Today, Spanish is one of the most important and widely-spoken languages in the world. With over 400 million people speaking it daily, gaining Spanish language skills will open doors to numerous opportunities, as well as give you the tools to make new friends anywhere you travel! Since Spanish is such a widely spoken language, there are an endless amount of study abroad programs and Spanish language schools!
Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you; we narrowed down a list of 20 of the best places to learn Spanish abroad. Now all you have to do is choose one (or two, or three, who says you can only learn Spanish abroad once?)!
As one of the most biologically and ethnically diverse countries in South America, Ecuador offers students a vibrant opportunity to learn Spanish abroad. Quito itself is a metropolis with all the advantages of a large city, but with all the charm of true Ecuadorian culture.
Aside from the obvious draw (day trips to visit Galápagos giant tortoises, anyone?), Quito’s historic city center is a time capsule of Spanish colonial history, and it is also the first location to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. If you are interested in the history of Spanish culture in Ecuador, as well as the language itself, Quito is the place for you to learn Spanish abroad!
Bogotá is a place of celebration, from its large festivals to day-to-day life, the Colombian lifestyle is a happy and high-spirited one. Colombia has a lingering bad reputation of violence, but Bogotá is a great location for students and travelers alike, with some of the country’s top universities, historic, cobblestoned streets, and a thriving foodie scene. It’s also rumored that the local accent in Bogotá is the easiest to understand for newcomers with little background in standard Spanish, making it one of the best places to learn Spanish abroad.
Check out Spanish courses in Bogotá with Red Tree Study.
Get your dancing shoes on, because Spanish isn’t the only language you’ll be learning in this nightlife-inspired city! By the end of your summer, semester, or year learning Spanish in Buenos Aires, you’ll also be fluent in tango and jazz! As the capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires’ locals are eager to meet new travelers and students alike, making it easy to find new friends to practice your Spanish with. Buenos Aires has also been center-stage for much of Argentina’s development into a democratic country; for students who want to live in a city of political evolution, the arts, and really good steak, this is the place to go!
Check out Mente Argentina’s Ultra-Intensive Spanish program in Buenos Aires.
As the saying goes, “If you can understand Chilean Spanish, you can understand any kind of Spanish!” Attending a Spanish language school in Santiago, Chile requires real dedication to learning Spanish, as the local accent is notorious for being slightly more difficult than other varieties of Spanish. The payoffs of studying in Santiago, however, are huge!
Nestled just below the Andes mountains, Santiago is busy, cosmopolitan, and widely regarded as the safest city in Latin America. Both historic and ultra-modern, Santiago keeps a foot in the door of its colonial past, but is always looking toward the future. Students looking for somewhat challenging Spanish language courses in a developing and expanding metropolis should consider Santiago as their destination for learning Spanish abroad!
Check out ESL - Language Studies Abroad in Chile now!
Granada is the perfect place to learn Spanish abroad for students looking for a small city with a big personality. With almost a third of the city’s population made up of university students, Granada is lively and full of student-centered events. Its mild, southern climate and stunning Arabic architecture, remnants of the Moorish kingdoms that held Spain in the medieval ages, set Granada apart from other Spanish cities, whose winding alleyways have been swallowed up by modern lifestyles. While studying Spanish in Granada, you can truly get lost in the Spain of the past and learn Spanish from other international and local students.
Check out Spanish Courses in Granada offered by Sol Abroad.
The center of Spain, both politically and geographically, Madrid is a prime location for students looking for an academic challenge. With some of the best universities in Europe, Madrid offers rigorous Spanish language programs, as well as incredible museums, art galleries, and a healthy obsession with churros y chocolate. And don’t forget your fútbol jerseys! Madrid is made for study abroad students who are ready to take on a bigger, more brash Spanish city.
Check out Eurocentres to Attend a Language School in Madrid.
Without big-name recognition, Bilbao is sometime overlooked as a location for learning Spanish abroad, but its smaller-city size and friendly locals are ideal for those looking to learn Spanish in Spain. Filled with art, Basque culture, and quirky architecture, Bilbao is also just a short trip away from outdoor activities like hiking and surfing on the coast. This is the kind of Spanish city where you will immediately feel at home, making it the perfect environment to feel comfortable in when throwing yourself into a new culture and language.
Check out Instituto Hemingway’s program in Bilbao.
The home of flamenco (a form of dancing, not to be confused the pretty pink bird), bull-fighting, and, most recently, the set of Game of Thrones, Seville has a lot to offer students in terms of cultural entertainment and beautiful locales. Learning Spanish is Seville can be challenging with the locals’ Andalusian accent, so this city is better for students who have some basic knowledge of the language before arrival.
Check out program options in Seville with API.
A hard-working port-town, Valparaíso can surprise you with its seaside charms. Once the home and inspiration of Pablo Neruda, Valparaíso is a city made for the adventurous student; it is perfect for students who are ready to embrace this somewhat chaotic, yet undeniably beautiful, Chilean city, famous for its large collection of street art, edgy writers, and immersive language programs.
Guatemala offers some of the best Spanish language schools in Central America, and volcanic mountains studded with picturesque, colonial outposts like Antigua. This small city is steeped in Spanish traditions, but its indigenous culture still plays an important role in local culture and politics. With Guatemala often overlooked for its Central American neighbors, the country is relatively untouched by mass tourism, making the quaint city of Antigua the perfect place to study Spanish abroad if you are looking to be fully immersed in the language. Homestays allow you to not only practice their conversational Spanish on a daily basis, but also really get to know the local people and culture.
Check out Maximo Nivel’s program opportunities in Antigua now!
11. Valencia, Spain
You could study Spanish abroad in Valencia just to eat paella, honestly, but there is so much more to this city than sizzling rice dishes. Combining urban streets and seaside views, Valencia is the third-largest city in Spain and probably its most modern. The Valencian accent may be difficult for some students to tackle, but not impossible. For anyone looking to practice their Spanish in a contemporary city of stunning architecture and endless cultural festivals, Valencia is the place to go.
Check out Spanish Courses in Valencia offered by Euroace.
12. Salamanca, Spain
Historically a university city, Salamanca is one of the best places to learn Spanish abroad. Not only is the city home to “the Oxford University of Spain,” Salamanca is dominated by its student population and academic mindset. If you’re looking for a slightly more challenging academic experience and a college town vibe (Spanish style), Salamanca is a great place to study Spanish in Spain.
Check out Greenheart Travel’s Summer Camp Program in Salamanca.
Guanajuato, Mexico is a city of the arts. Although its biggest festival, Festival Cervantino, only takes place once a year, Guanajuato spends the rest of its time celebrating with concerts, film festivals, plays, and callejoneadas, a folkloric tradition in which costumed performers stroll through the city’s streets singing. Among all of these historical sites and cultural celebrations, you’ll be able to experience the real Mexico, and immerse yourself in a culture and language that is loved worldwide.
Check out SPI Study Abroad's program opportunity in Guanajuato.
Somewhat off the beaten path, Montevideo is an affordable, peaceful, and stunning capital city that often feels more like a large, European town. The Uruguayan phrase nadie es más que nadie (no one is better or more important than anyone else) carries through in all aspects of society, making for very helpful locals who are excited to talk to students and learn about their studies. For a unique, personal, and immersive experience, Montevideo is the best place to learn Spanish abroad.
Check out Spanish Immersion Programs in Montevideo with Academia Uruguay.
15. Havana, Cuba
For American students, the possibility of studying abroad in Havana, Cuba is a new and exciting one. With relations between the U.S. and Cuba steadily improving, more and more students from the U.S., and otherwise, are choosing to explore this contradictory country. Between the 1950’s cars, Hemingway’s novels, and Spanish history that is still visible throughout the streets of this Caribbean city, Havana is a great place for students looking for not only Spanish language skills, but a cultural experience that very few have had before them.
Check out unique program options offered by Jakera Cuba.
Studying abroad in a U.S. territory is an incredibly unique international experience, whether you are an American or an international student. San Juan, Puerto Rico is the second-oldest European-founded settlement in the Americas and is the oldest under U.S. jurisdiction. It is famous for its streets studded with pastel-painted villas and plazas, as well as its endless beaches.
Considering its close proximity to the United States, San Juan is an easily-accessible and very affordable location for American students to study Spanish abroad, and good for those with basic knowledge of Spanish, since most (if not all) locals speak English. In recent years, its pseudo-state status has thrown Puerto Rico into the spotlight, raising important questions on political autonomy and civilian rights. For students who are still Spanish beginners, but are interested in seeing political activism at work (or, being “in the room where it happens”), San Juan is the best place for you to study Spanish abroad.
Have you ever wanted to rescue baby sloths? Are you a sucker for bustling farmer’s markets? Do you prefer to learn languages by bonding with locals, rather than sticking to the classroom? San José, Costa Rica is the best place for you to learn Spanish abroad! Located just a few hours from the coasts (the Pacific Ocean or the Caribbean Sea, you take your pick), San José is an excellent location for study abroad students looking to learn Spanish in Costa Rica. Locals are friendly and welcoming, which means that practicing your conversational Spanish out in town is not only easy, but also fun! For students looking to experience la pura vida inside and outside of the classroom, San José is the ideal place.
Check out Languages Abroad’s Spanish Immersion Program in San Jose.
18. Cádiz, Spain
Cádiz is a city of old world charm and sundrenched beaches. For those students looking to study Spanish abroad in a more laid-back Spanish city, Cádiz is the place for you. Although known for its history (it is thought to be the oldest settlement in Europe), its monuments (cathedrals that are #likewhoa), and coastlines (¡vamos a la playa!), Cádiz is at its best when it comes to southern (Spanish) hospitality. With a relaxed atmosphere that is definitely a result of the salty breezes coming off the coast, Cádiz is the kind of city where you’ll be learning most of your Spanish over shared plates of fresh seafood with the locals, rather than just in the classroom.
Check out opportunities to study Spanish through K2 Internacional Cadiz.
19. Cuzco, Peru
Yes, time traveling is real and you can do it while studying abroad! Take your Spanish studies to Cuzco, Peru, where ancient Andean culture is still present in everyday life. The city’s mix-matched Inca and Spanish architecture is the perfect metaphor for this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which combines the old with the new, but mostly old (in a good way).
Although you might find that Peruvian Spanish has a slight Quechua influence (the indigenous language of the Andes mountains), the country’s Spanish is a relatively standard South American variety. Added bonus: the mystical hills of Machu Picchu are only a short trip away. While millions of tourists travel to this valley every year to experience local, indigenous culture, you’ll be living in it!
Check out InterExchange for Spanish Immersion programs in Cuzco.
The hardest part of studying Spanish in the Dominican Republic will be convincing your parents that yes, you can actually get some studying done in the Caribbean. Facing the Caribbean Sea, Santo Domingo boasts the first street, cathedral, university, and hospital in the Americas; today, it is also known for being the political and economic hub of the DR. You may come for the beaches, but you’ll stay for the people. The locals in Santo Domingo are extremely outgoing and lively, and are just as much a part of the cultural experience as the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Check out programs in Santo Domingo with Instituto Intercultural del Caribe (IIC) now!
Regardless of where you choose to study Spanish abroad, it’s important to pick a program that will fit your needs and personal preferences. Do your research by reading program reviews and utilizing myGoAbroad to save and compare Spanish language programs side-by-side! That way, when you arrive, you can dive headfirst into all the incredible experiences that study abroad and learning a new language has to offer.