Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
I stopped here on the way to Hawaii...some things I feel people should know.
1) LA is HUGE. The airport is super far from the hotel in downtown and cab rides not cheap. If you do take public transit, it takes awhile with multiple stops/getting off and on. Getting around, even on double decker bus tours, is long and slow. The downtown double decker that is supposed to loop to hollywood was either not operating that day and we spent valuable time waiting for it and it never came. We ended up waiting for 2 hours before finally grabbing a subway to hollywood.
I would recommend renting a car (if I ever go back, I will definitely do this so I can see more). Because it takes so much time, we didn't get to see as much as we'd liked to. For a stopover, the hotel was too far from the airport in my opinion.
2) The hotel is downtown...so most of the main attractions (hollywood, venice beach, santa monica, etc.) are again, FAR. Downtown is a definitely a seedier area but the hotel was nice, safe, clean and comfortable. Just at night I felt uncomfortable walking around down there, it was hard to find a nice place to eat...but we did get some great sushi as we (the hotel) was in the Japanese village.
3) Disneyland/City walk were super far away too. We went to citywalk on a wednesday and it was totally dead. All that travel for nothing really...Just felt like we spent a lot of time getting places for not much of a payoff.
4) Just a tip - so hot during the day, freezing at night in January :) bring a sweater if not a full change of clothes for nighttime.
Overall it was nice to see LA for the first time and we had a great time at the Chinese theatre comparing hand and foot sizes to the celebrities. We saw a few things at a glimpse/distance that were memorable (i.e. beverly hills) but I feel I need to go back and do it a little differently next time so I can truly get the LA experience I was hoping for.'
I would recommend this stopover to anyone. It was relaxing, in a great location on Waikiki, and tons of fun. Such good vibes and so much to enjoy. Great food, shopping, and friendly people. Would personally recommend being 21 at least if you go so you can enjoy some tropical drinks (they are strict about this at the restaurants/bars), but I didn't do much partying and still had a blast. Actually, the best times were getting a beer/drink (make sure to conceal) and bringing it out to the beach. Everything you need at your disposal. Nice hotel, not fancy but clean and they are very attentive. Get out there boogie-boarding...but know that it can be dangerous with some reef/sharp rocks at the break.
This was a great way to see Greece by land. If you're into seeing the old culture and seeing the little towns of Greece, this is the way to do it. Keep in mind you stop in small towns, so there isn't much of a night life. But the tour was great and I loved going to the old Olympic stadiums from Ancient Greece!
This is definitely the way to see Croatia!! It was awesome having our own boat with our own crew. The tour manager Emma was really nice and did her best to get everyone interactive with each other. The stops were amazing, Hvar and Dubrovnik was awesome. The clubs were really fun, and if you're a Game of Thrones fan, you will love Dubrovnik. Just keep in mind the recommended tip for the crew is 75 Croatina Kunas per person, and there were 6 of them on our boat, plus the tour manager. That was a little surprise for us at the end as we all scrambled to find ATMs to grab extra cash.
The tour manager Caroline was great in showing us around the islands and what tours to do. I was not too happy about being able to spend only about 4 hours in places, I wanted a lot more time on the islands. I was surprised that the cruise ship was a massive cruise ship that included families and elderly people. I chose to do Contiki because I wanted to be with my age group (18-35s), and not children and pushy old people. Based on a previous cruising trip with Contiki in Croatia, we had a boat just for Contiki that was awesome, and that was what I was expecting for this trip. Also, don't bother paying the higher price for an outer cabin, it's not what it sounds like, an outer cabin means a tiny little window and the only time you're in your cabin is when you're sleeping. The food on the ship was not great, the service on the cruise ship was slow and annoying. If you're into partying, the partying is clubbing on the cruise ship at night with children dancing around you, FYI. The tours that I did as optionals were good, and I'm glad I saw what I did, keep in mind, the optionals are expensive. I recommed doing your research about cost to do the tours on your own. If you're looking for a means to do the Greek Islands, look for another tour, I would not recommend this one, but I would do a Contiki again, just not this tour.
I found the Contiki experience an amazing one - a really good taste of Europe (my favourite places were Paris, Barcelona and Venice). You get so close to your tour group and tour manager, and that really makes a huge difference. The nightlife and parties were incredible too, especially as Contiki had a lot of connections in bars, clubs and activities. At 18, my friend and I were the youngest on tour with the average age being about 22/23 (oldest was around 26).
Just a few things. Contiki will try to milk you for your money, especially with optionals, so if you're travelling with a tight budget you might struggle - I spent a lot more than I intended (about 2000 AUD, and I didn't do all the optionals). Some of the optionals were really disappointing too and seemed to be a bit of a rip off.
Optionals to avoid:
- Flamenco show, Barcelona - boring and amateurish, especially for 30 euros! Would much rather have wandered Barcelona.
- Tuscan meal, Florence - really average food in a not-particularly-special restaurant. Would have been much better off finding food elsewhere.
- Electronic Space Disco - it was fun because everyone on tour went, but the actual club was disappointing.
- Vatican Tour AND Imperial Tour - these were both overpriced and the guides were horribly boring and uneducated.
- Bobbahn, Austrian Tyrol - I didn't actually do this, but I heard negative reviews from everyone who did, saying it was uncomfortable and at times painful, and not worth the money.
- JungFrau mountain, Swiss Alps - I didn't do this either, but from what I heard, the journey up the mountain was the main feature of the day (2 hours long) and the experience was quite overpriced and not particularly special.
Optionals that were amazing:
- Cabaret, Paris - very expensive but worth it for the real Parisian experience with your new group, one of my favourite nights in the tour.
- Parisian dinner - absolutely boiling when we went (no air con in the restaurant) but the food was delicious!!
- Venice walking tour - this guide was lovely and very knowledgable.
- Viennese dinner - a very eccentric experience but completely hilarious.
- Munich bike tour - the guides are hilarious and the tour was really fun.
- Whitewater Rafting in Austrian Tyrol - not very hardcore for professional rafters out there, but fun and a good experience.
- Tandem paragliding - expensive but INCREDIBLE, worth it.
- Wine tasting, St Goar - another really bizarre experience, hilarious.
Highlights of the whole tour were some of the nights out we had as groups, like in Paris, Barcelona, Florence and Amsterdam. Also the free days we had in each city to explore and go our own way - our tour guide organised maps and metro maps for us each time, which made it way easier. We also got to see really special parts of each city which you wouldn't necessarily find otherwise.
I thought the accommodation was fine for most of the trip - the hostels were comfortable enough and clean, which was fine, and the contiki properties served surprisingly good food. The issue I had was that in Italy we stayed exclusively in Contiki campsites in cabins, none of which had air conditioning (in 35+ degree weather) and all of which were quite far from the cities. Venice was ridiculous - to the point where we physically couldn't travel into the city at night because the transport cut off.
Another slight downer is that Contiki will try to sell you things at every available point, usually disguising it as a 'demonstration' or an 'opportunity', when really they're just informercials preaching to you about their products. Bit of a pain, try to avoid when possible.
You'll be on the coach for about 40% of the trip. The coach was pretty comfortable and we'd all sleep or socialise, but some days involved long drives so bring comfortable pillows and things to do!
Also, take as many vitamins and immune boosters as possible. You will get sick. The Contiki Cough is famous.
Overall an amazing experience, really happy I did it and happy to recommend the trip to others.
Well it was a mixture of everything that made this truly an amazing tour.
From the group dynamic, the enthusiastic and truly great english speaking local tour guides, combined with the amazing scenery, people and weather we were so lucky to be blessed with. We had a kickass tour.
From the start in Beijing to the end in Hong Kong, our tour guide steered us to all the best local bars and nightclubs, to the amazingly tasty cheap and cheerful lunch stops, cheers Nathan.
Every place you stop at has something different to offer, whether that be the amazing 'Peking' duck in Beijing and buying a beer on the 'Great Wall of China', the best morning wake up call riding a bike along the Xi'an walls before the 'Terracotta Warriors', the truly memorable nightclubs and full on bargaining markets in Shanghai, the intense out of this world 360 degree engulfing mountain scenery surrounding you in Yangshuo or the view from the 'Peak' in Hong Kong, China truly has a lot to offer everyone.
Incredible options including amazing Peking duck, and one that you would be incredibly idiotic not to see is the Chinese Acrobatic 'Cirque du soleil' style show in Shanghai, all I can say I motorbikes + Incredibly high blindfolded 'Astronauts' + women in a barrel = a show not to be missed or seen anywhere else but China.
Thank you Contiki, and thanks again Nathan for giving me a tour to remember and never forget, additionally to the people who made it that much greater than could of been expected.
As read above, heavily recommended.
Contiki first appealed to my friends and I because we had never been to Europe, and didn't know where to start. With this tour, we got to see all the main highlights in a quick 2 weeks! Yes the tour was super fast paced, but you saw the main things, and now we know where we want to spend more time!
Don't expect anything luxurious about the accommodation, it's called a budget tour for a reason! We actually preferred the Contiki campsites (because you got to mingle with everyone and they all had a bar), where-as the hotels were BUDGET!
As for the breakfasts, they were a continental breakfast, so it is exactly what you would expect: toast, fruit, cereal. Do the optional meals! I did them all except the one in Paris, and they were great! (Especially the one in Florence!!!)
Be prepared to spend a lot on the optional excursions. I thought it was going to be a lot cheaper, but I ended up spending around $350 CAD. (But most of them were worth it!)
My only complaint. For our Contiki stop over at the Chateau in France, we pulled up, did the wine tasting, and then were told we were not staying there tonight, instead we drove to Lyon, France. Contiki had over-booked and our tour got moved. My friends and I thought this was a joke! We were so excited to stay here, we had heard amazing stories about it. Instead we stayed in the dirtiest hotel ever with a noise curfew, and were given $10 euros for dinner. 10 EUROS IS SUCH A JOKE. That doesn't even buy you McDonalds in France! (We were given $10 euros because at the stop over that was one of our included meals).
Other than that HUGE disappointment, Contiki was good. Lots of great memories, met some great people, and got to see a ton!
I'm not sure if I would recommend Contiki to others just because of the hiccup in France that I believe was not handled properly, but I did have a good experience with the rest of it.
Amazing tour!!! Saw so many beautiful sites and had an awesome tour guide, Yannick. Highlights included relaxin with Sangria on the beach of Monterosso in the Cinqie Terre, picnicing at La Chateau in Nice & partying all night in Barcelona. Great trip with a great bunch of people. Thanks contikiiiiiii!!!!
This Contiki tour was AMAZING! It was a very intense two weeks, so if you are looking for something really relaxing this isn't it. But if you are looking for adventure, seeing many new things, late nights and early mornings, making tons of new friends, and driving all over Europe, this is what to do! I think it was two of the best weeks of my life. Everyone bonded really quickly and made new friends from all over the world, and had a great time every day.
I loved Austria and Switzerland the best, they were amazingly beautiful!
If you're wanting to see all these places, do it!!! The tour guide and bus driver were amazing helps and taught us so much along the way.
Going on this tour was the best decision I've ever made. It majorly exceeded my expectations. I got so close to everyone in the two weeks, and our tour guide and driver (Alex and Antonio) were awesome!! All of the optional activities were tons of fun, and I'd recommend doing all of them. We saw so much more than I would've ever been able to by myself. Favorite place was definitely Munich, along with the amazing bike tour! Definitely do this tour - it's so worth it and you'll create memories that will last you a lifetime.
Best tour to do for a first time, and for a lone traveller. Fantastic contiki team, even better fellow travellers. Perfect to have 2 nights in each city - gives you more time to explore.
Will definitely do another contiki!
You have to do Costa Rica at least once in your life. In terms of adventure the country really has it all. Every day there was something to look forward to.
Unbelievable accomodations and the activities are top notch.
The only thing that was missing was nightlife. Costa Rica has some good bars, but we were not given the option to go out or encouraged by our tour guide to go out. We were tired as hell some days, so we couldnt go out every night, but we should be given the option.
Other than that, great trip. Many memories I'll never forget.
Good trip not much time spent on the bus and more time seeing the places in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. Good Times.
I am recommending this tour to everyone I know!! It was the best two weeks of my life!! There was heaps of spare time but also so much to do. Ish the tour guide was great fun!! Mexico is definitely worth seeing, and not once did I feel unsafe in Mexico.
I have travelled a lot through Asia and Europe and this was the first Contiki Tour I have done. It was the second time I had been to Thailand and I have to say, the Contiki Tour really did it justice, I had much more fun the second time around!! I feel like I experienced all the best parts of Thailand in 9 days - elephants, beaches, snorkelling, tigers, 4-wheel driving, ladyboys, half moon party, pool parties, a giant WIPEOUT course.... and so much more! The best part is that so much of the tour is optional and you can play each day by ear. The accommodation is amazing and to a very good standard.... (be amazed in Koh Tao!!) Our tour guide, Natalie, was the best and her local knowledge ensured we were always at the most happening bars and never having to wait in lines. As someone who was closer to the *older* end of the age range, I wondered what the tour would be like... but everyone got along well and age was irrelevant - everyone was just there to have fun!
I would highly recommend this tour and strongly advise that it is the only way to see these three islands. The one and only downfall of the tour is that it ended!!
Nothing will ever prepare you for the go go go of contiki! This was the best 20 days of my life that I got to spend with 45 amazing other travellers and our fantastic tour manager, Mark Davies and awesome coach driver, Cathal Woods. We saw everything amazing that Europe had to offer and you get so much more out of your contiki experience than you'll ever expect. Yes, we partied a lot and yes we hardly slept and yes! We were always on the move but I wouldn't change my experience for the world. The food was always good and so was the accommodation, and don't skimp on the optionals! It's the best way to get to know your fellow contikians. I would do this tour again in heartbeat, my advice would just be to know that you'll never be prepared for what's about to hit you but get ready for the time of your life!
Just returned from the best holiday ever! Had a great time with our Contiki group of 36 people. We had a great mix of activities and a great tour manager and driver (Jen and Daz).
Had so much fun canoeing, white water rafting, hiking, horse riding and there were plenty of good nights out to suit everyone too. The accommodation and included meals were even better than I expected - even for a vegetarian! - and we didn't spend too much time on the coach (except the Banff to Vernon day which is to be expected).
My advice would be to just go - try new things and make new friends. I'm so glad I went, would definitely book with Contiki in future, great way to travel.
This trip was amazing, talking and hearing about things like the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors and Jade statues are one thing, but going to China and seeing them for yourself leaves you awe struck. There is so much to see and do and doing this trip with such a great mix of people such as i had, made it all the more special. Mad respect to Nathan McBain our tour guide for looking after us so well...Even after I got lost on the way to Mong Kok(my bad).
I recently did the European Experience tour this summer and had the time of my life! I loved how everything was already organized so I could spend my time making amazing memories, and friendships that will last a life time! My tour manager Chloe was absolutely amazing, going out of her way to make this the best trip ever, and our bus driver Scotty was so great as well! I would recommend Contiki to anyone and hope to do another tour sometime in the future! Sydney x