27 Jul 2016 - 20 Aug 2016
For those thinking of doing the European Escapade I highly recommend it, especially if it is your first time in Europe! I just finished it recently and it was 25 unbelievable days! The length was definitely perfect because it’s not too long and it’s not too short, giving you ample time to explore Europe. So I could rave on and on about how good it is but I want to also tell you the negative things to make sure that you are prepared for EVERYTHING.
For starters, ensure that you bring a lot of medication like panadol/nurofen, cold/flu tablets, cough medicine, throat lozenges and nasal sprays. You are 100% guaranteed to get what is known as the contiki cough and that includes a constant and annoying cough that you’ll have for at least 2 weeks, congestion/runny noses and sore throats etc.
Next thing, bed bugs. I would definitely recommend getting a “silk sak”. It can be bought on eBay and is just a light sleeping sack made of silk. Sleeping in that with the blankets over the top of it is one way of preventing yourself from getting bed bug bites (if you do happen to encounter them yourself) and purchase some bed bug spray as well. This came in handy, especially in Rome, Switzerland and Austrian Tyrol where a few of us encountered some nasty bed bugs, resulting is us having to wash everything in our suit case and walk around covered in bites. I cannot stress enough how careful you should be when going to new accommodation and make sure you check the beds, even under the mattress!!
Keep a water bottle on you everywhere you go so you make sure that you’re not buying water all the time as well as a few snacks here and there because the food is very expensive, I spent more money on food than anything else.
DON’T FEEL PRESSURED TO DO EVERY ME TIME OPTIONAL. The guides will tell you that you’ll feel left out if you don’t do everything but that is definitely not the case. There will always be someone else who isn’t doing a particular thing so you can hang out with them and do your own thing. I really enjoyed all of the optional dinners but if you don’t want to do them all PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do the Tuscan dinner. It will be the best dinner of your trip with an abundance of amazing Italian food! I didn’t really enjoy the walking tour in the Vatican but it does include entry tickets through the Basilica and you do get to see some of Michelangelo’s greatest works. Paragliding and white water rafting are so much fun! BRING SHOWER SHOES!!!! You will be thanking me when you get to a place that has communal showers and you are standing in someones shower water puddles and soap. It will also prevent tinea which is a massive plus! One last thing, make sure you have a decent amount of money because things are very expensive in Europe!! You may think it’s just people over exaggerating but trust me, some things are definitely over priced so thin before you buy! Anyway, I hope this hasn’t stopped you from wanting to do it because you will have an amazing time and make amazing friends along the way, some that will definitely be there for a life time! So safe travels and have a great time!
Review written Aug 2016event 0.3
15 Jul 2016 - 08 Aug 2016
Going into this, I wasn't sure what to expect. This was my first Contiki and my first trip to Europe so while excited, I was a bit nervous and unsure of what I had gotten myself into. By the end of it though, I was craving for more, and was sad to see the end.
First off, our Tour Manager Jess was the bomb. Her knowledge and fun, friendly nature made the trip so much easier!! Our coach drive Chico was amazing as well, negotiating the tight streets of cities like Paris and Florence sooo well. There was no doubt about what to expect and what we were doing, and it was nice seeing bright happy faces after our nights out. #jessandchicoforever :)
Additionally, your tour mates really make or break the trip. I went with a small group of friends, but by the end everyone was friends and there were more than a few tears when the final day came! You experience everything together and this trip is really ideal for both solo travelers and groups, as it is long enough to allow you to get to know other people on the trip, but not too long in that you feel like you’re throwing yourself in the deep end.
Now for the travelling itself. The best thing about European Escapade is that it whets your appetite for places, and makes you immediately want to plan your next trip. You spend a small amount of time in each place (France for six days, Spain for two, Italy for six etc) and you see enough of each place to feel like you've experienced it, but not enough to make you think that you've done it well. We spent two days in Barcelona, I could easily spend a week there, and that's only one small corner of Spain! Am already planning a tour of Germany for next year.
There is no way to describe the overwhelming feeling of seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Leaning Tower of Pisa for the first time. With this trip, you get to experience it all, and the guided tour optionals are definitely must-do's as the guides are both informative and entertaining. Optionals are generally paid for right at the beginning so it's good to try and pay for as much as you can first up because all of them are awesome opportunities (even though I didn't do all of them).
The accommodation did vary. The hostel in Barcelona was mint and the Contiki campsites were surprisingly very good. The best thing about the Contiki sites are the onsite 'facilities' e.g. bars and party spaces. The team know how to throw a good party and you feel safe knowing you only have to walk 100m to your room! Some accommodation options were different, (not wrong, just different), but for what you paid, it's a good deal.
European breakfast is generally small, and we were told to expect this, but it's always enough to get you going in the morning. There is generally cereal, croissants, ham and cheese, eggs and a decent selection of juices, as well as hot drinks, so eat big at breakfast so that you're not thinking about lunch from the get go. The dinners were good, the Tuscan feast is a crazy amount of food.
Now for what I wished I knew before I came. First of all, Europe is EXPENSIVE! Coming from New Zealand, I was not prepared for exactly how expensive everyday items were going to be. When it is a coach day, one or two meals are generally had at ‘services’ which are service stations that double as restaurants. These aren’t always the cheapest, and I found were always more expensive than what we would expect to pay in Australia or New Zealand. Also, non-alcoholic drinks were pretty pricey as well. On top of this, be prepared to pay for taxis! A lot of the places we stay are outside of the central city area so you need to have some money set aside for these kinds of things. If you can master the Metro systems in the big cities, you will save some, but some cities you will rely on taxies more than others. If you can budget well, you will be sweet, but it is hard to budget well when there is so much to do!!
The second thing is that Contiki cough is a real thing – almost everyone on our trip got it so you should take a good deal of antibiotics and/or paracetamol with you. I took three sheets of the stuff and still ended up worse than how I came so you should take a good supply. There will be a lot of nights out and parties and the like so it is harder to recover from a cough once you get it, hence the need for medicine and the like.
All up, this was truly the trip of a lifetime. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone on this side of the world, to allow you to not just see Europe, but to see it with a great group of like-minded people who want to see the world and have fun at the same time. And if you get Jess and Chico as TM and driver, you will be mega lucky!
Review written Aug 2016event 0.3
12 Sep 2015 - 06 Oct 2015
Someone once said to me "if you dont leave Europe fat, broke & happy you didnt do it right!" And this is exactly how i left haha. Thank you dylan for being the best trip manager and producing the goods of Europe! Thank you spagetti for being the best driver, not getting us killed on those crazy roads and pushing all limits to make sure our experience was the best!
This was my first contiki and i will say it wont be my last! Currently planning USA!
I did all of the ME time activities and recommend doing them all it gives you a real chance to see europe in the best way possible.
Take lots of money. Whatever you think you need double it! You might not think youll spend that much, you will.
Accommodation was great its was you expect for the high energy trips. I personally didnt have a problem but a few people did get bed bugs.
Eat everything try everything! Europes food is amazing.
I got very sick when we got to italy or better known as the contiki cough. Its real. And deadly lol. And no medication worked. Just ride it out and dont let it ruin your trip.
Don't hesitate just book it!!!!!! Would do it all over again
Review written Jul 2016event 0.3
18 May 2016 - 11 Jun 2016
Let me start by saying that even though many friends will tell you all about contiki. You will never be fully prepared for what you are getting yourself into. And it's wonderful. Now you may hear people telling you that Contiki goes through places too quickly.. well they didn't read the itinerary - that bad boy will let you know how long you'll stay in each place. HONESTLY, I knew I was having only 1 -2 days in some places & I was fine with it as you see & do so much within that time that it feels like longer! Think of it as a taste tester. The perfect and budget friendly way to find out where you'd go back and where your happy to say you've seen.
Your team are not just your guides but your mates. Both our Team Manager & Bus driver went above & beyond for us all, they joined in with us & we all did became the best of mates ( yes it's true & cheesy).
I saw the highlights of Europe & so many little towns & scenes I would never have thought to have seen on my own ( or known to have seen ).
I was shown around, taught about each stop, shown the best places to shop, eat & drink. I had walking tours & tours but I also had free time to do what I wanted ( & hints on where to go & what to do ).
I partied hard & explored & laughed & only cried when it was all over.
I've also travelled solo & though it was amazing, I didn't do as much nor did I fully see everything because I would sleep in or just wonder around ( which is amazing but you can also miss out on a lot). & it was stressful at times trying to figure out transport ( when you have bad wifi ) or finding out that your hostel doesn't actually do breakfast like it said online & all the little things that you wouldn't think off ! Even getting sick & unable to find a doctor. - When I was on tour I had to worry about nothing but what flavour gelato I was going to eat that day ( which is harder then you would believe once you get to Italy )
I climbed the Eiffel tower in a thunderstorm, Parasailed over Nice, Saw the Grand Pre track in Monaco, had a snow ball fight with the best 45 people on top of Europe in the Swiss Alps, slept in many awkward positions on the bus, took some terrible photos with the Pissa, ate a lot of gelato & copied David, drank cocktails on the beach in Barcelona, had a gondola ride in Venice, dressed up for many many themed nights, white water rafting in the Austrian Alps & many many more... AND I did it with 45 of the best people. You can't do that on your own. Sometimes it's the people you met as well as the places you go. Sometimes you need to be with people to share these experiences ( I mean imagine seeing the Eiffel tower on your own... you'll want to be with people, Trust. ) AND sometimes you need 45 people to make you do things like paragliding or eating snails ( You can't always talk yourself into these things you know) or jumping onto a river because you lost 'what are the odds'. You can't always make these types of memories or friendships alone. The things you'll do & see together will bond you all for life.
Contiki offers you that hand in hand. Stress free. ( I promise they do ). Sorry not sorry but seriously #noregrets.
Review written Jul 2016event 0.3
01 Jul 2015 - 25 Jul 2015
This trip was simply incredible! I traveled solo and had the best time. I
t was very full on though, they really do mean high energy, honestly not a lot of time to chill out and do your own thing, but in saying that we saw so much in such a short period of time!! So worth it!
Our tour guide Marine and driver Chico were bloody brilliant too, they were both such good fun and always ready to have a laugh.
But something you should be prepared for is bed bugs, you will get them, its like the contiki cough. Just be prepared, take a cream over with you and try not to let your luggage touch the beds and put your sleeping bag in a plastic bag after using it. Be prepared when you get home to wash absolutely everything with hot water and then tumble dry, meaning your clothes will shrink sadly :(
But this trip was incredible! Paragliding and white water rafting are a must do!!
Everything was so beautiful but Rome was definitely my favourite.
Review written Aug 2015event 0.3
14 Jul 2014 - 07 Aug 2014
Travelling to Europe for the first time I knew that I was going to be in for an incredible trip but I had no idea just how good it was going to be.
I did back to back tours (the first one being The Eastern Road) and had a two day rest in between in London. Honestly if you're going to do back to back and you don't want to start your tour with the dreaded "contiki cough" already buzzing through your system then I would advise at least a 5 day gap. I wasn't very popular for spreading the cough around as normally it takes at least a week to contract and I had spread it around within the first couple days! Not that it stopped us from still having the best time.
I had a small group of 35 and in my opinion it was a much better group number then a full bus of 55, I only say this because a) you tend to form a closer whole group bond and b) most importantly you can almost always guarantee yourself two chairs on the bus to yourself to stretch out and snooze on those woeful hungover mornings.
I travelled alone for this one and was slightly worried that I'd be the only one, turns out nearly half of my tour group were solo travellers but it really didn't matter by the end of it. You make friends with everyone in your group and I was lucky enough to make a very special group of friends who I have been able to catch up with a lot since tour ended even though we all live in separate parts of Australia.
The hostels and special contiki stop-overs we stayed in were a little hit and miss. Most of them were fine (I mean really all you need is somewhere to sleep and store all of your baggage) but we did have a few bed bug issues in the cabins in Rome, I took a sleeping bag and a small silk sleeping sack that has a section you could slip your pillow into that I bought on eBay for $7.00 and never got the nasty bite so I recommend both! Alternatively you could take a sleeping bag and a fitted sheet.
The Château in the Beaujolais wine region was incredible, it had a pool, a beautiful view from all the rooms and it's very own dungeon night club. It hosted a great dress up party too which you MUST get into! Same goes for the Contiki’s Austrian Gasthof in Hopfgarten! It was my favourite stay on tour. It was where I rode a bike for the first time since I was 9 and it had some great activities like trout fishing and an awesome water park that needs to be seen to be believed. It too had a crazy themed party night which was loads of fun.
I'm going to have to say the food was a slight let down for most of the stays that offered dinner (except in the Swiss Alps, I mean, who doesn't like cheese fondue?!) Regardless I would recommend doing all the different extra dinner nights though as generally most the group will do it and they were always a lot of fun.
Also, Italian food in Italy, not that great... Italian food in Austria though... MAGNIFICO! Obviously this is because most of us are very used to westernised Italian food so it was a shock to find out was true Italian food really was. If you're looking for an authentic Italian restaurant make sure you check the menu for carbonara. We were told by a tour guide that the restaurants that served carbonara were not authentic as apparently carbonara was a western invention.
What to pack!? I took a large suitcase as I was travelling for 7 weeks and I can be a bit heavy handed on the packing side of things. I used every piece of clothing in my suitcase though so I have no regrets. I went on this tour in July/August so it was mostly hot with a few cool nights. I got away with one jacket, a jumper, a hoodie that I bought through contiki and a spray jacket (for those days that it just bucketed down with rain). I also wore winter pyjamas but swapped to a t-shirt with the long pants most nights.
Shoes wise I had two pairs of sandals, thongs, runners, converse and knee high flat leather boots. I probably could have done without the leather boots however they were a blessing from the heavens when we went and explored the snowy alps of Switzerland. I also could have gone without a pair of sandals, maybe even both as I pretty much wore thongs everywhere. ATTENTION LADIES! DO NOT BRING HEELS. IT IS A WASTE OF SPACE IN YOUR LUGGAGE. There was not one night where we needed heels, even at the Mozart & Strauss concert and the Monte Carlo we wore dressy flats and they were fine. Also don't believe the bullshit they spin about having to be super dressed up for the Monte Carlo to be given access, the boys went into full stress mode about not having dress shirts or pants and we spent most of our free time in Nice looking in department stores which was definitely not what we'd had in mind. We got to the casino and there were patrons there in hoodies and grandpa socks and sandals which then annoyed the hell out of everyone who has stressed about what they were going to wear.
Pack swimmers and two microfibre towels - mine were a God sent. They dried me off really quick and they dried themselves off even quicker, and they are much lighter than a normal towel and pack better.
As for toiletries and other misc items like jewellery and makeup, take what you need. During bus rides it's required that the tour bus driver stops for a break every 2 hours and we generally stopped at servos so if you run out of shampoo or toothpaste you could easily get more.
I don't really want to tell you what ME time activities you should and shouldn't do as everyone experiences things differently. My travel buddies and I didn't always share the same opinion on the extras so honestly do what you want to do! One activity that isn't a ME time but it is offered is the extremely sobering stop at the Mathausen concentration camp memorial. It is an absolute MUST DO. I also visited Auschwitz & Birkenau concentration camp memorials and both visits had me in indescribable shock and tears. I know that doesn't sound all that pleasant but you gain so much perspective and as someone who had a particular interest in this war I felt like I owed it to myself and the people who's lives were lost or destroyed during this awful and dark time to see what they went through and pay my respects. There is nothing more I can say that will prepare you for walking on this ground but you have got to do it. It was the most life changing experience for me.
I feel really grateful that I was able to do this trip and I am lucky to have been put with an incredible group. My tour guide was alright, I formed a better relationship with our bus driver who was an absolute legend.
I honestly couldn't have asked for a better 25 days. I almost think it has spoilt any other tour for me because it was just that good!
Hope this has been helpful!
Review written Aug 2015event 0.3
25 Jun 2015 - 19 Jul 2015
I did the European Escapade from the 25th June-19th July 2015. This was my first ever contiki tour and it was absolutely amazing!
It was an awesome trip! there was about 53 people on our tour and 50 of them were Australian, we had one Korean, one American and one Canadian.
I had Stacey as our tour manager and Rado as our bus driver.
Stacey was an amazing tour guide, friendly, bubbly, knowledgeable and a good laugh. Rado was an excellent bus driver and got us to most places on time!
I travelled with my best friend and we stayed 2 nights in London before our tour started, we stayed at The Royal National Hotel, the hotel is nothing special but it's where everyone meets up and it was cheap. If you want to see a lot of london, i recommend going a week before because there is just so much to see!
Take lots of money for Europe, because it is very expensive!!! Mainly for souvenirs, food and drink.
Also you need Franks for Switzerland.
Definitely bring cold and flu tablets because you will get the contiki cough! its not very nice but it didn't ruin my european experience.
A lot of time is spent on the coach, but you get plenty of service stops and most people just catch up on sleep.
Make sure to write a journal, because it is very hard to remember what do you did at each place.
Places we went to:
Paris: Paris was amazing! Esargot and Champagne, Bus tour through Paris, climbed the Eiffel Tower, saw the flashing lights, amazing views from the top. Paris didn't feel very safe but we all stayed as a group and looked out for each other. We didn't get to go in the Louvre as the line was too long which was disappointing, climbed the Arc de Triomphe, went inside the Notre Dame Cathedral. Parisian dinner was nice but loads of steps to get to it, i don't recommend wearing heels! The Cabaret show was different, we saw the Nouvelle show, clubbing in Paris is so much fun.
Beaujolais Wine Region: Here we stayed at Contiki's French Chateau which was really nice. Amazing views of the vineyards, group picnic in the hills, wine tasting, swimming pool, volleyball, 'P' party, cheap drinks. Very relaxing, beautiful Place!
Barcelona: The hotel in Barcelona was good, it had aircon and was close to everything. We drank Sangria at a pub called Black Sheep and did loads of shopping! On our free day me and my friend lost the group and got so LOST!! Don't ask anyone for directions because they send you the wrong way. It was a good way to see Barcelona. Nightlife was good, we went to a beach bar and hit a club afterwards, they do amazing cocktails there!
French Riviera/Nice: One of my favourite places on this tour! Gorgeous beaches, no sand, all pebbles! beware of that when its very hot. We went up to the lookout and there were incredible views!! The contiki campsite we stayed at wasn't that good, the cabins were very hot! We visited the Monte Carlo Casino which was gorgeous, but only had 45 mins in there which was a bit disappointing. There was a theme park nearby which we went to and the beach was only about a 15 min walk away.
Florence: On the way we stopped off at the Leaning tower of Pisa where we got photos. We went on a walking tour and saw the Fake David Statue and went inside the museum. Ate gelato, saw lots of gypsies (be warned, they try to kiss your hand so you give them money). Karaoke night was fun, drank lots of cocktails. The Space Electronic disco was cool but you get drinks cards, they only let you get a few drinks and then have to keep paying them off which was a bit annoying.
Rome: Walked through the Vatican City, The Sistine Chapel was incredible but very crowded with people. Saw the Colosseum, tour guide wasn't very good, could barley hear her but still very good to see. We tossed coins in the Trevi fountain but was still under construction which was disappointing. The whole group got lost on the train ride back, but was an adventure. Camp site was nice, there was a pool and a games room but be prepared for mosquitos! We had a i love Roma party here, where we all signed each others shirts which was good.
Venice: Venice was so nice, the best parts being the gondola rides and the guided tour, we got the best tour guide so funny! Saw St Mark's Square. At the campsite we had a masquerade party but most people couldn't make it as they were sick with gastro!
Vienna: Here we went to a leather demonstration where most of the girls bought puzzle rings (be warned if they come undone, they are very hard to put back!) Ate gelato, there isn't that much to do in Vienna for the free day so some people went back to camp. Prater park was cool and had schnitzel for dinner which was nice. Mozart and Strauss was good to see, plus we got to go backstage and drink free champagne, bonus!
Munich: Stopped off at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp which was sad to see. Mike's Bikes tour, we got absolutely drenched but was so fun! Funny tour guides, went through some english gardens and went to the second biggest beer hall in the world, where you could drink beer and buy a stein which were very cheap!!
Austrian Tyrol: This place was soo nice, amazing scenery. Mountain bike riding was really fun and tiring. We got to keep our bikes for the whole day which was awesome! Paragliding was the best! i was so scared but i think nearly everyone did it. Bobsledding really hurts, i didn't like it at all, it was my least favourite thing. White water rafting was really fun too, definitely do that.
Swiss Alps: Jungfraujoch mountain was incredible, it was a 2 hour train drive to the top but was so cool. It was so hot at the top, i definitely recommend wearing sunscreen because there was a few of us that got very burnt! At the top there is heaps to do, but its very expensive. Drinks from the bar at our hostel were so expensive, most people went to the local shop and bought drinks from there.
Rhine Valley: We stopped over in Heidelberg, which was a nice little town to buy souvenirs or get your passport stamped. Saw the biggest cuckoo clock in the world, watched how beer steins are crafted. Later on we did wine tasting, which was good if you like white wine.
Amsterdam: The bike ride in Edam was fun, we saw how clogs are made and did cheese tasting. There is heaps of bikes everywhere here! Saw the Red light district which wasn't as good as what people make it out to be. We went to a sex show but i didn't enjoy it, it was too intense plus i was sat in the front row! The canal pedal boats were fun and got to go in the Van Gough Museum, which took up a lot of time. Unfortunately we didn't make it to Anne Frank's house or the Bolls museum. We took photos in front of the IAmsterdam sign which is a must do! The canal cruise was awesome, free drinks and a good way to end the trip. The Sea Palace dinner, I'm not too sure about as i didn't make it past entree. Tip: don't drink too much wine before dinner. Loads of cafes if you're into that sort of thing, over there it is legal to smoke weed in a cafe.
Overall this trip was a massive eye opener and i enjoyed it so much and met some amazing people, who at first are just strangers and by the end you become one big family. I would highly recommend going on this tour, you see a lot of Europe in just 25 days!!!
Review written Jul 2015event 0.3
14 Jul 2014 - 07 Aug 2014
If you want to travel around Europe and have it all organized for you then this is the tour for you!! If your asking your self " Do i really want to travel alone?" or "Maybe i am to old to do a Contiki tour?" Then stop right there! We had 35 ish people in our tour which was considered a small group ages between 18 and our eldest was 33. ( Room to spread out on the bus ummm Yes please!!) We had 5 couples and the rest traveling alone or with a friend. This tour shows you the best of every country and you make so many friends along the way. My favorite place we visited was SPAIN!!! The hostel we stayed at was awesome and so clean and funky!! The food and country is amazing!! Make sure you get to the Food Markets and the Sagrada Família. Switzerland was beautiful but cold so take warm clothes!! I didn't and had to buy a few things haha. Try and do all of the ME time options there honestly worth the money!!! Beware of the bed bugs in Rome that was the only down side of the accommodation and my poor partner got eaten alive!! Take vitamins and cough syrup but keep in mind THE CONTIKI COUGH IS REAL no matter how healthy you are you will get sick!! I sounded like a dieing seal the whole time but it didn't effect my time overseas!
I could talk forever about this tour If you have any questions message me and ill reply to any of your questions or concerns.
Review written Apr 2015event 0.3
29 Jun 2013 - 23 Jul 2013
This trip was a fantastic introduction to Europe. Got to see almost all the major tourist cities and attractions in Europe. Great tour to see a lot in a 'short' amount of time, and have some amazing experiences, including all the additional activities, which I highly recommend.
Some of the accommodation was great, and some was average, but it doesn't really matter, because you pretty much just need a bed to sleep in.
This trip let me know where I want to go back to and for how long. Loved my experience on this tour with Contiki.
Review written Jan 2015event 0.3
17 Aug 2014 - 10 Sep 2014
Seen so many amazing sites and scenery of this trip, but also meet some amazing people on our tour..
The adventure side of this trip was fantastic, White Water Rafting, Bobsledding, Mountain Bike Riding and best of all Paragliding in Hopfgarten.
Lauterbrunnen was by far my favourite place on this tour.
If your a first timer to Europe I highly recommend this trip but the only trouble is you will want to go on holidays again as soon as you get home.
Review written Nov 2014event 0.3
26 Jun 2014 - 20 Jul 2014
I should start this review off by saying it was the best month of my life, and if you've never been to Europe before and want to check out as many things as you can, then this is the perfect way!
It was truly an incredible experience to travel to a place where civilization as we know it started, with the huge amounts of history and stunning sights all part of the journey.. However this isn't just a review saying how amazing it was, because there were definitely some negatives that I found with the Contiki/European experience.
I'm gonna go through some of low lights and annoying parts of the tour, not because I like to focus on the negatives but because everyone will tell you how amazing it is so it's only fair if you really know what you're in for right? I just want to give a bit more of an honest recap of things.
First of all, be prepared to pay for everything, from using WiFi, washing your clothes and even going to the toilet (not on contiki sights, only in public areas). Europe as a whole is very very expensive!!
WiFi was painfully hard to connect to and use at times, with only about half the places you stay at offering it completely free, the rest requiring you to either buy a drink or pay a small amount. It was usually really slow and only stretched within common areas too, meaning no internet in your rooms. Barcelona was the only accommodation where it did reach the rooms and was completely free, easily the best place you'll stay all tour (because it's modern as well, not just the WiFi!). Now obviously you're not paying all this money to come to Europe and sit on your phone, but there's always times when you want to relax and talk to your friends and family on Facebook but can't get a half decent connection.
A lot of the servo's you stop at on the way will have WiFi too but its not normally free and sometimes impossible to use. There was WiFi available on the coach, but it's so expensive it just isn't worth it.
Speaking of the coach, make sure you get on it early enough on drive days(travelling from one city to the next) so that you secure yourself a window seat. They're so much easier to get to sleep on, which can be hard at the best of times when you're clinging to life from a terrible hangover, but just trust me and get a window seat!
Laundry facilities are available at most places you'll stay, but of course it comes at a price. They would vary from 3-5 Euros for a wash and the same for a dryer. This annoyed me, you would think paying all the money that you do they would at least let you wash your clothes for free, but nope. Your best bet is to split a machine with someone else to halve the cost. Again we're not talking a lot of money, but is it annoying? You bet.
The rooms themselves were... small. Most places you stay will be 4 to a room, with only just enough space to put your suitcase down if you're lucky. The worst part about these rooms though is undoubtedly the heat. Now of course if you're going in summer it's going to be hot outside, but nowhere near as hot as some of the rooms will get. The Europeans don't seem to have discovered A/C as of yet, so don't go expecting any of that in the accommodations. You won't even get a pedestal/ceiling fan to at least help the mugginess of the rooms. If it's been a hot day outside, be prepared to sleep in a sauna that night. Maybe that's why everyone was drunk all the time, just so they didn't have to endure trying to sleep sober in those conditions. Not all places are like this, but a fair few will be.
P.S. Don't wet the mattress in any way, even with water, because you will have to pay 100Euro in the morning... (long story, just look after your mattress!)
Showers and toilets are sometimes communal and sometimes in your room (so much better). Again, everywhere you stay is different.
The food you get served by Contiki for dinner is a little bit hit and miss, but did get better towards the end of trip strangely enough. Some meals were really nice with plenty of leftovers while some weren't great and left you still hungry.. luck of the draw really. Breakfast is continental and fairly standard in most places, with muesli and yoghurt always available which made me happy. They do cooked breakfasts occasionally as well which were pretty decent.
Be prepared to get sick! I know everyone says this, but that's because its 100% true and guaranteed. You're basically paying 4 grand to push your immune system to its limits in strange and foreign conditions. I was a bit silly in that I didn't take/bring any medication for coughs and whatnot with so I pretty much just took it on, which wasn't too bad until i got a stomach bug in Amsterdam.. oh well! Just be prepared and pack whatever you know you're susceptible too.
Now, onto the ME Time 'Optional' Extras. I use quotation marks over the word optional because they tell you that they're optional, but they will try their absolute hardest to peer pressure you into doing each and every single one. This was just about the most annoying part of the whole trip from a Contiki stand point for me. A few days in, your tour manager will go through each and every single optional available whilst your sitting on the coach hungover, explaining what each one is and why you should do it. Now that probably doesn't sound so bad at first, but what I didn't realise is that they will then pass out a form and you have to decide then and there what optionals you wish to do for the rest of the tour. It is a massive sales pitch by the tour manager and it's a hell a lot of money to be paying upfront for things you don't even know if you'll want to do in 3 weeks time (about 700Euro+ to do them all).
I was under the impression we get to decide a day or two before if we wanted to pay for these extras, because really who knows what you'll feel like doing before you get to a city?? But no such luck..
Thankfully however most of the ME Time Optionals are totally worth it. The best being the railway up Jungfrau Mtn in Switzerland. This one is expensive but SO SO worth it, specially if you haven't experienced mountains and snow before, you HAVE to do that one. I had no idea we were gonna get to be in contact with snow but luckily there's snow all year round in the Swiss Alps!
All the activity ones are definitely worth it, including the bike rides. They're really easy and even the girls enjoyed it, which says something I think!
The only optionals I would say to avoid would be the group dinners. This being because when you go to these dinners everyone gets the same thing and there is no choice in what you want, so all the food is mass produced and just not that great. You would be much better off going off with a small group to a random restaurant and getting meals actually cooked for you. These dinners are a chance to mingle with the group of course, so really it comes down to whether you would rather socialize with your contiki family or experience some of Europe's amazing cuisine.
Contiki will also take you to random stores(you get no choice) that they have an affiliation with in pretty much every city and the store will try to sell you more things. A lot of these stores are actually pretty decent like a really nice Perfume factory in France and beer stein producer in Germany, but some are shit, like a leather shop. So yeah, just so you know.
Finally, bring a lot of money!!!
I got told London was expensive but I had no idea the rest of Europe was just as bad! Food and drink are the worst killers. Naturally you're not carrying a lot of food on you so every time you get hungry it means more money. Try and always buy a few snacks at a time, fruit is a good idea because its often hard to come by, and always have a water bottle with you to prevent having to shell out money every time you're hungry/thirsty.
Even the drinks in nightclubs are expensive, something I thought would be cheap. Some clubs do 'free pour' which normally means you get a reasonable amount of alcohol but these drinks usually cost up to 8Euro and can very quickly add up. A lot of the people on our tour needed their parents to send them more money because they simply didn't have enough, something that I only just avoided myself!
Alright, I think that's all the negatives out the way!
Please don't read this thinking that you shouldn't go, if you're 'umming' and 'arring' about this tour, don't! You definitely need this in your life! It was truly the best experience of my life and I'm so glad I did it.
For all the rest of the amazing reasons to go on this trip, and to get a better idea on other things, just read all the other reviews!
Good luck and safe travels!!
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
13 May 2014 - 06 Jun 2014
This trip was nothing short of amazing I literally can't put it into words and met some great friends along the way. The reason you are reading this is because you wanna know stuff and i'll tell you the things you want to know!
Wifi - There is is wifi everywhere not even kidding. We all turned into wifi warriors trying to find a connection so don;t worry about trying to get a roaming sim. The Contiki buses do have wifi but it's crazy overpriced and you pay per 100MB. Nobody used it. All the sites you stay at have it, some you'll have to pay, others you'll have to walk to a certain sweet spot and others it's shitty slow.
Optionals - Most of the optionals are great. I only didone of the dinners (the last one) as you can find food ALOT cheaper elsewhere especially the French dinner. So get lost Paris and find something cheaper with your new buddies!
Bus time - You'll be spending alot of time on the bus, especially to and from Barcelona. It is not a bad thing! Either you can catch up on some well needed sleep, or look at the sights or listen to your tour manager talk about Napoleon!
The sites - All the places you stay are alright. You aren't in hotels but hey, it's not dirt. Keep an eye out in the Italian sites as during the warmer months there are bugs (Bug spray for Venice is ESSENTIAL. You will be eaten alive) so make sure you keep windows a bit closed! Most places have 4 or so to a room and the rooming list gets passed around so buddy up!
Contiki Cough - You will get it. No amount of preparation will stop it. Get some pseudo from the pharmacies, they are everywhere, and hope that it goes as soon as it comes on!
Criminals - Ok so in places like Barca, Paris and all of Italy there are some pretty shifty dudes. You don't need a secret undershirt bumbag or whatever (if you want though, go ahead) just keep your bags closed and back pockets empty. Ignore all the street sellers and petition signers and never EVER go home alone from a night out.
Pack Lightly - I cannot stress this enough. There are H&Ms everywhere so if you need more clothes, cheap and easy. I dumped many shirts and shorts while travelling. You don't need heaps of clothes!
ID - Continental Europe is pretty lax when it comes to ID in clubs and stuff so you wont need your passport except when you go to Monaco so don't worry. UK is a bit more strict but a drivers licence will do.
Sleeping bags - You can buy them at the Contiki basement in London but me and my friend got one from Argos on the cheap. You'll need them for most contiki sites as they just provide a bed and a pillow.
Towels - Bring a quick dry towel. Small, light and drys quickly especially when you have early starts. You can just dry them over the seats on the bus. I had a regular towel but they are not fun to transport or have wet in your bag all day :/
Alcohol - Since alcohol is flowing daily in Europe and it is Contiki alot of people will be drinking. Since I am not a big drinker I was a bit worried but everyone is cool. No pressure. Drink what you what when you want. Don't worry if you can't drink beer in Munich, have a pretzel instead :)
That's more or less the main points. You will have an absolute blast doing this tour. This was my first trip overseas and now I have friends for life! Seriously, just do this tour.
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
06 May 2014 - 31 May 2014
What a month it was. European Escapade gives you a taste of everything Europe has to offer. If you're looking to get as much out of Western Europe as you can in a reasonable amount of time, this is the tour for you. My tour guide and driver team was amazing. Anything you needed to know or needed assistance with Clare was there and Rado our driver? Oh Rado... What a GEM! I miss them both so much. Contiki is amazing, they plan everything for you and the on-site teams were also insanely cool. Those were my favorite stops along the way... Contiki themed hostels/lodges/chateaus always had a cool atmosphere, wicked bar and usually a club of some sort. All you basically need to do is wake up on time and Contiki team does the rest for you I had a blast. I literally could not give you one single complaint or regret. It was the time of my life, just be prepared because they have theme parties at a few of the contiki stops, tight & bright, shock your mother, i heart roma.. Those are the best times so pack some funky items just in case!! ALSO bring vitamins and cold meds from home the contiki cough WILL get you! One last thing... The suggested budget is a little off if you're a big partier like myself because I don't they don't factor in drinking.. Factor in some wiggle room for the budget if you plan on drinking your face off which will probably happen because it's contiki! There's something for everyone on this tour and there were some people in my group who preferred to hang alone but honestly if you're looking for a party atmosphere this is it. I have never laughed and smiled so hard for so long in mt life 26 days of pure, uninterrupted HAPPINESS!!!
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
01 May 2014 - 25 May 2014
just come back from tour had a blast with a great road crew and Group of People to go around Europe with and would gladly do another Contiki again well worth the Experience and time to kick back and do what you wanted to do and the place and onsite teams were awesome as well I would recommend anyone who want to go over seas in Europe to do a Contiki
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
11 Jun 2013 - 07 Jul 2013
I did this tour last summer with some of my girlfriends and we had the best time. It is pretty fast paced, but if you are looking to get a taste of Europe in one month, then this trip is for you! When you go back in the future, you can spend more time in the places that you really love. I recommend this trip for first-time Europe travelers like me :)
Check out my blog www.ellafortuna.com to see each place we went to and how much fun we had! :)
Review written May 2014event 0.3
27 Jun 2013 - 21 Jul 2013
This was a fabulous trip and I had an amazing time over the 25 days. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone who would like to get a good feel of what Europe is like, it was just the right amount of time, anything shorter and I don't think it would of been as enjoyable. Do as many of the extras as you can, they really make the trip.
Review written Feb 2014event 0.3
31 Jul 2013 - 24 Aug 2013
I found the Contiki experience an amazing one - a really good taste of Europe (my favourite places were Paris, Barcelona and Venice). You get so close to your tour group and tour manager, and that really makes a huge difference. The nightlife and parties were incredible too, especially as Contiki had a lot of connections in bars, clubs and activities. At 18, my friend and I were the youngest on tour with the average age being about 22/23 (oldest was around 26).
Just a few things. Contiki will try to milk you for your money, especially with optionals, so if you're travelling with a tight budget you might struggle - I spent a lot more than I intended (about 2000 AUD, and I didn't do all the optionals). Some of the optionals were really disappointing too and seemed to be a bit of a rip off.
Optionals to avoid:
- Flamenco show, Barcelona - boring and amateurish, especially for 30 euros! Would much rather have wandered Barcelona.
- Tuscan meal, Florence - really average food in a not-particularly-special restaurant. Would have been much better off finding food elsewhere.
- Electronic Space Disco - it was fun because everyone on tour went, but the actual club was disappointing.
- Vatican Tour AND Imperial Tour - these were both overpriced and the guides were horribly boring and uneducated.
- Bobbahn, Austrian Tyrol - I didn't actually do this, but I heard negative reviews from everyone who did, saying it was uncomfortable and at times painful, and not worth the money.
- JungFrau mountain, Swiss Alps - I didn't do this either, but from what I heard, the journey up the mountain was the main feature of the day (2 hours long) and the experience was quite overpriced and not particularly special.
Optionals that were amazing:
- Cabaret, Paris - very expensive but worth it for the real Parisian experience with your new group, one of my favourite nights in the tour.
- Parisian dinner - absolutely boiling when we went (no air con in the restaurant) but the food was delicious!!
- Venice walking tour - this guide was lovely and very knowledgable.
- Viennese dinner - a very eccentric experience but completely hilarious.
- Munich bike tour - the guides are hilarious and the tour was really fun.
- Whitewater Rafting in Austrian Tyrol - not very hardcore for professional rafters out there, but fun and a good experience.
- Tandem paragliding - expensive but INCREDIBLE, worth it.
- Wine tasting, St Goar - another really bizarre experience, hilarious.
Highlights of the whole tour were some of the nights out we had as groups, like in Paris, Barcelona, Florence and Amsterdam. Also the free days we had in each city to explore and go our own way - our tour guide organised maps and metro maps for us each time, which made it way easier. We also got to see really special parts of each city which you wouldn't necessarily find otherwise.
I thought the accommodation was fine for most of the trip - the hostels were comfortable enough and clean, which was fine, and the contiki properties served surprisingly good food. The issue I had was that in Italy we stayed exclusively in Contiki campsites in cabins, none of which had air conditioning (in 35+ degree weather) and all of which were quite far from the cities. Venice was ridiculous - to the point where we physically couldn't travel into the city at night because the transport cut off.
Another slight downer is that Contiki will try to sell you things at every available point, usually disguising it as a 'demonstration' or an 'opportunity', when really they're just informercials preaching to you about their products. Bit of a pain, try to avoid when possible.
You'll be on the coach for about 40% of the trip. The coach was pretty comfortable and we'd all sleep or socialise, but some days involved long drives so bring comfortable pillows and things to do!
Also, take as many vitamins and immune boosters as possible. You will get sick. The Contiki Cough is famous.
Overall an amazing experience, really happy I did it and happy to recommend the trip to others.
Review written Aug 2013event 0.3