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Tastes of Rioja & Navarra

9-day no-fly self-drive itinerary from £1,170 pp


Short description

A self-drive through Spain's famous Rioja & Navarra wine region, pausing at vineyards, wineries and historic cities

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  • Avoid the airport with overnight ferry departures between the UK and Bilbao
  • Stay opposite the world-famous Guggenheim Museum
  • Visit historic towns including Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Calahorra, Olite and Pamplona
  • Stop in at world-class wineries and stroll through lush vineyards
  • See the golden beaches of San Sebastián on the Bay of Biscay

In Brief

  • 1 Night Bilbao
  • 1 Night Santo Domingo de la Calzada
  • 1 Night Calahorra
  • 1 Night Olite
  • 1 Night Pamplona
  • 1 Night San Sebastián


Recommended for:
City | Food & wine | History & culture | No-fly | Self-drive

This no-fly self-drive takes in the best of Northern Spain, from its modern wonders to its finest wines. Taking the overnight ferry out to Bilbao, you'll have time to explore the city before beginning your road trip through wine country, staying at historic paradors and contemporary hotels along the way. Immerse yourself in Spanish viticulture with vineyard visits, wine museums and tastings, as well as strolls among the Medieval streets and hidden alleys of Santo Domingo, Calahorra, Olite and Pamplona, the home of the famous 'running of the bulls'. It's then time to hop on the overnight ferry home again.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Depart the UK

You'll depart the UK by overnight ferry, arriving the following day in Bilbao.

Day 2

Arrive in Bilbao, an industrial port town surrounded by stunning mountain scenery and an urban paradise in the heart of Basque Country. On arrival, collect your hire car and head to your city-centre hotel for the night. You'll be staying directly opposite the world-famous silver curves of the Guggenheim Museum. This evening, perhaps enjoy dinner at one of many tapas bars around the central Plaza Nueva.

Stay: Hotel Miro, Bilbao (Superior)

Day 3
Bilbao to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

After breakfast, take some time to explore Bilbao from your enviable position in the city's centre. Perhaps visit the Guggenheim itself, exploring its vast collection of contemporary art, or simply stroll the winding alleys among a mix of old and new architecture. Then, drive onwards to Santo Domingo in northern Rioja, where you'll stay in a historic Parador – a former hospital dating back to the 12th century. Take some time to wander through the network of medieval laneways or venture out of town to stop at the many vineyards the region is known for.

Stay: Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 4
Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Calahorra

Today you'll leave Santo Domingo de la Calzada to head into the heart of Rioja, Spain's best-known wine region. Here you're within easy reach of some of the finest wineries and only a few minutes from the Rioja Baja Wine Museum. Your accommodation for the night is another Parador, a red brick building surrounded by lush palms and perfectly located for exploring Calahorra's historic centre.

Stay: Parador de Calahorra (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 5
Calahorra to Olite

Today you'll drive the hour-long scenic route to the pretty town of Olite. Here, a visit to the Navarre Museum of Wine and Vineyards is a highlight, offering a unique insight into Rioja's history as a wine-producing region. Explore Olite's Romanesque churches, the Square of Carlos III and the beautifully carved Palace of the Kings of Navarre this afternoon before retiring to your historic accommodation – a Gothic castle featuring colourful stained glass windows.

Stay: Parador de Olite (Standard)

Meals: B

Day 6
Olite to Pamplona

This morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your accommodation before driving north to Pamplona. The capital of the Navarra province, this town is perhaps most famous for the Running of the Bulls festival held each summer. Enjoy lunch at one of the tapas bars throughout the city's picturesque plazas before taking a walk to the grand cathedral or one of its lush parks. Tonight, stay in a charming 18th century building in the old town, overlooking the Consejo Square. 

Stay: Hotel Palacio Guendulain (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 7
Pamplona to San Sebastián

Today you'll drive onwards to the resort town of San Sebastián on the Bay of Biscay. Its golden beaches and cobblestone streets are perfect for getting lost in, and the town is well known for its delicious food – three of Spain's three-star Michelin restaurants can be found here. Visit the colourful old town and wander avenues lined with historic Belle Époque buildings before finishing the day on the beach at sunset. Your accommodation tonight is a contemporary hotel in the upmarket Ondarreta district.

Stay: NH Collection San Sebastián Aránzuzu (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 8-9
San Sebastián to Bilbao

This morning, check out of your hotel and take the scenic coastal road east to Bilbao. Pause along the way at Gernika, where a tragic Civil War past inspired one of Picasso's most famous paintings, or stop for a long lunch at one of several idyllic seaside towns – Leikeito is a particular favourite, known for its picturesque beaches and friendly cafés. On your return to Bilbao, drop off your car and board your ferry for an overnight departure to the UK, arriving home on day nine.

Meals: B



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior

9-day no-fly self-drive itinerary from £1,170 pp


Low Season

from £1,170 pp.

High Season

from £1,205 pp.


  • Return Foot passenger ferry crossing between Portsmouth and Bilbao including 2 berth cabin
  • Car hire - pick up and drop off from Bilbao Port
  • 6 nights accommodation on a BB basis

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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