Sebastian along the way) northeast to the Pyrenees mountains which form the border of France with Spain, or west along the Bay of Biscay. Alternatively, you could take a flight to Barcelona or south to Sevilla, both great cities. (The train is not as convenient to these cities.)
You definitely don’t need to be a wine expert to enjoy this tour. In fact, you don’t even need any knowledge of wines at all. All you need is an open mind, an ability to discern what you like and don’t like, and an adventurous spirit.
Each bicycling day we have two or three different route options. Our goal is to have short options everyone can complete and long options that will tire out even avid athletes. This is not a difficult tour but you will enjoy the tour more if you are physically fit, and there are some hills on this trip.
Type of Person Who Will Enjoy This Tour
If you have never been to Spain, this is your opportunity. Spain can be a little more intimidating to even seasoned European travelers given its great size and sometimes-difficult transportation network. Neither are an issue on this tour as we stay in one localized area, do short shuttles by van, and spend most of the time on a bicycle seat, or our feet.
Changes to Your Itinerary
While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.
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