Language learning holidays are one of the most authentic and fun ways to slow travel. We take a look at some of the best schools in Barcelona for learning Spanish….

Whether you fancy taking a short crash course in Spanish, while exploring everything Barcelona has to offer (which is a LOT!), or your goal is to become fluent in castellano, learning a foreign language in its country of origin is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.

Not only will you start to build up a new skill and quickly become conversational in Spanish, but your understanding of the country and its culture will deepen in a way the casual tourist will likely never understand… words are powerful after all, and they shape the way we think and behave. So to truly know Spain, you need to know Spanish!

Aside from the intellectual and cultural pleasures of learning a new language, you’re also likely to have a lot of fun with your fellow class mates. Signing up for a Spanish course is a great way to meet a bunch of other like-minded people, and lot of your best memories from a language learning holiday will be from hanging outside of the classroom, eating paella and tapas, playing volleyball at the beach or exploring the local nightlife and street fiestas.

The view over Barcelona from Gaudi’s stunning hillside gardens, Park Guell.

But don’t they speak Catalan in Barcelona? I hear you cry! Yes, indeed they do, along with Spanish (both are the region’s official languages), but the capital of Catalonia is a very cosmopolitan place. With a large expat population, made up of mostly of Latin Americans, and historic immigration from other parts of Spain (immigrants who thankfully brought the art of flamenco and the paella with them!), the lingua franca of Barcelona is most definitely Spanish. It’s the language that 98% of residents speak (as opposed to Catalan, which is far less widely understood… only around 55% are estimated to speak it), and it’s the language that the vast majority of new arrivals learn first.

A paella at one of Barcelona’s beach bars can’t be beat!

Meanwhile Catalan is spoken more widely in the smaller towns and villages outside of the capital, and is favoured in certain local districts like Gracia. Similar to castellano, català is also derived from latin, and is spoken by a good 9 million people worldwide, and is definitely worth digging into if you’re planning to permanently relocate to BCN.

Where to Study Spanish in BCN?

Here is a list of academies to put on your shortlist if you’re planning to learn Spanish in BCN this year…

1. BLAU Student Housing & Academy

Opening in summer 2024, BLAU is a stunning modern student residence that also offers on-site Spanish classes, making it perfect for any young travellers looking to spend summer in Barcelona brushing up on their language skills… or indeed for anyone coming to BCN for the whole academic year! Aside from the onsite Spanish school, BLAU offers a range of facilities like a rooftop pool, gaming room, study lounge, two gyms (interior and exterior), cinema room, restaurant and cafe, and you’re only a few blocks from the beach, once study time is over. BLAU is scheduled to open on 1st July 2024 and is taking bookings already for summer, and beyond…

Summer Discount: During the summer season (July 1 – Sept 15), enjoy a €5 discount per night, and get a free 1-hr Spanish class for each day of your stay, by using the promotional code URBANTRAVELBLOG.

Term-time Discount: During the academic year (September – June), save €50 per month when you use the code URBANTRAVELBLOG. Head to their website to book!

2. Camino Barcelona

Another language school with onsite accommodation, Camino Barcelona has 10 fully-fitted student apartments at its central location; and like most schools it can also place you with a Spanish-speaking host family, or in shared student apartment, depending which option suits you best. Recently awarded the highest possible rating from the Cervantes institute, all of Camino’s teachers are native speakers with a university degree in teaching Spanish as a foreign language, so you can be confident you’re getting the best possible tuition. In terms of course options, it is easy to customise how many hours a week you wish to study and you can also choose between morning or afternoon / evening classes. Camino is also one of the more socially active schools with daily cultural activities and meet ups, including walks, tours and day trips, as well as meals on one of their three gorgeous terraces.

3. World Class BCN

World Class BCN is a friendly language school based in the Raval district that prides itself on its flexibility, transparency and adaptability. What does that mean? In terms of flexibility, you can start any day of the week (most schools insist on starting on a Monday) and you can switch between groups if you find yourself ahead or behind your fellow students. Their transparency means there’s no hidden registration fees, and if classes fall on a bank holiday you don’t get charged for them. Adaptability means you can freeze your course and jet off to Ibiza, Seville or wherever, and come back and only pay for the classes you actually attend. Meanwhile their prices are very fair indeed, and you even can take a free trial class to check your level and assure yourself you’re in a world class language school!

4. Dinamo Language Academy

Enjoy the personal treatment at this ’boutique’ language school, in Barcelona’s beautiful El Born district, where the friendly staff will be glad to meet you and assess your needs, to help you select which of their four Spanish learning programmes works best for you. The four courses include part-time, intensive, 1 to 1, and ‘duo’. The latter is a 1 to 2 ratio of teachers to students and perfect for couples and friends who want to learn fast, but want to share the costs of private tuition (it’s also easier on the brain!). The academy’s dynamic style of teaching is designed to get you speaking asap, and tailored towards getting you confident at dealing with everyday situations in Spanish. They also offer online lessons, so you don’t even to be in Barcelona… you can start right away!

5. Linguaschools Barcelona

With schools all across Spain and Latin America, Linguaschools have taught 10,000s of students how to speak Spanish since they were founded in 2005. Their beautiful Barcelona academy is situated in a quiet street just 5 minutes from Plaça Catalunya (the main square), and it has two terraces and a garden for relaxing in between lessons. Meanwhile, each of their 10 classrooms has natural light and AC, so that you are comfortable during their classes, which have a maximum group size of 10 students. Their wide range of courses (semi-intensive, intensive, extensive, individual etc.) are all accredited by the Cervantes Institute, while they can provide accommodation in homestays, shared apartments or student residences.

6. Speakeasy BCN

Founded in 2001, Speakeasy is one of the most reputable language schools in Barcelona, conveniently located just a few minutes from Plaça Catalunya. Like most academies, they offer a mix of courses of different intensities (i.e. you choose the number of classes you want per week, be it 12, 20, 24 or 30 hrs) but they also offer ‘immersive’ courses where classroom hours are supplemented with Spanish speaking workshops, cultural activities and interactive games – perfect if you were that kid that could never concentrate in school! Their native speaking teachers are passionate and friendly, as are the helpful support staff who can help you with accommodation, visas, medical insurance and anything else you need for your Barcelona stay.

Advice For Students

Choosing a great school is obviously your first step in having a great learning experience in Barcelona, after which your most important decision is about your accommodation.

i. Choosing The Right Accommodation

Barcelona can be an expensive place to stay if you’re a tourist (hotels, hostels and Airbnb apartments can make the eyes water, especially in summer!), but luckily the local schools work hard to find affordable option for their students. Homestays are especially good value, and in these cases you are placed with a local Spanish family, so that you can continue your language learning at home after class. Obviously, if you plan to party as hard as you plan to study then it’s probably better to opt for a shared student apartment, where you will stay with other students from the same school. Realistically this means talking more English than Spanish at home, but not everyone enjoys the mental strain of full immersion anyhow! As you may have noticed, a couple of schools on this list offer onsite student apartments, and these are perfect if you want to minimise your travel time getting to and from class, and you’re keen to engage in a lot of the student activities that take place in and around the school.

ii. How Long To Stay for?

Another big question you might ask is how long to stay for. This mostly depends on your language goals, and your budget. Speakeasy have a good table at the bottom of their Spanish Courses page on how many weeks of study it takes to reach the next level of language proficiency (obviously factoring in how many hours a week you are studying!). If you go for an intensive course (20 hrs a week), you can reach Intermediate Spanish in just 8 weeks!

In general, I would recommend a stay of at least 4 to 8 weeks, not only for language reasons but to get a real taste of life in Barcelona. Which brings me to my next section…

iii. Why Barcelona in Particular?

I am confident you can have a good time in any Spanish or Latin American city… learning a language by choice is so much more fun than sitting in school classes you were forced to attend. (The dynamic is totally different and its satisfying to see your own progress!). But, it’s hard to look past Barcelona as the best place to study, because it’s simply one of the best cities in the world in terms of culture, lifestyle and nightlife.

Thanks to Gaudi and friends it’s definitely the best looking city in Spain, and having the beach is fantastic for cooling off and relaxing, giving it a distinct advantage over Madrid, Sevilla and Salamanca for example, especially in summer.

A large swath of city beaches adds a special allure to Barcelona…

Speaking about summer, while the weather is reliably sunny in Barcelona, it is not quite as swelteringly hot as in the south… and there’s still plenty of life in Barcelona during summer, when other Spanish cities tend to empty out. I once studied Spanish in Valencia for 4 weeks during summer, and, while I had an epic time, it was stiflingly hot and the city felt lifeless at times, as locals had left town to spend August, in particular, in their summer houses. While many locals leave Barcelona too, there’s still massive street festivals like Festa Major de Gracia and Festa Major de Sants, while visiting tourists give a boost to the city’s bustle and nightlife.

More Language Holidays…

Dip into our archives to find out what happened when Urban Travel Blogger Sam Howe went to San Sebastian to learn Spanish, or when our very own editor decided to pick up some Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Ipanema district.

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