Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
This was my first ever Contiki and well it was definitely the BEST first ever Contiki I could have chosen.
It was almost a month of my life that I would constantly relive if I could.
With the most amazing tour manager and bus driver…as well 43 of the most amazing people I've ever met, I could not have imagined a better way to see the culture and sights of the world!
There is definitely so many experiences I wish I could share, but it's all too much to write… SO my advice.
DO THIS TOUR!
YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!
You may regret the amount of alcohol you drink but NOTHING else!
This was my first contiki experience and since then I have gone on one other (Simply Italy). My first impression when I arrived on my Simply Italy Contiki is ah crap this isn't going to come close as much fun as St Patty's Day!!
I decided to arrive a few day prior to the start of the Contiki-which I would highly recommend. There is so much to see in Dublin and all of Ireland that there just isn't time to see during the Contiki.
The group forum was a great way to connect with the rest of the group. A few of us exchanged numbers and decided to meet prior to the start of contiki.
This contiki was filled with lots of bars/drinking/walking/eating/socializing. There was a lot of free time which was nice! There was one day where we did a walking tour of Dublin.
The St Patty's day parade was insane!!!! Get there early to get a good spot!
Just remember-if you want to see all the sites and learn about the history in Dublin-this is not the contiki for you (or just plan to stay extra days to pack in the sites).
I traveled alone on this contiki-and the people I met from all around the world made this experience amazing. We partied non stop and shared so many memories!
There is no better way to spend St. Patty's Day than in Dublin!!!
The Best Trip! went during the royal military tattoo in Scotland and that was super cool.
You get so much time to explore and the ME options were fun and informative. Made some great friends and a lot of memories.
if you want to explore Great Britain and Ireland for you first time, I recommend this tour.
Food is a little above average, it gets you through the day.
Be prepared...coach rides are long and try score seats near the front, sitting near the back, has the tendency to make you motion sick.
This trip was a lot of fun. It was a short trip but you get to see a lot in the countries. I do wish, I did a longer tour but for the price, it was pretty good.
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.
I had an absolutely wonderful time on this tour. It was my first Contiki, and I decided to travel on my own which was nerve wracking. However, I quickly found myself around likeminded people (many also on their own) who were incredibly friendly and ready to have fun! If you are anxious about meeting people, don't worry for a second because you will find yourself making instant friendships.
This trip was packed with the perfect mix of partying and also seeing amazing sites. Some of the highlights were the optional Barcelona bike tour, visiting the monkeys in Gibraltar, the beaches in San Sebastian and the night life in all of the cities (especially Ibiza) but everything we did was a highlight in itself. My most important recommendation would be to always do the "Me" time optionals because you are only in Spain once and every activity is totally worth it!
The hotel accommodations were fantastic, and our tour guide named Jimmy did an amazing job at making us feel safe and in good hands. He was also very fun and really nice!
All in all I am hooked on Contiki! I met amazing people from around the world who I cried when I had to leave and will be my friends forever. I saw countless beautiful sites that I will never forget, and Spain completely met up to my expectations.
If you're considering going on this trip, DO IT! you will not regret it. Everything was amazing. Spain has great food, great sites, great night life, great EVERYTHING! :)
There is so much I could say about this trip. It was on my bucket list to travel Europe and it was even better than I could've imagined. My husband and I did all the optionals, besides the white water rafting because I was too scared, but I highly suggest doing EVERYTHING you can. This trip was worth every penny, and more. We had the best experience, nothing went sideways and I would go back in a heartbeat. Our tour manager Tamsyn was amazing and funny and knowledgable. We made so many new friends and already planning to meet up with a few of them in the near future. This was life changing and I hope more people take the opportunity to travel the world. Contiki makes it so easy. Everything is basically taken care of for you. I will definitely book another Contiki holiday in the future.
I’d say that overall, my first Contiki experience was pretty fantastic, though as a new trip that Contiki is offering, there are still a few kinks to work out. I’ve done a good amount of travelling and Japan is probably my favorite country I’ve ever been to. It is SO clean and the locals were SO accommodating and there are just SO many wonderful and exciting things to see and experience there.
All of the hotels that we stayed at were pretty nice and well-located. Almost every single activity planned for the trip was great. It really is impossible to choose what my favorite activity was -- the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo (the most hilarious, fun, original show you’ll ever see!), the Buddhist monastery overnight stay, the shopping on Harajuku Street, the delicious Teppanyaki dinners, the sushi-making class, the insanity of the fish market in Tokyo, even just the scenic train rides (bullet train!) from one city to the next… It all just made this one of the best trips of my life. Additionally, the other travellers on this trip were a lot of fun and I made quite a few friends from all over the world! Naito-San, our local guide who stayed with us for the duration of the trip, was incredibly knowledgeable and also had a good sense of humor and just an unlimited amount of energy. Our Tour Manager Jackie was also very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and fun as well!
That said, this IS still a pretty new trip that Contiki is offering and there are a few things that I think need to be augmented a bit. This trip covers 7 different cities in 13 days. In several of the cities, lots of activities were planned for us, but some free time was also allotted. For these bits of free time, it would have been very helpful if a map of each city had been provided to us with our hotel, some subway/bus stop info, and perhaps a recommended activity or two marked on it. Our tour manager was happy to give us verbal directions to things, but when you’ve just arrived in a new city, especially where English is not the first language, I needed a bit more than that. Also, I don’t feel that the time was very well planned in Tokyo. The first day was absolutely crammed with sight-seeing, which meant we only got a very short amount of time in some places (about 45 minutes maybe for Harajuku Street, where I well could have spent several hours) and then our second full day was a completely free day, where I just kind of found myself bumbling around a bit, not sure of what to do. Personally, it would have been much better to have split the sight-seeing up between the first two mornings and maybe had the afternoons free (maybe take the group to Harajuku Street for example, and if some people want to spend the afternoon there, they can, or if they want to leave and see other things in the afternoon, they could do that too).
Lastly, it took a bit too long into the trip to create some sort of system to make sure everyone on the trip was accounted for as we went from one activity to the next. (Side note: I personally thought that a group of 31 people was too big for a place like Japan. I think the maximum number of people for a trip like this should have been something more like 15 people or so. When all 31 of us would get on public transit, we’d take up the entire subway car, which seemed to be kind of irritating to the locals.) The group was very fast-moving and if, say, we were all going through the entrance to the subway in Tokyo where you have to swipe your card and someone’s card malfunctioned, it was difficult to communicate this to the people at the front of the group to hold on for a minute while this issue was resolved. By the middle of the trip we began roommate checks whenever we’d leave a certain area to make sure we were all there, but this definitely should have been instituted in the beginning.
All in all though, I was pretty happy with my trip and would most likely take another Contiki trip in the future!
This trip was incredible!! We had such an amazing tour manager (Nicole) who managed to take care of every little detail for us and also was such a blast to hang out and party with. This was my first time off the continent and I was travelling with two of my friends and I felt completely safe and secure. You could definitely do this trip on your own (probably true with any contiki for that matter) or with friends :). It says the Me Time excursions are optional, but I found those were really the highlights of my trip (I did all of them except for one!).
The hotels were great! Always beachfront and just a short bus ride away to go into town. The wifi could be a little spotty at times but like... there's other ways to amuse yourself and pass the time on the Greek islands (I'm sure you can find some!), and the showers are... interesting to say the least. It's pretty much impossible to shower and keep the bathroom floor relatively dry! There's laundry services at I believe one of the hotels and then there's included breakfast at each hotel.
My friends and I didn't go back to Athens with the group, we left on the last day in Ios to go to another island. If you're a big fan of partying and that's what you'd be especially excited for, I'd consider possibly staying extra time in Ios for a couple more nights out :)
This trip was so nice, I felt I had adequate time on each island to really get to know it before moving onto the next one. It's also nice because you're not stuck on a coach for hours a day like some other Contiki trips, as on this one you travel between the islands on Ferries (which are actually pretty fun!)
All in all it was an awesome time and I would recommend this tour for anyone, especially first time travellers like myself :)
This was my first major trip I've ever taken and decided to trust Contiki. Smart choice!!
I was not expecting to see SO much with the time we had and I loved every bit of it. I got to see all the major cities and hot spots that I know on my own, I wouldn't have managed it.
Ill give you a bit of my view for each day and some advice on how to prepare your self for this trip.
Day 1: Its a chilling day. If you land the day of then you wont get much time to check out Rome on your own. You do however get time again in Rome at the end of the trip. However I would have liked to arrive early and go out for a bit - so recommend you do the same!
Day 2: Pompeii Tour was great - highly recommend it. If you dont, then your kinda stuck on your own and cant do much either. Plus this is a great time to know the rest of your travel pack. You learn alot about what happened in Pompeii.
Day 3: 100% - DO THE CRUISE! Omg the sites, the water and the Blue Grotto - WOW. Capri is a beautiful city; one of my favorites. And as suggested, you must try Limoncello - just for the sake of it!
Day 4: The wine tasting was fun - a bit disappointed that we didnt get to see more of Tuscany. Be prepared...youll be in the coach for a long time. Another thing I did not like. The siteseeing was amazing but being locked up inside was a bit of a downer.
Day 5; FLORENCE - My absolute FAVORITE. I fell in love with this city. If I ever decide to come back to Italy, I would go to Florence. The club was really good but I dont think it was the Space club we went too. However this night was the BEST night. Did the group dinner - it was spaghetti and meatballs and my oh my...mouthwatering DELICIOUS! Start of the day we did go see the leather crafts man - dropped a few bills there. Leather is amazing - try to get something for yourself! And the Secrets of Michelangelo's Florence was really informative and had a great time. While here - BEFORE you leave to Venice, you MUST climb the INFINITE stairs. When you reach the top - the city view is amazing. Ask your tour guide about this!
Day 6: This was an okay day. If you like to shop, then hav fun! Its like a shop market - all cobblestone and everything. You do see Juliets Balcony but its not an 1hr thing. Its quick so make the most of your time here and check it out.
Day 7: Get ready to SHOP! Another great place to shop - so many vendors! And you MUST take the Gondola ride. I think for this day, I opt out the Walking Tour. Go on your own - explore. Have fun. Check out St. Mark;s Square - some really good restaurants.
Day 8: If you want to drop some major $$ on name brands - this is the place. Top name brands and very poshy. I wasnt too impressed with Milan. Again Im not a major spender. I enjoy siteseeing so this was more of a chilling day for me which it is actually.
Day 9: To be honest - I cant remember what I did this day...sorry!
Day 10: Ah yes - the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You wont spend too much time here - hopefully your tour guide will make you take funny pictures and compete with one another. Glad they included this on the way to Rome. However again - another long ride in the coach!
Day 11: Back in ROME! Def check our the Colosseum if you didnt arrive early and do it on your own. Its a must see and just learning the history behind it is great. Make the most of your day as this is your last!!
So, things I wasnt too impressed/or would like to change:
1) Long coach ride - cant avoid it and its nice they added in pit stops (Tuscany, La Spezia). But prepare yourself...bring something to occupy you or catch up on some MUCH needed rest...why...
2) Get ready for EARLY mornings! If you are not a morning person or like to take it easy, prepare yourself for a rude awakening. This is after all an 'In-Depth Explorer' style. I didnt mind it but at times it does get to you. But you get to catch up on SOME sleep on the coach...
3) Was not impressed with breakfast at all. I LOVE my breakfasy - one of the meals I will TRULY pig out on. There is only SO MUCH bread I can consume :(
4) If you like cheese, bread and oil for dipping then great! If not - as Im lactose intolerant and sensitive to wheat...then oh boy! lol Its Italy - what was I thinking! Home of PASTA AND PIZZA.
5) WATER WATER WATER - buy a water bottle and REFILL when you can. With the heat and walking, you will get dehydrated.
6) Washrooms - YUP - you gotta pay in order to use them unless you dine in which then you can use it for free!
7) Coffee - YUMMY! However I guess I forgot that they serve coffoe/americano is small cups - not what Im used to here 8OZ or more actually :)
Oh and DEF try the GELLATO's! I think everyday I treated myself. BEST one is in Florence and Rome.
Overall -this trip was amazing! You wont have regrets - the early mornings pay off...eventually ;)
This tour was perfect! Had an incredible time with an awesome group. Definitely the best way to see Australia and it is a great length especially with the sailing.
Bri and Contiki Tours made our Honeymoon trip a momentous and memorable trip. Bri is excellent at what she does, and it shows in her professionalism, expertise, and passion to allow everyone in the tour to have the time of their lives. She takes the time to commit to being the best tour guide - from planning out every step of the trip, giving a mini history lesson of each country we visited, to even staying up each night and highlighting maps and "go-to" hot spots wherever we visited. She basically did all the work for us, and all we had to do was enjoy our experience. This shows her dedication to each and every person, and they will forever be grateful to her for it. She is also a very sincere and sweet individual, as she made sure everyone on the trip was having a good time. The transportation and value for your buck is the best you can ask for, especially if you catch the Contiki early discount deals when booking. Our bus ride across Europe was peaceful, clean (the cleanest bus I've ever been on), and quite comfortable for those long hour(s) rides at times. The accommodations are a "get what you pay for" expense, but are just as interesting to experience (we spent a night in a former jail that is now a hotel - so how many people can say they did that!). The meals. I am a spoiled American (only when it comes to eating) and usually have a huge breakfast and dishes. But it did open my eyes to how much Americans eat - however overall the meals were according to the country we were in. It was awesome trying cafe and desserts from Italy and France especially. The Contiki and tour guide experience overall is a hands-down 5 stars! You cannot get a better deal anywhere else.
Hands down amazing trip.
I'll start with the crew: they are so kind and very helpful, really knowledgeable about the area and even happy to swim/dance/stay up talking with us all. On our tour we had three, which I think is probably standard (Captain, first mate, chef). The Captain even shared some basic star gazing and easy navigation tips with us (because you never know). They were fantastic!
The Food: Excellent, The chef was constantly outdoing himself. Lots of different dishes, always had a salad available and hot food options at every meal, lots of eggplant :D. The Bar was always open but don't expect a huge variety. There was Beer, Vodka, Gin and Raki. The small amount of Rum that was available was gone by the third day. But there were tons of soft drink/juice options for us to choose from.
The boat: I won't lie... you're sharing a small room with someone you've never met (unless traveling in a pair) and it gets pretty hot. Sleeping on deck is a great option, bring warm pjs because it can get pretty cold at night (We went in May so I'm not sure how it is at night in July!) If you're sleeping on deck take your blankets/towels in for the day because I noticed things would get really damp in the evening so you may end up with wet blankets!
They give you a thin blanket, wool blanket and a towel but it's good to bring your own towel because they don't like theirs to be used for swimming (plus you don't want to constantly be using a wet towel).
Swimming: You're allowed floaties, and they have flippers/snorkels/masks on deck for your use, and it's really awesome exploring the water so definitely check it out!
Outings: You stop at a few sea side towns that are pretty cute. They were a bit dead the time of year we went but I'm sure they're a little more bustling in the summer time. When it comes to the paid outings I had my heart set on going to the mud baths but we needed 10/16 people on the boat to agree to go, so it didn't happen. Don't get set on going on one of the outings just in case it doesn't happen, that way you won't end up disappointed! We did go to the Turkish Baths which was ABSOLUTELY SOMETHING YOU SHOULD NOT MISS! If you don't get to do it with Contiki just go do it, it was a really great experience.
Boat life: I brought earplugs to sleep in, this is really helpful because you never know who will be up and different people have different schedules. The earplugs did not manage to block out the call to prayer on the first and last mornings while docked in Bodrum, but it was interesting to hear... for the first 30 seconds. There is a plug in each room and a power bar by the stereo, bring your international plugs converters if you're not already from Europe! I severely over packed for this trip, like I said earlier the rooms are small. I found it cramped and I only had a carry on, and my roommate had a backpack (lost luggage). Luckily my carry on fit under the bed, but I didn't need half of what I brought. We spent most of the day in bathing suits and put on lounge clothes in the evening. If you're cool with it just bring a small amount of lounge wear and rewear it. No judgement, we all did it. You'll need two outfits for going to the bar if you're into the nightlife but other than than bathing suits with a bathing suit cover were fine for all the seaside stops (unless they weren't and I was secretly just being indecent ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
We had an amazing group, I feel incredibly lucky to have met all the people that were on our tour and I absolutely recommend this trip!! I would go back tomorrow if I didn't have a job or need money.. sad adult life. I hope this was helpful!
Enjoy your Contiki experience!!!
This trip ran for the first time this year so our group was the first to experience it. I would recommend it. It is a short one as you are only there for a long weekend but good fun. We fitted so much into our time there. In terms of optionals we did a canal cruise on the first night where we got unlimited beer or wine and saw Amsterdam just as the sun was setting. We did pedal boating on the canals which was so fun - they are so hard to control and there were a couple of near misses where we nearly hit bigger boats and there was a four course meal in Volendam which was delicious. My tour mates were really friendly and I enjoyed meeting them. King's Day itself was one massive street party everyone was wearing orange and there were stalls selling alcohol and food everywhere. There were also DJs and a Funfair. As a helpful hint it is very handy to have lots of coins in Amsterdam as nearly all toilets even in some clubs and restaurants charge for the toilet. I found the price to be 50 cents on the weekend but on King's day the price was about 1 Euro or even 2 Euros in some places.
I was a first time traveller who was quite nervous about this new contiki experience, I booked my ticket and made my way to Athens where the tor started and I'm SOOO HAPPY I did!! Our tour manager Ed was so friendly and knowledgable, I instantly bonded with many people on my tour, everything was organized and any questions we had were answered confidently. I would recommend this island hop to anyone, I just got back on May 12th and believe this is the perfect time to visit the islands, all clubs and tourist attractions are open yet and it's not toooooo hot yet or busy.. We defiantly had no problem getting our shopping or tan on. Tip- do most shopping in Mykonos and Santorini as Ios has barely any-just the most amazing beach I have ever seen. The weather and be he's Contiki hooked us up with were breathtaking! Not too fast paced yet plenty of options available to keep you busy the whole tour, defiantly go on the pirate ship adventure to the private beach for lunch and ride the donkey in Santorini! AND the mud bath...I have so many new memories and friends LOVED THIS adventure and will be planning my next soon!!
Absolutely fantastic trip. I work a very involved job and didn't have time to adequately plan an Eastern Europe trip. Contiki already had all of the hotels, tours, sight-seeing and travel pre-packaged and it was really valuable to have a tour guide to bounce ideas off. I didn't think I'd do any of the ME Time activities and we ended up doing them all. I didn't think I'd end up hanging out with any of the other travelers outside of the friend group I planned the trip with and now, a month later, still talk to a handful of people from the trip on a regular basis. Would highly recommend Contiki for any international, non-beach/skiing trip where you want to hit up a lot of spots and don't speak the local language.
I have to say that this tour exceeded my expectations! We saw so many things and did so much, but we still had loads of free time to wander around and spend more time at places we had seen or to try out places our tour guide recommended.
Our tour guide Maite was so great!! She went above and beyond what she had to! She recommended sites, restaurants, and things to do. Our driver "sexy Fabio" was very qualified to drive in Italy's small and crazy streets with our huge coach!
The food was great! Gelato even better:) It is mostly pasta and pizza but so many different kinds, so I never got sick of it:)
Everyone on my tour got along really well, we had a mix of couples and singles but the vibe was great:)! Couldn't have asked for a better group:)
I love the history in every city we went to, not sure if I had a favorite place as I loved it all, I would say that since Venice was on my bucket list that was really great, the gondola ride was amazing also, our gondolier was Stephano, and he was so great also, made the ride enjoyable:)
I found the hotels clean and had air condition, I didn't bring anything to need wifi so can't really say how that was:) But don't go expecting Italy to be the same as here, the showers might be abit smaller, and the rooms maybe dated, but I went to experience different not the same as home, take everything in as an experience:)
I have nothing to complain about, it was simply amazing!! I would totally recommend this trip!!
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.