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SpainFrom Mountain Passes to the Costa del Sol

Immerse yourself in the Spanish language and culture as you visit renowned art museums, explore ancient castles, learn to surf on Spain’s northern coast, hike through the Picos de Europa and take in the impressive rock formations, and pair up with a local teenager for a language exchange and daystay. End your student travel program in Spain on the gorgeous beaches of the Costa del Sol after outdoor adventures in the Alpujarras region.


June 22–July 24, 2023July 2–August 3, 2023June 25–July 27, 2023
33 days
$ 9,990 + airfare
Departs from New York
14–16 students, 2 leaders


  • Hone your Spanish skills by engaging with local people
  • Spend time with a host sibling and join their family for several days
  • Learn to dance flamenco with a professional instructor   
  • Hike past shepherds and their herds in the Picos de Europa

Meet featured leaders


This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program. Note: The groups departing on June 25 and July 2 proceed to each destination in the opposite order. They begin on the Costa del Sol, and then travel to the Alpujarras, Granada, Cuenca, Madrid, and the Picos de Europa, and conclude the program on the Northern Coast.

  • Departure
  • Travel Day

Meet your fellow high school student travelers and one or more of your leaders in New York, and fly together to Madrid, Spain.

  • The Northern Coast
  • 5 days

Begin the program with five days in a small Asturian fishing village on Spain’s gorgeous northern coast. Immerse yourself in the Spanish language and culture, and get to know your fellow travelers as you participate in daily language lessons. Visit local fiestas and markets, and play soccer on the beach with new Spanish friends. Enjoy a sea kayaking excursion or a surfing lesson in the blue waters of the Cantabrian Sea. Visit Covadonga, a major Asturian pilgrimage site. It was here that the Virgin Mary appeared to Don Pelayo in a cave and inspired his troops to defeat Moorish soldiers at the Battle of Covadonga in 722. Learn about Christian troops’ first victory during the Muslim occupation of Spain and the 700-year Reconquista that followed.

  • Picos de Europa
  • 4 days

Travel south to a mountain inn located at the base of the snowcapped Picos de Europa. Ride a teleférico, or gondola, into the mountains. Hike on spectacular trails past cows, sheep, horses, and goats. Meet local farmers who spend the summer months in the mountains with their herds and taste Asturian cheeses. Go canyoning in a mountain river, rappelling down waterfalls and jumping into natural pools.

  • Madrid
  • 5 days

Explore Madrid’s lively streets, sample local delicacies at a tapas market, and take in an outdoor film or a flamenco show. Visit world-renowned museums including the Prado and Reina Sofía, and learn about the life and works of Spain’s most celebrated painters, such as Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, and Dalí. Interview local madrileños in the city’s famous Retiro Park, and enjoy a picnic or a rowboat ride. Walk through the dressing rooms, tunnel, and coaching area of Real Madrid’s stadium, Santiago Bernabéu. View tapestries, thrones, and armor at the Royal Palace and learn about the history of the Spanish monarchy. Take a day trip to Segovia to see its Roman aqueduct or to Toledo to visit the Alcázar and ancient synagogue.

  • Daystay in Cuenca
  • 6 days

Experience Spanish life as it is really lived alongside your Spanish host sibling. Participate in activities together with Spanish teenagers during the day and get to know them over shared meals. At night, reconvene with your Putney group and stay together at a local hotel. Daily activities may include kayaking, a rousing game of soccer, a concert or film, a visit to a local museum, and an afternoon at the town pool. Spend two full days in the home of your host family and practice Spanish as you join in their daily activities, meet the family, and form lasting friendships.

  • Granada
  • 5 days

Head south to the Andalusian city of Granada. In 1492, Granada was the last Moorish city to surrender to Los Reyes Católicos, thereby ending the Christian reconquest of Spain. Observe many Moorish influences here, from Arabic teahouses to Islamic architecture. Visit the Alhambra Palace and view its stunning gardens, mosaics, and fountains. Soak in a traditional Arabic bath while sipping mint tea, take a flamenco lesson in a traditional cueva, and learn about olive oil production at a nearby olive grove. During language lessons, learn about Spanish words that come from Arabic and study the work of the famous Andalusian poet, Federico García Lorca.

  • The Alpujarras
  • 2 days

Travel to a white-washed village in the mountainous Alpujarras region for several days of outdoor adventure. Hike to the summit of Mulhacén, the highest peak on the Iberian Peninsula, and enjoy the crisp mountain air and stunning natural beauty. Take a day trip to Trevélez, where the region’s dry mountain air is used to cure serrano ham in jamón factories, or Lanjarón, famous for its natural springs and bottled water company.

  • Costa del Sol
  • 4 days

Continue south to a small town on the Costa del Sol, Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Kayak to a deserted beach and spend the morning snorkeling. Invite local children to join you in a game of frisbee or volleyball, and enjoy a sunny picnic. Take a day trip to the charming town of Frigiliana, and walk past white-washed homes decorated with painted ceramic pots and bright-red geraniums. Descend into Nerja’s three-mile cave network Las Cuevas de Nerja, and observe enormous stalactites and stalagmites. On your final evening, recount your adventures with new friends, and enjoy a special celebratory meal as a group.

  • Return
  • Travel Day

Fly from Málaga to New York with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination. Note: The groups returning on July 27 and August 3 fly from Bilbao to New York.

"One of my favorite parts of the trip was the hiking. These hikes were the times when I made my closest friends, shared stories, and got to know everyone better…all while speaking Spanish!"

— Alex A., Great Neck North High School, Great Neck, NY

A Day in the Life: Madrid

  • Due to the traveling nature of this summer program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in Madrid.
  • Enjoy a traditional Spanish breakfast at our hotel
  • Take part in a language lesson focused on Goya and Velázquez
  • View the work of Spain’s masters at El Museo Nacional del Prado
  • Have a picnic lunch in the Retiro Park
  • Recharge with a siesta and downtime
  • Learn about Real Madrid’s legacy at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
  • Take an evening stroll to the Plaza Mayor, and then enjoy dinner on a restaurant terraza
  • Visit a churreria for Spain’s famous churros y chocolate
  • Meet with your group to reflect on the day and discuss the upcoming schedule

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What to Expect

  • Language Learning

The goals of this language program abroad are to improve your Spanish proficiency and build your confidence in your conversational skills. Learn new vocabulary and expressions through cultural activities, outdoor adventures, and interactions with locals. Each day, leaders hold dynamic conversational language lessons designed to help you let go of your inhibitions and communicate more easily. Language lessons are fun and interactive, and incorporate active, hands-on elements such as scavenger hunts, vocabulary games, and informal interviews with local people.

  • Language Pledge

Two years of language study are required for this program. Students on this travel program are required to speak Spanish during the program and must sign a pledge to do so, not only with the many local people you meet, but also with the leaders and within the group. To learn more about our Language Learning programs, click here.

  • Independent Project

Pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you—build a phrasebook of colloquial expressions, create a cookbook of family recipes that you learn from your daystay family, or learn the lyrics of the summer’s most popular Spanish songs.

  • Physical Activity

This is a physically active summer program. You can expect to hike, swim, surf, and horseback-ride. You will also do a lot of walking in Spanish towns and cities. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

  • Accommodations

Accommodations in Spain are varied, ranging from mountain chalets to cosmopolitan hotels. Many of our residences are run by welcoming Spanish families that Putney has known for years. Rooms are a mix of doubles, triples, and quads. Leaders reside together with the students throughout the program.

  • Meals

We begin each day with a traditional Spanish breakfast at our residence. For lunches and dinners, we find small restaurants or go to local markets to purchase food for a picnic. Lunches tend to be the biggest meal of the day in Spain, followed by a siesta. Restaurants range from traditional regional cuisine to a more international selection in Madrid.

Explore the Destination

“I got better at Spanish, learned new things, stepped out of my comfort zone, and just overall improved every aspect of myself.”

— Eleanor B., Brookline High School, Brookline, MA

Next Steps

This program is directed by Mackenzie Grapes. If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

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