In the Spanish colonial city of Antigua, you’ll find Centro Linguístico Maya, one of the country’s best Spanish language schools. In the shadow of three towering volcanoes, the Centro offers one-on-one instruction up to seven hours a day with a private tutor; then practice what you’ve learned at outings to local markets and ruins. For total immersion, stay with one of the school’s hand-vetted local families or check in to the lush digs at El Convento, across from the partially intact ruins of the 18th-century Capuchin convent. Antigua is a perfect jumping-off point to stunning, more than thousand-foot-deep Lake Atitlán—30 miles away in the western highlands—with sheer-cliff trails and vibrant Maya villages. But don’t go it alone: petty theft and violent crime are on the rise throughout the country. Always travel in a group with an experienced guide.