• Spain
    • Bilbao

Program Details

Age Min.
Age Max
Short Term Spring Break Summer Winter Year Round
Small Group (1-15)
Travel Type
Budget Family Older Travelers Solo Women


Price Details
Equal parts volunteer experience, language acquisition, and cultural immersion. We include:
Airport pickup. Once you arrive, you will be met at the airport and taken directly to your accommodation.
Contracted placement and Certificate upon completion
Volunteer placement- 20 hours a week
24/7 local support network
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Equipment Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare Equipment Meals Transportation Travel Insurance Visa
Aug 13, 2021
Jan 21, 2022
2 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Dreaming of living and working in Spain, improving your Spanish, and making lasting friendships, all whilst making a difference? Then the Instituto Hemingway is the place for you. From animal welfare and conservation to social entrepreneurship, we have the perfect volunteer program for your interests.

We believe volunteering is one of the most rewarding experiences possible, especially when volunteering abroad: it gives you a chance to give back to the community you are visiting. We tailor our volunteering programs to your specific skill set, while also considering the needs of the community you are working with, to ensure your work is as fun and impactful as possible.
By volunteering with the Instituto Hemingway, you can help the lively city of Bilbao and its biodiverse surroundings continue to thrive. In your downtime, why not explore our picturesque city and all that it has to offer!

Everyone is welcome, and at great prices for all budgets, this is not an opportunity to miss!

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • You will get two weeks of Spanish courses (amounting to 20 hours per week) as part of your program, alongside an orientation upon your arrival in Spain.
  • Stay in a shared apartment with all amenities covered, right in the centre of the city, for the duration of your stay.
  • Join us for our free cultural activities including trips, wine tastings, salsa lessons, cooking workshops and tapas tours.
  • Bilbao is a city that’s off the beaten tourist trail, so it’s the perfect place to truly practice your Spanish in day-to-day situations. Why not explore some of the many other cities in Spain while you’re here, thanks to Bilbao’s great transport networks!
  • Our experienced and accredited in-house lawyer who specialises in Study Abroad programs helps handle the VISA process with no hidden costs, to make your arrival in Spain a breeze.

Popular Programs

Animal Welfare Volunteering with the Instituto Hemingway

The pandemic has led to an ever-increasing number of stray cats and dogs on Bilbao’s streets, with most in poor health and living in adverse conditions. Help support our local animal shelter by looking after the cats and dogs in their care and finding them loving homes. You will be working 3-5 hours per day, 4-5 days per week. Enjoy your evenings and weekends with the friends you’ve made whilst volunteering, getting to know Bilbao and beyond. There is no better way to discover Spanish culture!

Coastal Conservation Project with the Instituto Hemingway

The coast around Bilbao is both stunning and unique. Unfortunately, it is not adequately protected, leaving many of its beautiful beaches at risk of pollution. Contribute to the health of the oceans and help save marine life by preserving these ecosystems through beach clean ups, as well as collecting data on the water quality and marine fauna and flora. You will also be raising awareness in the local community about the importance of protecting the coastline for future generations.

Social Entrepreneurship with the Instituto Hemingway

Bilbao is a city much-loved by everyone that visits. It needs constant care to help maintain its splendour and minimise the adverse impact of tourism on both Bilbao and its surroundings. Our volunteers contribute to the welfare of the city and countryside in myriad ways: from maintaining walking trails and parks, journalism and photography to replanting initiatives, creating education campaigns, and developing recycling programs. However you hope to help, we know there’ll be something for you!

Creative Art Expression Volunteering with the Instituto Hemingway

Are you a creative person looking to help others? Join our program which helps local people brighten their community through art, and local artists to thrive. From patchwork-knitting to painting wall murals, art therapy to promoting local artists, the sky's the limit for what this program has to offer. We believe in the power of art on local culture, and want to inspire all those around us to express themselves freely. Why not get involved and pick up some new artistic techniques along the way!

Program Reviews

10 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
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  • Instruction 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 10
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life transformation

The best decision I could make! My three months in Spain have been really great.My flatmates in the apartment were very nice and always willing to help if there was a problem. I also really liked my project and enjoyed the work and time with the pets in the animal sanctuary.The trips that I took part with the School were always very organized and full of new experiences. Since Spain has a lot to offer regarding it’s nature, cities and scenery I was always able to discover new and different parts of the country. I have met a lot of amazing people there and enjoyed my stay very much. Now I want to get a degree as a vet.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
A strong understanding and background of the Spanish language is needed. In addition, being an Undergraduate student studying a STEM major would be recommended.
17 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing overseas experience

I carefully researched volunteers programs abroad and I am so glad I chose Instituto Hemingway! They leave no stone unturned in preparing you for success. My program was absolutely perfect!

I had an enriching experience in Bilbao. I'd say plan for a minimum of two weeks to have some sort of impact on the dogs lives. The program could have benefited from some more structure and concrete objectives, but it was flexible to accommodate each volunteer's interest.

The accommodations were brand new and very nice. This program far exceeded my expectations. Bilbao is easy to settle into. I felt very safe in this incredible international city.

I would highly recommend Instituto Hemingway without any hesitation. I experienced numerous once in a lifetime moments and will forever have wonderful memories of Hemingway

What would you improve about this program?
The programme is a great - animals, the accommodation, Bilbao is a great town for those new to Bilbao. It's really safe, interesting, a great place for culture and people - full of great restaurants and shops. The programme could be improved by having more of a set curriculum for the volunteers to follow rather than having each volunteer create their own as it would improve consistency for the dogs. Maybe, they could also give the volunteers some pre-work to prepare before they reach Spain.
20 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Eye-opening opportunity

6 weeks in Spain as a high school student was a catalyst for much needed and life changing introspection and inspiration. Traveling in a country/culture so vastly different than my own pushed me into patience, acceptance, wonder, and gratitude. My heart grew, my determination blossomed, and I began to see that there is a place in the world for me with all my specific passions.
I look back so grateful for our instructors, who pushed us while supporting us. Who lead us both through meditation, and silly games to play with my roommates. I laugh when remembering trying to communicate with my teacher the time I showed off a whistling trick, and was eventually told it was disastrously bad luck.

I loved beach cleaning and doing something rewarding for nature and humankind. We were people from all over the world doing that experience, contributing to pick up thrash from oceans and friendships I made on that placement are definitely true and strong.

I cherish all these memories, the beautiful and the challenging; and embrace the confidence it's given me to keep searching for both beauty and challenge.

What would you improve about this program?
Recipes to take home! I would have liked to spend more time learning Spanish and taking more lessons. It is such a beautiful language!
18 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful volunteer experience in Spain

The programme is a great - the placement, the accommodation, the cultural activities and the staff. Bilbao is a great town for those new to Spain. It's really safe, interesting, a great place for culture and people - full of great restaurants and shops. Instituto Hemingway organizes all professionally and with a touch of sense of humour that makes you feel welcome. The art therapy was super in just one word. I learned so much about people with disabilities and about ways to express themselves through art!

What would you improve about this program?
The programme could be improved by having more of a set curriculum for the volunteers to follow rather than having each volunteer create their own as it would improve consistency for the children. Maybe, Instituto could also give the volunteers some pre-work to prepare before they reach Spain. I am sure that most volunteers would be happy to do this and it would be easier than trying to prepare in Spain, specially if first time in Europe. Overall, a great programme.
18 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible trip to my favourite country!!

My trip to Spain with these guys was one I will never forget, I am a teacher in the States and I really wanted to go out of the country and give back. I never could have imagined what I was walking in to.

If I were to describe this experience in only one word I would say it was mind-opening. It has helped me evolve from so many points of view. Not only did I learn to be more independent and choose for myself, but I also I got to know amazing hard-working people. I managed to do my project and build friendships with the other volunteers. I felt that I truly belonged to that world and I was devastated when I had to leave. The program was simply marvellous

What was your funniest moment?
I can say I got to live one of the best moments of my life when I encountered an octopus that gripped my hand. I have never felt something like that ever before. I think that this experience helped me grow a lot and made me understand how beautiful and unique the marine world really is. Furthermore, I managed to learn new things about a foreign culture and I loved exploring different parts of Bilbao on my own and with other volunteers. Even more, the staff was so kind and helpful that I almost felt part of their family. All in all, I find it incredible that even after a month I still think about those moments and me and the other volunteers are still keeping in touch. Now, all I want to do is embark in a similar adventure as soon as possible.
19 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Absolutely amazing time in real Spain!

The months that I spent in Bilbao were amazing. The place and the entire staff are incredible, thank you to Rodrigo and Jose for always being willing to teach us so much about about conservation. Being able to help out at such an amazing place with such great people is just a super nice experience. I recommend Instituto Hemingway to anyone who is interested in animal welfare without a doubt.

Taking Spanish courses there as part of the program also helped me to build my Spanish skills as well. I liked that this program allowed me to see all parts of the country, the good and bad, allowing me to appreciate it much more. I was able to connect with locals and see aspects of the culture more than I would if I were just a tourist in the country.

What was your funniest moment?
My favorite part was that on my last day working with the community, they wrote a letter for me and took the time to translate it to English since my Spanish is not the best! I 10/10 would recommend this program to anyone looking for a life changing experience!
18 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

thumbs up

Amazing experience, well beyond my expectations. Bilbao is the best place to study and spend a beautiful holiday! I really enjoyed traveling around Spain, discovering wonderful places and rich history. I sincerely recommend Instituto Hemingway to all those looking for a fun and productive language holiday experience. I will definitely be back! Big thanks to all the friendly staff, Hasta pronto!

I don't have a unique story to tell but a lot of thrilling moments that I did experience in those 3 weeks; it is so to say a patchwork of images that are in my mind whenever I think of Bilbao; even though I knew before arriving, that city would not disappoint my expectations , I was really touched not only for its huge historical heritage but mainly because of the friendly and marvelous Basque people I met and knew, who made my stay unforgettable and made my last day so sad when I had to leave from there ... I will come back for sure

What would you improve about this program?
I would have liked more clear information about our programme in advance of our arrival, although everything came as a very pleasant surprise!
33 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Learning Spanish to be fluent!!

Before my semester abroad I had never been out of the country. Being in Spain and in Europe I learned to appreciate other cultures and branch out of my shy tendencies. It also gave me the nerves to finally speak Spanish with people other than my grandparents without feeling like I was being judged.

My Spanish improved significantly. I was able to see amazing things in person. I was able to adapt to and learned to love a new city. I gained about 10 pounds and a lot of international experience. I also learned so much about the culture from living in a shared apartment. It was completely worthwhile.

After about two or three weeks studying in Bilbao I felt like a part of the city. I walked to work every morning with everybody else that lived in Bilbao, had coffee and red the newspaper at the same coffee shops and drank beer and conversed with the locals after work. The people in Bilbao are incredible and make you feel at home.

I learned to be more independent, I learned how to be a traveler and not tourist, I learned how to communicate inter-culturally, I learned a lot about globalization, I learned to get out of my comfort zone, I learned about 12 different countries and cultures, I learned that the world is truly a great place.

What would you improve about this program?
In all honesty, I cannot think of a way to improve this program. There are cultural excursions, small trips to sorrounding areas of the region, weekly language exchanges, internships, spanish courses and housing options that suit everybody. I would say the cost could not be more affordable. This program is truly incredible and you will have a hard time finding a better program
30 people found this review helpful.

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