67 Essential Spanish Travel Phrases Every Traveller Needs To Know
Spain. Mexico. Argentina. Peru. Colombia.
Does the mere the mention of these countries leave you daydreaming about your next trip abroad?
I’ve had the good fortune of spending time in many Spanish speaking countries and I can tell you from first-hand experience that they’re incredible places to visit.
Spanish-speaking countries are among the most popular destinations in the world for tourists. In fact, in 2015 Spain was the third most visited country in the world, while Mexico also made it into the top 10.
And although there are many incredible things do and see, what really makes these places special are the local people.
So before you pack your bags and jump on a plane, why not learn a little Spanish to help you make the most of your trip?
In this post, you’ll learn about 57 Spanish phrases for travel that can help you survive in the language during your trip abroad. And who knows, they might even help you make a few new friends too!
To make it easier for you, I’ve divided the phrases up into different categories:
- The Verb Querer (To Want)
- Getting Around
- At A Restaurant
- Questions Words
- Handy Bonus Phrases
Take the time to learn a few of these key Spanish travel phrases and you’ll be able to mix with the locals, get by in any situation and have a much more enjoyable and authentic experience during your trip.
To make it as easy as possible for you to practice these Spanish travel phrases in your conversations, I’ve created a special PDF version of this article that you can print off or save on your phone to read anywhere, anytime.
First Things First: Greetings
Knowing how to greet people is the most basic thing you can learn in a language and yet its importance should not be underestimated.
Even if you aren’t fluent enough to hold a long conversation, a simple ¡Hola! ¿Que tal? (Hello, how are you?) can make all the difference.
People appreciate if you make an effort to speak their language when you visit their country, even if it’s only a few words.
Spanish-speaking countries are especially polite and greeting people correctly will go a long way towards endearing you to the locals, be they friends, people you meet in shops or on the street.
- #1 ¡Hola! – Hello
- #2 ¡Buenos días! – Good morning!
- #3 ¡Buenas tardes! – Good afternoon/good evening!
- #4 ¡Buenas noches! – Good night
- #5 ¿Cómo está? – How are you? (formal, to a stranger)
- #6 ¿Cómo estás? – How are you? (informal, to someone you know)
- #7 Bien, gracias – I’m fine, thank you.
- (bee-EN GRA-thee-as [Spain] / GRA-see-as [Latin America])
- #8 Cómo te llamas? – What’s your name?
- #9 Me llamo… – My name is…
- #10 Mucho gusto – Nice to meet you.
And of course, let’s not forget common courtesy!
- #11 Por favor – please
- #12 Gracias – thank you
- (GRA-thee-as [Spain] / GRA-see-as [Latin America])
If you get stuck in your Spanish conversation, you can always fall back on these next two phrases to get you out of trouble.
- #13 Yo (no) entiendo – I (don’t) understand
- #14 ¿Habla inglés? – Do you speak English?
The Verb Querer (To Want)
Once you’ve finished greeting someone, you’ll need to be able to move on to the crux of your conversation and to do that you’ll need to learn a couple of common verbs.
There are hundreds of Spanish verbs to learn and, to make your life more difficult, these verbs conjugate (change form).
This means learning a verb is never as simple as learning one word; you have to learn multiple different forms.
Having said that, you might be surprised by how far you can get only knowing one simple verb: I want.
It may not make you the most sophisticated Spanish speaker but 9 times out of 10 it will get you what you, well, want.
The verb in question is querer (to want) and in the first person form, it becomes quiero (I want).
Let’s take a look at how you can use it:
- #15 Yo quiero un menu – I want a menu
- (YO kee-EH-ro oon me-noo)
- #16 Yo quiero un taxi – I want a taxi
- #17 Yo quiero una cerveza – I want a beer
- (YO kee-EH-ro oo-na ser-vay-za)
If you’d like to be a bit more polite (which is usually a good idea), you can also use:
- #18 Quisiera … – I would like … (lit. I would want)
Asking For & Understanding Directions
Whether you’re looking for the toilet in a restaurant or trying to find a place to stay, you’ll inevitably need to ask for directions at some point during your trip.
The simplest way to ask where something is, is to use ¿Dónde está? followed by the noun you are looking for:
- #19 ¿Dónde está el baño? – Where is the bathroom?
- (DON-day es-tah el BAH-nyo?)
- #20 ¿ Dónde está el banco? – Where is the bank?
- (DON-day es-tah el BAN-koh?)
- #21 ¿ Dónde está la calle [de Alcalá]? – Where is [Alcalá] Street?
- (DON-day es-tah la ka-yay de al-cal-AH?)
If you are asking someone on the street for directions, don’t forget your manners! To get someone’s attention, start by saying:
- #22 Disculpe – Excuse me
- #23 Con permiso/Perdóname – Excuse me
- (Con per-MEE-soh / Per-DOH-nah-may)
- #24 Estoy perdido – I’m lost
Asking for directions is one thing but it’s pretty pointless if you don’t know how to understand the directions that are given to you!
Memorise these phrases to help you understand what the friendly locals are trying to tell you when you ask for their help:
- #25 Aqui – here
- #26 Allí – there
- #27 A la derecha – on the right
- #28 A la izquierda – on the left
- #29 Derecho – straight ahead
- #30 En la esquina – at the corner
- #31 A una cuadra – in one, two, three, four blocks
If you’re not keen on walking everywhere, you will need to be able to find out about local transport options to find your way around wherever you are.Here are a few simple
Here are a few simple phrases you can use to locate a bus, train or taxi and get to wherever you need to go:
- #32 ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi? – Where can I get a taxi?
- (DON-day pway-doh en-kon-trar oon taxi?)
- #33 ¿Dónde está la parada de autobús más cerca? – Where’s the nearest bus stop?
- (DON-day eh-STAH la pa-RAH-dah de oww-to-BOOS mas SER-ka?)
- #34 ¿Dónde está la estación de ferrocarril más cerca? – Where’s the nearest railway station?
- (DON-day eh-STAH la es-tah-see-ON de ferro-carr-EEL mas SER-ka?)
- #35 ¿Cuánto cuesta un billete para … ? – How much does a ticket to … cost?
- (KWAN-ta KWES-ta oon bee-YET-ay pa-ra …)
- #36 Un billete para … , por favor. – A ticket to … please.
- (oon bee-YET-ay pa-ra … por fa-vor)
At A Restaurant
Each Spanish speaking country has its own unique flavours and cuisine for you to try when your travel!
Food is definitely one of the big attractions to cities like San Sebastian in Spain and Buenos Aires in Argentina, so you'll need to make sure you have a basic grasp of food vocab ahead of your journey!
To start with, you need to be prepared to hear and understand certain questions in restaurants, such as:
- #37 ¿Quieres algo para comer? – Would you like something to eat?
- (kee-EH-res AL-go pa-ra koh-mer?)
- #38 ¿Quieres algo para beber? – Would you like something to drink?
- (kee-EH-res AL-go pa-ra beh-ber?)
- #39 ¿Qué quieres comer? – What would you like to eat?
- (KAY kee-EH-res koh-mer?)
When you read the menu, you'll see the available food grouped into different categories, just like in an English menu:
- #40 una entrada – an appetizer
- #41 un plato principal – a main dish
- (oon pla-toh prin-si-pal)
- #42 un postre – a dessert
- #43 una bebida – a drink
When you're ready to order, use either quiero (I want) or quisiera (I would like) with the items on the menu to tell the waiter what you'd like. For example, quiero…
- #44 una sopa – soup
- #45 una ensalada – salad
- #46 el pollo – chicken
- #47 la carne – the meat (beef)
- #48 una agua – water
- #49 un vino tinto /blanco – red wine
- (oon vee-noh tin-toh / blan-koh)
- #50 una cerveza – beer
- #51 un café – coffee
So, for example, to order that ice-cold beer you're looking forward to at the end of a long day, you'd say quiero una cerveza.
If you're not sure what to try, you can always ask your waiter for a recommendation:
- #52 ¿Qué me recomienda? – What do you recommend?
- (Kay may re-kom-ee-en-dah?)
In most restaurants in Spanish-speaking countries, the staff will be more than happy to suggest a particularly tasty local dish for you to try.
If you're a vegetarian or you have dietary complications, these next two phrases are essential:
- #53 Soy vegetariano/a – I’m a vegetarian
- (soy ve-he-tah-ree-ah-noh/nah)
- #54 Tengo alergia a [las nueces] – I have an allergy to [nuts]
- (Ten-go al-er-hee-ah a las noo-eh-ses)
Finally, let's learn a couple of quick phrases you can use to ask about prices and pay the bill.
- #55 ¿Cuánto cuesta? – How much is it?
- #56 La cuenta, por favor – The bill, please.
Key Spanish Question Words
Over the course of your journey, you'll almost certainly find yourself asking lots and lots of questions.
You might not have a huge Spanish vocabulary to draw on, but if you know the basic question words, you'll be able to get by in almost any common situation you might find yourself in.
Here are some key Spanish question words you need to know:
- #57 ¿Quién? – Who?
- #58 ¿Qué? – What?
- #59 ¿Dónde? – Where?
- #60 ¿Cuándo? – When?
- #61 ¿A qué hora? – When/what time?
- #62 ¿Por qué? – Why?
- #63 ¿Cómo? – How?
- #64 ¿Cuánto? – How much?
- #65 ¿Cuántos? – How many?
- #66 ¿Cada cuánto? – How often?
- #67 ¿Por cuánto tiempo? – How long?
- (Por KWAN-toh tee-em-poh)
Once you’ve got these question words in your memory bank you’ll start noticing the patterns in Spanish grammar which will help you to move away from the stock phrases every tourist is using.
As you learn new words on your trip, you'll be able to combine them with these question words to start forming your own sentences and questions!
You're All Set For Your Spanish Adventure!
Take the time to memorise these key Spanish phrases for travel and you'll have everything you need to get the most out of your journey.
With just a few words of Spanish, I'm sure you'll meet lots of amazing people and have plenty of life-changing experiences along the way.
Who knows, perhaps spending some time visiting a Spanish-speaking country will motivate you to strive for fluency?
I'm a big believer in the power of story to enable you to learn a language. That's why I've created an entire beginner course dedicated to learning Spanish by immersing yourself in an engaging story.
It's my Spanish Uncovered course, and it's designed to take you from beginner to B1 Intermediate level.
Click here for more information on the course and to find out how it'll help you.
Which Spanish-speaking countries do you want to visit? And which of these phrases do you think will be most useful for you in your conversations? Let me know in the comments below.