Spain. Mexico. Argentina. Peru. Colombia.
If you're learning Spanish, the mere the mention of these countries can leave you daydreaming about your next trip abroad.
I’ve had the good fortune of travelling 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 to 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 67 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:
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 various situations and have a much more enjoyable and authentic experience during your trip.
By the way, if you want to learn Spanish in time for your trip, my top recommendation for language learners is my Uncovered courses, which teach you through StoryLearning®. Click here to find out more and try out the method for free.
First Things First: Greetings To Use On Arrival
Knowing how to greet people is the most basic thing you can learn in a foreign language. And yet its importance shouldn't be underestimated.
Even if you aren’t fluent enough to hold a long conversation, a simple ¡Hola! ¿Qué tal? (Hello, how are you?) can make all the difference.
You'll be able to use these expressions as soon as you arrive at your destination, whether it's at the airport, the train or bus station, or the hotel.
People appreciate it 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!
- (BWAY-nos DEE-as)
- #3 ¡Buenas tardes! – Good afternoon/good evening!
- (BWAY-nas TAR-des)
- #4 ¡Buenas noches! – Good night
- (BWAY-nas NOH-chays)
- #5 ¿Cómo está? – How are you? (formal, to a stranger)
- (KOH-moh eh-STAH)
- #6 ¿Cómo estás? – How are you? (informal, to someone you know)
- (KOH-moh eh-STAHS)
- #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?
- (KOH-moh te YA-mas?)
- #9 Me llamo… – My name is…
- (May YA-moh… )
- #10 Mucho gusto – Nice to meet you.
- (MOO-choh GOO-stoh)
And of course, let’s not forget common courtesy!
- #11 Por favor – please
- (por fa-BOR)
- #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
- (yo no en-tee-EN-doh)
- #14 ¿Habla inglés? – Do you speak English?
- (Ab-la in-GLAYS)
Get What You Want On Your Trip With The Verb Querer
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 menú – I want a menu
- (yo kee-EH-ro oon me-NOO)
- #16 Yo quiero un taxi – I want a taxi
- (YO kee-EH-ro oon taxi)
- #17 Yo quiero una cerveza – I want a beer
- (yo kee-EH-ro OO-na ser-BAY-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 On Your Trip
Whether you’re looking for the toilet in a restaurant or trying to find a hotel to stay at, 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?)
When travelling in a foreign country, if you're 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
- (eh-stoy per-DEE-doh)
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 Aquí – here
- #26 Allí – there
- #27 A la derecha – on the right
- (A la de-RE-cha)
- #28 A la izquierda – on the left
- (A la iz-kee-ER-da)
- #29 Derecho – straight ahead
- #30 En la esquina – at the corner
- (En la es-KEE-nah)
- #31 A una cuadra – in one, two, three, four blocks
- (a OO-na KWAD-rah)
Getting Around Spanish-Speaking Countries
If you’re not keen on walking everywhere, you'll need to be able to find out about local transport options to find your way around wherever you are.
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 cercana? – Where’s the nearest bus stop?
- (DON-day eh-STAH la pa-RAH-dah de ow-to-BOOS mas ser-KA-nah?)
- #34 ¿Dónde está la estación de ferrocarril más cercana? – Where’s the nearest railway station?
- (DON-day eh-STAH la es-tah-see-ON de ferro-carr-EEL mas ser-KA-nah?)
- #35 ¿Cuánto cuesta un billete para … ? – How much does a ticket to … cost?
- (KWAN-to 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-BOR)
At A Restaurant On Your Travels
Each Spanish-speaking country has its own unique flavours and cuisine for you to try when you 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 vocabulary 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
- (oo-na en-TRA-da)
- #41 un plato principal – a main dish
- (oon PLA-toh prin-si-PAL)
- #42 un postre – a dessert
- (oon POS-tray)
- #43 una bebida – a drink
- (OO-na beh-BEE-da)
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
- (OO-na SOH-pah)
- #45 una ensalada – salad
- (OO-na en-sa-LA-da)
- #46 el pollo – chicken
- (el POY-oh)
- #47 la carne – the meat (beef)
- (la CAR-nay)
- #48 un agua – water
- (oon AG-wa)
- #49 un vino tinto /blanco – red/white wine
- (oon BEE-noh TIN-toh / BLAN-koh)
- #50 una cerveza – beer
- (OO-na ser-BAY-sa)
- #51 un café – coffee
- (oon ka-FAY)
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 be-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?
- (KWAN-to KWES-ta?)
- #56 La cuenta, por favor – The bill, please.
- (la KWEN-ta por fa-BOR)
Key Spanish Question Words For Your Trip
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?
- (A kay AW-ra?)
- #62 ¿Por qué? – Why?
- (Por kay?)
- #63 ¿Cómo? – How?
- #64 ¿Cuánto? – How much?
- #65 ¿Cuántos? – How many?
- #66 ¿Cada cuánto? – How often?
- (kah-dah KWAN-toh?)
- #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 basic Spanish 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?
If this article has inspired you to both travel and to learn Spanish, then I've got something to get you started on your Spanish learning journey.
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, test it out for free and to find out how it'll help you.