The first step to learning Portuguese travel words and phrases is to say them out loud, no matter how you might sound.
Well, maybe that’s the second step. Because the first step is actually learning the phrases.
That’s why in this post, you’ll find not only over 75 crucial Portuguese travel phrases and words for a successful trip, but also some key pronunciation tips and a customizable way for you to actually form relevant sentences.
- Why Should I Learn Portuguese Travel Phrases?
- The Importance of Nailing the Portuguese Accent
- Over 75 Essential Portuguese Travel Phrases and Words
- Saying Hello: Basic Portuguese Phrases and Words
- Eating Is Universal: Portuguese Food Words and Phrases
- Getting Around: Transportation Phrases and Words
- Modes of transportation:
- Don’t Get Lost: Asking for Directions in Portuguese
- Buying Memories: Shopping in Portuguese
- Just Fake It
Why Should I Learn Portuguese Travel Phrases?
Contrary to popular belief, English isn’t spoken everywhere in the world.
Are there Portuguese, Brazilians and other Portuguese-speaking natives who can speak English? Of course.
But most probably know English the way most Americans know Spanish: Enough to say “Hello, how are you?” and “Where’s the bathroom?” (if they’re lucky).
Learning some basic Portuguese phrases and words will help you communicate beyond saying hello.
Even if you get lucky and find an English speaker, you might find it too hard to understand their English due to the unfamiliar accent.
But perhaps the most compelling reason to learn Portuguese travel phrases is that it’ll make your experience more immersive and enjoyable.
Every language has its own flair and gives a peek into the culture of the people who speak it. In Brazil, for example, the people are more laid back, so they’ll shorten words or resort to shorter slang. “Cómo vocé está?” (How are you?) becomes “Cómo você tá?” (How are you?) or even “E aí?” (What’s up?).
Learning Portuguese travel phrases will give you the foundation you need to have a more authentic experience.
The Importance of Nailing the Portuguese Accent
We’ve all heard someone say “hello” in Spanish incorrectly. It’s a rookie move to pronounce the h in “hola.” To sound like a native with your newfound Portuguese travel phrases, you’ll have to start thinking about the accent.
When you can say your phrases with the right accent, not only will you be better understood, but you’ll understand people better as well.
Start by deciding which accent you need to learn.
Every Portuguese-speaking country has an accent of its own, and every region has yet another accent. But typically, people choose a standard version of Portuguese from either Portugal or Brazil.
The nice thing about Portuguese is that it mostly sounds like it’s written, with only a couple of small pronunciation differences based on the accent you choose to learn. You can hear these nuances by watching videos in Portuguese from the various regions.
Here are some pronunciation basics to remember before you learn the words and phrases below.
In most cases, the vowel sounds stay the same. There are a couple cases where they become nasal, but those will be covered in the next section.
- a — Pronounced like the a in “Casablanca” or “caught”
- e — Pronounced like the e in “celery” or “red”
- i — Pronounced like the sound of the double e in “see”
- o — Pronounced like the o in “oh” without the h sound; if the o is at the end of a word, pronounce it like the sound of the double o in “cool”
- u — Pronounced like the sound of the double o in “cool”
Portuguese Nasals and Special Letter Combinations
There are a few letter combinations in Portuguese that don’t make much sense in English. Here’s what to do when you encounter them:
- Lh — Say the l in “liquid” followed by the y in “yellow.”
- Nh — This combination is a nasal sound. If you speak Spanish, it’s the same as the sound of ñ. When you see nh in Portuguese, you can think of how the n is pronounced in “piñata” or “jalapeño.”
- Nasals (ãe, ãi, am, ão, em, om, õe, ui, m and n at the ends of words) — Portuguese contains nasals sounds that are made up of a combination of letters. Basically, you move the vowel sound to your nose when you say the word.
The best way to learn the pronunciation of nasal sounds and the rest of the words is to watch videos with subtitles and try to reproduce them.
You can find videos like these on YouTube or through language programs. For example, the FluentU program turns videos with interactive subtitles into lessons that include pronunciation exercises, so you can listen to native speakers and then mimic the sounds yourself.
Over 75 Essential Portuguese Travel Phrases and Words
Here’s something you might find comforting: Sometimes, Portuguese-speakers use English words while other words simply sound very similar in both languages. These are called cognates and there are nearly 3,000 of them. So you’re not starting from zero here!
It’s also comforting to know that the structure of Portuguese sentences is similar to English: subject + verb + noun. In English, you can say “I want a cat,” and in Portuguese, you use the same word order: “Eu (I) quero (want) um (a) gato (cat).” On this very basic level, there are no complicated new sentence structures to learn.
In the list below, we cover some basic Portuguese travel phrases and vocabulary that you can turn into your own phrases.
Many people simply memorize a few key phrases when traveling, which mostly works. But it limits your options and doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to understand the response.
In each of the sections below, we share a few important phrases with blanks—followed by words you can use to fill in those blanks.
Learn the phrases and study the words you think you’ll be most likely to use on your travels for a personalized travel phrasebook!
Saying Hello: Basic Portuguese Phrases and Words
There are some basic phrases words that you’ll be using over and over when interacting with other people in Portuguese. Memorize them first, as you’ll almost certainly need them on your trip!
Olá / Oi (informal) — Hello
Como você está? / Como está? / Como tá? (informal) / E aí? (informal) — How are you?
A cultural note: Most greetings will be accompanied by a cheek kiss (where your cheeks touch and you kiss the air). The first time you experience this, it might be overwhelming, but you’ll soon get used to the different view of personal space.
Bem, e você? — I’m well, and you?
Foi um prazer. — It was good to meet you.
Tchau / Até logo — Bye (literally “until later”)
Obrigado/a — Thank you
Desculpa — Sorry or excuse me
Por favor — Please
Onde está o banheiro? — Where is the bathroom?
Com licença / Por favor — Excuse me (Note: You pronounce ç like a regular “s”)
Preciso trocar dinheiro. — I need to exchange money.
Sim — Yes
Não — No
And, if you’re really having trouble, you could always look for an English-speaker after all:
Fala inglês? — Do you speak English?
Eating Is Universal: Portuguese Food Words and Phrases
No cultural experience is complete without the food. And you need to know more than the word cachaça (a spirit produced mainly in Brazil).
Here are the phrases to remember:
Eu quero ___. — I want ___.
Pode dar me ___, por favor? — Can you please give me ___? (Slightly more polite.)
These are the easiest ways to order food in Portuguese. Simply fill in the blank with any of the words below, and whoever you’re speaking to will understand what you mean!
Bebidas — Drinks
Água — Water
Refrigerante — Soda
Suco — Juice
Leite — Milk
Vinho — Wine
Cerveja — Beer
Comida — Food
Salada — Salad
Arroz — Rice
Feijão — Beans
Carne — Meat
Frango — Chicken
Sobremesa — Dessert
Bolo — Cake
Sorvete — Ice cream
Maçã — Apple
Mamão — Papaya
Morango — Strawberry
Manga — Mango
Maracujá — Passionfruit
Goiaba — Guava
Açaí — Acai berry
Caju — Cashew fruit
Getting Around: Transportation Phrases and Words
If you’re planning on walking the whole time you’re traveling, you may not need to know about transportation, but this is unlikely!
Besides, this vocabulary might still come in handy if someone’s yelling something like, “Cuidado! Tem muitos carros!” (Careful! There are a lot of cars!)
Que horas chega ___? — What time does the ___ arrive?
Sabe onde fica ___? — Do you know where the ___ is?
Modes of transportation:
Use the words below to fill in the blanks on the phrases above and you’ll be able to find your way around with ease!
Carro — Car
Ônibus — Bus
Avião — Plane
Tren — Train
Taxi — Taxi
Bicicleta — Bike
Parada de ônibus — Bus stop
Don’t Get Lost: Asking for Directions in Portuguese
In order to get to the sites you want to see and the restaurants you want to try, you’re probably going to have to ask for directions. Here are the basics:
Pode me dizer como chegar no/na ___? — Could you tell me how to get to the ___?
Onde está o/a ___? — Where is the ___?
Common places of interest
Use the words below to find your way around.
Hotel — Hotel
Quarto — Room
Museu — Museum
Parque — Park
Catedral — Cathedral
Cachoeira — Waterfall
Aeroporto — Airport
Asking is easy, but can you understand the answer? Remember these words to follow any direction you receive.
Esquerda — Left
Direita — Right
Reto — Straight ahead
Por aí — Around there
Em frente — In front of
Atrás — Behind
Rua — Road
Avenida — Avenue
Estrada — Highway
Faixa — Lane
Seguir — To follow
Virar — To turn (Vira a… — Turn… left/right/etc.)
Buying Memories: Shopping in Portuguese
Tourists are always looking for trinkets to bring home, so you’ll need to know a thing or two about making purchases.
It might feel unnatural, but haggling is the norm in many countries. Here’s how to let the vendor know you won’t budge from your budget:
Vou pagar só ___ dólares. Nada mais. — I will only pay ___ dollars. Nothing more.
To fill in this blank, you will need to know your Portuguese numbers.
Quanto custa esta/o/as/os ___? — How much does this ___ cost?
Since Portuguese is a gendered language, you’ll need to match the gender and number of the item to the word esta (this).
Although there are exceptions, just remember that generally, words that end in -a are feminine, while those that end in -o are masculine.
Você tem ___? — Do you have ___? (Used when asking for things)
Looking for a particular item or want to know its price? Check out some common clothing items you might be shopping for. You can also use these with the food words above!
Common shopping items
Camisa — Shirt
Saia — Skirt
Calças — Pants
Vestido — Dress
Sapatos — Shoes
Souvenir / Suvenir (less popular) / Lembrança — Souvenir
Just Fake It
And when all else fails, try saying a word in English with a Portuguese accent. There’s a good chance you’ll be understood.
As I mentioned above, English and Portuguese also share many cognates, like banana (banana) and dólares (dollars).
There are also some words that Portuguese-speaking people might know from social media. Usually, these will be more modern or technology-based words like internet (internet), telefone (telephone), computador (computer), and televisão (television).
Fake it ’til you make it!
If you’re tempted to just use English wherever you travel, just remember: Learning Portuguese will open you up to a whole new culture and people who you’d have never otherwise been able to interact with.
Have a good trip!