Traveling to Europe with the fear of not being able to converse with the locals might divert some of us from visiting European destinations altogether. In reality, you are more likely to have a hard time understanding some British or Irish dialects which can be indecipherable to English natives. Oddly enough, the list of the best cities in Europe for English speakers is rather long and they don’t even include London or Dublin.
With 370 million English speakers throughout Europe, this language has become an essential requirement for travel and business. Wherever you go, the chances are you will come across a local or an expat speaking English effortlessly or at least enough to give you directions or advice.
If you feel more comfortable parlaying in English, Portugal’s capital is the right place to visit. Not only does the majority of public signs and notifications have English translation but the Portuguese are also rather proficient in it. Being constantly exposed to English through movies and music, the locals are more than ready to chit-chat. There is one language concern to bear in mind, though. Contrary to a wide-spread and yet notoriously incorrect assumption, Portugal is not in Spain. It’s an autonomous country with its official Portuguese language. If you just want to be polite by interjecting a few Spanish words in your speech – don’t. It might be insulting so it’s better to simply stick to good old English instead.
How to say “Do you speak in English?” in Portuguese: “Você fala inglês?”
Unrightfully neglected in favor of its more exotic neighbors such as Croatia and Montenegro, the capital of Serbia is a real English-speaking miracle. Serbian people start studying English as a second language in kindergarten, continuing throughout high school, and even university. This practice has been shown to have a tremendous impact on their language skills and other cities in Serbia, such as Novi Sad or Nis, are no exception to his rule. Despite political turmoil which has plagued the region in recent decades, the Serbs remained jovial and welcoming toward tourists. Serbia’s capital is an awesome place to visit as it offers rich cultural heritage sites, museums, bustling nightlife, and above all, cordial atmosphere.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in Serbian: “Da li govorite engleski?”
Although not an official language in Sweden, English is still spoken by millions of Swedes. It is not only Stockholm that will amaze you with its English proficiency. In fact, Sweden has been in the top 3 non-native English speaking countries several years in a row. This is why it’s not surprising Swenglish is recognized as a phenomenon in this region. The Swedes speak English so well that they actually mix it with their native language, thus creating a whole bunch of new words and peculiar sentences. Swedes keep English in high regard – their school curriculums emphasize English lessons and kids develop a keen interest in the English language which they nurture outside school as well. Reading English comics, listening to music, or watching movies with English subs contribute to their exceptional English skills. If Stockholm is where you’re headed, rest assured you’ll have tons of fun without any language barriers.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in Swedish: “Talar du engelska?”
The number of Dutch residents with significant English competence has risen dramatically over recent years and it now stands at a whopping 90 percent. The Netherlands has been topping the lists of the best non-native English speaking countries not only in Europe, but in the whole world. With Amsterdam evidently being the most visited Dutch city, you won’t have the slightest of problems conversing in English if Venice of the North is your next European destination. Unlike other non-English European cities where English proficiency depends on the industry or age of the resident, even the elderly in Amsterdam have extraordinary mastery over English. As if this is not enough, English natives actually find Dutch to be the easiest language pick up. So, if you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, you might as well make an effort to learn some Dutch as you stand great chances of learning it fairly quickly.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in Dutch: “Spreekt u Engels?”
The Scandinavians are simply unbeatable when it comes to the number of people who speak English. Not only do millions of Norwegians speak it, but they also sound almost native. Although one may think they possess some sort of super-power, it’s actually quite simple to explain this phenomenon. Having originated from the same Germanic group of languages, English and Scandinavian languages (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic) share similar linguistic traits. Norway has been consistently recognized by the English Proficiency Index (EPI) as one of the top 5 non-English countries with very high proficiency (EPI score 68.38). Visiting Oslo will surely be an unforgettable experience as its residents are warm and friendly and their English as perfect as it gets.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in Norwegian: “Snakker du engelsk?”
Read more: Best Places in Norway to Visit
Rather similar to their Scandinavian neighbors, Germans also demonstrate a high level of English proficiency. Millions of tourists across the globe flock to Germany every year. As a matter of fact, Berlin alone saw 33 million overnight stays during 2018 which broke the previous years’ records. With so many tourists converging, it’s no wonder Berlin is known for its superb level of English. On top of that, Berlin is home to a great number of American and EU expats, all of whom use English regularly. Still not convinced? Let us just say that even the authorities recognized the extent to which English is used throughout Berlin and they expressed fear that their native language may suffer as a consequence. The reaction to this curious situation was that a popular German politician insisted that German should be used more than English, beckoning other political figures to step in and introduce regulations that would slow the rapid expansion of English among Germans.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in German: “Sprichst du Englisch?”
Finnish and Swedish are two official languages in Finland. Still, visitors to Finland’s capital Helsinki (and other hot tourist spots in Finland) will discover that Finns generally speak English fluently. Along with neighboring Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, fluency in English is very high in Helsinki and in the rest of the country, reflecting the openness of the society and its hospitality toward tourists. Visiting Helsinki will not pose a language problem as you will probably encounter many fluent residents from all walks of life.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in Finnish: “Puhutekko te englantia?”
According to the data analyzed by Mercer’s Quality of Living City Ranking between September and November 2018, Copenhagen landed eighth as the best global city to live in. On top of that, it stood proudly at number six as one of the friendliest cities in the world. Along with other European cities, Denmark’s capital was said to have an extraordinary socio-cultural environment which makes it desirable for life and for tourism as well. It is because of this that Copenhagen has a lot of foreign workforce coming in year after year and a great many jobs require proficient English skills. In this setting, it’s plain to see that Copenhagen is a great place for English-speaking tourists. Feel free to chat with any member of the community and they will be more than ready to help you.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in Danish: “Taler du engelsk?”
Chezch language is rather unique due to some of its sounds that aren’t present in any other language. Though this may lead to a conclusion that Chezchs are terrible at English, the reality is far from disappointing. In fact, all the major tourist attractions in the Chezch Republic are renowned for their English-speaking locals. Waiters, teenagers, exchange students, business people – the majority of them have an excellent command of English. If you happen to be in Prague, it’s best to converse with someone belonging to these groups as the elderly are better at Russian.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in Czech: “Mluvíš anglicky?”
Read more: What To Do When in the Czech Republic?
This bustling Spanish city is dominated by Catalan and Spanish. Still, if we keep in mind that Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it’s not difficult to guess that the locals have learned English quite well through the decades. This is especially the case with anyone who works in the tourism industry or belongs to a younger generation. It is not only the locals who speak English well. As Barcelona is a very touristic city, don’t be surprised to hear a whole variety of languages, including Italian, French, Japanese – let alone English.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in Spanish: “Habla usted inglés?”
Switzerland is a multilingual country and you will often hear locals speaking French, German, or Italian depending on the part of the country you visit. This is because Switzerland has four official languages. When it comes to Zurich, linguistic diversity is even greater as you will often encounter people who speak at least two languages (usually Swiss French and Swiss German). With so many multilingual speakers, it’s hardly a surprise that the Swiss speak English just as fluently. Being one of the most desirable countries for living, business, and tourism, Switzerland is known for its cordiality and openness, with Zurich standing as the best example of this.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in French: “Parlez vous anglais?”
Austria’s capital possesses a rich cultural heritage which is partially based on the fact that around 40% of the Austrian population has a migrant background to some extent. This resulted in cultural and linguistic diversity although German still remains the official language. More precisely, it’s Viennese German that is prevalent among the residents of Vienna. Similarly to the rest of Central Europe, Austrians start learning the English language at a very young age, usually as soon as they start attending kindergarten. By the time they finish high school, their level of English becomes rather high. The same degree of fluency is often evident throughout popular tourist spots. As Vienna tourist industry keeps on thriving year in, year out (7.1 million arrivals in 2017), public facilities, hotels, restaurants, and bars in Vienna boast a great many English speakers.
How to say “Do you speak English?” in German: “Sprichst du Englisch?”
With the world slowly becoming a global village, English has gained a status of lingua franca – the only language understood around the globe. There will hardly be any corner of the earth where you won’t be able to buy a can of Coca-Cola or hear the melody of a number-one MTV hit. In the light of this prospect, globetrotting has never been easier because you can always count on finding someone to exchange a few English words with.