Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
This was a fantastic tour. Absolutely loved it. While the accommodation was sometimes quite average, it's an absolute minor considering where you are in the world! You get to see some of the best sights in Europe, eat some of the best food and make wonderful new friends. For a first time traveller like myself this was perfect, all planned out and the only thing you have to worry about is not having time to see EVERYTHING. We had a great tour manager, who was very helpful and had a lot of historical knowledge, and a great bus driver who always go us to our location early. 10/10
This was my first Contiki tour and first trip to Europe and it was not a disappointment! It really is a great way to see so much of Europe in a little amount of time. Our tour manager was Lee and our driver was Christian and they are the best! Lee is very knowledgeable and will help ensure you're getting the most out of your experience. Christian is hands down the best bus driver and probably the happiest person I have ever met.
Don't let travelling by yourself hold you back from going - I went by myself and met some great people on the trip. Everyone was really friendly and it's not that hard to find someone who has similar travel interests as you.
I did all of the optionals except the rafting and had a great time - the river was pretty tame for the rafting so it was more just casually paddling down, but the people who did it enjoyed it and those of us who didn't enjoyed the time to just hang-out and relax around the small town. The only optional I did that I wasn't a fan of was the Venetian walking tour - our guide was this adorable, feisty older woman but we didn't really see anything that spectacular on our tour - I would recommend skipping it and using that time to explore on your own or shop since you don't get that much time. The Venetian restaurant was the best! The food was delicious and everyone had a great time chatting and drinking.
Seriously be CAREFUL in Rome!! The girls I travelled with and myself kept our hands on our purses on the metro and one of them still almost got pick-pocketed. Keep your purses in front of you with your hands on it at all times and if you're taking a backpack put locks on the zippers. We met some really friendly people on the metro that looked out for us and were very nice, but still keep a close eye on your stuff.
The accommodations weren't bad - they were clean and served their purpose. You're only there to sleep and eat breakfast. When leaving in the morning try and go down before you're supposed to meet - some of the hotels have either really slow elevators or only have 1. Also make sure to keep your hotel list on you; our cab driver in Munich had no idea what hotel we were talking about until we showed him the address.
The main thing to keep in mind is you get out of this trip what you put into it and to keep an open mind about what you're doing the culture you're in.
Me and my boyfriend went together and met another 4 people who were our tent neighbours and we partied with them the whole time we were there. The camping was the best idea because it was 2 seconds away from the festival and we could come and go as we pleased.
The whole festival was the best thing I have ever experienced and contiki just made it all ten times better. Without contiki we would not have met the amazing people we did and so I am extremely happy I booked here.
There was not one fault, except the nights were freezing so bring extra clothes and a sleeping bag!!
Has made my life.
I was not overly happy with the tour, I believe if I put some thought and research into it I could have worked out a better program and for cheaper. Although you pay contiki straight up it really is just your hotels flights and transfers some cities you will get a public transport card only worth a few bucks they tell you there are a lot of inclusions but there really isn't . It is good to be in a group as you meet lots of new great people and feel safer. Don't get me wrong it was great but do your homework you may be able to do it better exactly how you want it. Also don't be fooled by Contiki excursions you can arrange your own that are just as good for a cheaper price the states can be expensive and don't be afraid to do your own thing without the group.
First stop was London England. I had no idea how in love with this city I would fall. As an American it was so fascinating to see where our ancestors came from. That first night we all met in the hotel lobby, had dinner and took a walking tour of the local pubs. It was cold and raining. Everything you think of when you think of London weather. The tour consisted of 50 of us. 90% Australians, a few Canadians, South Africans and Americans. The group bonded right away over warm beer at the local pub. My roommate was a 21 year old Australian college student whom wound up being way more responsible than I. These types of tours have something for everyone. Yes those other reviews are true saying there is a lot of drinking and hook ups. But not everyone was into that scene and you are free to choose. My old age caught up with me so I did a little of both. While in London we went to the Roman Bath Houses, Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, rode the London Eye and even saw a show. Before we knew it we were on a ferry to Paris France. My fondest memory was riding in the coach with Candle in the Wind playing through the tunnel Princess Diana died. The end of the tunnel was our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. I was so happy and overwhelmed I cried. Next stop was right to the top of the Eiffel tower of course. For 10 euro a few of us got a glass of champagne at the top and just took in the view while sipping the champagne. In the following days we saw Moulin Rogue, Caste of Versailles, Saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, got lost on the subway and went on a wild cab ride to the wrong hotel. On the free day the girls chose to go shopping and eat macrons while the boys went to the Catacombs. This tour was a 10 out of 10. It surpassed everything I could have ever imagined. My only complaint is that it was to short. The tour offers a Paris or Rome extension. I recommend doing the Paris extension and leaving Rome to another trip. A year later I am still in contact daily with many people I met on this tour. For more travel reviews, pictures and advice go to my blog Foxyfontana.com
10 months after my first Contiki Tour I was back in Europe, this time Italy. With the sir name Fontana it was especially important for me to see this awesome country. The Tour started as they all do, meet your tour in the hotel lobby followed by dinner and bonding over way to many drinks and dancing in Rome. Our flight arrived at 9am putting us at the hotel early enough to nap and shower before the 5pm meeting with the tour. This was especially cool considering the hotel check in time wasn't until 3pm. Every hotel on this tour had the smallest bathroom with smallest shower I have ever seen. Welcome to European living Foxy! Non of the public bathrooms had toilet seats and you had to pay 1 euro to use them. This is a common practice in Europe as well as a sitting fee and bread fee when having dinner. Not a big deal considering most of your dinners are with the contiki group and that's all covered. The Italian coffee is espresso and when ordering one finish it in one shot and leave to avoid the "sitting fee." More than once a few of us had lunch in the alley on the ground. These differences are all part of the experience. The tour was mid October making it the perfect time of year, light jacket in the mornings is all you needed. The tour wound up being 80% Americans, Australians, Canadians, and South Africans (just a guess). We also had about 10 couples honeymooning. I would not recommend Contiki for every honeymoon couple considering the hotels are not that great and you don't get a lot of free time or privacy. All of our couples were super cool so I doubt they cared. Two of the couples are now pregnant so apparently there was free time...lol The tour guide "Christina Contiki" was #fantastico. She was so knowledgeable, and pleasant. She truly loves her job and it shows. She went out of her way to recommend and even put tickets on her personal credit card for the free time activities. When leaving one of the clubs all you had to say was " Christina Contiki" to the bouncer and he would get you a cab and even tell the driver what hotel to take you to. She went out of her way to make sure we were safe. After the cab drama in Paris on my previous trip it was reassuring and allowed me to enjoy the night. We did everything the brochure promised and more. Christina had optional activities we could do as a group and dinners arranged for a set price. This was especially awesome for me because I prefer to stay in a group and meet people. Every night at dinner I would sit at a different table to mingle. The group dinners were good but could have been better. People who went off on their own had better food experiences, sure they also paid a lot more as well. If you are adventurous and love Italian food I recommend venturing off on your own. The walking tours of Florence and Venice were nice but I could have done the same "walking tour" in a small group for free. Melissa's must dos: Coliseum Roman Forum Sistine Chapel Vatican City THE DAVID!!! in Florence (on free day) Group photo in Florence Gondola ride in Venice Bellini in Venice preferably at Harry's bar St Marks square Venice Murano Glass factory Venice Leaning tower od Pisa My favorite city on the tour was Florence. I loved everything about this city. Venice was my least favorite I felt it was to touristy. people who have spent more time in Venice had better experiences. I recommend staying an extra day in Venice if possible. Just to wonder around and explore the culture. This tour really only spends one good day in Venice. When the tour ended in venice I took the free transfer back to Rome. The free transfer is the contiki bus all the way back, takes about 6 hrs. Guess the bus has to go back to Rome anyway. About 10 out of the 50 of us took the free transfer to catch our flights the next morning. This gave us an extra night to explore Rome in a smaller group. we all went to dinner and walked around the city. Contiki arranged the extra night in the same hotel for $80. I still recommend staying in Venice if possible. Cons The only cons are that some of the activities seemed to be more of sales pitches to get you to spend money at that particular place. Leather making demo was just an excuse to get you in the store to spend money, same as the glass blowing demo and wine tour. Not sure if the tour guide or contiki makes commission but it sure seems so. Europe has strict driving rules so you take stops at old towns that seem pretty pointless. Think its a chance for the driver to take a break and eat. Sitting fees at restaurants paying to use the public bathroom no toilet seats anywhere Can only fit half your American body in the hotel showers at a time Best Pro of them all: Meeting 50 new friends from all over the world. We are all still in contact and have plans on meeting soon. As a general rule Contiki travelers are the coolest, craziest people you will ever meet. For more travel reviews, advice and pictures visit my blog Foxyfontana.com
I should start this review off by saying it was the best month of my life, and if you've never been to Europe before and want to check out as many things as you can, then this is the perfect way!
It was truly an incredible experience to travel to a place where civilization as we know it started, with the huge amounts of history and stunning sights all part of the journey.. However this isn't just a review saying how amazing it was, because there were definitely some negatives that I found with the Contiki/European experience.
I'm gonna go through some of low lights and annoying parts of the tour, not because I like to focus on the negatives but because everyone will tell you how amazing it is so it's only fair if you really know what you're in for right? I just want to give a bit more of an honest recap of things.
First of all, be prepared to pay for everything, from using WiFi, washing your clothes and even going to the toilet (not on contiki sights, only in public areas). Europe as a whole is very very expensive!!
WiFi was painfully hard to connect to and use at times, with only about half the places you stay at offering it completely free, the rest requiring you to either buy a drink or pay a small amount. It was usually really slow and only stretched within common areas too, meaning no internet in your rooms. Barcelona was the only accommodation where it did reach the rooms and was completely free, easily the best place you'll stay all tour (because it's modern as well, not just the WiFi!). Now obviously you're not paying all this money to come to Europe and sit on your phone, but there's always times when you want to relax and talk to your friends and family on Facebook but can't get a half decent connection.
A lot of the servo's you stop at on the way will have WiFi too but its not normally free and sometimes impossible to use. There was WiFi available on the coach, but it's so expensive it just isn't worth it.
Speaking of the coach, make sure you get on it early enough on drive days(travelling from one city to the next) so that you secure yourself a window seat. They're so much easier to get to sleep on, which can be hard at the best of times when you're clinging to life from a terrible hangover, but just trust me and get a window seat!
Laundry facilities are available at most places you'll stay, but of course it comes at a price. They would vary from 3-5 Euros for a wash and the same for a dryer. This annoyed me, you would think paying all the money that you do they would at least let you wash your clothes for free, but nope. Your best bet is to split a machine with someone else to halve the cost. Again we're not talking a lot of money, but is it annoying? You bet.
The rooms themselves were... small. Most places you stay will be 4 to a room, with only just enough space to put your suitcase down if you're lucky. The worst part about these rooms though is undoubtedly the heat. Now of course if you're going in summer it's going to be hot outside, but nowhere near as hot as some of the rooms will get. The Europeans don't seem to have discovered A/C as of yet, so don't go expecting any of that in the accommodations. You won't even get a pedestal/ceiling fan to at least help the mugginess of the rooms. If it's been a hot day outside, be prepared to sleep in a sauna that night. Maybe that's why everyone was drunk all the time, just so they didn't have to endure trying to sleep sober in those conditions. Not all places are like this, but a fair few will be.
P.S. Don't wet the mattress in any way, even with water, because you will have to pay 100Euro in the morning... (long story, just look after your mattress!)
Showers and toilets are sometimes communal and sometimes in your room (so much better). Again, everywhere you stay is different.
The food you get served by Contiki for dinner is a little bit hit and miss, but did get better towards the end of trip strangely enough. Some meals were really nice with plenty of leftovers while some weren't great and left you still hungry.. luck of the draw really. Breakfast is continental and fairly standard in most places, with muesli and yoghurt always available which made me happy. They do cooked breakfasts occasionally as well which were pretty decent.
Be prepared to get sick! I know everyone says this, but that's because its 100% true and guaranteed. You're basically paying 4 grand to push your immune system to its limits in strange and foreign conditions. I was a bit silly in that I didn't take/bring any medication for coughs and whatnot with so I pretty much just took it on, which wasn't too bad until i got a stomach bug in Amsterdam.. oh well! Just be prepared and pack whatever you know you're susceptible too.
Now, onto the ME Time 'Optional' Extras. I use quotation marks over the word optional because they tell you that they're optional, but they will try their absolute hardest to peer pressure you into doing each and every single one. This was just about the most annoying part of the whole trip from a Contiki stand point for me. A few days in, your tour manager will go through each and every single optional available whilst your sitting on the coach hungover, explaining what each one is and why you should do it. Now that probably doesn't sound so bad at first, but what I didn't realise is that they will then pass out a form and you have to decide then and there what optionals you wish to do for the rest of the tour. It is a massive sales pitch by the tour manager and it's a hell a lot of money to be paying upfront for things you don't even know if you'll want to do in 3 weeks time (about 700Euro+ to do them all).
I was under the impression we get to decide a day or two before if we wanted to pay for these extras, because really who knows what you'll feel like doing before you get to a city?? But no such luck..
Thankfully however most of the ME Time Optionals are totally worth it. The best being the railway up Jungfrau Mtn in Switzerland. This one is expensive but SO SO worth it, specially if you haven't experienced mountains and snow before, you HAVE to do that one. I had no idea we were gonna get to be in contact with snow but luckily there's snow all year round in the Swiss Alps!
All the activity ones are definitely worth it, including the bike rides. They're really easy and even the girls enjoyed it, which says something I think!
The only optionals I would say to avoid would be the group dinners. This being because when you go to these dinners everyone gets the same thing and there is no choice in what you want, so all the food is mass produced and just not that great. You would be much better off going off with a small group to a random restaurant and getting meals actually cooked for you. These dinners are a chance to mingle with the group of course, so really it comes down to whether you would rather socialize with your contiki family or experience some of Europe's amazing cuisine.
Contiki will also take you to random stores(you get no choice) that they have an affiliation with in pretty much every city and the store will try to sell you more things. A lot of these stores are actually pretty decent like a really nice Perfume factory in France and beer stein producer in Germany, but some are shit, like a leather shop. So yeah, just so you know.
Finally, bring a lot of money!!!
I got told London was expensive but I had no idea the rest of Europe was just as bad! Food and drink are the worst killers. Naturally you're not carrying a lot of food on you so every time you get hungry it means more money. Try and always buy a few snacks at a time, fruit is a good idea because its often hard to come by, and always have a water bottle with you to prevent having to shell out money every time you're hungry/thirsty.
Even the drinks in nightclubs are expensive, something I thought would be cheap. Some clubs do 'free pour' which normally means you get a reasonable amount of alcohol but these drinks usually cost up to 8Euro and can very quickly add up. A lot of the people on our tour needed their parents to send them more money because they simply didn't have enough, something that I only just avoided myself!
Alright, I think that's all the negatives out the way!
Please don't read this thinking that you shouldn't go, if you're 'umming' and 'arring' about this tour, don't! You definitely need this in your life! It was truly the best experience of my life and I'm so glad I did it.
For all the rest of the amazing reasons to go on this trip, and to get a better idea on other things, just read all the other reviews!
Good luck and safe travels!!
Such an amazing time with a great bunch of people! Seeing all the tourist attractions especially the Alps and roads were covered with snow! Everything was so picturesque! Tour Manager Trent always went above and beyond and did everything he could to make our trip amazing. You get the best parts of Europe handed to you!
Definitely recommend! Just remember to rug up!
This was my first contiki and I loved every second of it! Everyone was super friendly and the tour managers knew Greece inside and out. The optional extras were worth it and you still had plenty of time to explore and relax after. The only optional I didn’t enjoy as much was the winery because I felt it was a rushed talk and then three wine tastings – although the location and view was breathtaking! I also found that the included dinners weren’t as good as the places we found on our own, but was a good way to meet talk to your tour members. All the hotels were awesome but heads up the showers are tiny and flood the bathroom. The locations were either beachfront or a short walk /bus ride from town - and despite ‘island time’ the buses actually come on time! I’d still recommend hiring a quad bike in Mykonos though so you can explore whenever in your free time. The Mykonos beach party was insane and the nightlife was even crazier! In ios clubs don’t get going until early hours in the morning so your tour guides start your night at Fun Pub – which despite the name gets boring quite quickly. They do have cool things like ‘buy 7 shots and get a free shirt’ and giant jenga– but once everyone’s done that, you want to move to the next bar. The rest of the night is sick! Just watch out for people assuming you are tipping them/giving back the wrong or no change… some places took advantage of us tourists and we didn’t realize until later on. Despite that I’d highly recommend this tour to anyone who loves partying, exploring and relaxing! Can’t wait for my next contiki :)
Made tons of friends and had a ball!
Having been to Europe a few times already, I had read the reviews before I signed up for this trip and knew what I was getting myself into. When you sign up for a tour that goes to so many places in such a short time frame, you have to understand that you're going to be spending a lot of time on the bus. This wasn't typically a problem, however, as we mainly used that time to catch up on some sleep we had been missing from being out the night before.
The food was mostly okay, the sites were fantastic, and the optionals were great, but what really made the trip exceptional was the people. I was a little nervous to travel alone, however I met so many people even on the first night and following days that it didn't make a difference at all.
Kristin, our tour guide, was incredibly knowledgeable about everywhere we went, and was always around to help you out if you needed her or had any questions. I ended up getting sick on our last stop and she personally took me to the pharmacy in paris and got the medicine I needed - so thank you Kristin :) (on that note, if you do get sick easily, it might be wise to pack some cold and flu pills in your bag before you go).
I would definitely recommend doing the optional Moulin rouge in paris and the sex show in Amsterdam - though it does seem kind of costly, particularly the Moulin Rouge show, pretty much our entire group went to both and it was well worth it.
I'd definitely recommend this trip to anyone who wants to have a taste of Europe, its great for deciding which places you want to come back to and explore in depth!
My trip was the best thing I've ever done. Meeting and become so close with my Contiki family and getting to experience Europe in the best way possible. Our tour manager Joe defiantly made the trip, his passion for travel and how he talks about each country it was like having a book on tour he just knows everything and is the best at what he does. If it wasn't for him I don't think I would of experienced as much as I did. Thank-you Joe for giving me the best days of my life. My favourite place was Lucerne in Switzerland it was like living in a picture for a few days. I'll never forget my trip and miss everyone so much already.
This tour was insanely good. The perfect amount of time spent on each island, generally a good distance from the towns and if not right in it then easily accessible buses. The tour managers were incredibly fun and easy to get along with who also knew tonnes about where we were and what we were doing. The only thing I would say is watch out for the sting of optional extras. They're all worth the money but they are a bit pricey for what they are. I felt like a lot of them should have been included in the price of the tour, but they were pretty great activities. Also plenty of free time, even if doing all the optionals, to explore the townships and sleep in after big nights. Overall I adored this trip! Warning - the first optional in Mykonos which is the dinner and bar hopping, the food for the dinner was quite poor so choose a vegetarian option if you hate dry mystery meat.
First off, our guide, Cam, was excellent. Very friendly, knowledgeable and organized. Our driver Jakub was also very good and always on time.
The optionals were great, I would recommend all of them. The food and accommodations were as expected for the price.
A couple of things that surprised me were 1) this is a modular trip. I was 1 of just a few people joining a larger group of about 40 people who had already spent 2 weeks together becoming friends and making memories. 2) the average age of members on the tour I figure was about 19 or 20. Much younger than I expected (especially given that euro trips are quite expensive). For this reason I would not recommend this trip for anyone over the age of early twenties traveling solo.
If you're reading this, it's probably to see whether or not doing a Contiki tour is the right thing for you; look no more! Trust me when I say it was the most AMAZING time of my life.
This particular tour is draining in more ways than one, you see soo much of Europe in 2 weeks. Yes, there will be early mornings and yes, there will be LONG bus rides, but I wouldn't have it any other way. It's most definitely an adventure of a life time. The bus is a second home, a place for recaps of the night before (or at least what you can remember). You will learn to love the bus.
The one question I get asked is always about the optionals. My opinion - do them! Everyone else does and it's something fun to do with the group. I skipped a few based on the short amount of period in each city and decided to prioritise my time elsewhere.
All tour inclusions (accommodation and food) were perfectly fine - no problems at all.
And finally, the people. I was a little hesitant, but I can happily say, I now have a bunch of amazing friends all over the world who made the experience 100 times better than what I imagined. Friendships form extremely quickly, and after two weeks with one another, we were more of a family.
It doesn't matter where you are from or how old you are, I guarantee you will have the time of your life.
Smile at Europe, and it will smile back at you!!!
I went on the European Whirl June 27th- July 14th. i met my group in Amsterdam and the minute i met all 52 of them i instantly liked them. I got to know them all really well and made amazing friends. We started in Amsterdam and it was mad fun drinking and going out to these cool clubs, then we went to Berlin were we got to watch Berlin play in the world cup and that was the best thing to do :) then off to Prague and enjoyed the history and culture there, then we did a one day stop in Munich and i did the ME TIME activity Mikes Bike Tour and YOU HAVE TO DO IT this bike tour is the funniest and best bike ride i have ever been on you see so much of Munich in so little time with this great bike tour and you laugh the whole way. Then we went for another 1 night stop in the Austrian Tyrol and that was just BEAUTIFUL we also had our Tight, White & Bright Party at the place we were staying and that was a fun party with my contiki group and other contiki groups as well :) then we went to the beautiful country ITALY we stayed in campsites through out the whole time in Italy and they were alright (you will need your sleeping bag there and in Venice buy mozzie spray as they will bite you bad) Venice is a beautiful city i could live there, Rome didn't interest me that much but thats my personal opinion you may think different of Rome. We only had 1 day in Florence and from what i saw it is a beautiful city. We had our group photo and dinner in Florence which is a ME TIME OPTIONAL and i suggest you do it as its amazing and after dinner we went to a karaoke bar and drank and sang the night away ( hahahaha- Oh and eat lots of GELATI in Italy i did its so AMAZINGLY GOOD) we then headed up to Switzerland and it was cold but OMG such beautiful views and such a beautiful place we stayed in. another ME TIME OPTIONAL in Switzerland is going up to the top of Europe in the snow called JUNGFRAUJOCH and i enjoyed that heaps (but pack warm clothing as you will need it and Switzerland is expensive so if you are thinking you want to eat at the snow buy food at the place your staying and take it up there as its very expensive up the top of the mountain) then after that we headed to our last stop PARIS and just like the talk it is a BEAUTIFUL CITY we went as a group in free time on the first night we all bought wine and champagne and went to the Eiffel Tower at midnight and watched it light up it was so beautiful. Then the last night we had out goodbye dinner and cabaret show and those are both ME TIME OPTIONALS and you have to do them as its a fantastic night out with everyone for pretty much the last time :) then on the morning everyone left i was staying in Paris 1 extra night and i didn't think it would be that hard but saying goodbye to 52 people you have been with on and off a bus with and shared rooms with and toured around Europe with for the last 18days is so hard and sad to say goodbye to them i cried but i know i will have a friendship with them for life and will catch up with them soon :) This was my first ever CONTIKI TOUR and i LOVED IT i now have the travel bug and i will be booking to go on another Contiki December 2015 but on an American Tour - if you are hesitating about doing a contiki tour or hesitating about doing this tour - DONT HESITATE just do it as you will not regret it and you will have the best time ever and also don't be nervous going by yourself as i went by myself and i made the most amazing friends and had the most amazing time ever :)
I just returned from the the European Magic Tour and had a fantastic time! This was my 4th time to Europe, but first time traveling with a tour group and I have no regrets choosing Contiki. It made traveling very easy and I was very happy that it wasn't a "Follow my umbrella" guided tour around Europe. I was still able to take in the sights as a individual, but still have planned activities if I wanted to participate. It was the best of both worlds.
Reviews of the Stops:
London: I recommend arriving a few days early or taking the free transfer back after the trip to take in the city. There isn't any planned things here with Contiki, but there's lots to do! My friend and I missed the Meetup meeting on the first night. Don't worry about this, a sheet is posted outside the Basement door with all the info you need. I never felt left out because I didn't attend.
Amsterdam: We stayed at a Best Western, so it was a really comfortable hotel stay. Since we arrived at night, we hopped right into the "nightlife" of Amsterdam - aka (pot and sex). I opted not to go to the sex show and I didn't regret it. It saved me 22 euro and the people on my tour said it really wasn't that great. They could tell that the people were just going through a routine. I did find it interesting to walk through the Red Light district to the sex show with the group since this is part of Amsterdam culture. I was glad that I was able to experience this part but didn't need to do anything else. There is free time in the morning and I recommend going to the Anne Frank House. You wont have time to do anything else that morning, but the tour was really worth it. Our group arrived late to Amersterdam after a slight bus problem in Belgium so we weren't able to take the canal cruise. Contiki bought us all public transport passes to make up for it, which was nice. While in Amersterdam, definitely try stroopwaffles! They are delicious.
St. Goar: Definitely just a stop over place. There isn't really anything to do in the town, but the wine tasting that Contiki sets up is nice. All the wines are really sweet though, so it's great for those that are new to wines. Plus you get to try ice wine which is expensive to buy on its own. Hotel Montag was also nicely redone for the stay.
Munich: Personally, I just love this city and have been before. The bike tour was really well done and the guides for funny and interactive. Really worth the time. The stop for dinner at the biergarten was great. You're going to wish you had more time in this city. Our hotel was amazing too. Easily the best stop.
Innsbruck: I loved the chance to bobsled (even though we almost missed it because we were late getting on the road and the bus driver got lost...). The bobsled is really short though so it almost doesn't seem worth the money, but how many times can you say you've bobsledded on an Olympic course? I recommend sitting in the front seat of the bobsled to avoid getting jostled around too much and take the recommendation to hold yourself upright like the instructors say. The town was really nice, but we didn't get to stay long because we were behind schedule. It would've been cool to explore more. There isn't a tour at the Swarovski Crystal store, they just welcome you and then you shop. If you're looking to buy something nice as a souvenir then it's a nice place to spend time. Otherwise, I would just enjoy a nice relaxing lunch in the town.
Switzerland: It was too bad that this was our one rainy day of the trip, because the low hanging clouds made it difficult to see the mountains. Since you have to pay for the optionals beforehand, pray for a clear day here! I really couldn't see anything from the stop of Mt. Stanserhorn because of the clouds, but they cleared when the second half of our group was up top and they had great pictures. It was fun to be that high up a mountain though, just wish the weather was better but thats not something anyone can control. The stop at the watch/knife store is really not anything worthwhile, just a time filler. If you want to buy one of those then it's worth it otherwise it's obviously a company that has joined with Contiki. They also own 4 other stores all connected. I recommend walking a little further down the street where there are other shopping places. Just one street up from the jail hotel is a bunch of big shopping names. The JailHotel was interesting. You just have to take it for the experience. There was nothing wrong with the room (aside from our musty bathroom because it doesn't air out). I was glad we only stayed there for one night, but it was just an experience and something you can say you did. The boat cruise would've been nice if the weather was better. It was raining so noone could go on the top deck and the captain sounded really bored. He had some interesting facts, but noone was paying attention. I listened and actually found it interesting, just wish we could've seen the sights.
Paris: What a crazy city! I thought the traffic in NYC was bad, but it doesn't compare to here. The driving tour that our Tour Manager took us one was really great. She was very informative and it allowed us a chance to see where everything was located in order to kind of plan for the following day. I then went up the Eiffel Tower that night which was totally worth it because it saved so much time the next day. Plus I got to watch it sparkle which was beautiful (it shimmers for five minutes on the hour beginning at 10pm, 11pm and midnight). The next day I toured the Opera Garnier (where Phantom of the Opera is set), Norte Dame (go when there is a free guided tour, it saves you from waiting in line) and the Museum D'Orsay (closes at 5:30, be aware). I opted not to do the Moulin Rouge because of the price although everyone said it was fantastic! Instead, a few of the other people from the tour and myself went to the grocery and bought food and wine for a picnic under the Eiffel Tower. It was perfect. We ended the evening with a river boat cruise and then met the rest of our group at O'Sullivan's bar to enjoy our last night together. It was a great day.
I had a great time on this tour and really enjoyed meeting everyone from around the world. We had a great mix of people and everyone really got along and cared about one another. Our Tour Manager, Tamsyn, was incredible. Very sweet and knowledgeable. It's unfortunate that this was her last tour because she was fantastic.
As an American, we are a very time driven, schedule driven society. You will never receive a full time itinerary with hours listed for the full trip. Each night your Tour Manager will post the timings for the following day, but don't expect to receive one before hand. What you see on the website for the full trip is what you get. You come to realize that with traffic and large groups you don't always stay on time. They don't give you a timed itinerary so that you don't freak out about being behind. You will still get to do everything, but you might just not stay in one place for as long.
Also, know that you will spend long driving hours on the bus. Bring a good book (or 2 or 3) and prepare to catch up on your sleep here! They stop at nice services though to get meals and snacks.
Overall, I was highly pleased. It was just what I was hoping for and I made some incredible memories. After this tour, I was given a taste of many countries and now I can decide where to return to.
Loved every second of this tour especially with Enzo being the tour guide! I highly recommend this to tour anyone!!
Where to begin? This trip was amazing! It is safe to say we all had the time of our lives! Our driver was John and TM was Chris Tabone who, if you’re lucky enough to get him, was voted best Tour Manager 2 years running, so he knew what he was doing! It should be noted this tour is extremely fast paced but is perfect for those on a tight budget/time frame or are doing extra travels before/after the tour. You get to see so much in such a short time it truly is value for money.
Straight up some tips I’ve learnt:
Do all the optional activities - you never know until you’ve tried them all! Pack as light as possible: most hotels have tiny elevators that take forever and most of the time it will be easier to lug your suitcases up the stairs. Even if you go in summer always have a thicker jacket/pair of jeans: it rained at some point almost every day we were there in July! Don’t bother with a tablet/ipad for this tour – there isn’t enough time, so just use your smart phone for free wifi. You will most likely get sick towards the end so I recommend taking at least cold and flu tablets, throat lozenges and hydralite/berocca to get you through (the contiki cough is real)! For Europe you don’t really need fancy going out clothes: we only really had to look nice for the night in Florence and last night in Paris. I used the multi-currency cash passport and had no problems with it - thought it was the best way to carry currency around with little fees.
Summary of each place and optionals:
London: Although this is just the starting point for most people I recommend a couple of days in London. Best way to see the sights is a Hop-on Hop-off tour, which I found really enjoyable. We stayed at the Royal National Hotel – was basic but convenient and you hardly spend much time in the hotel. After the startup meeting a few of us went to the London pub for drinks and to get to know each other.
Amsterdam: Early next morning departed for Amsterdam. Hotel was one of the best and served good buffet breakfast and dinner. Canal cruise had unlimited drinks and was a great way to mingle with everyone. We then had a walk through the red light district and did the optional sex show. Not all TMs will offer the sex show, but most of us did it and found it quite hilarious and entertaining, especially when a few girls were called up to undress the male stripper! The night was then free for us to party. Next morning we had the chance to see the Anne Frank Huis which I would recommend.
St Goar: The scenic drive to St Goar was beautiful. The town is quiet but pretty and the hotel was surprisingly nice. In the afternoon there is the chance of the optional wine tasting. Most of us quite enjoyed the white wine and cheese on offer. It was yet again a good activity to get to know one another better in a candlelit cellar. After was drinks at the hotel bar. The next morning we also went to the beer stein demo and could do a bit of souvenir shopping before heading off to Munich.
Munich: The bike ride was a good way to see the city. Would have been better for us if it wasn’t raining the first half of the tour. In between you get to stop at a place for some beer and food then carry on the bike tour. Afterwards was the Hofbrauhaus, which was a huge beer hall. The atmosphere is great and the beer was actually really good – and I don’t even drink beer usually!
Austria: Next is a drive through the Austrian Alps and a chance to do white water rafting. I highly recommend this optional – it was so much fun and the waves aren’t so dangerous that your raft will tip, but just rapid enough to get the adrenalin pumping! Next up was a stop to the Swarovski crystal world. I actually say don’t do this optional because it isn’t really a museum but more an abstract/surrealist art exhibition where crystals are used. Found it a bit of a waste of money and even the gift shop wasn’t that impressive. The hotel we stayed at in Austria was reasonable with excellent dinner and breakfast. Take advantage of ‘schnappy hour’ and go to the pub where your TM recommends. I made the mistake of staying in that night and missed out on one of the craziest nights at the pub I was told.
Venice: Loved Venice for its charm. First up is a guided tour of Venice which was interesting, then the glass blowing demonstration which was insightful and an optional Gondola ride. I enjoyed this optional as our Gondola man actually sang for us and the canals had a certain charm to them! I also recommend doing the Venetian dinner as I found the food to be plentiful and tasty, however some on tour thought that the food was undercooked and not enough. Note about breakfasts in Italy – they suck. At best you’ll get cornflakes, plastic ham and cheese, plain bread and instant coffee and juice.
Rome: After a long drive into Rome we had a walk about tour at dusk which was perfect! The Park Roma hotel was another good hotel which had its own disco. Note that the alcohol they serve is extremely overpriced but all in all our tour had fun with dancing and hallway parties! Next day you have the optional Vatican and Coliseum tours, which I highly recommend as you get proper access and guided tours of the sights. Next up is free time, which we spent going to the Pantheon and Spanish Steps.
Florence: Florence was one of my favourites as it’s not as crowded as Rome but is just as beautiful and rich of history. The guided walking tour was excellent to see the major sights. We then had some free time in which a few of us went to the Ufizzi Gallery to look at some artworks. You then head to the hotel to get ready for the optional Tuscan evening. The food was by far the best here and entertainment was fun, especially when our whole tour jumped up for the macerina! Next was a trip to the Space Disco. There is nothing particularly special about the club but it was a great night due to dancing, drinking and laughing with our new buddies.
Switzerland: The first optional was the Mt Stanserhorn excursion, which I highly recommend as the views were stunning! The watch and knife demo was great for purchasing swiss army knives and other souvenirs. The Lake Lucerne cruise was also a great optional as we could all relax with a few drinks and great scenery. We stayed at the Jailhouse hotel, which in all honesty was perfectly fine – you hardly spend much time there anyway!
Paris: The next morning is a long drive to Paris. When you get there you have a bit of a driving tour to see the major sights. After was free time and as we were there on Bastille Day we got to see a fireworks show around the Eiffel tower. Next morning we had our trip to the top of the Eiffel tower. Views are breath-taking and it is a must do! Next up we went to the French perfumery and museums – the girls loved it but not so sure about the guys. Next up was free time in which we used the metro to get to the Arc De Triomphe, walk up the Champs Elysees, see the Lourve and Lover’s Lock bridge. We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the cabaret show. Another must – the dinner was tasty and the Nouvelle Eve show spectacular. We then retired to the Irish pub for celabratory drinks and a final dance. The next day was the saddest by far as you have to say goodbye to all your new friends. With the complimentary transfer back to London you can expect to arrive back at around 6pm.
I absolutely loved my experience. The famous sights and the cultures. My favourite was Cinque Terre, San Gimignano, Florence and Barcelona. To see Gaudi's architecture in Barcelona was unforgettable. The glitz and glamour in Monaco and the ancient ruins in Rome is a must-see. We had a backstage pass to the Vatican museum and had a city tour of Florence. The authentic cuisine is part of the experience. This is were you get to know your fellow travellers. I have made such good friends on the trip. We had the best tour manager, Maite. She told us of all the best places to visit, the most delicious food to eat and to experience the cultures. Our day song, 'One day', surely helped to live the saying 'No regrets'. It was an amazing unforgettable experience. I loved every moment!