Spanish for Tourists: The Basic Phrases

You have booked your ticket, and the baggage is already packed. You can’t wait to start your journey to a country where everyone speaks Spanish. One more simple thing you can do that will come in handy on your trip is to learn a few Spanish phrases! Traveling will be much more fun and rewarding if you can communicate with native speakers. Let’s start with the basic Spanish words and phrases for beginners to get deeper into touristic Spanish.

Spanish Greetings

Hispanic culture is based on a cult of courtesy, and you should also always be courteous and say “hello” and “how are you?” It would be better if you didn’t worry about your mistakes; others will do their best to understand and make sure you know them. Try your best, and they’ll be happy to see your efforts, and don’t forget to tell your Spanish tutor the new words you learned:

  • Good morning – Buenos días;
  • Good afternoon – Buenas tardes;
  • Good evening – Buenas noches;
  • Hola is “hello.” You can say hello like this to people you already know;
  • ¿Cómo está? (como esta) – a way to ask “how are you?” if you are unfamiliar with a person, ¿Cómo estás? (como estas) – if you know him;
  • If you are asked, “how are you?”, Say “okay, thank you” – “bien, gracias” (bien, gracias), because you are also a polite person;
  • Never forget the keywords: please – por favor – and thank you – gracias;
  • When you introduce yourself to someone, you say “Mucho gusto,” and you will hear the same answer. It means nice to meet you;
  • If you suddenly run into an insurmountable language barrier, switch to universal English, make sure your interlocutor: ¿Habla inglés? (abla ingles)? – Do you speak English?

Directions in Spanish

You need a few simple phrases to help you find the right way if you are confused about getting somewhere. For example, “Where is?” in Spanish sounds like “¿dónde está?” (donde esta?), let’s see this question in action based on a few examples:

  • Where is the railway station? – ¿Dónde está la estación de ferrocarril? (donde esta la estacien de ferrocarril) or “autobuses”;
  • Where is the restaraunt? – ¿Dónde está un restaurante? (donde esta un restaurante)?
  • A train? – ¿Un tren? (un tren)?
  • Street ? – ¿La calle ? (la saye)?
  • Bank? – ¿Un banco? (un banco)?
  • Where is the restroom? – ¿Dónde está el baño? – (donde esta el banyo)?
  • I need – Yo necesito (yo nesesito). A handy phrase, add a noun to make it sound better:

Yo necesito un hotel, un cuarto, un cuarto con bano – (yo necesito un hotel, un cuarto son banyo);

  • Where is the exchange office; where is the bank located? – ¿Donde está una casa de cambio? (donde esta una casa de cambio);
  • ¿Donde está el banco? (donde esta el banco)?
  • Money – Dinero (dinero).


Once you ask a question about how to get somewhere, you will hear the answer in Spanish. Learn Spanish for a few simple directions that someone might give you, such as telling you to turn left or go right ahead. Write down these keywords:

  • Right side – a la derecha (a la derecha);
  • Left side – a la izquierda (a la izquierda);
  • Straight ahead – derecho;
  • On the corner – en la esquina;
  • In one blocks, two, three, four blocks – a una cuadra, a dos, tres, cuatro cuadras – (a una cuadra, a dos, tres, cuatro cuadras).

Basic Phrases

The most straightforward words and phrases for memorizing will come in handy in everyday communication. For example, you can always use “I want,” “I like,” “do you have?”

  • I want, I don’t want – Yo quiero, yo no quiero;
  • I would like (more politely) – Me gustaría (me gustaria);
  • Where is? – ¿Dónde está? (donde esta)?
  • How much is? – ¿Cuánto cuesta? (cuanto cuesta)?
  • What time is it? – ¿Qué hora es? (ke ora es)?
  • You have? – ¿Tiene? (tiené)?
  • I have, I do not – Yo tengo, yo no tengo (yo tengo, yo no tengo);
  • I understand I don’t understand – Yo entiendo, yo no entiendo;
  • Do you understand – ¿Entiende? (entyende)?

Some Other Tips to Follow

  • Credit cards. Many different places in small towns still do not accept credit cards, so make sure you have enough cash with you. You may ask if a credit card is accepted – una tarjeta de credito (una tarjeta de credito). You can always use nouns as a question if you have any doubts. Can you take out a credit card and ask ¿Tarjeta de credito? They will understand.
  • There is an excellent and universal word: No funciona (but funciona) – no, it does not work. You can use this in many other circumstances. Just point to a shower or something else and say, “¡No funciona!”
  • Practice speaking out loud in Spanish, so you will remember some phrases without having to peep them. You will learn to pronounce them quickly and at the same time fluently. Listening to the person speaking will also help you understand people.

These are probably the phrases you will need the most when in a restaurant. Order something using your familiar “quiero” or “quisiera” – “I want” or “I would like.” And don’t forget to say “por favor” and “gracias”!

  • Table – Una mesa (una mesa);
  • Table for two, three, four – Una mesa para dos tres, cuatro (una mesa para dos, tres, cuatro);
  • Menu – Un menú;
  • Soup – Sopa (sopa);
  • Salad – Ensalada (Ensalada);
  • Hamburger (also necessary!) – Hamburguesa (amburgues);
  • With ketchup, mustard, tomato, salad – Con salsa de tomate, mostaza, tomate, lechuga – (con salsa de tomate, mostaza, tomate, lechuga);
  • Snack – Una entrada.

Wrap Up

Using these simple but powerful words, you can communicate more with the natives, find friends and effortlessly interact with the services in Spanish–speaking countries. Take a small pocket dictionary with you to look for the correct conjugation of a verb in the middle of a conversation. You can always find the proper noun quickly. Download this dictionary before your trip. It will undoubtedly help out more than once.

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