Lisbon, Madrid & Barcelona
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
For the most up to date entry requirements for this tour, please visit: https://www.efultimatebreak.com/entry-requirements?tour-code=LMBB
Travel Documents & Tour Preparation
- Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
- Visa: No visa is required for this trip if you are a U.S. Citizen. For citizens of other counties please check with the consulate in your area to verify the Visa entry requirements.
- Travel Insurance: While Travel Insurance is not required to enter Spain, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers here.
- Talk with your doctor: Although there are no health entry requirements for US citizens visiting Spain and Portugal, it is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
- Travelling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan so you can stay connected while on the road. While free Wi-Fi may be available, it won’t be everywhere nor as strong as we are used to. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Join the Facebook group: Your trip’s private Facebook group will open roughly 60 days prior to departure and is something you won’t want to miss. It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. You’ll receive an email inviting you to join. If you’re having trouble joining, give us a call at 800-766-2645.
- Complete you pre-tour checklist: this can be found in your account.
Health & Safety
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:
- Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon siesta, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially after spending all day in the sun!
- Be Prepared: The most prepared travelers will bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
- What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
- Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.
Safety while Abroad
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi and always have cash on hand.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411.
Consult your airline’s website for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but note that your airline ticket includes one checked bag. At EF Ultimate Break, we recommend limiting your luggage to one backpack or purse, plus one checked bag or larger carry on; In different cities you may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot, and remember that you’ll have the opportunity to do laundry throughout the trip. See more packing tips below:
Electronics: A power adapter – type “C” or “F”, or a staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com) for this trip.
- 1 light jacket or rain jacket between April - September, a warmer coat from October - March
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Comfortable sandals for the beach
- 1-2 pairs jeans / shorts
- 3-4 shirts / t-shirts
- 1-2 nicer outfits for the Welcome Dinner & Farewell Dinner, or a night out
- 1-2 bathing suits
- Beach towel
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine – motion-sickness medicine if you’re prone to getting seasick
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Passport. We also recommend that you make two color photocopies of your passport. Leave one copy at home with a friend or relative, and bring one copy with you, keeping it separate from the original documents.
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- A power adapter – Spain and Portugal both use types C and F. Plug type C is the plug with two round pins and type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. A staff favorite is also the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
Note: If you’ve purchased the Sagrada Familia optional excursion, you are required to cover your shoulders and knees when entering the basilica.
Also Note: June through August are peak temperatures in Spain ranging from 85-90 degrees during the day and dropping at night. Layers and staying hydrated are key!
Pro Tip: Spain and Portugal both use types C and F. Plug type C is the plug with two round pins and type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. A staff favorite adapter is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
Money & Tipping
- Portugal: Euro (€)
- Spain: Euro (€)
Read on for more must-knows about money and tipping on your trip:
- When exchanging money for this trip, better rates are usually found overseas, but it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
- You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks, but be wary of fees.
- Budget around $80-$100 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities.
- Tipping etiquette varies in Europe from country to country, but for the cities you are visiting, it is common to leave a 10-15% tip if you received good service.
- We recommend tipping your Tour Director $44 - $66 at the end of the trip. For local guides, you should tip $1-$2 at the end of each.
Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your specific travel plans (including every country you’ll visit and for how long) ahead of time to avoid potential complications or suspicion of fraud while abroad.
Arrival Information & Transportation
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. Using your 6-digit reservation code, you can reserve your seat (this is typically available 30 days to 24 hours before departure) and check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, that’s okay, too. Regardless, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time.
- If you sleep in and miss your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
Arriving in Lisbon
Your Tour Director will communicate on Facebook or email about where to meet them at the Lisbon airport; Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Ultimate Break. If you’re flying from the U.S., prepare for an overnight flight, and a morning – midday arrival in Portugal.
Your Tour Director will communicate on Facebook, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is another reason you should join your Facebook group.
If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.
Getting from A to B
You’re traveling through Spain, and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each destination. All transfers between cities and islands are via private motor coach, ferries or flights and can take anywhere between 2-6 hours. When sightseeing, be prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day!
Language & Local Life
Speak the Language
While it may feel awkward at first, attempting the local language goes a long way when navigating a city and interacting with people. Practice these basic Spanish phrases to get started:
- Hola: Hello
- Adios: Goodbye
- Gracias: Thank you
- Buenos dias: Good morning
- Buenos tardes: Good evening
- Cómo estás?: How are you?
- Estoy bien, Gracias!: I’m fine, thanks!
- Lo siento, no entiendo: I’m sorry, I don’t understand
- Donde esta ___: Where is ___
Note: Download Duolingo to practice your language skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!
As you prepare to spend time in new cities, countries, and cultures, here are some expert tips to help you live like a true European.
- Public restrooms in Europe sometimes require a small fee – hold on to your coins!
- Unlike the U.S., everything (hotels, meals, appliances) is smaller. After all, less is more!
- Practice the local language when greeting people or ordering food - It goes a long way with the locals
- Water is often an added cost at restaurants, and you have to choose between still or sparkling
- Avoid making special requests at restaurants, it’s not common in Europe
- Smoking is still popular in Europe. Don’t be surprised to see lots of locals with lit cigarettes.
- Spaniards are night owls – nighttime is when the cities come to life with people walking, talking, dancing, eating, everything!
- Barcelona is capital of Catalunya region, one of the two strong identities in Spain (other is Basque)
- Siestas are a midday break (1-4pm) when people gather with friends/family for a meal or nap
- Close personal bubbles, eye contact, and two kisses on the cheeks to greet are all the norm in Spain
Food, Drink & Free Time
First and foremost, the Spanish and Portuguese eat a late lunch (siesta), snack in-between, and dinner at 10pm - Lunch is usually the biggest meal of the day. More likely than not, you’ll also have tapas on this trip. Tapas, or small plates are found everywhere, and are best shared among groups of new friends! Read on for more tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.
Portuguese food is fresh, hearty, and delicious. Almost entirely surrounded by water, you’ll find plenty of fresh seafood including octopus, a must-have in Portugal. Plus, with all the walking you’ll do in the city of seven hills, you deserve to treat yo’self! See some must-haves below:
- Bacalhau à bras: The national dish of salted cod with potatoes and eggs
- Couvert: A simple plate of bread, butter, and olives - be aware that some restaurants may charge you for this, even though it looks complimentary
- Arroz de marisco: Similar to paella, this is a dish of prawns, clams, and other seafood combined with rice, vegetables, and herbs
Try and seafood stew cooked in a cataplana, a shell-shaped copper pan
- Pastéis de Nata: A golden puff pastry circle with a rich custard middle-filling - the world’s best (and top secret) recipe is cooked up and served at Pasteis de Belem. Believe us, it’s worth the 10-minute cab ride out there.
- Sardines: Especially during the summer, sardines are at their freshest, and they’re grilled right along the streets and usually served with wine, peppers, and potatoes.
- Bifana: Thin slices of pork marinated in white wine with lots of garlic, fried, then served in a bun. Find it at any food stall or food truck in Lisbon!
- Vinho Verde: Translated to green wine, is a Portuguese wine originated in the Minho province. Felicidades!
Cuisine in Spain is heavily influenced by surrounding countries, and has many Arabic elements. Kebabs are popular, and desserts are often prepared with almonds, honey, and cinnamon. Be sure to try Serrano ham, which is considered a regional delicacy, as well as the famous chilled soup known as gazpacho.
- Jamon: Pronounced, hah-mohn, is dry-cured ham. It’s everywhere, and it’s delicious.
- Paella: A well-known Spanish cuisine, it’s rice with veggies, paprika, saffron, and seafood
- Wine, Cava, Sangria: Wine, sparkling wine, and wine with fun stuff.
- Churros con Chocolate: Fried, sugary sticks served with a cup of hot chocolate for dipping. Need we say more? The best churros are found in Madrid!
- Pan con tomate: Bread with tomato, olive oil, and salt. Simple, yet satisfying.
- Croquettas: Similar to a mozzarella stick, but usually filled with cheese, meat, or veggies
- Vermouth: A fortified and aromatized white wine, vermouth is an aperitif best served neat, chilled, and over ice with a lemon or orange.
- Calamari: Squid or octopus – when in Spain, right?
- Chorizo: A savory pork sausage treat that is usually served as an add-on to other dishes, or entirely on its own!
- Patatas Bravas: A fan favorite for tapas, simply crispy potato wedges with spicy sauce and aioli
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.