27 Jul 2014 - 08 Aug 2014
The Best of Europe tour wasn't as expected for my husband and me. This was my third tour with the company (traveled twice before to Europe with Trafalgar.) While the tour director and optional excursions were overall pretty good (sometimes great), the quality of hotels and included activities and transpiration were far below par for the price and quality of a superior level hotel tour.
The good parts of the tour were-
Our tour guide was organized and kind. The bus driver kept us safe and was also a nice guy. The canal cruises in cities (optional excursions) were very cool experiences. The hotel in Prague and Paris were decent. Also the Prague biking tour ( one of the few included excursions) was unique. The cities we visited were great except for Berlin which barely had anything good to see. I wish we had more time in Amsterdam. The walking tour there was interesting.
Worst parts of tour
Horrible hotel (Tryp East)-The hotel in Berlin can best be described as a dump and I am shocked it was part of this tour. Don't get me wrong- we weren't expecting amazing hotels but average hotels were at least expected for almost $500 a day for a couple on a superior tour. The hotel was old and had stains all over the wall and floors. The beds were not real beds. There was no AC and most couldn't sleep at night with the heat on the 6th floor. It was located in a rough area far from the subway. The people working in the restaurant were completely neglectful of us while we were there. They only had one key (physical) for each room. It reminded me of a hostel but worse. I can't explain how disgusting and dirty it was and the heat and straw-like beds were insufferable. It was not expected for a Contiki, especially the top level version of the types of tours.
Another hotel (Champagne Palace, Rome) was also so hot as night we literally couldn't sleep. Again it had a grungy feel (not as bad as Tryp) and the staff there was really rude.
We were also surprised that a lot of days all we got was a hotel room and a subway pass. Many times we didn't get transported by the bus (which is what I thought we signed up for). Often we were not given good directions to where the subway was or how to use it. There were also a lacking of included activities and you pretty much want to do a lot of the optionals because or else oh are on your own. For the price and level of tour I expected more.
Overall there were some good qualities but I wouldn't recommend it unless they change those two hotels and include a little more. It wasn't as expected for a superior level tour and the price.
Review written Aug 2014event 0.3
06 Jul 2014 - 18 Jul 2014
This tour was one of the highlights of my recent trip to Europe. The places we went were amazing, the opportunity to take part in unique activities was incredible, and the people who were on the tour were truly extraordinary!!! Our tour manager Lisa was amazing and went out of her way to make sure we had the best experience and learnt, saw, tasted and truly understood Europe. The highlights for me included Paris (in general), the bike riding tours, the cruises in Amsterdam and Prague, Prague nightlife, the Colosseum tour, gelato and the people I experienced it all with. I would 100% recommend this tour for anyone who wants to see these areas of Europe!
Review written Aug 2014event 0.3
01 Jun 2014 - 13 Jun 2014
I think this trip was overall amazing however, I also thought for the price they did not include as much as I would have liked. For example, in paris I believe Contiki could have gotten everyone passes to the museums especially to Versailles. This is a great company if you want your housing and transportation taken care of for your time in Europe. However, I planned out each day what I wanted to see in each city. I like that Contiki give you time to explore each city without feeling like they planned your whole day out. Another aspect I would have liked to see is a better price for the tour of the Vatican City. Overall, if you are looking for a trip across Europe to visit many cities in a short mount of time this is definitely something to consider.
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
08 Jul 2012 - 20 Jul 2012
This tour is fantastic if you have a lot you want to see and do, but not a lot of holiday time to do it in. I chose it because I get homesick very easily and I don't like to be away for long periods of time. We got to see all the best sights of each city, but also had plenty of free time to do anything else that wasn't included as part of the official itinerary. It was also really fun doing it in a big group of people from all around the world and we made lots of new friends :) Highly recommended if you don't like travelling alone but can't get any of your friends back home to come with you. It's also pretty nice not to have to organise transportation, accommodation etc, Contiki takes care of all that for you. And it was great having a tour manager to give us tips on things like how to avoid long queues, what to do with our free time, and which stop to get off at to get to certain attractions.
A couple of downsides - none of the hotels seemed to be very well located, they were all a fair way out of the city centre and it would've been nice not to have to travel so far from the hotel to where all the action is. Also, because we were such a big group in a confined space (on the bus), more than half our group ended up getting sick, some just with a cold but others with pretty nasty stomach bugs. So that puts a bit of a damper on your holiday :-P
We did do all the optionals except for one, because we wanted just one day to sleep in and recover - you don't really get much of a chance to relax and do nothing, because they pack so much into the tour and if you don't want to miss out on anything you'll be super-busy and super-exhausted. My recommendation is that if you want to actually see Europe, then you shouldn't have too many late nights out getting drunk and then miss whatever activity is happening the next morning because you're too hungover to get out of bed. People say Contiki is renowned for being a big booze-up, but it's YOUR holiday so if you don't want to make it that way then don't. We had three late nights over the two weeks but we timed them well - like the night before we left Amsterdam for Berlin, which was a 9-hour drive so we just slept on the bus the next day. Getting drunk in Europe really is just like getting drunk anywhere else, so don't miss out on all the things you would never see back home.
Also if you're wondering what they mean by "later starts in the morning" for the Easy Pace tours (like this one), usually we left the hotel at about 8 or 9am rather than 6 or 7am.
About the weather - even though we did our tour in July it was actually pretty chilly from Paris through to Prague, but when we got to Rome we were begging to go back because it was ridiculously hot! So I recommend packing for both hot and cold weather. It also rained a fair bit, so don't forget your umbrella!
For me the highlight of the trip was seeing the Moulin Rouge in Paris - it costs quite a lot, but it's so worth it! Definitely the most amazing show I've ever seen in my life. Make sure you save enough money to do all the optionals, because you don't want to regret not doing them later.
Review written Jan 2013event 0.3
07 Jul 2012 - 20 Jul 2012
Started in Paris and stayed at a nice hotel (Marriott). Got to skip lines at the Eiffel tower (due to having reservations already made) and avoid long lines at the Louvre. Was given a list of recommendations of places to visit during our free time (very helpful). btw, throughout this tour, there is a lot of free time which you're given a sheet of sightseeing activities to do in each city except Berlin. But it can be challenging being efficient with your free time when you're on your own - so I would ask the tour manager the best way to travel around the city and what sight's were worth checking out (but our tour guide got easily annoyed when we asked her questions). Our tour bus driver was great and didn't mind us asking him questions. We had a great group and it was nice meeting new people and making new friends from around the world. You will likely hang out with part of the group when sightseeing during your free time. Btw, the weather was colder than I expected for July - bring sweaters.
Next stop, Amsterdam. There was a lot of free time here. Biking tour in a small town called Edam was memorable - also saw how to make clogs at a clog and cheese shop. several museums to visit - Van Gogh and Anne Frank's house. Hotel was good (free internet in the room). Not easy to get around unless you're comfortable with bus transportation - I would always go back to hotel whenever tour manager provided transportation. or else, just take a taxi with a few friends to save on cost - less likely to get lost and waste time.
Next was Berlin. Not a pretty city, but tons of interesting history. Walking tour made you learn a lot of history - unfortunately it was raining and cold during 75% of the tour- so I only enjoyed the last 45 minutes of the tour when it finally stopped raining and warmed up some. Hotel was close to the city, but not that great (free internet in lobby only, rooms were okay - I booked SUPERIOR level for hotels so I expected nicer hotels - I would consider this hotel a budget hotel). I know minimal time is really spent at the hotel since we're busy going out and touring the city but nice to be able to look forward to a little bit of luxury in a nice hotel.
We made a mini stop to Dresdin (very pretty town) on our way to Prague. This was a nice stop. didn't really have time to visit a museum - spent more time trying to figure out which restaurant to go to. by the time we ate, it was almost time to leave. Our tour manager pointed out all the interesting sites in town within a short time. I couldn't remember the place of the museum she pointed out to visit. It was disappointing when I get an annoyed look when I ask the tour manager a question- especially when I am paying her to be my tour guide. She had a huge fund of knowledge but would say pertinent info so quickly that I couldn't always write everything down - I even recorded her tips and directions on my phone (which was helpful) so I don't have to ask her.
Prague was a beautiful city. had lots of free time there. enjoyed an awesome bike tour - our bike tour guide was from the US and loved answering all of our questions - she was very helpful. Our hotel was in the city but it seems like the quality of our hotels would continue to go downhill (I kept looking or hoping it was like our first hotel in Paris). I loved Prague food and enjoyed the lunch tour cruise. It was a little chilly in this city also for the month of July. I really liked the booked tours and optional tours that Contiki provides. I just wish there were more of them during our free time, so we don't lose too much time figuring out how to get around the city on our own. I finally got to do laundry at this location (it was about $20 for a load which they wash, dry, and folded within a few hours at a laundry place in the city).
Last stop was to Rome. This is a beautiful city with tons of old history. I got to see a lot in this city. We had a booked group tour for the Vatican (no lines!) - the tour guide for the vatican was great and helped explain all the art work we were seeing. We also got to the front of the line for the colosseum (as long as you purchase the audio). Hotel was near central station and in the city. Laundry & internet shop was a few doors down. Hotel had old charm, but breakfast was terrible. Bathroom was small (due to being a very old hotel) and some rooms did not have A/C. again, disappointing hotel, but tolerable if I was doing a budget tour.
The five included dinners were very good. I especially enjoyed eating next to the colloseum.
Overall, I did not realize how much partying there was (which is optional). But after day 2, there was a party at a pub/bar/club every night until the last night. Your group usually all goes together which is good. The tour manager will usually take you to a location or recommend a location each evening. I also didn't realize how much money I spent while on vacation. Expect to spend on average 100 to 200 Euro per day - optional activities are an additional expense. Also never use the EXCHANGE offices in the city to exchange money - they are a rip off. It's better to use your debit card -they usually just charge a small fee and you get a good and fair exchange rate (call your bank to find out which european banks are best to use). In the end, you make a lot of great friends, see a lot of key things in each city, tolerate your tour manager, party every night, and sleep in a budget hotel.
Review written Jul 2012event 0.3
23 May 2010 - 04 Jun 2010
awesome trip, met sum really great people and got to see all the main attractions and cutlure fo these different countries. best tour guide u could ask for too, that organised extra stuff for us to do and got everyone involved. plus that really annoying song to wake us up before we got to the next stop to remind me of the tour :) added bonus my brother was in paris when i got there
Review written Jun 2010event 0.3