Exploring Spain: day trips for wine lovers

Exploring Spain
Segovia’s 16th-century late Gothic-style cathedral.

With its complex history and culture, generally fine weather, wide variety of landscapes, and top-quality food and wines, it’s no surprise that Spain is one of the world’s top travel destinations. But given such a range of choice, especially for the wine-loving traveller, decisions need to be made when planning a trip.

Is it better to travel around and see as many different places as possible? Or should you explore just one or two places in sufficient depth to feel that you really get to know them? Somewhere in between is the art of the day trip, choosing a place as your base of operations to explore properly, while supplementing your visit with excursions to other nearby locations.

Here we’ve put together a selection of day trips from popular destinations. They include the unique Basque country appeal of Bilbao; cosmopolitan Barcelona and Madrid with their magnificent cityscapes, architecture and culture; and the southern charms of sunny Seville and coastal Ma?laga. Using any of these as a base, you can head out to explore the neighbouring towns and countryside and, of course, sample the delights of a range of local cuisines and wines in some of the country’s principal wine regions.

For some of the day-trip destinations you can choose between travelling by public transport or hiring a car for a self-guided experience. Although Spain is very well connected, with a good network of train and bus routes, few producers have wineries within towns or cities, so when choosing public transport a combination of either bus and train, with the occasional taxi ride, may be required. A guided day tour can eliminate the stress of coordinating train and bus schedules, or logistics of car hire, route planning and parking – though for some this is all part of the adventure. Whichever option you choose, booking winery visits, activities and restaurants in advance is essential.


Bakio – Bodega Doniene Gorrondona – San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – Bermeo

The precipitous winding steps on San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, near Bakio. Credit: Andrea Comi / Getty Images

We start our day in Bakio, a small coastal town surrounded by mountains about 40 minutes from Bilbao (north via the BI-631 road). Its original purposes as a fishing village and centre of the iron industry have been replaced by tourism, and it’s also become known for its Txakoli, the popular local Basque white wine, which is what brings us here. Start the day with an early visit to the Txakolingunea Txakoli museum (@txakolingunea) to learn something about the history of both the region and its wines.

There are several bodegas in and around Bakio, but particularly recommended is Doniene Gorrondona. The winery owners are Andoni, Egoitz, Itziar and Julen. The vineyards here were recovered after most of the local vines were abandoned during the phylloxera plague of the late 19th century. To visit the vineyards and winery you can choose from a range of daily visits (minimum four people) starting at €15, or private tours are available by arrangement.

From Bakio it’s a short drive to the island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (check euskoguide.com or visitbiscay.eus), a beautiful hermitage on an impressive rocky island just off the rugged coastline. If it looks familiar, it’s because it featured as the citadel of Dragonstone in HBO’s Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon. The castle was CGI of course, but the causeway bridge and winding steps to the top of the island are real. Although it’s thought that the island was first built on in the 9th century, the current church is late 19th century. Remember to ring the bell and make a wish if you make it that far.

A little further on is our last stop for the day, the fishing port of Bermeo. Highlights here include the old port itself, which is notable for the colourful houses alongside Lamera park and its surroundings, including the Casino building. Take a stroll through…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/exploring-spain-day-trips-for-wine-lovers-496285/

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