21 Aug 2015 - 05 Sep 2015
I arrived two days early; I stayed at the Royal National Hotel where your tour will start and finish. Personally, what you pay is what you get there, the staff wasn’t really friendly and the restaurant wasn’t that great. Oh and the WIFI was hopeless, I didn’t use the phone sim that Contiki sends you in your pack I ended up buying a EE sim for 25 pound and lasted me the whole trip, although it didn’t work in Ireland so I bought another cheap one at Vodafone for a couple pound till I was back in London and used the EE again. I ended up eating dinner at the pub next to the Royal National and lunches I found cafes along my adventure. I met my roommate there, she was doing another Contiki. I went for a wonder to Covent Garden the next day to keep me going after jetlag and it’s the cutest suburb! If you get a chance before or after your tour go to Gordon’s Wine bar – we got there just as it was closing but the wine is good and it’s a cute little set up.
London- Get to London at LEAST one or two days before the tour begins. There is so much to see, all the touristy attractions, museums, pubs, coffee shops, shopping etc. When I go back I will spend at least 2 days before and after the trip to see more of London and the surrounding areas. The day before your tour starts everyone met up at the Contiki basement which is right around the corner from the Royal National, after we met our tour Manager (Rhett) and Driver (Joey) everyone ended up at the London Pub and mingled and broke the ice before our early start to the next morning.
First day of the trip is a driving tour of London so you won’t get to do anything but take pretty picture of London. To start off the trip we had to do a “Speed dating” on the on the bus to get to know everyone. Who ever sat in the aisle seat had 3 mins then move to the next seat, was a great way to meet everyone on the bus that didn’t come to the pub the night before.
Liverpool- What an awesome city! The lady that talks about the city is amazing and easy to understand. The waterfront is beautiful and yes there is Beatles stuff everywhere. A group of us went for a wonder to the shops to buy some alcohol and just have a wonder to the Cathedral (So many on this tour) it also bucketed down raining and none of us had an umbrella so we had fun running back to the hotel.
Carlisle- Is this tiny city, that basically consists of the one main street. Everyone ended up drinking at the Cocktail bar and myself and a few from the tour had a game of Beer Pong with the locals. England 1 Australia 2 !! across the street and if you felt like it, you walked up the road and find more pubs or dancing. We also had our mock HEN’S & BUCK’S night here. So much fun.
Gretna Green- Get ready for one of your to get married !! and a group photo for the memory of this incredibly awkward event. When you get back home tho you may end up with another groups photo, if you email Gretna Green tho they are really good and will send you another copy.
Oban- The hotel is right on the water, beautiful scenery. We again went tour walk about dinner and ended up at Ceildah House and Skipinnish were playing. AWESOME band with bagpipe players and they played old school and some of their own songs. Amazing night of dancing and lots of laughter. Oh and the fish bowls. Make sure you have panadol for the next day haha
York- Was lovely but we didn’t get to do the Ghost Tour but we got our monies given back to us.
Lake District- Do the high ropes activity! It was windy as the day we did it and I was scared beyond belief so I skipped half of it but did the zip line after. So much fun!. The Windermere cruise was alright, I would have skipped it if we could have.
Hadrian’s Wall- A must see! Beautiful scenery and a fantastic place to show the beauty of Scotland.
Edinburgh- More travellers will join you here and may or may not finish in London with use. This was the highlight of my trip. Edinburgh is beautiful!! We spent 2 nights there. Luckily we went during the festival time. The Fringe festival is EXTREMLY crowded (not my scene), Contiki also had pre booked tickets for the MILITARY TATTOO, OMG if you get the chance do it, was amazing to see it live. Weather held off good and rained after when we were leaving so I recommend taking a poncho or umbrella. The next day I spent it at the Castle, shopping, and again just pub hopping haha Sainsbury’s is across the road so I topped up on supplies as we were off to the Lochness the next day.
Try the Haggis or share with someone like I did and DO the Traditional Scottish dinner. Good food and our Tour Manager organised a bagpipe player to come and perform for us after. It was amazing!
Scottish Highlands/Lochness- This is the only place that the whole group is has to stay in the hotel and it was a really cute place! I think it was my favourite hotel on the trip. There is nothing around to do so most of us spent it in the bar after dinner and had a few drinks. Also do the Lochness challenge!! So much fun and bloody cold! Take a bottle of whiskey to warm you up beforehand.
Glasgow- This is where the travellers who only did up to Scotland leave (Sad Face) LOTS of goodbye drinks and Ping pong at the bar which turned out to be a bit of a pub crawl. (stay away from Sleazy's nigh club) title says it all.
Dublin- You will spend your first night here then your last before the long drive back to London on your last day (again sad face). Also the hotel you stay at the Elevator is really dodgy so take the stairs! Dublin you’ll pick up the rest of the gang who are only doing Ireland. Be nice to them! They wont be the same gang that started with you but they are still family on this trip.Dublin there's basically one street for drinking and night life, the locals told us though to head a little outside of where the main drinking areas are as its cheaper to drink. We weren’t happy to pay 9 euro for a drink, so go hopping around and listen to all the live music and dance.
Do the Guinness Storehouse (if your into getting a free Guinness at the end, and see how it is supposed to taste. I became a fan of the Ruby colored beer. you'll also get a Group photo and a certificate to say you are competent in pouring a pint of Guinness.
Jamesons Distillery - Amazing! try the cocktails.
Belfast – was interesting I’d love to go back and see more, I didn’t go to the Titanic tour so a few of us got dropped into town and we went to the markets instead. Was great!
Giants Causeway- A must see!. Great scenery and a place to take photos of the beauty of Ireland.
(London)Derry- This place will blow your mind. I don’t want to spoil the history here, make sure you do the walking tour.I've forgotten his name but the walking tour guy is lovely. Pack a poncho also as it was bucketing when we did our walking tour.
Galway/Aron Islands- Again AMAZING views. Rent the bike! Other options are using the bus (you won’t see much that way) and a horse and carriage or simply walk (it will be a very looong walk).
Cork- Cliffs of Moher is beautiful and it was a clear day and time to kiss the Blarney stone too (Yes it’s safe to kiss)
Kilkenny- Another highlight to the trip, DO the bike tour and say G’day to Jason! He is great
The last night before the tour finishes there will be your last 3 course meal with everyone at a Traditional Irish dinner and Irish Dancing, DO it! I'm a big fan of traditional stuff so I highly enjoyed it.
The hotels you stay at are pretty good. Get used to the Bacon, Eggs, baked beans and haggis every morning. there's also toast, muesli fruit etc but it's the same every morning.
All in total the GB + Ireland is amazing! Everything I imagined it to be!
Review written Nov 2015event 0.3
17 Aug 2015 - 02 Sep 2015
In short, I loved this trip. I went in thinking London and Ireland were going to be my favorite places, and at the end, in beauty and scenery and fun, Scotland took the cake. There are not enough words to explain the beauty of that country. I wish i could move to England, I have never felt more at home. When I arrived back home, nothing felt right anymore. What also made the experience amazing was my wonderful roommate and the exceptional tour manager (Mike) and driver (Matt). Mike is very knowledgeable and if he doesn’t know the answer he will find out for you, a very accommodating sweet guy. Matt kept us alive! Always a smooth comfortable ride. Talk to him, he is very nice, funny and entertaining and will also give you lots of information. They added so much to the trip experience.
The Ibis hotels are great. Nothing fancy but it is clean and everything is tiny and it has a nice vibe to it.
Try the haggis, it really isn’t bad, just don’t listen to what it is made of.
Breakfast is always served buffet style (mostly) and you will encounter basically the same every time. Bacon, eggs, breads, sausage, haggis, fruit, cereals, beans. It’s really a wide selection.
The bus was ALWAYS spotless. Poor Matt cleaning up after us. But it always smelled amazing and the windows were cleaned very often. Thanks Matt! If you get car sick, then aim for the front of the bus (first seat is best. Best views and more space.) but beware after this gets out, it will become a fight to the death to get it. Another great seat is the one right in front of the charging station. You can charge your phone while using it. Oh the bus has wifi, but you have to pay for it. Womp Womp. The bus also has a bathroom, don’t use it. Nobody wants to smell pee the whole time on the trip.
The trip was a full house. 51 travelers! Mostly from Canada and Austrialia. Then there were a mix of other countries. The age group was from the very young (18) to the older crowd mid 30’s. Mosty in the early to mid 20’s.
Details in no particular order (sorry its all jumbled together in my mind at this point):
London- Get to London at LEAST one day before the tour begins. There is so much to see, all the touristy attractions, museums, pubs, coffee shops, shopping etc. When I go back I will spend at least 2 days before and after the trip to see more of London and the surrounding areas. I arrived one day early, met with my roommate and we wondered aimlessly and ended up having an amazing time away from all the craziness of central London (Primrose and Camden). The first day of the trip there is a driving tour of London so you won’t get to do anything but take pretty picture of London.
Liverpool- What an amazing city. The lady that talks about the city is amazing and easy to understand. The waterfront is beautiful and yes there is Beatles stuff everywhere. At nighttime I again left all of the main areas and wondered around to random pubs with my roommate. Yes they look at you strangely but eventually they warmed up to us. The Philharmonic is a must see, it is beautiful to sit there and have a pint or two. Also there is a pub one block over from the hotel, its relaxed and this is where I had my first real ale (I never knew that existed, your beer life will change after this).
Carlisle- Is this tiny city, that basically consists of the one main street. Everyone ended up drinking at the Wetherspoons (our first of many) across the street and if you felt like it, you walked up the road and find more pubs or dancing. It was great because the hotel is right in the heart of town, so drink up, you can just walk back to the hotel.
Oban- The hotel is right on the water, beautiful scenery. We again went to a Wetherspoons, and there was the Scottish dancing night! One of my favorites. A great way to dance with that cute boy on your tour bus or just have a laugh with the friend you have already made. Don’t be shy, just dance!
Gretna Green- Get ready for one of your to get married, and a group photo for the memory of this incredibly awkward event between two strangers.
York- Was one of my favorite stops. Cute little city, lots of pubs, lots of people. The ghost tour thing was alright, not my favorite, I would have preferred to keep walking around on my own.
Lake District- Do the high ropes activity. I was scared beyond belief, but when I was done I felt amazing that I completed it. The Windermere cruise was alright, I would have skipped it.
Edinburgh- We spent 2 nights there. Luckily we went during the festival time. The Fringe festival is a collection of merchants selling random stuff, be warned it is EXTREMLY crowded (not my scene), I also went to see the Military Tattoo. It rained beyond belief, but it was worth it. The next day I spent it at the Castle, shopping, and again just pub hopping (Rose St I think it was called).
Scottish Highlands/Lochness- This is the only place that the whole group is has to stay in the hotel. There is nothing around to do. So it ended up being a really fun night (there is a bar in the hotel) getting to know everyone. Also do the Lochness dip in the water. It is freezing cold and the rocks are slippery and slimy but hey it was a fun time!
Glasgow- This is where the travelers who only did up to Scotland leave. . Goodbye drinks, fun times. Another Wetherspoons.
Dublin- You really only need one night there, but you will spend two. Pick up the travelers who are only doing Ireland. Be nice, they haven’t been traveling with the same group for a number of days now. Basically one street for drinking, so go hopping around and listen to all the live music and dance. Do the Guinness Storehouse thing (if your into getting a free Guinness at the end, and how it is supposed to taste). Group photo time! This is also the last city for the only Ireland travelers. The Merry Ploughboy thing is nice, not sure what else you would do if you skipped this. So just do it.
Hadrians Wall- A must see! Beautiful scenery and a fantastic place to show the beauty of Scotland.
Giants Causeway- A must see. Great scenery and a place to take photos of the beauty of Ireland.
(London)Derry- This place will blow your mind. I don’t want to spoil all the history of this place, but it was a shock for me. The walking tour guy is lovely. The hotel is one of the fancier hotel you will stay at.
Galway/Aron Islands- Rent the bike! Other options are using the bus (you wont see much that way) and a horse and carriage (stinky) or simply walk (it will be a very very long walk).
Cork- Cliffs of Mohr is beautiful and time to kiss the Blarney stone.
Kilkenny- Leaves a lot to be desired. The hotel is attached to seedy looking bar, its very old and kinda smells. Not my favorite. Skip the bike tour that is offered!
Review written Sep 2015event 0.3
17 Jul 2014 - 02 Aug 2014
I enjoyed this trip immensely. Our tour guide and was amazing and she was very knowledgable, fun, and organized (Jordana you rock!!). The people where a good mix of 20's, 25's and 30's year olds so you had people to hang out with. I would say the average age would be about 25. This was my first contiki trip and would definitely recommend this trip. You see a lot of things in the least amount of time. I think that if I would do this trip on my own I would not have been able to see as much as we did on this tour. Also, if I had to choose (because of time) I would do all three places (england, scotland, ireland) but if you don't have much time would do scotland and ireland.
Review written Jun 2015event 0.3
14 May 2015 - 30 May 2015
As this was my first time leaving my home country of the United States of America, I was a bit apprehensive to join a touring group I hadn't really heard of before. Concerns aside, I booked a trip for Great Britain and Ireland and I am SO glad I did!
There is no doubt in my mind why the UK and the Emerald Isle have long held the reputation for lands of fantasy, as the scenery everywhere is gorgeous, but what makes the whole experience that much better is the comradery that develops between you and your fellow passengers. Being contained in a coach filled to the brim with other people certainly forces you to make a few friends along the way. At just 21, I now have friends that span to three corners of the globe thanks to this Contiki trip and I couldn't be more grateful.
Now for what the trip itself contains, there are TONS of ups and just a few downs.
1. You will get sick. Don't try and be macho about it- pack some vitamin C, drink tons of water, and eat full meals. Even if you do everything right, you may still fall ill, but at least you can say you tried. Trust me- you'll enjoy it ten fold if you're well.
2. Most of the fun stuff is extra money. Normally it's not a WHOLE lot extra (all of the UK excursions cost me £70 and the Ireland ones €115), but it's still more than I had anticipated spending on top of what I had already paid. Still- I'd shell out the cash, because they are pretty worth it.
3. Be prepared to sit for a LONG time. Bring your neck pillow that people make fun of because you will certainly be the envy of the bus. If you get cold super easily, you might want to bring a blanket. The bus driver and tour manager try and keep the peace, but sometimes it's hard to please everyone so just be prepared.
4. You will eat through your shoes. Yes, there are nights where everyone goes out to have a good time and dress nicely, but if you're trying to wear pretty shoes while you're hiking/biking around the Ayran Islands, you're gonna have a bad time. Bring your dorky sneakers- your feet will thank you.
1. As I've mentioned, I'm a huge fan of the friendships that form on the trip. I happen to be a loud and friendly person so it was easy for me to find people, but if you happen to be a little shyer, find one of us loud people to hang out with! Unless you really are on the trip to be by yourself, it's really hard to go through it without picking up SOMEONE that has similar interests!
2. I can't necessarily speak for all Contiki trips at this point, but my bus driver (coach driver- whatever, Max) and tour manager were fabulous. Max H. (coach driver) was super familiar with the territory and did his best to get us places on time, if not a little earlier than planned. Sometimes I was concerned with his depth perception, but he pulled through every time with narry a scratch on the bus! Tim was fantastic as well- always making sure we all felt comfortable and included as well and encouraging us to enjoy our time to the fullest extent. He's always got a fantastic attitude on and certainly made the tour that much better.
3. You get to see some brilliant sights. If you happen to do Great Britain and Ireland, you will be exposed to some of the most glorious (in my humble opinion) landscaping in the world. Be prepared for some rain, mind you, but even still, the scenery is to die for.
4. You get to meet some wonderful people. It's a fantastic thing, being able to meet people who are nothing like you. You get to see how people think. Do they drive on the left side? Does that make them do more with their left hands? Do people actually hate peanut butter as much as the Internet would lead you to believe? Why in God's name would you spread Marmite on toast and call it breakfast? There greatest thing about traveling is that these people are not like you and you get the opportunity to expose yourself to their customs and thoughts and beliefs and find out what you really want to be.
5. Direction. I've traveled with Contiki and I've traveled by myself and I must admit, Contiki did a lot more research into fun things to do than I did. It's super rigorous, so eat your Wheaties, but you don't have to wonder, "Wow! What am I gonna do today?" Contiki has got it planned!
I suppose I could go on about my personal opinions, but I think that suffices as a decent review. Thanks again for a fantastic adventure and remember to live your life with #NoRegrets!
Review written Jun 2015event 0.3
31 Jul 2014 - 16 Aug 2014
The Best Trip! went during the royal military tattoo in Scotland and that was super cool.
You get so much time to explore and the ME options were fun and informative. Made some great friends and a lot of memories.
if you want to explore Great Britain and Ireland for you first time, I recommend this tour.
Food is a little above average, it gets you through the day.
Be prepared...coach rides are long and try score seats near the front, sitting near the back, has the tendency to make you motion sick.
Review written Jun 2015event 0.3
18 Apr 2014 - 03 May 2014
It's been nearly a year since I did this tour, but I still reminisce about it all the time. I'd never travelled overseas on my own before this trip, but I've done it again since. Honestly, don't worry about travelling solo, there are many others doing the same and you'll all have the best time!
This is a bit long, but bear with me....here are some of my notes and recommendations about the places you'll visit on this trip:
-If you're a football fan, doing a tour of Anfield is a must in your free time.
-Spend some of your free time chilling at Albert Dock, very peaceful place.
-I had a blast at the Cavern Club! It's very crowded early on in the night, but give it some time and once it starts to clear out a little is a very enjoyable place. Interact with the locals!
-The narrow cobblestone streets of York are very cool. Take a stroll through the markets, you'll find some amazing food for lunch or an afternoon snack.
-Check out Clifford's Tower, you'll get some very impressive views of the city.
-DEFINITELY do the ghost walk at night. Even if you don't believe in that stuff, York is a great setting for those horror/supernatural type stories as the sun goes down. By the end, some people are so on edge, that even dull sounds in the distance start to scare them!
-Do the high ropes course! It's great fun with many laughs involved. A really good bonding exercise for those who choose to do it.
-If you do the Lake Windermere cruise, take a decent jacket!
-This is such a great city for sightseeing. Definitely check out Edinburgh Castle, then go wandering the cobblestone streets to check out the awesome architecture around the city.
-Absolutely go to the Scottish dinner and order the haggis! You're at a Scottish dinner in Edinburgh with everyone dressed up with a brilliant and hilarious bagpiper, might as well try the haggis! It tastes better than you'd imagine!
-If you're a rugby fan, take the opportunity to check out Murrayfield in your free time.
-Searching for Nessie is good fun and take a dip in Loch Ness!
-Isle of Skye. Amazing. Never have I seen such stunning natural scenery. Take the opportunity to dip your face in the freezing 'stream of eternal beauty'!
-Oban is a nice chilled out seaside town. Glenn, our awesome TM, took us Scottish Highland dancing that night and it was amazingly fun! Another really great bonding experience for the group.
-On the way you'll stop in at Stirling, check out the castle there, pretty cool way to spend a couple of hours.
I actually found Glasgow quite average, but if you're a football fan, do a stadium tour of Celtic Park. Stunning.
-The nightlife in Glasgow is really awesome, this was one of my favourite nights on tour. Everyone gets dressed up and has a super night!
*Dublin (1st time)
-The bus ride to the port and then the ferry ride from Scotland to Ireland is as good a time as any to catch up on sleep. Trust me, your body will thank you after the previous night.
-Head out to Temple Bar and check out the live music scene. Great atmosphere.
*Dublin to Derry
-Belfast is an incredibly interesting place, especially if you're a history nut like me. The peace wall and the Titanic slipways are very cool.
-Giants Causeway. Amazing. Incredible natural scenery.
-You must do the walking tour with Ronan in Derry. Such a great guy and so knowledgable. So much history there and by the end, you'll feel a great sense of empathy for what went on. The best walking tour of a city I've ever been on.
-I thought it was a pretty average place to be honest, but you MUST go and see the Aran Islands. You can ride a bike around the island all day surrounded by stunning scenery. Quite possibly my favourite place on tour.
*Galway to Cork
-Cliffs of Moher = Breathtaking, peaceful, magnificent.
-Blarney Castle - Go on, kiss the blarney stone. It makes for some cool photos!
*Cork to Kilkenny
-Not too much going on during this day, but I thought paying a few Euro to see the Rock of Cashel was worth it.
-If your TM plans to take the group to the Karaoke Bar, you must go! It's an incredibly fun night, right up there as one of the most enjoyable nights on tour! Words cannot describe.
*Dublin (last night)
-This is pretty much the last night of the tour, so make sure you sign up for the optional Irish dinner! Everyone gets dressed up again and there's some great Irish food, singing and dancing going on.
-As it's the last night, everyone's pretty tired but I'd recommend heading out to Temple Bar one last time before the trek back to London. It might even be the last time you'll see some of the group as they finish in Dublin and fly out early the next morning. So make the most of it!
*Dublin to London
-The whole day is taken up by a ferry and bus trip, with a short stop in Wales with the longest town name in history. Everyone pretty much spends the whole day sleeping on the bus. Your body will need it.
All in all, it's 16 days of awesomeness and worth every last cent. You see so much in such a short space of time. Perfect for those with only a few weeks to travel, like myself. Last few recommendations/info:
-On this trip, you don't spend much time on the bus at all which was awesome. Your sightseeing time was definitely maximised.
-Food was great, as was the accommodation.
-Travelling solo was great. As long as you're open minded, willing to make an effort to get to know people and let others get to know you, you'll be sweet. You'll have friends for life from all corners of the globe. I now have friends from NZ, South Africa, Canada, the US, Germany, Mexico and all parts of my own country, Australia. Since this trip, I've had numerous contiki reunions (even travelling interstate for these) and it's so great to catch up with my fellow travellers and reminisce about the great times we shared on this trip.
-Travelling alone and having to share a room is fine. In fact, my room-mate on this trip is now one of my football team-mates.
-If you're a student, bring your student ID - you'll get in cheaper at some of the places.
-As this trip does a quick drive through of London at the start before departing for Liverpool, I HIGHLY recommend staying another week or so after the trip in London. A lot of your new friends will do the same and after the trip is done, all you'll want to do is spend more time with them! Not to mention having enough time to properly check out one of the most amazing cities on the planet! I only spent a further day in London and regretted that, while several others did exactly what I mentioned above and had a great time.
-It doesn't matter if you're a partier or not. My group had a mix of people who partied a lot (sheepishly raises hand haha....) and people who chose to have many quiet nights in. No-one forces you to do anything and no-one minds either way if you decide to go party or stay in. I made good friends with people on both ends of that scale. It's entirely up to you!
The only downside to this trip (apart from not having enough time in London or Wales included) is that after it's all said and done, you'll miss everyone like crazy! I'm currently planning a trip to Canada (with some fellow Aussies from this tour) to catch up with the Canadians I've met from this tour.
If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up here or on facebook. I'll be happy to answer any questions you've got about anything! If you want to check out some photos of my trip, I have many up on my instagram (@adamjcp).
If you're thinking about doing this tour, just do it and don't look back. You will have the most amazing time! #noregrets
Review written Apr 2015event 0.3
16 Aug 2013 - 31 Aug 2013
This tour was a awesome time. A big thankyou to the best tour guide and bus driver cindy and aiden. Our tour group was great. We picked up more people in Scotland and then Dublin.
The Optional was great. Some of the included dinners weren't the best. We went to the Millitery tattoo which was a once in a life time thing.
My favourite places were York and Edinburgh and the Aran islands.
This is a great tour to see most things in the uk and Ireland.
enjoy you will.
Review written Mar 2015event 0.3
22 May 2014 - 07 Jun 2014
The Great Britain & Ireland trip was absolutely amazing! Our tour manager Becc was incredible and everyone else on the trip was great. This trip fully met my expectations and I don't regret anything!
Before going on this trip, I remember going through these reviews and trying to find helpful information, so I've decided to give as much as I would have liked to have read. Sorry if it's a bit long.
First off, it should be noted that this tour is a 5 part tour. There are a certain number of people starting off in London and doing the entire tour, while others do only the England and Scotland part. Some people only join in Scotland while others only join in Ireland. Whatever it is that people choose to do, you end up meeting lots of new people on this trip, which is awesome.
The night before the tour officially starts, most people meet up at the Contiki basement, get all the necessary information and then have a night out at the London pub, getting to know each other. It's a great way to just interact with everyone and feel comfortable in a foreign country. The following day, although the tour says you start in London and "see" some sights, it's literally just an early morning bus tour around London. You see everything, but you don't get out to take any pictures. A lot of people chose to arrive in London a few days early to visit and get over jet lag. I chose to add some days afterwards instead. I personally prefer my method because, after having traveled almost 3 weeks in the UK and Ireland with people, you feel a lot more comfortable and confident exploring London alone. Whatever you choose, definitely plan to have more than one day in London because it is nowhere near enough time to explore.
Although I wasn't super impressed by the Backstage Pass stuff on this tour, you definitely get the value for your money. The hotels were all amazing. Three star hotels in the UK and Ireland are perfectly respectable hotels. Almost every hotel had free wifi, though you occasionally had to leave your room to access it. The included city tours were also pretty good and our driver Chris managed to drive in a way that you would get lots of pictures from whatever side you were sitting on in the coach. I thought the food was awesome. Every morning, we got to eat an English Breakfast (eggs, hashbrowns, beans, fruits, cereal, etc.) and the included suppers usually included soup, vegetables, potatoes, some sort of meat and dessert. We often got three options for the entree, the meal and 2 dessert options.
The ME time optionals were awesome:
Ghost tour GB £5.00: It was okay. It's probably best to do it, though, since the hotel isn't in the city and the tour is after free time and the shops have all closed...
Windermere Cruise - GB £7.50: It was nice and relaxing. If you want, you can spend some time walking around Windermere instead.
Activities - GB £25.00: You can do archery, a high ropes course or rock climbing. DO NOT do rock-climbing, it's literally just in indoor wall. The high ropes course isn't the best I've been to, but it's a great bonding experience with the group and you can talk to some locals. You can also go visit the Stone Circle there after the high ropes course.
Gretna Green Group Photo - Large: GB£10.00 / Small GB £5.00: Don't bother getting it. It really isn't anything wow-worthy and, if you just want a group picture, someone will take some at some point during your trip.
Hadrian's Wall - GB £6.40: Absolutely amazing, especially on a beautiful day. The Roman ruins are cool and you get a great view of the countyside.
Scottish Evening - GB £33.50 (20-34 people) / GB £32.50 (35+ people): Definitely do this! Andy the bagpiper is a great musician and absolutely hilarious. It's also a great way to meet the new Scottish people and taste local food.
Palace of Holyroodhouse GB £11.30: Not a ME time activity. but definitely worth visiting!
Edinburgh Caste GB £16.00: Not a ME time activity but can be organized by the tour manager and worth a visit as well.
Loch Ness Jump: This wasn't actually part of the itinerary, but I definitely recommend doing it if your tour manager suggests it! It's free and a once in a lifetime experience.
Eiliean Donan Castle: Definitely visit this one! This is an actual old-school castle where people actually still live there.
National Wallace Monument GB £8.55: Really cool monument. The view of Stirling at the top is amazing as well!
Titanic Belfast GB £11.00: The best Titanic Museum you will ever see and the best museum on the entire tour.
Giant's Causeway - GB £6.50: Definitely do this!!!! Even if it's raining, it's impressive to see and just fun to explore. Don't be afraid to climb on random cliffs to get a better view.
Walking tour of Londonderry/Derry - Euro 5.00: Best walking tour of the entire trip. Definitely do this to truly understand the situation between the Replublic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Ronan, our guide, was a historian and thus very knowledgeable.
Aran Islands Visit - EUR 28.00: If you don't want to do any of the other activities, you must, at the very least, do this one. You get to spend an entire day on a small island. I rode a bike, some people took a horse carriage instead. Everyone had an awesome day since the weather was gorgeous. Definitely go up to the fort; the view is amazing and you can get awesome pictures.
Guided walking tour of Kilkenny - Euro 5.50: It was a nice tour, but it would have been awesome to actually have time to visit Kilkenny while the shops were still open, so it might be better to do that instead.
Guinness Storehouse Visit - Euro 14.50: Definitely interesting if you love Guinness. Going up to the Gravity room and learning how to pour the perfect pint is cool.
Kilmainham Gaol Euro 2.00: Not part of the ME time optionals, but definitely worth seeing!
Farewell Evening at The Merry Ploughboy Pub - Euro 47.00: Expensive, but really fun to hear some Irish music and see amazing Irish dancing. The food is amazing as well.
Overall, this trip was amazing! I was kind of nervous about sharing a room with a stranger, but my roommate was great and I never felt unsafe. I was also uncertain about the whole drinking aspect; I'd heard that Contiki was big on drinking and partying and I'm not much of a drinker or partier, but I never felt obligated to go out if I didn't want to. For those who love to drink and party, though, the tour manager arranged everything, suggested great places and I was told it was amazing. If you aren't a partier, I still recommend going out to a few pubs just to get the experience.
Make sure you bring lots of warm clothing. Bring lots of jeans and less shorts. Also, if you're a student (in the UK or elsewhere in the world), bring your student ID card; you can get a discount almost anywhere and they have serious discounts, not just a few pence.
Remember to have lots of fun on this trip! Make new friends but don't be afraid of exploring on your own as well!
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
22 May 2014 - 07 Jun 2014
This trip was everything I expected and more. It was a fun and safe way to travel alone without ever feeling unsafe. Our tour manager Becc went out of her way to make sure we saw everything possible in the time we had by making special stops and getting great photo opps. She had so much knowledge about every place we saw and I learned so much more than I ever thought I would on a trip like this. I met so many amazing people who wanted to see the same things as me and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Every hotel was more than I could ask for everything was clean and had so much space. It was beautiful scenery everywhere we went and the backstage pass included so many amazing things I will never forget seeing. I suggest this trip to anyone who wants to see these countries because it shows you so much in such little time. Our tour manager was one of the best people I've ever met and she did so much for all of us and made this the trip of a lifetime! #no regrets
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
23 Aug 2013 - 07 Sep 2013
This was an awesome trip. Matt and Rusty were great as tour manager and driver! Things included were awesome, food was great and accommodation was great. Meet some awesome people doing this trip.
Highly recommend this tour, it's a bit relaxing compared to European tours but the things you see and do in the UK and Ireland on this trip are simply amazing. I'll never forget looking for Nessie in freezing water.
Review written Sep 2013event 0.3
14 Aug 2013 - 31 Aug 2013
If you want an overview of the UK and Ireland, this tour is exactly for you! There is a mixture or urban and rural lands. The tour hits the main cities like Liverpool, York, Edinburgh, and Dublin but also hits other places like the Lake District in England and the Scottish Highlands. The best parts about my tour were my guide and driver, all the people I met, and all of the activities we got to do (including all of the optional activities)- do them!!! Food was great as well- a lot of meat and potatoes but the UK has incredible sweets as well! Best meal was the optional dinner in Edinburgh- so good! Hotels were all good too- it was a mix of hotels in the city and outside of the city. Overall- great tour! Would recommend it to anyone! Feel free to contact me if you want to hear more.
Review written Sep 2013event 0.3
10 Jul 2013 - 27 Jul 2013
Words cannot describe the amazing time that I had in the UK and Ireland. I strongly recommend this trip to any person, whether your 18 or 35. I had the time of my life. From the scenery to the night life, everything was amazing! I met a lot of great people and would not trade this experience. I now have an extended contiki family!
Review written Aug 2013event 0.3
07 Jul 2013 - 24 Jul 2013
This review will cut off part way through, so msg me if you want the whole thing.
I wrote a pretty long review for the escapade and received positive feedback from others in my situation who were tentative to go on their own. After 2 Contikis, I have learned that there is no reason to be worried about traveling solo with this company. Whether or not your are into partying, sightseeing, or a combo of both, Contiki does an excellent job of catering to everyone's interests. There are always people on the group who want to drink, those who want to sight see, and those, like myself, who enjoy the combo.
I had a phenomenal tour guide named Roxy this time around. She was genuinely interested in the happiness of the group. The Contiki personnel is exceptional, I have never had a bad experience with them. Our driver, Pat, was a crazy good driver. They will give you tips on each city, maps, and answer any questions you have. I went into this trip with very minimal knowledge of each city, so let them tell you what's cool! It's their job!
First and foremost: money. The trip ran about $2500 CAN to book. A flight from Toronto should ring you $1300 or so, don`t be stupid like me and forget to include airplane taxes and pay $1900. I am bitter. You will be eating out A LOT on this trip, but it is up to you as to where. MOST pubs cost around £12.00 for a meal plus drink. Pints ranged from £3.50-5.00 depending on the town, and soft drinks were usually £2.50 for a 200-300ml tiny bottle. Try to find Tescos and smaller shops to eat. On days where there is no included dinner, try to eat a bigger lunch and then a smaller meal (maybe street meat) at dinner. That will save you £8.00 or so, but it is nice every once in a while to get a dinner. I figure I spent about $400 CAN on gifts, but food/alcohol is the killer. Bars/Clubs can be quite costly, and some nights rang me up around £75.00. But you don't have to be stupid like me and buying people shots because they have heard of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Budget about $75.00-100.00 a day and you should be more than fine unless you are an alcoholic or buy expensive clothing/gifts. You will be charged for almost every building that you go into, and this can range from £6 to £20. Every castle, church...just be ready to drop a lot of money on sightseeing. Your tour guide will let you know what's worth visiting or not. I probably finished around $1500-1600 in extra altogether in food/gifts/drinking.
Food is generally good. Every morning you get an English Breakfast (scrambled eggs (usually shitty), bacon, sausage, toast, hash browns, beans, cereal, fruit, blood pudding, etc. Only 2x did we only get cereal. The included dinners are fairly good, only 2x or so were they sub par, but they will fill you up, and they are generally tame for people who are picky eaters. Sometimes you get options as well. The optional dinners were too expensive for what you get, but I would recommend doing them regardless.
Accommodations were fine. I am 6'5, so I had issues with how long the beds are, but for most people they would be fine. They do not have AC in most hotels, so be ready for some warm nights, especially if there is a freak heat wave like I just had. That can get uncomfortable. They paired me up with somebody and we shared rooms the entire time. If you are worried about being paired with a stranger, I'm not sure how much extra it is for your own room, but to be honest I wouldn't worry about it. Hotels ranged from standard Holiday Inns/Jury Inns/Ibis, so more character buildings like the Loch Ness Lodge and Kilford Inn. 1 hotel had a gym, so if you need to work out, it's not happening. 1 hotel had a tiny pool.
What to bring. I came prepared for every type of weather, and all we got was blistering hot weather that they never actually get there. I had 4 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 nicer shirts for going out, 10 t-shirts, 10 pairs of underwear, lots of socks, runners, nicer shoes, and sandals, a rainproof jacket, and 2 sweaters. I think that's it. All your typical grooming stuff. I just used hotel soap/shampoo, but many of the girls complained about its quality. Bring lot's of medication. Have strepsils or throat lozenges handy, because YOU WILL GET SICK. If you can, even get some antibiotics from the doctor before you come, haha. Going to the doctor in Ireland is quite easy, but in England they throw some roadblocks.
I'll start off in London. Give yourself an extra day at the start to get rid of some of the jet lag. The Royal Imperial is a nicer hotel for slightly more, but you will have to drag your luggage to the Royal National on the morning of the trip to get to your coach (really not a big deal). When you get to Heathrow, take the tube. I was afraid to the first trip I did, but holy crap is it foolproof. Just follow the signs at the airport and jump on the Piccadilly line to Cockfosters. It's actually the only train there, and ran me £5.50 opposed to a £60-£75 cab ride. From Gatwick, take the train to Victoria Station, and then a cab ride is about £15 to the National or Imperial. I will advise booking another night after your tour as well, as you will arrive quite late and probably won't make any flights on the last day of your tour...take that extra day. Consult with a travel agent to make sure the dates line up if you are unsure. Check in with the Contiki basement to see when you have to meet your group. Afterwards, grab a drink with them at the pub and get to know everyone. If you don't then it becomes more difficult down the road, as everyone already knows each other! Your tour does not include anything in London, so give yourself time to see stuff. I know it mentions that you "see" some stuff in the tour, but it is literally a drive by 30 before heading to Liverpool.
ME Time Optionals. This trip is actually quite inexpensive for MeTime Optional activities. I'll go through them and some of the stuff I saw in each city for recommendations etc.:
Liverpool -- Wasn't a fan of this place, really. The Beatles bus tour was pretty weak. The Maritime Museum isn't really worth it because there is an infinitely better Titanic Museum in Belfast. Nobody really liked Liverpool, lol. The Cavern Club was awesome and we bar-hopped after.
York -- Very cool little town. It's a neat place just to wander. I did the Jorvik Viking experience, it was neat, but definitely OPTIONAL! Like, only if you really love vikings, heh.
York Ghost Walk -- It was neat. Very inexpensive. Expect to tip all tour guides, or at least it's recommended (even when you pay for the tour).
Windermere Cruise -- somewhat pointless. Just wander around instead. It's relatively cheap, but there was nothing I couldn't see from the water. Rent a kayak instead, it would definitely be more fun. You're only there for 3 hours or so anyway, just wander around the shops.
Activities -- I can't say because our bus broke down. Only the High ropes are £25, Archery and Rock climbing are cheaper. I think your group goes there regardless, so choose something.
Edinburgh -- See the castle, the underground Close tour was really cool, I can't remember the cost.
Hadrian's Wall -- you are stuck there for about an hour. Might as well do it. I personally love it, but I am a history nerd.
Gretna Green -- don't bother. Somebody will upload the picture to facebook.
Scottish Evening -- expensive for what you get, but everyone does it, so you might as well.
St. Andrews + Loch Ness -- one of my favourite days on the trip. Breathtaking views everywhere.
Isle of Skye Day -- Amazing day, just all outdoor stuff.
Eilean Donan Castle -- go in, pay the £6 or whatever it costs. Amazing.
Stirling -- William Wallace Monument was cool, I think it was around £7. The town has a ton to see as well. The beheading stone sounds cool, but it's kind of weak.
Glasgow -- Kind of a nothing town except for the nightlife.
Dublin -- Kilmainham Gaol wouldn't let us in because we came "as a group". So be sure to find a small party and sneak in. The Leprechaun museum was NOT worth the money. You will come back here, so if anything you can use this night as a rest, as you will arrive just about when everything is closing. Either that or go drink in Temple Bar, but again you can do that the last night as well.
Belfast -- Visit the Titanic Museum. There is Titanic stuff in Liverpool (weak), and Titanic stuff in Cobh (but it's free), but this is like a super multi-million dollar museum. Just do it.
Giant's Causeway -- DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Londonderry -- Walking tour was quite good, excellent guide. He was the only one that almost 100% of the people tipped.
Galway -- There is nothing to do in Galway.
Aran Islands -- Do it, otherwise you will be stuck in Galway. But honestly, this was one of my "WOW" moments as Roxy called it. Fantastic views, amazing culture. Rent the bike, be ready for a tough day, haha. This and Giant's Causeway made my Ireland leg the best.
Blarney Castle -- Very cool. Lengthy line to kiss the stone, but you're there anyway! There's also lots of cool stuff to see around the grounds. Also, included!
Cliffs of Moher -- nice views, and included!
Jameson Distillery -- decent tour. The Guinness one is better, but you are stuck in that town. So you might as well do it, because everything was closed in the town for those who tried to save money here.
Cork -- We played ping pong, pool, and Bowling! Actually quite fun. Not included in the optionals list, but it was organized by Roxy (13 euro).
Kilkenny -- Take the tour. Actually quite a neat town. It's inexpensive anyway, some people skipped out. If you don't do it, not a huge loss. Some very neat pubs there.
Dublin Again -- Guiness tour is amazing, even if you don't like Guinness.
Remember to join your Contiki meet-up and talk with people before hand. It really makes a difference when you arrive and don't know anyone. Usually somebody makes a facebook group ahead of time, and trust me, just knowing somebody's name and attaching it to a face makes things way easier. The first couple of days, you HAVE to be outgoing. People won't just come to you. Make an effort!
Review written Jul 2013event 0.3
21 Jun 2013 - 06 Jul 2013
This was a great trip - sort of like 5 tours in one as you can stay for England and Scotland or just Scotland or just Scotland and Ireland or just Ireland or do the whole three like I did! A lot of lovely scenery and great optionals such as entry to castles or dinners like the merry ploughboys (farewell dinner) and scottish dinner (where you can try haggis!) We had Cindy as our TM who was great at showing you the best places to go.
Review written Jul 2013event 0.3
05 Oct 2012 - 20 Oct 2012
Thats the best way to descripe this tour, we saw so much got to experince such awesome adventures and all in 16 days! The tour manager and driver were both fantastic and the rest of the group was just awesome to hang out with. I've made friends that l'll stay in touch with for the rest of my life and even though we're all from different parts of Australia we've already organised to catch up and its only been 3 weeks since our tour!
I'd highly recommend this tour to anyone just starting out traveling or looking for something easy paced. The places you get to go on this tour are all mayjor tourist destinations but you dont have to stand in line or stuff around trying to organise anything yourself, its fantastic!
Big thank you to JB & Howie they made the trip one to remember!
Review written Nov 2012event 0.3
27 May 2011 - 11 Jun 2011
Awesome tour!! Loved every bit of it!! One of the best parts was the ghost tour through York!! The Crew were awesome, had the history down as we moved through each city and our Driver - I have never seen anyone park a Coach like that again!!!
Review written Oct 2012event 0.3
23 Mar 2011 - 09 Apr 2011
I could have never imagined i'd be living my dream partying in Edinburgh(My ideal hot spot) on my 19Th birthday. With such an amazing crew of people and amazing Tour guides! I've never experienced anything like the Aaran Islands & Cliffs of Moher and all the other amazing sights including the Highlands!
I will never stop dreaming of my time with Contiki!! i look forward to many more years of traveling with them!
Thank you so much!!
Review written Oct 2012event 0.3