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The City Guide to Spain for Study Abroad Students

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The cities of Spain are all wonderful, but offer very different experiences. Make sure to choose your destination with care. Just as New York and Des Moines offer very different views of America, Spanish cities vary widely in size and culture.

This guide to Spanish cities is not just a rehash of guidebook attractions and cheap hostels; we know you can find those elsewhere on the Web. Here, you'll get quick information to help you decide which city is right for you. We've compiled exactly what you need to know to choose one city over another when planning your trip, so that you arrive in the perfect city in Spain to begin your Spanish language school adventure abroad.

If you've already narrowed down your options to a few schools or programs in different cities, this guide will give you key points about each locale to aid your decision.

Select a city guide now: Barcelona | Madrid | Valencia | Alicante | Seville | Málaga | Cádiz

What a Student Needs to Know

Our guide is organized by what you need to know to choose a city in Spain to spend a few weeks or months learning Spanish. Focus on the following aspects of the city and your choice should be clear:

Size and feel of the city -- not only how large a city is, but how large it feels will influence your experience a great deal. Make sure that the size appeals to you.


Language situation -- because of changing accents and competing languages, the ease with which you can use your Spanish will vary, as will the style of Spanish you'll learn.


Seasonal changes -- Even the greatest places turn ho-hum at the wrong time of year, and summer can be particularly unpleasant in some parts. The season affects the weather, the population, and the fiesta calendar.


What's great -- Your trip to Spain won't be complete unless you fall in love with some aspect of the city you visit, whether it's the Roman ruins, the beach, the performing arts, or the dance clubs. Look for something about a city that will really make the place special for you.


What's really bad -- Every city has its drawback, but those drawbacks come in very different forms. We've identified the few characteristics of each city that might spoil an otherwise great Spanish-learning experience. If you have a real phobia or pet peeve, make sure it doesn't show up in your city of choice.

When you actually decide on a city, you should pick up a more comprehensive guide to the cities you're going to visit. There are wonderful things about each of these cities that extend beyond what we've listed in the "what's great" section.

The Great Cities of Spain

We currently have guides to the five most popular destinations in Spain. To orient yourself, check out our map of Spain.

  • Barcelona -- a culture- and history-rich large city on the eastern coast, and home to Antonio Gaudí's famous architecture.
  • Madrid -- Spain's amazing capital, home of the royal family and world-class art collections.
  • Valencia, Alicante and the Costa Blanca -- The east coast of Spain offers an industrial but charming large city, a precious but provincial old port town and 300 miles of perfect beach in between.
  • Seville -- The charming and historic heart of Spain's southern Andalucía region.
  • Málaga, Cádiz and the Costa del Sol -- A beautiful string of old coastal cities on the southern coast, perfect for students looking for a smaller city setting.

There are other wonderful places to study abroad in Spain, including smaller towns in central Spain such as Segovia and Avila, the historically rich Salamanca in the East and Grenada in the South, and many more. We hope to include these in our city guide someday, but at present we lack the expertise to cover them. If you have studied abroad in a city not listed above and would like to contribute your insight to our city guide, please contact us with your thoughts.

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