Seven of the best places to learn Spanish around the world, from Guatemala to Granada
1. Medellin, Colombia
Colombia claims to have the clearest Spanish accent in the world, which makes it ideal for beginners. Escape the chaos of Bogotá and head to Medellín, where the temperate climate and cosmopolitan community may make you never want to leave. A popular school is Toucan Spanish, which offers 20 hours of lessons per week for around £120, as well as a huge range of cultural activities and volunteering opportunities.
2. Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
For the budget conscious, Guatemala is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn Spanish. Quetzaltenango in the highlands is the heart of Mayan culture, giving you a unique window into Guatemalan indigenous tradition and culture. With few tourist attractions, studying Spanish is the main focus, and the city is designed for learners with dozens of schools and private tutors offering a variety of courses and activities. Try Utatlán Spanish School for its welcoming environment – one-to-one lessons are just £95 for 20 hours per week, and the team can arrange homestays with local families for the full immersive experience.
3. Salamanca, Spain
Salamanca presents itself as the Ciudad del Español for good reason: it’s the largest Spanish learning center in Spain, training more than 25,000 international students a year. This means that Salamanca is geared towards students. It offers a wide choice of academic and leisure activities, all in a tolerant, safe and picturesque university town. Tía Tula, an Instituto Cervantes accredited school in the heart of the historic city centre, offers private, small group and online lessons from £165 per week.
4. Quito, Ecuador
Ecuadorians are friendly, have a soft accent, and speak slowly, making Ecuador another great option for beginners. The capital, Quito, is brimming with historic charm: the beautiful city center was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts some of the best-preserved Spanish colonial architecture in Latin America. One school that regularly gets good reviews is the Instituto Superior de Español, where small group classes start from £106 for 20 hours. If you fancy a two-center trip, it also has outposts in the Galápagos Islands and the Amazon Jungle.
5. Cuzco, Peru
Nestled in the Andes, this former capital of the Inca Empire is another UNESCO-listed city famous for its colorful Andean culture. The stunning landscapes of the Sacred Valley and legendary Machu Picchu are right next door, and the town itself is a traveler’s mecca, well-equipped with hostels, restaurants and Spanish schools. Try Mundo Antiguo, where groups have no more than four students and cost around £100 a week.
6. Heredia, Costa Rica
If you fancy a dose of nature in addition to your Spanish, head to Costa Rica. This outdoor paradise has miles of tropical beaches and jungles teeming with wildlife and adventure activities including zip-lining and white-water rafting. Base yourself in Heredia, known as city of flowers, thanks to its lush flora and fauna. The Tico Lingo school not only offers small group lessons from £220 per week, but also the opportunity to volunteer in rainforest conservation or animal rescue projects.
7. Granada, Spain
While the Andalusian accent is harder to understand than in other parts of Spain, the challenge is a small price to pay for the chance to spend time in bustling Granada. Blessed with a sunny southern climate and beautiful Moorish architecture, Granada is a welcoming university city with a student-friendly atmosphere. In fact, almost a third of the city’s population is made up of students and it was there that this writer spent six months learning Spanish. Escuela Delengua is accredited by the Cervantes Institute and caters to a slightly older clientele, with group lessons from £125 per week.