Top 5 Places in Latin America to Study Spanish

Over 400 million people in the world speak Spanish.  It’s the world’s second most popular language, after Chinese.  And if you’re traveling anywhere in Latin America ~ be it Mexico, Costa Rica, or Peru: it’s crucial that you have at least a basic understanding of Spanish.  When I set out for South America in 2016, I knew ZERO Spanish.  Nada. Zilch.  So one of the top requirements for my trip was to pick a city that offered Spanish lessons.  I spent months researching, & this post takes you deep into that research, as we look for the “Top 5 Places in Latin America to Study Spanish!”

Exploring the San Telmo Market in Buenos Aires, Girl Who Travels the World, Top 5 Places in South America to Study Spanish

Buenos Aires is one of my picks for the top 5 places in Latin America to study Spanish!

Map of Latin America

My top 5 (okay…6!!) picks for where to study Spanish in Latin America can all be found on the map below.  In order from north to south, they are: 1) Mexico City, 2) Antigua, Guatemala, 3) Medellin, Colombia, 4) Banos, Ecuador, 5) Cusco, Peru, & 6) Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I’ve traveled solo in ALL these places (except Banos), & can recommend any as a great destination for solo travel.  And taking Spanish classes is the perfect way to meet new people once you’re there.

Cusco, Peru

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Antigua, Guatemala

Banos, Ecuador

Medellin, Colombia

Mexico City

Top 5 Places in Latin America to Study Spanish

***If I’ve stayed in a particular hotel that I love for solo travelers, it’s listed below each city.

1) Antigua, Guatemala: For Coffee Lovers

The minute I stepped onto the roof of my Antigua hotel, La Villa Serena, & looked around at the green hills & volcanoes in the distance, I said to myself: “I could live here.”  Antigua isn’t the biggest city in Guatemala (that would be Guatemala City), but it may well be the most charming, & it serves up the best coffee I’ve ever had.  If you love colorful towns, cobble-stone streets, climbing volcanoes, charming bed & breakfasts, & a small-town feel: Antigua is for you.  Plus, gorgeous Lake Atitlan, the turquoise pools of Semuc Champey, & Mayan ruins of Tikal all await you as glorious side trips.

Where to Study Spanish in Antigua: Antigua Spanish Academy

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Guatemala Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

Antigua, Guatemala is an ideal place to learn Spanish, study in cute cafes, drink fabulous coffee, & climb volcanoes…

Top 5 Places in Latin America to Study Spanish

2) Banos de Agua Santa, Ecuador: For Nature Lovers 

Banos de Agua Santa is the only place on this list I haven’t been to.  I tried to visit twice from Cuenca, Ecuador ~ but bad weather & an invitation to return to the Galapagos kept me away.  I was DYING to see Banos for myself though, & if you’re a nature lover: this is the place for you.  They’ve got an incredible tree swing called Casa del Arbol there, that looks like you’re swinging into infinity…plus hot springs, hiking, & waterfalls (60+ in the area!!) galore.  Banos is known as the “Gateway to the Amazon,” & if you’re a nature & animal lover: there are many wildlife sanctuaries here where you can volunteer. 

Where to Study Spanish in Banos: Mayra’s Spanish School

Top 5 Places in Latin America to Study Spanish, Girl Who Travels the World

The famous “tree swing” in Banos, Ecuador is just one reason to visit: their myriad of places to study Spanish is another.

3) Medellin, Colombia: For Urban Lovers  

I’ve visited Medellin twice now ~ once solo, & once with my friend Eileen.  And if I was going to study Spanish anywhere in Colombia: it would be here.  Cartagena is great, but it’s so humid & hot: I just don’t feel like I’d get any studying done there!  And I loved Bogota, but I found it more intimidating as a city.  Medellin invites you in; the city has a vibrancy & pulse to it, that makes you want to get out & explore!  Plus, the stunningly gorgeous town of Guatape is just two hours away, & Colombia’s famous coffee regions like Salento are due south of Medellin ~ which makes it a great base for exploring Colombia. 

Best Neighborhood to Base In: El Poblado. It’s chic, hip, filled with cafes & nightlife, & felt safe at all hours of the day & night.

Where to Study Spanish in Medellin: Toucan Spanish School

Pissing Over Medellin, Girl Who Travels the World

Medellin, Colombia is the ultimate urban city: it’s hip, young, & filled with energy. They’ve made a complete turn-around from the dangerous days when Pablo Escobar controlled the city, by putting money & resources INTO the poorest neighborhoods in town.

4) Cusco, Peru: For History Lovers

Back in 2016, when I first took off for South America, I researched & researched to figure out exactly where to start my trip ~ & where to spend a few weeks learning Spanish.  After months of research: I chose Cusco, Peru.  Really big cities (like Lima) tend to overwhelm me; Cusco seemed just right in terms of size: it’s big enough to have plenty of options for accommodations & nightlife, & of course, Machu Picchu was the #1 thing on my bucket list at that time.

***Watch Video of Machu Picchu HERE***

The more I’ve gotten to know Peru over the years, frankly the more intrigued I become: the history of the Incas & the Spanish Conquest is fascinating, & so many of the ruins still remain today, that Peru to me is like a living, breathing history lesson.  It’s my favorite country in South America, & is one I’ll return to again & again through the years. 

Where I Stayed in Cusco: Apu Huascaran Hostal, JW Marriott El Convento, & Novotel Cusco….to name a few.

Where I Studied Spanish in Cusco: San Blas Spanish School

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My Spanish teacher in Cusco, Kathya ~ is in the middle here. She took us up to the famous ruin, Sacsayhuaman, which overlooks Cusco…& took us horseback riding up here!

Top 5 Places in Latin America to Study Spanish

5) Buenos Aires, Argentina: For Tango Lovers

I spent about a month in Buenos Aires, mainly in the San Telmo neighborhood, & really came to appreciate this city.  Though it’s HUGE, each neighborhood has its own flair: & you can pick the spot that best suits your vibe.  Palermo is hip & young with all the trendy spots, while San Telmo’s got the history & famous Sunday market, & Recoleta has the fanciest hotels & poshest boutiques.  No matter which neighborhood you choose, you’ll be able to find Spanish AND tango lessons just about anywhere, as both are the underlying lifeblood of this bustling yet relaxed city. 

Where I Stayed in Buenos Aires: Moreno Hotel Buenos Aires, in San Telmo (BIGGEST hotel room EVER!!!)

Where to Study Spanish in Buenos Aires: Verbum School of Spanish 

Top 5 Places in Latin America to Study Spanish, Girl Who Travels the World

Learn Tango AND Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

***Bonus: 6) Mexico City…or Anywhere in Mexico!

I think I originally skipped over Mexico because there are simply TOO many choices here!  It’s actually overwhelming.  You could study Spanish in the chic Roma Norte neighborhood in Mexico City, or the colorful Tlaquepaque district in Guadalajara.  If the beach is more to your liking: fly to the Yucatan, which is also one of the safest regions in Mexico.  Here, you could take lessons in Merida, Cozumel, or Playa del Carmen (though Playa could distract you with its party vibe).  For more authentic Mexican culture, head to Oaxaca & take lessons at one of the many schools in beautiful Oaxaca City

The choices is Mexico are….ENDLESS!!

15 Photos to Inspire Your Trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, Girl Who Travels the World

Guadalajara is the second-largest city in Mexico, & its beautiful yellow cathedral (pictured here) is the city’s historical center. There are numerous language centers both here & in Mexico City.

Where Do You Want To Go…???

Top 5 Places in Latin America to Study Spanish

  One more thought on learning Spanish in Latin America: volunteer.  Volunteering in Costa Rica gave me one of the best chances to improve my Spanish, as my host family spoke no English!  And it was a beautiful, rich experience that cost very little.

xoxo Noelia

Read Next: How to Volunteer & Travel the World…Basically for Free!