Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
What can I say, i heard the hype about contiki's from all my friends at home who had travelled before me and it definitely lived up to it. This trip was amazing and I met some awesome people as well.
The one downside to the whole thing (hard to even really think of one) was the amount of time spent in the bus. This however, did allow for bonding with the team and for some awesome sight seeing.
Definitely take this trip if you are keen to see the highlights of the cities included. You get enough time to see them (but not too much else) before you are on the road again.
Would do again, and again and again :) and will definitely be booking my next contiki soon!
The tour was amazing, everyday was full on I really don't feel like I wasted a minute... even the bus trips were awesome!
From the beginning the tour guide makes efforts to make sure everyday feels welcomed and ready to go. He was very informed and practiced in describing and embracing everyone in the NZ culture. The Optional Extras I chose to go on were all great and they were timed to make everything work. The only complaint is that the tour ended.
Definitely planning to finish the tour (South Island) through contiki asap!
This trip was awesome! It's so short though, and you are the last tour group to be picked up from the indochina tours, so you get put with other people who have started travelling before you and they are already a close group. The optionals are great and I HIGHLY recommend the off shore island cruise... Why is that not compulsory!? I also recommend eating out with your friends in small street style restaurants instead of the larger/fancier ones, as they cost a heck of a lot more and they aren't as good as the cheap street food. Do not follow your gut instincts! If a place looks and smells bad, you would normally walk straight past it! But in Vietnam you MUST give it a go!! My friends and I tried some of the dodgiest markets and we all thoroughly enjoyed the food and nobody got sick! The transport was awesome and always on time (except for the flights) but our awesome tour manager managed to still fit in all of our activities. The tour is really fast paced and every time you get 'free time' you usually find yourself resting! I loved it so much and I would go back in a heartbeat though!
Day 1: NYC. The meet up meeting where you just get talked at by your tour guide goes for a few hours, get comfortable!! This needs to be shorter, or given to us by email or something before the first night. Most of us wanted to get to activities, not waste time listening to a lot of stuff we may have already known. This time would be great for some team bonding/getting to know each other activities or something!
Dinner in Times Square (included) is quite good, however, because you haven't yet met anyone, it can be a bit difficult to meet many people yet as you're all sitting on different tables. The bar we went to this night was great, really chilled out and pretty cheap! Good to start getting to know the group.
Day 2: NYC. The breakfast place in New York is pretty damn shitty, "Marche Madison", this could probably be changed with literally ANYTHING else in Manhattan and it would be an improvement. Too bad the most breakfasts on this tour are all four days in NYC here...
The bus tour in the morning is great as you get to see a bit of everything and it's quite easy going, with a few stops. Do the "Top of the Rock" at Rockafella Centre here as you get a better viewpoint I think than Empire State.
I did the helicopter optional "New York, New York" which was great but is only about 22 minutes and $235USD which is quite pricey! Only 3 people in my tour did it.
Free Afternoon/Evening: This afternoon two of us went to Soho to explore as we wouldn't otherwise get to go. Interesting experience although it can feel a bit scary at night.
Day 3: NYC. Statue of Liberty this morning, good trip on the ferry. Unfortunately in winter the ferry timetables don't allow for you to get off at Ellis Island, so you can only stop to look on the ferry. The Statue of Liberty tickets Contiki gives you are to climb up to the platform (at the feet of the statue), NOT to the crown of the platform so be aware.
This afternoon is the food cart tour, which was amazing!! Pretty good value at around $45USD as you get 5 meals and a drink, you'll be rolling home!
Dinner tonight is not included at the Tapas Bar and is pretty tasty but expensive for America!
The nightlife bar tonight was pretty bad (The Mean Fiddler). A gross backpackers bar with extremely pricey drinks ($9 for a Midori and Sprite, about $4-8 in Australia depending on where you go). This place was pretty sticky and gross, a lot of our group either didn't go or left early like us.
Day 4: NYC.
Free day in the tour! Today two of us got up early as we weren't hungover and went to the TKTS stand under the Spiderman stairs in Times Square and got half price tickets for a Broadway show (Mamma Mia). Go at 11am for Matinée shows on weekends, and 3pm for all night shows and have a few options ready. You can't split the bill here or you can't get seats together. After this we walked around Times Square/5th Avenue area and then went home for a nap before going to Empire State Building (You get given a ticket on day 1) then home to bed.
Must suggest SHAKE SHACK for food in NYC!!! It's predominantly on the East Coast and is undeniably good, especially in comparison to the abundance of greasy food in the States.
Day 5: -> Las Vegas. Super early morning, meeting at 7:30am in the lobby for the bus to the airport and we had a stop over in Denver, Colorado. This is a long day of flying (8 hours I think) and in Vegas you'll be 3 hours behind the NY time so you'll be exhausted. Tonight you go to a pretty average food place (Buca Di Beppo) and meet with other tour groups doing the trip the opposite way. The food is average because it's just plates of carby food like "parmigiana" and pasta as well as a salad (If you could call it that) covered in dressing. Not much of a healthy choice here.
After this you go to a nightclub... I didn't however as I got tickets to a Cirque du Soilel show (LOVE by the Beatles, amazing if you get the chance!!) however I heard the club was ok from others who went. The Contiki "Surprise" is this night as well. It was ok from what the others say.
Day 6: Vegas.
The Buffet breakfast here is about 7/10 and literally has everything from breakfast to dessert but you only got 1 included breakfast which was a shame as this was the best of the trip. It's only about $20 for the buffet so you could easily go again.
Free day so most of us went to the Outlets. We went to the South and were very disappointed. The North ones are far better!! However we booked a limo as it was only about $10 each way for each of us each way (Same as a cab) and far more fun. We managed to tip our driver $5 to stop at the Vegas sign for a photo for us which was great as our Contiki group was so small (18 of us) and 15 people needed to sign up for the group photo for it to go ahead.
In the night most of the group went to the "Cirque" show Le Reve, which I heard was only ok. If you didn't go to this you had to make your own way to the theatre to get your 'included limo ride with champagne'. The limo does a few loops of the Strip then takes you to the club of the night "Marquee" with about 5 other Contiki groups. Most people who go out in Vegas are pretty old for clubbing, like 40+ and then over 200 of you Australians.
Wasn't that impressed with Vegas nightlife, as a basic drink was at least $20 (more with tip) and a GLASS OF TAP WATER was $8 (!!!!!!). We left after that and had a good wander of the Strip as the club was a bit disappointing.
Day 7: Vegas. Helicopter at the Grand Canyon!
It's an early morning as you get a bus to Boulder City then use Papillon Helicopters to get to the Canyon. You get a champagne breakfast, which was really lunch at about 10:30am (Sandwich, chips, soft drink, champagne and a brownie), with only about 5-10 minutes to spare to wonder around the small rock and get photos after eating. Frustrating it worked out that way. We went to the South part of the canyon I think, which was in Arizona. If I had my time again, I would have found a way to get out to the Canyon to go on the SkyWalk and have a better look around. The helicopter was great though!
After this you have a free afternoon so we wondered around the inside of the casino's on the strip and went to SHAKE SHACK as we found a newly opened one!
The nightclub tonight has a good view but we decided not to go in the end as it was an early morning the next day for San Fran and we wanted to get a good rest.
Day 8: -> San Fran.
Another early morning for a flight to San Fran (Oakland airport) which was short and sweet thank goodness!
When we land we did our bus tour for the bulk of the day (probably until 3pm?) where we stopped at a few places like pier 39 (good clam chowder!). It was a good tour overall.
Dinner tonight was an included one, at APPLEBEES. Awful awful food! Contiki should really consider changing this as there are fantastic restaurants and Applebees gave me a bowl of dressing with some pieces of lettuce in it to be frank.
We went on a catamaran trip tonight on the water, freezing but amazing!! Be careful of dropping your phones and cameras in the water.
The nightlife tonight was at a duelling piano bar, we didn't go as we went on an epic Target excursion (We'd heard it was totally different in the States and we weren't disappointed!) but I heard the bar was great!
Day 9: San Fran. This was the designated day for people who wanted to/had booked already to go to Alcatraz. I didn't go and I kind of wish I had.
I did the optional bike tour over the golden gate bridge (22km!!!) and it was tough but amazing! Our tour guide was ...interesting. He was young and in a group of all girls so was doing it tough fitness wise as we weren't very fast haha!
Dinner tonight is an included Chinese meal in Chinatown. It was pretty good although there was no honey chicken, we were absolutely stuffed with food!! There was nightlife after this but we went to Cheesecake Factory in Union Square instead and it was amazing!
Day 10: San Fran. A free day so we did our laundry at a cool place, then some went to the shops, some went and got drunk in a park and people watched (?), and we went to check out some touristy things like the Painted Ladies in Alamo Park and Lombard St (The crooked st!), after this we found some cheap souvenir shops down near fisherman's wharf, and we had some seafood for dinner. After this we went walking around Fisherman's wharf and got an Uber to the hotel.
Day 11: -> LA. After our short flight we had our bus tour around LA (The best way to get around as LA is really spread out). We had an hour stop in Venice Beach (Too long, as it was almost lunch time and we were told Lunch was at the next stop, although not included). We then stopped at Santa Monica but only for 1.5 hours (Not long enough! Especially as this was the lunch stop so after that there was only a little time to walk down to the pier and that was it :( We also stopped in Hollywood which was good as we had a good look around.
There was some nightlife but I didn't go as we had Disneyland the next day.
Day 12: LA. Disneyland Optional Day. It's a super long day so be prepared. The bus company is Lux buses, and because Anaheim is so far away its about a 45 minute trip each way. Warning, you will not be able to see the fireworks which is disappointing but oh well (The bus picks you up at 8pm). No nightlife tonight that I know of.
Day 13: A free day or Universal Studios Optional.
We went to Warner Bros Studios tour this day instead which was great, then got the train back to Hollywood on the way home.
Included dinner tonight at the hotel which is ok. Nightlife tonight is the Pub Crawl. A bit disappointing to be honest. You only go to crappy bars/pubs like backpackers places that I can't believe they even asked for ID hahaha!
This is where I went completely off our tour guide as he took one of the girls home with him and lied about it to everyone else.
Day 14: End of the tour! Really nothing happens today as you don't technically see anybody from tour, except that most of us arranged to meet up for breakfast this morning.
Optionals I did:
New York Helicopter $235
NYC Food Cart tour $45
Grand Canyon Helicopter $366
Vegas Club money ($30 to some sleazy club promoter who didn't look older than 17 - regret)
San Fran Bike Tour $45
Disneyland + Transfers (2 parks) $179
Hollywood club crawl $22.
I did absolutely everything I wanted to on optionals which was great. I was disappointed with our tour guide as I found him to be really pushy about the nightlife and drinking, and we could tell he was really disappointed to get a group which was small and not many partiers. He continually would say things like "I wish more people came out last night... you missed a great chance to bond", not everyone want to be hungover all day on an expensive holiday and this needs to be respected. I found him to be sleezy and he asked for "between $50 and $100" even though the Contiki suggests $3 a day for great service. To be honest, in our group of 3 we gave $20 each as it was the end of the trip and we weren't impressed. Others gave up to $120 (!!!) and regretted it later that night when he took home someone and acted quite sleezy. Overall, I enjoyed the trip and make great life long friends but probably will be deterred from all Contiki's due to the hassling about drinking/partying and our Tour guide trying to bully everyone into doing heaps of optionals to get his commission money.
There were so many great things about this trip - the scenery, accommodation, tour manager/driver, fellow travellers, included activities and meals..it completely exceeded my expectations. We were in the midst of beautiful lakes and locations right from day 1 - always something interesting so see on the journeys between the towns. I chose only a few optional activities, including bungy jumping, but there was always something to do - either by yourself or with the group. A hike through the Franz Josef Glacier Valley was a highlight, as well as a day trip to Milford Sound - a scenery junkie's delight. Made some great memories and great new friends, I'd recommend this trip to all.
This was my first time travelling "solo". I'm so glad I chose this tour. It was only a short tour, being 10 days long, and I wish I had booked the longer tour, as time flew by. The tour set a good pace, fitting in lots of site seeing and activities, but also giving an adequate amount of "free time" to explore locations by yourself or with friends. My tour guide was amazing and I was lucky enough to be upon her final tour before she retired from tour managing. I enjoyed my time with a great bunch of people, from all over the world, from all walks of life, and of wide variety of ages. It was a very mind opening experience and I wouldn't change anything about the tour. Definitely do this tour(or a longer one, as you'll wish you booked a longer one) if you get the chance.
With it being my first time travelling AND I was alone, I was extremely worried that I wouldn't cope with the fast pace of a Contiki tour.
Luckily for me, the Thai Island Hopper West tour was relaxed with a lot of free time to explore the islands how I wanted and at the pace I wanted.
With a great tour group, great food, and sights for everyone to enjoy, I was not let down!!
This tour was AMAZING! Our tour guide, Bree, was down to earth and extremely knowledgeable. And our driver, Ricky, was awesome with getting us around London and Paris safely (ninja driving skills with that bus!) I went on this tour by myself and had just as much fun, I reckon, if not more fun than if I went with someone I knew. I made friends right away and we all became like a small family for these 9 days. (EX: The pic from Stonehenge was the first of many group pics on day 1). I still talk to most of the people from my tour on a regular basis and we're even trying to plan another Contiki trip together! Friends from around the world = happiness.
I went on every excursion/Me-Time option they offered (why not?) and STILL had plenty of time to go see things that I wanted. It's hard to pick just one favorite memory... and 9 days seems to go by in the blink of an eye! This tour definitely gives you a good taste of London and Paris, so if you ever wanted to go back, you can re-visit some goodies and explore a little more! The hotels were nice. They weren't 5-star resorts, but honestly, you're not in the rooms that often. Sleeping, showering. That's about it. But they were still nice, clean, and functional. And the hotel staff at both places were extremely helpful when we had questions.
I went on this tour from Sept 6th - 14th, 2014 and the weather was GORGEOUS! I think we happen to hit a "warm spell" in both locations, but never the less, September was an amazing time to go because the weather was still nice but most of the summer tourists had come and gone (AKA not as crowded as it could be).
Honestly, book this tour. You won't regret it.
Awesome trip, very fast-moving and so much fun
This tour was everything I could have hoped for and more. With two full days in each city you really have the time to enjoy your surroundings and take in everything. Jason, our tour guide and Tony, our driver were both fantastic! Jason was so knowledgeable and informative which made the trip run smoothly. The day trip to Stonehenge and Bath from London was a great opportunity to experience a bit of the English countryside and interact with the locals. The Eiffel Tower and Versailles in Paris were well worth the wait and although the Rome section of the tour was unguided we were given more than enough information and necessities to comfortably find our way around.
My suggestions would be to take advantage of every optional activity available to you, they are all well worth it. Eat like the locals and enjoy their authentic cuisine. Also, take a moment to relax and really take it all in. This is a busy tour. Most of my days started by 7am and some nights I didn't get back to the hotel until after 1am. You always have time to sleep on the bus so don't worry about not getting enough sleep!
I would 100% recommend this tour. It is a great beginner tour for Europe if you are looking to see multiple cities, without being overwhelmed all at once.
what a trip to just relax and soak up the sun - while experiencing both day and nights of this beautiful country and island. absolutely unforgettable day trips sight seeing through the history of Greece and memorable crazy fun nights out in the streets of the islands - where you dance till you can't feel your feet!!!
Courtney, our Tour Guide, livened up the party and atmosphere! made us feel like we had known each other for years!
Definitely recommend this EVERYONE!!!
Mexico Grande was amazing, I didn't really know what to expect from Mexico but it was the food, the people and the beautiful cities and culture that made it so memorable. Along with that we had an awesome tour guide!
There is now a special place in my heart for Mexico and I definitely want to get back there ASAP!
Simply Italy, Simply Amazing - That would be the best way to describe the trip, Everything about the Contiki was wonderful would definitely recommend
An incredible Contiki Adventure.
It was my first contiki tour, I was going alone and I was scared. The contiki was easy to organise and tour leader Pheobee, made me feel so comfortable and at ease. You meet so many people, so do not be scared to go alone - You won't regret it!
What we saw/What we did: Do all of the optional extras, I did and they were all awesome. Beware of the heat, bring electrolytes, drink plenty of water and wear a hat. In terms of what we, Ho Chi Minh is great, arrive early and spend a few extra days there. The Mekong Delta and the home stay night is awesome fun, beware of the Jungle Punch though. The Cu Chi tunnels was an amazing experiences, yes it is cramped and small inside, but you must go in! It's something you'll never forget. Nha Trang, was my favourite destination. The island hopping day in Nha Trang is a must, the mud baths were heaps of fun too. In Hoi An everything is absolutely adorable, I didn't get anything made, but heaps of people chose to get clothes made, instead we decided to get a bit of pampering, hire bikes and explore the towns and beaches (it was incredible). Then heading up to Hanoi and Halong Bay, Hanoi is a pretty cool city, we had a lot of fun there, and Halong Bay is amazing! The canoeing optional is a must, the caves are beautiful and the Boat party is great Fun.
Optionals: Do all the optionals, its a once in a life time experience, do them all! If not, the Island hopping in Nha Trang, The Mudbaths, The Temple visit and the Canoeing in Halong Bay were the most fun.
Accommodation/Food: All of the accommodation was beautiful. The hotels were in awesome locations and so clean and beautiful and all came with breakfast. The Mekong Delta special stay is heaps of fun and very clean too. I did not have a bad meal at all in Vietnam, try everything, their local and western food is both amazing.
Transport: The bus was great, clean and with zircon - don't worry you sleep most of the time on the buses anyways.
Tour mates, Best Moments: Everything was a highlight. There was never a dull moment. It was definitely worth the money. Everyone in the group was lovely, I was 18 at the time and the youngest, the group ranged in aged up to 32. Everyone got on really well with a group of 29 at it's biggest, some people left on different tours at different points in the journey. As for best moment, I met a guy on Tour from Perth (I am from Queensland) and we are still dating today, it was love at first sight.
Eye opening experience. You want to have fun? go on this tour!
it was so amazing! first time traveling and I was alone but it was amazing. tons of stuff to do back to back never busy. met amazing people it truly is worth everything. hotels aren't as fancy but overall it was amazing. our tour guide was the best!
Thanks for a truly amazing, life changing experience.
Just wanted to give 5 big golden stars to you for such an incredible trip.
It was a great mix of partying, sight seeing, culture, friendship and experiences.
I have to say, I don't think I could have possibly seen so many things in so little time on any other tour... just incredible. I true life changer!
This trip was amazing! If you want to get a taste of Europe, this journey had a great balance between culture and party! We had an awesome group, spread right from 18 to 35. The people were mainly Aussie on our tour with a few cool South Africans and Kiwi's. We all got along and the contiki staff made sure we got to know each other.
Tammy our TM and Krzysztof the Driver were fantastic and flexible. They were well informed and gave us plenty of tips on each city. The countries we visited were beautiful in Winter. It was the perfect way to get a taste of each capital city. 2 nights would be the minimum though, you only get 1 full day in each city and 2 nights.
The cities! Amsterdam was awesome but 2 days was enough, choose all the ME time activity!
Germany was more cultural than fun, I'd suggest booking some good bars or clubs in advance as it gets busy.
Prague was the stand out, so unexpected, best country by far. The people are really friendly and the food is amazing. Be sure to only eat in small groups as most of the restaurants are pretty small. They also have the cheapest shopping, basics like H&M etc... but really good quality and lowest prices. YOU MUST TRY THE ANONYMOUS BAR or the VODKA BAR. Google them and book at least the Anonymous Bar, so worth it!
Italy was amazing! Be prepared to pay a little more and eat in the more expensive cafe's, the alley ways are a little over rated. Just go and get lost in Venice, eat everything you can in Florence and do all the touristy stuff in Rome. Rome was a good party city. In Florence, don't just shop at the expensive leather places, the markets are OK quality too.
Switzerland was expensive but worth it. If you buy in bulk at the Watch & Swiss Knife stores you save!
Paris was great but be prepared for a lot of walking if you want to squeeze everything into one day. I didn't want to miss anything and we managed the Eiffel Tower, Arc Di Triumph, shopped along Champs-Elysees, Eating Escargot (just off Champs, go down the side stress for good value) and the Love Lock Bridge in one day, but had to miss the Louvre. The line was massive.
The ME time optional activities were pretty cool, but touristy, be sure too budget for them. I chose them all which was an additional $750ish but worth it. You could easily venture off on your own though and still discover each city, but a majority of the group go so it's nice to stick together. If you don't want to spend the additional $$ on the ME Time's, you can skip the dinners but do all the day activities. You can still catch up with everyone after the meal.
Everything was really well organised, the tour manager was hilarious and really cool. I would go back!
My hot tips are;
For the Wi-Fi junkies, if you don't have global roaming (expensive) go to a 3 store or Vodafone in London (there's one close to the Contiki Hotel) and get yourself the "Feel at Home" package. It cost me 15 pounds for unlimited data in 6 of the 8 countries. The other 2 I just used hotel Wi-Fi or a local café.
Listen to the Tour Manager, read their map and take their list of tips. Prepare each day in advance and make the most of the daytime in each city. You will regret missing out.
Help your hangover! The tour moves fast! Eat plenty of fresh & healthy food @ the service stops on bus days. You tend to let yourself go in each country so use the bus days (every 2nd - 3rd day) to rejuvenate before the next drinking session! You can buy fruit and water from most places, stock up in advance!
If you're clever and see a cool bar or restaurant whilst wandering around during the day, book it for night-time, save you moving from place to place looking for a seat in the busy months.
Ask your Tour Manager in advance how long the walking tours are, some are 1 hour some go for 3 hours. My recommendation is do them all to orientate yourself but you don't have to stay the whole tour.
Use trains as much as possible, they're cheap. But if you use taxi's agree on the price or ask them to put the meter on before you get in!
Don't forget your ID for the clubs, crazy on that!
DONT MISS THE BUS! Set your alarm and use the wake up calls from the hotels, they come in handy!
It's rude not to tip! They get paid less in Europe so spare a few coins for all the walking tours or restaurants, they also treat you better at a bar if you tip early in the night!
The European Whirl was the perfect trip. My sister when she was younger did a 12 day contiki tour and the one thing she said she regretted was that she didn't go longer. 18 days was perfect - a little over two weeks, great price and even then I probably could have stayed longer! I felt this trip went to all the places in Europe that needed ticked off and the rest could be done later. My favourite places were Berlin (the history), the Swiss and Austrian Alps (jaw-droppingly beautiful) and Italy as a whole. I never used to drink a lot or party much which was a running joke by the end of the tour because well... These guys turned me into a short-term alcoholic. It's hard not too when your basically with your best friends every day and night having the time of your life. Must do optionals is the paragliding in Austria and water rafting in Austria. In fact most of the optionals are fabulous... Some of the tours are a bit boring but it's nice to mix the partying with the culture really. Our tour guide was Lilly and she was amazing. She deserves a raise for dealing with us and by us I mean we did have one douche bag on our trip but she handled him as well as she could given the circumstances. Bart our bus driver, the polish sexy silent assassin, was brilliant too. This tour = 10/10
Berlin to Budapest was my third Contiki trip after I did European Escapade and Croatian Sail in the summer of 2012 and this time round wanted to see Europe during the magical period that is winter, more specifically Europe just before Christmas. Every city you visit will be magically lit up and there will be plenty of local festivities occurring. Other than the lack of snow it truly was a winter wonderland and December was the perfect time to do it. I do recommend that you do spend an extra night in Budapest or leave late as i felt that there wasn't enough time to get all the cheap shopping, out door spa'ing and lake skating done.
Check out the video created of the trip then times it by 50 and you'll get a feel of what this trip is like.