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Top 10 Spanish-Speaking Study Abroad Destinations


Want to brush up on your Spanish language skills? AIFS Abroad offers study abroad programs in multiple Spanish-speaking destinations in Europe, Central and South America. Each has its own dialect and slang, but just knowing the basics goes a long way in ingratiating yourself with the locals!

If you’re looking to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country or city, here are a few destinations to consider:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

1. Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Buenos Aires is an amazing place for a study abroad program if you’re hoping to live and learn in a Spanish-speaking destination. Fun fact: The northern tip of Argentina is less than 3,000 miles from the equator, while its southern tip is only 600 miles from Antarctica. Its unique geographical positioning means it has some of South America’s most unique weather. It also has the continent’s most unique accent, due to the influx of Italian immigrants in the 20th century. As the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires has so much to offer. In the same night you can go out for some traditional asado and then work off the meal at a proper tango. 

San José, Costa Rica
San José, Costa Rica
AIFS Abroad student in Costa Rica talks about Spanish language requirements to study abroad

2. San José, Costa Rica 

Costa Rica is the most-visited Central American country. This is possibly due to its national parks, which are world renowned for their biodiverse rainforests. We’re talking tapirs, monkeys, jaguars, and the iconic red eye tree frogs! Its capital city of San Jośe is the perfect central hub to the rest of the country, with easy access to the rainforests and beaches. The neighborhood of Barrio Amón is filled beautiful, centuries old architecture and plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes for you to enjoy between outdoor adventures. You’ll love experiencing pura vida in Costa Rica when you study abroad.

Viña del Mar, Chile
Viña del Mar, Chile

3. Viña del Mar, Chile 

If you’re looking to study abroad in a location where Spanish is the primary language, consider Chile. What makes the Spanish spoken in Chile unique? Final syllables are often dropped, with some consonants having a softer pronunciation. If you study somewhere like central Chile’s Viña del Mar, which means “Vineyard of the Sea,” you’ll experience spectacular beaches peppered with Chilean seafood restaurants and establishments. And if you’re looking for a getaway from this stunning getaway, the Valparaíso Metro can take you to nearby cities and communes in minutes.  

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

4. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador 

Ah, the Galápagos — home of history’s most famous study abroad experience. While Charles Darwin traveled to the archipelago to form his theory of evolution, AIFS Abroad’s study abroad program is focused on environmental science and ecology. The island is famous for its large number of endemic species, including Galápagos penguins, whales, sea lions, marine iguanas and, of course, (the GOAT) the Galápagos tortoise. All these creatures are under threat by the increasing climate epidemic. By studying abroad there, you’ll be at the forefront of finding a solution to save them. If you’re hoping to study abroad in one of the world’s many Spanish-speaking destinations, don’t sleep on the Galápagos Islands — being here is a once in a lifetime experience. 

Granada, Spain
Granada, Spain

5. Granada, Spain 

The more than 700 years that Granada was under Islamic rule (longer than any other place in Europe) shows in its food, culture and architecture. The Spanish city’s cuisine is inspired by its unique diversity, beginning in the 13th to the 15th centuries when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together. Tapas are probably what it’s most famous for, and not just because they are usually free in restaurants with the purchase of a drink! They are a delicious staple of the local culture and fantastic way for people to socialize. The city itself is filled with historical monuments such as The Alhambra, but don’t sleep on the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains for adventures outside the city. 

Gran Via, Madrid, Spain | AIFS Study Abroad
Madrid, Spain

6. Madrid, Spain 

As the capital of Spain, Madrid is also home to the Royal Spanish Academy, the authority on the Spanish language. Naturally, those who really want to immerse themselves in the nitty-gritty technicalities of learning the language would want to study abroad here. It’s also one of biggest cultural hubs in Europe. On one of the main boulevards, Paseo del Prado (aka the “Golden Triangle of Art”), you have the Thyssen, Prado, and Reina Sofià museums, collectively showing the works of Picasso, Dali, Goya and Bosch. 

Salamanca, Spain
Salamanca, Spain

7. Salamanca, Spain 

Salamanca is another popular study abroad destination for students who want to learn or improve their Spanish-speaking abilities. Fun fact: the first grammar book of the language, Gramática de la lengua castellana, was created here by Antonio de Nebrija during the Spanish Golden Age. But it isn’t all just studies! Be sure to have a bite of a hornazo (meat pie) and other local delicacies. If you’re studying abroad in Salamanca during spring semester, attend the festivities of Holy Week, the city’s most well-known celebration.

Seville, Spain
Seville, Spain

8. Seville, Spain 

If you’re considering Spanish-speaking destinations for your study abroad experience, Seville belongs on your bucket list. This town is for history lovers. Its old town of 2 square miles alone boasts three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar Palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. Founded by the Romans, it has been under Islamic rule, and was its own independent city for a hot second before joining the Spanish Empire and serving as a gateway of the empire’s transatlantic trade. It’s also home to one of Spain’s most heralded traditions: the flamenco. Make sure you see a show while you’re there! 

Valencia, Spain
Valencia, Spain
AIFS Abroad student in Valencia talks about the local dialect vs. speaking Spanish

9. Valencia, Spain 

While most people in this city are Spanish-speaking, Valencia has another official language, naturally: Valencian. Students of language will find the way the two languages influence everything from slang to signage fascinating. The city is also known for its food, particularly paella (simmered rice with meat) and Las Fallas, a five-day continuous street festival held in mid-March. 

Barcelona, Spain from Park Guell
Barcelona, Spain

10. Barcelona, Spain  

Another interesting place to consider studying abroad if you’re interested in a Spanish-speaking location is Barcelona — but there’s a unique catch. In addition to Spanish, the people speak Catalan. Catalan only differs from Valencian in minor respects, but it is much more prominently spoken in Barcelona than Valencian is spoken in Valencia. 72.3% of the local population are actually able to speak Catalan — wow! You’ll love other aspects of Barcelona, too! Participating in fùtbol culture is a must while studying here. FC Barcelona is considered one of the best teams in the world and their home, Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe. Hearing nearly 100,000 fans go wild over a goal and fill the stadium with cheers is an experience like no other. 

Eager to immerse yourself in a study abroad or international internship experience with Spanish-speaking locals?

No matter what level of Spanish speaker you are, AIFS Abroad has a program in a Spanish-speaking country that will fit your needs, interests and academic goals. With inclusions such as tuition, housing, insurance, excursions and activities, on-site staff, and emergency support, you’ll have a stress-free global education experience. Say “hola” to your study abroad adventure!

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