Basic Spanish for el Camino de Santiago

Last week, when I tried helping some French pilgrims on their way to Santiago who didn’t know Spanish, it made me stop and think how fortunate I am to have begun learning Spanish when I was 13. I forget that not everyone has studied Spanish, and many times it makes me frustrated as I have put so much effort in my life into this amazing language (and now I’ve added Catalán and Italian to the mix).

So…I wanted to write up a few basic words to help pilgrims who are keen on doing the Camino but don’t know the difference between “hola” and “hasta luego”. This can also work for travelers to Spain who just want to enjoy the beach (playa) and sangria and siesta (nap) and fiesta (party). Learning just a few words when travelling always enhances my experience.

Hola: Hello
Hasta luego: See you later (more common than “adiós”, or “goodbye”, in Spain)
¿Habla inglés? : Do you speak English? (formal)
¿Hablas inglés?: Do you speak English? (informal, more common to hear in Spain)
¿Habla(s) alemán?: Do you speak German?
¿Habla(s) frances? Do you speak French?
No hablo castellano: I don’t speak Spanish (you could say “español”, but in Spain, it’s better to say “castellano”)

¿Cómo está(s)? How are you?

Buen Camino: Good journey to Santiago!

Peregrino: Pilgrim
Soy peregrino: I am a pilgrim.

Uno: 1 Dos: 2 Tres: 3 Cuatro: 4 Cinco: 5 Seis: 6 Siete: 7 Ocho:8 Nueve: 9 Diez: 10

¿Cúantos kilometros a…?: How many kilometres to…?

Pan: Bread
Vino: Wine
Cerveza: Beer
Coca-Cola: Coke
Café: Coffee
Café con leche: “White coffee”/coffee with milk/café au lait/café con leche
Café solo: Black coffee
Cortado: Coffee with a little bit of milk
Cappuccino: Cappuccino
Tortilla: Omelette
Tostada: Toast

Tip! You can ask for “un vaso de agua” (a glass of tap water) free when you order something.

Sello: Stamp (for the passport)

Por favor: Please
Gracias: Thank you
De nada: You’re welcome.

El libro de reclamaciones: Complaint book (if a business treats you really really bad)

Ampolla: Blister
Me duele: My ….. hurts. You can point to what hurts then.
Farmacia: Pharmacy/Chemist
Albergue: Youth Hostel
Pensión/Hostal: Cheap, often family-ran hotel
Hotel: Hotel
Restuarante: Restaurant

Sol: Sun
Lluvia: Rain
Nublado: Cloudy
Río: River
Monte/Sierra: Mountains

If you’re doing the Camino del Norte, a couple of Basque (Euskera) words. No one expects you to speak Basque, but an “aupa/kaixo” (Hello!) and “agur” (goodbye!) will forever endear you to the Basques.

Buen Camino! If there are any words you want to know, just ask, and I will gladly teach you!

For those learning Spanish (or Spanish people learning English), the best advice I can give you is DO NOT TRANSLATE LITERALLY as “Spain is the milk” does not make any sense in English, nor does “España está follando guay” make any sense in Spanish.


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