Home » Free IELTS preparation resources » Describing places in IELTS speaking

Describing places in IELTS speaking


On this page, we will look at some vocabulary for describing places in English. As with all new vocabulary, make sure to use it often to help you remember it, and if possible write it down in a notebook or a piece of paper so you can review it in a few days.

Useful vocabulary for talking about features and landmarks:

  • It’s well known for…
  • You shouldn’t miss the…
  • A popular visitor attraction is…
  • It’s popular with tourists because…

Useful vocabulary for talking about location (where the place is):

  • It’s on the coast
  • It’s by the sea
  • It’s in the country
  • It’s beside a river
  • It’s in the south/east/north/west of…
  • It’s in the mountains
  • It’s in the desert


Positive ways to talk about the character of a place:

  • It’s very peaceful, especially down by the lake in the morning.
  • It’s a quiet place, so you can hear the birds.
  • It’s a very lively place – there’s always something going on!
  • It’s such a beautiful place, with old castles and narrow streets.
  • It’s so picturesque (looks very pretty), especially when the flowers are in bloom.
  • It’s a very cosmopolitan place (has people from many different countries) –  you can hear people speaking different languages and there are all kinds of different foods to try.
  • It’s totally unspoiled with very few tourists.
  • It’s absolutely stunning! (looks amazing)
  • It’s has a lot of contemporary buildings, made with just glass and metal.
  • The people are so hospitable that I was invited for dinner by three different people in one afternoon!


Negative ways to talk about the character of a place:

  • It’s so boring! There’s nothing to do here.
  • It’s a very noisy place, so I got a headache after a few hours.
  • It’s so overcrowded that it’s hard to even cross the road!
  • It’s very polluted so it was very hard to see very much.
  • It’s so expensive – I couldn’t even afford to buy dinner!
  • The city centre’s quite rundown now, with lots of shops closed.
  • It’s pretty touristy – all the shops are just selling cheap souvenirs and the restaurants only serve English food.


What you can do in a place:

  • It has a great nightlife – you can go dancing until 4 in the morning if you want to!
  • You can easily spend a day sightseeing, especially in the old part of town!
  • You can visit museums and art galleries, and there are always concerts and exhibitions.
  • You can go for a wander (walk at a comfortable pace, with no exact destination) around the old town.


Parts of a town

  • All the best shops and cinemas are in the city centre.
  • A lot of people work at the industrial park, just 2 kilometres from the centre.
  • I live in the suburbs, but for a good night out I like to go downtown.
  • The city is OK, but the residential areas are very quiet after about 6pm.


Here are some examples of describing places in English. See if you know which country each place is in!

Wellington: I live in Wellington, which is the capital city. It’s well known for it’s exhibitions and art galleries, and a popular tourist attraction is the museum. The city is on the coast, so it can be a little windy at times, but there are some great beaches to visit. It’s quite a lively place, especially at night as there lots of bars and nightclubs. There are some stunning views from the hills, where you can look down over the city and across to the sea.

Do you know which country Wellington is in? The answer is at the bottom of the page.


Hanoi: Hanoi is a bustling city, full of vibrant activities. There are street markets and little cafes where you can eat, and it’s popular with tourists from all over the world because there is a lot of history. It’s in the north of the country beside the Red River, so there are also a lot of boating activities. The famous mausoleum* for Ho Chi Minh is located in the city centre.

*a mausoleum is a building used to store the remains of people who have died.

Do you know which country Hanoi is in? The answer is at the bottom of the page.

Willow Springs: I recently visited a friend in a small town called Willow Springs. It’s such a boring place! There’s nothing to do there and the whole town is pretty rundown. The only interesting part was going to the Grand Canyon, which is just to the west of the town. There’s only a small residential area in Willow Springs, and the only thing you can do is wander through the town and back. There’s one restaurant – I think they call them ‘diners’ over there –  which is always overcrowded because it’s the only place that’s open after 6pm.

Do you know which country Willow Springs is in? The answer is at the bottom of the page.

So what country are these places in? Here are the answers:

  • Wellington is in New Zealand
  • Hanoi is in Vietnam
  • Willow Springs is in the USA

We hope these examples of describing places in English help. Now take the end of lesson practice test to see what you’ve learned!

Practice describing places for CEFR Level B1.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.