7 Reasons Why I Love My City (and 3 Why It Sucks): Logroño

Logroño, with mountains in the distance

Logroño, with mountains in the distance

No place is perfect. Sometimes the expat life is portrayed as a fairytale filled with wine and Spanish sunsets…and while there’s lots of that, there are also drawbacks. Writer Liz Carlson tells us how it is living in her adopted city, Logroño.

By Liz Carlson

When I tell people that I live in Logroño, Spain, the most common reaction I get is a head tilt followed up with “Where?” Even Spaniards sometimes don’t know where exactly it is. Logroño is a small city and the capital of La Rioja, Spain’s main wine producing region in the north. If you have heard of it, it’s most likely because you’ve seen the name stuck on the back of a red wine bottle.

Even though Logroño doesn’t have the name or number of famous sites like other cities in Spain, it is not without its charms. Most people who end up here are surprised by it and end up falling in love with this little city. In fact, Logroño was named one of the best cities to live in in Spain a few years ago, and for good reason. I have lived in several other cities in Spain, and I chose La Rioja on a whim. I came through here on the train in 2007 and I completely fell in love with the fairytale landscape! Now Logroño is my favorite place I have lived in Spain, and here’s why.

1. Off the beaten track

I love that Logroño is not well known. It makes me feel like I am discovering new places all the time. Walking around town you rarely run into tourists like you do in the bigger cities. Logroño has a more local, traditional vibe to it. It feels like true Spain, if that makes any sense. Most of the tourists that come through here are hiking the famous Camino de Santiago. Logroño is undiscovered Spain at its finest.

El champi pincho

El champi pincho

2. Food

Probably my favorite thing about Logroño is the food, though my body protests every time I go to the gym. Logroño is well known in Spain for its pincho scene; pinchos are Northern Spain’s take on tapas, the small serving of food on a slice of baguette. There are streets around the city with nothing but pincho bars that get lively and downright rowdy on the weekends. Whether you want to try a fancy elaborate pincho, like a futuristic foam tortilla, or something simple and hearty like the famous champi, which is three mushrooms grilled and coated with a buttery garlic sauce with shrimp, there is something for everyone.

Me after the wine battle

Me after the wine battle

3. Wine

They have been making wine in the area around Logroño for thousands of years. There are hundreds of wineries around La Rioja to visit and explore, tucked away in the rolling hills and mountains covered with grape vines. Wine is an essential part of life in La Rioja, and you can find it everywhere here. From the elaborate wine festivals to grape Christmas lights, to even wine soap and bath products, you can’t escape it. When you walk into a pincho bar here, there is usually a wine list that covers an entire wall that would make even the biggest wine connoisseur take a step back!

4. Friendly people

Logroño has some of the nicest, friendliest people I have met in Spain. I have lived all around the country in big cities and small villages, in the North and the South, and have visited even more places; but at the end of the day, I’ve met the most affable and outgoing people right here in Logroño. From the women who sells me cherries at the market across from my apartment to the teachers in my schools, to the bartenders in my favorite pincho bars, they always greet me with a smile. I frequently have conversations with completely strangers on the street, in a bar, on the bus; you name it, I’ve met someone there. And Logroño is small enough that you always know somebody who knows somebody. So many times in Spain I feel like people can be chilly or off-putting, but in Logroño, it’s the exact opposite. There is a amiable and warm attitude here that I just love and helps keep a smile on my face and always puts me in a good mood.

5. Close to nature

Logroño is a small enough city that it’s really close to parks and the mountains. You can literally walk right out of the city and into the vineyards. Even wandering around the city, you can catch glimpses of the snow-capped mountains and rolling fields of grape vines from the tops of buildings and looking down certain streets in the old quarter. It’s the best of both worlds.

6. Cheap

Since Logroño is such a small city, the cost of living and visiting here is really cheap. A pincho and a glass of good red wine will usually set you back about €2.50 and you can get a really good meal with several courses for around €15 in a restaurant.

7. Lots of fun events

Like many cities in Spain, Logroño has no shortage of fun events. In the fall to celebrate the wine harvest we have a week-long festival called San Mateo, grape stomping and all! In June, there is another big festival called San Bernabé which celebrates Logroño withstanding a siege by French troops 500 years ago. There are many events around the wine business, and organized wine-tasting fairs every few months. But my favorite is the Batalla del Vino, a wine battle near Haro, where everyone from children to grandparents hike out to the mountains and then proceed to throw wine on each other until everyone is dyed purple.


8. Not well-connected

Logroño is well-connected in the sense that it is relatively close to many of the major cities in the north, like Bilbao, San Sebastián, Burgos, Pamplona and Zaragoza, but it is not all that easy to get to those places. Logroño has a tiny airport that nobody uses, so I usually have to travel for two to four hours to catch a flight somewhere. The buses aren’t all that frequent, and in spite of having a fancy new train station just opened there are almost no trains through here. The best way to get around is by car, which is challenging when you are a poor expat.

9. Small city

The fact that Logroño is a small city is both a positive and a negative. It’s negative when I need or want to go to a certain shop, or need to find something in particular. Some of my favorite chain stores aren’t in Logroño, but there are plenty of other independent stores that I love. I also run into people on the streets that I know all the time. Most of the time it’s great, but then there is the occasional incident when you just want to run the other way.

Logroño - out for tapas

Logroño – out for tapas

10. Lack of big historical sights

There is so much to see in do throughout La Rioja, but in Logroño itself, there are not that many tourist sights. We have a cathedral, some beautiful old churches, and a charming old quarter, but all of our monasteries, castles and landmarks are scattered throughout the region. I love this because it is an excuse for me to go exploring around La Rioja, but again it’s challenging without a car and when people come visit for a just a day or two.

No place is perfect. Write and tell us what you love, and don’t love, about you city.

29 Responses

  1. Sarah Maloney says:

    Reading your blog has article me to visit for a few days. I am very excited to visit Calle del Laurel. I have some questions if you don’t mind answering. Is it possible to walk around Logrono or rent a bicycle? I found a hostel that is in my price range but I was wondering, is it easy to get around or is the town bigger than it looks. If you could suggest a good area that is centrally located that would be much appreciated. Thank You .

  2. admin says:

    Logrono is pretty small. To get to the wine regions around it (worth it — some of the best wine in Spain) you’ll need a car. Try to stay in the center of the city and walk everywhere!

  3. mike c says:

    Can I please ask you some questions coming to learn spanish on my own in Logrono.

  4. Jim says:

    I’ll be there in a few weeks. I’m a foodie and looking to get some unique foodstuffs like smoked pimento and maybe a new paella pan and some rice. Do you have any suggestions on where to find this? I’m staying in Navarette.

  5. Mike says:

    Thanks for posting this, it was helpful. I’m thinking of arriving in Logrono early on Sunday during the Rioja wine harvest festival in Sept. Will there be much to do on a Sunday? Any advice would be appreciated!

  6. The Spain Scoop says:

    Usually a lot is closed in Spain on Sundays. You will LOVE La Rioja! So much to see there and even more to taste!

  7. The Spain Scoop says:

    Hi Jim, will you be coming through Barcelona or Madrid?

  8. The Spain Scoop says:

    Sure. What are your questions?

  9. Caroline says:

    Thanks for the post, Liz! I am visiting Spain for the next month (Sept to early Oct), and I very much want to do wine stomping! I know Logrono has the Festival de San Mateo, which sounds really fun – is this a good time to do wine stomping? Or do you have any other recommendations – maybe better to go directly to a winery instead? Unfortunately, I am only available to travel from Madrid on the weekends, and it seems that the one weekend I am not available (Sept 19-20), is the time that most of the festival action is happening…Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks!!

  10. The Spain Scoop says:

    Hi Caroline. Wine stomping will only be going on when there are grapes, and that is now until October. You should be able to find some options at local vineyards not only in Logrono but all over Spain in wine regions. If you’re in Madrid, go over to the tourism office and ask about this. They should be able to direct you to a few vineyards that will offer this (not all vineyards will).

  11. Caroline says:

    Great, I will do that. Thank you so much for the tips!

  12. Jim says:

    Caroline, great post. We’re planning to travel to Spain and your post helped us decide to use Logrono as our base to visit La Rioja. I love what you said about the size of it–as we were looking for something off the main tourist routes. We’ll have a car, so we can explore the surroundings. Appreciate you sharing your corner of Spain.

  13. Gigi says:

    Which hotels do you recommend?

  14. The Spain Scoop says:

    Near Logrono you’ll want to check out this small hotel – http://www.thespainscoop.com/vineyard-hotel-in-la-rioja/

  15. Kasandra says:

    This is great information for me. I’m going to L’ognon tomorow. I plan to go at Haro for the batalla del vino but I don’t know to go there this June 29. I know I need to be there earlier but I don’t find any bus. Do you have a suggestion for me?

    Thanks for your help :)

  16. The Spain Scoop says:

    We hope you enjoyed your time there!

  17. patricia says:

    Thank you for your post. My husband and I are traveling to Logrono from Madrid Aug 20-22. Love your suggestions of just wandering the town but we really are interested in doing wine tasting. Do you suggest just doing it in town or should we get a tour or hire a driver. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.

  18. Robbyn says:

    We lived in Logroño for 1 year. My husband coached the ice hockey team. Our 3 kids played hockey and went to school there. It was life changing. We LOVED Logroño. I do completely agree with the blog…flying out to see other parts of Europe was an ordeal when had to fly out of Bilbao. They have a really decent airport and should develop it more. The food, wine and shoe shopping is 1st class. The people are exceptional. #welovelogroño

  19. The Spain Scoop says:

    Thanks for your feedback on your time there.

  20. The Spain Scoop says:

    You can easily rent a car and do it on your own. Don’t miss the villages around Logrono.

  21. Afzal Zaheer says:

    Loving is a city is something which you eventually do, since it is the best bet as we hail from it.
    However, the reason why our home city sucks is because we sometimes take things for granted, just because those sightseeings, famous restaurants or facilities are always available 24*7.

    We only realise after we move away or shift to some other place and we only feel the pinch we yearn to return to our home city

    What you say?

  22. Susan Gagliardi says:

    We are thinking of moving to Logrono or the nearby area. We visited a year ago and LOVED it. Is there a realtor there who speaks English? Any information you could give us to get us started would be appreciated.

  23. Jools says:

    Hi we visited you beautiful city earlier in the year and loved how lively it was in the evening in the old town
    Please could you tell me is it like this at Christmas time many thanks and Christmas day

  24. Jordan says:

    I”m looking for an overnight stop on my way from Barcelona to San Sebastian by train (I want to break up the trip and see a different town/city). Would you recommend Logrono or is there another stop you’ suggest? Will be traveling in May.

  25. The Spain Scoop says:

    Logrono is a great option. Not sure you can see it by train though. Have you checked on that?

  26. Teresa Silvey says:

    Hello! I will be visiting for the festival in June. I know of Caille de Laurel and the Trail of Elephants. Any other good tapas strees.

  27. Celeste Bottero says:

    Thanks for this post! One year ago I gave up my career and home to spend a few years traveling to wine regions. At 38, best decision! This year’s Europe stops will include longrono for one month (November). Are there any local rental sites you can recommend for accommodation? Generally air bnb can be a bit out of my price range. Any guidance is appreciated. Thanks so much.

  28. Celeste Bottero says:

    Thanks for this post! One year ago I gave up my career and home to spend a few years traveling to wine regions. At 38, best decision! This year’s Europe stops will include logrono for one month (November). Are there any local rental sites you can recommend for accommodation? Generally air bnb can be a bit out of my price range. Any guidance is appreciated. Thanks so much.

  29. The Spain Scoop says:

    Air or some other similar site is probably your best bet. If you speak Spanish, try – https://www.pisos.com/alquiler/pisos-logrono/

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