Visiting a new country, discovering different cultures and trying local food is exciting, sure, but what also makes a country special and unique is its people and the language they speak. Colombia is no exception to this, so before you pack your bags and jump on a plane to this beautiful country, why not learn a little Spanish to help you make the most of your trip?
Scroll down and keep on reading to learn essential Spanish phrases for travel that every traveler should know.
First thing first: Greetings and Courtesy
Even if you're not fluent in Spanish, knowing how to greet people can make all the difference. Locals will definitively appreciate your effort to speak the local language.
- Hola: Hello
- Buenos días: Good morning
- Buenas tardes: Good afternoon
- Buenas noches: Good evening
- Hasta mañana: if you look for the translation of this phrase you'll find 'see you tomorrow', but this phrase is actually used to say 'good night' before going to bed.
- ¿Cómo estás?: How are you?
- Bien , gracias: I'm fine, thank you
- ¿Cómo te llamas?: What's your name?
- Me llamo ... : My name is ...
- Mucho gusto: Nice to meet you
- Por favor: Please
- Gracias - Muchas gracias: Thank you - Thank you very much
Expressing what you want
Being able to say what you want in Spanish is essential if you're traveling in Colombia or any other Spanish speaking country. What I'm about to teach you is a simple verb that will get you anything you want. The verb is 'querer' (to want) and in the first person form it becomes 'quiero' (I want).
- Quiero una cerveza: I want a beer
- Quiero un taxi: I want a taxi
- Quiero un helado de chocolate: I want a chocolate ice cream
If you want to take the verb 'querer' to the next level and be a bit more polite, just use it as follows:
- Quisiera: I would like
Asking for directions
If you've traveled before, you might know than more often than not you'll have to ask locals for directions to find places you want to visit. The easist way to do so is to use the following phrase:
- ¿Dónde está ... ?: Where is ... ?
Let's look into some examples:
- ¿Dónde está el Museo La Tertulia?: Where's the Tertulia Museum?
- ¿Dónde está la catedral?: Where's the cathedral?
- ¿Dónde está el baño?: Where's the bathroom?
In order to ask these questions to someone on the street, you'll first need to catch their attention in a polite way. This is how you do it:
- Disculpe: Excuse me ... and then you ask the question
Knowing how to ask for directions is good but pointless if you don't understand what is being said to you. This is why I'll give you some phrases that locals use when giving directions. Get familiar with them!
- Aquí: Here
- Allá: There
- Derecho: Straight ahead
- En la esquina: At the corner
- A la izquierda: To the left
- A la derecha: To the right
- A una/dos/tres cuadras: In one/two/three blocks
Asking about prices and paying the bill
As a tourist you'll sure want to know the price of things before deciding whether or not to purchase something. Simply use:
- ¿Cuánto cuesta ... ?: How much ... ?
Let's look into some examples:
- ¿Cuánto cuesta un tiquete para ... ?: How much does a ticket to ... cost?
- ¿Cuánto cuesta este bolso?: How much does this bag cost?
At a restaurant, after having enjoyed dinner, you'll ask for the bill. Just say:
- La cuenta, por favor: The bill, please
Use the following phrases when you feel stuck using Spanish and you would rather speak another language:
- No entiendo: I don't understand
- ¿Podría hablar más despacio?: Could you speak more slowly?
- ¿Podría repetir eso una vez más?: Could you repeat that one more time?
- ¿Habla inglés?: Do you speak English?
Get familiar with all of these Spanish phrases and you'll be all set for your Colombian adventure. Just remeber, even if you don't feel comfortable speaking in Spanish, try using one of these phrases whenever you have the chance to. Colombians are friendly people and will value your effort to speak the local language.