Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
If you've always dreamed of waking up to the warm sunrise from another country after a night of partying; or getting lost in the back streets of a foreign city with just a translation book and a fold map and great new friends who feel just as compelled to have a time of their lives traveling abroad as you, then this is the trip for you. Be warned: this is a fast-paced trip; you'll barely spend a day or two in most of these countries so make the *most* out of every moment, do not go lightly. I had an unbelievable time, made so many amazing new friends, learned some much stuff culturally and historically during this trip. Our guide (Sara) was extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and lots of fun (Contiki if you're reading this she gets an A+ recommendation)
Message me for any tips. Or check out photos and videos from our August 2013 trip. Enjoy! #noregrets
It's hard to put into words how amazing this trip was. There was countless moments when I felt like pinching myself because I didn't believe I was there. I really recommend this tour if you want to see a great snapshot of America. I would love to list all my favourite moments but I would be typing an absoltute novel. Big shoutout to my amazing tour manager, Jack Larsen and our driver Marcel "E" - who helped make the tour so incredible!
Our Contiki trip through Vietnam was such an eye opener, and so different to any other tour I had previously been on. My boyfriend and I went on the Vietnam Experience tour from 4 Nov-15 Nov 2014, I think there were about 24 of us in total when the Vietnam Highlights group joined us on day 3 back in Saigon. Everyone clicked really well, and the homestay in the Mekong Delta really helped us bond quickly and brought our group together. Definitely worth the extra money to add those 2 days to your Vietnam trip! Our tour was a special one, as 2 girls from The Bachelor Australia were on our tour, along with writers, bloggers, and 2 big bosses from Contiki to manage them along the way. It was a unique experience having this on our tour (both good & bad points!), but made for some very memorable moments! The Contiki boss Katrina was super lovely & amazing- so glad she came along for the ride! Our tour manager James was really helpful & definitely knew his stuff, powering on even when he felt sick, & was kind enough to give those of us traveling on afterwards many tips on where to go & what to see in Laos, Cambodia, & Thailand as well!
Crossing the road in Saigon is an experience you will never forget, you will never again see so many scooters in your life! The markets throughout Vietnam were awesome for picking up a bargain (Hoi An probably had the best shopping), just keep in mind that Asian sizes are much smaller than Western sizes! Our accommodation was of good quality at each of our destinations (though a little more basic at our Mekong Delta homestay). We were treated to so much delicious food over the 12 days, we were spoilt for choice. So many yummy soups, spring rolls, savoury pancakes & fresh seafood!
Nha Trang was one of our favourite spots, we easily could have stayed here longer! Gorgeous beaches, mud baths were great, snorkeling trip was amazing & dinner at The Sailing Club was one of the best meals of my life! The passionfruit mojito was the best drink I've ever tasted & the mushroom gnocchi was to die for!
Hoi An is World Heritage Listed & I already can't wait to go back & visit it again one day. Had so much fun riding bikes around the old town, exploring the markets & lounging by the pool and visiting the hotel's spa. We all got suits or dresses made there at Yali, I'd strongly recommend having pictures of what you want with you on your phone before visiting, so you can be really clear & specific with them on what you want, to save time and confusion.
By the time we reached Hue we were getting pretty tired, but the Perfume River showed us an amazing sunset & the nightlife there is pretty fun! When we reached Hanoi we were all exhausted & couldn't wait to sleep! Was probably our least favourite destination in Vietnam, the weather was cooler here & overcast, and the city felt like many others in Asia. We also didn't do as much together as a group here. Halong Bay was stunning, although the water was a little cooler this time of year (but not so cold you couldn't swim or kayak). Was amazing to see monkeys close up in the wild on the islands and the scenery was stunning. The pirate party on the junk boat was pretty incredible too!
I'd recommend staying an extra night in Hanoi once your tour ends, as you're bound to make new friends who you'd like to spend more time with! Our group was a mix of (mostly) Aussies, Canadians, South Africans, Brits, a Kiwi and an American. The average age of the group was mid-to-late 20s, which was perfect (no 18yr olds getting crazy silly, or old nanas holding us back), and was of a slower pace & a bit more luxurious than European Contiki tours. I'd definitely recommend an Asian Contiki tour- you money goes so much further in SE Asia and for people like us who had never been to Asia before, it was a great introduction to the culture, and gave us the confidence and knowledge to then travel on in the region by ourselves. I had a blast, & so did my boyfriend (who was initially quite reluctant to do a Contiki tour, but was definitely surprised!). Save your dollars and give it a go- you'll have an amazing time guaranteed! :)
Amazing! Best trip ever and met some awesome people. Perfect length for a tour with Contiki. Our tour guide, Kristin, is so knowledgeable. I think I learnt more about the history of Europe from her than I did in high school :/ however, be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for all the extra's! (if you're on a budget).
New Zealand is such a beautiful place! The people are very friendly. The entire country looks like Middle Earth.
I have been on other tours before, but this was my first Contiki tour, and it ran differently from other tour companies. There are different trips which overlap with each other on the tour; for example, the Big Tiki and Northern Explorer were on the tour first. I arrived two days later and joined everyone else then. Some people left in Christchurch while others joined the coach. In essence, the group you start with will not necessarily be the group you end with; people will leave and join throughout your time on tour.
Being from the US, I had a lot of sticker-shock while in New Zealand. Currently, the USD is stronger, but the prices are more expensive for what you get (e.g. food is about twice as much), so I felt that a lot of the optionals didn't have enough value for the money spent. With that said, the Me Times were still a lot of fun and absolutely made the trip.
Be prepared to spend a lot on the extras, however. I spent about $1400 for Me Times for 13 days.
One optional activity I would not at all recommend is the Milford Sound cruise. It was a 4 hour drive from Queenstown one way with only 1-2 hour cruise, and the scenery on the cruise is what you see on the coach riding around the island. Milford Sound is a pretty place, but I don't think it was worth the money to spend most of the day sitting on a bus. Other than that, the optionals were fantastic!
Overall, the accommodations were pretty nice. I had paid for a quad share, but most of the time there were 3 to a room. It felt pretty cramped because the rooms were made for 2 people, so having an extra bed meant shuffling sideways around some corners, but the beds were pretty comfortable, the rooms were clean, and there was adequate space for 3 girls getting ready in the morning.
The lodges on the other hand felt like I was back at summer camp. There were bunk beds and small showers, and there was no counter space at all. However, there was a total of 4 nights spent in lodges, so it wasn't a big deal overall.
In Franz Josef, the Rainforest Retreat was a major disappointment. The top bunk was pretty low, so I hit my head a couple times when I wasn't thinking about it. There was a lot of mold growing all over the bathroom, and the shower didn't have any temperature controls, you take whatever you get. There was an awesome spa pool there, so that was a plus!
Food-wise, I really enjoyed myself. I am a vegetarian, and I always had options at different places whether it was a vegetarian patty on a burger or a non-meat sauce on pasta, New Zealand is great at accommodating vegetarians without needing to eat salads the entire time.
I was lucky enough to have Soap and Ricky as my Contiki team. Soap worked very hard to make sure everyone had a good time and made everyone feel like a friend of his. There were a couple of times when Me Times were cancelled or room assignments got messed up, and Soap made sure everything worked out well in the end. He knows a lot of people around the country, and a lot of people know him, so he has ins to special requests and accommodations.
Ricky was a great driver. Never once did I feel uneasy about him being behind the wheel. I guess he was voted best New Zealand driver of 2014, and there was a reason he got that award.
I know this is cliché, but the best part about the trip was the group of people I went with. Everyone was very inviting and friendly and had a lot of fun. In the US, cliques are very popular and very strong, but on the tour, there were people who had groups of friends but never blocked anyone out. The majority of the group went out to clubs and bars each night, but never made others feel obligated to come if they didn't want to. I love the people I traveled with and I thank them for making my holiday absolutely unforgettable.
Even though there were some disappointing times on the trip and not everything ran perfectly smooth, the trip was still amazing and I whole-heartedly recommend it if you're up for a fast-paced, adventurous tour.
Had a great tour with a great group of party goers and the trip was made all the better with Jack Larsen as our Tour Manager!
I read the reviews after we booked and I was so nervous that my husband and I had made a mistake. I couldn't have been more wrong. Our tour group was awesome! We had a full mix of ages an there were 5 couples on our trip as well. Our tour guide, Vinny, was amazing too. He was the perfect mix of fun and in charge. Our bus driver, Alessandro, did amazing, if you would see some of the streets he had navigated you'd be impressed! The tour was great. It gave you the opportunity to see a lot of things in a short amount of time. They offer, at an additional cost, a walk tour of the cities and it's great and totally worth the cost. It lets you get your bearings in a city before navigating it by yourself. The hotels weren't as bad as others were saying, it's Europe, they are going to be tiny (my husband is 6"2" and struggled in every bathroom - he was too tall for the shower head) and for the cost you pay, you can't beat it. The hotels are not located downtown of any city, but there is still areas near the hotel to explore. I would highly recommend this tour!
My husband and I had been talking about visiting Ireland since we first started dating. We were looking for a tour that truly gave us an Irish experience. We did not have to worry about driving or locating accommodations each night and were very fortunate to have a great group to enjoy the experience with. This tour includes the Cliffs of Moher, the Giants Causeway, Blarney Castle, the Rock of Cashel, the Jameson Distillery, the Guinness Factory and many other sites. All of the breakfasts and about half of the dinners are included but be warned that the meal options can be limited. The food was great overall though and vegetarian options are available. This tour is not great if you are looking for an in depth experience as you will spend a lot of time on the bus and typically only spend one night in each town. We found that you spend a lot of time hanging out with your tour group and often missed out on the one on one experience with the locals. However if you only have 1 1/2 to 2 weeks to spend in Ireland and want to see a little bit of everything with a fun group then this is the tour for you. Our tour guide, Cam, described this trip as a buffet where you get to sample and figure out what you would really like to do when you visit Ireland again. Take it as you will but be prepared to drink often and a lot! It is very common to enjoy a beer or two with lunch and dinner before heading out to the bar each night. The tour group includes 18 to 35 year olds so there is always someone to head to the pub with or someone to hangout with in the hotel lobby to watch a movie. Free wifi was available in each hotel that we stayed at so no need to worry about that. My husband and I stayed in a room together but note that if you are traveling solo you will be assigned a room with another individual of the same sex to hopefully get along with. Make sure to say yes to the optional activities. Your tour guide will pass around the list on the first day and all of the activities were a lot of fun and worth the money. Also make sure to take lots of cold medicine with you and get a flu shot before you travel. We met our group in Ireland and most people had just gotten over the flu which we picked up towards the end of the tour. Not how you want to spend your first European experience that's for sure. We had such a great time that we quickly booked our next Contiki tour after we got home to the states.
This was my first time travelling so it was very daunting at first but the tour I picked was amazing!! Our tour manager and bus driver were beyond fantastic and went out of their way to make this experience both easy and a 'once in a life time trip' (you'll hear this a lot with Contiki) but it honestly is. The included activities are amazing and some even breath-taking. The accommodation is great, and there was even wifi (which believe me, you crave). I opted to do most of the optional activities which I am glad I did, I tried some things that in my normal life I probably wouldn't have, I ate some weird food (frog legs, snails, beef cheek, just to name a few). But, most of all- I met some of the most kind and amazing people that I have ever met in my entire life. At the beginning of the trip they will tell you 'you'll have 50 new friends by the end of this trip' and you look around and think 'maybe 20 if that' but in all seriousness by the end of your trip you really will have 50 brand new and life long friends, even the people you looked at on the first day and thought 'no way in hell'. I am so glad I went with Contiki for my first trip and I am already researching and planning my second and third. Even if you aren't a party animal but someone who wants to breathe in the sights and relive the history, Contiki is still a place you can do that. I will remember my trip and the people for the rest of my life. I sincerely hope you get the chance to say that about your trip one day soon.
Took the Italian Espresso tour and it was awesome. Our tour guide and bus driver were out of this world. Vinnie the tour guide would give us a quick walking tour around each city and then set us free to explore and have a wonderful time. I'd recommend doing the optional tours as since the local guides could answer any and all questions and spoke great english. The only down side is each city has so much to offer its hard to do it all in just a couple days in each city. But the tour gave me a good idea of where I'd like to go back and explore some more.
Also when people complain about the hotels being small its not Contiki its Europe. Hotel rooms are small especially in crowded cities.
This journey was my first experience with Contiki, and boy was I glad with the results! Whilst 13 countries in 23 days does sound like a daunting task at first, it is actually just enough time to go to a large portion of all the major sights in the cities visited.
There is one or two things that I will bring up as these always seemed to stump at least one or two (myself included on one point) people on our tour. First of all, it is a budget tour. You will not be staying at the Ritz every night. That said, the hotels and hostels that you stay in are rather nice for what they are. Do not use the Wi-Fi at the hotel in Venice though. It costs about five Euros and only works in the lobby.
Secondly, do all the me-time options of the budget permits. This is the one that caught me a little off guard when on tour, as doing every single one worked out to be about twenty euros per day, much cheaper than what I had thought. There may be one or two things that you may think wouldn't interest you, but trust me, every optional on that list is an absolute blast! As the motto goes, you leave all events with #NoRegrets.
Personally, I loved Kraków the most. It's an absolutely beautiful city filled with a rich history and friendly people. As long as you can speak basic Polish (they teach this to you on the bus), then they will speak English back to you. As will most Europeans. While you're there, try the beer with fruit juice. It's an odd combination, but it does work and most importantly it's a local custom.
Happy trails, fellow Contiki goers!
This was the best 16 days of my life.
The entire experience from seeing the canals in Amsterdam, the unbelievable views in Switzerland and the Eiffel Tower in Paris is unforgettable and was worth every single cent. My tour manager Steph and bus driver Attila were incredible, wonderful people. The made the experience that much more amazing.
The tour is full on, fast paced and exhausting but I wouldn't change a minute of it. The people you travel with become like your family, it feels like you've known them for years, not just 16 days. Do every single inclusion if you are able because they are great value for money and help you to really get to see the culture of the places you visit.
Don't wait, book it now I promise you won't regret it!
This was my first Contiki experience, and there were definitely #noregrets there! I chose this trip because I wanted to see San Diego, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco and Las Vegas (again!)
Highlights of my trip included:
- San Diego - AMAZING city, one of my faves in the US. Chargers Nation!
- our one night stop in Scottsdale, Arizona was by far my favourite party spot on tour (dear Contiki, please make this a longer stop. it has awesome nightlife!)
- Sedona, Arizona - day stop to red rock country. do the jeep tour add-on. you won't regret it!
- Grand Canyon - pictures don't do this place justice!
- Las Vegas - craziest place. I don't remember much of the first night here, but our awesome tour manager got us free entry to one of the biggest clubs (XS) where Diplo was playing when we were there.
- Yosemite National Park - absolutely stunning place. Toughest hike up the falls ever though, but so worth it!
- San Francisco - the cruise around the Bay was my favourite part about San Fran, and the most amazing way to end such an epic tour!
Made some awesome friendships with my tour mates, as well as friendships with my tour manager and driver (Jon - best contiki tour manager ever!!)
BOOK THIS TOUR NOW!!!! #NOREGRETSYET
I absolutely love this trip! The scenery was spectacular! The tour guide was great! And the new family I made was even better!. It's amazing how close you get to people in such a short amount of time!
I did most of the me time optional a including the cage of death!! It was a absolute ball!!
I enjoyed the quad bikes as well! And all the scenic flights! This trip really is a must especially if you want to see Australia in it's most beautiful!!
I'd recommend contiki and this your definitely your money's worth!!
The food can be a bit on the rough side occasionally but it's all part of the experience! We ate at a steak house! And tried emu, camel,kangaroo & croc! It was definitely a experience haha.
A must see and swim is Florence falls it was absolutely STUNNING!
I don't understand why this trip is so poorly rated! I recently returned from two exciting and action-packed weeks that I would recommend to anyone. Here's what you need to know:
Bring lots of local currency! Money is not always easy to get out of ATM's (especially in Buenos Aires as we found), so be sure to bring enough cash with you to South America. It's usually not recommended to carry tons of cash on you, but all of the hotels we stayed in had safes in the rooms and there were no issues with these. ATM's in South America limit the amount of cash you can draw in a transaction, in some cases as low as about $100 USD (in local currency). This means that to take out any reasonable amount of money you're forced to do multiple transactions and get dinged on transaction and ATM fees.
Bring enough USD to pay for all of the Me-Time Optional activities. I wish that Contiki had told us that we could pay for the Me-Time Optional activities in USD. Contiki accepts either USD or local currencies, for this tour that's the Argentine Peso and the Brazilian Real. However given how unstable South American economies are, Contiki hedges their bets and you get a really shitty exchange rate. If you pay in local currencies, you will end up paying more for the same thing than you would have had you used USD. For example, a $100 USD activity will cost you 1200 Pesos, even if the bank exchange rate for $100 USD is only 800 Pesos. Bring lots of USD!
People on my tour that had their cards stolen or disabled by their banks had a hell of a time getting replacement cards sent to them. Vacation is a lot more fun when you have enough money to do things, so tell your banks where you’re going and take care of your cards while you’re away!
-Me-Time Optional activities
In general I find that the optional activities are fun and good value, and that is definitely the case on this tour.
The Polo day in Argentina was the most underrated activity, and it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. It's a little pricey at about $180 USD, but that's a whole day activity including transportation outside of the city, unlimited delicious red wine and beer, unlimited empanadas, unlimited steak, viewing a polo match and of course, playing a polo match. That’s right, you spend an hour on horseback playing polo. Bring a dirty pair of jeans for the riding, and a bathing suit for the pool afterwards. Definitely a must-do!
The Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires was also a must-do. A fun night where the staff explains some of the nuances of the culture, while drinking unlimited wine and eating some of the most delicious steak I've ever had. Definitely don't miss this one.
The helicopter ride over Iguazu falls was incredible, though a little pricey. The 10 minute ride will run you about $120 USD, but on a clear day the views are worth it and the once in a lifetime experience speaks for itself.
The speedboat ride to Iguazu falls is a must-do. You get to see all sides of the falls (especially if you do the helicopter ride), and the view from the water is not to be missed. This option is quite pricey as well, but it’s about 30 minutes of excitement, including a couple moments where the boat is driven right into the falling water.
Depending on scheduling, an extra optional activity might be to go see a soccer game in Rio – do not pass this up!
Hang gliding in Rio was the highlight of my trip, and definitely worth the cost. The views are incredible, the guides are friendly and it was definitely something I will never forget. It should be noted that hang gliding is not covered by most insurance plans, so look into that before leaving.
The cable car ride up Sugarloaf Mountain is a staple for Rio, and should not be missed. Of course, the views are spectacular and the value isn’t bad considering transportation is included.
The Brazilian dinner in Rio is worthwhile for anyone who is not a vegetarian, and even our lone vegetarian came along to see what it was all about.
Argentina and Brazil are not unsafe countries, but there are some things that should be obvious that weren’t for some people. Things like carrying phones when going out at night, getting into cabs alone at night while drunk, and even carrying a wallet in your back pocket will get you into trouble. Nobody on my tour had any issues with getting mugged and I never felt outright unsafe, but like anywhere else be aware of where you are and who is around you.
If you haven’t done a Contiki tour before, you should know that if one person gets sick, there’s a good chance it’s going to spread. This tour is action packed with very little down time, so don’t expect to be well-rested – your body is going to take a beating. It’s prudent to visit a travel clinic to know what shots you need, but on top of that there’s a few things to bring that will make life a lot easier for you. Don’t leave home without: multivitamins, cold and flu medicine, nausea medicine and diarrhea medicine. You’re going to need all of them.
So this Contiki was a spur of the moment choice to finish off my time in Europe. I had been traveling on my own, but I loved the ease of doing it with Contiki!
My guide (Christina) was amazing and so funny. She went out of the way to show us some awesome stuff and ensure we had a fantastico trip. The driver Pino was a riot! "Contiki go DANCING!" They really made the trip.
The accommodation was really good value, especially in the Mediterranean where everything can be so expensive! There was only one bad hotel in Barcelona, but I think we were told that they wouldn't be going back there.
The food, oh the food. Thank goodness for the sightseeing walks otherwise I would have been rolling off the bus by the end. Everything was soooooo good and the servings were generous at all the included and optional meals. The dinner the first night and last nights plus the night in Florence was just mind-blowing.
The transport was really good. The bus was always clean and Christina's iPod provided a great soundtrack for the journey. Shame there was no onboard wifi, but I wouldn't have traded Pino for anything, so it was worth not having it!
The other people on the tour were great. There was a good mix of people that wanted to go out and those who didn't, so no matter how you wanted to spend your night others were keen for whatever.
I loved the South of France. All the beauty of that area was overwhelming. The weather was absolutely perfect for the entire tour.
I decided to do this trip while on study abroad and it was the best decision. I probably wouldn't have done it if I wasn't already in Europe, but that is okay. I had a great time and a really moving experience. Being with Contiki allowed me to see the area and get information from a great local guide. I still keep in touch with some of the people from this trip, even though it is short it was a very deep and moving experience. Do it, not for bucket lists or anyone else, do it for you because it will change and shape your thinking about everything you have been taught. There is nothing like being there!
Prepare for some random thoughts jumbled into one review. I would absolutely pick Rome-Madrid over Madrid-Rome, there are some very long bus rides between France and Spain and near the end of the trip you are pretty tired anyway so it's a good time to relax. Also everyone jokes about Contiki cough but it's a real thing stock up on COLD MEDICINE because almost everyone ends up buying it anyway. Didn't do the opera dinner, didn't feel like I missed out. Did do the Monaco dinner and it was delicious, but don't feel pressured to do it/not do it (others did find affordable food). I wouldn't consider it overpriced as one comment below said. Ladies the cobblestones in Rome will break your ankles in heels, I'm not sure how some of the girls on my trip managed that. I also skipped "the David" to have some more free time and didn't feel like I missed out, you end up seeing the fake David anyway. Sparkling fountain in Florence is really cool (near fake David). Go to the Modern Art museum in France, it's really weird and also go to the beach t see those people in the morning and maybe not even for the rest of the night. Space in Italy is a much smaller club and you can hang out more which is nice. One more thing- pack an umbrella you need it.
Another unforgettable tour ;) All I can say is Contiki is a must if you wanna see the world and meet awesome people !!*
We kept a journal, and we had all our friends write in daily. Sometimes I go back to read it and, then I am like "really, we did that"
I went with my cousin, and we had the trip of a life time. We met a group of all randoms, one couple, two solo men, and then us, and our roomie. We are ALL still in contact, and one as even come to see us from a 22 hour plan ride away. I took this trip last winter, and I can't say enough about the friends it has given us! we love them all! It was winter, and cold! plan on that! plan on extra money. Plan on granola bars b/c your breakfast is going to SUCK. Plan on good rooms, plan on crappy rooms. Plan on being on a bus for long hours, and plan on some rain. but, most important plan on a trip of a lifetime. I thought about giving a day by day play, but it's what you make of it! We did and tried everything. We also kept a journal and had all our friends write in it! that was the best. drunk thoughts, crazy thoughts! Just go have fun! Know that some things are going to suck, just go with it!