El Rio Ebro slowly meanders round this pretty little city, flowing as smoothly as the wine it helps to produce. What Logroño lacks in size it makes up for in curiosity as narrow streets and parks await exploration by anyone who stays the night. The capital of the smallest autonomous community in Spain, La Rioja, it is also the capital of wine and tapas whilst acting as a beacon for weary pilgrims, making their way along El Camino; their destination Santiago de Compostela.
What to see and what to do
Your first port of call should be the narrow streets of Calle Laurel, San Juan and San Augstine. These narrow streets contain dozens and dozens of quaint, bustling bars where you can try some wonderful food and drink some even better wine. Whilst other regions in Spain may only offer a few wines in their bars it is customary here to scrap the cañas (small beers) and order wine. A nice local Crianza will do very well and only set you back a few Euros. Alongside this are a multitude of small and different dishes that although paid for separately can constitute a hearty dinner for a cost effective price.
For the museum lovers the Museo de La Rioja is a great choice for a few hours in the sleepy Logroño afternoons. With generous opening hours and a fair price, you can take a walk through the history of La Rioja. If one is looking for architecture than the more breathtaking yet quaint church of San Bartolome is your best bet. It has a glorious entrance and is one (if not the) oldest church in town.
The Co-Cathedral of Santa María de la Redonda is a grand structure which forms the very centre of the town. Admission is free and inside there is gold! lots and lots of gold. Although architecturally not as fascinating as other Spanish Cathedrals it is worth a moment of your time and is clearly recognisable by the twin spires and plain façade.
Any spare time, not watering oneself, should be spent exploring the parks that abound. All of which have wonderful fountains and pleasant atmospheres where you can watch the life of the city go by. Favourites include Parque de la Ribera, that runs alongside the river and Paseo del Espolon with its wonderful fountain and peaceful demeanour.
If you have the use of a car, then Logroño can act as a great centre for exploring the region which offers never ending vineyards with enough winery tours to sink a battleship: mountain climbing, skiing in winter, tiny towns with lots of character and even dinosaur fossils to find.
Best time to go and for how long
The best time to go is for the week of San Mateo in June (11th) and September (21st). The town is alive and buzzing with street parties and bull fights. A quieter and just as pleasant time to visit is when spring hits and it starts to warm up. A cold dreary La Riojan day is not what you want and there couldn’t be a greater contrast to this as when the temperature gets above 25. A stay should last no more than a couple of days, although pleasant and beautiful, there are multiple larger cities close by that are all worth a longer explore including Bilbao and Pamplona.
Where to stay
For the pilgrim there are a lot of albergues and for the person on a budget there are plenty of cheap pensions in the centre of the city with very reasonable prices however, the prices go through the roof around festival times (June/ September). There are a handful of 3 and 4 star hotels for the person on a slightly less tight budget and some chain hotels including a Carlton and an NH hotel too. Furthermore there are plenty of people who rent out their apartments through airbnb and you can find anything from small single rooms to whole up-market apartments for your stay.Where to stay
- Graffiti in Haro
How to get there
A word of warning about the train station and airport, they are, for want of a better word, useless. One flight a week to Madrid and from Madrid and a train service that is poor at best. With long travel times from the major cities your best bet for getting here is from Bilbao and then a bus to Logroño or a long long train from Barcelona. Arrival by car is preferred and, if you want to visit anywhere else in the region, essential.
- Outside San Bartolomé
For a short stay it is perfect; for anything longer than a few days there are other, larger places nearby that warrant an even longer stay. For a city with a population of 150,000 it lacks a lot of basic transport amenities and only a few interesting, albeit quite beautiful, streets when compared with other cities nearby and in Spain as a whole.
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