Landscapes covered by the colourful carpet offered by the vineyards, mountains that rise to the sky, valleys covered by leafy forests that let the rivers that nourish them escape, traces of the ancient inhabitants who inhabited these lands that have reached our days and the imposing historical and cultural heritage of La Rioja, are the hallmark of this land full of contrasts. To visit its towns and cities is to immerse oneself in its culture, to be surprised at every step with its landscapes and monuments, to feel oneself one more enjoying its traditions and customs.
There are many towns that invite us to stop in them along our Route through the charming villages of La Rioja, historic castles, monasteries heritage of humanity, dinosaur footprints with millions of years old, centenary wineries with world-famous wines, medieval villages included among the most beautiful villages in Spain, are just some of the tempting charms that we must find along this route through La Rioja. A land that, due to its strategic location, has been and still is a crossroads, border and dispute of ancient kingdoms and a meeting point for cultures, thus contributing to the almost magical experience that awaits us when we visit La Rioja. An itinerary that will make us put ourselves in the shoes of the pilgrim as he or she goes along the French Way, feel like experts in winemaking, imagine ourselves defending our castle from the enemy siege or being exceptional spectators of ancestral traditions that will undoubtedly make our journey through La Rioja an unforgettable experience.
La Rioja stretches from west to east along the Ebro valley with Alfaro in La Rioja Baja as its eastern gateway. There have been many different cultures and civilizations that have inhabited this area of La Rioja throughout history, as the architectural jewels that await us here testify. Archaeological sites such as the Eras de San Martín, the mark left by the passage of Romans and Arabs along with its more recent history have left in Alfaro an important architectural and cultural heritage. The Collegiate Church of San Miguel Arcángel, the Roman Nymphaeum or the different palaces that can be found rival another of the main protagonists of this locality of La Rioja, the river Ebro which, thanks to its whimsical flow through Alfaro and the special climatic conditions that meet here, has contributed to the creation of a natural space of great value, the Natural Reserve of the Sotos del Ebro. It is an ideal habitat for the various species of animals and plants that come together here, including the storks that have made the Collegiate Church of San Miguel Arcángel their home, forming one of the largest colonies of storks in Europe.
We left behind this natural reserve to enter towards the south of this area of La Rioja going up the course of the Alhama River and seeing ourselves tempted to come closer to visit the towns of Aguilar del Río Alhama and Cervera del Río Alhama, the latter being famous, among other things, for its handmade production of espadrilles. The Sierra de Alcarama welcomes the next charming village that we have to visit on our route through La Rioja. Cornago awaits us to offer us the beauty of its streets and monuments, it awaits us with the importance of its Icnitas sites. El Chorrón del Saladero, Valdenocerillo, Los cayos or Barranco de Acrijos hold authentic treasures that are millions of years old, such as the dinosaur footprints that can be seen in them and which, together with those that we can visit throughout this part of the itinerary, make up the unique Dinosaur Route of La Rioja. Without a doubt, this is just one more attraction to be added to the historic Cornago Castle, the Church of San Pedro and the different hermitages found in and around Cornago.
We continue our route through the charming villages of La Rioja, leaving Cornago behind to cross this border area between La Rioja and its neighbour Soria, heading towards the town of Enciso, so that we can continue our visit to the different sites included in the Dinosaur Route of La Rioja. Once in the Cidacos valley, its course will take us to Arnedillo, our next stop on this route through La Rioja. Famous for its natural thermal waters, we can also find more sites of Icnitas, such as Las Hoyas and La Mata, with the remains of its heroic castle dating back to the tenth century and its Church of San Servando and San Germán. The natural environment that surrounds Arnedillo comes to add to the charms of this population of La Rioja nestled between the mountains of Peñalmonte and Hez. The rocks that surround it are home to a large colony of griffon vultures, which we can contemplate from the vulture's viewpoint, a passage of the itinerary that follows the Greenway of Cidacos, an old railway line, now converted into a greenway, which connects Arnedillo with Calahorra.
We say goodbye to this area of La Rioja as we follow the course of the Cidacos River, including our tempting stops in towns such as Herce and Arnedo, and from there we head to the capital of La Rioja, Logroño, from where we go up the bed of the Leza River into the narrow and spectacular Leza River Canyon. Soto en Cameros awaits us there, surrounded by the idyllic spot in which it is located, a Biosphere Reserve. A natural environment furrowed by countless paths like the one that brings us to the Viewpoint of the Canyon of the river Leza, or those that lead us to the deposits of Icnitas that also in this region of Camero Viejo we can find. Walking through the streets of Soto in Cameros is to do so because of its history, the façade of the old hospital of San José, the Indianos buildings or the Church of San Esteban speak to us, as we visit them, of the people who passed through here, of their traditions and customs, without forgetting one of the distinguishing features of this people of La Rioja, the famous marzipan of Soto, a typical Christmas sweet.
We continue going up the valley of the Leza, crossing and visiting some of the towns that form the Camero Viejo, as they are Terroba, San Román de Cameros or Jalòn de Cameros, in search of the road that will allow us to jump to the valley of the Iregua, to the Region of the Camero Nuevo. Once in the valley of the Iregua we can not fail to approach Torrecilla in Cameros, whose rich history can still be seen reflected in its streets and buildings, without forgetting of course the great ecological interest and landscape of the environment that surrounds it. Its medieval bridge, the parish church of San Martín, the Palace of the Count of Superunda or the different and well-kept fountains that we will find along its streets are added to the natural resources that Torrecilla en Cameros has, such as Cave Lóbrega, of great value for speleology, without forgetting the different paths that pass through here.
We go back up the valley of the Iregua to quickly say goodbye for the moment to it and enter the mountains that flank it, mountains in which settle villages such as Nieva en Cameros or El Rasillo de Cameros and its curious mountain elm that with more than 400 years is one of the unique trees of La Rioja. A little further on, between the vertical slopes of the Rioseco ravine, Ortigosa de Cameros and its vertiginous bridges await us. The Iron Bridge that gives way to the spectacular Ortigosa Caves, the caves of La Paz and La Viña, or the Concrete Bridge, the link between the neighbourhoods of San Miguel and San Martín, save the chilling height of the ravine while giving us magnificent panoramic views. The Casa Grande, the Iglesia Parroquial de San Martín or Iglesia de San Miguel are part of the cultural heritage of this Riojan town, crossed as could not be otherwise by different hiking routes such as the GR 93, one of the main footpaths in La Rioja.
We return for a moment to the Iregua River, which will take us practically to our next stop before we say goodbye to it once and for all. Situated within the Sierra de Cebollera Natural Park, Villoslada de Cameros invites us to visit it and its surroundings calmly. Its large houses, streets and typical constructions form an urban complex of great singularity and interest to which buildings such as the parish church of Nuestra Señora del Sagrario or the Royal Fabric Factory, an example of the traditional textile industry that is still active today thanks to committed craftsmen. Nor can we forget the natural space surrounding Villoslada de Cameros, where we can also find part of the culture, history and traditions that accompany this people of La Rioja, the Hermitage of Lomos de Orios or the Roman stele of Cerro Mojón Alto share the limelight with places as spectacular as the Waterfalls of Puente Ra or the Hoyos del Iregua.
Once we have visited Villoslada de Cameros, we leave behind this Riojan locality to enter for a moment in the lands of Soria and say goodbye to it, beginning to travel through the mountains that separate us from our next destination, the Alto Najerilla region, not without first visiting some of the villages that make it up, such as Viniegra de Arriba. Integrated within the 7 Villas Viniegra de Abajo located at the gates of the Najerilla valley and bathed by the waters of the Urbión river, it receives us in the middle of a natural space of great beauty. A town in La Rioja that as could not be otherwise is loaded with traditions and customs that are part of its hallmark, such as the Ascent of the Holy, the Night of the Souls or The hut. But Viniegra de Abajo offers us a careful urban planning, with typical houses and architectural monuments of the stature of its church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. Without forgetting the possibilities offered by the natural environment that surrounds it through different paths and routes as well known as the GR 190 also known as the Iberian High Valleys and that lead us to know landscapes and places of great beauty.
The Najerilla Valley will be in this part of our route through the charming villages of La Rioja the one in charge of guiding us, a work which does to the perfection since besides leading us towards our next destination it invites us to visit places as interesting as the Monastery of Valvanera, detour almost forced for who passes by here. Nestled between colossal rocks on the banks of the river Najerilla, being the gateway to the wide valley of the Ebro, we awaits Anguiano and its three neighborhoods, Mediavilla, Eras and Cuevas. Famous for its traditions and gastronomy, who has not heard of the dance of the stilts of Anguiano or its delicious caparrones and beans? the town surprises us with corners as capricious and impressive as the Bridge of Madre de Dios, its parish church of San Andrés or the church of San Pedro de Cuevas that alternate with the noble houses that we will find at every step. But Anguiano is much more, it is nature and the mountains that surround it in which we can enjoy the beautiful hiking trails through beech forests, visiting unique trees hundreds of years old or entering mysterious caves of legend.
Under the watchful eye of the mountains that make up the Sierra of La Demanda, we say goodbye for now to the valley of Najerilla to set course for another of the Riojan valleys, the valley of the river Cardenas where we await two true cultural, architectural and historical jewels of La Rioja, located in San Millán de la Cogolla. The Monastery of Yuso and the Monastery of Suso are known as the Monastery of San Millán, each of them alone justifies a visit to San Millán de la Cogolla. That of Suso, or above, has a rich architectural and archaeological heritage, while that of Yuso, or below, agglutinates a valuable collection of codices among which the Glosas Emilianenses stand out, a fact that gave this monastery the nickname of the Cradle of the Castilian Language. San Millán de la Cogolla is crossed by different paths in La Rioja, such as the GR 93, which run through the marvellous natural environment that surrounds it, at the foot of the highest peak in La Rioja, such as San Lorenzo. Paths that take us to corners such as the Cave of the Saint, a small chapel hanging from the rock high in the mountains that flank the river Cardenas.
We leave the Sierra de La Demanda and its high mountains behind us to radically change the landscape that surrounds us. The vineyards and the typical Guardaviñas begin to gain prominence as we pass through Badarán and Cárdenas as we return to the Najerilla valley to visit Nájera. Known as the Cradle of Kings this historic and regal town goes back thousands of years in history, a history that saw how it was the capital of the Kingdom of Nájera and later also of Pamplona. Kings, noble invading armies and thousands of pilgrims have passed through it, and even today they still walk its streets as they are obliged to pass through the Way of Saint James, more specifically the French Way. A treasure like few others, a Jacobean tradition and cultural heritage, a heritage that has in the Monastery of Santa María La Real its maximum exponent, without forgetting of course the Royal Chapel and Parish of the Holy Cross or the Convent of Santa Elena.
Following in the footsteps of the French Way as it passes through La Rioja, we set our course for our next destination, not without first seeing ourselves tempted to visit the town of Azofra as authentic pilgrims on the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago, or to approach Cañas and its monastery, stopping at Alesanco. Back on the French Way, one of its symbols par excellence Santo Domingo de la Calzada awaits us, whose founder Domingo García not only worked the well-known miracles attributed to him, but also built a hospital for pilgrims and the bridge over the river Oja to facilitate their passage. Today the town welcomes us with all the care and splendour of its streets and monuments. The Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada with its characteristic exempt Tower, the Convent of San Francisco, the Wall, the House of the Brotherhood of the Saint or the Spain Square, are only a small example of what we will find as we walk through its streets. Streets and buildings that go back to the Middle Ages in the Fairs of the Conception and its unique Medieval Market.
Once again, the Sierra de La Demanda attracts us with its magic, making us go up the Oja riverbed, as does the Oja Greenway, to the very foot of the mountains, to the village of Ezcaray, the gateway to this mountainous slope of thick forests and high peaks covered by winter snow. Its history goes back to the 10th century, when it was founded, and to this day its traditions have arrived and have been preserved, as well as the majesty of its streets and buildings that merge with the splendid nature that surrounds it. Hidden corners and singular villages contribute to Ezcaray even more beauty if it fits doing the delights of who visits it, inviting us to cross its footpaths and to walk by its streets with the calm that they deserve. Streets where treasures await us, such as the Church of Santa María la Mayor, the building of the Royal Factory of Cloths, or palaces such as that of Barroeta, in short an urban centre that preserves, like few others, the typical traditional architecture, a fact that gives great beauty to the whole.
When the time comes we will say goodbye definitively to the Sierra de La Demanda and under its attentive gaze we will prepare to let ourselves be carried away by the course of the river Oja, which has to lead us in its run towards our next stop in this route through La Rioja with which we are visiting some of its unique villages. We could fall into the error of thinking that the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Piedad is the great jewel that awaits us when we visit Casalarreina, but in reality it is its well-kept and varied Historical Complex that is the true treasure of this town of La Rioja. A patrimony in which besides the monastery we will find the palace of the Condestables of Castile, the church of San Martín or the, more modern, bridge over the river Oja that, together with the pampered streets, squares and gardens of Casalarreina make our visit an indelible experience. Undoubtedly a rich heritage that increases thanks to cultural events such as the Ancient Music Festival, which is held every year in the Monastery of Our Lady of the Piedad.
La Rioja is not only a land of great wines, which it is, it is also a land of castles, important monasteries and beautiful natural landscapes, signs of identity that in one way or another we can enjoy in their towns and cities along this route through the charming villages of La Rioja. Wine culture, the Castillo de los Velasco, the church of San Miguel, the palatial mansions of its urban centre, all surrounded by a natural landscape of great beauty is what Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón offers to those who dare to visit it. This Riojan town bathed by the River Tirón has, as we have already seen, an interesting artistic and cultural heritage to which are added attractions such as the Wine Paths, a series of itineraries that combine hiking and mountain biking routes with the culture of wine and its unique landscapes.
The Obarenes Mounts and the Sierra Cantabria limit the Ebro valley to the north and at its feet the following towns await us, which we are about to visit on our journey through La Rioja and its villages. Villas like Sajazarra could well be among the most beautiful villages in Spain. And it is that in Sajazarra we have to be with a cosy and taken care of monumental set that has to make us travel until past times of the hand of his Castle, when walking by the wall and to enter again in the villa by the door El Arco, or when approaching until the Parochial church of Santa María de la Asunción, in whose interior the famous festivals of ancient music were celebrated. Without forgetting its imposing mansions as for example the house of the Loma Osorio or the house of the Ruiz de Loizaga. In short, a town that has known how to preserve and take care of all its past splendour bringing it to our days, a fact that makes it hold the deserved title of being one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.
Franqueados by the steep mountains that cut us the step, we advance towards our next destination, the denominated Capital of the Wine of Rioja, we went towards Haro where as it could not be otherwise the enoturismo and the culture of the wine have a prominent role in our visit. In Haro we will be able to visit its Station Neighbourhood, where some of the centenary wineries that are located in the town of Jarrera are concentrated. We will be able to go to the Hermitage of San Felices de Bilibio, in whose cliffs the international Wine Battle is celebrated every year. But we will also be able to walk through its interesting old town, a whole historical artistic set formed by numerous and conditioned palaces, by its singular town hall, by its churches and parishes, like the church of Santo Tomás or the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Vega, or we will also be able to go back to the Middle Ages visiting its Medieval Tower, today a museum of contemporary art. Without forgetting its relationship with the Way of Saint James since from the nearby town of Briñas pilgrims enter La Rioja following the Basque Way of the Interior to join the French Way and march together towards Santiago.
The river Ebro will be our special guide in the final part of our route through the charming villages of La Rioja. A river that, as you know, crosses the community from west to east, impregnating it with its character. A river that takes us to the medieval village of Briones, where wine becomes history and culture. Sitting on the top of a hill, Briones perfectly preserves all its character reflected in its historical ensemble. Buildings such as the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción or the hermitage of San Juan or Cristo de los Remedios are in themselves authentic jewels that hold true cultural and architectural treasures inside. Palaces such as that of the Marquis of San Nicolás, today the town hall, or the remains of what used to be its castle, rival in notoriety with the Wine Culture Museum, another of the attractions that Briones offers to those who visit it. A visit that well deserves a small detour to approach the solitary Castle of Davalillo from which we will enjoy magnificent panoramic views of this area of La Rioja.
Returning to our route we went in search of the whimsical flow of the river Ebro to imagine crossing it as in the past was done by the Medieval Bridge, now pedestrian, which gave access to the fortified town of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, perched on the hill on which it sits. Famous among other things for its traditional Picaos, an ancestral rite that is still performed today. In its surroundings we can discover part of the history of this land, a history linked to wine as attested by the ancient winepresses and necropolis that populate the area. A history that can be seen reflected in its streets, in the remains of its Castle of San Vicente or in the parish church of Santa María la Mayor. Corners such as the Hermitage of Saint Mary of the Pool that invite us to visit them for a moment away from the streets of San Vicente de la Sonsierra before returning to them to walk calmly and put a stop and followed our route through the charming villages of La Rioja.
Map of the route
This map is a sketch made as an example of the route, in no case represents the best or the only itinerary to follow. Its development has not taken into account the current rules of circulation or the state of the places through which it passes and that could affect its layout.
A mí los pueblos de La Rioja que más me gustan de esta ruta son Haro, Briones y San Vicente de la Sonsierra, aunque también hubiera incluido Ábalos que me parece una preciosidad de pueblo.
¿Did you know that...
In Logroño, in addition to its cultural and artistic heritage, you can also walk along the so-called Elephant Path, a gastronomic route through the typical tapas of each place that composes it.
Don't miss out...
The cultural and natural enclaves close to the villages on the route, such as Contrebia Leucade, the Ribavellosa Estate or the Museum of Easter Steps.
Distance of the route
412 Km This figure may vary depending on the route we follow.
Duration of the route
From 2 to 4 days
Time of year
All year round
Historical, cultural and landscape. This route gives us to know great part of the terrirorio of La Rioja.
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Route information updated on 17-05-2019. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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