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Duration
8 days
Activities
  • self guided cycle
Accommodation
  • Atmospheric 2-4 star hotels
Meals
  • 2 Dinners
  • 7 Breakfasts

Price

$1550USD

 
 

Overview

Trip Code: HRJ

Trip highlights


  • Experiencing medieval hilltop villages and the sweeping landscapes of the Ebro River Valley
  • Cycling amongst modern wine estates with their avant-garde architecture
  • Staying in atmospheric accommodation to truly appreciate the region
  • Sampling delicious Spanish gastronomy and exposure to some of the best wines in Europe

Bordered by mountains with the Ebro River running through the middle, the Rioja region in northern Spain has a micro climate ideal for viticulture. For more than two centuries its wine industry has developed to become world renowned, principally for its classic bold reds. In tandem, the development of gourmet cuisine has resulted in award winning restaurants housed in countryside estates and medieval villages dotted throughout the region. This exceptional journey by bike is ideally suited to lovers of wine and Spanish cuisine, with opportunities to sample regional produce at cellar doors and at the evening meal. During the cycle day explore charming villages and small castles, view religious art in monasteries and churches and cycle the quiet country roads along the banks of the Ebro and on the Camino de Santiago. Evenings are spent in specially handpicked hotels brimming with character.

Trip Grading

introductory to moderate

More info about grading system

Traveller Rating

 

Arrive in the village of Ábalos, where you'll spend the first three nights. Your host is a wine-maker and oenologist, whose first commercial wine won the prestigious Bacchus de Oro in 2006. If you arrive early there are a couple of way-marked walks nearby. The hotel serves a creative set menu for dinner, accompanied by estate-produced wines.

Meals:  D

Your first cycling route takes in two of the major wine producing villages in La Rioja, Laguardia and Elciego. In 2001, Domecq – a giant in the wine and sherry industry – opened a modern winery in Laguardia: Ysios, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. This was quite a revolution for the traditional wine-producing industry. Since then, other modern – and some very extravagant – bodegas have opened in the region. Top of list is the luxury hotel designed by Frank Gehry for Marques de Riscal Wineries, a wave of purple and grey titanium, close to historic Elciego. In addition to Laguardia and Elciego, you will pass several other villages of note, some situated on hilltops or beneath imposing churches, all with narrow winding lanes and tiny squares. While the route is technically easy on surfaced roads, there are 3 ascents of over 100m plus several smaller ones. Cycling: ascent/descent 580m/1902ft Villages along the way: Laguardia, Elciego, Navaridas, Eskuernaga

Meals:  B

Today varied route is along quiet country roads, passing vineyards and tiny villages, with grand churches and castles in ruins. Two places offer lovely historic town centres: San Vicente de la Sonsierra and Labastida. In San Vicente, there’s a large Medieval bridge over the River Ebro as well as several wineries and tasting rooms. There's an optional cycling excursion on unsurfaced tracks along the river where you can visit Haro, chief village of the wine-producing district known as “La Rioja Alta”. It has a lovely town centre and art museum. Return to Abalos for overnight. Cycling: ascent/descent 285m/935ft

Meals:  B

Leaving Abalos behind, you cross the Ebro and cycle south through gently rolling terrain with vineyards, fields of grain and orchards. The route takes you from the dry, hilly wine country into the green 'Sierra de la Demanda'. In the morning you can choose to visit the museum of the giant Vivanco winery in Briones, with its wine paraphernalia collection. At one point the route crosses the Camino pilgrimage route. The countryside is vast and beautiful. By way of Alesanco and Badarán, you reach the monasteries of Yuso and Suso, set in an open valley at the foot of the sierra. Your accommodation is either a Baroque monastery beautifully renovated into a hotel, situated on the village square in San Millan de la Cogolla or a characterful 3 star hotel in Badaran (dependent on availability). The cycling today has some not steep but quite long ascents. Cycling: ascent 420m/1378ft, descent 300m/984ft If booked at Badaran: 32km/20mi (& we suggest visiting the monasteries tomorrow morning). Villages along the way: Alesanco, Badarán, Yuso, Suso

Meals:  B,D

The cycle begins with a short stretch back to Badarán then ride along winding country roads toward Santo Domingo de la Calzada, a town on the Camino de Santiago. Leaving the vineyards behind, you cycle into the grain-producing area of the region. A converted railway used to transport coal in the 19th century is now a surfaced cycling path which leads directly to Ezcaray. Here you'll spend the next three nights at a welcoming family-run hotel in the historical town centre. There is a wide selection of restaurants, bodegas and tapas bars in which to sample the local food and wines. Cycling: 32 or 39km/19.8 or 24mi, ascent 400m/1312ft, descent 325m/1066ft Villages along the way: Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Canas, Manzanares de la Rioja

Meals:  B

If a break from the saddle is appealing, there's an optional walk for today, a return route along the Río Oja. If you prefer to stick with wheels, you can cycle into the foothills of the sierra to remote villages which have just a few resident farmers. The stone houses, tinkling cowbells, quiet woodlands and rushing streams come together to create a completely different landscape from the wine country you visited earlier in the week. It's a bumpy track along the left bank of the river and a tarmac road on the way back. Cycle: 20km/12.5mi, ascent/descent 160m/524.8ft or Walk: 20km/12.5mi on foot, ascent 330m/1083ft Villages along the cycle way: Sierra de Demanda, Posada, Zaldierna, Urdante

Meals:  B

Your last day of cycling offers a circular route through waving fields of grain, first through the nearly flat Oja River Valley then up into the hills. Orchards, sunflowers and shady woodlands along the way. Optional visit to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Return route by way of the Via Verde to Ezcaray. Cycling: 48km/30mi, ascent/descent 300m/984ft Villages along the way: Valle de Oja, Santo Domingo

Meals:  B

Trip concludes after breakfast with a transfer to Santo Domingo bus station to continue your onward travels. Optional transfer available from Ezcaray to Bilbao available - supplement applies, please ask our consultants.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


Inclusions

  • 7 breakfasts, 2 dinners - continental breakfasts are served and will often consist of breads, spreads, yoghurt, cheese, tea, coffee & juices
  • 7 nights in atmospheric hotels - 4 nights 3-4 star and 3 nights 2 star - on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities
  • Digital information pack including smartphone app with maps and route book, GPS tracks
  • High quality rental bike equipped with panniers, lock, repair kit and helmet (e-mountain bike available on request - supplement applies. e-MTB fitted also with a smartphone holder)
  • Luggage transfers on days 4 & 5, 1 piece maximum 20kg, supplement applies for excess
  • Transfer on day 8 to Santo Domingo (for onward travel by bus to eg, Madrid)
  • Emergency hotline

  • Travel to Ábalos and from Santo Domingo
  • Meals not listed as included, drinks
  • Travel insurance - mandatory
  • Guide – this is a self guided cycling holiday
  • A supplement will apply if you are travelling solo or book a single room
  • Entrance fees not listed as included
  • Transfers not listed as included
  • Transfers by taxi or public transport if you need to skip a stage
  • Handlebar phone holder (standard bike) – to follow the route more easily using the app / GPX files
  • Extra days of bike hire if adding additional nights to the tour
  • Excess Luggage
  • Items of a personal nature

Bike information


Grading

introductory to moderate  

The cycling distances range from 21 to 49km/13 to 30.5mi over flat to undulating terrain. The rides follow mostly well surfaced tarmac lanes and secondary roads with little traffic and a few dirt tracks. Inevitably, near the larger towns there is more traffic. It is considered suitable for cyclists with a reasonable level of fitness. We recommend that you familiarise yourself with road cycling in light traffic in order to participate comfortably. *For safety reasons, and in compliance with Spanish law, we insist that cycle helmets are worn at all times whilst cycling.


Departure dates

15 Mar to 31 Oct

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Priceper person from

$1550USD

Options & Supplements*
    *Prices listed are per person

Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Making Europe Affordable

We offer different levels of accommodation and comfort so that even the most budget conscious can treat themselves to active holidays on Europe's most celebrated tracks and trails. Our trips are great value for money because you only pay for what you want.  

Self-Guided Specialists

Our wide range of self-guided itineraries embody the UTracks philosophy of exploring Europe your way. We handle the logistics so all that's left for you to do is enjoy exploring Europe at your own pace. Most depart daily with a minimum of two people, meaning maximum flexibility.

Our Wide Range

With close to 400 trips in almost 50 countries, including the largest range of bike & boat holidays in Europe, we're confident that we can organise an Alps walk, Camino de Santiago or Via Francigena experience, Food Lovers' trip or a tour in a lesser-known pocket of Europe that you will love. 

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