8 Best Places for Spanish Study Abroad Programs

You are here

With more than 400 million Spanish speakers around the world, there is no shortage of locations for Spanish study abroad programs. But where do you start? How do you learn about each place? And what’s the best Spanish study abroad program for you? That’s where this list of the eight best places to study abroad in Spanish comes in handy!

As you’re discovering places to study abroad in Spanish, pay close attention to the opportunities for language development. Details such as housing placements and field trips are great ways for you to get out and practice those Spanish skills. Want to maximize your Spanish immersion? Consider living in a homestay with local residents – a housing option available on programs in all eight of these Spanish study abroad locations.

Keep in mind that Spanish—like any global language!—varies in its vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation depending on where you are. If you have previous exposure to the Spanish language from one specific country, maybe you’ll choose to study abroad in that same country to further your develop those skills. Or, maybe you’ll challenge yourself with a Spanish study abroad program in another part of the world where you’ll learn a new  dialect to expand your comprehension of the language as a whole.

Whichever route you choose, one thing is for sure: studying Spanish abroad is going to change your life. Get started by exploring the best places to study abroad in Spanish.

1. Barcelona, Spain

Immerse yourself in Catalonian culture when you study Spanish in Barcelona. As you navigate this international city, you’ll interact with people from around the world and local residents who regularly speak Spanish just as much or more than Catalan, the other official language of the area.

With its iconic Gaudí architecture, ease of transit across Europe, and convenient Barceloneta Beach, there’s no surprise Barcelona is one of the most popular study abroad destinations. Whether you’re a true beginner or a heritage speaker, there’s a Spanish language course available to you at the IES Abroad Barcelona Center.

Take your Spanish immersion a step further with additional courses available including Spanish through Theater, Business Spanish, and a Spanish Creative Writing Workshop. On IES Abroad Barcelona DiscoverIES, you’ll take your language out of the classroom and into the streets with city walking tours, outings to spectacular restaurants, and visits to hidden cultural gems led by our staff.

teacher speaking to students in plaza in Barcelona

2. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Enjoy the “Paris of the Americas” when you study abroad in Buenos Aires. Picture yourself practicing Spanish with a language partner at an outdoor café where you can take in the city’s European-style architecture and unique Argentinian culture. Literature courses come alive when you walk the streets that Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar once called home.

The IES Abroad Buenos Aires Center offers language courses for first-time Spanish learners, intermediate, and advanced Spanish students. Challenge yourself to take classes at the University of Buenos Aires or get to know some of the more than 300,000 students at the University by joining a student organization.

students walking through market in Buenos Aires

3. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Get ready to get up close and personal with nature when you study abroad in the Galápagos Islands. And while you won’t be using Spanish with the sea lions, you can dive into the language by practicing with your homestay family and other island residents.

Slingshot your Spanish skills by adding additional language instruction once you arrive on the islands. “For the Galápagos program, take the optional language class that is offered because it is free, low commitment, and a good way to practice every week.” – Naomi T. (IES Abroad Galápagos Islands, Fall 2017 | Colorado College)

three students and older man sitting at table with coffee

4. Granada, Spain

In Granada, life—and Spanish immersion—happens in the street. After a siesta in the heat of the afternoon, you’ll find granadinos enjoying the cool evening air with family and friends. Experience the Andalusian lifestyle (accent and all), when you study abroad in Granada. Before you know it, you’ll be confident living, listening, and speaking in the way of southern Spain on this Spanish study abroad program.

Explore the last capital of Moorish Spain where different cultures, religions, and languages have intersected for centuries. As one of the most popular destinations for Erasmus students (study abroad students from the European Union), this walkable college city welcomes you to practice your intermediate or advanced Spanish with your homestay family, with your peers at Universidad de Granada, with fellow Spanish language students, or with coworkers at an internship placement.

two students smiling at each other in front of Alhambra in Granada

5. Madrid, Spain

Enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life when you study abroad in Madrid. Spain’s centrally located capital invites you to experience the traditional Castilian Spanish culture and language. Navigate the city on foot or on public transportation to attend classes at the IES Abroad Madrid Center, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, or Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; work as an intern; and explore world-class museums, parks, and markets.

A modern city with a traditional feel, Madrid offers convenient domestic and international train rides and flights as well as siestas in the afternoon, tapas in the evening, and quiet Sundays when most businesses are closed. Support your cultural and language immersion in Madrid by living with a homestay family or Spanish students.

teacher speaking to students in Madrid, Spain

6. Quito, Ecuador

Find your home in Ecuador’s capital high in the Andes where you can see snowcapped mountains while standing on the equator. Meet native Ecuadorians and learn how indigenous cultures and language have melded into Ecuadorian Spanish. The Spanish of Quito has a formal musicality to it and is spoken at a comparatively slower pace than other Spanish dialects.

With a prerequisite of four semesters of college-level Spanish before studying abroad in Quito, you’ll join a cohort of students dedicated to improving their Spanish language abilities. Take classes at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito to further your Spanish immersion with professors and peers. You can also hone your Spanish writing with classes like creative writing, travel writing, and journalism.

students standing on mountain trail in ecuador

7. Salamanca, Spain

A small comfortable college town in northwest Spain, Salamanca invites you to immerse yourself in its Castilian culture. Off the beaten tourist track of Spanish cities, you’ll interact with local residents in Spanish as you study abroad in Salamanca for a semester or on one of our Spanish summer programs.

With program options for beginner through advanced Spanish speakers, you’ll find Salamanca a welcoming environment for students – most of the city population is 18-30 years old. Receive writing support from Spanish language instructors, attend orientation and a mentor program with local university students, and get involved with a club at one at the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca or Universidad de Salamanca.

students sitting on painted wall in Salamanca, Spain

8. Santiago, Chile

Experience the open and welcoming culture of Chile when you study abroad in Santiago. Local university students will help you navigate the sprawling metropolis of seven million people, through the Club Chileno activities offered to IES Abroad students. Push your ability to understand different Spanish dialects while traveling through the country from coastal cities, to small rural towns, to Patagonia, and beyond.

“The Chilean Spanish…has a flavor of its own and sometimes, does not sound like Spanish, especially, when you are eavesdropping on a conversation between Chileans. All of this is resolved with time as your ear tunes into the words, and picks up the chilenismos. And soon, you are talking to someone and suddenly slips out a, ‘Sipoo’ and you feel like you’ve sang a song and you’re a Chilean yourself.” Jaagrit R. (IES Abroad Santiago, Fall 2018 | Penn State University) Why Santiago, Chile Deserves to Be Your Home for a Semester

students holding up UC notepads in library in Santiago Chile

Browse a full listing of all our programs that offer coursework in Spanish/Hispanic Studies.

We know there are so many aspects to think about when choosing where to study abroad. Whether you’re interested in sports, architecture, street art, or more, you can discover the best places to study abroad based on your hobbies and interests.