Must Know Phrases for Your First Trip to Madrid (and Other Spanish Cities)

Must Know Phrases for Your First Trip to Madrid (and Other Spanish Cities)

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Going to Madrid? Here are some must-know phrases!

I am officially jealous of your trip to Madrid!  I had the best few months of my life there, and I know you will, too! As you make your way through the delicious tapas and sangria, here are some must-know phrases for anyone traveling to Madrid!

1. “Voy a Madrid, ¿vale?”

I am going to Madrid, okay?


You’re headed to Madrid; how exciting!  When you land, you might hear the word “vale” (BAH-lay) 13,590,385,408 times before you get into your taxi.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but “vale” can mean “yes,” “okay,” or even be used for emphasis.  So yeah – it can be used A LOT.  

Other examples:

  • Cuesta cinco euros, ¿vale? It costs 5 euros, okay?
  • ¡Vámonos, vale! Let’s go, yes!

I heard it so often that I came back to the United States saying “vale!” My friends were happy to have me back….NOT.

Have fun on your trip to Madrid, vale?

2. “¿Eres guiri? ¿De dónde eres?”

Are you a foreigner? Where are you from?

tourists in madrid

Let’s face it. We’re “guiris.” And that’s okay!

Guiri (GHEE-ree) means “foreigner” or “tourist.” Although it can be used negatively in some contexts, I have accepted it as a fact. Yes – I’m at tourist. No – I was not born in Spain.

You might hear it a few times when you’re in Madrid, so we wanted to give you the heads up!

We’re guiris, and we know it! (Cue LMFAO song circa 2011.)

3. “¿Quieres tapear conmigo esta noche?”

“Do you want to eat tapas with me tonight?”

tapas in madrid

You know how Pavlov’s dog’s mouth watered when he heard that bell? Well, your mouth will water every time you hear “tapear! (TAH-pay-ahr)”

You’ve heard of tapas (delicious, appetizer-like meals), but maybe not the verb, “tapear!”

On your trip, you may be asked to hang out with some of the locals and “tapear” Madrid-style!

Another example:

  • Ella fue de tapas ayer. ¡qué divertido! She went for tapas yesterday. How fun!

(Oh, and you should definitely tapear at El Tigre; best patatas bravas!)

4. “¿Una caña, por favor?”

A beer, please?


After you hit el Palacio Real and Retiro Park, nothing quite quenches your thirst like a nice, cold beer. Yes! Bartenders will understand “cerveza.” But…

Want to fit in with the Madrileños? Ask for a “caña! (CAHN-yah)” You can ask the bartender: ¿Una caña, por favor?” And you’ll get a nice beer on draft!

Starting to feel less and less like a “guiri?” Vale!

5. “¡Qué guay!”

How cool!


“Cool!”   “Awesome!”  “Nice!”

These are all phrases I love to say. A lot.

So when I got to Madrid, I naturally wanted to figure out how to express my admiration ASAP. And I did!

  • “¡Mira el Templo Debod! ¡Que guay (gwhy)!” Look at the Debod Temple! Cool!
  • “Vives aquí en Madrid. ¡Que guay!” You live here in Madrid. Awesome!
  • “Tienes una familia grande. ¡Que guay!” You have a big family. Nice!

Start practicing these super-guay phrases now!  A great way to learn Spanish is to make friends and tapear with the locals! A couple of cañas might make you feel more confident speaking Spanish! Enjoy your trip!  

Bio: Shannon Marshall and her twin sister, Jessica, have spoken their way through Mexico, Spain, and Chile.  They help travelers, like them, make the most out of their trips abroad by having confident conversations in Spanish.  Before your next trip, get the word-for-word phrases that will have you talking to Spanish speakers as soon as you land:

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