If you’re traveling to Spain you have probably tried to learn some Spanish for travelers, or at least to learn some basic Spanish phrases for traveling that can help you find your way without complications.
Naturally, common Spanish phrases for travel include those around transportation, landing at the airport, and finding your way around the city. But, what are the best ways to learn Spanish as a traveler? It’s certainly not learning the grammar.
We found it’s easiest if you can picture a situation in your head and associate the words with the situation. So, we’ll try to guide you through these common situations and help you picture the words while you go through them.
So, let’s start with some essential Spanish for travel – finding your way to, from, and around the airport.
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Landing at the airport
The airport will probably be the first place that you’ll set foot in Spain. You might come by car, train, or bus, but since Spain has so many airports, and the air connection is the best and most reliable one, most tourists and travelers will be coming by plane.
Even though you would expect everybody to speak English in international airports, that might not be the case in Spain, especially in smaller cities, or in the south like in Andalucia. Having that in mind, it’s very useful to learn basic Spanish for traveling and have some Spanish words and phrases for travel up your sleeve in case you bump into somebody that doesn’t speak English.
Here are some words that might be useful when you get off the plane:
El aeropuerto – the airport
Equipaje – luggage
Looking for your luggage
When you get off a plane, if you’re traveling with a checked-in bag, the next step will be to go and collect your luggage. The signs will probably be both in Spanish and English, but in case there are not, it’s useful to know what to look for.
Also, sometimes, the airports can be confusing, so you might need to ask someone for directions. In that case, it’s good to know some essential Spanish for travel, like how to ask where your luggage will be dropped off.
To collect your luggage once you land, you should follow the sign that says “Equipaje”, which translates to luggage. It can be accompanied by some other words like “Recogida de equipaje” but if you follow only the word “Equipaje” you can be sure that you’ll arrive at the right place.
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Looking for a toilet after a long flight
After a long flight, you might want to use the toilet to freshen up. The toilettes are almost always very close to the baggage drop-off, but you can find them in the whole airport.
In Spain, the toilettes will be marked as “Aseos”, which is the Spanish word for water toilettes.
Even though the pictures of a man and a woman are normally placed on the doors so you know where to enter, you can also follow the word “Hombers” for men’s toilet, and “Mujeres” for women’s. If you’re traveling with a child, you might need a changing room. Most bigger airports have this room separate from the toilets. To find this you should look for a sign “Cambiador de bebés” or if you cannot find it, you can ask “Perdone, dónde está el cambiador de bebés?”.
Aseos (hombres/mujeres) – toilet (men/women)
Cambiador de bebés – diaper changing station
Dónde está… – Where is…?
Finding the exit
Big signs saying “Salida” will take you right off the airport. Salida literally means exit, but if you’re seeing the signs “Salidas” this actually means departures.
You will probably not come across these signs leaving the airport, because the spaces for landing and for departing are separated. However, if an airport is small, you might walk into the grand hall, and then you can come across both Salida and Salidas.
If this confuses you, you can also follow the signs for taxis and buses because they normally stop in front of the airports. These signs will normally say “Taxi” and “Autobús”.
Before you leave for the grand hall or exit the airport, you will have to pass the customs or la “Aduana”. If you have anything to declare, you will have to stop here, and if not, you will pass the door that says “Nada que declarar” which means “Nothing to declare”.
Salida – exit
Aduana – customs
Nada que declarar – nothing to declare
Flying from Spain
Other than landing at the airport in Spain, there will also be times when you would need to fly from one. This will happen if you are returning home if you’re visiting multiple places in Spain so you’re flying from a Spanish airport, or in case you have a layover there.
Since the procedures are different for arrivals and departures, you will also need to learn phrases in Spanish for traveling from Spain.
Arriving at the airport
To arrive at the airport, you will probably use some sort of public transportation, although people mostly use a taxi or a car. If you’re coming in a taxi, other than saying that you’re going to the airport – “Al Aeropuerto” – you might also need to specify the terminal. Some airports are pretty big, like the one in Madrid, and they have multiple terminals that are pretty far from one another.
So, check your ticket and once you do you can inform your taxi driver where to leave you by saying “Terminal” and followed by a number. Most airports will have up to 4 terminals, so it’s useful to know the numbers up to four. Here’s how to say it:
- Terminal uno
- Terminal dos
- Terminal tres
- Terminal cuatro
So, once you get in a taxi, you can say “Al aeropuerto, terminal cuatro”. El aeropuerto means the airport, and Al aeropuerto means “to the airport”
If you’re coming by bus or metro, there will probably be one universal stop at the airport, so you will have to ask for directions to your terminal. You can do that by what you learned in the previous part and say “¿Perdone, dónde está el terminal cuatro?” or you can say “¿Perdone, cómo llegar a la terminal cuatro?”. This means, “Excuse me, how to get to terminal 4?”
El aeropuerto – the airport
La terminal (uno/dos/tres/cuatro) – Terminal (one, two, three, four)
¿Dónde está…? – Where is..?
¿Cómo llegar a la/al…? – How to get to…?
Boarding the plane
Once you are at the airport, the next step will be to prepare yourself for boarding the plane. Some airports have different spaces for international and domestic flights, so this would probably be the first thing you’ll want to look for.
For international flights, look for “Salidas internacionales”, and for domestic flights (if you’re traveling inside Spain), look for “Salidas domésticas”.
If you’re there for a layover, it’s useful to know that this is called “Escala” in Spanish.
Once you find your way to either domestic or international flights, you might want to check in your bag. To do so, you should look at the monitor to see where the check-in for your flight is. The monitor is called “Pantalla”, and the check-in stand is called “Mostrador de la facturación”.
Once you leave your bag, you can proceed to the security check or the “Control de seguridad”. The security might double-check and ask you if you have any special items like liquids or electronic devices. Here are some words that you might hear:
Aparatos electrónicos – electronic devices
After you pass the security check, you can check the screen to see where your gate is. The gate is called “Puerta de embarque” or simply “Puerta”. “Embarque” means boarding.
Focus words and phrases:
Salidas (domésticas/internacionales) – departures
Facturación de equipaje – baggage drop-off
Control (de seguridad) – security check/screening
Puerta de embarque – gate
If you have passed all of the above – congrats! You have passed the first lesson of Spanish for travelers, and can sit back in your plane seat and relax.
The next stop – looking for transportation after you land. Let’s go!
Looking for public transportation
Knowing how to find your way around public transportation definitely counts as essential Spanish for traveling and can help you save a lot of money by not always relying on a taxi.
Typically, there will be a few options when it comes to public transportation. Going from the airport, you can probably choose from two to three means depending on where you’re heading.
In Spanish, public transportation is “Transporte publico”.
Here are the most typical means of public transport:
If the city has a metro, then this is probably the most reliable option for you. If there is a metro station at the airport, the signs to it should be very visible once you get off the plane. There is not much thinking with this one as it is also marked as “Metro” in Spanish. You can also look for the “M” signs, but there’s not a foreign word that you should learn for it.
The things that you should look for are the lines and directions or “Línea” and “Dirección”. However, in many cases, the airport is the last stop, so it will have only one direction, and might also have only one line.
The metro from the airport will most probably connect with the central bus or train station, and the city center.
Even if you’re not at the airport but traveling inside the city and you’re using the metro, the words below can come in handy:
Línea – line
Dirección – direction
Conexión con la línea.. (A) / Conexión con autobús/tren – connection with metro (A) / connection with bus/train
With or without metro lines, it’s safe to say that almost every airport will have a bus stop very near, if not in front of the airport.
The bus stop is called “Parada de autobuses” from the verb parar which means to stop. If you’re going by bus, sometimes you can buy tickets beforehand, but if it’s an inner-city bus, the tickets are probably sold inside the vehicle.
The ticket is called “Billete”. Because the price of a bus ticket will depend on the place you go, to precise the place you can say “Un billete para el centro, por favor”. This means “One ticket to the city center, please”.
If you’re buying a ticket beforehand at the bus station (estación de autobuses), you should know that a ticket stand is called “Taquilla”. To go to another city or village, for example, if you’re going to Jaen, you should say “Un billete para Jaén”.
Autobús – bus
Billete – ticket
Taquilla – ticket booth
Parada (de autobuses)/Estación – bus stop/station
The third basic public transportation option is the train. For example, from the airport in Madrid, the train is the only option to go to the bus station.
Now, the word for the train in Spanish is “Tren”, but the sign for the train will probably say “Renfe”. Renfe stands for Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles, or in translation National Railway Network of Spain. On all the tickets, signs, and other markings related to the railways, it will say Renfe.
To buy a train ticket, you will either use the “Taquilla” or a ticket machine – “Máquina billetera” or “Máquina de billetes”.
Tren – train
Renfe – National Railway Network of Spain.
Máquina de billetes – ticket machine
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