Program Guide:

Language & Culture in Spain,
Fall 2024

September 11 - November 20, 2024
Itinerary Packing & Budgeting Resources


Note: This itinerary is subject to change due to availability and local conditions at the time of departure.

Days 1-3: Arrivals & Madrid

Day 1: Wednesday, September 11

Fly out of your home city and head to Madrid! Because of the time change, you will most likely depart on September 11 and arrive on the 12th. Make sure to pack your passport, snacks, any medications you might need, and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag.
Meals included: Some meals may be included on your flight; check directly with your airline for more information

Day 2: Thursday, September 12
Arrive in Madrid

Arrive in Madrid, where an EF Staff member will be waiting for you at the airport to take you to your hotel. Get your first taste of Spanish culture as you explore Spain’s capital city, Madrid, with your local guide. Enjoy a welcome dinner with your group.
Meals included: Dinner

Day 3: Friday, September 13
Royal Palace & Explore Madrid

Spend the day with a local Madrid guide to see some of Madrid’s iconic sights. Visit the Royal Palace, the largest palace in Western Europe and the official residence of Spain’s royal family. Learn about Spain’s history, politics, and culture.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Days 4-16: Intro to Barcelona & First Two Weeks of Classes

Day 4: Saturday, September 14
Journey to Barcelona

Travel from Madrid to Barcelona, your home for the semester. Move into your accommodations at the EF Residence and start to get your bearings in your new home.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 5: Sunday, September 15
Get to Know Barcelona
In the morning, do some activities with your group to get you ready and excited for your semester together in Barcelona. In the afternoon, explore Barcelona with your local guide. Have a final group dinner together before you start your classes.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 6: Monday, September 16
Orientation and First Day of Class
Head to the EF Language Campus for your first day of classes. Get to know the staff at the campus who are there to support you, and do some sessions to get you oriented to the school. Take your placement exam to find out what Spanish class you will join, and jump right into your first class!
Meals included: Breakfast

Days 7-10: Tuesday, September 17 – Friday, September 20
First Week of Class
Have your first week of class at the EF Barcelona Campus! You’ll spend approximately 2.5 hours each day in the classroom. There will be optional activities at the language school throughout the week to help you immerse yourself in Spanish culture!
Meals included: Breakfast

Days 11-12: Saturday, September 21 – Sunday, September 22
Free Weekend
Enjoy a free weekend to explore Barcelona or take a weekend trip.
Meals included: None

Days 13-16: Monday, September 23 – Thursday, September 26
Second Week of Class & Head to Valencia
Have your second week of classes at the EF Language School. At this point, you’ll be settling into your routine and getting used to speaking Spanish every day! On Thursday after class, travel with your cohort of EF Gap students to Valencia, one of Spain’s beautiful and culturally rich coastal cities.
Meals included: Breakfast every day; Dinner on September 26

Days 17-19: Weekend in Valencia & Alicante

Day 17: Friday, September 27
The Sights and Tastes of Valencia

Spend the day enjoying Valencia with all five senses. Do a guided tour to learn about its history and culture, and then do a cooking class to learn how to make paella — which originated in Valencia!
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 18: Saturday, September 28
Coastal Views in Alicante
Travel from Valencia to Alicante, where you’ll spend a day wandering Alicante’s beautiful streets and appreciating the architecture, history, and stunning coastal views.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 19: Sunday, September 29
Free time in Alicante & Return to Barcelona
Enjoy some free time to explore Alicante on your own in the morning. In the afternoon, return to Barcelona and get ready for the week ahead.
Meals included: Breakfast

Days 20-29: Continued Classes in Barcelona

Days 20-29: Monday, September 30 – Wednesday, October 9
Third Week of Class
Keep taking classes at the EF Language Campus. Get to know your city and surroundings better. Spend your free weekend on October 5-6 exploring Barcelona or traveling on your own.
Meals included: Breakfast M-F; no meals on free weekend of October 5-6

Days 30-33: Weekend Trip to Lisbon, Portugal

Day 30: Thursday, October 10
Take your classes in the morning, and later in the day, fly with your EF Gap cohort to Lisbon, Portugal. Listen for the similarities and differences between the Spanish and Portuguese languages!
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 31: Friday, October 11
Exploring Lisbon
Make the most of your first day in Lisbon! In the morning, take a guided walking tour to see some of the most historical and most beautiful spots in the old part of the city. In the afternoon, board a Tuk Tuk and go on a scavenger hunt across the city! In the evening, explore all that Portuguese cuisine has to offer at the TimeOut Market, a bustling food hall with many stalls of delicious dishes to try.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 32: Saturday, October 12
The Palaces of Sintra
In the morning, take a bus to the nearby town of Sintra, famous for its palaces and gardens. Live out your royal fantasies as you explore these palaces and stroll around the streets of this lovely town. In the afternoon and evening, enjoy free time back in Lisbon to explore at your own pace.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 33: Sunday, October 13
Fly back to Barcelona
Enjoy a free morning to do any last-minute exploration in Lisbon. In the afternoon, fly back to Barcelona and get ready to start your next week of classes.
Meals included: Breakfast

Days 34-59: Final Weeks of Class

Days 34-58: Monday, October 14 – Thursday, November 7
Final Weeks of Class
Spend your final few weeks in Barcelona taking your language skills to the next level, bonding with new friends, exploring the city, and making the most of your time. On the weekends, keep exploring Barcelona, or plan trips on your own or with friends to other parts of Spain or Europe.
Meals included: Breakfast M-F; no meals on weekends

Day 59: Friday, November 8
Final Day of Class & Graduation
On your final day of classes, celebrate all that you’ve accomplished with a little graduation ceremony! Have a final dinner in Barcelona with your group.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Days 60-71: Putting Language into Action in Southern Spain

Day 61: Sunday, November 10
Head to Seville
Alongside your EF Gap cohort, travel from Barcelona to sunny southern Spain. Arrive in Seville and start to put your language skills to use as you explore this new city.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 62: Monday, November 11
Explore Seville
Spend a day exploring the sunny streets of Seville with a guide, learning about the city’s rich culture and history. Visit the Alcazar, a stunning Islamic-style royal palace and UNESCO World Heritage site.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 63: Tuesday, November 12
Flamenco in Seville
Keep exploring the wonders of Seville, including a flamenco night!
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 64: Wednesday, November 13
Day Trip to Cadiz
Take a trip out of Seville and to Cadiz, an ancient port city with impressive architecture, tree-lined plazas, and natural beaches. Spend the day exploring the city and its beaches.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 65: Thursday, November 14
Free Day in Seville
Enjoy a day on your own to explore Seville’s history, culture, and natural beauty. Make sure to flex your Spanish language skills as you navigate the city!
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 66: Friday, November 15
Travel to Malaga
Head from Seville to another of Southern Spain’s most beautiful cities, Malaga.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 67: Saturday, November 16
Explore Malaga
Spend a day exploring Malaga, a vibrant city on the Costa del Sol with a rich history and culture and beautiful beaches. Learn from a local guide about the city and take in the must-see spots.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 70: Sunday, November 17
Visit to Picasso Museum
Malaga is Picasso’s home city. Learn about his connection with the city and his art with a visit to the Picasso Museum.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 71: Monday, November 18
Free Day in Malaga
Spend a day in Malaga exploring — or catching some sun and some waves on one of Malaga’s beautiful beaches.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 72: Tuesday, November 19
Wrap-Up & Farewell Dinner
Spend some intentional time with your group reflecting on all that you’ve accomplished throughout your semester. In the evening, have a final farewell dinner.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 73: Wednesday, November 20
Fly home
Say farewell to Spain as you board a flight home!
Meals included: Breakfast

Travel Tips


Pack two weeks’ worth of what you will need. You’ll have the opportunity to do laundry and you’ll want to leave room for souvenirs. Neutral colors and accessories make mixing and matching easy.

Whatever your personal spending habits are, it’s important to anticipate your expenses and budget accordingly so that you can travel care-free with more time to enjoy participating in your program. While many meals and activities are included during your EF Gap program, we want to help you build a realistic budget for additional expenses so that you can fully enjoy trying the local cuisine, participating in activities in your free time, and, of course, shopping for souvenirs to bring back home.

Packing list

– T-shirts (5)
– Tank tops (2-3)
– Nice shirts/outfits (2-3)
– Nicer shirts/blouses (1-2)
– Raincoat/windbreaker
– Comfortable walking shoes/sneakers
– Flip-flops/sandals
– Socks and underwear (2 weeks)
– Lightweight pajamas
– Bathing suit


– Bath towel (1-2)
– Notebook, folder, and pens/pencils
– Laptop or tablet
– Planner
– Reusable water bottle
– Sunglasses
– Hats: 1 for sun coverage, 1 for warmth
– Packing cubes, optional
– Headphones
– Camera / memory card / charging cables
– Portable charger
– Travel lock for luggage and belongings
– Laundry bag


– Toothbrush / toothpaste
– Deodorant
– Body wash/soap
– Shampoo / conditioner
– Hairbrush
– Sunscreen
– Calendula / aloe vera for sunburn
– Stomach soothing medication
– Wet wipes
– Stain Remover stick / detergent packs
– Contact lenses / solution / eye glasses
– Menstrual products


– Passport
Pro tip: bring a photo copy as well

– Copy of your flight itinerary
Found in your EF Gap Year portal

– Copy of your itinerary and accommodations
Found in your EF Gap Year portal

– COVID-19 documents:
CDC vaccination card  and Negative COVID-19 test result

– Copy of any prescriptions

– Primary Health Insurance card from the U.S.


– Backpack
This is your carry-on! It can also double as your daily bag while abroad.

– Wallet
Bring your debit or ATM card so you can withdraw cash, as well as your credit card, ID, and student ID if you have one (discounts!)

For prescriptions, make sure it is in original container and bring enough of a supply to last your program.

– COVID-19 CDC vaccination card
Or, a negative COVID test result if applicable.

– Entertainment!
Books, downloaded Netflix streams and Spotify playlists, magazines, travel journal, deck of cards, etc.

– Passport
– Airline ticket
– Reusable water bottle
– Neck pillow / eye mask / ear plugs
– Toothbrush / toothpaste
– Contact lenses / solution / eyeglasses

Budgeting guide

We don’t recommend traveling with large sums of cash. You may want to convert a small amount money to the currency of your first destination. From there, you’ll be able to access local currency by using your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM. 

Be sure to check with your bank ahead of time and, if necessary, provide a travel notice so they don’t block the card for suspected fraud. Also ask them about any foreign transaction fees that might apply, as these can add up quickly. Apple Pay is another great option that past students have used during their time on-program. 

Spain’s official currency is the euro. Make sure to check the exchange rate before and during your travels, as it can vary.


We recommend you budget $200-$400 per week for meals.

You will be living in the EF Residence Hall during your time in Barcelona. Your breakfasts from Monday-Friday (the days when you have classes) will be covered by the program, but you are responsible for most of your lunches and dinners.  The amount you spend can vary greatly depending on whether you choose to buy groceries and cook in the residence kitchen or whether you eat most of your meals at restaurants.

During the parts of your program where you are visiting parts of Spain outside of Barcelona with your group, you will have some dinners included.

It is important to remember that meals abroad are very different from the standard American meal. Specifically, portions may be smaller than what we are used to in the United States. You know your appetite best, so if you feel you will want snacks, please be sure to budget accordingly.


We recommend budgeting up to $50 a week for extra costs. This could mean putting money aside for things like:

– Checked bag airline fee (usually around $30-50 per bag for every flight)
– Additional items of clothing
– Emergencies
– Extra toiletries
– Souvenirs
– Laundry

This can vary in cost based on where you are. To save money, we suggest bringing a small bottle of condensed soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s, that you can use to wash your clothes in the sink. 

Optional activities or excursions
Throughout your trip, you may have options through the Language Campus for additional excursions and activities; typically, these experiences can cost anywhere from $10-$50, and there may be one or two opportunities like this each week. You may also want to budget for any personal travel you want to do on weekends.

Packing tips


To make the most of your time during your program, this section gives some helpful context and reflection questions.

Spain at-a-glance

The Basics

Known for Flamenco dance, bullfights, nightlife, tapas, and beaches, Spain has been one of the cultural centers of Europe for years. In fact, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world.

Spanish people live life to the fullest, while maintaining a slow pace of life. Particularly outside the major cities, expect long, drawn out dinners full of good conversation and food. When wandering through Spain, you’ll notice friends gathering at cafes in mid-morning, families spending time outside, and a long siesta in the afternoon. 

Barcelona, which sits on the northeastern coast, is within the community of Catalonia. Catalonia is a bit different from the rest of Spain. Dictator Francisco Franco banned Catalan institutions, language, and more under his rule, which led to independence movements. Because of this history, residents of Catalonia are very proud of their strong cultural heritage.  

Spanish isn’t the only official language in Barcelona. Catalan is another language that most residents of Barcelona are fluent in. Often, signs will have the Catalan translation on the top, followed by Spanish then English underneath.  

Malaga is far smaller than Barcelona, but still welcomes millions of tourists every year. Part of the Costa del Sol, Malaga and the nearby towns have warm, sunny weather and beautiful beaches. The people of Malaga enjoy a relaxed and balanced lifestyle.

Cultural Norms & What to Expect
Learn common words and phrases: 

  • Buenos dias = Good morning 
  • Buenas tardes = Good afternoon 
  • Buenas noches = Good night 
  • ÂżCuánto cuesta? = How much does this cost? 

Remember that language can vary regionally, so be sure to learn the basics based on where you’re headed. 

Embrace the siesta lifestyle! Be aware that, in most cities, it can be difficult to find open restaurants during siesta, usually between the hours of 12-3pm.  

Each region in Spain has its own specialty and we encourage you to explore each. Primarily consisting of a Mediterranean diet, Spanish foods include lots of olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Some of the most famous dishes include tapas (like albondigas and tortilla de patatas); paella, and gazpacho. To find the best regional food, ask the locals about their favorite dish! For example, in Malaga, seafood and fried food are very popular. 

Don’t go to a restaurant if you don’t have plenty of time. Unlike the US, there is less of a focus on fast and immediate service. Eating out is an experience, so be prepared to be patient.  

Be aware of pickpockets in high traffic tourist spots, especially in Barcelona. Always keep your belongings on you person and tucked away safely in a secure bag.  

Meal times in Spain are different than what you may be used to in the US. Lunch is later in the day, usually between 12-2 PM and dinner is much later, between 9-11 PM. Due to this, everything stays open later.   

You don’t want to miss
Going to see a flamenco show is a must! It’s such a fun way to experience Spanish culture and history. The Kelipe Centro de Arte Flamenco in the Center of Malaga is a great place to look for shows.  

Architect Antoni Gaudi has covered the city of Barcelona in his masterpieces. La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila are must-see projects of his!

Explore the smaller cities and towns throughout Spain if you have the time. Places like Granada and Marbella are spectacular.


Personal Development & Growth Mindset

As you go through this program, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and what you are capable of. You will face challenges you’ve never faced before, and you’ll learn how to overcome these challenges in your own unique ways. Here are some questions to consider before, during, and after you go through the program. They are great ones to ponder on your own, to journal about, or to discuss with a friend

  • What goals do I have for my own personal development? What tangible steps do I want to take to achieve them?
  • Who is my support group — on program or at home — who I know will always cheer me on to succeed?
  • What things am I doing get outside my comfort zone? And how is my comfort zone expanding as I try new things?
  • What parts of the program are particularly challenging for me? Why are they challenging for me?
  • What is one thing I’ve done so far on this program that I never imagined I could do?
  • How do I communicate with others around me about my needs and boundaries?
  • What strategies do I use to cope with stress?
Social Identity Resources

Travel provides incredible opportunities to learn about yourself, the world, and yourself in the world. But travel is also a deeply emotional experience that can bring different challenges to every individual based on the identities they hold and experiences they’ve had.

This resource is intended to help you think about how your intersecting identities can, and will, shape your experience as an EF student. Take some time to review our Social Identity Resources to hear different perspectives, learn about identity-specific resources, and prepare with helpful tips before you go abroad.

Questions about your
upcoming program?

Your dedicated Gap Year Advisor is here to help every step of the way.