Planning your gap year but not sure where to go? Spain should definitely be high-up on the list whether you want to volunteer, immerse yourself in history and art, or just have a great time at the beach.
For many, taking a gap year is all about embarking on an adventure, taking those first steps away from home and travelling on your own for the first time. Spain has ample opportunity for adventures, whether you want to walk the world’s most dangerous footpath, zip line between countries or take to the slopes in the Pyrenees or Sierra Nevada.
Spaniards are confirmed night owls, not eating dinner until around 10pm, which makes for long evenings that stretch well into the night. Spaniards love heading out, meeting friends and enjoying a drink and some tapas – you’ll soon fit right in and won’t know how you’ll live without Spain’s incredible social life when you eventually have to leave.
Taking a gap year in Spain is a great opportunity to brush up on your language skills, something that could be very useful at university or in your future career. If nothing else, learning Spanish opens up a whole new world of travel possibilities – next stop, South America?
While Spain has the image for many as a summer holiday destination, the country is much more varied than its sun, sea and sangria stereotype. From the lush green landscapes of Galicia in the north-west, to the volcanic Canary Islands, Spain is full of different landscapes ripe for exploring.
From its Roman occupiers and Moorish history to the Spanish Golden Age and the Civil War, Spain’s history is fascinating, turbulent and, in many areas, well preserved. You can visit the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre in Tarragona, the stunning Moorish fortress, the Alhambra, in Granada, and the world’s biggest Gothic cathedral, where Christopher Columbus is buried, in Seville.
Spain has various volunteering opportunities if you want to give back and do some good during your gap year. Haces Falta is a good resource for volunteering opportunities, whether you’re into animal rights or want to help out new immigrants, there are lots of different volunteering jobs available.
If you’re looking to earn some extra money, teaching English as a foreign language is a popular job with English-speakers in Spain, where many Spaniards are eager to learn English to boost their career prospects. Check local language academies online for available positions.
Spain is a fantastic destination for those interested in art – from the Golden Age masters like Diego de Velázquez to the boundary-pushing modernism of Picasso and Salvador Dali. The country is home to some world-famous museums; Madrid’s Prado Museum regularly makes ‘the world’s top ten museums’ lists, while the Guggenheim in Bilbao is one of the country’s masterpieces of modern architecture.
Spain isn’t the world’s second-biggest tourist draw for nothing – the country’s beaches are fantastic – from the rugged, rocky beaches of the northern coast to the golden sands of the long Mediterranean coastline.
Spaniards love their festivals, from La Rioja’s wine battle to mega Easter celebrations. Each town and city has its own special fiestas, while the country has among the most public holidays in Europe (so plenty of days off if you’re working!)
Great place to be on a budget
Spain is a great place to live for students on a budget compared to pricier European countries like the United Kingdom or France. The south of the country is generally cheaper than the north, so if you’re looking for a reasonably-priced city, head to Andalusia.