Asking for Directions on Holiday

You’re in Cape Town and you need to find your way, you have no internet and you have too many cat photos on your phone to download the maps of the area.

This post will teach you how to ask for directions and will give some examples of possible replies. There is something for you to do later 😛

Get a map of the area

If you are visiting an English speaking country but you find it hard to understand natives, it is very important that you have a map. It will help a lot when asking for directions because the person can point to the place on the map.

Asking for directions

There are a few ways to ask for directions in English. Below are the easiest ways to ask for directions.

  • (Excuse me,) where is (the nearest)…?
  • How do I get to….(from here)?
  • Which way is it to…(from here)?
  • Is there a/an …. near here?

Where are you going?

Here is some vocabulary for common places in town that you might need when travelling. Use the search to hear pronunciation.

airportbank/cash machine
book shoptourist office
bus/train stationcafé/restaurant
post officepolice station
pharmacytaxi rank
hotelcar/bike rental office

Listening to the answer

When people give directions, they sometimes speak quickly. After you ask, you can say “Can you speak slowly please?” or “Please give one instruction at a time”. This can make the person conscious of how fast they talk and they will (hopefully) speak slower for you.

Don’t be scared to ask someone to repeat if you didn’t understand them.

If it’s difficult, concentrate on the first one or two instructions. You can ask someone else later on for the next instructions.

Example Responses

Here are some possible responses to questions. Read each of them and pay attention to the underlined words.

1) Turn right out of the building and at the end of the road turn right. It’s on the corner of the next junction.

2) Take a left out the front of the building and then take the second left. Go straight on at the junction and take the next right. It’s about half way up the road on your right.

3) Turn right out of the building and take a right at the main road. Keep going straight until you see the town hall. You’ll want to cross the road there. Take a left and it’s on the corner of that block on your left.

4) Go right out the front and turn right into Wale. Walk down the street, pass the town hall and then take a left at the Conference centre. Walk all the way down that road,past the museum and keep going straight. You’ll see it in front of you. You can’t miss it.

5) Go out of the building and turn left. It’s on the third block   on the left just before the next junction.


turn, go, take, keep going, cross, walk

turn left/right
take a left/right – take the next/first/second left/right
go up/down the road – go straight on – go out of the building 
pass the town hall
walk down/up – walk all the way down/up
cross the road

Key Vocabulary

junction, traffic lights, (main) road, building, street, block

Use the search on the right for pronunciation, definitions and translations.

Prepositions of place

Look at the bold words in the Example Responses above. Notice which prepositions go with which words.

the left, right, corner, block
infront of
into(street name)
atthe end, the traffic lights, the Conference Center
outof the building
overthe bridge

Now it’s your turn! Look at the map below. You are in the Town Lodge Hotel. Click on the map to make it bigger.

Google Maps

Use the instructions we looked at earlier. Can you find the correct places? Remember you start inside the building!

  • Turn right out of the building and at the end of the road turn right. It’s on the corner of the next junction.
  • Take a left out the front of the building and then take the second leftGo straight on at the junction and take the next right. It’s about half way up the road on your right.
  • Turn right out of the building and take a right at the main road. Keep going straight until you see the town hall. You’ll want to cross the road there. Take a left and it’s on the corner of that block on your left.
  • Go right out the front and turn right into Wale. Walk down the streetpass the town hall and then take a left at the Conference centre. Walk all the way down that road, past the museum and keep going straight. You’ll see it in front of you. You can’t miss it.
  • Go out of the building and turn left. It’s on the third block on the left just before the next junction.

You can find the answers here

Was this lesson easy to understand or difficult? Get in contact either in the comments below or by sending a message on the contact page

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