Italy & the Greek Islands
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: In order to enter Morocco, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after the date of re-entry. There is no visa required for U.S. or Canadian citizens
- Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group now! 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 does include one checked bag. At EF Ultimate Break, we recommend limiting your luggage to one backpack or purse, and 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 light jacket or rain jacket
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Comfortable sandals for the beach
- 1-2 pairs jeans / shorts
- 3-4 shirts / t-shirts
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- 1-2 bathing suits
- Beach – we love the Microfiber travel towel ($5-$20, Amazon.com)
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine – motion-sickness medicine if you’re prone to getting seasick
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- Adapter / Converter – type “C”, “F”, or universal
Note: You’re required to cover your knees and shoulders in sacred places like St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome
Also Note: June through August are peak temperatures in Greece ranging from 85-90 degrees during the day and dropping at night.
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 Florence
Benvenuto in Italia! Your Tour Director will communicate on Facebook or email about where to meet them at the Florence airport. This is another reason you should join your Facebook group.
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 need a converter/adapter.
Note: A staff favorite adapter is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
On The Ground
All About Athens
While Athens doesn’t have the same flair as Venice, Paris, Florence, or even Prague, it’s a city filled with Mediterranean ease, spirit, and style. This city is the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization that still shines with major landmarks like the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and more. Make sure to take in every ruin, labyrinthine street, and ages-old-Orthodox Church you can find. Opa!
Manage Your Money
Cash and most well-known credit/debit cards are widely accepted in Italy and Greece, and ATMs are everywhere. However, note that in Greece cash is preferred. Budget $80- $100 per day for meals, shopping, and free time activities. Tipping is not customary, but many locals leave 1-2 Euro or pounds for exceptional service. For your Tour Director, we recommend tipping $60-$90 at the end of the trip if you feel inclined.
- Italy: Euro (€)
- Greece: Euro (€)
Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
Getting from A to B
Transfers between cities are via plane, bus, and ferry and they take between 2-8 hours plus stops in-between. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in most major cities where necessary, but 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 book with you for transfer days. Try bringing a novel that’s based in somewhere you’re visiting! We recommend Under the Tuscan Sun, Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, Homer’s Iliad, or a true classic like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
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.
Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country, Greece is home to ancient ruins and sun-kissed coastlines, and both are equally full of endless culture. Everything you’ve dreamed about, read in history books, and watched in movies comes to life on this trip. Michelangelo’s David, The Acropolis, the Sistine Chapel, Athena, Zeus, DaVinci, it’s all here! As you prepare to spend time in these world-renowned destinations, here are some expert tips to help you live like the Italians and Greeks.
- Italians and Greeks greet friends and family with two kisses—one on each cheek!
- When you cheers or toast, make eye contact—it brings good luck!
- Expect to see queues and crowds at major sightseeing attractions – you’re visiting some world-famous spots after all.
- 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!
- Water is an added cost at restaurants, and you have to choose between still or sparkling
- Feel free to seat yourself in restaurants instead of waiting to be seated, and don’t be afraid to flag your waiter or waitress over for help
- Italy is known for its fashion. Now is the time to break out your new leather jacket, shades, and kicks.
- Smoking is still very popular in Italy and Greece. Don’t be surprised to see large amounts of locals with lit cigarettes!
- Greeks are known for their hospitality and laid-back attitude; expect more personal questions and a smaller personal space bubble when interacting with locals
- Drivers typically ignore pedestrian signs; do not expect them to slow down when you cross the street
- The Orthodox Church holds a lot of presence in Greece, especially in the older generation. Prepare to cover your knees and shoulders if you want to enter a church or monastery.
- Nightclubs in Greece typically open at midnight and close when the sun rises, and your entrance ticket usually includes the first drink
- Although it’s acceptable to drink in Greece, locals expect you to be decent when you’re drinking
- There’s a Mediterranean belief that nothing needs to be hurried, so service in a restaurant or transportation is often slowed
- If you’re in a venue where they invite you to dance, it’s polite to get up and join. Opa!
Wine and Dine
Italy’s food scene is a well-known giant. Italians take pride in fresh seasonal ingredients, passionate cooking, and sharing dishes with family and friends. You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you just must try.
- For breakfast, Italians usually have a sweet pastry and cappuccino instead of the savory eggs and bacon you’re used to. When in Rome!
- Iced coffee begone, espresso is your new friend and you’ll never find a bad espresso in Italy. Make sure to order and pay for your espresso at the bar to avoid paying more than the usual 1-2€!
- Indulge in long lunches and try the local pasta, meat, fish, cheese, fruits, wine, and more wine. May we suggest a bold Tuscan red, a Chianti Classico, or a glass of Prosecco in Venice?
- Try aperitivo - A light meal between lunch and dinner with snacks and wine, or a refreshing spritz like aperol or campari
- Dinner in Italy doesn’t often begin until after 8 or 9pm. More reason to enjoy aperitivo!
- Try an after-dinner digestive liquor like limoncello, sambuca, amari, or apertivi
- For pasta we recommend cacio e pepe in Rome; a pasta dish with black pepper, pecorino Romano cheese, and pasta. They say all Italian meals only require 3 ingredients!
- Florentine steak is a specific cut of the meat from Tuscan cattle, and it is an excellent choice if you’re feeling #fancy in #Florence
- Roman artichokes, one of the most famous dishes of Roman cuisine, are braised in water, white wine, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil.
- Pizza. Need we say more?
- Locals usually have lunch around 3pm, and dinner around 9pm-midnight
- Greek taverns and cafes are very festive, and don’t close until the guests leave
- Pair an ellinikos (Greek coffee) with an amygdaloto – a warm, sweet, gluten-free almond cookie
- Beer and wine are the most common drinks, even at lunch. Try a retsina wine, or Mythos beer
- Baklava: Only try this if you want the most popular Greek food experience
- Dolmadakia: Stuffed grape leaves
- Gyro: A wrapped pita bread with shredded pork or chicken, tzatziki, fries, tomato, & onions – YUM
- If you’re feeling adventurous, try Ouzo, a traditional aperitif
- Greek Fava dip: Made of yellow split peas, this is super popular on Santorini!
- Feta me meli: Baked feta cheese with honey… enough said.
- Saganaki: More fried cheese
- Moussaka: A traditional dish of minced beef, tomato sauce, eggplants, and more
- Souvlaki: Meat on a stick with tzatziki sauce – widely refers to any type of pita-wrapped meat
- Still not satisfied? Try any of the classics: Spanikopita, Tzatziki, Tiropita, Revani, Pasteli, and MORE!
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 Italian and Greek words and phrases to get started:
- Hello = I: Ciao G: YAH-soo
- Goodbye = I: Ciao G: YAH-soo
- Thank You = I: Grazie G: eff-kha-ri-STOE
- Yes = I: Sì G: neh
- No = I: No G: OH-hee
- Where is _? = I: Dove si trova? G: pou einai
- Cheers! = I: Saluti! G: STIN-eh YAH-mas
- General exclamation or excitement (Greece-Only): OPA!
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 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, 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
You’re traveling throughout Italy and Greece! (You know, in case you forgot.) Now is the time to be brave—try new foods, make new friends, and go outside your comfort zone.