Learning Spanish in Spain – A Tale of Two Cities: Alicante and Salamanca

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Where Should You Learn Spanish in Spain?
Alicante Lies on Spain's Mediterranean Coast and Is a Mix of Old and New

Alicante and Salamanca – Two Great Cities in Spain to Learn Spanish

Two of the greatest places to learn Spanish in Spain are Alicante and Salamanca. Both are wonderful, exciting cities with great vibes and lots of energy. You can learn Spanish in either place and have the time of your life!

If you have never been to Spain but have the travel bug and you want to learn Spanish in Spain, have a look at these two exciting Spanish destinations.

Learning Spanish in Alicante

A Mix of Old and New, Plus Beach and Sun

Your first day in Alicante will be as impressive as a first day in Salamanca – but for different reasons. One of the first things you will notice in Alicante is the light. It’s as if the sun learned to shine first in Alicante and has been doing it ever since! Alicante is the sunniest place in Spain – you’ll enjoy more sunny days in Alicante than anywhere in Spain, even Andalucia, Spain’s famous southern region.

Once you’ve put your sun glasses on an adjusted to the bright light, you’ll probably notice all the palm trees. They’re everywhere. If you arrive by train, the second you step out of the train station you will see a bright, palm tree lined street (Avenida de la Estacion) that leads to an impressive fountain at Plaza de los Luceros. Past the fountain the light and palm trees continue down Alfonso el Sabio, one of Alicante’s principal avenues.

Scattered throughout the more modern sections of the city you’ll find some notable buildings and sights, but not as concentrated as in Salamanca. Once you get to Alicante’s old town (el Barrio), however, you’ll discover Alicante’s historic gems – the Basilica of Santa Maria (a Gothic style church), St. Nicholas of Bari, the baroque Casa de La Asegurada (from the 1600s, a civil building), the Casa consistorial de Ailcante, Convent of the Canónigas de San Agustín, and the Monjas-Stanfa Faz Square. Looking down on it all is the impressive Castilla de Santa Barbara.

Just a short walk from Alicante’s historic center you’ll find the Explanada – a palm tree lined pedestrian walkway that takes you along Alicantes port area and to Alicante’s most popular attraction – Postiguet beach. If you learn Spanish in Alicante, you will no doubt spend endless days basking in the sun on Alicante’s beach. Fortunately, if you really want to learn Spanish, Alicante’s beach becomes an extension of the classroom. You will hear Spanish all around you and likely meet Spanish people that you can practice your Spanish with.

Alicante’s city center, like Salamanca’s, is compact. But in Alicante you will find more theaters, and even more bars and restaurants, places to shop, and things to do than you will in Salamanca.

Alicante’s Vibe

Alicante is a small university city. But the vibe in Alicante is much more like that of a city larger than Alicante – it’s busy and got more hustle and bustle to it (but not too much). It has a more modern feel to it and the 26,000 university students there don’t make Alicante feel like a university city (the University of Alicante is actually a 20 minute bus ride outside of the city). In the summer months tourists and language students go to Alicante to vacation and to learn Spanish. Interestingly, the tourists that come to Alicante don’t make Alicante feel like a vacation hotspot – but there will be tons more people on the beach.

At night Alicante’s hustle and bustle can be seen, heard, and experienced in its many cafes, restaurants and clubs. That’s especially true of el Barrio, which is one of the most popular areas for going out in Alicante.  If you go to Alicante to learn Spanish, you are guaranteed to have some fun in Alicante’s el Barrio district.

Alicante, though relatively small, has become more international over the years. While many of the locals stick to what they know and like, many new international restaurants have set up shop in Alicante. So in addition to traditional Spanish food and tapas, in Alicante you also have some decent Italian food, Japanese and Chinese food, and Indian food. Even if you are in Spain to learn Spanish and learn Spanish culture, it’s nice to have an extra food option now and then!

What’s Great About Learning Spanish in Alicante?

Alicante has a great routine – go to school, learn Spanish, have lunch with friends at the beach, spend endless hours at the beach practicing and hearing Spanish, showering and freshing up after the beach, meeting friends for tapas, dinner, drinks, going out after dinner to cafes, bars, and clubs in the Alicante’s old town, meeting people from all over the world and experiencing Spain together. Great weather, plenty of sunshine, no culture shock, hardly ever a dreary day.

Awesome cultural events in Alicante! Especially Moros y Cristianos in Alicante, Moros y Cristianos in Campello, Semana Santa, and Hogueras. Because of Alicante’s ever fantastic weather, Alicante and towns near Alicante are host to a number of lively, fun festivals that are both fun and educational.

Learning Spanish in Salamanca

Great Architecture, Magnificent Sights, Old World Charm

Salamanca is a vibrant university city located in the Castile and León region of Spain. It’s just a couple of hours to the northwest of Madrid and is a short bus or train ride away from Madrid.

The moment you set foot in the Salamanca’s city center you will love it. If you don’t love it right away, give yourself 5 minutes to take in the sights, and then you’ll love it!

Learn Spanish in Spain - Salamanca
Salamanca is One of Spain’s Medieval Jewels!

Salamanca is famous for its university, which was founded in the 1100s, and for its sandstone architecture, which gives Salamanca a very special look and feel. For a small city in Spain, Salamanca packs in an amazing array of notable architectural sights, palaces, museums, and awe inspiring public spaces. Some of the most notable sights are Salamanca’s very impressive new cathedral, the Plaza Mayor (Salamanca’s main square), the Casa de las Conchas, which is just one of over 20 palaces and palatial homes, the Convento de las Duenas, the University of Salamanca, and the Pontifical University of Salamanca – just to name a very few! These sites, and many more, will surround you during your stay in Salamanca.

When you learn Spanish in Salamanca you find yourself living in one of Spain’s most beautiful and historically rich cities! The sights are everywhere and they transform each walk you take into a journey into Spain’s history. The only thing that’s better than experiencing Salamanca’s many historical sites and its vibrant energy is learning Spanish there and getting used to both while you are there. You get used to it, but you don’t stop noticing it. It’s something you will enjoy about Salamanca every day that you are there. Anywhere you go in Salamanca you will see incredible historic buildings and public spaces on a scale you might not be used to. Have a cafe in one of Salamanca’s many cafes, and you will have beautiful and interesting Spanish architecture in front of you, to your left, and to your right – and you just might be having a cafe in one of those sights!

Salamanca’s Vibe

Salamanca’s energy is vibrant. Between Salamanca’s two universities alone there are over 35,000 students. It is also a major destination for foreign students who want to learn Spanish in Spain. In any given month there are thousands of foreign students in Salamanca to learn Spanish. Take all of those students and all that energy and put them into a compact medieval Spanish city, and you can almost imagine the energy that Salamanca has during the school year.

But Salamanca is not a crazy place – it’s a fun place. It’s a European style univesity town that’s unlike any US university town you’ve seen. The city is filled with interesting bars, cafes, restaurants, and clubs, and pretty much everything else a student anywhere would want. Add to the mix the international students from all over the world that go to Salamanca to learn Spanish, and you have an even more diverse group of interesting people living and learning in Salamanca.

Spanish Schools and Spanish Language Courses in Salamanca

There are around 15 Spanish schools in Salamanca where you can learn Spanish. These are schools dedicated to teaching Spanish to foreigners – that’s all they teach. You will find both corporate-run, larger Spanish schools, medium sized Spanish schools, and smaller run cooperative Spanish schools that are owned by the teachers. If you want to be in a big school environment with tons of other students, choose one of the larger schools (and be prepared to pay a larger price!). If you feel that more personal attention will help you to learn Spanish better, choose one of the smaller schools (the smaller schools have a more family-like feel to them.

You can read more about how to choose a Spanish school here.

What’s Great About Learning Spanish in Salamanca?

Sitting at a cafe anywhere in Salamanca with your classmates. Walking through the Plaza Mayor, sitting around with friends there, having some sangria. Going out at night with your friends, having tapas, going to bars – so many fun places to go to, everything’s nearby. Even walking home after a night out – so great to walk around Salamanca’s old town!