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
23 Sep 2011 - 08 Oct 2011
My partner and I did this trip on Sept 23 - it was cooler than the rest of Europe. Be prepared for some rain and wind but its not necessarily cold. Take more than 1 jumper to wear or buy a cheap one in a Primark store (like I did) we also bought a pair of gloves each for 1 pound! There is no where to do washing until about day 10. New people join the tour in Ireland and some people leave after Scotland so the dynamics of the tour changes. We had a lot of young immature girls on our tour who were selfish and disrespectful (they ralked during important announcements from the tour manager, then asked wat time we were meeting later that was mentioned in his talk, and they were often in everyones way oblivious to the needs of others) but you can ignore them and still enjoy the highlights of the tour. Our coach was not a contiki brand so the TM couldnt hook up his music etc to the system for us (therefore no theme songs) and you couldnt charge anything on the coach - just do it overnight in your hotel - be prepared for the next day. Our driver had her bag stolen from a hotel lobby when she left it unattended - just dont leave bags unattended anytime and you'll be right. Help take bags on and off the coach it really helps everyone - (we did but the selfish young girls didnt). The food is great everywhere - full breaky every morning, great accomodation. Fun TM too. Big things to see Stonehenge, Giants Causeway, Edinburgh - its all good - go the the aran islands and hire bikes, go to jamie olivers restaurant in edinburgh (cheap and good quality and service). met some nice people on tour and have great memories . . .
(by Samantha Regan)
Review written Oct 2011event 0.3
24 Jun 2011 - 09 Jul 2011
I had a blast, my first contiki, totally worth it :) Love'd the whole lot of it! Made amazing new friends!! Got some amazing photo's! And also some terribly drunk photo's of everyone!! Cant wait to go on another Contiki!!!
Review written Sep 2011event 0.3
10 Aug 2011 - 27 Aug 2011
This summer I went on a contiki tour to Great Britain and Ireland because I always wanted to go to Ireland, but I didn't want to go only for a week. So, my sister and I decited to go all out and do England and Scotland as well, and I'm very glad that we did. I had never went with contiki before, and so I was a little bit nervous, and I never expected the amazing experience that I had. I met so many wonderful new friends from all over the world, and saw incredible architecture, culture, and scenery. I kind of wish that we had more time in a lot of the places however, because I think we all felt a little bit too rushed. In the flyer it was supposed to be "in-depth," but it wasn't really. It was more of a "go-go-go from place to place," and although it was still great, if you are looking at something with more time, this might not be exactly what you want. If you aren't...then it's awesome! I would definitely recoment this tour to anybody, especially if they love old architecture. The food was also amazing pretty much everywhere that we went, the locals were friendly, and the live pub music was like nothing else. All in all, it was a tour of a lifetime!
Review written Sep 2011event 0.3
05 May 2010 - 22 May 2010
Going on this tour was the best decision I've ever made! Having never gone anywhere or done anything on my own before, this was absolutely perfect! From the start off in London, it was just an incredible time. We got to see amazing sights, eat amazing food, and just have a fantastic time overall. Bridget & Pete were WONDERFUL as our TM and Driver. I came back home with the most amazing collection of pictures, memories and new friendships! Would absolutely recommend this tour to anyone wanting to see the highlights of the UK, and just looking to have a fantastic time :)
Review written Sep 2011event 0.3