22 Jan 2016 - 14 Feb 2016
If it is your first time traveling to Europe, I highly recommend doing the Winter Wanderer. You get to discover Europe in its amazing winter and bask in all its glory! I loved my trip! Our Trip Manager Dylan was one of the greatest people you could ask for to guide you around Europe and tell you little parts of history as you enter each city. Raf our driver was the best driver you can get! They are both incredibly trained. All the Trip Managers and Trip Driver are trained i got the chance to meet a couple while on my trip and they were very nice to talk to. I'm just being biased with Dyl and Raf as i spent 24 days with them and they helped me through everything. They are always there to support you.
I highly recommend doing all the MeTime optional's you will never again get the opportunity to do these activities with 50 young like minded people again. Even if you think the MeTime optional doesn't seem like your thing, i promise you will regret not doing it as you will hear everyone rave about it and you'll wish you did it. Treat yo'self while you are over there. Make it rain!! In the end you will only regret the things you wish you had done. I done everything i wanted to do, i made it rain and i did not regret one decision i made on that trip! I want to go over again and explore Europe in depth. You will catch the travel bug. While on the tour a couple of us decided that we would book another tour at the end of the year to New Zealand with Contiki and we are always looking at other tours they do all over the world! You have on life, one chance! Have no regrets! Take a naughty picture on top of a Swiss alp, eat as much chocolate as you can, drink all the beer in Munich, be mesmerized in Pairs by the Moulin Rouge discover and leave no city with wishing you had of done something. DO IT make your moment. Interact with your group, become friends and so close they become a new family with you, i did all that and now i have friends to see it different cities and travel buddies.
Review written Apr 2016event 0.3
14 Jan 2012 - 06 Feb 2012
This trip was what really set my travelling passion on fire!!
This was off the back of travelling around Palm springs, LA, Mexico and Hawaii.
I went with 2 best mates and met some of the coolest people in the world.
Jon was our coach and Rado was the driver. These two I bloody love!! They gave us all they could and were always there to answer any questions and partied like we expected them to!!
This was one of the best trips of my life time!!
Any questions, hit me up on FB. Would love to hear from other passionate travellers!
Review written Aug 2015event 0.3
10 Dec 2014 - 02 Jan 2015
I did the winter wanderer with my boyfriend (now my fiancé thanks to the trip!) from 10th Dec 2014- 2nd Jan 2015 (Christmas in Vienna, NYE in Amsterdam). I had never been to Europe before so I did a lot of researching and read a lot of reviews to try and prepare myself. I will try to make this review as detailed as possible to help anyone thinking or going on this tour.
Would you recommend it?
I highly recommend this tour! I had the best time of life and have honestly never been more happy and content. The memories and friends I have made on this tour I will treasure for life. I can’t describe in words how beautiful Europe is, each place is so unique and different from the next. I truly believe that if you have never been to Europe before, Contiki is the best thing you can do, and this tour was great because it went to so many places over a decent amount of time. Don’t worry about it not being enough time! Usually when we arrived in a new place we had the afternoon/night and the whole next day/night. It doesn’t sound like very long but you really squeeze everything that needs to be seen in, it’s exciting this way! Some places don’t even really need a full day to see things (eg. Nice, Lucerne, Munich, Venice) so you end up having time to chill out, sleep in, and have some fun with your new friends. Some places you will love and some places you may absolutely hate and you might be grateful that you only spend one day there (like me with Barcelona & London), in general Contiki is a great taste tester so you know where you would like to go back to and spend longer (I would really recommend you being spontaneous and revisiting places after the tour). It’s so convenient with Contiki, each day you get a map, time schedule, some suggestions where to go and where to eat, how to speak the languages, currency exchange info, and you get dropped off right in the heart of everything. Some places were quite overwhelming and a little scary, even though I was travelling with my fiancé I couldn’t imagine us travelling by ourselves and organizing everything on our own (would be so stressful!), I felt so safe and carefree with the group, all we had to do was sit back and enjoy while everything was being organized for us. Don’t be scared off by the winter season and weather, I think Europe was quite picture perfect and magical and I think everyone should experience a Europe winter! We got lucky because most of the time it was all sunshine, very cold, but nice and sunny. The coldest places were London, Prague that got to -40 while we were there, and Venice. Barcelona, Rome, Spain and Amsterdam were actually warmer than I thought (around 15-17 degrees) you could actually get away with just wearing one layer. It begun snowing on our way to Germany, in Munich and Berlin, and when we were leaving Prague (the snow actually keeps you a bit warmer as it’s insulating), but when we hit Amsterdam it was sunny again (with one day with rain). Nearly everywhere you go there is heating, in the bus, in restaurants, in the hotels, it’s usually so hot inside that you completely strip down so you’re only facing the cold for short periods of time. Winter has some benefits too, nearly every place has Christmas markets which are made up of lots of little stores, which are fun to wonder around. There are also less people which means less waiting time for high touristy places like the Eiffel tower.
What did your crew do for you?
Our bus driver (Andy) and tour guide (Boyd) were amazing, both were so great at what they do and it was so awesome that they were always coming out with the group, they took such good care of us. There were a few scenarios of lost passports, stolen money, people getting left behind in some places, but Boyd always made sure that everyone was ok, I would defiantly recommend them both. I didn’t realize that the bus driver had “specific driving times”, i.e. past certain times of night they aren’t allowed to drive, some days they have to rest, every 3hrs the bus MUST stop for a break. But if the bus couldn’t take us somewhere our tour guide would buy us train tickets and show us how to get around and back to the hotel. If we ever had questions about what to see or how to get somewhere both Andy and Boyd were really informative and helpful. If we got lost while we were out or had a question, we all had Boyd’s number and were able to call for advice.
What did you see? what did you do?
Pretty much everything on the itinerary and a bit more! Usually we would get some sort of brief tour on the bus or walking tour by our tour guide and then the rest of the day we would have to explore. Some things you only get to “see”, while other stuff you get to physically explore, it’s all up to what you want to do.
London- tour starts in the morning and you cross the English Channel on a ferry and head for France (take motion sick tablets beforehand because it is a bit bumpy). There is a lot to see and do in London so I would try get there a few days before hand. I visited St. Pauls cathedral and walked to the very top for some pretty panoramic views of London (its worth the climb), visited the tower of London (was such a rip off, not worth it!), saw London bridge, went to the winter wonderland event in London (a winter themed fair, free entry, lots and lots of fun and open most of dec/jan), went to the changing of guard (I enjoyed it but is pretty long and I would recommend getting there early to get a good spot), saw houses of parliament. Westminster abbey big ben, went to Trafalgar square (cool place to just chill out), shopping in Oxford st. Everything in London is super easy to get to on the tube, once you work out how to use it.
Paris- City of lights tour at night was great, went up the Eiffel tower, went to the Louvre, Love lock bridge, went inside Notre dame (so beautiful inside), walked to Latin Quarter (great places to eat), saw arc de triumphe and champs eylsees
Lucerne- Saw Lion monument, walked across chapel bridge, visited harry swiss watch shop, visited the swiss alps and had a snow fight so much fun (but remember snow melts!)
Lyon- we were only there for the night so just walked around and had some dinner
Barcelona- Went to fair bar at night (museu de sara) was weird but awesome, city tour on bus was good, saw sangria familia but didn’t go inside (wish I did because people said it was worth a look), walked around in the gothic quarter (cool place), shopping on La Rambla (prepare to be haggled, annoyed and paranoid because it does feel like you will get mobbed so be careful), went to Park Guel a mosaic park which was a little disappointing but had amazing views of the city
Nice- Walked along the port and beach, walked up Le Chateau for panoramic views and inside Le Chateau we checked out the cemetery that was different (maybe not for everyone), spent the day walking around and shopping
Florence- stopped at leaning tower of Pisa on the drive, there is a free walking tour that you do with Contiki and the lady was so good! We Saw ponte venchio, Dumo (defiantly go inside), statue of david, had lunch in the pizzeria strip (best pizza you will ever eat). There was a leather demonstration that I decided to miss and went shopping instead.
Rome- Started at Roman forum then to colleseum, went to travi fountain which was under construction grrr!, went to the pantheon, piazza novena, Spanish steps (nothing special), was one of the only nights we didn’t go out clubbing and guess who was at the club? Brittany Snow! Saw Vatican city (breath taking).
Venice- was so foggy could barely see! Saw st Marks square, San Marco, Doges Palace (but didn’t go inside), bridge of sighs, Rialto bridge, saw a glass blowing demonstration. Try to get lost in venice, venice is beautiful to just wonder around.
Vienna- Visited Christmas markets, played secret santa on Christmas day, saw schorunn palace, state opera house. Went inside st. stephens cathedral and up to the top for some great views
Munich- First day of snow and it was magical! Everything in Munich was shut because it was boxing day, but walked around Christmas markets, waited for the clock Glockenspiel to do its special thing which it never did! Went to traditional beer hall (greatest place on earth, drink beer and eat a pork knuckle!). There was a complementary tour included and they guy was amazing, he made everyone laugh and we learnt and saw everything that needed to be seen in Munich. It was absolutely freezing walking around at night though.
Prague- On the way there we stopped at German dachua concentration camp which was very overwhelming and depressing but a place very worth visiting. At night went to “One Tree” a bar with strippers and joined with another Contiki group it was a good night. Went to castle district (like the Disney castle), saw Lennon wall, walked over Charles bridge, went to old town square and saw astronomical clock (be careful of pick pocketers) and walked around Christmas markets
Berlin- Stopped in Dresden for lunch a cute little town, which was beautiful covered knee deep in snow, walked along east side gallery, city tour on bus, saw checkpoint Charlie, berlin wall, Brandenburg gate, holocaust memorial
Amsterdam- The last stop. We decided to commute back home from Amsterdam rather than flying back from London and I would really recommend this to anyone because Amsterdam is a beautiful relaxed place with plenty to see and do, it gave us some time to recover before we headed home. Amsterdam is also as easy to get around as London due to the trams which are everywhere. We arrived with Contiki on NYE and Contiki organized a NYE party with all of the other Contiki groups that were there for NYE, we got told that we were hiring out the club for the night and everyone was so excited about having a club with only Contiki there (we all paid a small fee) but this was probably the most disappointing thing of our whole tour. The night began in the Dam, we walked into Red light district where the group got split and lost because there were so many people in town. It was a pretty crazy place to be and a bit scary because nearly everyone was lighting dangerous firecrackers which would literally blow up bins and set off all the car alarms in the street. I was scared that someone was going to get seriously hurt, and my ear started bleeding when one got set off so close to me, my ear hurt for a week after that night! There was also a lot of sleezy men hanging around and some of the girls were getting felt up, luckily the men in our Contiki group were there to help. When we got to the “club” it turned out to be a small bar/restaurant that they turned into a club for the night. There were so many people (not just Contiki), there was no venting and a lot of smoke from the smoke machine that everyone was dying from the heat! The drinks were ridiculously expensive ($50 for a vodka and redbull) and it took 1hr waiting in line just to get served. Toilets were no better and you had to pay to use them. The DJ was playing crap, no music that anyone knew. Nearly the whole tour left and went back to the hotel after the countdown. But what else were we supposed to do? All of our group went to that club so it wouldn’t of been the same if we all celebrated NYE separated. The next day we went to the sex museum (defiantly go there, it’s a lot of fun! There are manikins that move inappropriately!), we went to cheese farm and watched a clog demonstration. After we said goodbye to Contiki on the 2nd, my fiancé and I visited the Heineken factory (awesome experience), Van Gough museum, visited Anne Frank house and Condomerie shop.
What were the optionals like?
Everything I read before I left told me to do all of the optionals, so I did them all. Most of them were great fun, but others were actually horrible! I don’t regret them because when I think back on them I laugh a little but they were seriously a waste of time and money.
Moulin Rouge – It’s a lot of money and probably not worth what your paying but it’s a MUST do when in Paris. The dancing wasn’t very good and it’s obvious they lip sing, and yes most of the girls are topless which can be a little awkward. The best parts were the fillers between the dancing (ie. Girl dancing with snakes in water tank). The food was a bit of a hit and miss. But I still enjoyed the show. Afterwards we all went to O’sullivans next door and danced the night away, the whole group was there and we all had so much fun, was defiantly a bonding experience for the group on our first night out.
Mt. Pilatus – This is defiantly a must do. You ride in a cable car up to the top of the mountain and look at the most breath taking view of the swiss alps. Everyone was playing in the snow, for most of us it was the first time we had ever seen snow! We all had a snow flight, made snowmans, and some of us had beer cones with a beer someone snuck up (was yummy!).
Swiss Fondue Lunch – Swiss Fondue is cheese, not chocolate! The meal is delicious, you get bread to dip into the hot cheese and then you get a sausage for the main.
Tablao de Carmen (flamingo show) – I didn’t like Barcelona but really enjoyed the show! I have never seen anything like it! The food was pretty good too! It’s a big cultural experience.
Monaco Dinner – We all dressed up fancy and headed to Monaco for the night. Monaco is so pretty at night. The food was right next to the palace and decent. After dinner we went to Monte Carlo casino! Such a beautiful building, I felt so rich walking inside, the toilets even self clean themselves! But still can’t believe how small the casino actually is! Was a good night would recommend it.
Tuscan Evening – This is one of the optionals I wouldn’t recommend. It was so far away! We drove for almost 2-3hours! When we got there it was completely black, I had no idea what the place actually looked like. And then afterwards we had to come all the way back into the city for the Space Electronic disco. The food was delicious but it was way too much! We got hams/prosciuttos and bread to begin with, then risotto and lasagna and everyone was full after that, then we all had to try eat steak, potato and desert. We all couldn’t move. I don’t think the food was worth the money and the huge drive when every restaurant in Italy is amazing, you can get amazing food everywhere in Italy! So I would recommend getting the bus to drop you off near the disco, eating and then meeting everyone there afterwards.
Space Electronic Disco – This was a pretty groovy place with a card you use to get drinks, karaoke, LED paint. The music was great and everyone had fun, the only bad thing I would say is that the Italians there were very young and I felt weird dancing among young teenagers.
Souvenir group photo – Everyone should get this. The picture is a nice keep safe and comes in a little card cover, which everyone signed at the end of the tour with a little comment, its nice to read them now that the tour is over.
Vatican Tour – Must do, the Vatican is huge and the tour takes you inside the Sistine chapel, into the museums and into St. Peters Basilica. I have never seen anything like it, all of the art and the detail in the ceilings. I was really blown away.
Rome of the Emperors and Gladiators including the Colloseum – Another must do, the guide is so informative, learnt so much about the history and I found it so interesting. Plus: you get to skip all of the lines!
Venice walking tour – Such a good tour, we all got ear pieces and walked with her around the streets, it didn’t go for long was short and sweet and covered all of the main sights. But Venice is small so you probably could give it a miss and do it yourself.
Gondola ride – Must do when in venice! Everyone formed groups of 6, was about 30mins long. Was so beautiful going around all of the canals and under the bridges
Venetian Dinner – I have never eaten so much in my life! I would recommend it because its really bang for your buck. Venice is very expensive, most restaurants charge you 30% on top of your bill so it works out better to do this dinner rather than finding somewhere yourself. The one person who didn’t do this dinner actually got lost and left behind in venice.
Tour t-shirts – Everyone actually got jumpers, they were cool because they had the map on the back and was another piece of clean clothing to keep us warm. I still wear mine all of the time.
Mozart and Strauss Concert with Dinner – Classical music isn’t for everyone so not everyone came to this. I really enjoyed it though, I have never seen a live orchestra and it was really cultural, mid way through the show we got to meet the orchestra back stage which was cool and we got complementary champagne.
Old Vienna Schnaps Museum – Everyone went and everyone enjoyed. The guy who runs the museum is very charismatic and got everyone laughing. We all got schnaps to taste and nearly everyone bought some.
River cruise with buffet meal – This was a lovely optional, it went up and down the main river that flows under Charles bridge, it was a great view with all you could eat. Everyone got two complementary drinks as well.
Nuclear Bunker Tour – This was stupid! I’m pretty sure the bunker is actually fake! I hated it! It also wasted 3hours when I could have been using this time to explore beautiful Prague. Don’t be roped into doing this.
Haunted Histories by Night – This is as stupid as the Nuclear Bunker tour, and the guy who did this tour was also the same nuclear bunker guy. He dressed up in a grim reaper outfit and tried to scare us the whole night. The stories weren’t scary and sounded completely made up. It was -40 that night and all of the girls were in dresses ready to party and we almost froze to death listening to this guy. If I could have escaped I would have so don’t do it, it’s so bad!
Berlin historical walking tour – Best Walking tour. It went for 3hrs, and there was a lot of walking but was so informative. German history is fascinating, and the your guide was so passionate about it. You see everything in this tour, including the holocaust memorial. If your going to pick a tour, this is the tour you cant miss.
Eye Spy Berlin – This was disappointing. It was supposed to be a scavenge hunt bar hop but there wasn’t really any clues or scavenging and the bars were horrible and dodgy. The only good thing about this was that we got free entry into this club called the Matrix and we got to skip the biggest line into this club. It was really awesome inside; there were so many rooms with good music. But with all the walking during the day I was so tired! I only ended up staying an hour.
Volendam Dinner – This was a bit of a drive, but it was the last night together as a group. The food was delicious, the restaurant was really nice.
Canal Cruise- Must do. Was the best way to finish the tour. The cruise went around the canals of Amsterdam and there was a show of lights, we went under colourful rainbows, in between giant tulips light, past a ship made with water mist. All while drinking all you can drink.
Sex show- In Amsterdam there is also a extra optional wear you go and watch a sex show. It is awkward to watch, but I think its something everyone has to do and experience, plus you get two free drinks. Just don’t make eye contact when they ask for audience participation.
What food did you eat?
Breakfasts are included at each hotel, don’t expect anything special because Europeans don’t believe in breakfasts, they usually have a smoke and a coffee. The breakfast at most hotels consisted of an array of bread and croissants, and sometimes cereal. Lunch you usually sort out yourself while your wandering about, on driving days there is usually a lunch stop at the service station where you can buy a hot meal. Some dinners are included at the hotel, in Lucerne the dinners were so yummy, Barcelona was also pretty good, the worst meal was in Paris where we got a slice of ham and chips. Some of the dinners are also out and about, in Vienna we had a lovely chicken schnitzel with beer, and in Lyon we got to chose where to eat and then got reimbursed the money we spent on food.
How was the transport?
Expect to be on the coach every second day. Some driving days are so long, the longest was the trip from Rome to Venice when we didn’t get to the hotel until 10pm due to having to take a detour around a car crash on the main highway. Lyon to Barcelona was also a very long day, approx. 10hour drive. Other trips are only short 4hr drives. On driving days you do have to get up early as the coach has a strict time schedule, most mornings you have to leave by 7:30 or 8:30. The coaches are pretty comfy and music is always playing. Some drives had some great scenic views and it was nice looking out the window listening to music. The coach will always stop every 2-3hours for half hour- 1 hour, this gives really helps make the time go quicker and the driving part doesn’t seem as bad. For the really long drives the tour guide had some games for us to play (guess the movie or show where the music is from), and one day we had a serious modern day family marathon that helped kill the time. Majority of the people spend the time on the bus sleeping. There is a toilet on the coach that you’re told to only use in emergency. Food and drinks are allowed but we had to always put everything in the rubbish at the end of the day. There were power points to charge electronics. If you get motion sick don’t sick at the back of the bus, its very hot and bumpy back there.
What were your tour mates like?
There were 50 people on my tour and it was a very mixed bunch of people. Only 8 people weren’t from Australia. There were only 9 or so guys and the rest were girls, which did at times cause issues as some of the guys had some flings with multiple girls. There were about 6 couples on tour. I think because our tour went of Christmas and NYE that it was more of a party bus, but not everyone was the same. Some people never went out, some people went out every single night, and some people were a little bit of both. It was a little bit like high school, cliques did form, but by the end of the tour it was like a family, everyone got along with everyone. I would suggest not going over NYE if you’re not a partying type of person.
Describe your accommodation?
You’re not in your hotel rooms very much but most hotels were around 3-star. The worst accommodation was London Royal National Hotel, if you can, stay away from that hotel, its really easy to get the Contiki start place anyway as there is a tube stop right there. Some hotels like Paris, Florence, Rome and Barcelona were really far away from the city but close to train stops so wasn’t difficult to get into the city. Venice was a whole boat ride away! But as the boats ran till 10pm we spent the whole day in Venice, had dinner there and then caught the last boat back, then the coach took us back to the hotel. Had no bed bug dramas, all of the hotels were clean, all had heating. Most had free Wi-Fi, and at two of the hotels (nice and Prague, I think?) a laundry service was available.
Seeing the white chalk cliffs of Dover.
Seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night.
The Moulin Rouge night out.
Putting a lovelock on Lockbridge and throwing away the key.
Snow fights and beer cones on the Swiss Alps.
Driving along the French Rivera at sunrise.
Seeing the Vatican museums and Sistine chapel.
Walking around inside the Colleseum.
Riding in a Gondola and playing “Gangsters paradise”.
Hofbrauhaus beer and pork knuckles and getting so drunk.
Eating all of the food and drinking hot chocolates at all of the Christmas markets.
Canal cruise in Amsterdam.
Visiting the Anne Frank House.
-Clothing: dress in layers (singlets, thermal tops/pants, long thin tops, thicker sweaters/tops, coats, scarfs, gloves, beanies, thermal socks)
-Pack less than half it again. Remember that Europe is accustomed to the weather; the shops there have thicker clothes, warmer coats and warmer shoes. If you can, buy most of your winter essentials while your there.
-Warm waterproof/snow proof shoes. Best to buy over there, I took 3 pairs of shoes and only one pair stood up to the cold. The bottom of the shoe has to have a thick sole because the cold will travel up your shoe, and it’s a painful kind of cold. Make sure to have nice thick socks.
-Don’t bring heals, stick to flats and wedges
-Bring going out clothes as you will go out a lot, dress appropriately and wear long sleeve dresses with stockings, or nice pants and a top because it’s too cold to have skin exposed!
-Bring a small amount of washing powder so that you can wash your clothes in the hotel sink if you need to (especially with underwear). I brought cheap undies that I threw out after I wore them so I didn’t have to keep washing.
-Stock up on medical supplies, Panadol for hangovers and cold and flu tablets. You get run down so quickly because your always on the move with little sleep, if you take vitamins a few weeks before you leave you might get lucky.
-Get a money card so that you don’t have to exchange money all the time or carry large amounts of money around.
-There is a back entrance to the Louvre, a secret staircase just in front of the arch (smaller version of the arc de Triumph) that lets you skip the cue.
-Take a good camera. You only have one shot to capture the moment to help you remember your trip.
-You can drink from all of the taps except Barcelona, make sure you stick with bottle water there.
-Before you go to sleep at night, pack everything ready to go, that way you have time for breakfast and if you have a late night you wont miss the coach.
-Take a hotel business card at every hotel that way if you need to get a taxi home at night you can show them the card.
-Bring a good book to read for driving days, they help pass the time.
-Buy a travel journal and commit to writing in it when you have driving days. I wrote in mine everyday and I am so thankful because it helps me remember all the small details, which I would have forgotten over time.
-Drinking out is expensive so try to buy drinks and pre drink at the hotel before you go out to save money
-Buy something for yourself in each place, something that you can keep forever. Postcards are good because they are cheap and you can buy one in every place.
-Be cautious of pick pocketers! If you carry around a handbag or backpack use the “keychain” technique where you thread around a keyring hoop into the zipper so that no one can easily open your zipper and steal from you without you knowing. If you put a lock on your backpack your practically telling everyone that there is something worth stealing, but a keyring (even less conspicuous, a tourist keychain) is not noticeable.
-Book Anne Frank house tickets before you leave other wise you will be waiting for hours in line
-If you go to the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam buy your tickets at the Cobra bar to skip the cue.
-If you know your going to be overweight, don’t post your stuff home from anywhere (especially London) except Amsterdam, Amsterdam is the cheapest place to send home your stuff and you can do it from any post office.
-Don’t be shy, make friends straight away before cliques form.
-Don’t stress about money, just remember you might only be there once so make the most of the trip, leave with no regrets, you can always pay off your debts when you come home.
Review written Jun 2015event 0.3
07 Nov 2014 - 30 Nov 2014
This was my second Contiki in Western Europe, I chose to do another one because I had the time of my life the first time and didn't even have to think twice about doing it again. I chose the Winter Wanderer because it was the opposite to my first trip - winter rather than summer, hotels over hostels, travelling with a friend rather than solo and nearly twice as long. I was slightly apprehensive about the fact that this trip may not live up to the high expectations which had been set following my first incredible Contiki. But I had no need to be worried, this trip far exceeded anything I could have imagined.
Admittedly this was partly due to luck, we had the most incredible group of people and we all got along so well and still keep in touch daily. Our tour manager and driver were also a major factor that made this trip so amazing, I can't even express how much I appreciate everything they did for us, way beyond their call of duty. Like getting everyone together and organising free metro tickets on our first night to go into the city and see the Eiffel Tower light show at 11pm. Earlier that day our bus had broken down and we were stuck at a garage a few hours outside Paris for most of the afternoon, which meant we arrived in Paris very late and our driver didn't have any driving time left to take us on the Paris by Night tour.
Both our bad luck and the over and above effort of the Contiki team continued throughout the tour. Our time in Italy was effected by severe flooding and a short 5 hour drive turned into an entire day on the bus stuck in classic Italian traffic and twisting and turning through mountain ranges. This being said I wouldn't change one thing about the entire trip. Even though I'd been to about half the cities before I barely doubled up on experiences and sights.
Some of the highlights were jumping the queue to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Musee D'Orsay on our free day in Paris, staying in perfect Lucerne in the Swiss Alps, partying the night away at a sangria bar in Barcelona, eating far two many courses in Italy, visiting the Christmas markets in Vienna and Berlin, trying ice-skating at these markets in Berlin, the entire time spent in Prague and the Rjiksmuseum in Amsterdam. Although not technically on the Contiki itinerary, visiting Hyde Park Winter Wonderland was a perfect way to end the trip with a big group getting together and heading there once we returned to London at the end.
If you're thinking of booking this tour, just do it. If you don't have the time of your life then you only have yourself to blame. I loved every second! And remember, it's not just about the places you see but the journey along the way and the relationships you make whilst travelling.
Review written May 2015event 0.3
15 Mar 2013 - 07 Apr 2013
This is a great quick way to see Western Europe. The guides are amazing big shout out to hannah she's the best. You will cover all the sites you always see in the movies and on TV. My advice be prepared to take all the opportunities they offer you.
Review written Apr 2015event 0.3
29 Dec 2012 - 21 Jan 2013
I did this tour two years ago, so it's been a while, but as I'm about to finally do my 2nd Contiki I thought I'd review the first!
It is a great way to tick so many boxes in Europe - It's crazy to think how many countries I've visited, and now I know which places I want to see again in more details.
It was soooo cold, but I packed accordingly and it was nice to have snow as we walked through places like Prague and Amsterdam.
The best thing about this tour is because it's in winter, there aren't so many tourists, and you get to see places in a different light, other than the sunny postcard pictures most people imagine in summer.
The people were amazing - our tour guide and driver, Laura and Andras were phenomenal. Our bus was full of Aussies, and they were so much fun. Heaps of couples, which was perfect for us as we were also a couple, but also a group of singles who bed hopped a bit.
If it's your first Contiki, do it. It's awesome, and just long enough to say you've had a great time, and you're ready to go home at the end!
Take way more money than you think you'll need. There are extra things to do all over the place, and there were some people on our trip who couldn't afford it and it sucked for them, and also for us because we didn't want to talk about it in front of them.
Review written Apr 2015event 0.3
31 Dec 2014 - 23 Jan 2015
Where do i start? This trip was hands-down the best experience I've had in life so far.
I've met some great personalities whom I'm sure I'll be friends with for life, some mind-blowing cities in Europe and had the most interesting experiences I will never forget!
Our awesome tour manager Greg was very informative and humorous and our friendly driver Francisco 'Chico' was also a great laugh and an extremely skilled coach driver.
The sites we saw were breath-taking from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the IAmsterdam sign in Amsterdam and all in between.
- pack layers, layers and more layers (I'm one to freeze even in Aussie winters ,but taking and wearing lots of layers helped a tonne!)
- it is likely you will catch the cold/flu, so pack enough vitamins, meds etc to get you started and there are chemists on every corner so stock up when needed.
- do all the optional extras and make the most of nights on the town with the group.
- be prepared to stay out late and wake up early
- take a book/ e reader, ipod, iPad, playing cards etc for bus days
- there was a mix of solo travellers, couples (we had 2 lovely married couples on our trip) and large friendship groups who all got a long and mingled with each other.
You won't regret going on this tour! #noregrets
Review written Mar 2015event 0.3
07 Nov 2014 - 30 Nov 2014
This was my first time travelling so it was very daunting at first but the tour I picked was amazing!! Our tour manager and bus driver were beyond fantastic and went out of their way to make this experience both easy and a 'once in a life time trip' (you'll hear this a lot with Contiki) but it honestly is. The included activities are amazing and some even breath-taking. The accommodation is great, and there was even wifi (which believe me, you crave). I opted to do most of the optional activities which I am glad I did, I tried some things that in my normal life I probably wouldn't have, I ate some weird food (frog legs, snails, beef cheek, just to name a few). But, most of all- I met some of the most kind and amazing people that I have ever met in my entire life. At the beginning of the trip they will tell you 'you'll have 50 new friends by the end of this trip' and you look around and think 'maybe 20 if that' but in all seriousness by the end of your trip you really will have 50 brand new and life long friends, even the people you looked at on the first day and thought 'no way in hell'. I am so glad I went with Contiki for my first trip and I am already researching and planning my second and third. Even if you aren't a party animal but someone who wants to breathe in the sights and relive the history, Contiki is still a place you can do that. I will remember my trip and the people for the rest of my life. I sincerely hope you get the chance to say that about your trip one day soon.
Review written Dec 2014event 0.3
24 Oct 2014 - 16 Nov 2014
I am just writing in to say that this Contiki trip was absolutely amazing! Rhi (our tour manager) and Sandro (our coach driver) were beyond a doubt the best any trip could ever ask for! I have #noregrets whatsoever and that's all because of these two fantastic people!! Thank you Rhi and Sandro making this a trip of a lifetime!! xoxox
Review written Nov 2014event 0.3
17 Jan 2014 - 09 Feb 2014
Such an amazing time with a great bunch of people! Seeing all the tourist attractions especially the Alps and roads were covered with snow! Everything was so picturesque! Tour Manager Trent always went above and beyond and did everything he could to make our trip amazing. You get the best parts of Europe handed to you!
Definitely recommend! Just remember to rug up!
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
08 Nov 2013 - 01 Dec 2013
Well this is it. I don't know if it was because we had the greatest team or not, but hey. A definate trip of a life time. Something I will never forget and have never regreted ;)
Don't be fooled, depending on when you go you will be amazed by the weather. We had sunshine and warm days in the begining of the trip. As soon as we entered Germany-Austria it was snow from then on out.
Contiki is what you make it. I didn't go out much as I wanted to be aware of what I was seeing and be able to take in what was around me. Thank god I did, because I would have missed out on so many stories and walking trips with the tour guide. For example, I saw Prauge at night, when others decided to head out and drink. Also went to an amusement park in Austria (not planned)
On average I spent about $1,500 extra on my trip (this was for the times that we didn't have lunch or dinner planned)
If you are going on your own, have no fear, everyone is there for you, you'll find your niche of friends. It happens, trust me!
Also DO ALL THE ADD ON EXTRAS!!! boy am I a little annoyed I didn't do that.
Don't get the group photo. But do get the T-shirt/Hoodie (in the picture)
Review written May 2014event 0.3
22 Nov 2013 - 15 Dec 2013
My boyfriend and I literally had the best time of our lives. This tour was great, we got to see so much and experience an amazing European winter! Heads up the included meals aren't the best but they're decent for what you pay for. We did almost all of the optionals so make sure you budget for the extras. Our tour guide Jamie was amazing she was so dedicated and helpful. Our bus driver was awesome too, he was the best driver. Our hotels were decent and mostly central to everything. We met such great people too. It really packed so much into the time we had and we were able to get the most out of our holiday. Would recommend this tour to anyone!
Review written Apr 2014event 0.3
19 Oct 2012 - 11 Nov 2012
This tour is fantastic if you have a short amount of time to see the highlights of europe! There were 53 of us on the first tour of the season, mostly aussies! Matt was group leader and Ana was our bus driver, both GREAT at what they do! Obviously 24 days isnt alot of time to take in 12 different countries and there were more than a few early mornings & travel days. That being said when we did arrive at a new destination we sure as hell made the most of our time. Mostly everyone joined in the optional extras which were around $600 on top of the tour. Thanks again to Matt, Ana & everyone who made my trip unforgettable. You will not regret this tour!
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
BEST TIME OF MY ABSOLUTE LIFE!
still friends with so many people on my contiki, the tour guide and bus driver were amazing, great food, great accomodation, you get to see the best countries in the world- it doesnt matter that it is winter time, you get so drunk that you don't even feel the cold haha... it is seriously so much fun and i recommend it to anyone!!! :)
Review written May 2013event 0.3
06 Feb 2010 - 01 Mar 2010
It was my first trip overseas and I went solo - an experience I'll never forget or regret. Winter was fantastic - no crowds, no lines so able to see as much as possible and heaps cheaper too (plus I like the cold so it didnt bother me but we also had an amazing run of seasonally abnormal sunny days). All in all, I had an amazing time and meet some amazing people. It was a great way to get a taste of everything so I know what to come back - totally reccomend for anyone on a budget and doesnt mind the cold and would like to see Europe in a different light :-)
Review written May 2013event 0.3
15 Oct 2011 - 07 Nov 2011
Had the most amazing time. Going back to do the Greek Islands in 2013.
Our group was amazing and Majeic (Bus driver) and Sophia (guide) were just incredible and awesome people! Sophia knew many things about Europe and It was so easy to contain the information.
CONTIKIIIIII follow the right leaddeeerrrrr
Review written Dec 2012event 0.3
26 Oct 2012 - 18 Nov 2012
Only a few days ago I finished this tour. I am left breathless by the amount packed into this tour & how I have experienced Europe. It was amazing. There is no other way to pack all of this incredible adventuring into 24 days & contiki have shone by providing everything that a young traveller would need and want. I had such an fantastic time & if you are after the ultimate winter extravaganza, this is your tour!!!
Review written Nov 2012event 0.3
29 Oct 2011 - 21 Nov 2011
I couldn't write nicer things about this tour. I had the most amazing experience, saw beautiful places and met awesome people! The tour manager and the driver were very helpful and educated, gave us really cool tips and organised everything! Try and do all the optionals, although it is good to wander off and explore the city youre at!
Bus rides are loong, so load your ipad/laptop etc with movies and books, and a pillow (or you can steal one from a hotel)...
Prague was my favourite city, it's really charming.
Review written Nov 2012event 0.3