17 Jan 2015 - 24 Jan 2015
This trip was fantastic! It was my first Contiki tour and it was exactly what I was looking for - I wanted to do a short trip to get a feel for Contiki tours, see what they were like and see whether I would consider doing another one in the future. I travelled alone and that was definitely a great decision - I made so many new friends and I don't think I would have made as many friends if I travelled with someone else.
This trip definitely exceeded my expectations. Our tour manager (Vinnie) was absolutely amazing - can't speak highly enough of him...he knew everything there was to know about all of the places we visited, he was laid back, hilarious, fun and really made it his mission for us to have the best time ever. He even organised transfers from the hotel to the airport for everyone flying out from Venice at the conclusion of the trip. The accommodation was pretty good (much better than I expected!).
This tour allows you to see all of the main tourist attractions in each city. The included activities were great. Considering that we also had a lot of free time (almost 6 hours in each city that we visited), you also had the chance to do exactly what you wanted, including experiencing the not-so-touristy aspects. I definitely ticked all of the things I wanted to see off my list! I would absolutely recommend climbing the Bell Tower and Duomo in Florence...the views are a must see and you can really appreciate the view after climbing the 3000 steps (approx. in total). When I first found out that we had so much free time, I did wonder what I was going to do to fill it, but our tour manager was able to give us great advice about what to see/do and what was worth our time and money. As it turns out, we had the perfect amount of free time.
The included dinners were nice, and the optional dinners were fantastic (highly recommend). The optional pasta making class was a lot of fun so I would also recommend doing that. The included breakfasts were pretty good so a lot of people filled up on breakfast on the days that we were going to have a big dinner, and then you could just have gelato or something small for lunch.
As it was a short trip, I did all of the optional things and I think that was a good decision. The optional night at the club in Florence is definitely worthwhile! There's not a lot of driving on this trip which I thought was a definite plus, it didn't take all that long to get from city to city. Everyone on my tour was fantastic and we had so much fun together....the people definitely make the trip!
The only downside is that we didn't have enough time in Venice (there's so much to see and we only saw a small portion)....a lot of people spent a few more days in Venice after the end of the tour which I would recommend. Also, whilst we did go out and party a bit on this trip, if your sole purpose is to go out and party, this probably isn't the tour for you. We had lots of fun and had two nights out, but I think everyone on my tour was there to experience the Italian culture more than anything.
I will definitely go back to Italy and spend more time in each of the cities we visited. I will also definitely do another Contiki tour - I highly recommend them to anyone and everyone!
All in all - a great tour.....Be prepared to drink a lot of wine!
Review written Mar 2015event 0.3
22 Nov 2014 - 29 Nov 2014
I read the reviews after we booked and I was so nervous that my husband and I had made a mistake. I couldn't have been more wrong. Our tour group was awesome! We had a full mix of ages an there were 5 couples on our trip as well. Our tour guide, Vinny, was amazing too. He was the perfect mix of fun and in charge. Our bus driver, Alessandro, did amazing, if you would see some of the streets he had navigated you'd be impressed! The tour was great. It gave you the opportunity to see a lot of things in a short amount of time. They offer, at an additional cost, a walk tour of the cities and it's great and totally worth the cost. It lets you get your bearings in a city before navigating it by yourself. The hotels weren't as bad as others were saying, it's Europe, they are going to be tiny (my husband is 6"2" and struggled in every bathroom - he was too tall for the shower head) and for the cost you pay, you can't beat it. The hotels are not located downtown of any city, but there is still areas near the hotel to explore. I would highly recommend this tour!
Review written Dec 2014event 0.3
22 Nov 2014 - 29 Nov 2014
Took the Italian Espresso tour and it was awesome. Our tour guide and bus driver were out of this world. Vinnie the tour guide would give us a quick walking tour around each city and then set us free to explore and have a wonderful time. I'd recommend doing the optional tours as since the local guides could answer any and all questions and spoke great english. The only down side is each city has so much to offer its hard to do it all in just a couple days in each city. But the tour gave me a good idea of where I'd like to go back and explore some more.
Also when people complain about the hotels being small its not Contiki its Europe. Hotel rooms are small especially in crowded cities.
Review written Dec 2014event 0.3
14 Dec 2013 - 21 Dec 2013
I went on this trip alone, straight out of high school, knowing no one and never having travelled overseas by myself before. And I have to say, it was the best decision I've ever made!!
Not only was the tour manager (Enzo - a local Italian) AMAZING and beyond funny, but the places we went, the food we ate, and the benefits we got as Contiki travelers, were just incredible. Contiki really does go the extra mile to make sure every part of your trip is well taken care of and that you have the time of your life, without having to worry about the finer details.
Most importantly, however, were the friends I made. I was 18 years old - one of the youngest on the trip - and I found myself forming my closest friendships with 28 and 29 year olds. I was able to have mature, intellectual, emotional and deep conversations; connecting with people on a level I have never been able to do with people my own age. I grew up tremendously on Contiki, and I have made life-long friends from all over the world.
That was my first Contiki trip and I am already planning my next trip for 2015. Without a doubt one of the best experiences ever!
And just a note on going alone (for those of you who are concerned about that): I asked two people to come with me and was let down by both of them. I didn't let that stop me though, and I went by myself anyway. And as I said earlier: BEST DECISION I've made! So if you're looking for advice, I say: Leave your friends behind and GO ALONE. I promise you it will be worth while. You will be forced out of your comfort zone and you will make friends that you may never have considered if you had had the safety net of a friend. Also, being alone means you have no one to consider and no one to please - you go where you want, with whoever you want, and that's that.
Thanks again Contiki, you'll be seeing more of me! :)
Review written Nov 2014event 0.3
27 Dec 2013 - 04 Jan 2014
My friend and I booked this tour during the week after Christmas and we had a blast. Our guide Giuseppe was knowledgeable and funny. We were able to experience Italy in a short amount of time. We went to the Colosseum, the Vatican, Tuscany, Pisa, San Gimignano, Verona and Venice. We spent New Years Eve in Florence! There are a lot of optional activities thrown in and it's best to pick what you want to do. Just don't be late when meeting the group! The bus was new and kept clean. Our fellow travelers were great and we made life long friends.
Review written Oct 2014event 0.3
18 Oct 2013 - 26 Oct 2013
10 months after my first Contiki Tour I was back in Europe, this time Italy. With the sir name Fontana it was especially important for me to see this awesome country. The Tour started as they all do, meet your tour in the hotel lobby followed by dinner and bonding over way to many drinks and dancing in Rome. Our flight arrived at 9am putting us at the hotel early enough to nap and shower before the 5pm meeting with the tour. This was especially cool considering the hotel check in time wasn't until 3pm. Every hotel on this tour had the smallest bathroom with smallest shower I have ever seen. Welcome to European living Foxy! Non of the public bathrooms had toilet seats and you had to pay 1 euro to use them. This is a common practice in Europe as well as a sitting fee and bread fee when having dinner. Not a big deal considering most of your dinners are with the contiki group and that's all covered. The Italian coffee is espresso and when ordering one finish it in one shot and leave to avoid the "sitting fee." More than once a few of us had lunch in the alley on the ground. These differences are all part of the experience. The tour was mid October making it the perfect time of year, light jacket in the mornings is all you needed. The tour wound up being 80% Americans, Australians, Canadians, and South Africans (just a guess). We also had about 10 couples honeymooning. I would not recommend Contiki for every honeymoon couple considering the hotels are not that great and you don't get a lot of free time or privacy. All of our couples were super cool so I doubt they cared. Two of the couples are now pregnant so apparently there was free time...lol The tour guide "Christina Contiki" was #fantastico. She was so knowledgeable, and pleasant. She truly loves her job and it shows. She went out of her way to recommend and even put tickets on her personal credit card for the free time activities. When leaving one of the clubs all you had to say was " Christina Contiki" to the bouncer and he would get you a cab and even tell the driver what hotel to take you to. She went out of her way to make sure we were safe. After the cab drama in Paris on my previous trip it was reassuring and allowed me to enjoy the night. We did everything the brochure promised and more. Christina had optional activities we could do as a group and dinners arranged for a set price. This was especially awesome for me because I prefer to stay in a group and meet people. Every night at dinner I would sit at a different table to mingle. The group dinners were good but could have been better. People who went off on their own had better food experiences, sure they also paid a lot more as well. If you are adventurous and love Italian food I recommend venturing off on your own. The walking tours of Florence and Venice were nice but I could have done the same "walking tour" in a small group for free. Melissa's must dos: Coliseum Roman Forum Sistine Chapel Vatican City THE DAVID!!! in Florence (on free day) Group photo in Florence Gondola ride in Venice Bellini in Venice preferably at Harry's bar St Marks square Venice Murano Glass factory Venice Leaning tower od Pisa My favorite city on the tour was Florence. I loved everything about this city. Venice was my least favorite I felt it was to touristy. people who have spent more time in Venice had better experiences. I recommend staying an extra day in Venice if possible. Just to wonder around and explore the culture. This tour really only spends one good day in Venice. When the tour ended in venice I took the free transfer back to Rome. The free transfer is the contiki bus all the way back, takes about 6 hrs. Guess the bus has to go back to Rome anyway. About 10 out of the 50 of us took the free transfer to catch our flights the next morning. This gave us an extra night to explore Rome in a smaller group. we all went to dinner and walked around the city. Contiki arranged the extra night in the same hotel for $80. I still recommend staying in Venice if possible. Cons The only cons are that some of the activities seemed to be more of sales pitches to get you to spend money at that particular place. Leather making demo was just an excuse to get you in the store to spend money, same as the glass blowing demo and wine tour. Not sure if the tour guide or contiki makes commission but it sure seems so. Europe has strict driving rules so you take stops at old towns that seem pretty pointless. Think its a chance for the driver to take a break and eat. Sitting fees at restaurants paying to use the public bathroom no toilet seats anywhere Can only fit half your American body in the hotel showers at a time Best Pro of them all: Meeting 50 new friends from all over the world. We are all still in contact and have plans on meeting soon. As a general rule Contiki travelers are the coolest, craziest people you will ever meet. For more travel reviews, advice and pictures visit my blog Foxyfontana.com
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
11 Nov 2011 - 19 Nov 2011
It is a fast-paced tour, but just about the right length. Great experience all around. Rome and Florence hotels have their drawbacks, but it's probably a necessary sacrifice. We were lucky with the weather, had an awesome tour manager, and a great bunch of people. Would do it again In a heartbeat. Contiki, do you love me?
Review written Dec 2011event 0.3
11 Nov 2011 - 19 Nov 2011
It was an amazing fast paced trip that allowed the entire group to participate and see loads of sites packed into 9 days! Our tour guide Christina was fantastic! She entertained, organized, and was full of information about the history and what each city had to offer. Best trip I have ever taken!
Review written Nov 2011event 0.3
11 Nov 2011 - 19 Nov 2011
christina is very knowledgeable and kept the bus rides entertaining between my naps lol. she made every effort to make everything go smoothly. her organizational skills are excellent. if you don't get her as a guide I feel sorry for you! (for real)
Review written Nov 2011event 0.3
27 Nov 2010 - 04 Dec 2010
This tour was amazing. We were worried at first that we would skip by everything and not have enough time to properly look at things and also that it would be all about partying and drinking every night. This was not the case at all. We had a great time and saw things that we would not have seen on our own. Our group did go out to pubs and clubs (however this was optional and many chose not to on certain nights) but we were all also interested in Italy's history and paid attention to the tours and got the most out of the trip. Because there is only the one country in this tour, you can take your time and not alot of time if wasted on transport between places. Highly recommend this tour to everyone, especially for first time travellers and those travelling alone.
Review written Dec 2010event 0.3