1. Education

Discuss in my forum

Gerald Erichsen

What Is the Best Travel Destination for Learning Spanish?

By February 19, 2013

Follow me on:

Update: Readers' Choice Awards winners.

Readers Choice Awards 2013

Three destinations in Central America and two in Spain are the favorites of About.com Spanish Language readers who made nominations for this year's Readers' Choice Awards. The destinations vary widely, including sites in the Third World as well as one of the world's major resort areas. Nominators said they looked at costs, cultural attractions, immersion language programs, accessibility and even local accents in making their recommendations.

The finalists for the best travel destination for people learning Spanish are:

  • Antigua, Guatemala, the original capital of Guatemala and now one of the country's top tourist attractions, known for its colonial ruins and proximity to volcanoes.
  • Madrid, Spain, the national capital and the heart of Spanish culture, arts, cuisine and architecture.
  • Málaga and the Costa del Sol, Spain, known for their popular Mediterranean beaches and Arabic influence.
  • Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, also known as Xela or Xelajú, Guatemala's second-largest city, in the heart of the Mundo Maya.
  • San José and the surrounding cities of Costa Rica, centrally located in the highlands near rain forests and not far from Atlantic and Pacific beaches.

You can vote on this page once per day through March 19, 2013. The winner will be announced the following week. Feel free to discuss the nominees below.

And be sure to check out the Readers' Choice Awards nominees in other categories!


February 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm
(1) Jamie says:

I studied in Quetzaltenango (Xela) and have visited Antigua. I found Xela an excellent place to learn spanish: it has many spanish schools and things to keep a student occupied. It is Guatemala’s second city. Xela is something like 1500 metres above sea level, so gets quite cold in the morning and at night. Being a city there is crime and pollution from the busy roads. Antigua is a pretty place but very touristy. Many people speak english, unlike Xela. It is also noticeably more expensive than Xela. Xela provides the better immersion experience.

February 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm
(2) Spanish Guide says:

Jamie — Since you mentioned it, how big of an issue is crime in Xela these days? I know that’s a concern some people have when they travel to Guatemala.

I studied Spanish in Xela quite a few years ago (in fact, the Guatemalan civil war still was technically occurring, although the only sign I ever saw of a war was the frequent presence of U.N. peacekeeping vehicles). At the time, Xela had a reputation of being a peaceful city, and the only problems I heard about were pickpockets at some crowded markets (I had several locals caution me when I was at the San Francisco el Alto market). It was a good place to study, and I’d like to go back sometime and see how it has changed.

February 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm
(3) Nards Barley says:

I studied in Antigua Guatemala for 6 months. I found that after studying Spanish at the school 4-6 hours, I was burned out, and didnīt care about whether I spoke English the rest of the day.

February 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm
(4) Cerito says:

I’ve been to both Xela and Antigua to study Spanish. Though colder overnight, Xela is a much better environment for immersion. There’s too much English spoken in Antigua. You can actually stay your whole time in Antigua and never speak Spanish. Xela forces you to use what you learn. Crime in Xela is not a problem. There is no violent crime but I hear there is crime of opportunity. I never had a problem. NOW FOR MY FAVORITE PLACE TO STUDY. It’s Granada Nicaragua. The people are super friendly, it’s only 45 minutes from the airport (XELA is 4 hrs) and there’s a huge lake with several islands that you can tour. The only problem in Nicaragua is the people speak in voseao for the informal second person. Just stick 100% with the usted form and you’ll be all right. It did inspire me to read up on voseao.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Spanish Language

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.