The clock tower in ponferrada.
The clock tower in Ponferrada, Spain (an Atlantis site).
A city skyline.
The tops of buildings of Ponferrada (an Atlantis site).





Ponferrada is a small city in northwest Spain in the León region near Galicia. The city was populated in pre-Roman times and has a diverse historical background. It is now recognized for its 12th-century castle and is surrounded by beautiful geography. Ponferrada is a perfect place to taste the gastronomy of the Bierzo region, in which its magnificent meats stand out. A 2016 student from Ponferrada says “I found it extremely great, it was an amazing mix between the hospital experience and living abroad.”

Destination Information

The City

The city of Ponferrada has its origins in the Middle Ages, emerging as a settlement around the Camino de Santiago. The most outstanding construction of the city is the Castle built by the Templars in the 12th century to protect the pilgrims. With more than 8,000 m2 of surface, it is one of the most impressive in the whole country. Around the castle extends the historic center, where most of the monuments of the city are concentrated.

Near Ponferrada, the Médulas is an impressive landscape formed as a result of the exploitation of the largest open-pit gold mine in the Roman Empire. In 1997 UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. To the south of Ponferrada are the Montes Aquilianos, with the impressive Valle del Silencio (Valley of Silence) and Peñalba de Santiago, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.

Dates & Availability

  • Summer Break 2023




April 22, 2023 - May 12, 2023 3 weeks

$4,999 from $230/month


You may pay over time, fundraise, consider scholarships, and more. See more on the financing and aid page.

Dates may be subject to change, in rare cases, depending on hospital availability. Students may transfer to another program or receive a refund up until a pre-defined amount of before the start date. All fees include an initial $900 deposit, which is non-refundable. Accepted students or their parents are welcome to apply for financing through Uplift (up to 24-month terms, with a 4% to 36% fixed APR based on creditworthiness). Monthly payment amounts are for those paying via Uplift and are for illustration purposes only.

What’s Included

Atlantis programs include ~20h/week of shadowing, housing, some meals, transportation, health insurance, and more. Airfare is not included but can be very affordable.

Hospital Overview

Atlantis partners with local hospitals to give students the opportunity to learn about healthcare systems in different countries. Our hospital partner in Ponferrada is Hospital del Bierzo.

Alumni Favorite

Famous Food

“El botillo del Bierzo” – the most famous dish in this area, cooked with delicious pork meat and using centuries-old techniques, that the locals will be happy to share with you (they are very proud of this recipe).

Students enjoying a meal.
Atlantis students enjoying a meal (Ponferrada, Spain, 2017).

Atlantis was an incredible experience. I was challenged to think about things that I had not thought of before about being a doctor. My love for my desired specialty was enhanced through Atlantis. I will always have a little bit of Spain with me wherever I go.

Students exploring the inside of a church.
Atlantis students exploring the inside of a church during their program (Ponferrada, Spain, 2017).
Share Post
MessengerWhatsAppCopy Link


Our excursions are designed to offer a deeper look into your host culture, for both the educational benefit and the pure enjoyment of exploring a new place with others who share your interests in travel and medicine. If you happen to make travel plans outside of your city for a weekend, and thus your travel plans conflict with the events your Site Manager has planned, we ask that you notify your Site Manager several days in advance so that they’re able to plan the excursion accordingly. Excursions range from historical tours to culinary and cultural explorations. Your Site Manager will inform you of the different excursions they have planned during your program orientation.

Atlantis students on a program excursion.
Atlantis students on a program excursion (Genoa, Italy, 2019).

Clinical Experience that Stands Out to Schools

Medical schools want 3 things: healthcare exposure, GPA/MCAT, and certain competencies. Uniquely, “360 Shadowing” gives you the best version of the 1st, frees you to focus on the 2nd, and cultivates/shows the 3rd to medical school admissions.

Two students walking out of a hospital wing.
Atlantis students in a hospital wing (Lisbon, Portugal, 2019).
Students tubing in the ocean in Greece.

Watch the Atlantis Experience

Language Skills Not Required

Almost all alumni have not spoken the local language. English levels vary within the hospital, but no knowledge of the language is required for Atlantis to be valuable. There is English ability in enough places in the hospital for participants to benefit, as you can read in our testimonials. Moreover, a program in an English-speaking country would take away some of the value of Atlantis, particularly the intercultural perspective that Atlantis participants gain, in a world where many of your future patients in your career later on will not speak your language and will come from a different cultural background. Any possible language barrier you may encounter at Atlantis, even if slight, is also an opportunity to develop “resilience and adaptability,” one of the 15 AAMC core competencies for entering medical students.

Funding Your Future

The cost of Atlantis isn’t too dissimilar from the cost of many study abroad programs that you may find. And we’re here to help: from our extensive fundraising guide to flexible payment plans and financing options, we make the process simple and easy, allowing you to focus on what really matters.

An Atlantis student smiling while shadowing abroad.
An Atlantis student on an excursion experiencing culture while shadowing abroad (Athens, Greece, 2019).

Hear More Directly From Our Alumni

Hear more from them on their experiences during and after Atlantis.

An Atlantis student standing outside the hospital where she is shadowing.
An Atlantis student standing outside the hospital where she is shadowing (Barcelona, Spain, 2019).

Bring a Friend

Consider bringing a friend to the same program you’re applying to. Although the vast majority of Atlantis alumni have gone on programs without knowing someone in their cohort, bringing a friend allows your experience to be shared in a unique way, while still allowing you one of the benefits of Atlantis: meeting new pre-health friends from across the country. Consider sharing this idea with your friends.

MessengerWhatsAppCopy Link
students walking and smiling.
Atlantis students exploring together on a program excursion (Athens, Greece, 2019).

Med School Interview:
Atlantis Alum vs. Typical Pre-med

Compare a possible medical school interview of an Atlantis alum with that of a typical applicant by looking at responses to common questions.

Greek ruins on a sunny day.

Gain the Exposure, Stats, and Competencies that Med Schools Want

  • The vast majority of alumni accepted into med/PA school said Atlantis “strongly” or “very strongly” impacted their admittance
  • 81% of alumni accepted into med/PA school said Atlantis impacted their passion for medicine
  • 93% of our pre-health alumni progressed on the AAMC Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students