Spain, whilst having something (a lot, actually) to offer everyone, is a particularly wonderful place to visit for Wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Travelling some of the established wine routes will not only allow you to see some of the most important wine-growing areas, it´s also a fabulous way to see the natural beauty of the country and immerse yourself in its diverse cultural and culinary experiences – quite simply, it is a great way to discover parts of Spain.
Each of the varied regions of Spain has an unforgettable journey and experience to delight even the most seasoned of travellers, and the one thing they all have in common is great wine.
Here we highlight just a few of the many treasures that one can uncover throughout Spain on some of the known wine routes.
In the North West of Spain, we have the autonomous region of Galicia where you can find the Route of the Rias Baixas, and the home of Albariño (or Alvarinho) wines – the Albariño grape being synonymous with the region and regarded by many as producing the finest white wines in Spain. Galicia is renowned for, amongst other things, its Albariño wines which are especially enjoyed alongside typical Galician cuisine and exquisite fish and seafood. Whilst in Galicia, visitors should not miss out on a trip to the fabulous coast, to see some spectacular beaches OR possibly visit one of the most westerly points on the mainland and a pilgrimage destination (in addition to Santiago de Compostela), Finisterre. The Islas Atlánticas National Park is a further treat to be seen in Galicia.
In the Basque Country, part of which is on the northern coastline and meets with the southwestern French town of Biarritz, one can indulge in TxaKoli (Chacoli) wines, the traditional Basque wine before uncovering the more widely known wines from the Rioja Alavesa Route, along which one can visit some of the Bodegas (Wineries) of the most internationally known Spanish wines. This region not only is home to some of the finest wines, in particular red wines, it is also where one can see, or even stay at, some architectural masterpieces designed by acclaimed architects such as Santiago Calatrava, who designed the new Ysios winery, or Frank Gehry, who designed the Ciudad del Vino wine centre in Elciego and the Hotel that forms part of the famous Marqués de Riscal Bodega. One must, of course, no only try some of the world-famous Basque Country cuisine, one should also savour the regional Rioja specialties too.
Further to the east one can find the start of the Navarre wine route, which would take visitors to small towns such as Olite and Tafalla – historically significant towns on the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James) pilgrimage route – and in a region famed for its rosé wines.
The Somontano wine route take us to Aragón, close to the Pyrenees and likewise home to some outstanding wines. Aside from wine, the province of Huesca has other delights to visit such as the town of Barbastro or the Sierra y los Cañones de Guara Nature Reserve, a remarkable landscape popular with adventure sports lovers.
Going further east one will arrive in Catalonia and could undertake the Penedés Wine and Cava routes. Cava is the internationally renowned sparkling wine originating from this region, whilst the area itself is of course rich in cultural heritage and famed for Romanesque and Modernist art and architecture.
In Andalucia one can follow the Montila-Moriles Wine Route, through the province of Cordoba – a place one should definitely look to visit if for no other reason than simply to admire its monumental architecture and the World Heritage Mezquita-Cathedral, a truly impressive site not to be missed given the chance. Further south in Andalusia, one can also visit Jerez – home to the world-famous Sherries, and the the most exported wine related beverage products in Spain.
The La Mancha Wine Route in the interior of Spain, is also of appeal, and indeed Castile-La Mancha is the most extensive wine-growing region in the world in terms of hectares. Not only that, it is famed also for its wonderful cheeses, distinctive windmills, flat plains and historical places, but it is also the Land of Don Quijote, the fictional character from Miguel de Cervantes acclaimed novel Don Quijote.
Choosing any one of these regions to discover will be a rewarding experience, during which you will taste culinary delights alongside trying great wines, see historical and monumental sites and unique beautiful landscapes that will long in your memory. Short on time? – choose one or two regions…Time on your hands? Take a month-long trip throughout Spain and treat yourself to the many delights you will find as you go….
There are many reasons to travel to Andalusia, in southern Spain. One of them is to learn about “Spanish equestrian art”. You can experience it first-hand, for example, at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez de la Frontera (Cadiz). Visit this internationally-renowned institution and tour its facilities, where you will see that horses form part of the culture of Andalusia. You will also be able to admire the way they dance to the beat of traditional Spanish music. Do you fancy it?
Beautiful, docile, noble and admired all over the world for centuries. This is a description of the Purebred Spanish Horse, an animal with over 3,000 years of history in this country, praised by Aristotle himself back in the 4th century B.C. Thousands of years have gone by, yet this devotion continues to be as fervent as ever. Visit the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art and see some unique specimens, very closely identified with Andalusiaand with many of its festivals and traditions, such as the Rocío Pilgrimage, the races on the beach in Sanlúcar de Barrameda and the Horse Fair in Jerez, all designated as being of International Tourist Interest.
During your visit to the Royal School, you can see the daily training sessions for riders in the Riding School; thestables where the horses are rested and pampered; the galloping and warm-up tracks; the Harness Shop, a veritable laboratory for the maintenance and restoration of equestrian equipment; and much more.
Stop by the Carriage Museum, which houses a collection of carriages and saddles that are real treasures, and theEquestrian Art Museum, a multimedia, interactive experience that will introduce you to this fascinating world in an original and entertaining way.
And whatever else you do, be sure not to miss “How Andalusian Horses Dance”, an impressive show in which the horses move and perform dance steps and choreography to the beat of well-known Spanish melodies, while the riders wear costumes in the style typical of the 18th century. Enjoy exhibitions, dressage competitions and carriage-pulling by these purebred horses. History, art, beauty, entertainment…this is what the show is like, spectacular and colourful, and suitable for an audience of all ages. It is sure to fascinate you.
GRAPE HARVEST FESTIVALS IN SPAIN
You will find many very good, quality wines in Spain which enjoy international prestige. A special time to enjoy this typically Spanish product is in early autumn, when the grape harvest festivals are held. These festivities are an excellent opportunity to participate in the traditions and ambience of the winemaking culture.
September and October mark the arrival of autumn, and also the period when grapes are picked. Every year, the harvest signals the end of the grape-growing season, and after the work is done, it’s time to celebrate the good crop in style. The grape harvest festivals that are held in many places in Spain offer a sample of what the world of wine is like, and of its typical popular customs. You are sure to have a good time during these festivities, because the mood of merriment that prevails is contagious. You will also have the chance to see first-hand some of the tasks involved in the winemaking process.
These naturally include the traditional treading of the grapes and the tasting of the first must. Wine-related events are often organized as well, such as tasting sessions, al fresco meals or open days at wineries. The programme usually includes other activities of a cultural nature, such as competitions, folk dances, parades or theatrical productions. The Rioja Grape Harvest Festivals and the Autumn Festivals are among the most famous ones; however, you will find that these celebrations are held in many locations in each of Spain’s winemaking areas. If you would like to find out more on the subject, see our Wine Routes section.
Autumn in Spain brings the opportunity to enjoy this country’s wine culture in an easy and fun way. Not to be missed.
Spanish cuisine is known all over the world, and some of its typical dishes are so popular that if you’re in Spain you can’t pass up the chance to try them. All the recipes we suggest below are so famous you’ll have no problem finding them on the menu in any restaurant. And then you can upload your photos to the Internet to make your friends envious. Remember that these are just a few examples. To see all our recipes, go to the Gastronomy section.
A nice hot cocido, or chickpea casserole, is a pleasure everyone can afford to enjoy. Although there are many kinds of cocidos, the one called cocido madrileño has a traditional way of eating it: You start with a tasty noodle soup, then chickpeas and vegetables, and you finish with meat and sausages. It always goes down well, and particularly in winter.
This traditional cold soup is typical of several regions in Spain including Extremadura, Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha. The most popular is the Andalusian version, which is made with tomato, peppers and garlic (all finely chopped) among other ingredients. It’s not only healthy (and a perfect example of our Mediterranean diet), it’s also delicious.
This list could not fail to include one of the most traditional recipes from the region of Galicia in northwest Spain. Connoisseurs say that it should be served on a wooden plate and sprinkled with a generous pinch of coarse salt, ground red pepper (a spicy touch for the more adventurous) and olive oil. No celebration in Galicia would be complete without it.
We’re still in northern Spain, although this time in Asturias. After a long morning’s sightseeing, who wouldn’t be tempted by the thought of sitting down at the table and tucking into a hearty plate of ‘fabes’, white beans simmered together with a variety of meats such as black pudding, chorizo, bacon and gammon. It’s guaranteed to revive you.
There are numerous versions, although many claim that the genuine Valencian paella is made with Valencian rice, chicken, rabbit, snails, ‘garrafó’ (white beans), ‘tabella’ (broad beans), ‘ferradura’ (green beans), garlic, tomato, ground red pepper, olive oil, salt and saffron. Tip: the best way to enjoy it is straight off the fire, sitting at an outdoor terrace on the shores of the Mediterranean.
This is regarded as the typical Spanish dish par excellence. You’ll find two schools of thought: those who say the genuine potato omelette should be made without onion, and others who claim this ingredient is the key to a good tortilla. Controversies aside, it definitely has to have eggs and potatoes. There are numerous bars in Spain whose star dish is precisely this. There’s no doubt that it’s absolutely delicious, and we urge you to try it.
The Basque Country is famous for its outstanding fish, and that’s why the region has so many seafood recipes like this cod dish. The fish juices, combined with the cook’s skill, produce a delicious emulsified sauce. You can either order it in a restaurant or learn how to make it yourself by attending one of the traditional cookery courses organised in this part of Spain.
Typical of the cuisine of Castile-León, the traditional method is to roast a milk-fed lamb (‘lechazo’) in a wood-burning oven in an earthenware dish. This produces the golden brown colour that makes it so irresistible. In some areas of Castile-León the lamb is replaced by suckling pig and cooked in the same way. Both dishes are a genuine institution in this area. Don’t leave without trying them.
These are popular for breakfast or as a snack, usually with thick hot chocolate, or sprinkled with caster sugar. You can also find food stands in the street that sell them freshly made. See how to make this famous Spanish breakfast food at home.
A delicious sweet sponge cake, flavoured with almonds and decorated with the cross of St. James. This is the best known cake made in Galicia, and a classic purchase for pilgrims who finish St. James’ Way. To see if a Santiago cake is good, check the texture – it should be light and spongy.
Further info : https://www.spain.info/en/
“GREEN SPAIN” – THE CALL OF NATURE
If you like the countryside, then you will love “Green Spain”. The Regions of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country, in northern Spain, are home to some of most valuable and best-conserved ecological areas in Europe. These are landscapes full of contrasts, with salt-water rivers, endless green… Would you like to discover them in an unusual, enjoyable way? How about on horseback, by boat, or following an old Roman road? The choice of active tourism on offer is huge; you just have to decide on your favourite way to have fun in harmony with nature.
A coastline that stretches for more than 2,000 km, with cliffs, mountains, forests, rivers, beaches, deep gorges and valleys… Imagine the countryside caressing the seashore. This is the region known as Green Spain and you will find it between the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay. It is the territory made up of the Regions of Galicia,Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country, in northern Spain. Although they have some things in common, each one of these Regions has its own unique character that you will want to get to know. Their range of different landscapes and ecological wealth cannot fail to please. Come for an active holiday and discover the range of activities available in this part of Spain.
A world of options
The environmental wealth of its protected areas is reason in itself to visit Green Spain. Proof of this lies in the fact that many of these areas have been given the Biosphere Reserve designation by UNESCO. This is true of the Picos de Europa National Park, which lies in Cantabria and Asturias, and which is Spain’s largest single protected area. In Asturias you will also find nature reserves such as Redes, Somiedo (with Europe’s largest population of Brown Bears in liberty) and Fuentes del Narcea (with one of Europe’s largest oak forests). The Terras do Miño Reservein Galicia, and the Urdaibai Estuary in the Basque Country, also have this internationally recognised designation.
There are however, even more landscapes and places of interest in the region: expanses of sand dunes such as theLiencres Nature Reserve; the Altamira Caves, designated World Heritage, in Cantabria. Rugged mountains just 10 km from the beach, like the Aiako Harria range in the Basque Country. Cliffs such as A Capelada in Galicia, Europe’s highest, and islands like those of the Atlantic Islands Park, also in Galicia. There are too many to list, but one thing is for sure, the best way to get the most out of them is through active/adventure tourism.
A thousand trails
A pleasant way to get to know Green Spain is on foot. We have a network of trails, ideal if you want to take your time discovering the natural and cultural diversity of this region in depth. What were once old railway lines, Roman roads and livestock trails, are now a wonderful way to discover the valuable flora and fauna which can still be found in northern Spain. There are easier and more challenging routes, divided into stages suitable for a weekend or a single day, meaning you can design an itinerary to suit you. The majority of protected reserves have visitor centres where you can get information on routes and their main points of interest. Guided bird watching visits are even organised, given that this area is home to a great diversity of resident bird species and visiting colonies.
There are also horseback and biking routes on offer, the choice is up to you. If water is your thing, in Asturias and Galicia you will find many rivers ideal for canoeing, kayaking and even white water rafting for the more daring. These activities are available all year round, as long as there is sufficient water in the rivers. The best time of year tends to be spring and summer. If you like strong sensations and are a fan of climbing, canyoning, caving or abseiling, then here you will find ideal locations. There are companies that organise this type of activities both in the nature reserves themselves, as well as in nearby towns and villages. The best thing to do is to enquire in the relevant visitor centre or tourist office and they will give you all the necessary details.
You will love Green Spain, not only for its countryside, but also for its art, culture, traditions and gastronomy. Come and discover it for yourself.
Situated beside the Atlantic Ocean, A Coruña is a historic city whose history has maintained close links with its old fishing and commercial port. The peninsula on which the Old City stands also contains the Tower of Hercules, one of the symbols of the city, which is an interesting Romanesque collection of streets, squares and medieval churches. The old city centre is encircled by the coastline, where A Coruña combines tradition and modernity. Opposite the port, on Avenida de la Marina, are the characteristic houses with glazed white balconies (19th century) that form one of the most recognisable features of A Coruña and have earned it the title ‘Glass City’. The Castle of San Antón, at one end of the port area, was built in the late 16th century for defence, and later remodelled in the 18th century. It is now the Provincial Archaeological Museum, providing an interesting overview of Galician prehistory with various metalwork pieces, objects and tools from the Castro culture. The long seafront promenade offers other outstanding cultural attractions. The Aquarium Finisterrae, near the Tower of Hercules, is one of the largest aquariums in Spain, and also includes interactive exhibitions relating to the sea. Human beings are the central subject of the Domus or House of Man in a futuristic building by the architect Arata Isozaki. Inside, interactive galleries illustrate humanity through a variety of media and art forms. The promenade ends at the wide Riazor and Orzán beaches, the main leisure destination of the local people.
More info : https://www.spain.info/en/
The Gibralfaro castle casts a watchful eye over this warm-hearted and lively city full of attractive sites such as the Alameda Principal avenue and the La Farola seafront promenade. Its status as the capital of the Costa del Sol has made it one of Spain’s foremost holiday destinations, thanks to its mild climate, its beaches and its outstanding offer of golf courses.
Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans… over 2,000 years ago the most important Mediterranean civilizations found in Malaga an exceptional place in which to establish trade routes, thanks to the strategic location of its port. The Alcazaba (8-11th century) is one of the symbols of the city, and one of the largest Arab fortresses in Andalusia. This building is today the site of the Archaeological Museum, containing valuable pieces dating from Phoenician and Roman times.The Gibralfaro castle (14th century) is linked to the Alcazaba by a section of wall and offers outstanding views over the city, which is open to the sea through its port and the La Farola seafront promenade, one of the city’s main leisure areas. At the foot of the Gibralfaro stands the Roman theatre, the bullring, (known as La Malagueta) and the historic quarter of the city. In the centre stands the Cathedral (16-18th century), also known as ‘La Manquita’ (‘the one-armed’) thanks to its unfinished right tower. This beautiful Renaissance building is home to an interesting series of chapels containing fine examples of Andalusian imagery. In the old part of town there are other interesting churches such as the churches of Santiago 15-18th century), with its beautiful Mudéjar tower, Los Mártires, Sagrado Corazón and Santo Cristo de la Salud.
More info : https://www.spain.info/en/
Cuisine, festivals and the surrounding area The old town is an idea place to sample the delights of the varied Navarre cuisine. In any of its restaurants you can taste the traditional produce of Navarre’s vegetable gardens –asparagus, piquillo peppers, haricot-beans. Roast lamb or lamb cooked with tomatoes and peppers are the classic dishes, accompanied always by a fine wine with the Navarra Designation of Origin and a pacharán (sloe anis liqueur) to finish. If you want to get to know Pamplona and its people in full party mood, you should visit the city during the Sanfermines festivities (6 to 14 July), which have the International Tourist Interest designation. One of the biggest attractions at these festivities in honour of the city’s patron saint is the running of the bulls (a tradition of running in front of the bulls), which mainly takes place on the hill of Santo Domingo, continuing afterwards along Calle Mercaderes street up to the crossroads with Estafeta, which leads to the Bullring. However, in order to take part, you should be fit, take certain precautions, such as only entering at the authorized points, running only one stretch of the route and avoid provoking the bulls.
More info : https://www.spain.info/en/
Manchego is, without a doubt, the most famous cheese in Spain. It has been consumed since time immemorial throughout the region of La Mancha. This has made it possible today for an important cheese industry to develop, which maintains handcrafted production of the cheese.
Manchego Cheese is an oily cheese, made exclusively from raw or pasteurised Manchega breed sheep’s milk. Its shape is cylindrical. The rind, yellow or dark brown in colour, displays, on the sides, the characteristic design of the esparto creases and, on the top and bottom, the so-called ‘flower’ or mark made by the wooden press slats. Its texture is compact, dense and oily, its colour varies between white and yellowish-ivory, and its flavour is intense, peculiar and slightly salty. It has had a Denomination of Origin since 1991 and each cheese must be identified on one of its flat sides with a numbered casein plaque.
Toledo is one of the Spanish cities with the greatest wealth of monuments. Known as the “city of the three cultures”, because Christians, Arabs and Jews lived together there for centuries, behind its walls Toledo preserves an artistic and cultural legacy in the form of churches, palaces, fortresses, mosques and synagogues. This great diversity of artistic styles makes the old quarter of the capital of Castile – La Mancha a real open-air museum, which has led to it being declared a World Heritage Site.
The city of Toledo has its origins in Toletum, the name the Romans gave to this settlement on the banks of the River Tagus after its conquest in 190 BC. The city maintained its importance for centuries and, in the Visigothic era, became the capital of Hispania (6th C.). The arrival of the Arabs in the 8th century, together with the presence of Christians and Jews, made Toledo the “city of the three cultures”. This was one of the Toledo’s most splendid periods when, among other important events, the Toledo School of Translators was founded. Later, when Carlos V came to the throne in 1519, the city became an imperial capital.