Program Guide:

The Pathfinder, Fall 2023

September 8 - November 17, 2023
Itinerary Packing & budgeting Country guides


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

Days 1-4: Boston, USA

Day 1: Friday, September 8
Arrive at Orientation

Say your goodbyes and hit the road for your first step in your journey! After departing your home airport, you’ll arrive in Boston, Massachusetts, home of EF’s North American Headquarters. At the airport, you’ll be greeted by EF staff as you exit security. In the evening, have dinner and start getting to know your fellow travelers and the staff that will be with you during your Gap Semester.
Meals included: Lunch for students arriving in Boston early in the day. Dinner for all students.

Day 2: Saturday, September 9
Orientation – Day 1

Get to know your cohort more deeply through activities and exploration in Boston. In the morning, you’ll head to EF’s North American Headquarters for a morning of activities, workshops, and sessions to help your group bond and prepare you for departure. In the afternoon, head to Boda Borg, a one-of-a-kind group experience that will get you working with your team to solve challenges.
Meals included: All

Day 3: Sunday, September 10
Orientation – Day 2
In the morning, head to the EF Campus, where you’ll have a few more sessions, including an Alumni Panel where you’ll hear from some EF Gap Alumni and get their tips & tricks for making the most of your experience. In the afternoon, head out with your Tour Directors to explore Boston’s iconic North End area. Explore Faneuil Hall and maybe grab a cannoli!
Meals included: All

Day 4: Monday, September 11
Free Day & Flight to Iceland
Flex the freedom that you’re going to have during your program by having a free day to explore Boston on your own. Your EF Tour Directors will also have some optional activities planned that you can join — something that will also happen throughout your program. In the evening, you’ll regroup and head to the airport to board your flight to Reykjavik.
Meals included: Breakfast 

Days 5-14: Iceland

*Note that Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable! Some of these activities may need to be rearranged on short notice due to weather conditions.*

Day 5: Tuesday, September 12
Explore Reykjavik

Land in Iceland and get that passport stamped! A private bus and local tour guide will be waiting for your group at Keflavik airport. From there, you’ll head to Viking World, an interesting exhibit about Vikings and their discovery of North America. You’ll also have an Icelandic style breakfast at the exhibit’s restaurant. After breakfast, head into Reykjavik, where you’ll take a sightseeing tour from one end of the city to the other. You’ll see the old town center, the Parliament, the Cathedral, the harbor, and the Pearl. You’ll also see Reykjavik’s largest outdoor swimming pool and Hallgrimskirkja Church, one of the city’s landmarks. Have a welcome dinner with the group to end the day.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 6: Wednesday, September 13
Heading North
Today your group will travel from Reykjavik via Hvalfjördur tunnel and then onwards through Borgarnes. You will drive to Deildartunguhver Thermal Springsand the picturesque falls of Hraunfossar. From here, you will head to the North of Iceland. Continue to the beautiful and historical Skagafjörður district. Head onwards to the Akureyri/Dalvik area, where you will have dinner and stay the night.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 7: Thursday, September 14
Lake Mývatn
Drive eastwards to Lake Mývatn. On the way, your group will stop at the scenic Goðafoss waterfall, where the legend says the ancient Nordic gods Odin and Thor still watch over the country’s well-being.  The magnificent surrounding landscape has many interesting geological and volcanic features. You will visit pseudo-craters, solfataras with boiling sulphuric mud-pools, a lava-labyrinth where strange lava formations provide shelter for an unexpectedly rich vegetation, and Grjótagjá, a fissure which once was the public bathing place of the area.
Meals included: All

Day 8: Friday, September 15
Whale Watching & Iceland’s Fishing Industry
*Note that the whale watching tour is highly weather dependent — if conditions are not safe, your group will not be able to go out on the water.*
Start the day by driving directly to Hauganes town, about 30 minutes away from Akureyri. Start with a whale watching boat tour from Hauganes. After whale watching, you’ll have a short walk over to Ektafiskur for an introduction to a family-owned fish processing company. Your group will learn about the family’s history and daily work life, and you’ll see a demonstration of how to fillet fish. You’ll also get a little taste of the company’s products. Continue your fish adventure to the pretty fishing village of Siglufjörður via Dalvík and Ólafsfjörður villages. Visit the Herring-Era Maritime Museum here at the closest spot you will get during this tour to the Arctic Circle. You will get an introduction of the museum by a representative of this award-winning museum.
Meals included: All

Day 9: Saturday, September 16
Oceanography in Iceland
Drive from your accommodation for a STEM learning visit in Akureyri. The lecture is by the Fish and Ocean Research Center in cooperation with the University of Akureyri. Your group will learn about the ocean around Iceland, fishing controls and systems in Iceland, and the effects of global warming on Iceland and its fish industry. After morning lectures and discussions, you will head back to Reykjavik, stopping along the way for the opportunity to hike at Grabrok Crater.
Meals included: All

Day 10: Sunday, September 17
Free Day in Reykjavik
Enjoy free time to explore Reykjavik on your own! You’ll have quite a few free days during your program that you can use to explore the cities that you are in. Reykjavik bills itself as the “smallest big city in the world” — it is very walkable with a lot of spots to explore arts, food, and culture. Your EF Tour Director may have optional activities planned that you can join.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 11: Monday, September 18
Free Day in Reykjavik
Enjoy another free day to explore Reykjavik on your own! Make sure you’re taking time to rest and recharge when you need it as well. 
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12: Tuesday, September 19
South Shore
Today you will make an early start and head out of Reykjavik and drive along the south coast to the area. If the skies are clear, you’ll have a view of two famous volcanoes; beautiful Mt. Hekla is Iceland’s most frequently erupting volcano. The first stop will be at Lava Center in Hvolsvöllur, which is an interactive exhibition that will give you an insight into Iceland’s geology and its volcanic systems. You will also be able to visit two waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. Continue past Dyrhólaey arch to the village of Vík, where you’ll have a chance to view unique black sand beaches, a puffin colony and the troll-like Reynisdrangar rocks. Return to Reykjavik at the end of the day.
Meals included: Breakfast 

Day 13: Wednesday, September 20
The Golden Circle – Geysers, Horses, and History
Travel to Þingvellir and walk through the geological fault known as Almannagjá.  This canyon is where Europe’s oldest national legislative assembly, the Icelandic Althing, was established in the year 930AD.  It met in these grandiose surroundings every summer for nearly eight centuries. After your walk in Þingvellir, the tour continues over the Lyngdalsheiði heath into the fertile farmlands of the south to visit the country’s most beautiful waterfall, Gullfoss.  You’ll also stop at the nearby Geysir geothermal area with its multitude of hot springs. Strokkur, the most active geyser here, spouts every few minutes. Visit an interesting tomato greenhouse farm and horse ranch, Friðheimar, which is powered by pollution-free geothermal and hydroelectric energy. You will get an introduction as well as an opportunity to cuddle some the farm’s horses during a stable visit, followed by a short demonstration of the Icelandic horse breed’s unique 5 gaits.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 14: Thursday, September 21
Blue Lagoon & Hellisheidi
Start the day by driving directly to Hellisheiði Power Plant, where you’ll learn how geothermal activity provides hot water and power to the Reykjavík area. From Hellisheidi Power Plant we will drive along Reykjanes Peninsula where the volcanic eruption took place in 2021 and 2022. Then Continue to the fishing town of Grindavík, home of the Blue Lagoon. Enjoy a fun and relaxing visit to the amazing lagoon and learn about its unique history. En route back to Reykjavik you will drive to Hafnarfjörður town, to the Álftanes Peninsula and get a glimpse of Bessastaðir (the residence of Iceland’s president). Return to Reykjavik and have a group dinner.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Days 15-25: London, UK

Day 15: Friday, September 22
Fly to London
Fly from Reykjavik to London. Settle in with your group and have dinner together.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 16: Saturday, September 23
Explore London
Take a walking tour of London to see some of London’s most iconic sights, like Big Ben and the Parliament. Get your Oyster card and learn how to navigate London’s amazing public transportation system, from the underground to the famous red double-decker buses.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 17: Sunday, September 24
Free Day
There isn’t anything on the schedule today – this is one of your many free days on your program to make your experience your own. It’s up to you to make the most of your time in London based on your own passions and interests! London has many free museums, and it’s a great place to try lots of international cuisine if you are more of a “foodie”. You’ll have a metro pass that works throughout your stay so its easy to get around. Your Tour Director may also suggest optional excursions that they can book for interested students.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 18: Monday, September 25
Day Trip to Oxford
Head out of the big city to spend a day in the town of Oxford, home to one of England’s (and the world’s) best universities. Learn about the history of the town and the university on a guided tour. Get a feel for what academia looks like in the UK.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner 

Day 19: Tuesday, September 26
Visit with Founder of an Innovative Business
Meet with a business in London where you’ll learn about the process of starting a company and running a successful business. As an example, past groups have met with the company Pavegen, an innovative business building sustainable energy solutions with its award-winning technology that uses foot traffic to generate energy. They met with the Founder & CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook to hear his story of building a successful and sustainable business.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 20: Wednesday, September 27
History of Medicine in the UK
Visit a museum to learn about the history of medicine in London.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 21: Thursday, September 28
Q&A with a Registered Nurse about Healthcare in the UK
Learn about the nursing profession from a Registered Nurse. Hear about the differences between the health services in the US and the UK. 
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 22: Friday, September 29
Visit the Churchill War Rooms
Visit the Churchill War Rooms, where World War II history comes to life. These rooms were the center of Britain’s war effort. 
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 23: Saturday, September 30
Free day in London
Enjoy a free day to explore London on your own.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 24: Sunday, October 1
Free day in London
Enjoy a free day to explore London on your own.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 25: Monday, October 2
Free day in London
Enjoy a free day to explore London on your own. Have a farewell dinner with your group in the evening.
Meals included: Breakfast 

Days 26-38: France

Day 26: Tuesday, October 3
Travel to Portsmouth and Ferry to Caen

Travel from London to Portsmouth by bus. In the coastal city of Portsmouth, you’ll hop on a ferry across the Channel to enter France and stay in the region of Caen, in France’s Normandy region.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner 

Day 27: Wednesday, October 4
Caen Memorial and Normandy Beaches

Learn about Normandy’s unique WWII history with a local guide by visiting the Caen Memorial and Normandy Beaches, where D-Day took place.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 28: Thursday, October 5
Visit to Mont St. Michel

With a local guide, spend a day at the stunning Mont St. Michel, an island topped by a beautiful abbey. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a big pilgrimage site to this day. Soak up its beauty & history and explore!
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 29: Friday, October 6
Bus to Paris

Transfer from Normandy to Paris, with a stop at Monet’s Giverny. Tour the gardens that inspired Monet’s paintings.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 30: Saturday, October 7
Explore Paris

Take a guided tour of Paris to see some of the city’s iconic sights. Get that perfect selfie with the Eiffel Tower, and learn how to use Paris’s public transportation system.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 31: Sunday, October 8
Free day in Paris

Enjoy a free day in Paris.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 32: Monday, October 9
The Louvre 

Explore one of France’s (and the world’s) most incredible art museums. See the Mona Lisa — and so much more — at the Louvre.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 33: Tuesday, October 10
Visit and Q&A with a Fashion Designer
Visit with a local fashion designer to learn about the fashion industry. Past groups have visited with the founder and owner of Cerceau, a boutique focused on upcycling and sustainability in the fashion industry. Learn about her process, inspiration, and career journey! Check out Cerceau on Instagram @cerceauparis.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 34: Wednesday, October 11
Painting workshop
Do a painting workshop in Montmartre to flex your own Impressionist skills!
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 35: Thursday, October 12
Architecture Walking Tour of Paris

Paris’s architecture is some of the most beautiful and inspirational for architects across the globe. Take a walking tour of the 16th District of Paris to get a better understanding of Paris’s unique Art Nouveau and Art Déco styles.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 36: Friday, October 13
Visit to Versailles

Put on your powdered wig and embrace your inner Marie Antoinette! Explore this luxurious and (in)famous palace, once home to French royals.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 37: Saturday, October 14
Free day in Paris

Enjoy a free day in Paris.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 38: Sunday, October 15
Free day in Paris

Enjoy a free day in Paris. Have a group dinner on your last night in France!
Meals included: Breakfast 

Days 39-53: Germany & Switzerland

Day 39: Monday, October 16
Fly to Berlin

Bid adieu to Paris and say hallo to Berlin! You will be taking a flight between Paris and Berlin. Make sure to check the airline’s requirements before traveling to ensure that your baggage meets the requirements.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner 

Day 40: Tuesday, October 17
Explore Berlin

See the sights of Berlin and learn about its important role during the 20th century. Learn how to use Berlin’s (very efficient!) public transportation system.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 41: Wednesday, October 18
Urban Sustainable Development

Germany is a world leader in urban sustainability. Visit an organization who is doing work in this field and get a better understanding of how Berlin is tackling sustainability.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 42: Thursday, October 19
Visit to an Urban Farm

As a leader in urban sustainability, Germany has invested a lot into developing the infrastructure for urban farms. Visit one yourself and learn about how urban farms play an important role in food security.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 43: Friday, October 20
Visit to an Innovative Business

Berlin is an incubator for small businesses and is a hub for start-ups within Europe. Visit a business and learn about what it takes to start and run a start-up.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 44: Saturday, October 21
Free day in Berlin

Explore Berlin on your own!
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 45: Sunday, October 22
Free day in Berlin

Explore Berlin on your own!
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 46: Monday, October 23
Berlin Spy Museum 

As one of the centers of the Cold War, Berlin has a fascinating history. Visit the Berlin Spy Museum to see centuries of espionage stories and tactics come to life in a multi-media experience.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 47: Tuesday, October 24
Drive to Munich

Head out of Berlin by bus and into southeastern Germany — an entirely different cultural experience within the same country!
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 48: Wednesday, October 25
Explore Munich

See the sights of Munich, including the extraordinary Nymphenburg Palace.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 49: Thursday, October 26
Visit to Dachau

Visiting the former concentration camp Dachau is an intense experience. You will learn about this dark chapter in world history through seeing it yourself.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 50: Friday, October 27
Free day in Munich

Explore Munich on your own!
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 51: Saturday, October 28
Bus from Munich to Lucerne

Cross the border between Germany and Switzerland by bus, taking in the Alps as you go!
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 52: Sunday, October 29
Excursion to Mt. Rigi

Travel by boat and by cable car to reach the top of Mt. Rigi — a truly astonishing spot to take in the wonders of the Alps!
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 53: Monday, October 30
Free day in Lucerne

Explore Lucerne on your own!
Meals included: Breakfast

Days 54-71: Italy

Day 54: Tuesday, October 31
Bus to Milan

Cross the border from Switzerland into Northern Italy by bus.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 55: Wednesday, November 1
Fashion Walking Tour in Milan

Milan is a hub for the global fashion industry. Take a guided tour of the city to see both the global luxury brands as well as the smaller boutiques and shops that make Milan a fashion mecca.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 56: Thursday, November 2
Free day in Milan

Put on your most fashionable outfit and explore Milan on your own!
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 57: Friday, November 3
Free Day in Milan

Explore Milan on your own, or take a day trip to Venice or other nearby spots!
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 58: Saturday, November 4
Bologna, Parmesan, and Balsamic Vinegar

Italy is known across the globe for its food culture. Visit a factory where parmesan cheese is made, and learn about the different steps that go into making this cheese so beloved across the world. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the parmesan on top of your pasta! You’ll also stop at a balsamic vinegar processing facility in Modena, where you’ll learn about what goes into making this staple food item. After these visits along your bus journey, you’ll arrive in Bologna in the evening.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 59: Sunday, November 5
Bologna’s University Quarter and FICO World Eataly

Bologna is one of the most amazing student cities in the world. Visit its university — the oldest in the world — and spend time understanding how the city has grown around the university. You’ll also continue your food journey by going to FICO World Eataly, where you’ll explore different types of food from different regions of Italy.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 60: Monday, November 6
Free Day

Enjoy a free day to explore Bologna.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 61: Tuesday, November 7
Travel to Florence

Travel by bus from Bologna to Florence.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner 

Day 62: Wednesday, November 8
Walking Tour of Florence

Take in the sights in Florence, learning about its history, culture, and cuisine!
Meals included: Breakfast 

Day 63: Thursday, November 9
Free Day

Enjoy a free day in Florence.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 64: Friday, November 10
Bus to Rome

Travel by bus from Florence to Rome.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 65: Saturday, November 11
Visit the Vatican
The Vatican is a spot where history, religion, power, and politics combine. Tour the incredible archives, and see Michelangelo’s ceiling.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 66: Sunday, November 12
Visit to the Colosseum

See one of Rome’s biggest and most historic sites — the Colosseum!
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 67: Monday, November 13
Cooking Class

Get your hands dirty cooking some Italian classics! Learn some culinary skills you can take home with you to impress your friends and family.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch (cook it in your cooking class!) & Dinner

Day 68: Tuesday, November 14
Free Day
Enjoy a free day in Rome.
Meals included: Breakfast 

Day 69: Wednesday, November 15

Spend some time with your Tour Director, Student Life Coordinator, and cohort reflecting on all that you’ve been through this semester. Reflect and think about what you’re bringing with you to your next steps.
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 70: Thursday, November 16
Free Day in Rome

Enjoy one last free day to explore Rome, spend time with your friends, and buy any last-minute souvenirs to take home with you. Have a final closing dinner with your group.
Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 71: Friday, November 17
Fly home

Say your goodbyes and head to the airport to fly home.
Meals included: Breakfast

Tips on making the most of your trip


You will be responsible for carrying your luggage on-program; you will be on the move constantly and may not find elevators at every accommodation, so make it easy on yourself and don’t pack more than you need.
You will experience an assortment of activities, climates, and excursions, and it’s important to pack according to your itinerary. The most important thing to bring is comfortable walking shoes. Additionally “athleisure” is not super common in Europe, so we suggest assembling a capsule wardrobe; we also ask you prepare to be visiting places–such as cathedrals–that require modest clothing (knees and shoulders covered).

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 and long-sleeved shirts (4)
– Nicer shirts/blouses (2-3)
– Pants/jeans/skirts/dresses (4-5)
– Socks & underwear (pack for 2 weeks)
– Warmer layers like thermal underwear (2)
– Pajamas
– Bathing suit(s) (1-2)
– Comfortable walking shoes/sneakers
– Gloves
– Winter coat – it will be cold!
– Raincoat/windbreaker
– Hiking boots


– Reusable water bottle
– Sunglasses
– Hat for warmth (like a beanie)
– Packing cubes (optional)
– Cross-body bag, travel/money belt, or fanny pack
– Travel umbrella
– Headphones
– Camera, memory card, charging cables
– Universal plug adapter
– Portable charger
– Travel lock for luggage and belongings
– Laundry bag


Note: You do not need to bring enough toiletries to last your entire program. You will be able to buy things like shampoo, conditioner, and other pharmacy items while you’re in Europe. To save space and weight, try to minimize the amount of full-size items you bring with you.

– Toothbrush / toothpaste
– Deodorant
– Body wash/soap
– Shampoo / conditioner
– Hairbrush
– Sunscreen
– Over-the-counter medication (for colds & fevers, headaches, stomachaches, and motion sickness)
– Wet wipes
– Stain Remover stick / detergent packs or multi-use soap like Dr. Bronner’s
– Contact lenses / solution / eye glasses
– Menstrual products (it may be difficult to find your preferred products in Europe, so we recommend taking enough for your entire trip if you prefer specific 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

– Health Documents:
CDC vaccination card (if applicable)

– 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
– 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.

  • Iceland’s currency is the Icelandic krona
  • England’s currency is the Great British pound
  • France, Germany, and Italy’s currency is the euro
  • Switzerland’s currency is the Swiss franc

Your program will provide a meal to start your day, while also allowing you the opportunity to immerse yourself in new cultures and places as you dine on local foods during the day. Prices vary slightly by country, but in Western Europe, cheaper meals can cost between €10-€15. On average, a restaurant will cost about €15- €25, with nicer restaurants rising to €30 and above.

Given the percentage of meals included, expect to budget around €40 per day for meals. You may find that you go above or below this on any given day based on the differing prices of a country, or your own personal preferences, but this is a good average to stick with.

  • We recommend budgeting around €40 per day for food.
  • All breakfasts will be included
  • Lunches are on your own
  • About half of your dinners will be included

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

  • 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, your Tour Director may find opportunities 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 have a card for public transportation included for you for all major cities that you stay in during your program. Your Tour Director will hand this card out to you when you arrive in a new city. Public transportation — including buses, metros, trams, ferries, and more — is often the most cost-effective and the most efficient way to get around European cities. Your Tour Director will help you understand the basics of the public transportation in each city you visit.

Access to and costs for cabs and other ride services can vary. Cabs or ride shares can cost anywhere between €10 to €40 (or even higher for a long distance or during a peak time), depending on your distance, location, and time of request. On average in most cities you will be in, a cab or ride share will cost around €20–€25.

Packing tips

Country guides

Here you’ll find information, advice, and tips from EF about the countries you may visit as part of your Gap Year.


The Basics

Iceland was first explored by Norwegian vikings and maintains a strong sense of Nordic traditions, customs, and language.  

Geographically, it offers varied landscapes, from coastlines, glaciers, hotsprings, volcanoes, and lava deserts. Due to the rugged landscape, much of the culture revolves around enjoying the outdoors through activities, such as swimming, hiking, skiing, and more. Fun fact: much of the power and heat in this country is generated naturally – 90% of Icelandic houses are heated by hot springs! 

The national language is Icelandic, but many also tend to speak English, along with other languages, such as Danish, German, Spanish, and French. The country still maintains familiarity with Old Norse, the language that was spoken by early Viking settlers.  

Iceland is known as the land of the midnight sun (in the summer) and the northern nights (in the winter). In the winter (November to January), Iceland only gets about 4-5 hours of daylight each day. If you’re visiting during this time, be prepared for less vitamin D than you may be accustomed to! In the summertime, on the other hand, it’s light nearly all day – although you’ll still need a jacket.  

In recent years, Iceland has become a massive tourist destination. In 2021, the number of foreign visitors increased by 44% from the previous year. Due to this, you can expect some of your destinations to be quite busy, particularly if you go during the busy season, which ranges from June to August.  

The currency in Iceland is the krona, which equals 0.0069 USD. About 2,000 krona is about $20 USD.  


The Places You’ll Visit

Reykjavik: this is the capital city in Iceland and where you’ll be spending lots of time. In comparison to many other cities you may visit, Reykjavik is actually quite small, spanning just over 105 square miles. It’s home to about 60% of Icelandic residents and known for its unique architecture, traditional cuisine, and art scene.  

Blue Lagoon: located nearby Reykjavik, this geothermal spa is one of Iceland’s most well known tourist attractions. The water, naturally heated by Earth’s geothermal energy, is a milky-blue color and runs between 98-102 degrees F. Bring your swimsuit and towel to relax and rejuvenate at this incredible destination.  

Lake Myvatn: This is a volcanic lake in Northern Iceland that’s home to more naturally heated lagoons.  

Akureyri: This town is known as the capital city of the North, as it’s the largest town in the remote area (even though it only has 20,000 inhabitants). Akurekyri is known for its incredible nature, from waterfalls, to volcanoes, and black sand beaches. 

Key Cultural Norms & Guidelines

The Icelandic language is notoriously difficult to learn. Check out this pronunciation guide, along with the following common words and phrases: 

  • Halló = Hello 
  • Góðan daginn = Good morning 
  • Vinsamlegast = Please 
  • Takk = Please 

Many Icelandic lore shares stories of magic and mystery – in fact, 45% of native Icelanders believe it’s possible elves still roam the land. Learn more about Icelandic folklore here 

Icelandic people are known for being very friendly and courteous, while holding a direct and straight-forward communication style 

Unlike much of Europe, Iceland is ethnically homogenous. Over 80% of residents are Icelandic, with growing Polish and Danish populations as well.  

Iceland, one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world, is committed to using less plastic. According to the locals, purchasing a plastic water bottle is a touristy thing to do. The tap water is clean and fresh, with no added elements.  

One of the top attractions in Iceland is the geothermal pools, like the Blue Lagoon. It’s important to note  – swimming culture in Iceland is quite unique. Be sure to abide by the rules, such as always showering before entering pools! 

Despite its ethnic homogeneity, Iceland is known as a socially progressive country, particularly when it comes to gender roles. In fact, they have been ranked first in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index for consecutive years.  

Iceland ranks high for prosperity, freedom, and safety. The country was ranked number one in the world when it comes to the Global Peace Index. Unique among Iceland’s NATO allies, Iceland does not have a military.  

You Don’t Want to Miss

Try the foods: pylsur (Icelandic hot dog), Skyr (described as a “marriage between yogurt and cottage cheese”), hárkarl (fermented shark). Also – embrace ice cream in all temperatures, including the cold! 

Look up towards the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis. They can be seen in Iceland when the nights are dark enough, typically between September and April.  


The Basics

England is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, along with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. They are united under the same monarch and government, though each has their own parliaments.

Formed by the union of small Celtic and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms during the medieval period, England is comprised of several distinct regions. Many English people identify with the region where they’re from—for example, Yorkshire, the West Country, or the Midlands. After World War II, England became highly urbanized.

Cultural norms and what to expect

Learn a few common words and phrases. Even though they speak English, you’ll notice new vocabulary, such as:

  • Quid: a one-pound coin
  • Knackered: exhausted

Don’t expect to see the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace!

Don’t mix up Tower Bridge and London Bridge: London Bridge refers to several bridges built over the Thames, while Tower Bridge is the current bridge between the City of London and Southwark in Central London.

Don’t call the whole of the UK, “England,” especially not when meeting Scots, Welsh, or Northern Irish, as they’ll likely be offended. Study up a bit on the geography before arriving!

London is a melting pot of people from across the globe; you’ll hear lots of languages being spoken and lots of different cuisines available.

You Don’t Want to Miss

There are tons of must-sees in London: some highlights include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, and Big Ben.

If you’re a history buff, check out museums like the Imperial War Museum, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the London Transport Museum, and so many more.

You can also venture outside the city to Stonehenge or Windsor Castle!

Check out to Camden Market, both to shop some for vintage goods and to take in the more counter-culture environment there; there are lots of great food stands there with cuisines from across the globe.


The Basics
Paris, the country’s capital, is a major metropolitan area and a bustling center of fashion, cuisine, art, and architecture. Between the busy cafes, countless art museums, and quaint streets, Paris offers an experience of French culture like no other.

While in Paris, you will rely heavily on public transit and it’s not uncommon for strikes to impact your commute. In addition to the magic of Paris, due to the size and high population, you should anticipate longer than average commutes from your accommodation to the city center.

Food and wine are pivotal to the French people. Some classic dishes include boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin. Particularly important for those staying with a host family: meals are served later in the day, dinner often between 8:00 and 10:00pm.

Breakfasts are often small and sweet–for example, something like bread and jam. It is uncommon to have eggs, sausages, bacon, and other typical American breakfasts in Paris.

Cultural Norms & What to Expect

Learn a few common words and phrases:

  • Bonjour: Hello, Good morning
  • Au revoir: Goodbye
  • Oui: Yes
  • Merci beaucoup: Thank you very much
  • Je m’appelle: My name is…
  • Comment allez-vous?: How are you doing?
  • Combien ça coûte?: How much is this?

French people, particularly Parisians, may have a different communication style than Americans. They communicate clearly and directly, without much cushioning or sugar-coating, which can be shocking to some students. If you need something from your host family or at the school, do ask for it directly.

Learn the metro or local transit system: it can be complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll have access to the whole city.

Don’t dawdle or walk slowly. If you’re lost, pop into a shop or a nearby café and reorient yourself. In Europe, try to always walk with a purpose to avoid unwanted attention or pickpockets.

Use the formal “vous” instead of “tu” to address strangers and people in shops as a sign of respect.

Anticipate less emphasis on personal space. French people often greet one another with a kiss on the cheek and a hug (even strangers!). Similarly, they have a much smaller expectation of (or regard for) personal space.

Anti-immigrant and anti-Black racism in France is unfortunately not uncommon. Students of color, particularly Black students, may encounter verbal harassment or more attention from police.

A few tips from EF Gap Year alumni:

  • “Grocery stores are different than American ones–there aren’t super stores that have everything. If you want bread, you have to go to the boulangerie (the bakery) and if you want meat you have to go to the boucherie (the butcher).”
  • “If you’re staying with a host family, the first few days can be uncomfortable since you’re stepping into a new family’s home. For me, my commute was nearly an hour outside the city, but I learned to navigate it. Embrace the entirely new way of life!”

You Don’t Want to Miss

In Paris, the Musee de Picasso and the area surrounding it. The museum is beautiful and in a trendy area with restaurants and thrift shops—it’s also free for students!

In Nice, the Promenade des Anglais, a large walkway along the Nice seafront, is world-renowned stretch of coastline and arguably the most famous in France.

There are so many incredible spots along the French Riveria, from Cannes to Marseille. Just 20 minutes outside of Nice, France is an enchanting little town called Èze that is highly recommended from past students!


The Basics

The German language and traditions are what make the culture unique. The official language is “Deutsch” (German), though there are varying regional accents and dialects across the country. Germans themselves refer to their home country as Deutschland.

Germans are known for being hardworking and punctual, having a low unemployment rate, and drinking lots of beer (the average German consumes approximately 140 liters of beer per year)! Common foods include bread, potatoes, meat, and greens.

If you visit multiple cities in Germany, you may notice a stark difference between the East and the West. After World War II, the country was split into “East Germany” and “West Germany” until 1990, when the states were unified. Today, each region maintains remnants of that history, the West being more cosmopolitan, industrialized, and westernized, while East Germany has been influenced by socialist and conservative views of the Soviet Union.

Berlin, the capital of Germany, is a huge city full of creative minds and innovative thinkers. Expect a dynamic city full of art, music, and culture. Transportation is easy to come by, but remember: if you buy a transportation ticket in Berlin, you’re required to validate it by getting it stamped before starting your journey.

Munich, another major city in Germany, is another popular tourist destination. The city is a center of the banking and financial industry, but perhaps is most famous for its beer and annual Oktoberfest celebration.

Cultural Norms & What to Expect

Learn common words and phrases:

  • Guten tag: Good morning
  • Sprechen Sie Englisch?: Do you speak English?
  • Wie geht es dir?: How are you?
  • Gut, danke: Fine, thank you.
  • Nett, Sie kennen zu lernen: Nice to meet you.

Get straight to the point when in conversations: Germans generally do not need much small talk to warm up the conversation and appreciate directness.

Be punctual, as it’s a value of the German people!

Don’t be surprised if a stranger asks to share tables with you in public. They may ask, “Ist dieser Platz noch frei?” (“Is this seat free?”)

Do not cross the road on foot while the lights are red. Jaywalking is frowned upon in Germany, and you can even be ticketed for it. Also, do not walk in the bike lanes.

Don’t start eating until your host has said that it’s time to begin. The German term for this is, “Guten Appetit.”

To make the most of your time, don’t forget to study up on World War II history prior to your arrival. It’s acknowledged throughout the country through statues, museums, plaques, and memorials.

You Don’t Want to Miss
In Berlin, don’t miss a boat ride along the river Spree–it’s a fantastic way to see the city from all angles. There are a few different boat trips to choose from: some go under all 60+ bridges in the city, some are more scenic, and some are more historical, but try to explore the city by going on at least one!

Currywurst is one of Berlin’s iconic street foods: it’s a sausage that you dip in curry powder or curry ketchup. This hearty food for when you need a quick bite. It’s not uncommon to even find vegan sausages as well!


The Basics  

Switzerland is largely known for the Swiss Alps and considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The country is known for rugged landscapes and political neutrality.  

Since 1815, following the Napoleonic Wars, Switzerland has been granted neutrality, meaning they avoid participation in wars between other states. The country often serves as a mediator between opposing sides and offers neutral grounds to host conferences and international meetings.  

Switzerland is bordered by five countries: Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, and France. This makes international travel by bus and train fairly easy! 

Switzerland has four national languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. 

Key Cultural Norms & Guidelines

Due to its centralized location, Switzerland is multilingual and multicultural, tying in many cultures, including German, Italian, French, and so many more. Therefore, Swiss culture is largely an accumulation of many European cultures.  

Approximately 65% of Swiss people consider themselves Swiss-German, while 18% consider themselves of French ethnic descent and another 10% as Italian descent.  

Swiss people value appearance and style. You will rarely see them wearing ripped jeans or shabby clothing! 

The Swiss franc is used as currency and 1 Swiss Franc is equivalent to a little over 1 USD. Switzerland is notoriously known for being expensive in comparison to the US. For example, at a fast-food restaurant like McDonalds, expect to pay anywhere from 12-20 CHF. 

The public transportation and train system in Switzerland is fantastic (albeit, pricey). If you find yourself with a free day or two in the city, head over to the Zurich HB for a scenic train ride to nearby hotspots, like Lucerne or Engelberg. Switzerland makes travel easy through the Swiss Rail Pass.  

As a rule of thumb, greet everyone you meet. This includes shop keepers, hotel staff, and even the hikers you may pass by. This is customary and polite etiquette in Switzerland.  

Regional characteristics sharply define the country. For example, in the east, you’ll find many tight-knit, German-speaking, mountain communities. In the west, you may find more French speakers.  

As you may suspect, Swiss food is influenced by German, French, and Italian cuisine. A few favorite dishes include Rösti (a hot cake made of potatoes and fried in butter), cheese fondue, and, of course, Swiss chocolate! 

You Don’t Want to Miss  

Don’t miss any opportunity to get outside. Whether hiking, kayaking, or skiing, be sure to experience Switzerland like a true Swiss! 

Mt. Rigi – if you have the opportunity to visit Rigi, often referred to as Queen of the Mountains, do not turn it down. It’s located just outside Lucerne and after taking a cable car to the top, you’ll be exposed to incredible, 360 degree views of the Swiss Alps. 

Extra time while in Zurich? Take a tour of Lindt’s chocolate factory to explore the world of cocoa and the production of chocolate! 


The Basics

Italy, a peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea, is home to the epicenter of the of the Roman Empire, a major hub of Catholicism, and the birthplace of the Renaissance. The country is known for its incredible food and history around every corner.  

The Catholic Church’s statistics suggest that 96% of Italians were baptized as Catholic, so that alone speaks to the dominance of Catholic traditions. Whether or not you’re Catholic, you will be welcomed into the country with open arms, but it’s important to respect the traditions, particularly when visiting religious site, such as the many towering cathedrals or Vatican City.  

Cultural Norms & What to Expect

Learn common words and phrases:  

  • Ciao, ragazzi = Hey guys!  
  • Buongiorno = Good morning 
  • Buonasera = Good evening 
  • Lei parla inglese = Do you speak English? 
  • Come va = How are you? 
  • Bene, grazie = Good, thank you 

Be prepared for hugs and kisses when greeting others. It’s common to give air kisses on both cheeks when greeting others; this is called il bacetto. 

Don’t spend too much time in touristy areas! Visit once, then explore the less traveled areas.  

In big cities like Rome, popular areas can be very touristy. It’s not uncommon for Americans to get pick-pocketed, so be sure to keep your important documents or electronics close (we suggest a cross body or a fanny pack!). Make sure to keep your phone zipped away, not in the pocket of pants or jacket.

Some advice from EF alumni:

  • “Catcall culture is real–I had no idea how often women are catcalled in Italy. Wear headphones or don’t engage if you feel uncomfortable. Also, it’s also always a good idea to travel with a buddy.” – EF Gap Year Alum
  • “Don’t be surprised if you receive tough love from your host mom! Mine was very blunt with her words, which initially felt rude, but I quickly learned it’s cultural. I had to learn not to be offended.” – EF Gap Year Alum
  • “Particularly in Rome, be prepared to spend time on public transportation. The city depends largely on buses, which tend to get stuck in traffic, so my commutes were often longer than anticipated! Download a good podcast or album and enjoy the ride.” – EF Gap Year Alum

Safety & Support

EF Gap Year is a key part of EF’s expansive global network. With a presence in over 120 countries, 52,000 staff, 600 schools and offices, and over 400 community partners our team has your back and is always available to help you succeed on your journey.

Your global support network

Kasia Young-Holley is thrilled to be your Advisor! Her role is to support you from a distance, check-in with you throughout the program, and encourage you to achieve your goals. Kasia liaises with your Tour Director, Student Life Coordinator, and local EF staff, collectively working to ensure the success of your experience. She is also available for parents and guardians as well. Kasia, along with the entire advising team, works from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM EST Monday through Friday.

Tour Director
Your Tour Director, is the logistical and safety coordinator of the group. They are a local guide who will serve as your best resource for logistical support, like ensuring you arrive on time for flights or helping you find the nearest ATM. They are also there for safety purposes and can help with medical concerns or emergencies as well. In certain countries, Tour Directors may be referred to as Field Directors.
Student Life Coordinator

Your Student Life Coordinator supports the group dynamic as well as provides individual socio-emotional support on the ground. They will be present for the duration of the program and are available to encourage you to develop new relationships and support you in overcoming challenges, like homesickness.

Safety & Incident Response Team

The Safety & Incident Response Team is available to all of our students 24/7 and is trained to support students in times of crisis.

The EF Emergency Line is: 617-619-2520  

Making the most of your program

To make the most of your time during your program, this section gives some helpful context and reflection questions. These questions are great ones to think about on your own, to journal about, or to discuss with a friend or in a small group. Make the most of your time during your program by spending a little bit of time each day—even as little as 5 or 10 minutes—doing conscious reflection!

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:

  • 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?
Country-by-Country Reflections

As you travel throughout Europe, you are going to see other cultures, societies, environments, histories, economies, geographies, languages, and peoples that you’ve never seen before. These experiences can propel you to better understand who you are in the world and what you want your life to look like — whether that be figuring out your certain career path, understanding what type of urban environment you want to live in, or gaining a better connection to a certain period in history. These questions can help you think through some of the places you will visit, and they are great ones to discuss with a friend or a small group.


  • What can you learn from Iceland’s approach to sustainability — both in your personal life and in the way other countries deal with issues of sustainability?
  • What is unique about Iceland’s approach to fisheries and aquaculture? What did you learn about this industry?
  • What is your relationship with colder, Northern climates? Could you see yourself living in an environment like Iceland?
  • How was spending free time in Reykjavik? What did you like about the city, and what did you not like so much?


  • During the business challenge at Hult, what did you learn about your own abilities to work with a team to solve a challenge? Do you think the business world is for you?
  • How did you spend your free time in London? What types of activities do you gravitate towards when you have that freedom?
  • What did you learn about the history of medicine? Is that a career path that you would be interested in pursuing?


  • Paris is a city that lives large in the cultural consciousness of Americans. How did Paris differ from what you expected?
  • What inspiration did you get from understanding the art, architecture, and fashion of Paris?
  • What did you learn about World War II history as you went to Normandy? How does that history continue to impact us today?

Germany & Switzerland:

  • After visiting an innovative business, how are you thinking about the role of technology in the world? Has your view been impacted by your experiences on program?
  • Berlin is a major hub for expats in a growing start-up sector.  Would you like to live as an expat in a city like Berlin? Why or why not?
  • What emotions did your visit to Dachau bring up? How can a better understanding of historical tragedies help the world not repeat the same mistakes?
  • What differences do you notice between Berlin and Munich — and between Germany and Switzerland?


  • What are your reflections on the fashion industry in Milan after being there yourself? Was there anything that inspired you to look more into this field?
  • What did you learn about the way goods like parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar are produced? How will you think differently about these items next time you see them in a grocery store in the US? What goes into creating a successful global brand, as Parma has done with parmesan cheese?
  • It is easy to think of ancient history as something far removed from modern life. Yet the Colosseum — and other remnants of ancient Rome — are part of the cityscape of modern day Rome. What is it like to be in a city where this history is so present? How do the ancient and modern fit together?
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.