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
01 Jun 2012 - 16 Jun 2012
I decided to take this tour as a starting point to see where I wanted to go back to in the UK (as I am now living in England for a couple of years). It was a great snapshot of the UK - we went to the best cities and I think the time spent in each was perfect. I loved everywhere we went but Dublin was the best - Wolverhampton was the best for cheap drinks (1 pound vouchers!) and the Aran Islands were just gorgeous - its an optional to go there for the day but its worth it, it did rain a little but we had a great time exploring and the day ended with lots of sunshine. Our tour manager, Glenn, and driver Nick, were fantastic - Glenn knew lots of history and interesting facts about everywhere we went and Nick was a great driver - I never felt sick once considering all of the small and winding roads in the UK. I tried (someone else's) haggis in Scotland - it was a weird experience! And all of the other food we had was pretty good - there was always a hot/cooked breakfast (which was great after a hangover!) and lunch was easy to find. I met some great people from all over the world and still keep in touch with them. There were only 2 faults with the tour - the first being I would of loved a stay in Wales - we only drove through from the port in Holyhead and I would of loved the tour to be longer! At least 3 weeks to see more places, hang out with my new friends and party!. Do it if you can!.
Review written Oct 2012event 0.3
30 Sep 2011 - 15 Oct 2011
Definitely do this trip if you want to see the UK and have a limited time. Covered heaps of ground and saw so much but at the same time it wasn't endless hours on the bus with no stops... stopping at places during the day really broke up the trip.
I did most of the optionals, recommend the optional dinners, everyone had a great time and I think most people bonded over these. Accommodation was very good, especially after being in Europe... even got a double bed each in some hotels!!
I did this trip solo and I would go back in a heartbeat. Met some amazing people, had a ball, and got to experience some of the most beautiful sights in the world! Oooo not to mention eating copious amounts of scones... yumm!!!
Review written Jun 2012event 0.3
02 May 2012 - 19 May 2012
I recently just returned from this trip!! First off, it was a blast!! The sights were amazing, the people were even better and our tour manger, Michelle, and our bus driver, Tony, were even better!! They made the trip totally worth it!! Don't miss out on this great opportunity!! You see so many things in such a short period of time!!! I highly recommend this tour!!
Review written May 2012event 0.3
10 Jun 2011 - 25 Jun 2011
I can honestly say that I had the best time of my life on this tour.
It wasn't just the amazing sights I saw, it wasn't the experiences that I will never forget. It was mostly about being in another part of the world and experiencing these unforgettable moments with people that appreciated them as much as I did.
I was a first time solo traveller and extremely excited about jet setting off on my first overseas experience. The first day on tour I met up with two girls that had befriended on the Contiki website. I was nervous about meeting the rest of the group, expecting the other travellers to all know each other. To my surprise, about 90% were travelling solo. I could see that most of the other travellers were as nervous as I was, so after the initial meeting we all hit The London Pub to get to know each other before the tour started, by the way, great location for the Pub.
Throughout the entire trip our tour manager and bus driver, in this instance Patrick and Dan, were just amazing. They would come out with us when they could and were always there just for a chat. Being an Aussie myself and having two Aussie blokes around to just talk about home or kick a footy around was great (an AFL footy, in case your wondering).
The amount we saw on this trip even astounded me. For what I paid and the time that we were on tour, the amount that we saw almost defied the laws of physics. From walking around Stonehenge to kissing the Blarney Stone, eating haggis (which is actually quite nice) and cursing around the Aran Islands, everything that I saw and experiences was seared into my mind. Though it was fast paced, it made it possible to fit so much in.
The accommodation was above what I expected for a budget tour, I was very impressed with the rooms and even more so because they were in Hotels. The food was also above what I expected, the breakfasts were always hot and filling, a great way cure any hangover. The dinners provided were all very good.
The extra dinners and activities were definitely worth the money. I was lucky enough to do every optional activity and I would recommend it to everyone. The experiences are worth so much more then a tacky souvenir.
I cant actually say that I had a favourite moment, I would feel like I was cheating on all my other moments if I chose one. Their was nothing I didn't love about my time on tour. I would recommend Contiki to anyone who wants to experience the world and have an amazing time doing it. If you do choose Contiki you will never ever regret it. You will take away moments that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Review written Apr 2012event 0.3
23 Mar 2012 - 07 Apr 2012
This was my first contiki and also my first overseas trip (besides New Zealand with my family) completely solo. Not only is it a perfect way to see the world on a budget but you don't have to worry about travelling alone. As Glenn, our tour manager, elequently put it we were a "portable party". It was really easy to make friends as most people are like-minded and want to socialise The Jameson Distillery was one of my favourite optionals. Edinburgh and Galway were my favourite cities (which was great seeing as we had 2 day stop overs in both).
I'm not a huge drinker and before I left I was a bit worried that it would be all partying but it was really relaxed, if people wanted to go out then you had someone to drink with but it wasn't something you HAD to do, but I must say that those nights were amazing! After this tour I went to Paris by myself and I really missed the contiki group and having people to talk to. I will definitely travel with contiki again.
Review written Apr 2012event 0.3
02 Jun 2010 - 19 Jun 2010
Great Britain and Ireland is actually 3 tours that put together - England, Scotland and Ireland. You see more castles on this tour and learn more about history than any other tour that i've been on. I've done 4 contikis so far.
Review written Apr 2012event 0.3
04 May 2011 - 21 May 2011
Contiki Rocked my little world on this trip. I loved it all. I have recomended contiki to a few friends of mine and Im going on a nother contiki trip soon. the friend I maid on this trip are amazing. It was the best trip ever and I hope to repeat it soon.
Review written Feb 2012event 0.3