South-east of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Okina (Oquina) is a pleasant little village at 800 m above sea level. It is appreciated by cyclists, one can also take nature walks there. Further south-east, Maeztu is another small rural village, at the entrance to an interesting natural area : the Izkiko Natural Park (Izki). There are more than 9000 ha of oak forests and valleys, with a very beautiful flora and wild fauna. It is a little touristy place, preserved but very rich. A treasure to discover before everyone else... through 15 marked trails, with on the paths, a multitude of small vernacular heritages, constructions from pastoralism and other vestiges of life in these valleys. The Limestone Massif of La Muela, the Olandina Lagoon, the ravines of Korres (its medieval and historic center) are all wonders to explore. Visit the Maison du Parc to find out more. Guided tours with tour guides are regularly organized and definitely worth it !
Izki Natural Park
South of Kores, Santa Cruz de Campezo is located in the Sierra des Codes. It is a peaceful place, with a rich history, going back to our ancestors more than 2000 years ago. Discover its old quarter, host of many Historical quarrels, its Gothic church, its sanctuary, but also its hikes, which are close to Navarre, like the spectacular escapades to Mont Ioar (1400 m).
Santa Cruz de Compezo
Bernedo is a town made up of a multitude of small hamlets, as often in the Basque Country, southern part. It is the ideal place for mountaineers and climbers, mountain lovers of all kinds. All year round, its geography makes it possible to enjoy hikes and beautiful walks. The hermitages succeed the belvederes and you are still at the heart of the Parque Natural de Izki.
In Lagrán, there are 3 churches and 2 hermitages, surrounded by mountains. It is a place where we make good food, especially with the potato and black pudding. There is a small museum, a sort of interpretation center, dedicated to the Wine and Fish Route, otherwise called the GR38.
Enjoy your meal !
Further west, Pañacerrada is a high place for archaeological and paleontological research. We discovered crustacean fossils estimated at 105 million years ago (which is very old and rare in such a state of conservation...). You will see a very interesting Interpretation Center on amber, a material in which fossils are best expressed. Also observe the remains of the walls. Not far away, in Faido, visit the cave dedicated to the Virgin of Pena, classified as a National Monument. There are also natural caves for caving enthusiasts.
On the western borders of Alava, Labastida is in the heart of Rioja Alavesa and it is a place that wine lovers will not fail to discover... Vineyards as far as the eye can see, cellar visits, tastings... This region lives mainly wine tourism and the harvest around October / November is a lively and festive moment ! Visit the website dedicated to this region to organize your gourmet and wine escapade
La Rioja Alavesa is the cradle of wine in Alava. There is a wine route, dotted with small family wine cellars and good wines. The tourist offer is substantial, even if it is not abundant, you will always find a pleasant place to sleep between a few barrels of wine! In terms of gastronomy, this is the place to find good things to accompany your drinks. The region's bars and restaurants serve a variety of cuisine. Of course, there are the traditional pintxos, but also an offer of quality gourmet cuisine, which you can taste right in the middle of the vineyards in certain addresses. The environment that surrounds you is exotic, after forests and national parks, it is a rolling landscape and covered with more than 13,000 ha of vines. The clay-limestone soil of the region offers red wines with vibrant colors, fine and fruity aromas. There is more and more white and rosé, due to tourist demand, but the Rioja Alavesa used to produce mainly red. The region enjoys a microclimate, protected from the prevailing cold winds by a mountain range. Note, in the region, the cellars are called Bodegas, that is to say the warehouse where the wine is stored.
The vines at La Rioja Alavesa
Continue your visit to Leza , a small municipality with a rather marked Renaissance style and punctuated by a beautiful San Martin church. Against the backdrop of the mountains, take a stroll to La Lombilla, the small hill that houses most of the cellars. After the discovery of the wines, treat yourself to a walk in this beautiful environment, to meet the dolmens and why not a hike to the "Balcon de la Rioja", where a magnificent panorama awaits you.
Leza and its vines
Take the road to the farming village of Elvillar (Bilar), discover its small center with some beautiful palaces (notably the House of the Indian), the central square the Plaza Mayor of Santa Maria. As in Leza, the village enjoys a variety of prehistoric remains, in particular the superb dolmen "La Chabola de la Hechicera", there are also some natural caves.
Dolmen de la Hechizera
We arrive in Laguardia, the capital of Rioja Alavesa. It is a medieval town , you come there as well for good wine as for its history and its vestiges (entrance doors, ancient ramparts). It is a very well preservedfortified city, which boasts a large number of splendid palaces and buildings. Take a walk to appreciate the architecture that oscillates between the medieval, the baroque and the neoclassical. Do not miss : the Church of Sainte-Marie des Rois (and its superb ornate portico), the town hall and its charming ballet of small figures spinning at midday, the Casa de la Primicia, the fortified church of San Juan Bautista and the Torre Abacial, the viewpoint of El Collao... An astonishing thing in this city with a long wine tradition is that each house has its own cellar, in the basement, forming a system of gigantic underground cellars under the city ! Take the opportunity on a guided tour of the city or a bodega. Laguardia is a dynamic city which offers, apart from wine and heritage visits, sporting tourist activities, such as canoeing on the Ebro, one can also go mountain biking. Fauna and flora enthusiasts will discover with interest an attractive natural wetland protected area : Lagunes de Laguardia. These are marshes with a particularly interesting geology where you can see ducks, grebes, harriers, coots and other swifts and herons… Beautiful walks in perspective and for the most patient, beautiful ornithological photos!
Medieval town Laguardia
Bottles of wine
Further south, Elciego is another major tourist town in the Rioja Alavesa. There are also many bodegas, cellars where to taste high quality wines. A visit to the city will not fail to please you, it is full of pretty buildings decorated with coats of arms and a church with 2 towers : the Church of San Andrés. You will see an astonishing building, with very modern undulating shapes, it is a spa for vinotherapy in a very luxurious setting. A word of advice : go early in the morning to enjoy the view and the beautiful lights, but also to avoid the crowds. Nearby is the village of Lapuebla along the Ebro River. We make pretty walks on the banks and of course: vineyards and bodegas, rather grouped on a small hill at the exit of the village.
At the extreme south of Alava, Oyón-Oion is a stage in Santiago de Compostela. It is a historic city, of medieval origin, with Baroque houses and towers. Take a stroll through the Plaza Mayor with its mansion.