La Rioja: land of dinosaurs, wine… and fun
Dinosaur tracks in Comago
Sometimes it is hard to find a holiday that is enjoyable for parents and children alike. In La Rioja, northern Spain, this will not be a problem. In this area, famous for its wines, you will find activities to discover the countryside, a host of sporting options, you can explore the fascinating world of dinosaurs and there is wine tourism specially adapted for children with attractions like the original wine-bus. You are bound to love a place like this.
These and many more options await if you decide to make La Rioja your destination. Let your children learn and develop their imagination travelling to bygone worlds and discovering traditions. What is more, La Rioja is not a large Region, so travelling around it is easy. Here are a few ideas to make a trip with your family as complete as possible.
United through sport
Doing sport with children is always fun. And if you do it surrounded by the idyllic landscapes of La Rioja then better still. If your little ones like the water, then prepare yourself to get wet, because you can go kayaking, sailing and windsurfing, whether on the calm waters of the region’s reservoirs or on its rivers. Nevertheless, in order to go kayaking, you generally need a permit from the Ebro River Authority, so it is recommended to get further information from the La Rioja Kayak Federation.
If excitement is your thing, then another way to enjoy the stunning valleys of La Rioja, such as the Leza Valley, is from the air. Paragliding, microlighting and hot air ballooning are some of the options. With your feet firmly back on the ground, there are more adventure activities available such as mountaineering (there are itineraries to climb more than 120 peaks), and others more suitable for the family such as horse riding routes and mountain biking trails, ideal to get to know the Region’s typical villages.
Playing in the heart of nature
After so much action, what better than a walk with the family? Make a note of these destinations: the Sierra de Cebollera Nature Reserve and the Sotos del Ebro Reserve have visitor centres where you can get information on routes and they also show projections about the area, about the life of local stork colonies and about ancient customs like seasonal migration. And leaving theory to one side, the children are sure to love seeing animals for real. In this case you should make for the Griffon Vulture Research and Observation Centre (in Arnedillo). It is unique in its kind in Europe and your children are sure to have a great time. Want some more ideas? At the “Casa de la Nieve” (Snow House) in the peaks of Moncalvillo (Sojuela) you will find an “ice treasure”: 16th-century freezers at 1,400 metres above sea level that used to supply the city of Logroño with ice. And as the natural icing on the cake, don’t miss the Ortigosa Caves, with their spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.
Do your children find culture boring? This is an idea you can change here. How? La Rioja has routes like the “Castles Route” where they can visit dozens of castles from bygone centuries and feel like real conquerors. There are more historical monuments to be seen though: Yuso and Suso Monasteries (UNESCO World Heritage Sites), the beautiful windmills in the villages of Las Ruedas de Ocón and San Román de Camero, along with the Würth Museum (in Agoncillo), with its family workshops, are also all awaiting you.
Where does wine come from? Wine tourism for children
If you think that the world of wine is incompatible with children, then a trip to La Rioja will change your mind. This Region is renowned for the quality of its wines, and here all the family can enjoy experiences that focus on the vine. You can visit museums on wine culture (such as Dinastía Vivanco in Briones or the Haro Wine Centre), vineyards, traditional wineries, and you can even go to tasting sessions. Furthermore, if you want to see your children happier than ever, they can experience the treading of grapes and bottling of wine, they can ride bikes through the vineyards and see craftsmen and women at work. To round it all off, to explore La Rioja in an original way, there is the “Vinobús”, a tourist bus with guide that covers different routes related with dinosaur discoveries, the Way of Saint James and, of course, with wine.
Dinosaur tracks ahoy!
If there is one type of animals that fascinate children, it is the dinosaurs. Tell your children that on a trip to La Rioja they will be visiting a region that was full of these animals thousands of years ago. You can visit the sites of dinosaur discoveries such as Munilla, Igea, Cornago and Enciso, where the children will see for themselves how big these “giants” really were, thanks to life-size models on display, and they can also put their hands into huge fossilised bones that even show the start of a fight between a carnivorous dinosaur and a herbivore.
There are a host of specialist companies in La Rioja offering all these activities. Any time of year is good to visit the Region and, as you can see, whatever you decide to do you will have an exciting adventure. Call your children and tell them something: boredom is not an option in La Rioja.
For full information on destinations, opening times, prices and companies, go to the Official La Rioja Tourism website.