Essential Spanish Phrases to Ask For and Understand Directions

Directions in SpanishOne of the first things that beginners of Spanish who regularly travel to Spain want to learn is how to ask for directions and how to understand the answers you might get.

For some reason, people either love or hate this subject in Spanish.

It is just a case of learning the key verbs and words, you don’t need to understand long complex sentences. With the whole topic of asking for and understanding directions abroad, the most important thing is to be able to understand what the Spanish words mean and to be able to listen to them and interpret into English rather than learn to say them in Spanish, unless of course you are mistaken for a local and know the area really well so you can give directions.

How to ask for directions in Spanish

However, the one phrase you really do need to be able to say in Spanish is to ask how to get somewhere so here are some key ways to ask how to find places:

Perdone, ¿me puede decir …? – Excuse me, can you tell me …?

¿Dónde está ….? – Where is …?

¿Para ir al / a la …? – To get to the …?

¿Cómo se va al / a la …? – How do I get to …?

¿Está lejos …? – Is … far?

¿Está cerca …? – Is the … near?

¿A qué distancia está el/la …? – How far away is the …?

Me he perdido – I’m lost

Key words you need to understand

izquierda – left
[pronounced: eeth – key – air – da]

derecha – right

Sigue todo recto – carry straight on

Toma – take
e.g. Toma la primera a la derecha – Take the first on the right

Tuerza – turn
e.g. Tuerza a la izquierda – Turn left

dobla – turn

pasa por el/la … – Go past the …

cruza – cross

al lado del/de la – next to the

delante del/de la – in front of

enfrente del/de la – opposite the

detrás del / de la – behind

entre el/la – between the

Other useful words

los semáforos – traffic lights
la redonda – the roundabout
el cruce – the junction / crossroads
la plaza – the square
el puente – the bridge
el río – the river
la calle – the street
la carretera – main road
la autopista – motorway
la salida – exit

Hopefully if you learn the above key words you will not get lost next time you are in Spain as you now know how to ask for directions and know enough to understand their reply, even if you don’t grasp every single word.

Remember, if you don’t quite understand what they have said, you could say:

¿Puede repetir, por favor? – Can you say it again, please?

Or if they spoke very quickly and you couldn’t keep up, you could say:

¿Puede hablar más despacio, por favor? – Can you speak slower, please?

TIP: You could try asking a local for directions even if you know the place really well, just to practice!

 
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