Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
My husband and I did this tour after a week in Germany for our honeymoon. We met so many amazing people on this tour and our tour guide Mitai was the best! The tour was pretty fast paced but it was better than expected! We knew the Amalifi coast would be gorgeous, which it was, but we really enjoyed Rome and Athens as well. We got to see so much in 10 days that we never could have done on our own. We did all the me time optionals and they were all great! Lastly, the included meals were also above our expectations. The only thing we would change we 2 of the hotels, which were not as nice as we expected, but we were not there long so it wasn't a huge deal. We would definitely do a Contiki tour again!
You would think that a successful company like Contiki would have their shit together and be swift to intervene when something goes wrong... but in my tour's experience, this was NOT the case.
Note that we went in July, which was the absolute peak of the season in Europe, so Contiki had every single bus booked, and had outsourced busses to compensate for the massive number of tours they had running. We quickly discovered that our outsourced bus had faulty air conditioning, and in the biggest heatwave Europe had seen in decades, this made for an absolute nightmare. It took a *long* ten days for Contiki to rectify this mistake, by which time I had broken out in heat rash, had panic attacks and passed out from heatstroke, and I was making plans to catch a train between each stop for the rest of the tour.
The over-booking also meant that at each stop (some of which were exclusive to Contiki, such as the Chateau in France), a couple of tours didn't fit in the usual accommodation, and so were pushed out into some second-rate place, far away from the parties which were thrown just for us. In our case, in Rome we were forced to stay in disgusting caravans that had clearly not been stayed in for at least 12 months.
Also note that Italy (the usual accommodation as well as the overflow) is ridden with bed bugs, and many of us woke up with bloody sheets and bites, having to wash all of our belongings multiple times, making for a miserable week or so. In Italy (and the French Riviera), the accommodation is literally over an hour away from the city, so the days were mostly spent driving, and we only got a few hours in the city. It was awfully draining, didn't feel worth it.
If these things hadn't happened, I would be recommending Contiki. The pace is nice, there is a party almost every night if you want to attend, and it's easy to make friends quickly. However, Contiki's terrible handling of our disaster of a trip makes me hesitate to recommend it to anyone. (We all complained profusely during the trip, and afterwards demanded partial refunds, but they instead gave us 5% off our next tour.... thanks guys.)
A bit of advice would be to think long and hard about which ME-time activities you want to go on. Your tour manager will sell them to you pretty well, so you'll want to pay for them all, but it's worth avoiding some of them to have some nights off to relax by yourself (especially towards the middle-end of your tour). The ME-time activities will take a big chunk of your money, so budget for more than what you think.
Would not recommend as I could do it cheaper myself and stay in better accomm & fly to certain places
*Knowledgeable tour guide who was also extremely patient and never rude, was always happy & obliging
*Met great people who I will be friends with for a long time
* Loved the accommodation in Croatia & Munich
* Air conditioning on the bus broke about a week into the tour and we had no a/c for the remainder of the tour, it just blew hot air. It was extremely hot & uncomfortable, some people had headaches and in 40 degree heat in croatia it was unbearable. No initiative was taken by the tour guide/bus driver to have it repaired. Only until the last day of the tour did they swap for a new bus, which was pointless
* Accommodation in Amsterdam was disgraceful - it wasn't even in Amsterdam (even though the itenary says we stay in Amsterdam) which I felt ripped off about, it was a 70 Euro taxi ride from Amsterdam Central which was disgraceful that Contiki would have us stay so far out. The hotel was disgusting - Shower leaks & the room was in bad condition & it overlooked a swamp
* Too much time spent on the bus - Travelling to unnecessary stop overs such as Preveza, Albania & Lyon was a waste of time & money. Contiki easily could have put us on plane to get us to our main destination which would have been just as cheap as we would not need to pay accomm. and food for the day at the numerous service stops.
* The cruise was THE BIGGEST LET DOWN of the entire tour. I was soo mad when I found out we would only be in Mykonos for 3 hours (ended up being 2 hours because of how long it took to disembark the ship).
* 1 hour was spent in Santorini which everyone was upset about. Plus we had to pay the cruise ship 67 Euro to be taken up to Oia (where the white village is)- we were under the impression this was included with contiki and we only spent 1 hour there - we didn't even have time for a meal. After complaining to the cruise company they told us they only stay a short period of time as it is to expensive to stay docked in the waters of Santorni which made me so mad as we paid a lot of money for this experience & that wasn't our problem
* The toilet on the bus was not emptied the entire 33 days - the smell was terrible and there is no excuse for the bus driver to not empty it.
* We were under the impression Wifi on the bus was free - We only had about 1 hours worth of free wifi on the entire trip until we had to pay, this is a rip off as we all paid a large amount of money to be on this trip and contiki can't even provide free wifi - So many parts of the trip felt like a LARGE profit making scheme
* The ferry from Italy to Greece was 14 hours (the length of time was not noted in our itinerary) - We all should have flown it was such a waste of a precious 2 days.
If you INSIST on doing a contiki/this tour. Do the Mykonos option
First things, DO THE FULL TOUR. This tour is made up of modules and most people regretted not doing England, Scotland and Ireland. Do all the optionals, the bike ride around Kilkenny was fantastic, going into all the castles, jameson tour, the Scottish and irish dancing evenings . There is lots neat things included in this tour like jumping into the lochness, good meals (although I don't know if I can eat another potato for a while), try the haggis ( its surprisingly good). Also feed the hairy highland cows in stirling , they are so cute. The pubs are great craic , drink some guiness and listen to live music. Benny was a fantastic tour manager , and Pete was a great driver( I don't know how he made some those small streets). The accomadations were all clean. I would for sure recommend this trip, and spend a few extra days in London before and after the trip , you wont regret it.
Honestly still one of my favorite trips and ive been on three other contikis since this. The views and culture is amazing, the food will meet every expectations you have and the wine is fantastic ( try the limoncello as well). Do all the options, try all the food and get ready to have the time of your life. I would for sure go back to Italy and now I know my favorite places. You will meet the best people and have the time of your life. Our day song was Macklemore- cant hold us and it still brings back memories years later.
This trip was one of the best experiences I've ever made. It was not only about the magnificent places we went to, but also about the whole group (trip manager, driver and passengers). We saw the main highlights of the West and I can highly recommand travelling with Contiki!
This contiki was definitely the most incredible thing I've ever done. Even though it's such a cliche thing to say or hear; the people that you meet and become friends with on this contiki really make the trip amazing and everyone becomes such good friends in such a short period of time. I had the time of my life and loved all the places we visited; Switzerland being my favorite. I've never seen anything as gorgeous as that country!!! For hostels, they were pretty good! And nearly all the hostels had free wifi which was a bonus! I went travelling with my friend and it was good because we weren't living out of one another's pockets; we went off with our other friends and done our own thing sometimes which was great. I wouldn't recommend a shorter trip than 18 days. I found this to be a perfect amount of time to see lots of places but its also a great amount of time to allow everyone to become really good friends. There was a lot of clubbing and going out at night which was lots of fun but I had a few quiet nights as well to refresh. The bus trips between each country (usually 6 hours) was when everyone had a good opportunity to catch up on sleep. I cant wait to do another Contiki and meet another bunch of awesome people. Cant recommend this trip enough!! No regrets!! Friends for life!!
so these are actually two separate tours which means there will be two groups of contiki people.
First Was Spotlight on Greece
this was FULL ON. just non stop on and off the bus I would not recommend doing this tour in summer I actually managed to get heat stroke on the second day and actually missed out on the first night out because I was so sick.
It was very educational and we did see a lot of cool things. I suggest bringing a hat and apply heaps of sunscreen! bring water with you everywhere! we had 51 people in this group!
way to big of a group it's very hard to even remember peoples names! and groups form very fast!
The accommodation was pretty decent I really liked Zafolia Hotel best ( in Athens) it was just really nice and the buffet breaky was the best I've ever had in my life - it does seem to be in the middle of no where though. Greece is Super Cheap so that was awesome. since you get 4 days in Athens it gets a bit boring but the shopping is great!
Second tour was the Greek Island Hopping
where some people from spotlight on Greece continue with you or go on a different tour. The Greek islands were amazing! Cheap as well but not as cheap as Athens. All the accommodation is fairly nice but you will need to catch a bus or taxi if you want to go shopping. The Santorini Accommodation was a bit of a let down it seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere...
My highlight was probably Mykonos so much fun! (be aware there is no Wi-Fi reachable in your room though I came home with a $300 phone bill because I ended up using my phone data) All of the lobby's had free Wi-Fi though.
if you are prone to motion sickness! stock up on motion sickness tablets! highly recommend the Greek island hopping boat extra me time even though I spent most of it throwing up :| it was truly a beautiful experience :)
also you catch Ferry's from each island that can take up to 5 hours but they are huge!!! so your unlikely to get motion sickness :)
the clubbing was honestly a bit of a let down I did except we were going to go to cooler places or at least somewhere with cheaper drinks. I suggest pre drinking ...some of the alcohol at the bars tasted very cheap! This tour was very alcohol fuelled but not all of us went out every night to get smashed I actually preferred to drink by the pool during the day :)
this tour had 81 people on it......so be prepared!
check out the Pool party bar place next to the place you stay at in Ios it went off! :) and buy your self a heap of breezes for your pres from the convenient store! no ID checks!
This tour is the perfect length to see the highlights of Greece :) we had mike and Ed as our leaders and they were fantastic I felt safe and well looked after.
The trip was amazing, everyone i met on the trip was amazing and we all had so much fun. The trip was supposed to be easy paced, but never got more than about 4-5 hours sleep with regular all nighters. Everyone on the trip was keen to party hard, but still be up at 6am to be out the door seeing what each city had to offer! The trip really needed just one extra day in each city, but if you want to do the USAs couple best city's in such a short amount of time, and cram as much as you can into this time this is the trip for you! traveling between city's is super simple with the flights and there is alot of free time where you can explore and do whatever you please! I didnt plan to do anything before the trip, but with all the people i met i was always busy and doing something awesome. From breakfast at 7am to dinner at 8pm there was barley time to sit down and from 9pm to 3am there was always so much energy in the group.
It may sound like a standard response, but those 10 awesome days were some of the best days of my life!
We had amazing people on our tour from all over the world, and our tour manager was an absolute blast! Katie was very knowledgable and passionate about New Zealand, and made sure we all had an an awarding time.
All of our accommodation was great and comfortable, and the food along they way was even better.
Given that half the tour were Aussies, most of us had an absolute blast each night, waking up the next morning to find ourself on another adventure of a different city.
If you've got 10 days to spare in NZ, jump on the Contiki bus!!!
This was my first time travelling solo and first time on a Contiki trip and it was the best trip I have ever been on! My tour mates were great and Our Tour Manager and Driver Emily and Firo were the best. My favourite moment was biking around the Aran Islands the views were amazing from the cliffs. It's a great way to meet people from all over the world and I highly recommend anyone considering to go on the trip!
My review of Contiki European whirl starting 17th July 2016
Overall I'm giving this 2.5 stars because....
- meet awesome and amazing likeminded people which will become friends for life
- an organised trip for you to see some amazing sights in Europe- you don't have to do a lot in terms of organising
- a coach which is air conditioned and comfortable to drive you around but a con is that you will have days which are "public transport days" where you need to catch public transport and if you go out at night you will need to catch a taxi home most of the nights so be careful to agree on a set price
- your mind will be opened to different cultures and ways of life
- most accommodation is not great and really budget - no fans in Italy where the weather is 30+ degrees and this was bad when everyone got sick in Venice and when people get heatstroke
- most included meals are crap and you would be better off not eating them as people got food poisoning/stomach bugs after eating an included dinner in Venice ... Don't know if this had anything to do with it though but I couldn't believe how bad the included meal was in the hostel in Germany... Two sausages that were almost inedible,
Cold chips and slimy lettuce. Their response to carrying to the vegetarians on my table was to take away the sausages and bring the plate back...
- everything costs a lot like a tiny bottle of water can be €3 or $5 ish Australian dollars but that's Europe
- all the "me time optionals" aren't really optional - they are something you sort of opt out of and I did most of them which ended up being an extra $730 aud- if you don't do them then you will need to hang around and do your own thing which will also cost you as you need to organise alternate transport
Overall after having paid more than $4000 to contiki for an 18 day tour I feel a bit ripped off for what we got
- the tour manager was quite firm with things eg she left on the dot of say 4pm when people would get there maybe a couple of minutes after
-She didn't really care when people got sick
- when I told her I was sick her response was basically "that sucks, get on the boat and go to Venice or stay here"
- for example a few of us were sick in Venice and were then stuck at a campsite for the whole day in the heat with nothing to do and no fan or cooling etc etc and no alternate sort of plan, ended up sleeping all day because it was too hot to do anything else (what a waste) and missed my gondola ride and actually seeing Venice
-drinking culture was very big on this trip, if you don't go out every night and drink people will ask you why and pressure you but that's Aussies in general haha
- you aren't allowed to poo or spew in the coach toilet (which is ridiculous when many people on our tour had gastro/food poisoning?!) and someone had to hold a bag of vomit for 3 hours before the coach stopped at services
- there's one particular campsite which is extremely dirty and everyone got sick there, and you have to pay €5 for wifi which doesn't actually connect properly (takes half an hour to connect and only "works" in reception and bar) it also is very very slow and drops in and out
- some days were planned really badly and we ended up waking up early and being rushed to the Vatican and then had to wait about 4 hours for the colosseum
All the me times I did were okay, but I felt like some of them were overpriced for what they were.
Overall I feel a bit ripped off- I met some great people and had a good time which was fantastic but I wonder exactly what I paid the 3.3 grand to contiki for, plus the $730... (that doesn't include flights and money for incidentals and meals as most meals aren't included)
So I wouldn't say that I have #noregrets...
There is no way that I can condense all of the memories and experiences that I have had during the past 18 days on the European Whirl, there are just far too many of them! From day one you are immersed in different experiences, whether that be meeting new people or exploring a new city, and I would stress that you make the most of every single second. Yes the trip is insanely fast paced, yes you will not get to spend a lot of time at each of the destinations, but if you go with an open mind and embrace every moment of the adventure, you will have the time of your life.
I decided on this trip with the intention of meeting new people, seeing the highlights of Europe and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but I did not anticipate just how much I would enjoy myself. Every conversation I have with somebody back home sparks a memory and I genuinely cannot believe how much I have done and seen in such a short space of time. As a non-drinker I was concerned about how I would fit into the group, but everybody on my tour were absolutely amazing and made me feel so included regardless of my lifestyle choice. Plus, I had more significant traits that could have secluded me from the rest as I was the only British traveller! I now have 52 friends from Australia, who I now hope to visit as a continue to plan my travels next year.
Adam and Max were absolutely fantastic and made the entire experience a pleasure! Not once did I feel unsafe, unorganised or unappreciated; they are both an asset to Contiki and I hope they are praised highly for their incredible efforts.
If I could give one piece of advice for anybody that has booked this trip, I would definitely say to make the most of every opportunity that you are given. Yes there are some optional extras that I did where I question if I should have done them, but they all enhance your experience and give you an opportunity to speak to other people in your group.
Take photos of everything and upload them to Instagram whenever you have the opportunity! Then at the end of the trip just have a scroll through your profile- that will prove to you just how rewarding, exciting and eye-opening your time on this tour has been.
Peru is magic!
I want to eat everything in Argentina!
Brazil is party central!
Such an amazing trip. Good for first time travellers to have a taste of Europe, most places you only have a day to explore so not suitable for someone who would like to relax in the same destination. Highly recommend for alone travellers - you will make lifelong friends and best way to do as much as possible within the short amount of time - very high energy!
Going into this, I wasn't sure what to expect. This was my first Contiki and my first trip to Europe so while excited, I was a bit nervous and unsure of what I had gotten myself into. By the end of it though, I was craving for more, and was sad to see the end.
First off, our Tour Manager Jess was the bomb. Her knowledge and fun, friendly nature made the trip so much easier!! Our coach drive Chico was amazing as well, negotiating the tight streets of cities like Paris and Florence sooo well. There was no doubt about what to expect and what we were doing, and it was nice seeing bright happy faces after our nights out. #jessandchicoforever :)
Additionally, your tour mates really make or break the trip. I went with a small group of friends, but by the end everyone was friends and there were more than a few tears when the final day came! You experience everything together and this trip is really ideal for both solo travelers and groups, as it is long enough to allow you to get to know other people on the trip, but not too long in that you feel like you’re throwing yourself in the deep end.
Now for the travelling itself. The best thing about European Escapade is that it whets your appetite for places, and makes you immediately want to plan your next trip. You spend a small amount of time in each place (France for six days, Spain for two, Italy for six etc) and you see enough of each place to feel like you've experienced it, but not enough to make you think that you've done it well. We spent two days in Barcelona, I could easily spend a week there, and that's only one small corner of Spain! Am already planning a tour of Germany for next year.
There is no way to describe the overwhelming feeling of seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Leaning Tower of Pisa for the first time. With this trip, you get to experience it all, and the guided tour optionals are definitely must-do's as the guides are both informative and entertaining. Optionals are generally paid for right at the beginning so it's good to try and pay for as much as you can first up because all of them are awesome opportunities (even though I didn't do all of them).
The accommodation did vary. The hostel in Barcelona was mint and the Contiki campsites were surprisingly very good. The best thing about the Contiki sites are the onsite 'facilities' e.g. bars and party spaces. The team know how to throw a good party and you feel safe knowing you only have to walk 100m to your room! Some accommodation options were different, (not wrong, just different), but for what you paid, it's a good deal.
European breakfast is generally small, and we were told to expect this, but it's always enough to get you going in the morning. There is generally cereal, croissants, ham and cheese, eggs and a decent selection of juices, as well as hot drinks, so eat big at breakfast so that you're not thinking about lunch from the get go. The dinners were good, the Tuscan feast is a crazy amount of food.
Now for what I wished I knew before I came. First of all, Europe is EXPENSIVE! Coming from New Zealand, I was not prepared for exactly how expensive everyday items were going to be. When it is a coach day, one or two meals are generally had at ‘services’ which are service stations that double as restaurants. These aren’t always the cheapest, and I found were always more expensive than what we would expect to pay in Australia or New Zealand. Also, non-alcoholic drinks were pretty pricey as well. On top of this, be prepared to pay for taxis! A lot of the places we stay are outside of the central city area so you need to have some money set aside for these kinds of things. If you can master the Metro systems in the big cities, you will save some, but some cities you will rely on taxies more than others. If you can budget well, you will be sweet, but it is hard to budget well when there is so much to do!!
The second thing is that Contiki cough is a real thing – almost everyone on our trip got it so you should take a good deal of antibiotics and/or paracetamol with you. I took three sheets of the stuff and still ended up worse than how I came so you should take a good supply. There will be a lot of nights out and parties and the like so it is harder to recover from a cough once you get it, hence the need for medicine and the like.
All up, this was truly the trip of a lifetime. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone on this side of the world, to allow you to not just see Europe, but to see it with a great group of like-minded people who want to see the world and have fun at the same time. And if you get Jess and Chico as TM and driver, you will be mega lucky!
In regards to trips, I'd have to say that this trip has the BEST itinerary of them all..
For me, our tour Manager Djbeccyb and Driver Mitchy Moo made this a trip of a lifetime.
As a solo traveller I couldn't have asked for a better group. From day one, it was like one big family thanks to how well the tour was run inside and outside of our Coach.
If you want to see Europe, make new friends for life and get away for a month you will never forget, this trips just for you!
What to expect..
A holiday where the thinking and planning is all looked after, all you need to do is show up and enjoy!
Historic sites, monuments, chapels, churches and ruins for those who want a taste of Europe's rich history.. AMAZING!
A mini Greek holiday at the half way point involving water sports, crystal clear water, beautiful greek beaches, Gyros' that taste like heaven and a chance to drive around Corfu with your new friends..
Experience the beauty of Austria and Switzerlands alps via paragliding, tobogganing in the snow or simply by climbing to the top of Mt Titlis..
Get amongst the activities including; Parasailing, Boating, White water rafting, Rowing, Paragliding, Bungee Jumping, Roller Blading, Cycling.. such an activity packed holiday for those who can't sit still..
On our trip we managed to knock off 14 countries with a cheeky stop over in San Marino, so I feel like we got spoilt.
I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants to have an incredible 28 days!!
Thanks again to my group and of coarse Bec & Mitch, Legends! (having a think to see which one I do next!)
This was my first Contiki and I enjoyed it so much I booked another trip within a few weeks.
Our trip leader and driver were fantastic and did everything they could to bring the group together and help everyone make the most out of every city we visited. The hostels were pretty good and the one hotel we stayed in was actually the worst but you dont spend much time in them, as long as there is a clean place to sleep and shower.
The trip was well organised and I left each city feeling as if I had ticked off the main attractions...#noregrets
Definitely recommend doing all of the optionals to get the most out of it.
Travelled solo and most of our group did too so made lots of new friends :)
This was my first contiki and first solo trip. And it was just truly awesome. The tour crew Braden and Frank made the trip so fun aswell as all my new friends on the tour. I really enjoyed visiting lots of different places and Toronto and Pittsburg were my favourites. So will definitely be going back to those places to do some more exploring!! It's so hard to pick the best moments as I enjoyed all of it. If your undecided whether you want to do this. I would definitely say do it!! As life is for living!!!!! :)
Great tour! Definitely made my holiday much easier, as the tour guide knew all about the culture and language, especially as this was my first time in a non English speaking country! Vietnam is a beautiful country with lots of history, culture and beauty, and this tour explored both.