¡Hola, España! With its laid-back atmosphere, Spain is the perfect introduction to Europe for middle school students. You’ll get to experience three diverse regions of Spain–metropolitan Madrid, Mediterranean Andalucía, and the unique Catalan culture of Barcelona. Stroll through the parks and plazas of regal Madrid and feast on churros and paella. Shop ‘til you drop on the Gran Vía, ride rowboats in the lake at Buen Retiro Park, and even get a behind-the-scenes tour at the home of Real Madrid Football Club, Bernabéu Stadium. Try your hand at all different water sports on the pristine beaches of the Costa del Sol in Málaga. We will end our trip in fun and funky Barcelona, where we will bike around this beautiful city, sample local cuisine at an old-world marketplace, marvel at the unique architecture, and so much more. This trip is ideal for any younger teen looking for a not-your-average-summer-camp experience. Come and experience three of the complex cultures that can be found in Spain and see that there’s more to this beautiful Iberian country than meets the eye!
During this program, you will…
- Visit Madrid’s royal palace, still in use by the monarchy, and learn about the scandals that took place here
- Stroll through the bustling Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol
- Have an up-close visit of both the Real Madrid and FC Barcelona soccer stadiums (including the players’ benches and locker room!)
- Go snorkeling, try water sports, and relax on the white beaches of Málaga’s Costa del Sol
- Watch a spectacular flamenco dance show in Andalucía
- Enjoy a fresh fruit juice at the Boquería Marketplace
- Bike through Barcelona’s hidden passageways to find treasures both old and new
- Take in Gaudi’s incredible architecture at Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia
- Learn how to make your very own paella at a private cooking course
- See the incredible lights and music show at the Magic Fountain
DAY 1: DEPART FROM NEW YORK (JFK)
DAYS 2-3: MADRID
Welcome to Europe! Madrid welcomes us with open arms, a vibrant culture, and a plate of steaming churros con chocolate. We’ll get to know downtown Madrid like locals as we shop in the Puerta del Sol, learn about the bullfights and beheadings in Plaza Mayor, and hang out with the turtles in Retiro Park. You’ll gaze in awe at the massive Santiago Bernabéu soccer stadium, home to Real Madrid, and learn about the monarchy’s scandals on our guided tour of the Royal Palace. We’ll see original paintings by Dalí and Picasso, and feast on a wonderful paella dinner.
DAYS 4-6: MÁLAGA > NERJA
Next we head south to the Costa del Sol, a Mediterranean paradise! Try your hand at windsurfing or paddleboarding, or simply relax and soak up the rays on these beautiful beaches. Of course, no trip to Spain would be complete without attending an exhilarating flamenco show. You will also get to walk around Málaga’s beautiful Old Quarter and see the remains of the Moorish civilization that lived here. We’ll also take a day trip to the whitewashed coastal village of Nerja to explore its amazing caves and enjoy an afternoon snorkeling or scuba* trip surrounded by schools of rainbow-colored fish. Top off your time here with a sunset catamaran ride around Málaga’s harbor!
*This is an optional excursion
DAYS 7-9: BARCELONA
Just a short flight away is Barcelona, where we’ll dive right into this funky city with lunch at the Boquería Market, a hip old-world marketplace that sells the freshest fruit juices, tastiest tapas, and the best meats and cheeses fresh from countryside farms. Learn how to make your own paella with our private cooking classes and shop along La Rambla, the main boulevard in the downtown area. We’ll take a fantastic bike tour around the city and see the home of FC Barcelona, the Camp Nou soccer stadium. A trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without marveling at Gaudi’s masterpiece cathedral La Sagrada Familia, as well as a visit to Parc Guell, where the Cheetah Girls movie and America’s Next Top Model were filmed! Finally, we’ll enjoy a fancy final dinner on a rooftop terrace and finish our time in Spain with an amazing lights and colors show at a magnificent fountain in front of the Royal Palace.
DAY 10: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we are consistently awarded “Top Youth Travel Organization” year after year.
"This past summer I went to Spain with TFT. Like all of the TFT trips I have been on, this one was amazing! We went on a bike tour through Barcelona, swam in the waters of Malaga, and dined at amazing restaurants in Madrid. The counselors were so knowledgable, teaching us Spanish as well as great tips about the cities we were in! There was never a dull moment, and every day was a unique adventure. My favorite parts were touring the beautiful Sagrada Familia and learning how to make paella. This trip is a great choice for both new and experienced travelers and I highly recommend it for anyone with a love of culture, beaches, history, and tapas!"
"The trip sounds amazing. We love seeing the pictures so thanks for those as well. Sounds like the kids are having a blast."
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in 7th or 8th grade and approximately 12 to 14 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
Our hotel in Madrid is in the heart of Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s version of Times Square, within walking distance of nearly everywhere we want to go. In Málaga we stay in the center of the Historical Old Quarter just steps away from the stunning beaches. Our Barcelona hotel is one we’ve been staying at for years and where we have a wonderful relationship with the staff. It is just off la Rambla (the main pedestrian boulevard), so it’s close to all of the action!
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about this program?
Students love that they are able to explore three of Spain’s diverse cultures in one trip while getting to combine adventure activities and cultural exploration. While they are all in Spain, Madrid, Málaga, and Barcelona are all incredibly different, which keeps things exciting.
What is unique about this program?
Between our TFT Tapas Tour through Madrid designed just for us by a local, our diverse array of adventure activities, and the chance to see the stadiums of both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, this Spanish experience is truly one-of-a-kind.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; lunches; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
The Spanish are happy to boast of their diet with anyone who asks. It’s a diet that focuses on ham, cheese, seafood, and eggs, as well as rice and fresh vegetables. And of course, no Spanish dish would be complete without at least a little extra virgin olive oil.
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!