Portugal is a European gem with many unique cultural aspects. And what’s more central to a country’s culture than its language? As a visitor to any foreign country, it’s useful to know a few key words and phrases that will make your trip easier. Portugal, with its pristine beaches and beautiful architecture, is no exception to that rule.

Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world with many similarities to Spanish. But if you’re like many of us who don’t know much Spanish—or any language for that matterthis guide will be useful!

Greetings

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Want to get the conversation started as soon as you hop off your cheap round trip flights to Portugal? Open up with a greeting! Say Olá for hello, bom dia for good morning, and boa tarde for good afternoon. Another typical conversation starter could be, De onde você é?  That means, where are you from? To respond, simply say, Eu sou de New York, or wherever you happen to call home. When it’s time to go, say, Tchau!

Mind Your Manners!

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Need some food, directions, or a hotel recommendation? You’ll need to know how to say please and thank you! In Portuguese, por favor means please and obrigado means thank you.

 WiFi and Transportation

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As you’re traveling, you’ll definitely need to find a WiFi signal and a way to get around. If you’re looking for the Internet, simply ask, onde é o café mais próximo? You’re asking for the nearest cafe, and hoping it has a WiFi signal!

If it’s a train you seek, ask, onde é o de comboios mais próxima? A local will point you to the nearest train. Bonus tip! Metro and train tickets are cheaper in Portugal than they are in nearby France and England. Score! 

 Where Are We Going?

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Whether you’re the type of traveler who wanders spontaneously or the type to plan out every detail ahead of time, you’ll need to ask for directions. Portugal has beautiful tourist attractions like the Torre de Belem in Lisbon, the Museu Municpal in Lagos, and the Praia da Marinha in Caramujeira. If you want to find one, just ask, Como posso encontrar Praia da Marinha? You’re asking where the Praia da Marinha is, so remember to swap out the name of your desired destination.

Related: Don’t Speak the Language When Traveling? Here’s How to Get By!

Learn Some Slang!

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If you’re getting down with the locals, it’s good to have a few slang phrases in your back pocket. For mal loosely translates to my bad in English—the perfectly adorable way to apologize for any Portuguese blunders you might make along the way. For more slang phrases, whip out your phone! There are tons of apps to help you learn the local lingo.

Whether you know only a few phrases or are fluent in Portuguese, you’ll find the following Portuguese phrases useful to avoid miscommunication. Particularly in tourist areas and larger towns, it’s easy to find people who speak at least some English. This expression, as well as alguem aqui fal ingles? (does anyone here speak English?) will help you find someone you can talk to. Fale mais devagar, por favor means please speak more slowly.
An important line to know, as you will find the locals can often speak quite rapidly!

Where’s the Bathroom?

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Let’s be real, this is probably the most important phrase for you to know. When nature calls, just ask, Você pode por favor me dizer onde é o banheiro? Don’t forget to throw a polite obrigado at the end!

Apologizing

As a visitor, you may accidentally step on someone’s toes. Thankfully, the Portuguese are known for their warmth and friendly nature. Offer a sincere apology and all will be forgiven. Deculpa/desculpe translates to “I’m sorry”.
So if you accidentally cut someone in line, a quick desculpa will smooth it over. Use this line for common, casual situations.

In more serious situations, an eu sinto muito is appropriate. Or, if you hurt someone’s feelings, me perdoe is the right phrase to use. Lastly, if someone confides that their relative is sick or they’re out of work, then an eu lament ouvir isso expresses your sympathy and concern.

Emergencies

Woman in arm cast

What if you’re lost or have a medical emergency while you’re traveling? Fortunately, the Portuguese tend to be very helpful, though hopefully, you’ll never have to use the Portuguese phrases in this section.

The simplest way to ask for help is by saying socorro! Or, perhaps you need to have your shoulder looked at? It’s not an emergency, but you don’t want to wait until you get home. Fortunately, Portugal has excellent hospitals. If you need medical attention, say chame um medico!call a doctor, or chame uma ambulancia – call an ambulance. If you’ve lost your wallet, you’ll want to make sure to immediately report it to the police, you could use the phrase chame a policia!

Getting Around

Girl lost and using map

Some of the most important phrases you should know are those that will help you get around. After all, you’ll want to see all the wonderful sights that Portugal has to offer, and it’s so much easier to do that if you can ask for directions and understand the responses you get.

Start by saying com licenca, voce pode me informar onde e o…? – or, excuse me, do you know where… is? This is your basic inquiry which you can use to ask for directions to any location. You can then ask some follow-up questions, such as: Da para ir andaro?Is it within walking distance?” Or, e muito longe? – Is it far from here?

If it’s too far to walk, you might want to take a bus, so it’s helpful to ask which bus to take. You could use the phrase Qual onibus eu devo pagar? Onde? Or, which bus should I take? Once you get on, you’ll need to know what stop to get off of! Ask a friendly face near you, em que ponto eu desco? 

Other important phrases to know when getting directions include:
Siga em frente: Go straight ahead.
Vire: Turn.
Atravess a rua: Cross the street.
Ao lado direto: On the right side.
Ao lado esquerdo: On the left side.

Are you headed to this coastal country any time soon? Which phrases do you want to know before heading out? Let us know in the comments!

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About The Author

Chenea Gordon

Chenea Gordon is the newest addition to our travel writer team! She’s fun, enthusiastic, and has (surprise!) a deep love for travel. The Bronx native has several years of experience working in the travel industry. She’s passionate about understanding travelers’ needs and interests, as well as creating lasting memories.