Spain is one of the world’s top study abroad destinations and the world’s leading destination to learn Spanish. Here is a list of Spain’s most popular cities to study abroad or to learn Spanish.
Alcala de Henares
Alcala de Henares is a small city to the northwest of Madrid. Originally part of a Roman settlement, in later times Alcala became a citadel during the Muslim occupation of Spain. Alcala’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a long university tradition. It’s proximity to Madrid means you can enjoy the ambience and lifestyle of a small Spanish city while at the same time having access to all that Madrid, about 40 minutes away by train, has to offer. Within Alcala itself you will find sights like the Calle Mayor, the Cervantes Museum, the University of Alcala, the Laredo Palace, the Corral de Comedias, and the Palacio Arzobispal.
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Alicante is one of Spain’s most popular study abroad destinations. Alicante is a mix of old and new in an easy-to-live-in, sunny, pleasant environment. Situated on the Mediterranean sea, Alicante’s port, historic city center, and modern city center are all within walking distance of each other and the beach. Alicante is filled with restaurants, cafes, bars, stores, and plenty to do and experience. The city gives a large city experience with the benefits and lifestyle of a smaller city. It is filled with exciting cultural events and is close to numerous other coastal and nearby cities with cultural events and festivals.
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Barcelona is perhaps Spain’s most popular study abroad destination because of its lively night life, architecture, museums, and other cultural attractions. Barcelona is home to La Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum, the Park Guell, the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, the Casa Batilo, and many others. Barcelona’s population of around 1.5 million inhabitants make it Spain’s second largest city. In some regards Barcelona has the feel of a modern European city more so than a Spanish city. You will find more ethnic groups in Barcelona than in many other Spanish cities and the main language of Barcelona is Catalan, which is widely spoken in Catalunya, the province where Barcelona is located.
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Granada is one of Spain’s visual and cultural gems. Located in southern Spain’s Andalusia region, Granada has notable examples of the Moorish influence in Spain, the most notable of which is the Alhambra, a sprawling hilltop fortress complex the includes royal palaces, and notable patios. Granada’s mix of history, architectural styles, and southern Spanish cultural traditions make it one those cities you imagine when you imagine a “typical” city in Spain.
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Spain’s capital city, Madrid, is a lively, energetic city that encompasses big city living, European style. Madrid is a cultural center and is home to the Prado and the Reina Sofia museums, the Teatro Real, the Círculo de Bellas Artes, the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Plaza de Cibeles, the Retiro Park and Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. It is a city filled with art, culture, music, and theater. Its many restaurants, cafes and venues mean that you will have plenty to do and experience if you choose Madrid as your study abroad destination in Spain.
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Leon is located in northwest Spain and is home to a number of churches and cathedrals notable for their art and architecture, including the 13th-century Gothic Cathedral of Leon with its flying buttresses and towers, and the 10th-centure Romanesque Basilica de San Isidoro, known for its frescoes and royal tomb. Leon has a tranquil, pleasant ambience, in contrast to cities in southern Spain that see large numbers of both students and tourists that converge to the sunnier, more popular study abroad destinations in Spain.
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Malaga, like Alicante on the Costa Blanca, is a port city in southern Spain known for its great weather and sunny beaches. It is both a popular destination for those wanting to study abroad in Spain as well as vacationers from all over the world. Malaga is home to 2 citadels that overlook the city, the Alcazaba and Gibalfaro, as well as the Malaga’s Renaissance Cathedral.
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Oviedo is in northern Spain and is located in the Asturias region. It’s northern location translates into more greenery than you will find in southern Spain as well as a maritime climate due to its (relative) proximity to the ocean, which is about 19 miles away. In surrounding area you will find mountains, rivers, and lakes. In Oviedo itself you will find a beautiful city with notable traces of a rich past. The streets and plazas near Oviedo’s historic Cathedral de San Salvador have a lively, unique feel to them. In Oviedo you will find the pre-Romanesque monuments of nearby Mount Naranco, Oviedo’s Old Quarter and its 400 year old university.
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Salamanca is a world-renowned study abroad destination and is particularly popular with students coming to Spain to learn Spanish. Situated to the northwest of Madrid, Salamanca is located in the Castile and Leon region and is noted for its ornate sandstone architecture – the Salamanca cathedral, La Casa de las Conchas, the Plaza Mayor, Salamanca University, the San Esteban Church and Monastery, the Torre del Clavero tower, and numerous other sights will make you feel like you’ve travelled in time to a Spain you didn’t know existed. Salamanca is very much a university city, and the Spanish and international students that fill the city’s streets, cafes, and restaurants give it a particularly dynamic, vibrant energy.
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Seville is located in southern Spain, and is the capital city of Andalusia. Like Granada, Seville is one of the top Spanish cities that people think of when they think of Spain, its history, architecture, and culture. Seville is home to La Plaza de Espana, La Giralda, the Royal Alcazar of Seville, and it’s southern Spanish architecture. It is no less known for its tapas, food, and flamenco, which add to Seville’s Spanish flavor. It is Spain’s 4th largest city.
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Toledo is one of Spain’s ancient cities. It lies on a hill above the plains of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain (south of Madrid) and is known for the medieval Arab, Jewish and Christian monuments found within its walled city center. Toledo is home to the Moorish Bisagra Gate and the Sol Gate, as well as the Plaza de Zocodover. Living within its walled city is an experience that few of Spain’s oldest cities can offer.
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Valladolid is a city in northwest Spain. It’s known for medieval religious sites like the Spanish Gothic San Pablo Church, with a history dating from the 1400s, on San Pablo Plaza. Nearby is the Royal Palace, home of Spanish kings in the early 1600s. The National Sculpture Museum occupies a Gothic building. The Christopher Columbus Museum chronicles the life of the Italian explorer, who died in Valladolid in 1506. Valladolid is not far from Salamanca and, like Salamanca, Valladolid has “real” Spain feel to it – it’s not a city you often see in pictures when you read about Spain but it is in every way a Spanish city.
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