Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
This was my first tour with Contiki but it sure wont be the last.
This trip was an amazing adventure from the start in LA, all the way to San Francisco. I first chose this tour because it provided the best way of getting around this part of the US and had all the places I wanted to visit from San Diego, Vegas, LA, San Francisco and my favourite the Grand Canyon.
Travelling solo I had small reservations but once you start the tour your make good friends with people from all over the world and have the best experience and time of your life! Our guide Jack was great, he had lots of knowledge on the places we visited, the places to party and was a funny dude.
If I had to pick out some favourite moments from the many it have to be the powerboats in San Diego harbour, Helicopter (imperial –GO BIG) and bike ride in Grand Canyon and the sunset catamaran cruise under the Golden Gate bridge in San Fran. The only problem with the trip is that it goes way too fast and when you first get your Contiki pack you may cringe at #NOREGRETS but come the end it will be your ethos.
I loved this trip. I took it two years ago and it was my second contiki I had ever done. The first contiki I did was the big European Adventure five years ago. I would absolutely recommend this asia trip to all of you. I LOVEEEED it!!!!!
This regional tour was my second with Contiki, and it was an intense journey through a beautifully complex part of the world. This tour is great for anyone, especially people interested in WWII and Cold War history. In this review I'll capture some of the highlights and provide tips that we found helpful during the trip.
Expect adequate, but not excessive rooms at the hotels. Expect continental breakfasts that feature cold cuts, cheese, and some muffins/croissants, often supplemented with dodgy scrambled eggs and hot dogs masquerading as sausages. Expect free wi-fi at all of the hotels, which are usually outside of the city centers but close to public transit.
Expect 12 variations on a theme of meat & potatoes. Whether it's bratwurst in Berlin, goulash in Hungary, pierogi in Poland, or dumplings in Slovakia, you will eat very basic (but delicious!) foods these two weeks.
2 weeks traveling by coach is going to put a strain on your immune system, no matter how healthy you start out. Take your multivitamins, listen to your body when you need rest, and don't go big right off the bat. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Aspirin is remarkably difficult to find in this part of Europe, so pack accordingly.
If you don't already know, figure out how to read a metro/bus timetable. All of these cities have great public transit systems that will take you anywhere worth going until at least 11:30pm (24 hours in Budapest).
As of 2014, you'll use four different types of currency on this trip, so research and plan accordingly so you don't lose a bunch of money paying fees at the exchanges.
There will be no opportunities to do your laundry that you do not make yourself. The hotels will charge you an arm & a leg for their service, so I recommend Vienna as a midpoint to find yourself a laundromat.
THE TOUR GROUP
This was the second Conitki and with a group of about 50, there were a lot of people to get to know. Of course the natural sub-group divisions came into play before long, usually along the lines of age, interest, and relationship status. The best thing about these Contikis is that you will usually find like-minded travelers that you connect easily with. It won't be everyone, but you'll still leave with some gems to keep in touch with.
THE TOUR MANAGER
Included in the cost of your trip is the service of a tour manager. In my mind, they are there to help get you from A to B, and to help direct you to the scenes that interest you. Our tour manager, Danny Steenkamp, went above and beyond this by:
- Giving a (sometimes quite detailed!) introduction to the history of the place we were visiting
- Providing us with an array of options for every traveler type - the historian, the foodie, the partygoer, the alcoholic, the culture vulture, the shopper. At no point did we ever feel like there was enough time spent in any one place, but that's the point.
- Providing suggestions for cheap eats for those on a budget
- Giving us a 'cheat sheet' with tips on local food and drink, taxis and metro service, basic translations (greetings, please/thank you), popular sights to see and cost/hours, including some off-the-beaten path for those who didn't want to stick to the 'touristy stuff.'
- Above all, being a generally well-informed and respectable human being that you'd want to hang out with, even if you weren't paying for his guidance
The first night is a brief introduction to your tour manager, a drive around the city, and an included dinner featuring traditional German cuisine. This "group first date" was a great way to get introduced to some of your fellow travelers.
The second day in Berlin offers two optionals, both of which we did:
- Berlin Walking Tour. We loved this stroll that covered several landmarks, primarily because our local guide (Alex) did such a great job putting everything in context, prompting us to think about different ways to interpret the things we were seeing.
- Eye Spy Tour. Essentially a shortened walking tour that focuses on the Berlin Wall, and ends up at two different bars where the group can participate in a fun mystery-solving activity. This was a hit for us because the same guide from the morning did a similarly excellent job with this.
Our stopover on the way to Prague was Dresden, which was very picturesque.
The first evening in Prague features an included walking tour that takes you to the St. Vitus Cathedral, and the famous "Golden Lane" that features Franz Kafka's house. This is the first breathtaking view of a city that you'll see on this tour. Our guide Sara was wonderfully cheerful even when describing the darker moments of the Soviet occupation of then-Czechoslovakia. The Czech Republic is the least-religious country on the tour, but you'll be amazed to hear about some of the superstitions and odd traditions of these people! We did one of the two Prague optionals:
- Traditional Czech evening. This is a dinner that features local Czech cuisine accompanied by traditional Czech song and dance performed live. Very enjoyable, lots of food, and the wine & beer flows pretty freely this night.
Our stopover on the way to Vienna was Kutna Hora, which was my favorite stopover because of the Sedlec Ossuary (so many bones!!).
Vienna is the most upscale, classy-feeling stop that shows the least of the damage resulting from WWII, despite being bombed over 50 times and briefly occupied by the Soviets immediately after the war. A walking tour of the city is included the first morning in Vienna, which centered around the legacy of the powerful Habsburg family that held its seat of power here for over 600 years. We spent most of our free time in the museums, especially the Natural History Museum, which is massive! Also, our best meal of the trip (planned outside of the tour) was at a Hungarian restaurant called MINI. We did one optional:
- Schnaps Museum. This is a visit to one of Vienna's finest Schnaps-producing facilities, with an introduction to the Fischer family who has been distilling the local fruits into this very tasty beverage. This was one of the best bang-for-the-buck optionals as a tasting is included at the end (which includes absinthe with an alcohol content as high as 80%!).
Our stopover on the way to Budapest was Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. More meat and dumplings!
The first order of business was a brief tour of the Buda side of the city (our local guide was Natasha), which took us up to Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion, and then to the Citadel where the Liberty Statue marks the highest point of the city. This is the second time you'll encounter a breathtaking view of the city, which was my favorite on the tour. During our free time the next day we made a stop at the Terror House to get a glimpse of Hungary's dark history under the Communist regime, and while we didn't make it to the Turkish baths, that is our reason to come back. We did one optional:
- Budapest River Cruise. Easily the best optional on the entire trip - lots of good food, wine, and by this time you've likely connected with the travelers that you'll become close to, making for some great conversations.
Our stopover on the way to Krakow was Banská Bystrica, a picturesque little town that you really only need an hour or so to see.
The first stop in Krakow was dinner in the Jewish Quarter Krakow kicks off with another walking tour that took us to Wawel Castle, which is one of Poland's most culturally important sites -- as a former home to Polish kings and a symbol of Polish statehood. With our free time we attempted to visit the museum where Oskar Schindler's factory once was, but it was closed. We spent the day wandering around the city center looking for polish food to eat and cheap souvenirs to buy. Our final optionals:
- The Salt Mines tour. This is a great underground exploration of 700-year-old salt mines, an impressive part of Krakow's industry. It's a lot of walking, but you see these amazing caverns that were carved out without the help of explosives or industrial drilling equipment.
- Pierogi Dinner. Pierogi was my favorite version of potato dumplings on this tour, and so I really enjoyed this hearty meal. The "piergi making" is really optional, if you'd prefer to simply watch and eat.
The first "stopover" on the way to Warsaw is a longer visit at Auschwitz. There is nothing I can say that will prepare you for walking on this ground. Soak it in, feel the feels, and pay your respects to this troubling place.
Our second stopover between Krakow and Warsaw was Częstochowa, whose claim to fame is the Icon of the Black Madonna housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery.
We were introduced to Warsaw on the final full day of our trip via a walking tour with another local guide who took us to some of Warsaw's landmarks, including a Chopin statue, the memorial to the Jewish Ghetto, and the memorial to the Warsaw Uprising during WWII. In our free time we visited the Museum of the Polish underground movement, as well as the Chopin Museum - which is a must for anyone remotely familiar with his work. The final included dinner this night is a great way to finish off the tour.
ENDING THE TOUR
We took the coach back to Berlin from Warsaw. Note that this is basically a 9:00 to 5:00 drive. We'd likely depart out of Warsaw if we did it over again.
After getting back and getting right back into work, I miss everyone already. This was a fast pace, site seeing packed trip. I took an additional day in London and went site seeing, met some locals and they actually toured me around on their day off. We rented bikes for 2euro and biked around everywhere, I highly suggest this. I felt like I fit in even though I was biking on a tourist bike. I checked in and met the Contiki group, and me, my friend, and 2 new people went out and partied hard. Instantly we were good friends. Me and my friend missed the bus going to Amsterdam funny enough. So we took the train and after leaving 4 hours after the group, we got to the hotel in Amsterdam pretty much on time. The Canal cruise was a great way to break the ice, especially because I missed the games on the bus. After that was the sex show, I opted out and kinda regret it. But everyone said it was weird, and kinda awkward, but people always joked about it. After that was a night in Amsterdam to ourselves. The Tour manager said she’d take everyone to a bar called Baluchi’s, I would suggest going elsewhere. Nothing wrong with the place, just kinda touristy. Then the night was done and we had the morning/afternoon in Amsterdam then off to St Goar. This is a quaint little town, but you stop off there so the bus driver can get rest. I’d suggest the wine tasting, it’s kinda cool. I don’t drink wine at all and I found this wine sweet. So if you’re not a wine drinker, this is the wine for you. Then back to the hotel to have a few more drinks. Next up was Munich. Since we went during Oktoberfest we had a quick bike tour with “Mikes Bikes”. It was like 1 hour, besides the 3-4 hour bike tour they normally do. I found them somewhat funny, but I couldn’t handle them for 3 hours. Very high energy, and very crude. But they were informative. Next off was OKTOBERFEST! We got to the gates around 530, and had to be back at the bus for 9pm. That was enough time for sure. We went to one tent, stayed the whole time. I got up to 5 steins (5L of beer), and I think that was the max our group did. We got crazy lucky and had a group of 10-12 people in one area, you usually stick with 2-3 max. I had so much fun there, but that’s my personality. If you aren’t a drinker, there’s rollercoasters, shops, street performers and such. Next was Austria. I did white water rafting and boy was that some great water. I couldn’t stop drinking it to cure the hangover. The cold water once you jump in is a great cure too. Our guide (Magnus) was hilarious, and his life stories were cool. Back to the hotel after that, and then to the hotel bar for a few schnapps shots. You need to try a few because they are crazy good guys, crazy good. Then to a local bar where there was another Contiki group, this place was like a wine cellar. It was cool, packed, and quite German. They had a guy revving a chainsaw to get people’s attention to go to another room to watch them dance. I liked it, could have done without the diesel smell afterwards. Now off to Italy. For me though, I didn’t have fun in Italy. I got food poisoning (along with like 6 others) after the Venetian Dinner, which ruined the next few days for me obviously. I’d suggest not doing the Venice walking tour, very quick and not really worth the money. I’d also skip the dinner, you can find much better food elsewhere (Our Tour Guide said it was below par and she complained though). So 1st day in Rome I didn’t leave the hotel room, 2nd day in Rome we did see a lot, but again I was gun-shy when it came to food and drinks, so I didn’t have a fun time again. Florence was awesome, great views, great weather, and a good walking tour. I went up the Domo on my free time and I’d suggest that. The Tuscan dinner was alright, nothing out of this world. You aren’t on the hills actually, no view, just in a hall almost. Then Disco techa. If you’re confident on going partying on your own I’d suggest it, this place made money off Contiki, that’s it. No locals really go. Kinda fun, but Karaoke they do isn’t real Karaoke, so don’t expect to really sing. Then to Switzerland (Lucerne). DO BOTH EXCURSIONS! The cable car ride up was sick, once at the top of the hill; definitely go walking on the trails, very sick sights. Then the Lake Cruise. I almost didn’t do it, but very glad I did. It was nice and relaxing, and the first time I felt calm and relaxed all trip. The Swiss Alps in the background were breath taking. Definitely bring your camera here, I left mine at the hotel and regret it. If you want to buy a watch or knife, do it before the lake cruise if you have time, places close at 7pm and the store Contiki takes you too admittedly make their sales off Contiki. Try and go somewhere else, you’d get a better deal. Paris is next and it was cool. Eiffel tower at night is great, but wait till 10pm, 11pm, or 12am. It sparkles. I went back to the hotel that night with the bus because I was beat and need some sleep. Next day I skipped the bus tour and perfume shop to go into Paris with a small group. I liked that better, we got A LOT more time to go at our own speed, which was glacier at that time because we were all tired. Louvre (watch your wallets, mine was taken there), Notre Dame, Arc de Triumph, Love Lock Bridge, shopping strip, and something else were my sights, and it was very cool just to walk around. Do the cabaret show, it was so cool. We tipped our server and got free beer fed to us which was sick. But the food was good (not great) but the entertainment was great. The dancing, the magic, the juggling, the great promoted street performers were all around awesome. Then we went to a bar beside Moulin Rouge (O’sullivans) and from what I remember I had fun. I woke up at the wrong hotel and had to run back to my correct hotel to make the bus to the airport in time. But that was the best way to finish the trip.
If you are worried about making friends, don’t be. On my flight home we had 6 of us, and we all booked our seats together. I even moved from a great leg room seat to a normal one. If you are open to people, everyone will become friends with you. This is a great way to do a trip, just be prepared to have no sleep for 14 days.
Oktoberfest was one in a million if you haven't already been, you have to go to Oktoberfest. It is one of the best festivals I have ever been to. Loads of beer flowing, the most amazing pork knuckle and half a chicken its awesome. There are tons of rides and roller coasters and something to entertain everyone, was one massive adults playground. The hostel was brilliant. There was a long coach ride from London but after the amazing experience at the festival, the coach ride didn't really matter. Met some awesome people and made the trip even better. If you are considering doing it, you won't regret it :)
Contiki's Eastern Road was far above and beyond everything I expected! So many amazing cities: Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Kutna Hora, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Banska Bystricia, Krakow, Auschwitz and Warsaw. It was the most magnificent setting to make some truly incredible friends with whom I experienced the greatest two weeks of my life. I went on the trip alone, and while there were several couples on the trip I found it easy to click with the group as a lone traveller. For me, the two highlights of the trip were the bike tour around Prague, and the dinner cruise in Budapest. Prague is the most gorgeous place I've ever been, and Budapest lit up at night from the Danube is the kind of view you get once or twice in a lifetime. I was also so lucky to have an awesome tour manager and driver who joked around with us and had tons of suggestions of extra things we could do in our free time. The bus rides always seemed to speed by, so it certainly didn't feel like most of the trip was spent travelling. The only downside to the trip was that I'm a vegetarian and the meat-heavy diet of Eastern Europe wasn't my friend; however, there was always some sort of vegetarian option available. The nightlife was always a plus on the trip too, with the Budapest sparty an occasion I'd absolutely recommend checking out if you have the chance. And the day in Auschwitz was not something to take on lightly, but it was absolutely necessary to see. I think it's rare that such a short trip with a group of strangers could stick with me as much as this has, and will. I made great friends I know I'll keep in touch with and have seen some of the most amazing (physically and historically) places in the world. I'd recommend this trip to anyone who loves history and wants an adventure!
I had an absolute blast in Thailand and it was great that I got to hang out with my friends but also meet new people. I loved that everything was organized for us but we still got plenty of free time to do our own thing.
I have made amazing friends that I will continue to keep in touch with, hopefully for a long time. The optional day trips were amazing so see the islands, and elephant riding in Krabi was also a great experience! All the breakfasts included were very yummy buffets, and one of the buffet dinners was amazing as well!
Phi Phi island was definitely my favourite place as it was more chilled than Phuket but also had such good beach parties at night. All of our accommodation was beautiful and very close to the main areas.
If you would like to read more about the tour, check out my blog at www.beccaasjourney.wordpress.com where I've written all about it!
This tour gave me a taste of what Contiki is like and I have now booked a tour through Europe which I cannot wait for!
As Contiki says, #noregrets
My Contiki trip to Europe well exceeded my expectations! The people and the Contiki onsites made it so welcoming and enjoyable for me. Traveling solo I did feel a little uneasy, but by the end of day 1 that feeling was long gone!
Travelling with 40 people, you do create a bond that turns into great friendships! My only regret was not picking a longer tour ! :(
That being said, I've already put down a deposit for my next Contiki ! Bring on America!!]
I was so shocked to see the amount of people that were on this tour! This particular one met up halfway through the main tour, Berlin to Budapest but thankfully the rest of the group was so welcoming and was just as excited to meet other people.
Officially you get a full day in Vienna with this tour since you meet up with everyone the evening before at 6pm. Thankfully I arrived in the city early that morning so I was able to hang out and see some more sights rather than trying to fit it all in one day. Driving through to Bratislava was really cool and I wish we would've had a little more time there. Budapest was awesome all around but I would definitely recommend purchasing an extra night through Contiki to stay in the hotel because it is a big city and if you'd like to revisit certain spots or take a bike tour this is a great day to do it.
Overall, I had such a great time on this trip!! I met amazing people with amazing stories, mostly about their travels :) and I will be recommending this tour/company to friends and family. Our tour manager was great and was very helpful and knowledgeable about the cities we visited! Keep in mind that you'll have a lot of free time (more than I was expecting) so try to do some research in case there is something you would like to do that's not included.
was the best experence of my life...
amazing trip saw almost everything... makes me want to go back for more!
cant wait to book the grand northen
This trip was the perfect amount of time and an excellent way to travel around the Mediterranean. I have to say our tour manager Enzo made the trip extra awesome with his stellar upbeat attitude.
Barcelona's night life will blow your mind so be ready for a crazy night out. The south of France and Monaco are some of the most beautiful places along the Mediterranean. There was just so much to see in Italy that you wont be disappointed.
I took part in all the extras and was very happy. Some of the hotels were far out from the city centers but usually they were right near a transit station so it was easy to get wherever you wanted to go.
The people you will meet on this trip really make the experience. You become a family when your out there travelling together. So many good memories.
This was an excellent trip....time to start planning my next contiki adventure.
I just retuned from my Octoberfest Contiki and unfortunately i do not have a good thing to say about my experience. No socialising area to meet other guests, no music being played at the campsite unlike other tour groups (Top Deck, PP travel and Stoke), the staff members were rude and did not involve themselves with the campers. I was 10 minutes late for breakfast and was told i could not have a juice and should be happy l could eat what was left over. Buses were not regular and no buses ran during the day to the Octoberfest grounds as they were 'being cleaned'. When they did run we were dropped of far from the venue and were only given verbal directions before getting off the bus, we had to pay for our own toilet paper, hot water tokens to have a shower and wifi. I heard great things about Stoke and i absolutely loved the actual Munich Octoberfest event but would not recommend doing Octoberfest with Contiki.
Meet heaps of people great time!
You do and see SO many things in those 17 days. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, paraglided in the Austrian Alps, ate amazing pizza and gelato in Rome, and snorkelled in the Greek Islands + so much more. Every single person on our tour had a fantastic time! Our TM Bec and Driver Christian worked so hard to ensure we all had the time of our lives. I definitely recommend this tour!
I chose to go on a Contiki tour because I was already going to Europe, but had no idea what I was doing. I figured Contiki would kind of introduce me to how Europe works! I never expected the trip to turn out how it did though. I was kind of nervous because, before we all met up in London, I had already been there several days and enjoyed my free time to do with what I wanted. Although, once the tour started I didn't really worry about that much. I loved spending time with everyone and we got enough free time too.
I'm not sure if it's how Contiki is or if my group just got lucky but our Contiki family was amazing! We all got so close extremely quickly. I never worried about partying in Paris or Florence because I knew if something bad were to go down, one of the group mates would be there! We looked out for each other and had a fucking blast.
Now, onto the tour manager and driver. Rhett was our TM and Rasto was our driver.. They are bloody awesome!! Honestly, I miss them! They were super rad dudes in general and brilliant at there jobs. My friend, that came with me on this tour, got really drunk in Florence and when I ran into her I saw right away she needed to go home. Right away, a guy from our tour came over to help me and then Rhett saw me with her and helped me. He just snapped on and got shit done. Rasto and Rhett never crossed a line, they were A LOT of fun and did an amazing job as well, every day.
When we watched everyone go on the bus back to London from Amsterdam, my friends and I wanted to cry! It was so sad seeing everyone go right after we had gotten so close with everyone. I can't wait to do another Contiki let alone go to Australia this upcoming summer to visit so of my new Aussie friends! I HIGHLY recommend going on this tour, even if you're by yourself, don't be daunted. Everyone befriends each other! Two of the best weeks of my life! Miss my Contiki fam, Rhett and Rasto!! You guys rock C: XX-- Jaq
I spent 7 weeks in Asia and this tour was the highlight and the perfect way to end my trip.
Our tour manager, Muffin, was great. He always knew where we were headed and where the best parties were. We weren't in Koh Phangan during a Full Moon/Half Moon/Black Moon party but our TM and the staff at the resort held a private Moon party for us in the bar of the resort and it ended up being totally out of control, it was probably for the best that we didn't go far from home that night!
Koh Tao is beautiful, and Koh Samui is a great party. I challenge someone to do this tour and not have a great time and make lifelong friends.
I only wish that I had planned extra days at the end of the tour, our group got really close and I left early on the last day- meaning I didn't really get proper goodbyes with the whole group.
This tour was absolutely breathtaking! Worth every single penny.
Our tour manager, Phoebe was great. She was very laid back and extremely helpful with whatever problems or questions we had. I ended up getting sick in Vietnam and had to see a doctor and she went to the Pharmacy for me and picked up the medications that he had prescribed.
Asia is fairly cheap, however I found I spent a lot of money in Cambodia, since they use the american dollar, my bank account depleted a lot faster than the weeks previous.
Do as many optionals as you can, I did everything that is listed on the website and more, since our TM organized additional add-ons for us. It's so cheap to do, so even if it turns out to be crap you've spent less than $30 dollars on it at the very most.
Make sure you pack a travel pillow/neck pillow! I had one, but forgot it in the hotel in Nha Trang, it was the saddest day of the entire trip!
Overall, a great experience for my first solo trip and my first contiki tour! I'm hooked!
I went on this trip solo, and it was the best!
Made so many friends , and had so many awesome experiences.
They free pour in the USA so get ready to get really drunk, like white girl wasted , bed at 3 in the morning and up at 7 for bags to coach !
Like your sleep? We'll Soz you won't be getting much, but it's totally worth it, you don't want to miss out. You get to see so many things and visit so many places that I can't even remember them all. Make sure you do Grand Canyon helicopter ride and horse riding in Durango.
Tips: girls take a pair of flats because after one night in heels you won't want to wear them anymore.
Best places were Grand Canyon, but don't follow the cowboy with the lights on his bike into the forest, just saying. Also loved Washington , so many historical things to see, but don't overload the hotel elevator and have to get the fire department to get you out, just saying !
In summary, if your considering this trip, just do it ! You will never know if you never go!
P.s beware of the new people :-/ they will come .
i was on this tour from 9th september to the 18th september 2014, it was so much more than i could ever want, met amazing people, saw amazing sights, although we didnt stay long in each country our tour crew were amazing and ive made some lifelong memories would definately not change my experience i had 10/10 would recommend
I went on this trip almost a year ago now, and I still can't stop thinking about it. It was incredible. Everything lived up to my expectations and so much more!
I went by myself, at the ripe age of 18 (I was the youngest of the group but I couldn't tell). The trip opened my eyes to a completely new culture and introduced me to new people from all over the world who had similar goals and values as myself and with whom I generally just got on really well.
Like I said, it's been almost a year and I am still in contact with some of the friends I made on the trip.
The sights were beautiful, the trip was so well organized and sooooo much fun. The accomidations were really good, no complaints at all. Wifi is a little rought though.
Transportation was great, our bus driver was awesome. We spent a fair amount of time on the bus, but I found that that was where we bonded as a group a lot. We always had music going and we always switched up who we were sitting with so it was never boring. Also...just looking out the window will keep you pretty entertained.
I recently went to France by myself (not on a tour), and I found it qutie difficult. At this point in my life I much prefer a tour group and Contiki offered it all.
I find myself missing Contiki. The people, the energy, the experiences. I hope to book another trip very soon.