Glorious Gastronomy Combined with Grand Heritage: A Tour of Rioja and Castilla y Leon

Glorious Gastronomy Combined with Grand Heritage: A Tour of Rioja and Castilla y Leon

Embark on a 10-day journey from the north to the centre of Spain and explore the local culinary and cultural traditions. The land is beautiful and rich in outstanding monuments, serving as reminders of the glory days of the kingdom of Castile.

Tour Highlights

Availability:

This is a bespoke tour, which we can organize for you throughout the year. Minimum number of guests is two. Our itinerary can be altered to suit your flight schedule and duration desired. To check availability for specific dates, please get in touch.

Pricing:

The price for 10 days (9 nights) tour: Euro 2.375- per person sharing a double room.
Inclusions:

Inclusions:

  • 2 nights’ accommodation excusive 4 star boutique hotel in Rioja
  • 2 nights’ accommodation exclusive 4 star hotel in Burgos
  • 2 nights’ accommodation exclusive 5 star hotel boutique hotel Ribera del Duero
  • 2 nights’ accommodation exclusive 5 star boutique hotel Segovia
  • 1 night accommodation exclusive 4 star boutique hotel Madrid
  • 9 breakfasts
  • 1 restaurant dinner Rioja – tasting menu including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 restaurant dinner Burgos – including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 restaurant dinner Ribera del Duero – tasting menu including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 restaurant dinner Segovia – including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 restaurant lunch Segovia – including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 restaurant dinner in Madrid – tasting menu including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 tour & tasting top Rioja winery with lunch
  • 1 tour & tasting at an underground wine cellar Ribera del Arlanza with tapas
  • 1 tour & tasting top Ribera del Duero winery, followed by lunch – including wines and soft drinks
  • 1 private guided tour of Burgos’s historic centre
  • 1 private guided tour of Segovia’s historic centre
  • 1 private guided tour of Segovia / La Granja


Not included:

  • Air fare
  • Travel insurance
  • Car rental & chauffeur services
  • NB: Upon request we can add airport transfers and / or a personal driver service for your visit to the wine countries.

Overview

Rioja in Northwest Spain, just south of the Basque Country, is a most beautiful wine region with beguiling landscapes. It is probably Spain’s most famous wine region. The region has a centuries-old tradition of winemaking. With the arrival of French merchants in the late 19th century, Rioja’s name really took off, as the area gained expertise from Bordelaise winemakers, including their use of small oak barrels.

The region is divided into 3 vine-growing areas, all producing rather different wines. The region is a plentiful source of polished red wines, famed for its age-worthy quality. Rioja’s crianza, reserva, and gran reserva wines offer plenty of great options to match the local food.

Modernity has arrived too, and more and more winemakers focus on wines from single vineyards. Some of these estate vineyards are organically farmed following biodynamic principles, producing artisanal wines, sometimes even orange wines.

The countryside is captivating, dotted with charming medieval towns and punctuated by wine bodegas – some of them extraordinary and often designed by star-architects. High mountains offer a dramatic backdrop. Local gastronomy can be both simple as well as refined, but the food is often delicious.

The expansive Castilla y León province, north of Madrid, is considered the heartland of Spain. During the 15th century, the rulers of Castilla y León were the driving force for the unification with other regions, as a result Spain was created as a single political entity.

Castilla y León lies on a plateau accentuated by forested hills, at 700-1000m above sea level. It’s surrounded by high mountains in the north, with the lower land given over to growing wheat, olives, and grapes. Here, along the Duero river, one finds top wine regions like Rueda, Ribera del Arlanza and Ribera del Duero. Ribera del Duero is considered one of the world’s classic red wine regions. The Duero River runs across Castilla y León and continues into Portugal, where it is called Douro.

Castilla is named for its huge number of castles, often close to the Duero River. There are magnificent historic cities like Valladolid and Burgos – both former capital cities – as well as Leon, Zamora, and Segovia. There is a wealth of notable small towns like Penafiel and Tordesillas. These places are rich in art and architecture, reminding us of the glory days of old Castile.

The regional Castilian cuisine relies firmly on roasted meats. The main roles here are for suckling pig, and lamb. Cured hams, spicy sausages, and a diverse set of cheese varieties are excellent. Classic eateries offer rustic breads, bean dishes, and hearty soups or stews given extra flavor by local cured meats. There is innovation too, with modern chefs giving traditional recipes a new twist. Always there are good wines; we are in prime wine country here.

Leaving Rioja, towards the south towards Ribera del Arlanza and Ribera del Duero, you will drive through bucolic landscapes across the heartland of Spain in old Castile. Here the region is dotted with numerous monasteries and historic small towns. Then the grand medieval city of Burgos emerges, quite unexpectedly.

We feel Burgos is a delightful place. This was the capital of old Castile for centuries, its splendid city full of monuments. The city centre is dominated by a most extraordinary cathedral, and the old town around it is utterly charming. One can see this was a prosperous city at the time, but where did the prosperity come from? During the 15th and 16th century, Burgos developed into an important business centre, controlling the monopoly of the Castilian wool trade. Much of the wealth of that period financed the great art and architecture still visible around the city today.

In the medieval town, you will find plenty of streets with charming shops, lively squares, alluring esplanades, and coffee bars. The restaurant scene has over the last decade gained a new drive – internationally-minded young local chefs are cooking up a storm.

Ribera del Arlanza is a relatively newly minted wine region, Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP), in the Castilla y Leon region. It is located south of the majestic city of Burgos in northern Spain, north of the more famous Ribera del Duero wine which you will also explore during this tour.
Most vineyards here lie at an altitude ranging from 750-1200 meters above sea level. The highest vineyards here deliver elegant wines with structure, freshness, and intensity.

In the ancient lands of Arlanza, wine has been made for centuries, like in the charming and most original town of Baltanas. A recent new wave of bodegas has arrived too, making powerful Tempranillo red wines and fresh but aromatic whites made with Albillo and Viura.

Ribera del Duero is Spain’s most renowned wine region, together with Rioja. The high quality of the predominantly red wines the region produces has been widely recognized internationally.

Ribera del Duero has an enviable reputation as a producer of extraordinary red wines, the best wines being powerful, complex, and suave at the same time. The diversity of soils and altitudes of this region provides a wide array of characters to the local wines. Usually, wines here have great aging potential. Wine has been made here since Roman times, peaking in the late Middle Ages when Monastic orders dominated viticulture. Monasteries provided accommodation and food and drink to pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela. Today, just like in the past, Tempranillo is the predominant grape variety, known locally as Tinta del Pais. The most common white grape variety is the Albillo Mayor, and Albillo monovarietal wines are getting increased attention.

Few food and wine pairings can top a delicious Ribera del Duero red and the local signature dish: suckling lamb. The origins of the dining on lamb tradition can be traced back to the 12th century when Jewish people, escaping the Moorish occupation down South, fled north to the Christian kingdoms. With them came the Passover lamb that, following Jewish traditions, is still eaten at local restaurants with a salad.

Segovia, just south of Ribera del Duero, is one of the most alluring cities in all of Spain. We feel it’s a real gem, jam-packed with charming medieval streets. The setting against mountain peaks is quite stunning. The elegant late Gothic cathedral, almost Renaissance in its use of internal space, is quite something, as is the most unusual Alcazar. This was a town with an important Jewish community; many historic buildings in the town are a testament to that heritage.

Then, outside the city walls, another grand delight: the sumptuous La Granja palace, built by the first Bourbon king of French descent, surrounded by magnificent gardens and mountains. Versailles, eat your heart out. Finally, the town is famous for its rustic Castilian cuisine, served with excellent Ribera Del Duero wines.

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a beautiful, sophisticated, and diverse city. It has grand avenues as well as narrow cobbled streets. There are smart rooftop bars adjacent to old-fashioned tapas bars. The different neighbourhoods are colourful and feel intimate and genteel. The oldest part of the city, Los Austrias, named after the Habsburg kings with their Austrian roots, is atmospheric and well-preserved. Other neighbourhoods of central Madrid, like Salamanca, Chueca, and La Latina, stand out for their old-world charm. Wandering the city’s streets, especially these older quarters, is a guaranteed encounter with interesting places, bars, shops, and galleries. As the city is compact, the centre is perfect for discovering on foot.

Madrid is also a great place to eat. The sheer number of good restaurants, gastro bars, tapas bars, and food markets is bewildering. In stylish modern restaurants, classic dishes such as roast suckling pig with almonds, squid in its own ink with rice, quails cooked with chickpeas, and smoked red peppers are successfully reinterpreted. The traditional eating houses that offer a comforting menu without modernity remain.

This is also a major arts city: the golden triangle of major museums (the Prado, Thyssen, and Reina Sofia) has been made into a golden square with the addition of CaixaForum Madrid, a former power plant converted into a spectacular contemporary arts center designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The Matadero, an outpost for contemporary art set in a compound of arched neo-Moorish pavilions of a former slaughterhouse, represents another highlight of vibrant Madrid.

Your Itinerary

  • Arrival in Rioja and check into your charming hotel – a local palace respectfully converted into an exclusive small hotel.
  • Enjoy an aperitif on the hotel’s lovely terrace, overlooking the Ebro River and the local vineyards.
  • Dinner is served at the hotel’s restaurant, where you will dine on the chef’s tasting menu, which varies according to the availability of the ingredients sourced from local producers. The food is polished, with a simple but refined approach to Riojan flavours. The menu may include grilled artichokes, vegetable stews with regional pulses, and roasted lamb. Desserts are rich yet delectable. The wine list is one of the best in the area, which, for a restaurant in a wine region, is saying a lot.
  • Enjoy breakfast with a view as the breakfast room overlooks a vineyard at your hotel.
  • Late morning, you are expected at one of the top wine estates of Rioja. There, you will have a tour of the vineyards, followed by a visit to the spectacular winery and a comparative wine tasting. Lunch will be served in the winery with a pleasing view over the landscape. The meal will be composed of delicious local produce and, of course, the estate’s wine.
  • Dinner will be on your own. The village where you are staying has some charming eateries, and the nearby wine town of Haro is home to some lovely rustic restaurants. Local gastronomy here has many simple but delicious treats. Think of slow-cooked pork, bean casseroles, or uncomplicated but mouth-watering treats like anchovy fillets with peppers drizzled with local olive oil.
  • After breakfast and checkout, drive through stunning landscapes towards the great Castile city of Burgos, with its wealth of art and architecture.
  • Upon arrival in Burgos, check-in to your charming hotel.
  • Late afternoon, enjoy a private tour of Burgos old town with a passionate and knowledgeable guide, a local who knows the place inside out. During the visit, you will explore some fascinating history of this old town while seeing some amazing architectural masterpieces. Like the spectacularly decorated entry gate to the old town, where your guide can highlight the meaning behind the rich iconography of this spectacular doorway. The stunning Burgos Gothic Cathedral will also be visited, allowing you to discover and appreciate the French, German, and Dutch influences of its centuries of building history. Fascinating anecdotes and stories will be shared.
  • Dinner will be served at one of the best restaurants in the region, located in the heart of the old town close to the hotel. Classic dishes are reinterpreted, and the ambiance is suitably modern. Dishes are refined and served in smaller portions than usual for Castile. Your dinner will be paired with excellent wines from the region.
  • After breakfast, you have free time to explore Burgos on your own. There is no program for today. You might wish to wander around the old city with plenty of surprises to be unveiled. Or you might want to explore some of specific local highlights, like the stunning Gothic Miraflores Charterhouse, where the beautifully ornate tombs of many Castilian kings and queens can be found. It is a jewel. For nature and bike lovers, the Vía Verde de Ojos Negros, a former railway line converted into a bicycle and hiking path, may be appealing.
  • After breakfast, check-out and depart for the Ribera del Arlanza and Ribera del Duero wine regions.
  • After a drive through a bucolic landscape of cereal fields and vineyards, stop at a captivating small town called Baltanás in Ribera del Arlanza. The cityscape of Baltanás is dominated by a picturesque Barrio de Bodegas, a neighbourhood of wineries, centered around a small elevation. Underneath this small hill, the locals dug an elaborate system of tunnels that grew to six floors underground. It dates back to the early 16th century.

    The only revealing sign of the wineries in the exterior are the ornamented chimneys elevating from the hill – it is said that architect Gaudí drew inspiration for the chimneys for his famous La Pedrera building in Barcelona. This is an incredibly unique sight even for the best-travelled wine aficionado.
  • During your private visit to the Barrio de Bodegas, you will explore one of such underground wineries, learn about the history and stories of Baltanás, and taste locally produced wines coupled with an assortment of local products as a light lunch.
  • After lunch, continue your journey to Ribera del Duero, just a short drive away. Check-in at your hotel, surrounded by vineyards. Take time to enjoy the elegant and calm surrounding of this place, set in a former monastery.
  • After breakfast, in the morning, you are expected for a tour of an exciting new winery, one of the region’s best. Your guide will highlight the history of the estate, the different winemaking stages, and the superb wines. The tour will end with the tasting of the estate’s signature wines while comfortably overlooking the vineyards. Lunch follows in the restaurant of the bodega, one of the best in Ribera del Duero. This winery is connected to a long family tradition of restaurateurs that have reached the pinnacle of fine dining here.

    Refined versions of traditional Spanish dishes from various regions are served here. One can expect delicious gazpachos, different cuts of local beef and lamb cooked to perfection. Desserts are mostly a selection of local pastries. The meal will be paired with a good selection of estate wines.
  • The remaining day is free to explore Ribera del Duero on your own.
  • Check-out after breakfast, and continue your tour drive to Segovia, one of the most beautiful cities in all Spain. It’s just an hour’s drive.
  • Check-in at your boutique hotel in the old town.
  • Segovia is a rich and exciting historic city, full of layers and hidden surprises. To help you get the best of Segovia’s magnificence, there will be a private walking tour around the city center led by na engaging and knowledgeable local guide. Together, you will explore the medieval cobblestone streets and their stories, as well as the mightily impressive Gothic Cathedral, almost Renaissance in its use of space. The ancient narrow streets of the Jewish quarter will also be uncovered. It will give added dimension to the overall Castille experience.
  • Dinner will be at one of the best restaurants in Segovia, a great traditional place that offers Castilian cuisine with an imaginative twist. The efficient service is executed by traditional camareros (waiters), and the wine list is extraordinary. You may sample some of Castille’s signature dishes, like delicious cochinillo (suckling pig) roasted in open-faced brick ovens, combined with roasted asparagus. Think simplicity and bold flavors.
  • After breakfast, a morning visit just outside Segovia. Just a 15-minute drive away from the town center, at the foot of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, you will find the royal palace La Granja de San Ildefonso. This beautiful and elegant Baroque Palace was built by the 1st Bourbon (French) King of Spain and is surrounded by beautiful gardens with a backdrop of mountains. It feels like Versailles but without the tourists, and the setting is more spectacular. You will have a private tour of the palace and gardens.
  • Lunch will be at an excellent and atmospheric local restaurant close to the palace, one of the best places to experience the taste of Castilian cuisine. Here, the chef prepares wonderful local dishes, often including roasted meats such as lamb, goat, and partridge, and of course, suckling pig.
  • The rest of the day will be free for you to explore Segovia and the surrounding area on your own.
  • Check out of your hotel, next destination is Madrid, which is approximately a 1-hour drive away.
  • Once you arrive and check into your hotel, you’ll have some free time to explore the city. Madrid is a major European capital, so there are plenty of interesting places to discover, The older quarters of central Madrid, which are full of quaint bars, pastry shops, galleries, and art deco cafés are close by. Famous museums like the Prado, Thyssen, and Reina Sofia,all highly recommended, are also at walking distance.
  • In the evening, you’ll enjoy a farewell dinner at a top restaurant known for its modern and innovative Spanish cuisine. The restaurant is inspired by the different regions of Spain, with a particular focus on the Basque Country. You’ll be served the chefs market menu. The food will be paired with matching wines. Depending on the season and availability of ingredients, the menu may include dishes such as brochette with langoustines and bacon, sea bass served with an anchovy and pepper sauce, partridge prepared in the Basque style, or salt-encrusted grouper.
  • The next morning, after breakfast, the program ends. If you want to explore further, of course you have the option to extend your stay!

Rioja

You will spend two nights in a lovely Renaissance palace located in a charming village in the heart of La Rioja, just a short drive or walk away from the wine district of Haro, where some of Spain’s best-known wineries are located. This elegant 4-star hotel, set on the banks of the Ebro River, is the result of a recent no-expense-spared restoration of this historic building. The views over the vineyards and river are magnificent. A great spot to relax and enjoy the scenery, is the hotels’ large terrace above the Ebro, while enjoying a nice Rioja wine from the hotel’s great wine selection.

The rooms are modern and spacious, decorated in a chic and calm Spanish modern style with clean lines. Each room has a different shape, a result of preserving the building’s historic features. There is also an excellent restaurant. In all, this is a wonderful place with top-notch facilities focused on rest and relaxation.

Burgos

Your two nights in Burgos will be spent in an attractive 4-star hotel set in a historic building that has undergone an elegant and detailed renovation. The hotel is very atmospheric with details going back to medieval times. The rooms are comfortable and spacious, in muted colors. Most rooms offer views over the old town of Burgos or the lovely tree promenade along the Arlanzón River. The location is ideal to explore the sights of this exceptional city.

Ribera del Duero

You will stay two nights in a wonderful 5-star hotel, a former medieval monastery recently renovated and refurbished with restraint, exuding understated sophistication. The rooms are large, comfortable, restful, and well-appointed; the bathrooms are modern, sleek, and roomy.

There is plenty to enjoy here. Take a plunge in one of the swimming pools, indoor or outdoor. Or enjoy the spa, or have a glass of wine at the bar while enjoying the splendid surroundings. You may wish to explore the beautiful architecture of the hotel, from the vaulted-groined ceilings to the cloisters and church. If feeling a bit more adventurous, you can take a walk through the hotel’s vineyards or go for a bike ride along the Duero River. The hotel’s restaurant is a good place for light, traditionally inspired, Castilian cuisine.

Segovia:

You will enjoy a delightful two-night stay in a charming 5-star boutique hotel located in the heart of Segovia’s old town. The hotel itself is a converted 17th-century monastery turned manor house, exquisitely transformed into a serene and chic boutique hotel. Each room is tastefully decorated in a classic, calming style and boasts stunning views of either Segovia or the surrounding mountains.

The hotel provides all the amenities you would expect from a top-quality establishment, including an indoor pool and a small wellness centre. Its location is both quiet and convenient, with notable landmarks just a short walk away, such as the Plaza Mayor square. You will also find a plethora of cafes, restaurants and authentic shopping areas nearby.

Madrid

You will spend the night in a sophisticated 4-star boutique hotel situated close to the bustling Gran Vía area of Madrid. This prime location allows easy access to some of Madrid’s most famous attractions, such as the trendy Chueca neighbourhood and the renowned Prado and Reina Sofia Museums.

The hotel is housed in a majestic building dating back to the early 20th century, which underwent extensive renovations to create an elegant design, seamlessly blending modern and classic touches. Rooms are modern with an elegant decoration and some playful elements. Additionally, the hotel features a stylish bar.

It may be easiest to fly into Bilbao airport, since this airport offers the most varied international connections. Then driving from Bilbao to la Rioja, where your tour commences, would take little over one hour. Alternatively, you can also fly into Madrid Airport. There are several daily domestic connections between Madrid and Bilbao airport. Since your tour ends in Madrid, we recommend Madrid airport for your return flight.

To get to the various locations taking part in the tour, you would need to rent a car or arrange for a private car service. Kindly note the pricing on our website does not include transportation, since the cost is largely dependent on the number of people requiring such service. But of course, we would be happy to organize, airport transfers, a bespoke chauffeur service or rent a car on your behalf. If you would like Paladares Travel to assist you, please let us know.

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Paladares Travel

Paladares Travel is an international travel company specializing in travelling in Portugal and Spain. In these two countries we curate bespoke culinary & wine travel experiences with a sense of place.

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