Which city is the best for studying Spanish?

Which city is the best for studying Spanish - imagen by encyclopedie-incompleteYou know that you want to learn Spanish in Spain, but which city is the best? This question is perhaps one of the most difficult questions to answer, but it’s absolutely one of the most important questions to answer correctly.

The correct answer is: there isn’t one. Each of the language school locations offered by UniSpain is a great candidate to being your perfect destination, but what makes one destination the perfect city is a decision that is up to you. When you are ready to make the decision of which city to study in, here are some important criteria to consider:

 

Expense

Consider how much is the cost of airfare and transportation to your chosen destination and whether this will affect your decision.

It is also important to consider cost of living while in the city. If you are planning to spend an extended amount of time in Spain, public transportation within the city and from the city to other travel destinations should play a big role in your decision.

Another expense that can add up over the long-term is the cost of accommodation and groceries.

A big city like Barcelona might be a nice choice for a few weeks, but for a few months it might just be too expensive to be worth it.

A final expense to consider is the cost of dining out and entertainment. Choose a city that meets your needs for how often you would like to eat at a restaurant, go to a bar, or pay for entertainment activities like nightlife, gyms, tourist attractions, and other activities you expect to do while studying abroad. See also our post (Top 5 cheapest cities to study Spanish in Spain)

 

Entertainment

If you are going to be staying in Spain for awhile, you’ll want to choose a city that has a wide array of entertainment options, not just touristic sites. For some this might include public libraries, fitness facilities, outdoor recreation opportunities, student groups, and nightlife. If you are only going to visit Spain for a few weeks, your focus might be more on touristic attractions in the city or nearby and for some young students the nightlife options might also be a priority.

 

Cultural Interest

Are there places of interest in the city you are considering? Does the city have certain neighborhoods or touristic sites that you know you will want to explore? If you’re only in Spain a short time, choosing a city with a lot of cultural interest might be a good choice. Students interested in art might be drawn to Madrid or Barcelona, whereas students who’ve always been fascinated by Flamenco might choose to head into one of many Andalucía cities.

 

Dialect

Castilian Spanish, or the language that is considered “International Spanish,” is not the only language spoken in much of Spain. Certain regions of Spain speak another language or dialect in addition to Castilian Spanish. This is an important factor to consider when choosing the perfect city for your study abroad.

While you can be certain that all of the schools offered through UniSpain teach lessons with an emphasis on a pure Castilian Spanish and the instructors speak clearly without heavy bias to one accent or another, you should also consider the language spoken outside the classroom.

In areas like Cataluña, Valencia, Galicia, and the Basque region, many citizens and local businesses use a regional language and Castilian Spanish. For some students, this might provide an interesting facet to your trip, but others might prefer to be fully immersed in just one language. It’s also important to consider particular dialects and accents.

For example, in Andalucía locals are known for having a particularly difficult to understand accent for non-Spanish speakers.

For some, this provides a challenge and the perfect platform for learning to understand even the most difficult of accents. Students and teachers in Andalucía often say that if you can understand Spanish there, you’ll understand it anywhere. With all that said, it is generally thought that the clearest accent and most easily understood Spanish is spoken throughout Castilla y Leon, Castilla-La Mancha, and Madrid.

 

Top 3 to 5 cities to study Spanish

Now that you know a little about what qualities might make one city a better choice for you than another, here are a few recommendations for the best cities in which to study Spanish in Spain.

 

Salamanca

This northern city in Castilla y Leon is home to thousands of students as one of Spain’s premier university towns.

Pros:

  • Easily understood accent
  • Relatively cheap
  • Student life: universities, athletic facilities, clubs/groups, nightlife
  • Convenient to Madrid

Cons:

  • Limited touristic value, you could see the main destinations in just a day or two

The Verdict: Salamanca is well suited to students who are interested in long-term stay in a comfortable student-oriented city, or those who do not have sightseeing as a high priority.

 

 Seville

The capital city of Andalucía is a cultural hub and it offers the perfect balance of tourism, entertainment, and livability.

Pros:

  • Endless entertainment options
  • Moderately cheap in comparison to bigger cities
  • Excellent “Home base” for travel to other cities and internationally by plane

Cons:

  • Challenging accent

The Verdict: Seville is great for both long-term and short-term study, especially for students who would like to learn the Andalucía accent and have plenty of entertainment and travel options during the week and on weekends.

 

Madrid

The capital of Spain is a tourism and cultural Mecca with plenty to keep students busy and it’s known for clearly spoken and often more easily understood Spanish.

Pros:

  • Endless entertainment options
  • Clear accent
  • Major travel destinations within the city or as day/weekend trips

Cons:

  • Most expensive option behind Barcelona
  • May be hard to practice Spanish at tourist destinations as some people speak English
  • Commuting within the city may be expensive and time consuming

 

The Verdict: Madrid is a great choice for short-term students who want to spend time visiting major attractions during their stay in Spain.

 

 Granada

This Andalucía city is known for its student life and its unique cultural history.

Pros:

  • Relatively cheap and very cheap to go out for drinks (free tapas with drinks)
  • Student life: universities, clubs, athletic facilities, clubs/groups, night life
  • Many sites of touristic importance

Cons:

  • Not as convenient to major cities for international travel
  • Challenging accent

The Verdict: Granada is perfect for both short-term and long-term students on a budget, especially those who are interested in a comfortable student-oriented lifestyle or those who would like to see major attractions like the Alhambra during their stay.

 

Valencia

The third largest city in Spain, Valencia, offers the small-town feel in a big-city package with a very easily walked center and the convenience of an airport.

Pros:

  • Excellent entertainment options
  • Many sites of touristic importance
  • Well-located to travel before or after stay, or on weekends

Cons:

  • Moderately expensive in comparison to other options
  • Second spoken language is Valencian

The Verdict: Valencia is an excellent choice for short-term study or for long-term study when the price is not an issue. It is especially convenient for travel to other major cities in Spain including Barcelona by bus, train, or airplane.

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