Are you someone looking for adventure? Maybe you want to get to know a foreign country while completing your studies? Spain is a fascinating and dynamic country for many reasons, and student life in the country is just as exciting. Today, EDUopinions will list the five best student cities in Spain to help make your dreams of higher education a reality. This list is based on EDUopinons’ analysis of our verified student reviews, meaning that the five cities below were ranked best according to real students’ experiences.
Is Spain a good place to study?
Spain is an excellent place for international students. While cities like Barcelona and Madrid are well-known around the world, the country has plenty more to offer. Beautiful countryside, idyllic beaches, delicious and diverse food are just some of the reasons people love Spain. Aside from these benefits, life in Spain is great for students. The county’s laid back atmosphere and high quality of life make it an ideal place for students who may find themselves stressed with coursework. In addition, the international student population in Spain is quite large, meaning there will be plenty of people in the same boat as you.
How much can a graduate earn in Spain?
Of course, how much a graduate can expect to earn in Spain depends on their degree. For example, mechanical engineers in the country earn between €21000 and €52000 per year depending on experience. Business and management consultants can expect to earn between €24000 and €65000 per year in Spain. For those in the medical field, salaries vary greatly but average at €50000 per year.
Is it an expensive place to live?
Yes and no. As in most countries, the cost of living depends on where exactly you are living. If you choose to study in Madrid or Barcelona and live in a central, one-bedroom apartment, your budget will have to be pretty generous. That said, there are plenty of ways to minimise costs in Spain. Attending university outside Madrid or Barcelona will definitely help, but shared accommodation is also a good way to stay on budget anywhere in the country. Thankfully, university fees in Spain average around €1000 per year, considerably less than in other countries. Finally, the overall cost of living in Spain is about 20% less than in other European countries. Depending on where you come from, Spain could be an ideal country to live in if budget concerns are on your mind.
the 5 best student cities in Spain:
1. Valencia (4.33 stars)
Valencia is Spain’s third-largest city and the capital of the Autonomous Community of Valencia. Located in the east of the country, the city lies on the Mediterranean Sea and is home to one of Europe’s busiest ports. For those interested in arts and culture, Valencia is the place for you. With countless museums and a long culinary tradition, life in this city is certainly exciting for those keen on learning about another culture.
If the city of Valencia catches your eye, then be sure to check out the Universitat de València. Offering a slew of different courses, there is certainly something for everyone at the Universitat de València. Another exciting aspect of the university is the opportunity to complete a double degree, spending two years in Valencia and two years at a partner university somewhere around the world. Something to check before applying is what language certain degrees are offered in; as a highly international institution, the Universitat de València teaches in numerous languages, including Spanish, Catalan, Valencian, English and French. With some much to offer, the Universitat de València is well-loved by students and alumni. Just read what one alumna wrote:
Valencia is a really nice city to study, located at the Mediterranean, beautiful old town, lots of great places to eat and drink, great pleasure to start excursions on the Costa Blanca… If you come from abroad, you will love it!
The professors were good and all of my classes were in a small group, which was great. Nice buildings not too far from the sea, so you can bring your towel and go to the beach after classes.
I got my own accommodation outside the campus, which was nice and cheap, and great for immersion into Spanish life.
Maybe the Universitat de València does not have exactly what you are looking for, but you are still keen on studying in the city. If that is the case, then consider some of the other incredible universities nearby. For business-savvy students, ESIC Business & Marketing School as well as IEM Business School are both great options. For those interested in science and technology, you should look into Universidad Politécnica de Valencia – UPV. Or consider Universidad Europea – UE, which offers some specialised business degrees in addition to some in the humanities.
2. Madrid (4.01 stars)
Of course, this list would be amiss without mentioning Madrid as one of the best student cities in Spain. The capital of the Spanish state, Madrid is a large cosmopolitan city, with fun nightlife, diverse people and incredible gastronomy. For students, the city is ideal due to its high level of safety and a large international population. Though things like rent can be expensive in the city, other everyday items are relatively more affordable than elsewhere in Europe. If you are looking to learn or work on your Spanish skills, Madrid is a good place to do it, as it is the capital of the historic and linguistic Castile region.
One of the best universities in Madrid is Universidad Europea, with two campuses in the city (Villaviciosa de Odón and Alcobendas). It also has a campus in Valencia and two in the Canary Islands (La Orotava). It is an innovative institution geared towards adding value to society and contributing to its progress. At Universidad Europea you acquire knowledge and develop skills and values through an educational model in which you learn by doing, in an interdisciplinary and international setting where you are immersed in the profession from day one, and through the use of space and technology that has revolutionized learning
If you are looking to learn and study with connections to the rest of the world, this is one of the best universities to do so in Spain. I studied sports management and I went to Madrid for 6 months study at the Universidad Europea Real Madrid, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. The connection between cultures and languages were awesome.
Other universities in Madrid to look into including the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid – UC3M, Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos – URJC. These two schools are especially well-known for their competence in the humanities and social sciences. If you are looking to study business, then you should consider the Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia – UCAM and IE University as other great options in Madrid.
3. Barcelona (3.69 stars)
A similarly popular destination, Barcelona is hands-down one of the best student cities in Spain. Though living in the city may not help your Spanish much, there is plenty of Catalan language and culture to pick up on. Barcelona is an economic and innovation capital of Europe, meaning that it is an ideal place to make contacts for your professional life after university. Even aside from education and work, Barcelona is a wonderful place to live, with glorious beaches, incredible food and international people around every corner.
The Universitat de Barcelona is one of the oldest and best-ranked universities in Spain. A powerhouse of research output, the university is especially well-known for its courses in science and technology. That said, Universitat de Barcelona offers dozens of different degrees across a variety of fields and levels of study. Another great thing about this university is its dedication to active learning and innovative teaching methodologies, promoting students’ agency to actively participate in class. It is no wonder why graduates of Universitat de Barcelona have such great things to say about their time there:
It’s been a great opportunity and a great self-development moment been studying at this university were I meet a lot of good professors and really interesting persons. If just think they could update a while the collection of the library.
In addition to the Universitat de Barcelona, the city is home to a plethora of top-notch institutions of higher education. For business-related studies, ESADE Business School and IESE Business School are excellent options. For students in STEM fields, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona – UAB and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – UPC (sometimes referred to as Barcelona Tech) are also great places to consider. Finally, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra – UPF is another highly-ranked institution in Barcelona, offering degrees across a variety of subjects and in ten languages.
4. Granada (3.68 stars)
The next on our list of the best student cities in Spain is Granada. A beautiful city in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, Granada is situated beneath the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Its architecture retains a great deal of Islamic influence from Moorish times, making for a truly stunning city centre. Aside from its looks, Granada is a wonderful place to spend your studies. With both the sea and mountains less than an hour from the city, there are plenty of natural attractions nearby. In addition, there are fewer expats in Granada than the other cities on this list, meaning your cultural experience in the city may be even more authentic.
The Universidad de Granada is the city’s largest university, with four campuses spread across different historic sites in the town centre. This university is one of the best for students of history and archaeology. Set in such a historic city, the university provides students ample opportunities to explore Granada’s rich historical and archaeological background. Even if your interests do not lie in the fields of history or archaeology, the Universidad de Granada may still be a great option for you, as they offer courses in over 70 different subjects. Just check out what one law student had to say:
It is a university which displays a wide multiplicity of leisure and learning activities, the different faculties are very well organized, it is a university with a lot of history. in a city where the university environment that characterizes it breathes,
5. Malaga (3.45 stars)
The final location on EDUopinions’ list of the best student cities in Spain is Malaga. While it is also located in Andalusia, the city is distinct from Granada for a few reasons. Malaga is located on the Mediterranean Sea and is famous for its expansive beaches, wide green promenades and for being the hometown of painter Pablo Picasso. A bit more laid back than cities like Madrid and Barcelona, Malaga definitely embodies the Andalusian lifestyle. As well, due to its seaside location, Malaga is home to some of the best seafood in Spain and offers many mouth-watering local delicacies.
If Malaga sparks your interest, then you should surely check out the Universidad de Málaga. With state-of-the-art learning facilities and experienced professors, the quality of education at the Universidad de Málaga is among the best in Spain. The university’s decentralised campus means that lessons take place across the city. Despite this, students at Universidad de Málaga maintain an exciting and inclusive social life, with plenty of societies and social events to fill your time outside the classroom. The range of degrees offered by the university is impressive, spanning fields from medicine to tourism to philosophy to public administration. This is all to say that the Universidad de Málaga offers something for everyone. In the words of one marketing student:
I did Erasmus in this university for 6 months and it was a great professional experience really different from my local university. I studied Marketing and in this university, I was able to apply the concepts to real contexts.
Besides all the theory, I was able to get hands dirty trying to apply the concepts almost every week in practices with real companies. The methodology was really nice: one week of theory and one of practice, simultaneously. I totally recommend this university for Marketing.
Another interesting option for higher education in Malaga is Les Roches Marbella. For those interested in the hospitality industry, this university may be right for you. Studying hospitality in one of Europe’s most popular destinations is a sure-fire way to learn the ins and outs of the industry, all the while in one of the best student cities in Spain.
In conclusion, this article has highlighted the five best student cities in Spain and spotlighted a few excellent universities in each city. Hopefully at least one of them caught your attention but even if not, EDUopinions can help find your perfect university. If you’re still assessing universities in Spain, here’s an article on the 5 best universities in the country, and another one on the University of Granada, one of the largest universities in the country.
Do not hesitate to reach out for free, individualised advice on anything related to university studies!
For more articles on what it is like to study in Spain, check out The Pros and Cons of Studying in Madrid, The Five Best Business Schools in Spain and The Best MBAs in Spain.