Reviews

Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.

  • MitchG Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 11 Countries

Okay, let me start off by saying I was equally excited and nervous for this trip...

Nervous because I was traveling solo and never traveled Contiki before. I wasn't sure what to expect or how I would like the people I was going to spend 19 days with. I was excited for the obvious reasons...SEEING EUROPE!!

I also did the London Explorer package prior to the Inspiration tour so the few days leading up to the trip I had visited the Contiki basement a few times. Every member of the staff was super helpful and felt like they were old friends. The day before we left we did a meeting at the basement where we got to meet the people who were also on the trip.

When I arrived I immediately met 2 people that I connected with right away. As soon as we started chatting, all my concerns were at ease. I knew it was going to be a good trip! After the meeting a group of 10 of us went to a pub for a few pints and to get more acquainted. For anyone doing a trip, I would suggest using this time to meet your trip mates because it was a great way to break the ice quickly.

Now for the trip...This honestly could not have been better. Everything went perfectly and at no point was I concerned over timing, accommodations, drive time, lines into the attractions etc etc..Our driver(Jason M) and trip Manager(Nick P) were on top of everything!!

For the amount of time we had in each city, they made sure we maximized it to the fullest!! And they always did it with a friendly face. I never once got a bad vibe from them and they both seemed genuinely happy with their jobs and to help us out with anything we needed. I unfortunately got sick, but Nick stepped up to the plate and helped me locate a doctor when I needed it. This was extremely valuable to me because I had no idea what to do or where to go.

I can't say enough good things about these 2. But they definitely exceeded my expectations and set the bar high for any other driver and tour manager.

The trip was an absolute blast and I made lifelong friends that I'll keep in contact with. We're actually already talking about another trip for next summer.

Thanks Nick, Jason, my Contiki family and Contiki for an awesome trip!

My Contiki was: Memorable, Friends, Fun

  • ClareD Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 6 Countries

This was my first Contiki, and I honestly had the best time ever. I made so many amazing friends, saw beautiful sights and maybe drank a little too much ;) Our tour guide Az was awesome, super cool guy and very knowledgeable about each city we visited. It is very fast paced, but the Me time Optionals are a great way of getting acquainted with the city in a short period of time and having fun doing it. I totally recommend this tour, it is something I'll always remember doing!! #noregrets

My Contiki was: no, regrets

  • Sarah Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 1 Country

The three islands provide everything you'd want: fun all-night raves, quiet restaurants with caldera views, hiking and sailing adventures with your group, and unique experiences. The more laid-back atmosphere of the trip lets you explore the islands on your own and even have the time to take trips to other islands in your free time.

My Contiki was: Romantic, Beaches, Historica

  • mad_seeks Level 5 Traveler
  • 5 Contikis
  • 12 Countries

I originally agreed to go on the trip because I want to see pretty much everywhere I can and some friends were going. Vacation time is rare in the states so I was a little skeptical to take 2 weeks just in Peru...boy was I dead wrong.

I went to see Machu Picchu but by the time it came around, I was like "Oh yeah, this is why I came!" Every single day on the tour was awesome...each day getting better and better. I had no idea Peru had so much to offer and was so beautiful. The country absolutely blew me away. From zip lining in the snow, paragliding, biking in the Andes Mountains and nearly getting hypothermia, white water rafting, climbing a 100 ft tree, kayaking in the Amazon, and of course hiking Machu Picchu...Peru exceeded all of my expectations. I had the best group with some seriously awesome, hilarious people and was in no way ready to leave.

Last but not least: FLOR!!!! She was the most amazing tour director. She made our trip effortless, was so knowledgeable, and made sure we had a blast no matter what we were doing! I could go on and on about how great she was.

All in all, I without a doubt recommend this tour. I had the time of my life. You have extremely early mornings and most of the time (if you want) extremely late nights, but Peru is worth it. GO TO PERU Y'ALL!

Here is a YouTube video I made about the summary of our trip! It's a little long, but worth it :) https://youtu.be/s_bSNsQ6KJ4

My Contiki was: Incredible, Fun, Adventurous

  • Tash Level 3 Traveler
  • 3 Contikis
  • 7 Countries

Never have I had so much fun as I did on my New Zealand Contiki. The view, the people, the night life, the adventure and most of all, the culture! What an amazing country. New Zealand is a place I will return to many many times in the future because there is just too much beauty to stay away. I made so many friends on this trip aswell as numerous unforgettable memories. The accommodation was amazing and often breathtaking. The tour guide (Josh) and driver (Mark) were so helpful, friendly and fun. I ticked off a number of bucket list items, bungee jumping (134m Nevis Jump, Queenstown) and white and black water rafting to name a few.

Most of all, however the deep culture of New Zealand really put me at awe. The Maori are a wonderful and interesting people and I loved learning about them.

I wish I could relive the experience over and over again... but I guess I'll just have to go again...

1000/1000 DO recommend New Zealand Contiki - The Big Tiki!

My Contiki was: Amazing, Breathtaking, Adventure

Eastern Escapade

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Great Trip

It was a amazing experience and the tour was well planed the driver Frank and tour guide Braden were great. It will take time to process all the input. The group was perfect and now we are all friends. I would do the same trip again.. whats more to say?

  • Morgan_R Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 8 Countries

An amazing 10days!
Luckily had an amazing bunch of 50 people and a very good tour guide!!
Top Tips:
#1 - From the UK you need to bring your own Sleeping Bag or buy one, I believe £20 but don't hold me to that.
#2 - You need Francs for Switzerland. You only need enough for your one free day in the town near the campsite, unless your really organised and organise a trip to the other towns near by that do have tourist stuff. I just sat in a café with new friends I had made and ate the best brownies! Theres a corner shop and a souvenior shop. So 40 francs? But if your not that organised don't worry as they do take Euro but you get Francs back.... Shifty I know.
#3 - In Austria you have a party night. Bring glow in the dark tuff.
#4 - In Switzerland you have 2 party nights. At 8Euros a drink make sure you have saved some money as this is right near the end of your holiday.
#5 - THERE IS NO FREE WIFI ON THE COACH! You must pay. But you don't need to your gonna have so much to look out the window and people to talk to why would u need wifi. Only a few hotels/Hostels/Campsites have wifi too. Again mosty not free. But u don't need it. Youll survive.
#6 - You will do the paragliding. It is not scary. 38 members of our coach did it. 38 out of 50!! and the ones that didn't do it regretted it. Paragliding in Australia where you are given up to 30 pictures that the instructor takes with his selfie stick for 20 Euros!! Yey!! Do not be afraid.
#7 - #NoRegrets. Live by it!

My Contiki was: Paragliding, Messy Packing, Budget

  • ffryan34 Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 1 Country

I just returned home from my Thai Island Hopper East trip with Contiki and I don't know how I am going to settle back into real life after such an adventure! There is no stone left unturned in this 9 day thrill ride through some of the most scenic islands on the planet earth. The Tour Manager Shannon set the tone immediately for the group with her upbeat and energetic attitude. Traveling with her was like being with that one friend everyone has that will never say no to a good time. The fellow travelers and myself though diverse in culture bonded instantaneously and never left each other's sides making for too many life lasting memories to count. The excursions and accommodations were well worth every penny and never left a dull moment. An absolute must do trip!

My Contiki was: Thrill ride , Unforgettable, Breathtaking

  • Noelle Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 11 Countries

It was a blast! I met people from like 7 other countries that were on the trip. I made lifelong friends! If you want fun packed days and high energy.. This is your trip for sure! If you don't like staying in cabins,bringing a towel, and sleeping bags then this isn't for you. But why not get out of your comfort zone? I went Solo and had an amazing time. Seeing each country and what it had to offer was awesome. Enjoy the food in each country! So good!from escargo to Italian pizza, German beer and pretzels I had an awesome time trying new food out. Also if you like wine European's love their wine. If you love beer its in Germany!;) I did all the optionals because why not? Gondola ride was insane but so glad I did it. Sometimes we had to be on the bus, but catch up on some naps on bus days! Movies and music Tony made us very comfortable. We had a great group it was hard to get to know 52 people but i made some of the amazing friends. We almost got stuck on the Effiel Tower lol we missed the bus and got a taxi but it got us to try out our French that Tony helped us with for each country. What a blast! I'll do it again! #contiki

My Contiki was: Awesome, Fun-packed, Unlimited

  • Mikaela Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 11 Countries

As this was my first time leaving my home country of the United States of America, I was a bit apprehensive to join a touring group I hadn't really heard of before. Concerns aside, I booked a trip for Great Britain and Ireland and I am SO glad I did!
There is no doubt in my mind why the UK and the Emerald Isle have long held the reputation for lands of fantasy, as the scenery everywhere is gorgeous, but what makes the whole experience that much better is the comradery that develops between you and your fellow passengers. Being contained in a coach filled to the brim with other people certainly forces you to make a few friends along the way. At just 21, I now have friends that span to three corners of the globe thanks to this Contiki trip and I couldn't be more grateful.
Now for what the trip itself contains, there are TONS of ups and just a few downs.
Downs:
1. You will get sick. Don't try and be macho about it- pack some vitamin C, drink tons of water, and eat full meals. Even if you do everything right, you may still fall ill, but at least you can say you tried. Trust me- you'll enjoy it ten fold if you're well.
2. Most of the fun stuff is extra money. Normally it's not a WHOLE lot extra (all of the UK excursions cost me £70 and the Ireland ones €115), but it's still more than I had anticipated spending on top of what I had already paid. Still- I'd shell out the cash, because they are pretty worth it.
3. Be prepared to sit for a LONG time. Bring your neck pillow that people make fun of because you will certainly be the envy of the bus. If you get cold super easily, you might want to bring a blanket. The bus driver and tour manager try and keep the peace, but sometimes it's hard to please everyone so just be prepared.
4. You will eat through your shoes. Yes, there are nights where everyone goes out to have a good time and dress nicely, but if you're trying to wear pretty shoes while you're hiking/biking around the Ayran Islands, you're gonna have a bad time. Bring your dorky sneakers- your feet will thank you.
Ups:
1. As I've mentioned, I'm a huge fan of the friendships that form on the trip. I happen to be a loud and friendly person so it was easy for me to find people, but if you happen to be a little shyer, find one of us loud people to hang out with! Unless you really are on the trip to be by yourself, it's really hard to go through it without picking up SOMEONE that has similar interests!
2. I can't necessarily speak for all Contiki trips at this point, but my bus driver (coach driver- whatever, Max) and tour manager were fabulous. Max H. (coach driver) was super familiar with the territory and did his best to get us places on time, if not a little earlier than planned. Sometimes I was concerned with his depth perception, but he pulled through every time with narry a scratch on the bus! Tim was fantastic as well- always making sure we all felt comfortable and included as well and encouraging us to enjoy our time to the fullest extent. He's always got a fantastic attitude on and certainly made the tour that much better.
3. You get to see some brilliant sights. If you happen to do Great Britain and Ireland, you will be exposed to some of the most glorious (in my humble opinion) landscaping in the world. Be prepared for some rain, mind you, but even still, the scenery is to die for.
4. You get to meet some wonderful people. It's a fantastic thing, being able to meet people who are nothing like you. You get to see how people think. Do they drive on the left side? Does that make them do more with their left hands? Do people actually hate peanut butter as much as the Internet would lead you to believe? Why in God's name would you spread Marmite on toast and call it breakfast? There greatest thing about traveling is that these people are not like you and you get the opportunity to expose yourself to their customs and thoughts and beliefs and find out what you really want to be.
5. Direction. I've traveled with Contiki and I've traveled by myself and I must admit, Contiki did a lot more research into fun things to do than I did. It's super rigorous, so eat your Wheaties, but you don't have to wonder, "Wow! What am I gonna do today?" Contiki has got it planned!
I suppose I could go on about my personal opinions, but I think that suffices as a decent review. Thanks again for a fantastic adventure and remember to live your life with #NoRegrets!

#ContikiTim #ContikiMaxH

My Contiki was: Adventure, Educational, Fantastic

  • Richelle Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 11 Countries

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 Lee and coach driver Szabi that we couldn't have asked for any better…as well 50 of the most amazing people I've ever met, I could not have imagined a better way to see the culture and sights of Europe!

There is definitely sooo many experiences I want to share!!

I did the European Inspiration tour from 02 May 2015 to 21 May 2015 from London - Amsterdam - Berlin - Prague - Munich - Venice - Rome - Florence - Lucerne - Paris!! 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. It was completely amazing for any first time European travellers to see LOADS of many of the main and popular cities!

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. Lucerne, Munich, Venice) so you end up having time to chill out, relax, and have some fun with your new friends, and just enjoy and relish where you are in the moment. Some places you will love and some places you may absolutely hate and you might be grateful that you only spend one day there. 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 a friend 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. We got lucky because most of the time it was all sunshine with only 3-4 days of rain. The coldest places were London (it as more windy than anything). The other places were warmer than I thought (especially Prague and Rome). You could actually get away with just wearing one layer.

Our coach driver (Szabi) and tour guide (Lee) were so amazing!! Very professional and they sure know how to have fun too!! Words cannot describe enough how utterly amazing they were the entire trip!! 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. It shows how much they enjoy their jobs and put great effort into making sure that we have the trip of a lifetime!! I just can't thank them enough!!! I would definately recommend them both. I didn’t realize that the coach 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 4 hrs the bus MUST stop for 45 minute breaks. But if the coach couldn’t take us somewhere, our tour guide Lee would buy us train/metro 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, Lee was really informative and helpful.

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.

Before we met with our fellow Contiki mates/travelling buddies, my friend and I stayed 3 nights in London prior to the start of the tour to see everything we wanted to see.
London- tour starts in the morning and you cross the English Channel on a ferry and head for Amsterdam (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 like we did. I visited St. Paul's Cathedral and walked to the very top for some pretty panoramic views of London (its worth the climb), visited the tower of London, seen the London bridge, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace (where we were also there for the birth of the Royal Baby #2 Charlotte - which was a highlight of my trip as well)!! We seen 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, Big Ben, went to Trafalgar square (cool place to just chill out). Everything in London is super easy to get to on the tube, once you work out how to use it.

Amsterdam- Amsterdam is a beautiful relaxed place with plenty to see and do. I completely love the Dutch culture of how relaxed and laid back they are! We went on a bike ride with our granny bike in the small village of Edam. Amsterdam is also as easy to get around as London due to the trams which are everywhere and many "pyschopaths on the cycle path!" LOL. We got to see the Anne Frank Haus which is a must see!! We walked into Red light district as well the first evening we arrived.

Berlin- Stopped in Dresden for lunch a cute little town, walked along east side gallery, saw checkpoint Charlie, remains of the berlin wall that used to divide east and west, Brandenburg gate, holocaust memorial, and we went on a historical walking tour which was really good in my opinion!

Prague- On the way there we stopped at German Dachua concentration camp which was very overwhelming and depressing but a place very worth visiting. I will cherish my pebble we picked up and have it on my nightstand as a constant reminder of what they have been through. We went to castle district (like the Disney castle), saw John Lennon wall, walked over Charles bridge, went to old town square and saw astronomical clock and even waited for it to chime on the hour - a long 7 minutes you can't get back - but still worth it!

Munich- Everything in Munich was closed because it was a Sunday and a holiday, but walked around and waited for the clock Glockenspiel to do its special thing! Went to traditional beer hall (2nd largest beer garden in the world and the greatest place on earth, drink beer and eat a pork knuckle!). We went on a bike tour through the city and through the Englisher Gardens, another highlight of my trip!!

Venice- my heart was left here. Such a charming city! Seen 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 wander around.

Rome- Started at Roman forum then to coliseum, went to Travi fountain (which was under construction, grrr!), went to the Pantheon, Piazza Novena, Spanish steps (which is also under construction), had a tour Vatican city and the Sistine Chapel (breath taking).

Florence- stopped at leaning tower of Pisa on the drive. We saw Ponte Venchio, Dumo (defiantly go inside), Statue of David, had lunch in the pizzeria strip (best pizza you will ever eat). We went to a leather demonstration too which was pretty amazing.

Lucerne- Saw Lion monument, walked across chapel bridge, visited Harry Swiss watch shop, went up a cable car ride to the summit of Mt. Pilates (2132m in elevation) and had a snow fight with the little bit of snow remaining up there - there was not much!

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 climbed the winding stairs to the top too) and champs eylsees street

What were the optionals like?
Everything I read before I left told me to do all of the optionals, so I did them all. I definitely recommend all of them! I don’t regret them.
Moulin Rouge – It’s a lot of money and probably not worth what your paying but it’s a MUST do when in Paris. I think it was absolutely AMAZING!! After the show, we all went to O’Sullivans next door and danced the night away as it was our last night together, the whole group was there and we all had so much fun!
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.
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.
Tuscan Evening – This is a must do!! It was a beautiful evening!!
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 sweatshirts too! We had a pretty cool design too! I wear mine all of the time.

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.
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 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.
Volendam Dinner – 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.

Best moments?
Boat cruise during free time in Lucerne, Switzerland
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.
Cable Car ride up to Mt. Pilates in Swiss Alps.
Seeing the Vatican museums and Sistine chapel.
Walking around inside the Colleseum.
Riding in a Gondola in Venice
Hofbrauhaus beer, 1L Radler beer and pork knuckles
Bike rides in Village of Edam and Munich
Visiting the Anne Frank House

My Contiki was: tripoflifetime, amazing, wortheverypenny

  • Caity Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 11 Countries

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!
TRUST ME!
DO IT.
#NOREGRETS

My Contiki was: Cultural, Exciting , Stunning

  • Lisa Level 5 Traveler
  • 5 Contikis
  • 10 Countries

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!!!

My Contiki was: Party, Beer All day Everyday, New Friends

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.

My Contiki was: Fun, Cool, amazing

European Horizon

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Fun!

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.

My Contiki was: Fun, Short, sweet

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.

Best moments?
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.

Tips?
-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.

My Contiki was: Euphoric , Excellent, Exhilarating

Spanish Spree

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ An Absolute Must.
  • katyharmer Level 2 Traveler
  • 2 Contikis
  • 7 Countries

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! :)

My Contiki was: educational, fun, amazing

European Discovery

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Dream Trip
  • branditurn Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 9 Countries

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.

  • Julie_828 Level 1 Traveler
  • 1 Contiki
  • 1 Country

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!

Greek Island Hopping

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ #noregrets

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 :)

My Contiki was: amazing, party, relaxation

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