EF Tours--What to Expect?

May 30th, 2014, 06:53 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1
EF Tours--What to Expect?

I am a high school student enrolled on a trip with EF Tours. We depart next month for two weeks in Central Europe--Germany, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria. I have not posted in the Fodor's travel forum before, but I would like to hear some reviews and opinions of this tour company before my departure.

From scanning other online reviews, the experiences seem to range anywhere from unbearable suffering and trauma to an enjoyable, albeit frugal, educational experience. The latter, of course, is what was advertised, and what I signed on for. I am well aware of what group travel entails, and am certainly not expecting decadent luxury by any stretch. However, I would like to have confidence that I'm in for a fulfilling adventure.

This will be my third trip to Europe, but my first with a tour group. Generally speaking, what is the quality of the meals like? Should I expect to have chances to sample the local cuisines? Are the "expert tour guides" (as EF refers to them) competent and knowledgeable? How about intra-European transportation...I gather EF primarily uses coach buses?

I understand these questions are fairly detailed and certainly not many reading them will have traveled with EF. All feedback is appreciated, though--even just general comments about European travel in large tour groups, not necessarily EF-specific.

Thank you!
EuroTraveler24 is offline  
May 30th, 2014, 07:21 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32,701
If you do a search on this forum you will turn up quite a few threads on EF.

>>>Should I expect to have chances to sample the local cuisines?<<<

No, except on your free time. Meals are geared towards students and can often be french fries and hamburgers. Drinks are usually extra.

EF is a budget student tour group and you don't sound like a student. The better student tour groups are NETC and ACIS. Mid-budget - CHA and Passports. Bottom - EF and Explorica.

>>>Are the "expert tour guides" (as EF refers to them) competent and knowledgeable?<<<

Some are, some aren't. Many sites only allow registered guides inside so you will often have local guides for those. The tour director will likely do some walking tours.

With your itinerary, you might luck out and get some decent places to stay as it's a bit more off the normal tourist track. Sometimes time of year, etc. will make a difference on quality with EF. Also, if this is a private tour that the school created the itinerary, you will likely have slightly better quality. If not, and your group is a small group, you are combined with groups for other schools to fill the bus.

I don't think you can really compare student tour companies which cater mostly to middle school/high school student to regular tour companies that cater to adults.
kybourbon is online now  
May 30th, 2014, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
First, it's polite to give a link so responders don't have to search for your tour. I think this is the tour you're taking.


Anyone who has traveled with EF on this board will probably have already posted about this tour company so you can search to find answers. I can generally answer your question without particulars on this company.

Food, in general, will be low quality since you'll be going to places that cater to large groups. Think banquet-type food, not great but adequate. I doubt you'll sample local cuisine as tours must respect a general taste in food and not everyone wants to eat ham hock or likes spicy food.

Most tour companies use buses to get you from one place to another. Looking at the itinerary you'll have lots of bus time and very little sightseeing time - this is a lot of territory to cover - 10 cities in 12 days.

If you look at the detailed itinerary you'll notice the words "see" which means look at something from the outside and "visit" which means an interior guided visit. Since there are few visits the tour director doesn't need to be all that knowledgeable. There are three places where you have local guides so the knowledge should be more in depth.

If you're going with your school you'll have a good time and there is some time on your own so you can investigate places where you can sample the local foods if that's what you want to do and if you're permitted to go off on your own if you're with a school group.

Fulfilling adventure is subjective. Many people are happy with a few hours in each city; others want more depth. You can make the trip an adventure if you want to, even if it isn't the trip of your dreams. Look for positive aspects of the trip and ignore the rest.

If you want the most fulfillment you can get from this trip do research in advance so you can discuss what you see and ask questions of local guides, your tour director, or anyone else you meet on the trip. The more you put into the trip the more you will get from it.
adrienne is offline  
May 30th, 2014, 07:45 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,607
I went on an EF tour 10 years ago. Overall experience I loved it. We had a wonderful guide, we saw a great deal-Innsbruck, Munich, Verona, Venice, Neuschwanstein, Dachau, Rothenburg, The Rhine. The dinners were OK. We had some form of pork 5 nights in a row. Once we had pretzel soup, good when you are starving. The breakfasts were hard rolls, lunchmeat, nutella, yogurt, fruit. My only complaint was that our hotels were always away from anything. But we were too tired to want to do anything at night anyway.
My teacher friend who organized this has moved from our school but has continued using EF tours for the past 9 years. You'll have a good time!
deladeb is offline  
May 30th, 2014, 07:55 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32,701
I've done tours with EF, Explorica, CHA, ACIS. I would not continue to use either EF or Explorica, but as I stated, if you have a private group where you selected the itinerary (I didn't), you will have a different experience. The hotels with EF/Explorica were very low quality - no comparison to the quality of hotels with CHA and ACIS. You are lucky if you get decent hotels with either EF/Explorica (I know people that have and many more that didn't).
kybourbon is online now  
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