The best way to gain confidence in your ability to speak a new language is to practice with native speakers. And the best place to access native speakers is, of course, in a country where the language is widely spoken. Spain is already a very popular travel destination and the obvious choice in this scenario, so we decided to compile a list of other Spanish-speaking countries around the world where you can take your language skills for a test drive.
Traveling to Peru is all the rage lately, and with stunning attractions like Machu Picchu and a plethora of wildlife (like llamas!), this South American country’s popularity is no surprise. Peru is home to about 25 million Spanish speakers, so it’s a great place to practice your Spanish.
Located at the northern tip of South America, Colombia is known for its trendy cities, lush rainforests and delicious coffee. Approximately 46 million Colombians speak Spanish, making it the South American country with the most Spanish speakers.
This one isn’t technically a country, but rather a principality wedged between France and Spain and co-governed by their leaders (along with its own parliamentary democracy). Andorra is popular among tourists, mostly because of its high-quality ski resorts in the Pyrenees Mountains. Spanish is widely spoken in the country, though its official language is Catalan.
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
If you’re a nature lover, this trip is for you. Ecuador, a Spanish-speaking South American country located on the equator (hence the name), has it all: a Pacific coastline, a section of the Andes Mountains, a chunk of the Amazon and, perhaps most beautiful of all, the Galapagos Islands — a volcanic archipelago that’s home to an incredible amount of biodiversity.
Known primarily for its eponymous rock, Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory situated just south of Spain at the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. In addition to its gorgeous seaside cliffs, Gibraltar is known for being a tax haven (AKA paradise for shoppers and companies with offshore bank accounts). English is the official language of the British territory, but Spanish is widely spoken there due to its proximity to Spain.
Mexico has the largest population of Spanish speakers in the world — about 121 million native speakers. It’s also relatively affordable to visit, which makes it an ideal place to practice your Spanish skills. Whether you explore the history and culture of Mexico City or relax on the beaches of Cancun or Tulum, our neighbor to the south should certainly be on your travel radar.
When you think of Spanish-speaking countries, the Philippines probably doesn’t come to mind. But because the country was under Spanish rule from the 16th to 19th centuries, and Spanish was an official language there until 1987, you can find a significant number of Spanish speakers still there (about 3 million). Come for the Spanish practice, stay for the beaches — which are breathtaking.
This South American country has everything you could want in a vacation: historic cities, pristine beaches, sprawling vineyards and one of the liveliest Carnaval celebrations outside of Rio. Uruguay also has the distinction of being ranked on our list of the world’s most LGBTQ-friendly travel destinations. The vast majority of the country’s population speaks Spanish — just over 3 million native speakers.
Another potentially surprising entry on this list is the African nation of Equatorial Guinea, where Spanish is one of the three official languages. About 787,000 native Spanish speakers live in Equatorial Guinea, which is a majority of the population. The country is made up of the mainland and five volcanic islands, and features such highlights as tropical forests filled with primates and elephants and beautiful beaches inhabited by butterflies.
Tucked between Nicaragua and Panama, this tiny Central American country is home to lush rainforests and tranquil beaches, and is a great place to visit if you’re into outdoor adventure. It’s also one of the most biodiverse nations on the planet. Most of Costa Rica’s population, which is just shy of five million, speaks Spanish.
Argentina is an enormous South American country (the eighth largest in the world), bordered by the Andes Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Because of its size, Argentina encompasses a wide variety of environments, including the modern city of Buenos Aires, snow-covered mountains, lakes, forests, wetlands and deserts. It’s also known for introducing the world to Tango dancing. About 42 million Argentines speak Spanish natively.