When hoisting a mug of brew at Oktoberfest in Germany, the word you'll be searching for is, "prost!"
One of the words I always recommend travelers learn before arriving in a new country is how to say cheers. It's a small gesture that the locals will appreciate, and it shows politeness and a willingness to understand the culture. Plus, drinking with the locals is one of the best aspects of travel, so you'll want to know what to say in case you're lucky enough to be invited to join in with a couple of drinking sessions.
If you're in a country with a particularly difficult toast to pronounce and have to resort to saying, "cheers!" don't worry about offending. It's a universal term that is understood the world over, so if in doubt, go for that. After hearing the locals toast several times in a country, you should be able to pick it up and pronounce it correctly for the duration of your trip!
If you're keen to know exactly what to say when drinking in a new country, check out these drinking toasts in other languages:
- Afghanistan: ښه صحت ولری (kah-seh-hat-well-ah-ree)
- Albanian: Gëzuar (gehz-oo-ah)
- Arabic: بصحتك (be-suh ha-ti-ka)
- Armenian: Առողջութիւն: (arh-ogh-choo-tchoon)
- Aruban: Salud: (sah-lood)
- Bangladesh: জয় (joe)
- Belgian: Sante (sahn-tay)
- Bosnian: Živjeli (nahz-drahv-lyeh)
- Brazilian: Viva (vee-vah)
- Burmese: Aung myin par say (ong-miyne par-say)
- Cambodian: ជល់មួយ (jul-moo-ee)
- Catalan: Salut (sah-loot)
- Chinese (Mandarin): 干杯 (gān bēi)
- Croatian: Živjeli (zee-vuh-lee)
- Czech: Na zdravi (nahz drah-vee)
- Danish: Skål (school)
- Dutch: Proost (prohst)
- Finnish: Kippis (key-peese)
- French: Sante (sohn-tay)
- Gaelic: Sláinte (sow-day)
- Georgian: გაგიმარჯოს (gah-gee-mar-choss)
- Greece: Yamas (yah-mas)
- Hawaiian: Huli pau! (hoo-lee pow)
- Hebrew: לחיים (l’chaim)
- Hungarian: Egészségedre (egg-esh ay-ged-ray)
- Icelandic: Skál (school)
- Italian: Salute (sah-loot)
- Japanese: Kanpie (kan-pie)
- Korean: 건배 (guhn-bay)
- Latvian: Priekā (pree-ah-kah)
- Lithuanian: I sveikatą (ee sweh-kata)
- Maltese: Saħħa (Sah-hah)
- Norweigan: Skål (school)
- Mongolian: Эрүүл мэндийн төлөө (eh-rool meen-teen too-soh)
- Polish: Na zdrowie (naz-dro-vee-ay)
- Portuguese: Saúde (saw-ooh-day)
- Romanian: Noroc (no-rock)
- Russian: Будем здоровы (va-shee zah-da-ro-vye)
- Serbian: živeli (zee-vee-lee)
- Slovakian: Na zdravie (zaz-drah-vee-ay)
- Slovenian: Na zdravje (naz-drah-vee)
- Spanish: Salud (sah-lood)
- Swedish: Skål (school)
- Thai: Chok dee (chock-dee)
- Turkish: Şerefe (sheh-reh-feh)
- Ukrainian: будьмо (bood-mo)
- Vietnamese: Yô (yo)
- Welsh: Echyd da (yek-id dah)
- Yiddish: Sei gesund (say geh-sund)
(Hear how the words are pronounced with Forvo -- more on that below.)
More Language Learning Resources
Learning key words, is a key component of trouble-free travel abroad, but always one of the highest hurdles: despite seemingly endless resources for travelers, it's exceedingly tough to master a new language, and it's made even trickier if you're going to be visiting several countries and attempting to communicate in all of them.
The are two resources that have tremendously improved my language skills while traveling.
The first of these is the Google Translate app for phones. It has a real-time translation feature using the camera of your phone, which is fantastic for understanding menus and signs as you travel. Simply open the app, tap on the camera icon, and then hold your phone so the text is being shown on the screen. Within seconds, Google Translate will change the language to your selected one and tell you what every single word means.
The second app that helps me learn the language is Forvo, which is a website that pronounces practically every foreign word you'll come up against. Before I arrive in a country, I'll look up the most important words I'll need (hello, thank you, please, goodbye, sorry, and -- of course -- cheers) on the site and practice my pronunciation. It's one of the easiest ways to ensure I'll be understood by the locals.
More on Drinking Overseas
And about drinking in general -- yep, it's a whole different world outside of the United States (and even in the U.S. territory Puerto Rico!).
When you take a look at the drinking ages around the world, you may be surprised at how low they are in comparison to the U.S. In most other countries, the minimum drinking age is usually 16 or 18, which does make sense, as people are generally considered adults in the majority of countries at age 18.
In some countries, there's isn't even a drinking age, and it's acceptable for children to drink. In France and Italy, for example, children will often be given a small glass of wine on special occasions. And, if you're under the drinking age in many European countries, you'll find it surprisingly easy to be served alcohol in supermarkets and bars. I once took a school vacation to Italy when I was 13, and some of my friends were able to buy a large bottle of vodka from a supermarket with no questions asked!
Learn more about the drinking age in the country/countries you'll be visiting:
- What are Drinking Ages Worldwide?
- What are the Legal Drinking Ages in Asia?
- What are the Legal Drinking Ages in Europe?
This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff.