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.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Verify your passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date. No visa is required for this trip if you are a U.S. Citizen
- Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group as soon as it opens! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
- Request a roommate:: Double check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
- Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.
Pack Like a Pro
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:
- 1 lightweight or rain jacket between April - September, a warmer coat from October - March
- Comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing days
- 1 pair of dress shoes for nights out (some bars and clubs don’t allow sneakers)
- 1-2 pairs jeans / trousers / shorts
- 3-4 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine
- 1 reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera and chargers
- 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’re required to cover your knees and shoulders before entering the Cathedral.
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. You can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- 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 slept in and missed 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…
Note: 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.
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.
Meet Your Tour Director and Fellow Travelers
Your Tour Director will also tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.
Use Your Phone, Internet, and Electronics
We recommend you get an international data plan from your cell phone provider. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or purchasing a personal hot spot with your carrier. Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars; but it isn’t always as strong as Wi-Fi in the US. For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter.
Note: 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)
On The Ground
Manage Your Money
- 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.
On this trip you’ll experience standard rooming, unless you purchased a private room upgrade. Standard rooming is in European hotels or boutique hostels and you’ll room with up to six fellow EF Ultimate Break travelers of the same gender per room. What to expect for standard rooming:
- 4-5 fellow EF Ultimate Break roommates of the same gender
- Small, boutique hotels and hostels
- One private bathroom per room that you’ll share with your roommates
- Limited WiFi connection
- Limited air conditioning – AC is popular in the U.S., but not in Europe!
If you have any questions about your rooming status or want to request a specific roommate, call us at 800-766-2645, or connect with your Tour Director.
Getting from A to B
Transfers between cities are via bus and they take between 2-8 hours. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in most major cities where necessary. Transportation in cities that offer no pass may require more walking. In any case, we’ve packed a lot into your tour, so prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.
Note: It’s a good idea to bring a great book with you for transfer days. Try bringing a novel that’s based in somewhere you’re visiting! We recommend The Alhambra, For Whom the Bell Tolls, or an adrenaline-pumper like Origin!
Optimize Your Free Time
Not sure how to fill your free time? Lucky for you, we offer “optional excursions” for just that! If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. However, to avoid increased prices for these activities on tour, you should purchase these optionals before your trip begins. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add ons.
Live Like a Local
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
Wine and Dine
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
Health and Safety
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight to Lisbon all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and 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!
- 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 or Uber, and always have cash on hand.
- 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.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
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.