Understand Directions in Spanish: 100 Words and Phrases

Imagine landing in a Spanish-speaking country, full of excitement to explore, but suddenly finding yourself lost. Are you looking for directions in Spanish? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Knowing how to ask for directions in Spanish is life-saving when you’re moving through new cities and towns.

Spring Spanish, a project I co-founded, made a video on asking for directions in Spanish. Check it out!

Even if you don’t speak fluent Spanish yet, a few key phrases can guide you to your destination. Learning words like “derecha,” “izquierda,” and direction verbs will make you understand and give directions in Spanish.

This post shares essential Spanish vocabulary and phrases for asking for directions. Find your way, receive directions from friendly locals, and visit all the sights you want!

1. How to ask for directions in Spanish

When traveling to Spanish-speaking countries, don’t be shy about approaching locals for help.

A warm “¡Buenos días!” or “¡Hola!” greeting will put you and everyone at ease. Then, you can follow it up politely with “¿Me puede ayudar por favor?” (Can you please help me?) to ask if they can assist you.

Once you approached someone, you’ll need key phrases for asking where things are located.

¿Dónde está…?” lets you ask about the location of places like “la plaza central” (town square), “la catedral” (cathedral), or “el museo” (museum). And you can use “¿Cómo llego a…? ” to ask for directions to get there.

To understand the response, you have to understand cardinal directions – more on that soon!

But first, let’s see some Spanish phrases for asking directions:

SpanishEnglish
¿Dónde está la plaza central?Where is the town square?
¿Cómo llego al museo?How do I get to the museum?
¿Por dónde se va a la playa?Which way to the beach?
¿Me puede indicar cómo llegar al parque?Can you tell me how to get to the park?
¿Está lejos la estación de autobuses?Is the bus station far away?
¿Cuál es el camino más rápido al centro comercial?What’s the quickest way to the shopping mall?
¿Hacia dónde tengo que ir para encontrar un restaurante?Which direction should I go to find a restaurant?
¿Me puede señalar dónde queda la iglesia?Can you point out where the church is?
¿Por dónde puedo llegar a la avenida principal?How can I get to the main avenue?
¿Está cerca el banco?Is the bank nearby?
¿Cuántas cuadras hay hasta el supermercado?How many blocks is it to the supermarket?
¿Me explica cómo ir al hotel desde aquí?Can you explain how to get to the hotel from here?

See these questions? Almost all of them include chunks – natural building blocks of the language that native speakers use all the time. If you want to absorb these chunks, sign up now and get your Spanish Conversation Based Chunking Starter Pack!

2. Getting direction in Spanish

After asking for directions, you will most certainly receive them, too. Pay close attention to key words and phrases that will help guide you.

directions in spanish sagrada familia

Listen for directions like “norte (north)”, “sur” (south) or maybe “oeste” (west). Direction words like “derecha” (right), “izquierda” (left), “recto” (straight) and verbs like “doblar” (to turn) or “cruzar” (to cross) are also essential for understanding where to go.

Here are some common phrases you might hear when receiving directions in Spanish:

SpanishEnglish
Siga todo rectoGo straight ahead
Doble a la izquierdaTurn left
Cruce la calleCross the street
Está a dos cuadrasIt’s two blocks away
La siguiente a la derechaThe next one on the right

Don’t be afraid to ask the person to repeat or clarify if you need it. It’s a natural thing to do, even in your native language.

3. Cardinal directions in Spanish

Learn these basic directions to get around in Spanish. Also, learn cardinal directions and simple instructions to find your way around.

SpanishEnglish
nortenorth
sursouth
esteeast
oestewest
a la derechato the right
a la izquierdato the left
todo rectostraight ahead
cruzarto cross
doblarto turn
la próximathe next one
la esquinathe corner
sigacontinue
pasego past
enfrenteacross/in front
más adelantefurther ahead
cercanear/close
lejosfar away
al ladonext to/beside
por aquíthis way
hacia alláover there
dar la vueltato go around

4. Describe your position and where you want to go with direction words

It’s also helpful to be able to explain where you currently are and where you want to go in Spanish.

Using simple phrases like “Estoy en…” (I’m at…) or “Estoy cerca de…” (I’m near…), you can tell someone your starting point. Identify landmarks or cross streets using “la esquina de…” (the corner of…) or “enfrente de…” (across from…).

To express your desired destination, use phrases like “Quiero ir a…” (I want to go to…), “Necesito encontrar…” (I need to find…), or “¿Dónde está…?” (Where is…?).

But you know what? It will be easier if we put all of these expressions in a table:

SpanishEnglish
Estoy en…I’m at…
Estoy cerca de…I’m near…
La esquina de…The corner of…
Enfrente de…Across from…
Estoy en la esquina de Calle Principal y Avenida 5I’m at the corner of Main Street and 5th Avenue
Estoy enfrente del museo de arteI’m across from the art museum
Quiero ir a…I want to go to…
Necesito encontrar…I need to find…
¿Dónde está…?Where is…?
La plaza centralThe town square
La bibliotecaThe library
El supermercadoThe supermarket
Busco un lugar donde…I’m looking for a place where…
Puedo comprar recuerdosI can buy souvenirs
Sirven comida mexicanaThey serve Mexican food

5. Learn Spanish direction verbs

Let’s examine the most common verbs used in Spanish for giving and receiving directions!

Spanish VerbEnglish Translation
irto go
venirto come
llegarto arrive
salirto leave
seguirto continue/follow
doblarto turn
cruzarto cross
caminarto walk
tomarto take
subirto go up
bajarto go down

And now, here’s a short dialogue between a tourist and a local in Mexico. This is how this would work in a real-life example:

Turista: Disculpe, ¿puede decirme cómo llegar a la catedral? [Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the cathedral?]
Local: Claro, siga todo recto por esta calle. Luego doble a la derecha y cruce la avenida principal. [Sure, continue straight on this street. Then turn right and cross the main avenue.]
Turista: ¿Debo tomar un autobús o puedo ir caminando? [Should I take a bus or can I walk?]
Local: Puede ir caminando, no está lejos. Suba la próxima calle a la izquierda y verá la catedral. [You can walk, it’s not far. Go up the next street to the left and you’ll see the cathedral.]
Turista: Muchas gracias, seguiré sus indicaciones. [Thank you very much, I’ll follow your directions.]
Local: De nada, que tenga un buen día. [You’re welcome, have a nice day.]

6. Find your way around famous places and landmarks

There are certain landmarks that you might want to visit – no matter where you are in the Spanish-speaking regions.

Here are some of the most common sights you’ll likely want to visit:

  • La catedral – The cathedral
  • El museo – The museum
  • La plaza central/principal – The main/central square
  • El parque – The park
  • El mercado – The market
  • El malecón – The boardwalk/promenade
  • El castillo – The castle
  • La playa – The beach
  • Las ruinas – The ruins
  • El mirador – The lookout point

With a few key Spanish phrases and an understanding of common tourist destinations, it’ll be easier to explore any city.

7. Check you maps for good directions

Of course, getting directions from locals is incredibly helpful, but you’ll also want to have a map on hand to reference as you make your way around a Spanish-speaking city or town.

directions in spanish checked on a map

Whether using a digital map like Google Maps or a traditional paper map, it’s good to be able to read it in Spanish.

Double check routes, and don’t get lost!

Studying a map beforehand can help orient you to the lay of the land. Just be prepared to also ask for clarification, as maps don’t always show everything!

SpanishEnglish
El mapaThe map
La calleThe street
La avenidaThe avenue
La autopistaThe highway
La carreteraThe road
El cruceThe intersection
El puenteThe bridge
CentroCenter
Las afuerasOutskirts

8. Abbreviations for directions words in Spanish

These abbreviations are commonly used on maps and road signs in Spanish-speaking countries and regions. Knowing them can help you interpret directions.

SpanishEnglish
NN (North)
SS (South)
EE (East)
OW (West)
NENE (Northeast)
NONW (Northwest)
SESE (Southeast)
SOSW (Southwest)
Av.Ave. (Avenue)
CalleSt. (Street)
Carr.Hwy. (Highway)
Fte.Frt. (Front)
Esq.Cor. (Corner)
CruceXing (Crossing)
Pte.Brdg. (Bridge)
KmKm (Kilometer)
mm (Meter)

9. Practice Worksheet – Practice using directions with real examples

Fill in the blanks with the correct word or phrase in Spanish related to directions. Use the blog post as a reference guide. 

This was just a little peek behind the scenes of our Full Practice Worksheet Library. If you want to practice more Spanish, click the button and sign up!

10. Learn more Spanish vocabulary about giving and receiving directions with Conversation Based Chunking

Being able to ask for and understand directions in Spanish is a vital skill for any traveler.

While memorizing vocabulary lists is helpful, the real key is practicing conversational chunks and phrases.

The Conversation Based Chunking method focuses on learning natural Spanish the way natives speak it – through context and repetition of common expressions.

With diligent practice of this method, gaining Spanish fluency for travel becomes an achievable goal.

¡Buena suerte y buen viaje! (Good luck and safe travels!)

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