We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

How bad exactly is the language barrier in Madrid?

Kuala Lumpur...
4 posts
1 review
2 helpful votes
How bad exactly is the language barrier in Madrid?

I understand English is less widely spoken in Spain compared a lot of other European countries. I’m curious over how hard navigating Madrid would be for a solo tourist who only knows basic words and phrases in Spanish. Is the chance of having a English-speaking waiter or bartender like 50-50? Is it common to find young locals who can’t speak English at all?

South Portland...
Destination Expert
for Madrid, Spain
Level Contributor
5,624 posts
99 reviews
64 helpful votes
1. Re: How bad exactly is the language barrier in Madrid?

You'll be fine, most locals that I've encountered in shops, hotels, and restaurants have at least a basic knowledge of English.

London, England
Level Contributor
14,219 posts
72 reviews
70 helpful votes
2. Re: How bad exactly is the language barrier in Madrid?

Spain is one of the most visited countries in Europe. The majority of tourists seem to manage ok without speaking the language.

Madrid, Spain
Level Contributor
8,049 posts
2 reviews
3 helpful votes
3. Re: How bad exactly is the language barrier in Madrid?

I concur with the two previous posts! I am sure you will have no issue making yourself understood, the people working in the service sector in Spain are used to dealing with visitors from world over, even if they do not have a great command of English.

If this is something which concerns you too much, there are translation apps you can download to assist you.

Hampshire, UK
Level Contributor
33,584 posts
100 reviews
143 helpful votes
4. Re: How bad exactly is the language barrier in Madrid?

Get google translate on your phone. You'll be fine.

Mississauga, ON
Level Contributor
3,859 posts
157 reviews
90 helpful votes
5. Re: How bad exactly is the language barrier in Madrid?

We are in Madrid at the moment and have spent 6 weeks traveling throughout Spain. We know basic (very) Spanish and have gotten along, for the most part, just fine.

I found through my research prior to, that reading articles, menus, various websites in Spanish did help as words and phrases became familiar.

We have been completely baffled at times, but have managed.

Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
1,623 posts
9 reviews
8 helpful votes
6. Re: How bad exactly is the language barrier in Madrid?

I just got back from Madrid, and I was a little surprised that English is not spoken as widely there than in other European countries. I found taxi drivers spoke very little English, but we got along very well with Google translate. Our hotel owner spoke no English at all. Store clerks seem to be a little better when it came to English. You have to remember you’re in a foreign country, so just do the best you can and enjoy your trip.

7. Re: How bad exactly is the language barrier in Madrid?

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity.

What are forum guidelines?
© 2024 Tripadvisor LLC All rights reserved.

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in United Kingdom. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.