01 of 07
Wine Tourism in Spain: Introduction
The world of Spanish wine is probably the most accessible (in terms of drinkability) in the whole of Europe.
Wine from La Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Spain's lesser known wine regions are bright, fruity and represent excellent value for money.
What has always been less accessible is the wineries themselves. Getting to remote wine regions by public transport has always been difficult and driving yourself there is often not an option if everyone in your party wants to drink. Tour companies have historically not been great in offering high quality wine tours. But that last point, at least, is starting to change. More and more excellent wine tours are starting up from all over Spain.
The best wine in Spain is red and the most famous red wine in Spain comes from La Rioja, a region near the Basque Country, in the north of Spain.
Rioja wine is available throughout Spain, but nowhere is it more abundant, or cheaper, than in the region where it is made. To sample the best wine in Spain, you could spend an evening bar hopping on Calle Laurel in Logroño, or you could visit one of the many vineyards and wineries in the area.
Top Wine Destinations in Spain and Portugal
There are fantastic wine regions throughout Spain. The places listed here are the ones that are actually easily accessible, with vineyards that are open to the public. For most other wine regions (the white wines of Rias Baixas are obvious omissions from this list), your best bet is to find a good wine bar and ask for something local.
The capital of the Rioja wine region, Logroño has also become quite the tapas mecca in recent years. Check out some Logroño Wine and Tapas Bars
Best Visited from: Bilbao
The Barrio de la Estación area of Haro has several wine bodegas, many of which are open to the public.
Best Visited from: Bilbao or on a guided tour.
The fantastic walled city of Laguardia has a few wineries, some of which make wine using carbonic maceration.
Best Visited from: on a guided tour. Check out this Guided Tour of La Rioja
Peñafiel (Ribera del Duero)
Lots of great red wine makers in this area.
Best Visited from: Madrid
Aranda del Duero (Ribera del Duero)
Great for wineries, as well as the fabled roast lamb regional specialty.
Best Visited from: Madrid
Home to sherry, one of the world's most famous fortified wines.
Best Visited from: Seville or Cadiz
Catalonia's big wine export is sparkling cava, but there are great reds and whites here too.
Best Visited from: Barcelona
Getaria (Basque Country)
Txakoli, a tart and often slightly sparkling white wine, is the 'national drink' of the Basque Country.
Best Visited from: San Sebastian
Porto (North Portugal)
Home to port, as well as vinho verde, another tart white wine.
Best Visited from: Porto!
Douro Valley( North Portugal)
A picturesque wine region that makes a fantastic day trip.
Best Visited from: Porto
Evora (Central Portugal)
Evora's Roman ruins make this a great stop for those who want more than just wine on their trip.
Best Visited from: Lisbon
Suggestions on How to Plan Your Ribera del Duero Trip
If visiting Rioja isn't realistic, try the other of the two most famous wine regions, Ribera del Duero. Ribera del Duero is the easiest region to reach if traveling from Madrid.
- Consider a Guided Tour Remember when considering a hire car that you'll need a designated driver. To compound your difficulties, getting to most wineries can be very difficult by public transport. So you might want to consider a guided tour instead. My favourite would be this Segovia and Peñafiel Wine Tour from Madrid or for those on a tighter budget, miss out Segovia and do this Ribera del Duero Tour.
- Visit Segovia on the Way Segovia is one of the best day trips from Madrid, with its Roman aqueduct, fairy tale castle and historic Jewish quarter. However, there are no buses from Segovia directly to any of the places of interest below. Instead, you'll need to get a bus from Segovia to Valladolid.
- Consider Valladolid as your base Valladolid is the largest city in the area with the most accommodation, though that's all relative. Still, it's a city with facilities and a better chance of finding a room than in the smaller towns and villages. It also means you could explore other wine regions nearby, with Rueda and Toro both to the west of the city.
- Book your winery visits in advance Not all wineries open to the general public and often only by appointment. Unfortunately, most do not have an online booking system and many do not have full-time English speaking staff. I have included links below to bookable wineries where possible.
Wine Tours and Day Trips in Spain - Choose Your Departure Point
Wine day trip tours in Spain tend to depart from the following cities. On each page I provide you with advice on how to get to Rioja or Ribera del Duero from each city, if appropriate.
Continue to 2 of 7 below.
- From Madrid Visit a local Madrid vineyard or explore a bit further afield and go to the Ribera del Duero wine region, one of Spain's very best.
- From Barcelona Catalona is known for its cava (sparkling white wine) as well as the Penedes wine region.
- From Bilbao The biggest city close to Spain's most famous wine region, La Rioja, is a great place to start for a wine tour.
- From San Sebastian Alternatively, depart from nearby San Sebastian for tours of La Rioja and the nearer Txakoli wine regions.
- From Andalusia Sherry is the most famous wine from southern Spain, but there is also good wine in Ronda. Tours tend to depart from Seville and Malaga.
- From Portugal Don't visit the Iberian peninsula without popping across the border to try some of Portugal's lesser-known wines.
02 of 07
Wine Tours from Madrid
Madrid's location in the center of Spain makes it good for visiting Ribera del Duero, one of Spain's two most famous wine regions (the other being La Rioja), as well as the lesser-known wine regions around the capital.
Wine Regions Near Madrid
La Mancha, Spain's central region, is awash with vineyards. To the south, in Castilla-La Mancha, there is the eponymous La Mancha wines, centered around Toledo and Cuenca. And to the north, around Valladolid, are the wine regions of Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro.
Madrid to Ribera del Duero
- To Peñafiel Buses run from Madrid to Peñafiel. There are a couple of buses per day. The journey takes around two-and-a-half hours (though there is also a slower 'local service' that takes a little longer) and costs just under 20 euros. The service is run by Sepulvedana and departs from Moncloa bus station. You can book online, though the website is a bit of a pain to use. Read more about Madrid Bus and Train Stations.
- To Aranda de Duero The bus from takes just under two hours and costs around 25 euros. The service is run by ALSA.
How to Get from Madrid to La Rioja
- To Haro The train from Madrid (from Atocha station) to Haro takes around four hours and cost about 30 euros. There are irregular buses from Madrid from PLM Autocares. Tickets cost under 20 euros and take around four hours, departing from Avenida de America station.
- To Logroño Trains cost from 30 euros and take between three-and-a-half and four hours, departing from Atocha station. Buses take around half an hour longer and cost between 25 and 40 euros.
Wine and City Tour Combined Trips
There's only so many wineries I can visit in a day. So, if you're like me, you might enjoy one of these trips that combine a visit to one of the many historic towns and cities close to Madrid with a trip to a winery or two.
- Toledo and La Mancha Wines Tour
Visit Toledo on a day trip from Madrid. This tour continues beyond Toledo to see the famous La Mancha windmills, made famous by Cervantes' Don Quijote. Includes a visit to one of the best wineries in south-central Spain.
- Aranjuez, Windmills and La Mancha Wines Tour
Visit the UNESCO world heritage royal palace at Aranjuez, followed by lunch near the famous windmills close to Consuegra. And there's the wine! Sample some fine wines at one of the best wineries in La Mancha.
- Segovia and Ribera del Duero Wines Tour
This tour heads north instead of south, visiting Segovia first and then visiting a winery in Peñafiel in the Ribera del Duero wine region.
See also: Day Trips from Madrid
Wine Day Trips from Madrid
If you want a whole day to focus on wine, check out one of these two tours:
- Day Trip to Ribera del Duero The Ribera del Duero wine region is renowned for its excellent wines. Visit three wineries on this day trip from Madrid.
- For those who don't want to spend so much of the day on the bus, there are also the vinos de Madrid wineries.
See also: Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour
Multi-Day Wine Tours from Madrid
If you have more time on your hands and really want to get under the skin of Spanish wine, check out these multi-day tours. Some of these tours, such as the Ribera del Duero and La Rioja ones are very much focussed on the wine, while tours such as the Spain and Portugal and Andalusia tours combine more standard tourist sights with the finest wines from Spain.
Continue to 3 of 7 below.
- Self-Guided Tour from Madrid to Bilbao Via Burgos and La Rioja. Includes winery visits and hotels close to the most famous vineyards.
- Spain and Portugal Tour (Seven Days) Wine tastings in Madrid, Porto (for port), Galicia (for Albariño white wine), Verin, Valladolid (for Ribera del Duero reds) and Rueda (for Rueda whites). Most meals included. Tour also includes a flamenco show and a fado show.
03 of 07
Wine Tours from Barcelona
The Catalonia region around Barcelona is famous for its cava sparkling wine, as well as the wine regions of Penedes and Piorat.
Barcelona to Rioja
- To Logroño Take the train, it's much quicker. Read more about Barcelona to Rioja.
- To Haro Trains take around four-and-a-half hours and cost around 25 euros.
Barcelona to Ribera del Duero
- To Peñafiel There are two buses per day from Barcelona to Peñafiel. The journey takes around nine hours and costs just under 50€. The route is run by Renfe Iñigo. This is not the most practical of trips. If looking for a wine region to visit from Barcelona, I would recommend visiting the Rioja region instead.
Wine Day Trips from Barcelona
Most day trips from Barcelona concentrate on cava wine, sometimes including Penedes too. (Priorat is logistically not so practical on a day trip - see the longer tours below for visits to Priorat.)
- Sample the best of Catalonia's wines with a day trip that visits three wineries in one day, including one cava bodega.
- If you don't want to spend the whole day in wineries, this tour combines the awe-inspiring Montserrat mountain with a trip to a Cava bodega.
See also: Day Trips from Barcelona for non-wine related tours from the Catalan capital.
Multi-Day Wine Tours from Barcelona
Catalonia is not Spain's most prestigious wine region and so most companies mix in other sights with their wine tours.
- Sitges, Tarragona and Winery Tour (two days) After visiting Sitges and Tarragona on the first day, the second day features a trip to the Santes Creus monastery and then a visit to Bodegas Torres, a local winery. Offered by Viator.
- La Rioja Tour (four days) Visit Logroño and stay at the famous Frank Gehry-designed Marques de Riscal hotel. From The Wine Colours.
- Barcelona and Priorat Tour (five days) Spend two days in Barcelona, learn to cook a Spanish dish (paella on request) and take a tour of the city. Then visit the Priorat wine region, visiting three wineries and a monastery. From The Wine Colours.
- Terra Alta Wine Tour (five days) First two days in Barcelona (as with the tour above), followed by two nights in an old country house in the Terra Alta region, where you will visit two wineries. From The Wine Colours.
Wine Tasting in Barcelona
If you're not so interested in visiting vineyards and wine cellars and would prefer a guided tasting, with a local wine expert to talk you through what you're drinking but without the need to take an excursion out of the city or to visit musty underground storerooms, then you might prefer this Spanish Wine Tasting in Barcelona. This is also a good option for those short on time or on a budget, as there is no need to travel out to the vineyards.
See also: Tours of Spain Starting from BarcelonaContinue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
Wine Day Trips from San Sebastian
San Sebastian, like Bilbao, has its own wine - the white txakoli - and is close to La Rioja.
How to Get to Rioja from San Sebastian
- To Logroño It is frustratingly hard to get to Logroño, with lust two buses each way and no trains. Read more: Barcelona to Logroño
La Rioja Day Trips from San Sebastian
Visit three vineyards in the La Rioja wine region on this day trip from San Sebastian. Includes a five-course lunch with wine pairing. Option to finish the day with a pintxos tour of San Sebastian.
See more: Rioja Day Trip from San Sebastian
Txakoli Day Trip from San Sebastian
Txakoli is the Basque Country's easy-drinking and ever-so-slightly sparkling white wine. Even if you don't like white wine, I challenge you to taste txakoli and not re-evaluate your opinion.
This tour takes you to the town of Getaria and includes a visit to a fishing company to see how they prepare the various types of fish that are native to the Basque waters. Then, visit the El Cano txakoli vineyard for lunch and some glasses of their excellent wine.
See more: Txakoli and Getaria Day Trip
Wine Tastings in San Sebastian
If you're not interested in going out to a bodega (or time or money constraints make it unfeasible) then you could do a instead. Sample up to eight different wines, including some made close to the city. The emphasis here is on the fine wines themselves: you'll taste more here than on a day trip.
See also:Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Wine Day Trips from Bilbao
Though the Basque Country has its own wine, the ever-so-slightly sparkling Txakoli white wine, most wine tours from Bilbao visit La Rioja.
If you are looking for a Txakoli tour, you're better off looking at San Sebastian Wine Day Trips.
How to Get to Logroño from Bilbao
There are regular buses from Bilbao. They take aunder two hours and cost around 15 euros. Read more on Bilbao to Logroño.
La Rioja Day Trips from Bilbao
Haro Winery Tour Visit Haro in La Rioja and visit two wineries. Includes lunch. From Wine Tourism Spain.
Budget Vitoria, Laguardia and Haro Tour Does not include lunch. Plus, I don't think Vitoria is especially worth visiting.
Multi-Day Wine Tours from Bilbao
- Five-Day Tour of La Rioja from The Wine Colours
See also:Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
Wine Day Trips from Seville
Wine Day Trips from Seville
For those short on time, these two day trips give you two very different tastes of Spanish wine.
Sherry in Jerez
Sherry takes its name from the Arabic name for the town of Jerez in Andalusia. Take a day trip from Seville to Jerez and Cadiz and visit a sherry bodega to sample some of the famous fortified wine.
See more: Jerez and Cadiz Day Trip
Wine of Ronda
Ronda is a fascinating town in Andalusia. Due to its position high up on a ravine, it was one of last Moorish strongholds during the reconquista of Spain by the Christians. This trip includes a trip to the Ronda wine museum.
See more: Ronda Day Trip with Wine Tasting
Multi-Day Wine Tours of Spain
There aren't so many extended wine tours that start from Seville. I've scoured the internet and found these two, but I don't know the companies in person and cannot vouch for them.
Three-Day Wine Tour from Seville
Visit Jerez for sherry tasting and sample other wines at two different local wineries.
See more: Three-Day Wine Tour from Seville
Four-Day Gastronomic Break in Seville
A private tour that can be customised to your needs. Your accommodation is in Seville, with daily excursions.
See more: Gastronomic Break in Seville
See also: Tours of Andalusia Starting from SevilleContinue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
Wine Tours in Portugal
Visiting Iberia and only exploring Spain is a mistake as big as only ever listening to Paul simon without ever hearing Simon and Garfunkel, or watching Fred Astaire without experiencing his performances with Ginger Rogers. Portugal is a much-overlooked country that has many fantastic sights and is a lot cheaper to visit than Spain. Oh, and it also has some excellent wine too.
One thing you could never say about Portuguese wine is that it tastes the same as all other wine. From the sweet port fortified wine to the tart vinho verde, Portugal has a wide gamut of wines to explore. And if you're not so interested in these more esoteric offerings, there is still a lot of 'normal' wine in Portugal for you to try.
- Top Ten Things to Do in Lisbon
- Best Things to Do in Porto
- Madrid to Lisbon by bus, plane and night train.
Wine Tours from Lisbon
Wine tours in Portugal typically depart from Lisbon and Porto. Lisbon is best for exploring the Alentejo region, while Porto is best for port, the Douro valley and vinho verde.
Azeitao Wine Tour
The nearest day trip to Lisbon is in Azeitao, to the south-east of the capital. Visit the 16th century Bacalhoa Palace and two wineries where you'll sample some Portuguese wines.
Evora Tour with Alentejo Wine Tasting
Explore in-land Portugal with this trip to Evora and the Alentejo wine region. Visit the Evora cathedral, the Roman temple and the Chapel of Bones before having a wine and olive oil tasting session.
More: Evora Tour with Wine Tasting
Wine Tours from Porto
Douro Valley Tour with Wine Tasting
The Douro Valley is in-land from Porto (continue east and you'll hit the Ribera del Duero wine region in Spain). The countryside is beautiful as you travel from Porto along the Douro river to the vineyards. You can take a Cruise from Porto to the Douro Valley but this can be expensive and means much of your day is taken up by the traveling. The tour below travels by bus but includes an optional final leg by boat, which is the best of both worlds. See pictures from our Trip to the Douro Valley.
Vinho Verde Wine Tour
Vinho Verde, or 'green wine', is tart, slightly sparkling wine, usually white but occasionally red or rosé (the 'green' merely comes from the fact the wine is young). It's a refreshing wine, not a million miles from the taste of Basque Txakoli, that is great as an alternative to a cold beer on a hot Portuguese afternoon.
Hop-On-Hop-Off Porto Tour with Port Tasting
Explore Porto on a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus. See the sights of the city before heading across the river to the port wine cellars where you will receive a tasting.
Note that port tastings in Porto are usually very cheap or even free. The tasting on this tour is there for convenience but doesn't offer any significant saving over just walking and organizing your own.