The neighbouring regions of La Rioja and Navarra in northern Spain are world-class when it comes to food and wine. Characterised by sprawling landscapes of gorgeous rural countryside dotted with old stone towns, villages and olive-grove lined vineyards, they're a must on any northern Spain self-drive.
While La Rioja is mainland Spain's smallest province, its wine is world-known. Its deep, rich reds are particularly notable, many of which are produced in the fertile Río Ebro river valley or alongside the Río Oja, after which the region and its wine take their names. Tours of the local bodegas – wine cellars – are major highlights of any holiday in the region, while a messier but fun alternative is to visit the town of Haro during the annual Batalla de Vina (Battle of Wine), a glorified food fight where the locals get drenched in wine.
La Rioja vineyards
Navarra hugs the foothills of the snow-capped Pyrenees for excellent walking and cycling amongst its seasonal cattle pastures and sleepy mountain villages. It's here that the Camino de Santiago begins and following a section of the pilgrimage route is a wonderful way to take in Navarra's scenery. Another regional highlight is Navarra's capital, Pamplona, where locals dress in white with red neck scarves for the Running of the Bulls during the Fiesta de San Fermín in July.