Forty kilometres south of Vitoria-Gasteiz, across a range of high, little-populated hills, the wine-growing district of Rioja Alavesa feels a rather incongruous appendage to the Basque Country. The north side of the Ebro valley does, however, belong to Araba, the same province as Vitoria-Gasteiz. As a result, so too do several of the richest and most famous Rioja wineries, even though the province of La Rioja, as well as the largest town hereabouts, Logroño, lies immediately across the river.

Assuming you have your own transport, exploring the picturesque villages and bodegas of Rioja Alavesa makes a wonderful way to spend a day. The pick of the towns is lovely old Laguardia, while competition between the wineries is so fierce that several have invested quite astonishing amounts of money to attract attention, most notably Bodegas Ysios with its Santiago Calatrava-designed headquarters, and Marqués de Riscal, where Frank Gehry has created an amazing showpiece hotel

If you drive down from Vitoria-Gasteiz, be sure to stop after 35km at the Balcon de la Rioja, a staggering hillside viewpoint that offers a first magnificent panorama over the plains below.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

From the Moorish marvels and flamenco heartland of Andalucía to Ibiza's bleached-sand beaches and hedonistic nightlife, Spain is a country you'll want to visit…

27 Jul 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

Festivals are a different beast in 2017. They used to be associated with drinking warm cider while watching crusty bands in your naffest clothes; now the best e…

07 Jun 2017 • David Hillier insert_drive_file Article
Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Forget package holidays: Palma is far more than just the gateway to Mallorca’s beach resorts. The Balearic capital is a dynamic city of stylish restaurants, c…

28 Feb 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook