Home Language HacksBasque 99 Essential Basque (Euskara) Phrases for Your Trip to the Basque Country

99 Essential Basque (Euskara) Phrases for Your Trip to the Basque Country

by Michele
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Basic Basque Phrases for Travellers
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If you’re new to the Basque language (Euskara) or are travelling to the Basque Country, this Basque travel phrase guide uncovers all the essential facts about this fascinating language and teaches you some useful  Basque phrases that will enrich your travels.

Just like all my other phrase guides, this Basque travel phrase guide gives you a well-rounded set of practical phrases and vocabulary which will help you have meaningful conversations and interactions with the locals.

For ease of use, I’ve included the transliteration for each phrase which means you can read as if you were reading English, but you’ll be magically speaking Basque!

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Let’s take a closer look at the Basque language. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Table of Contents

Where is Basque spoken?

Basic Basque Phrases - View of Santa Clara Island San Sebastian

View of Santa Clara Island in San Sebastian, Spain (Basque Country)

The Basque language is spoken along the Spanish-French border near the Bay of Biscay.  The Basque Country consists of seven different historical regions, which simply put, means the land where the Basque language is spoken – not to be confused with being a sovereign state.

Three of the seven regions are located in France; Labourd (Lapurdi), Basse-Navarre (Nafarroa Beherea), and Soule (Zuberoa) and the other four are in Spain; Vizcaya (Bizkaia), Álava (Araba), Guipúzcoa (Gipuzkoa), and Navarra (Nafarroa).

A Quick History of the Basque Country

Euskaltzaindi - The Basque Language Academy in Bilbao

Euskaltzaindi – The Basque Language Academy in Bilbao, Spain (Basque Country)

The Basque language is a rare and special language that is worth learning about. Firstly, it doesn’t have a home in the political sense of the word. What is known as the Basque Country is actually a term used to describe the geographical location where Basque is spoken.

What’s so fascinating about the Basque language is how little we know about where we came and how it evolved. In fact, it’s a mystery! No one knows where it came from. Linguistically speaking, the Basque language is totally unrelated to any other languages found in Europe and is a language isolate to any other known living language.

The Basque language is full of totally unique characteristics not found in the Indo-European languages it’s surrounded by which means it’s origins have to have been completely different and separate. Some have even tried linking Basque to Celtic languages, Finnish, languages in northern Africa and even native American languages, but nothing quite fits the bill.

Even though the Basque language has been spoken for more than 2,000 years it never gained official language status. Since it was never properly protected or promoted its development as a literary language was slow compared to other languages. The first printed book in Basque wasn’t published until 1545.

At one point in its history, speaking the Basque language or mentioning its culture was almost entirely forbidden during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) with thanks to the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. The language was suppressed so much and suffered a severe blow that it wasn’t until after Franco’s death and when Spain became a democracy that the language was given a chance to slowly bounce back.

Today, the Basque language is protected by the Basque Language Academy (pictured above) which was founded in 1919 under the name of Euskaltzaindia, which literally means ‘The society of guardians of Basque’. It wasn’t until 1956 that their first public meeting was held but by 1968 great strides has been made in creating a unified Basque language or Euskara Batua. Thanks to their hard work, Basque is now taught in schools and since 1982 now have official language status in Basque-speaking areas of the autonomous province of Navarre.

What is the Basque language called?

You might be in northern Spain or south-west France, but when visiting places like Bilbao or Donostia-San Sebastián, you’re in Basque Country (País Vasco in Spanish, Pays Basque in French, Euskal Herria in Basque).

The name “Basque” is what it’s called in Spanish whilst it’s called “Euskara” in the Basque language. You’ll hear Euskara spoken throughout the Basque Country and see the language used everywhere from train schedules, to newspapers, and restaurant menus so it’s worth brushing on on some basic Basque phrases to enrich your travels.

What does ‘Basque’ mean? The Etymology of ‘Basque’

The name of the Basque region in Euskara is called Euskal Herria. The word herri can be translated in many different ways including nation; country, land; people, population and town, village, settlement. Paired with Euskal, an adjective, it literally means the”country/nation/people/settlement of the Basque language”.

How many people speak Basque?

Almost 2.9 million people live in the Basque Country, yet the Basque language is spoken by 537,860 people, with 464,000 of those living in Spain.

Basque Alphabet

For centuries, the Basque language didn’t have its own orthography so the Latin alphabet and its spelling conventions were adopted. For certain sounds that didn’t exist in the Latin alphabet, these were supplemented by using additional devices to recreate and emulate them.

Because the Latin alphabet was used, the Basque alphabet uses the same letters as the English alphabet with the addition of the letter ñ which is used after the letter n and before the letter o.

Some letters are only used in loan words and not in genuine Basque words and are only used to preserve the spelling of foreign words. These letters are c, q, v, w, and y.

Basque Pronunciation

Basque words always pronounce their vowels just like in Spanish or Italian (crisp and open, even if unstressed)
In the phonetic transcription ‘dd’ is an intervocalic consonant as pronounced in quick American English.

Useful Basque Phrases and Words for Travellers with Audio

Basic Basque Travel Phrases and Words

Want the infographic to take with you? Scroll to the bottom of the page and save it.

P.S. If you’re reading this on your phone and can’t see the pronunciation column, turn it to landscape mode. For some reason, tables aren’t mobile friendly. Sorry!


Basque Translation Transliteration
Hello (greet someone) Kaixo
Hello (in response to a greeting) Aupa
Good morning Egun on
egoon on
Good night Gabon
Goodbye (to someone leaving) Agur
Goodbye (when you leave) Agur
How are you? Zer moduz?
ser moddoos?
I’m am very well, thank you Primeran nago, milesker
primmeran naggoh, mijesker
Good, thank you Ondo, eskerrik asko
ondoh, eskerrik askoh
What is your name? Nola duzu izena? / Zer izen duzu?
nolla doosoo isena? / ser isen doosso?
My name is… … dut izena / …deitzen naiz
…doot isena/ …daytzen nice
It’s nice to meet you Urte askotarako
oortay askottaddakoh


Please Mesedez
Thank you Eskerrik asko
eskerrik askoh
You’re welcome Ez horregatik
es orregatteek
OK Ados
Excuse me Barkatu
I’m sorry Sentitzen dut
senteetzen doot
I don’t understand Ez dut ulertzen
es doot oolertzen
I only speak a little bit of Basque Euskara pixka bat besterik ez dakit
ay’ooskadda pishkabbat besteddeek es takeet
Can you please repeat that slowly Hori berriz eta mantsoago esaterik bai?
oddi berris ettah mant’shohaggoh essatereek bye?


Where? Non?
How? Nola?
Where is/are…? Non dago/daude…?
non daggoh/dowday…?
How much? Zenbat?
Who? Nor? / Nork?
When? Noiz?
Why? Zergatik?
What? Zer?
Which? Zein? 
How much is this? Zenbat ote da?
senbat ottay da?
How much does that cost? Zenbat balio du?
senbat balee’oh doo?
Where is the toilet? Komuna non dago?
komoona non daggo?
Can I have… …. jarriko didazu?
…yarriko deedasoo?
I would like… … nahi dut mesedez
…nye doot messedes?

Food and Drink

The menu, please Platerren zerrenda ekarriko didazu, mesedez?
plattterren serrenda eckarrikoh deedasoo, messedes?
Two beers, please Bi garagardo, faborez
bee garagardoh, fabboddes?
A bottle of house red wine, please Botila bat etxeko ardo, mesedez
bottiyah bat etcheko ardoh, messedes
Some water, please Ur pixka bat, mesedez
oor pishkah bat, messedes
I’m allergic to… …. -(r)i alergia diot
…-(dd)y allerghee’ah dee’ot
I’m a vegetarian Barazki-jalea naiz
baddaski-yalay’ah nice
Can we have the bill, please? Kobratuko diguzu, mesedez?
kobbratookoh deegoosoo, messeddes?
What do you recommend? Zer gomendatzen duzu?
ser gomendatzen doosoo?
The meal was excellent Jatordu ederra izan da
yattordoo edderrah isan dah

Getting Around

Left Ezkerra
Right Eskuina
Keep going straight ahead Zuzen-zuzen jarrai’zazu
soosen-soosen yarrye-sassoo
Turn left Ezkerrera jo
eskerreddah yoh
Turn right Eskuinera jo
eskoonyaiddah yoh
Entrance Sarrera
Exit Irteera
I’m lost Galdurik naiz
galdooreek nice


0 huts / zero
hootch / seddoh
1 bat
2 bi
3 hiru
4 lau
5 bost
6 sei
7 zazpi
8 zortzi
9 bederatzi
10 hamar
11 hamaika
12 hamabi
13 hamairu
14 hamalau
15 hamabost
16 hamasei
17 hamazazpi
18 hamazortzi
19 hemeretzi
20 hogei
30 hogeitamar
40 berrogei
50 berrogeita hamar
60 hirurogei
70 hirurogeita hamar
eeddooddoggay tammar
80 laurogei
90 laurogeita hamar
la’ooddoggay tammar
100 ehun
1000 mila


Today Gaur
Tomorrow Bihar
Yesterday Atzo
What time is it? Zer ordu da?
ser ordoo da
It’s … …dira / da
…deedda / da


Monday Astelehena
Tuesday Asteartea
Wednesday Asteazkena
Thursday Osteguna
Friday Ostirala
Saturday Larunbata
Sunday Igandea


Help! Lagundu!
I need a doctor Sendagile bat behar dut
sendaggeeyay bat bay’ar doot
I don’t feel well Ez naiz ondo sentitzen
ennice ondo senteetzen
Call the police! Poliziari deitu!
poleesee’addy daytoo!
There is a fire Sute bat dago
soottay bat daggoh

Useful Basque Phrases and Words for Travellers [Infographic]

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Basque Travel Phrases - Useful Basque Phrases and Words for Travellers

Sources / A big thanks to Jose Miguel Ramirez Giraldo from Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira (Technological University of Pereira in Colombia) for the translations / Beginner’s Basque

Going to the Basque Country? Check out my travel guides

Want to know more about learning languages? Start here!

Over to you!

Which of these Basque phrases did you find the most useful? Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
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