We’ve all had that moment on holiday where we try to hail a taxi, order a beer or settle a bill; only for the language barrier to take us by surprise and make things really complicated. Many Brits head abroad with little to no knowledge of the basics, and all too often it leads to some awkward situations.

Since we like to help, we’ve got in touch with six language experts. They’ve each recommended a set of phrases they’re asked about the most, so you can get by and impress the locals in five popular European languages; Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Croatian and Greek!

Going to Spain?

Within the resort towns, you’ll come across plenty of Spaniards who speak good English. That being said, using some Spanish will go down a treat and will come in handy in any emergencies. Try to remember

Rype suggest…

  • I want to go shopping – Quiero hacer compras 
  • Where is the Bureau de Change? / Where is a bank? – ¿Dónde hay una casa de cambio?
  • I’m looking for a hotel – Busco un hotel
  • I need a table for two, please – Necesito una mesa para dos, por favor

Cactus Language suggest…

  • Hello, how are you?Hola, ¿cómo estás?
  • Excuse me – Disculpa
  • Nice to meet you – Un placer conocerte
  • How much is it? – ¿Cuánto cuesta?
  • Where is the toilet? – ¿Dónde está el baño?
  • Please/thank you – Por favor/Gracias

Fluent Language suggest…

  • Can I pay by card? – Puedo pagar con tarjeta?

AlterGyan suggest…

  • Where can I buy tickets? – ¿Dónde puedo comprar boletos?
  • At what time will the bus start? – ¿A qué hora sale el autobús?
  • Have a good trip. – Tenga un buen viaje.
  • How long does it take by car? – ¿Cuanto tiempo tarda en coche?
  • Please take me to this address. – Por favor lléveme a esta dirección.
  • Are there any places to visit nearby? – ¿Hay lugares de interés cerca?
  • Please can you take me? – ¿Podrías llevarme por favor?
  • Can you recommend a good restaurant? – ¿Puedes recomendar un buen restaurante?

MosaLingua suggest…

  • The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page  – El mundo es un libro y aquellos que no viajan solo leen una página (By St. Agustine)

Going to Italy?

Depending on whereabouts in Italy you’re headed, you may find few English speakers in some regions. Outside of the big cities, knowing a little Italian is a must. Try and learn:

Cactus Language suggest…

  • Hello, how are you? – Ciao! Come stai?
  • Nice to meet you – Piacere di conoscerti
  • Excuse me – Scusami
  • How much is it? – Quanto costa?
  • Where is the toilet? –  Dov’è il bagno?
  • Please/thank you – Per favore/Grazie

Fluent Language suggest…

  • Can I pay by card? – Posso pagare con la carta

italki suggest…

  • Good morning – Buongiorno 
  • Good evening – Buonasera 
  • Hey, hello. Come on! It’s late, we have to go! – Ehi, ciao. Dai su, muoviti e andiamo che è tardi! 
  • Oh, hi! It is a pleasure to meet you here! How are you? – Ma ciao! Che piacere vederti!! Come va? 
  • Nice to meet you, I’m Andrew – Piacere, Andrea 
  • Hello, I would like a Quattro Stagioni and a medium sized beer, please – Ciao, per me una Quattro stagioni e una birra media, per favore

Rype suggest…

  • When is it open? – Quando é aperto? 
  • Excuse me (to get attention) – Scusi 
  • Do you accept credit cards? – Accettate carte di credito? 
  • How much does it cost? – Quanto costa? 
  • Can you help me? – Mi può aiutare?

MosaLingua suggest… 

  • Roots are important in a man’s life, but men have legs, no roots, and legs are made to go somewhere else – Le radici sono importanti, nella vita di un uomo, ma noi uomini abbiamo le gambe, non le radici, e le gambe sono fatte per andare altrove (By writer Pino Cacucci)

Going to Portugal?

In popular tourist spots, you’ll find plenty of locals who can get by in English. Less spoken among Brits compared with Spanish and Italian however, pinning down some key Portuguese phrases is sure to impress. Have a go at:

Cactus Language suggest…

  • Hello, how are you? – Olá, como estás?
  • Nice to meet you – Prazer em conhecer
  • Excuse me – Com licença
  • How much is it? – Quanto custa?
  • Where is the toilet? –  Onde é o quarto de banho?
  • Please/thank you – Por favor/ Obrigado

Yakety Yak Language Café suggest…

  • Could I borrow a phone charger? – Tem um carregador de telemóvel que me empreste?
  • What is the WiFi password? – Qual é a (palavra) passe do WiFi?
  • I am vegetarian, what are the options on the menu? – Sou vegetariano/a. Que opções tem?
  • Where is the nearest Doctor/Police Station/Cash dispenser? Onde é o posto médico/a polícia/o multibanco mais próximo/próxima?

italki suggest…

  • Yes – Sim
  • No – Não
  • Goodbye – Adeus (formal) /Tchau (informal)
  • Good afternoon – Boa tarde
  • Good night – Boa noite
  • My name is… – O meu nome é…
  • Where is the beach? – Onde fica a praia?
  • Where is there a restaurant? – Onde há um restaurante?
  • What is the best restaurant in town? – Qual é o melhor restaurante da cidade?
  • A table for two, please – Uma mesa para duas pessoas, por favor

Practice Portuguese suggest…

  • The bill, please – A conta, por favor.
  • How much is it? – Quanto custa?
  • I’m just looking, thanks – Estou só a ver, obrigado
  • Do you accept credit card? – Aceita cartão de crédito?
  • Do you speak English? – Fala inglês?
  • Sorry, I don’t speak Portuguese – Desculpe, não falo português

MosaLingua suggest…

  •  Travelling is changing your soul’s clothes – Viajar é trocar a roupa da alma (By a Brazilian writer named Mario Quintana)

Going to Croatia?

It’s fair to say there are few holidaymakers who know their Croatian. It’s very rarely spoken by Brits, so knowing the key phrases will go down great with the locals. Why not try:

italki suggest…

  • Hi – Bok/Ej/Hej/Ciao (You often hear the last expression in south Croatia.)
  • Good morning – Dobro jutro
  • Good afternoon – Dobar dan
  • Good evening – Dobra večer
  • Good night –  Laku noć
  • Bye – Doviđenja (formal) ‘Đenja (informal)
  • What’s your name? – Kako se zovete? (formal) Kako se zoveš? (informal)
  • My name is… – Ja se zovem…
  • I am… – Ja sam… 
  • Drago mi je – Nice to meet you
  • Where do you come from? – Odakle dolaziš?
  • Thanks – Hvala
  • You’re welcome – Nema na čemu
  • How are you? – Kako si?
  • Fine, thanks – Dobro, hvala 
  • Sorry – Oprostite (formal) Oprosti (informal)
  • See you – Vidimo se


Going to Greece?

Greek can be difficult to master due to their use of a different alphabet. Try these translations; to make it easier,  we’ve used the alphabet you’re more familiar with to help you pronounce them out right:

Yakety Yak Language Café suggest…

  • Could I borrow a phone charger? – Boró na danistó énan fortistí?
  • What is the WiFi password? – Pios íne o kodikós gia to WiFi?
  • I am vegetarian, what are the options on the menu? – Eímai chortofágos, ti epilogés ipárchoun sto menú?
  • Where is the nearest Doctor/Police Station/Cash dispenser? – Poú vrískete o plisiésteros giatrós/to plisiéstero astinomikó tmíma /to plisiéstero ATM?
  • Thank you so much! – Sas efcharistó polí!

Meet our language experts…

Cactus Language is the leading provider of evening language courses in the UK offering more than 15 languages in 10 locations across the country as well as private, business and corporate language training.

Fluent Language is a site run by Kerstin, a language expert. Natively German, she’s learned eight languages and founded the site in 2012 with the aim of sharing the joy of language learning with others.

AlterGyan are a company based in India, a country with 22 official languages. This inspired them to create their portfolio of specialised language apps, which each offer 1500+ phrases delivered in fun formats such as flashcards and quizzes. They currently have apps for 17 languages (and counting).

italki is a language learning social network that connects would-be language learners with thousands of tutors around the world. It sets up 1-on-1 tuition, offering a truly personalised learning service.

Yakety Yak Language Café are a Scotland-based language learning group. They meet in cafes and local bistros in small groups, with trained tutors in attendance to help teach a whole host of languages.

Practice Portuguese is an online portal of European Portuguese learning materials. It offers a fun, diverse and interactive tutoring service; featuring everything from quizzes to their superb podcast which comes in both free and premium editions.

Rype allows you to set up one-on-one private language lessons with professional teachers. Leaving the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model at the door, Rype looks at your needs and goals to provide tuition that is tailored around you.

MosaLingua uses interactive activities to help you learn languages quickly. The methods are based on several cognitive science and psychology concepts so that you can absorb information easily and successfully.

Now you’ve got a handle on the basics, put your new-found linguistic skills to the test when you jet off with Airtours.