Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
Two parts to this review:
1) Personal experience
2) Practical advice
1) This trip was an absolute blast. It definitely helped that the group was rather small (about 23) and we really meshed well together. The trip had an excellent mix of fun active excursions to relaxing and chillin. This was a definite departure from my first Contiki with the Thai Island Hopper but was a departure in a good way. It was a pleasant surprise to experience the activeness in the physical nature that one has the opportunity to get to experience the nature that Costa Rica has to offer. Costa Rica is an amazing country with amazing people. Each city has it's own feel and flair and it left me in awe at what we all experienced. There are definite moments I would have loved to relive. I won't spill too much so as to not ruin it for you but here are the activities and optionals I did:
- Boat excursion in Tortuguero (fantastic)
- Mud walk in Tortuguero (could've done without)
- Canyoeering (fantastic)
- White Water Rafting (group decision and it was fantastic)
- Zip lining in Monteverde (fantastic)
- Horseback riding (ok, could've done without. It's not what it's promoted to be)
- Did all the dinner outings (nice community builder)
I skipped out on ATVs and Surfing. ATVing had many restrictions and rules. Surfing i've done before so it wasn't anything new for me.
2) Ok, down to the nitty gritty.
What to pack:
I came totally not prepared for the trip. I planned for hot, humid weather. Not all of Costa Rica is hot and humid. Plan for all sorts of weather, especially rainy weather. When it rains...it RAINS!! Beware of thunder and lightning! Panchos or quality rain jackets are a must. Shorts, shirts, swimwear are great for humid weather. But don't forget about sweaters, light jackets, and pants for colder weather. Pack clothes that you won't care about for excursions...and then clothes that might be nicer for dinners and nights out. Costa Rica has microclimates depending on which city you're in, you'll get different weather. So pack smart!
If you are susceptible to mosquito bites. Repellant is a must! Mosquitoes went to town on me so be sure to get repellant. Deet is powerful and toxic stuff so beware. If you get sunburns, don't forget sunscreen.
Luggage vs backpack: I did fine with luggage but it might have been a better idea to bring a large backpack. But that's all on your preference.
As far as shoes go, you'll need a variety. Sandals for beaches, waterproof shoes for excursions and hikes, tennis / running shoes, and nicer shoes for dinners and night outings. I got Keen closed toed sandals for the waterproof shoes and those did me very well!
Costa Rica takes US dollars but its recommended that you don't bring notes over $20. It'll be harder to get change if you use large bills like $50s or $100s. You can use ATMs to get Colones or Dollars. It might be a good idea to get a good amount of both. But US dollars work just fine. Most places accept credit cards too...just make sure you notify your bank that you're traveling so that your card won't get declined.
There is an exit tax of $29 at the airport to depart the country. Make sure you pay that before checking in your luggage! Cash is preferred. They do take credit card but then you'll get an extra charge for foreign transactions.
The trip was an absolute blast. So come with an open mind. You'll do stuff that might freak you out but it is well worth the experience!
Our tour guide Olivier or Oli for short was very knowledgeable about pretty much everything. Costa Rican culture, history, animals and wildlife. Come with an open mind and you'll have an amazing time!
This tour was more than I could have ever expected! When you read these reviews before going on a Contiki you try to imagine yourself on it, but there is no way you can be ready for what is about to come your way. From the moment we stepped onto the bus as strangers and used "speed dating" to get to know each other, after two days everyone felt like family, including our manager and bus driver. We were so lucky that our group bonded so well and were so friendly.
The whole trip was a whirlwind you were constantly on the move but it was great as there was no time to be bored! A highlight would have to be staying in Hopftgarten with all the conitiki staff and dancing the night away covered in fluro paint. Also Paragliding off the Austrian Alps with bright blue skies, green grass and breathtaking views there was no way to pass this up as an optional.
If you are going on this tour GET A FLU SHOT OR TAKE MEDICINE, you will get sick. We could have easily made a song of coughs due to everyone having the Contiki Plague, but that didn't stop us from partying every night and still getting up at 7 am to go for a day filled of sightseeing. Huge thank you to Peps (tour manager) and Erno (bus driver) for putting up with our crazy group and joining in on our nights out. If you only have a short time to travel do not go past this tour there is no way you can be disappointed.
The memories and friends made on this tour will never be forgotten!!!
Let me explan why I am so exited about this trip. I am what you would call a Contiki veteran (done 9 contiki tours in last 6 years + 2 Haggis adventures + 3 SITA tours + 1 Cosmos). Have plenty of experience in the traveling industry and there is a reason why I keep coming back to Contiki (have another trip with them next month). And this tour surpassed all the expectations I had.
Before I start talking about this tour, it is imperative that you know that every Contiki tour has its own personality and the group you travel with can make a huge difference. Now, I won't discuss in detail the places you'll go on this tour because you can find that online, I'm going to focus on the awesome experience and the great things this tour has to offer.
Turkey: if you are planning on doing this tour, pray that your tour guide is Ahmet. Turkish guy with a lot of knowledge, great attitude and contagious enthusiasm. By far, one of the best tour guides I've ever had (if not the best). He is extremely funny, very respectful and honest. He was so helpful that I'll be forever grateful. Many people agree that he was one of the highlights of the trip.
About Istanbul, unfortunately the tour doesn't spent enough time there, so if you can arrive a day or two early, I highly recommend it. The tour doesn't include the Hagia Sophia nor the Basilica Cistern, although on your time off, Ahmet will offer to get you inside and skip the lines - using his tour guide license he will buy the ticket for you and get you in as a group. Nightlife in Turkey is way better than expected, and Ahmet will guide you safely to the best spots - and bargain the price of the drinks! There is so much to see and do in Turkey that you'll love it. The Ephesus, Pamukkale and Troy optionals that Contiki offer are not really optionals. You either go inside and see it or you stay in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. So add those to the budget (is not very expensive at all).
Greece: This part of the tour is very layback, and easy pace. Greek Islands are gorgeous. Although some of the Tours / Optionals are very early in the AM still is easy to deal with. The Optionals offered by Contiki are from the Cruise Company, so you'll be walking around with people from age 1 to 99. On the Island of Mykonos, since the vast majority of the group did the optional we were together in a bus for ourselves. Pretty sure you can find the same tours cheaper. The price is unreal. On this part of the Tour, the group splits and it's harder to stay all together.
From all the Contiki tours I've done, this is my favorite one. Highly recommended. Go, live, enjoy and see the world!
This trip is ideal for those seeking a great mix of history, adventure, exciting back country authenticity and seeing the beautiful South. Loved the pace, friends and great food along the way!!!
Costa Rica was awesome!!!! Olivier better know as Oli was great and very knowledgable about his country!!!! The day life was great just be sure to wear great shoes for rough terrain and have a poncho or rain jacket at all times for the rain. The night life was ok, but with the group of friends we had it made it even better!!! The groups are small so it is easy to get to know everyone.
Something's you need to know!!
-the trip would be easier with a hiking backpack vs luggage
-bug spray (Bens bug spray 100) works great!!
-itching cream/allergy meds/triple antibiotic ointment
-money half in Costa Rica colon and half in US dollars, most everyplace takes US dollars, but it is cheaper if you use colon
-bring a pair of jeans for the cloud forest it gets cold
-waterproof camera if you want pics
-every activity was fun except for the ATV (very restrictive on everything) and the horses on the beach (the trail was through the jungle and was pretty intense even for and experienced rider, one of the horses kicked my wife's leg and broke her fibula and hairline fracture to her tibia and the hospitals were fun) thankfully it was on the second to last day when it happened!!
-last you have to pay a exist tax that is 30 US dollars, once you get into the airport for departure it is to the right, and you will have to fill out the back the the paper they give you so have a pen ready.
Pack light!!! Lots of walking!!! Have a great time!!!
Turkey and Greece are both magical places. I was not expecting much from Turkey but was completely blown away by the rich history and culture. The best part of the trip was the tour guide Ahmet. Ahmet has an amazing personality and ensured that we were taken care of at the hotels and in local shops. Since haggling is a major part of Turkish culture, Ahmet set our expectations on price before we shopped. He definitely protected us.
Greece was amazing as well but I would advise that you set aside enough money for the excursion. Contrary to Turkey, the Greek islands do not have included excursions.
All in all it was a great trip and I recommend it to anyone.
Madrid is the best place to start this trip, as you get the long travel days over with at the beginning of the tour. Madrid is interesting, but Barcelona is were you want to be. If I had a choice, I would have 2 days in Barcelona and not just one - there is so much to see and do! The tour manager was smart and encouraged us to go out on our last night in Madrid. Smart, because we slept most of the long journey from Madrid to Barcelona. She was smart again when she hooked us up with a wild night out in Barcelona, after which we slept all the way to Avignon - another long travel day. I personally didn't like France very much. Nice is very touristic, and personally, I found it boring as I am not into lying on the beach all day. The perfumery is another place I was bored at - I'm just a tomboy like that. The French countryside - Avignon and Aix-en-provence - are worth the visit. It's the only place where I found semi-friendly French people. The time spent in Monaco was just enough - we had a supper there. Unless you're secretly a millionaire, Monaco is good to just pass through. Italy, oh Italy! The food and gelato are something to immigrate for! Never have I eaten such fantastic food! Pisa was alright, it's only the tower you stop to see anyways, and Florence was also alright. I wouldn't have spent as much time there as I found entrance to the museums and other interesting things a bit pricey. But Rome...you need at least 3-4 days here. The city is massive and there is history around every corner! Will definitely be going back to Rome...and Barcelona!
If you've ever dreamt of the Emerald Isle, stop dreaming and get over there! Just be prepared for a tonne of rain - no matter the season! I had specifically planned to go there during the summer season to see Ireland in all it's green glory - and although it was all green glory, it rained 7 of the 8 days which got to me eventually. If I had a chance to do it again, I would definitely do it! Just know that you do not go to the smaller, more picturesque villages in Ireland, but to the more commercial places. They are still charming but I hear the real beauty is in the places that a coach cannot get to. Do this tour anyways!
This trip was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. It was my first Contiki trip, first time traveling with a group of people I didn't know and first time traveling to Turkey and Greece and I have to say every expectation I had was surpassed on this trip.
First off the destinations were incredible. There is so much history and culture in Turkey and I did not expect to get such a in-depth grasp of it in such a short period of time. Our local tour guide, Ahmet was hands down the best tour guide we could have asked for. He was informative in both providing us with the information we needed to navigate the country and it culture and also provided in depth historical explanations of all the sites we visited. I have to admit it was hot while we were at the sites and I would have not had the patience to stand and read all the information boards at the sites so it was great that Ahmet was able to provide insight to the historical and cultural significance of every place we visited.
This tour is not a leisure tour. Every day was packed with things to do - we had places to go and things to see every day. In retrospect I think I was expecting a little more down time but then we wouldn't have gotten to see all the amazing sites and I would have regretted sitting at a beach instead of exploring this amazing country. We did have days where we finished early and were able to go to the hotel pool or beach which was nice, but overall it was a busy schedule. (if your looking for a laid back chill tour where you get to sleep in this is not the one for you)
For Greece - Don't do any of the optional tours through the cruise ship!!! They are super expensive and you can do them yourself Faster & Cheaper! For example in Patmos the "cruise excursion" is 55 euro per person! Me and my friends did the same thing (St. Johns Grotto and the Monastery) for 10 euro per person (included taxi to and from the port and admission to the sites) The only thing is you don't get an English speaking explanation of the site (which is fine we asked the tour guide our questions when we got back to the ship). The Tour in Athens is a "Contiki" tour and not a cruise excursion and I heard good things about that one from the people that went on it (again me and my friends did it a lot cheaper but without an English speaking guide to tell us about it ) Greece wasn't what I expected. It was beautiful but I thought this was going to be the time for hanging at the beaches when in reality the cruise stopped at "port locations" because new people boarded the ship each day and apparently these locations are not close to beaches. For example, Crete is supposed to have some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, however the cruise ship docked on the opposite end of the island - some of us looked into splitting a taxi to the beach but it would have been 1.5 hours each way and we only had 4 hours on the island before we had to board the ship again. Disappointing to say the least. Rhodes was pretty awesome but I wish I would have taken a charter boat to one of the smaller islands to go snorkeling in the caves instead of wasting so much time in old town. One of the other members of our group did this and it sounded awesome, by the time I was walking past the charters for snorkeling it was already too late and again, would have missed the boarding to the ship (Moral of the story - if you go to Rhodes defiantly take a charter to go snorkeling as soon as you get off the ship!)
We spent a lot of time in Turkey and I feel like I really got a sense of the history and culture there where as in Greece, because the time we spent there was so short, it was super "touristy". Greece is a beautiful country and the islands are gorgeous but I didn't get much (culturally or historically) out of being there.
The destinations of this trip were amazing and I did get a lot out of the places I visited but I have to say that the reason I had so much fun on this tour was because of the people (hence the quote and title of this review). I haven't been on any other Contiki's but I know without a doubt this was the best group that has ever been put together in Contiki History (I know this because someone that had been on 8 Contiki tours said so himself!!) The time traveling on the bus in Turkey really gives you a chance to get to know the people on your tour. I sat next to someone different every time I got on the bus and it helped me to get to know everyone and by the end trip I felt like I had 44 new friends for life. In Turkey we were together 24/7 because we were traveling by bus and usually all our rooms were on the same floor and we always had all our meals together because our schedule was so organized and when we got on the cruise - even though everyone was separated and there was no schedule what so ever to follow- we all made a point to be together as much as possible. Even when the tour was over most of us had one more night in Athens and we all made a point to get together for the "last super". I will cherish all the memories of this trip forever and I look forward to keeping in touch with all the new friends I made.
I would recommend this trip to someone who is looking to get a historical and cultural experience out of their travels.
Had a great time and it was so sad to say goodbye. I lost sense of time so that was great to just enjoy the trip and not worry about how many days were left. We had a great group! I am now much heavier after eating so much good food!
This was my first contiki experience & it was truly amazing! My Favourite part of the Tour was the Turkey part! The site's we visited were breathtaking and I would definitely recommend to take this tour if your into history & culture. We had the best group and the best tour guide, Ahmet. He had the best personality, was organized, helped us get the best out of our experience,established rapport with every single person in our tour, haggled prices on drinks with locals and destinations, had very good knowledge of his country and its history, was outgoing and would do anything to make us happy with plenty of optionals. He became not only my tour guide but a great friend.
I absolutely loved the sites especially Pammukale and Ephesus! You have to experience the Turkish Bath, it was the best and will definitely be nothing you have done before. Turkish food is to die for, especially the sweets and street food such as Kebabs, Pide,Kofta etc. I really didn't want to leave Turkey after this great experience & nearly cried when I had to leave!!
The cruise was good and Silvia was very informative and helpful, but I preferred being as a group tour in Turkey rather than on the cruise as there was a number of people on the cruise not being on the contiki. Alot of the time people were split up and we couldn't find each other to do things together. I would of like to spend more times on the islands as the time was more spent on the boat and a couple of hours on each island. Apart from that, I definitely would do another contiki in the future and travel to Turkey again. The people In our group made the tour and the experience, that I will never forget! Im still so sad it has ended and hope to keep in touch with all the people I met, until next time... ♡
This tour was definitely a great way to see the Eastern Islands of Thailand! I only wish that it was longer and that I had more time to on each of the islands. This tour was during the Full Moon party, but because we didn't know that we had to book shuttles to get to the island, there wasn't anything really available. If you're taking this trip to go to the Full Moon party, book your ferry before you get to Thailand! Otherwise the food was great, the hotels in Koh Samui and Koh Tao were great, the backpackers hostel in Kho Phangnan was a little meh. Otherwise a great trip!
I met up with the group in Paris, which did put me in a bad position for making friends. The Paris accommodation was average and a bit of a trip out of Central Paris. But oh Paris!! LOVE IT!!
The Contiki chateau was ok.. Something different. I found the perfumery a complete waste of time. The trip to Barcelona felt like a lifetime!!!! We didn't get into Barcelona until late. Had a full free day then to only leave super early the next day. Just remember that they have siesta and everything closes from 2-5 (I think) which I found to be very frustrating. I did make my way to Mar Bella which was a nudist beach which was definitely something different!!! Stayed at the generator hostel which was really good! From there went to Nice, which was lovely! Just remember though, it is expensive. Then to Monaco for a night trip which was cool and through to Italy. Oh the gelato!!! Did a stop over in Pisa on the way to Florence (I think) Very average. My highlight was sadly a Mc Donald's. Venice itself I enjoyed. The campground was dreadful! Stayed in tin shelf like things and had no hot water!! Florence, I found to be ok, but didn't love it as much as the other guys. Ladies just we warned, the campground cabins were ok.. However were told we couldn't use hair dryers or straighteners because the power would go out in the cabin. The was a shower block though. I loved Rome. I thought it was stunning! Did the colosseum tour which I recommend to cut the queue. We were also in Rome/the Vatican on a 'holy Sunday' so Contiki didn't book any tours of the Vatican because it was free. WORST DECISION EVER!!! It was beyond busy. We tried to get a 'tour' but we're ripped off. The tried to get us to cut the line and that was our 'exclusive entry'. This resulted in being booed by the public and - yep, nuns. We all just bailed and went to the end of the line. The Vatican museum line was beyond crazy!!! The pope was just about to do his speech.. I had a decision to make.. See the pope.. Or the Sistine chapel that was about to close at 12. I chose the chapel. The accommodation was about a 30min train ride from Rome.
We made our way to Athens via a overnight ferry. We were lucky enough to have cabins. Apparently some tours only get seats to sleep in overnight. Corfu- amazing! Greece is very cheap!!! 50 Euro cents for 2lts of water. Athens was very busy and our accommodation was in a very shady area. Just be careful at night!! My driver was lovely! My so called guide.. An absolute wanker!!! Rude, arrogant and even made me cry!!
Don't get me wrong - the trip was great, but I did expect more.
The trip was a cruise that was run by a third party, the ship it's self was average, as well as the food. But that's not what we're there for! I was some what disappointed that we didn't stay long on the islands at all. For example, Santorini. I was soooooo looking forward to it but after getting off the boat, we only had about 4hrs on the island. I did the optional tour to Oia, which was expensive!! Essentially the tour was a coach that took us to Oia- the place with white roofs. It was absolutely stunning!!!! I also wanted to do the volcano tour, but I could only pick one due to time. Patmos was incredibly boring... And Mykonos, spent about 4hrs there too. Once you were on the boat, free to do whatever you wanted. Only had to meet up when you were getting off the boat. All in all - I would have preferred to see the islands in more depth.
Absolutely fantastic trip. The crew were so helpful, our Contiki tour rep (Kassie) was awesome, knew all the great bars to go to and even enlightened us with some history about the islands we were visiting. This tour caters for those who want to go out and party but also those who want to take it a little slower. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough. Enjoy!
This was one of the best trips that I have ever done. The only downside was that it had to end so soon. I would have given anything to do it all again! Our tour manager, James, was the most awsome guy with the best dance moves :) Do all the optional a you can - they are a brilliant way to see the cities. The group became so close that I now regard them as my Contiki family and it was so hard to leave them. So take my advice, don't even think about it. Just do it - you will have the most brilliant time.
Best time of my life! I think about this trip most days and get upset in not still there! Made some incredible friendships that will last a life time. #contikifamily #lafamilar
Camping trips are are much better, more included, loads cheaper, better people, on road chef!
Meals were always different and amazing.
Best tour manager, cook, and bus driver!
Kate, tamara and pedro!
Highly recommend doing this trip! I had the time of my life!
awesome trip, great and funny tour guide, a really cool and relaxed bus driver and a very good atmosphere and "tour spirit". I very much enjoyed the trip and would recommend everyone to do the same.
Loved the travelling and Braden (our tour director) was really informative and he knew so much history! This is a great way of travelling, and a great way to meet new people.
The accommodation was less then expected because we stayed pretty far out of town whilst in Quebec City, Boston, and Montreal. The dinners were a mixed bag. Maybe if we ate more traditional food the region then that would have been more exciting.
The biggest let down was all the forced group time. I wish there was more time to hang out with your buddies without feeling pressured into group activities like lazer tag.
In Chicago Braden went out of his way to take us on a Food Safari and it was amazing! SO MUCH FOOD!!! It was a real highlight of my whole 8 weeks in the USA and Canada.