20 places you’d rather be than at home this summer

ESL – Language Travel are here to help you escape

Every year, you decide this summer will be different. It will be the summer you always dreamed of – full of sunshine, sand and sambuca. You’ll drink cheap cocktails in a historic square, watch the sun rise, and fall in love with an exotic stranger. When September inevitably arrives you will reluctantly return,  tanned and world-weary, with enough adventures for a lifetime.

However, there is one flaw in this plan – you don’t speak another language. All those wasted hours in GCSE French, and you can barely order a sandwich without resorting to speaking English really slowly.


The idea of sitting in a stuffy classroom all summer fills you with dread. But what if there was another way? What if you could combine learning a language, with the summer holiday of a lifetime?

Luckily for you, ESL – Language Travel offers just that. With in-country language tuition in over 200 destinations worldwide, you can live la dolce vita while giving your CV a major boost. They’ve taken all the stress out of it, and  all you have to do is choose where you want to go!

 So, where would you rather be this summer?

If you want to learn…French



This lovely little city in the South-East of France has long been known as the ‘food capital of Europe’. If you like the idea of spending your mornings learning French, and afternoons eating delicious food while sunbathing alongside a lake in  Parc Tete d’Or (with the odd giraffe, courtesy of the free zoo) then this is the place to come. At night, check out the boat bars on the river and go to a gig in a Roman Amphitheatre.

Bring: An empty stomach

Don’t bring: Your ‘I Heart Paris’ t-shirt

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If Nice is where the tourists go on holiday, then Biarritz is where the French go. As well as being a prime destination for surfing, with great beaches and huge Atlantic waves, this is also the summer home of the glamorous glitterati, with a mix of high-end bars and beach cafes. It is also perfectly position for visiting the cool cities of Northern Spain, with sangria-and-surfing capital San Sebastian only an hour away.

Bring: A surfboard

Don’t bringA fear of seagulls

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Ah, Paris. The city of cheese, wine, philosophers, love and at least 50% of romantic comedies. This is your chance to become an expert on shoulder-shrugging, coffee-drinking, and French art so that for the rest of your life you can mention ‘the summer you spent in Paris’ at any opportunity.

Bring: A complicated book and a fondness for wine

Don’t bring: A bumbag, or anything that could have you mistaken for an American

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If you prefer your French a little more Canadian, look no further than Montreal. A beautiful city with a thriving cultural scene (particularly theatre, dance and cinema), great food and all the maple syrup you could ever want. Check out the films of Xavier Dolan for an insight into hip Quebecois cinema.

Bring: A cool book on interpreting film

Don’t bring: Justin Bieber – Canada doesn’t really want him back

Start here



Take the best bits of France (culture and food) and put them on beautiful Caribbean island, and you end up with Guadeloupe. Divide your time between French lessons, walks up a volcano, the national park, and the underwater reserve. If you have any time left after that, why not pop over to some neighbouring Caribbean islands for a flying visit?

Bring: Sun cream and a snorkel

Don’t bring: A winter coat

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If you want to learn…Spanish



Not content with just being one of the world’s most infamous clubbing destinations, this Mediterranean island also offers hidden beaches, traditional Spanish towns and and a chilled out way of life. The perfect combination for incredible nights and lazy, sunny afternoons by the sea.

Bring: Colourful swimwear

Don’t bring: Your Taylor Swift CD

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Home to crazy architecture, tapas, siestas, Salvador Dali and even a beach, Barcelona is the ultimate summer city. Relax in Parc Guelle amongst colourful Gaudi statues, learn Spanish in the afternoon sun, visit the Dali and Picasso museums, spend all night in a European superclub…you will never run out of things to do here.

Bring: A sketchbook in case you are struck by inspiration

Don’t bring: Your Real Madrid shirt

Start here

Costa Rica

Tenorio Waterfall, Costa Rica

With tropical rainforests and exotic animals galore, Costa Rica is the place to go if you want an off-the-beaten-track kind of summer. If you like the idea of swimming in a waterfall, hanging out with some monkeys and getting out of the urban sprawl, then Costa Rica will appeal.

Bring: Mosquito spray

Don’t bring: High heels

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Once ignored in favour of Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia is quickly becoming known as one of the best cities in Spain. With great night life, a lovely beach, loads of history and all the paella you could want, this seaside port will make Blackpool and Brighton look pretty rubbish in comparison.

Bring: An appetite for seafood

Don’t bring: A cocktail dress – Valencia is all about relaxed bars and cafe culture

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Buenos Aires

buenos aires2

Despite being the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires has a lot in common with the major European cities. It is famous for having bags of culture and beautiful architecture, along with world-class steak. If you want to get out of the city for a bit, Argentina is also one of the best places in the world for horse riding and polo, so make sure you visit a nearby ranch for a true cowboy experience.

Bring: Riding boots

Don’t bring: Vegetarianism

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Normally associated with hats, canals and cigars, Panama has a lot more to offer beyond these. Combining unspoiled countryside with big modern cities, this is one of the most unique countries in Latin America. Visit coffee farms, go scuba diving off tiny islands…the options are endless.

Bring: A taste for cigars

Don’t bring: A Panama hat

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If you want to learn…Italian



Make like Audrey Hepburn and re-enact your own Roman Holiday this summer. Beautiful ancient monuments, all the gelato and pizza you can eat, attractive people on mopeds and learning the language of love under the Italian sun. What more could you want?

Bring: Sunglasses and a moped helmet

Don’t bring: Gluten intolerance

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Small and perfectly formed, Florence is the ideal destination for an arty, romantic summer. Full of world class museums, delicious food markets and little medieval wine bars, it would be practically impossible to come here and not fall in love, whether it’s with a beautiful local, the city itself, or even a particular type of pizza.

Bring: Your artistic side

Don’t bring: Anything too skimpy – you need to look respectable to visit the Duomo

Start here



Milan is the second largest city in Italy, and undoubtedly the fashion capital. This is the place to come if you like the idea of sitting in a beautiful old square, practicing your Italian over an espresso order and being impossibly chic. The shopping is pretty fantastic too, but make sure to buy a size up if you can’t resist all the pasta and panettone.

Bring: Your most expensive sunglasses

Don’t bring: Dungarees

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If you want to learn…German



Berlin is undoubtedly one of the coolest cities in Europe. It’s a hipster paradise of warehouse clubs (Berghain, anyone?), tattooed creative types and really cheap beer.  After German lessons, spend the afternoon  at the pool on the river and brushing up on European history at the remains of the Berlin Wall, before dancing the night away to an obscure German DJ.

Bring: Black clothes and an air of nonchalance

Don’t bring: Your One Direction merchandise

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If you want to learn…Japanese



Going to Tokyo is basically like stepping into the future. A massive city full of blinding lights and cutting edge technology, but at the same time full of quiet cherry blossom gardens and great little sushi restaurants. It’s guaranteed to be completely unforgettable.

Bring: A book on Japanese customs, lest you offend someone by offering to carry their suitcase!

Don’t bring: A handkerchief – blowing your nose in public is frowned upon

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If you want to learn…Portuguese



Gone are the days when Casablanca’s Rick Blaine questioned what was in Lisbon – this hilly Portuguese capital is seeing somewhat of a Renaissance, as word spreads about winding old streets, classic cafes, delicious food and an abundance of art galleries. Watch the sunset from the Moorish castle, smug in the knowledge that most of the tourists are clogging up Madrid instead.

Bring: Decent shoes – there are a lot of hills

Don’t bring: An aversion to steep walks

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Rio de Janeiro

rio de janiero

As the home of Carnival, Rio is a place that knows how to have fun. An eye-opening city with beautiful beaches like Copacabana and wealthy suburbs, yet miles and miles of impoverished favelas, it is impossible to come here  and not have your world view altered just a bit. Summer 2014 will also see the Football World Cup descend on the city, so if you are a sports fan then this is prime time to visit.

Bring: A really really small bikini

Don’t bring: A Spanish dictionary

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If you want to learn….Mandarin



The wall is not the only Great thing about Beijing – there are also cool bars, incredible food, a rich history and a buzzing urban vibe. Visit the Forbidden City for an insight into old China, then follow up with all the dim sum you could ever want.

Bring: Trainers – the Great Wall is pretty long!

Don’t bring: Asthma

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If you want to learn…Russian



As the capital of Latvia, both Russian and Latvian are spoken in this Baltic city, so despite studying Russian here you might come away with more than one language!  With a fascinating heritage, beautiful old town (UNESCO recognised), nearby beach and reputation for a great night out, Riga is ideal if you want to explore somewhere a bit different than the usual European hotspots.

Bring: A basic understanding of the complicated Latvian history – read it here

Don’t bring: A stag party

Start here

ESL – Language Travel is one of the world’s leading language travel organisations, offering tailor-made language courses in over 200 destinations. They will be with you every step of the way, from flights and accommodation to visas and course enrollment, to ensure that you have the best experience possible.

What are you waiting for? ESL – Language Travel are still offering their First Minute Discount for booking your summer language stay early. Visit www.esl.co.uk for more information, and to order your free brochure today!