Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
OK so I'm a Canadian who lived in London (UK) for a year and a half, and did a lot of travelling in my time there. (I've now returned to Toronto, this was my last trip)
This trip was definitely one of my favourites, if not THE favourite, for so many reasons.
Turkey was definitely NOT what I expected... I guess I didn't expect anything -- call it geographic ignorance, I just had no idea that Turkey was so beautiful. I had no idea what to expect as to Turkish food and Turkish people -- and let me tell you that both were phenomenal.
Let me share some memories with you....
- so good. good size for the number of people we had (15 + 3 crew), basically everyone slept on the deck every night, we ate every meal as a family at the dinner table at the back of the boat. you get partnered up for a twin room (2x people per room, 1 bed) that has a bathroom with toilet/shower/sink. hot water was available from 20 minutes after the engine starts, until it runs out for the day if you're anchored down. so basically all the time, with the exception of when we docked for the evening/night.
- really really nice. JJ the captain is hilarious, and made sure that everyone had a great time on and off the boat. Suat was the bartender but he did everything on the boat, and took turns with JJ when accompanying us on our nights out to clubs and out on the town. Really cool guy, probably speaks the best english out of the 3 of them. Memet the cook - we all wanted to bring him home. He rarely said anything, he understands english but doesn't speak much. His cooking though... which leads me to...
- the food on the boat is AMAZING. Memet and his cooking skills are the best. A lot of us actually lost weight on our trip because we were eating regular meals that were HEALTHY -- breakfast was generally a table of eggs, some kind of meat (sausage / ham), sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, bread, jam, tea/coffee. lunch and dinner were a feast of healthy salads, pastas/rice, meat/fish dishes, etc. we always had tea time as well -- when that bell rings for meal time, you haul ass out of the water for food every day lol.
- are not included, unfortunately. but bottles of water is cheaper on the boat vs outside -- 0.35 euros per bottle. we went through lots of them lol. cans of beer (not tall boys) are 3 euros per can, which is more than what you would buy at a convenience store. but they don't allow outside drinks on the boat, and the crew get in trouble if you sneak them in. few of us snuck in big bottles of water and some bottles of vodka from time to time, but generally drank lots of beers on the boat. there's a paper tab set up for each person at the bar, the crew will write a tick next to your name for whatever you had and you settle the tab at the end of the trip. i ended up paying a 70 euro tab at the end -- which wasn't as bad as some of the boys lol.
- is SALTY AS HELL. i haven't encountered such salty waters besides when I was in Croatia. You can basically float by just being in the water because there's so much salt in it. so make sure to hose down with fresh water after each dip, otherwise the salt will cake on your skin/hair and it's not good for you.
- so basically during your 8 days on the boat, you become REALLY CLOSE with everyone on the boat, as you spend so much time together. we were the first time that this trip had to have 2 boats because there were so many people -- my boat had 15 people, and the other boat had about 12 i believe. the 2 boats travelled together most of the time but we didn't really hang out with the other boat. as Contiki is an Australian company, there were tons of Aussies -- the other boat was actually 12 Australians. our boat was (thankfully) more diverse --- we had 5 Canadians, 4 Australians, 3 New Zealanders, 2 South Africans, and 1 British --- age 19 to 35. such diverse group of people made for some really interesting life stories and "never have i never" games ;)
- basically you don't know what time it is or what day it is.. which is exactly what most of us wanted. you wake up in the morning with the gentle shining of the sun while laying on the deck beds, birds are chirping, the boat is moving so you're hearing all the water lapping around you... the 2 South Africans that were with us brought guitars/ukeleles and would gently strum music all the time - so imagine all that happening basically all the time. it was incredibly relaxing, you basically do whatever you want -- nap on the boat, jump in the water (when the boat is stopped/anchored), go snorkelling, walk around the village and sit at a cafe for wifi (if available), play cards, drink, etc
- is real. basically it's a viral cough infection (lol) that gets spread during Contiki trips because a lot of people do back to back Contiki tours -- when you're spending so many days in a boat / bus / plane with so many people, when one person gets sick - you all get sick. and then you carry that to your next Contiki trip and spread it there, and so on and so on. i didn't catch it until probably the 3rd last day of the trip, so that wasn't too horrible. it's a wet cough, and will last about 2-3 weeks after your trip. not nice. stock up on vitamins and barroca (vitamin tablets) on the trip so you can try to keep your immune system up. (and i'm exaggerating, not EVERYONE gets sick)
- personally, i wouldn't bother with the mud bath one -- which is 50 euros (a lot of money). you get on a bus, go to this little park area where there's tons of other tourists, you go into a small pool of muddy water that stinks of sulfur -- in blazing sun by the way, i thought it would be shaded or in a cave or something -- and then you shower that off, go into a hot springs water that smells equally bad, then go to a shitty restaurant for some mediocre buffet-style food.
- the turkish bath is INTERESTING. i won't tell you more, it's a once in a lifetime experience... lol. MAKE SURE TO WEAR YOUR BIKINI/SWIMMING TRUNK TO THE SPA. no matter what that weird travel guide girl tells you (who randomly comes on the boat from time to time), make sure you wear a swimsuit under your clothes. i went in a beige coloured thong and immediately regretted it as soon as i was in a room with 4 hairy Turkish men with buckets of water in their hands. i'd recommend it, mostly for the stories lol.
- you can buy things like sunscreen / bug spray whenever you dock in a town, which is every couple days, so don't worry too much about that.
- there are wasps EVERYWHERE when you anchor near land or when you dock. at least they were when i was travelling in the beginning of July. they stung a couple of us, so if you get stung, use a credit card to gently scrape off the residue and put some cream on it
- speaking of cream, bring some antihistamines, heat rash cream, medicine for diarrhea/stomachaches, pain killers, band aids, etc.
There's so many more, I posted a bunch of pictures and tagged locations on my instagram so might be worth checking that if you're interested in the trip!
I've been back home for a week and I can still taste the spicy tacos of San Francisco; hear the slot machines in Vegas; feel the sunshine of LA on my skin and see the vivid colours of Times Square, New York every time I shut my eyes...
There are no words to express how amazing my Best of USA trip was... from the incredible sights, including the gorgeous views of Santa Monica to the unbelievable experiences ( champagne breakfast in the Grand Caynon, anyone?!) to the many, beautiful new Contiki tourmates who now truly are my family, it was, without a doubt, two of the best weeks of my life.
Last, but certainly, not least, a BIG thug shout out to our tour manager Jon Rammelkamp - THANK YOU for trusting us with your best, undiscovered experiences in each city - seeing the States through an American Boy's eyes was my favourite part of this trip!
Every part of this trip was great, from the organised events to the nightlife. We had a great tour guide (Jon) who was always looking out for us and making sure we enjoyed it - he also had great local tips. Vegas will blow your mind, San Francisco is beautiful, LA is crazy cool and New York will make you feel sophisticated (with great food). Definitely worth it.
I can't even put into words how truly incredible my European discovery trip was! I met so many fantastic people, who I hope to stay in touch with forever. Thankyou Chris for being such a passionate, enthusiastic tour manager! Cannot wait for my next contiki!!!!
The Big Chill was easily the best thing I have ever done in my life. You get to see so many great places on this tour. Some people may look at this and see that you only get to spend a small amount of time in each place. This is true, but the tour was organized so well by our tour manager that we were always given enough time to see the top highlights of each place and the magnificence of each city. I have made life long friends and am closer to the majority of people I met on tour than I am with my friends back home. The me time optionals are a must and add so much to the trip. This trip is a life changer and you get to experience it with so many great people.
Our tour manager Grant Feddo was absolutely amazing. He went above and beyond what any tour manager could of done. His knowledge and history of each place was very good and it made the sites that much more meaningful. He gave us extra little walking tours around the city if there were enough people interested in seeing some additional sites. He took the time to look up extra activities that some of the group wanted to do and organize special outings for us. He is an absolute legend and if I ever do another Contiki again I will be asking to see what tour he is working on to try and meet up with him again.
Our coach driver James Barton was amazing. I have never met anyone in my life who could maneuver a vehicle so good and for him to do it with a bus was impressive. Jim was always on top of his hours and had every detail worked out to give us the absolute most time at each place. He made special pick ups for us at certain locations and even talked to a boarder agent and found out about a really cool cathedral to take us too. He had enough time to take us there and it was definitely worth while. He kept the bus super clean and his driving always made us feel safe. He was super fun to have around when he had his free days. I would love to be able to do another tour with him as well.
Our on tour cook, Kayla Fleming, was amazing. The meals that she was able to prepare out of a tent went far above anything I had expected for tour. It was like eating at a 5 star restaurant each meal. She went above and beyond what she needed to do. She spent so much time preparing and making sure that what she was cooking would satisfy all of the people on tour. We had some people with dietary restrictions on tour and she made sure they always had something else to eat if they weren't able to eat the main dish.
The only way I could summarize this tour is by saying that it was the best time of my life. I feel like that doesn't even do it justice. I met so many amazing people and seen so many magnificent places that I wish it never had to end. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to do the tour with or a better contiki staff. If I am to do another contiki tour I would hope that I am fortunate to come across either Grant, Jim, or Kayla on my journeys because they made the tour so much better. I would recommend this tour to anybody and the best thing I can say about this tour is it was THE BIG CHILL!
A good trip to introduce you to London and see the amazing sights! Would recommend it, the double decker bus tour and the theatre was to die for. Good trip!!!
Absolutely amazing tour. Had the best time over there everything was sorted out and timed great. The hotels were top quality and the food was great. Our tour manager (Roxy) set the standards so high for our following contiki tour. She did so much for us including "Roxys razzed dazzle tips"
Our bus driver (Vania) made me feel very safe with her driving I had her both of my contikis. Roxy + Vania together make such a great team!
This tour was one of the highlights of my recent trip to Europe. The places we went were amazing, the opportunity to take part in unique activities was incredible, and the people who were on the tour were truly extraordinary!!! Our tour manager Lisa was amazing and went out of her way to make sure we had the best experience and learnt, saw, tasted and truly understood Europe. The highlights for me included Paris (in general), the bike riding tours, the cruises in Amsterdam and Prague, Prague nightlife, the Colosseum tour, gelato and the people I experienced it all with. I would 100% recommend this tour for anyone who wants to see these areas of Europe!
I just came back from this trip and it was the best decesion I've ever made! You get a good taste of each country and our tour manager Erica was beyond amazing! She really made the trip memorable and my contiki group as well. As for the trip itself I loved every country! Italy for the delicious food, The Italian Riviera and French Riviera for the beaches, and Spain for it's vibrant culture and nightlife. This trip is fast paced, but the days at the beach give you a break from all the traveling. My roomate and I spent our free day in Nice, France on day beds relaxing and went parasailing for 40 euros.. not bad at all. For the optionals, do it all! The best optional dinner was in Tuscany.. you get amazing food with an amazing view. Do this trip, you wont regret it!!
This was my first Contiki and my friend and I had a great time on this trip! A good, short way to see the more historic parts of Greece.
Athens was interesting to see the Acropolis and Agamemnon’s Palace (when you're driving to Olympia). Our tour guide made it really interesting!
Olympia was neat to see and very historic. Our tour guide surprised us with a trip to the beach and we all had a great time there!
Delphi was absolutely beautiful. The hotel has amazing views and a nice pool. Great dinner here. We all went our for our last night together and had a blast!
Our tour guide Paola was THE BEST! So sweet and went out of her way to be awesome! Our Driver Bobby was great too!
Our group was hilarious and amazing. Was so sad to leave them. After only 4 days, felt like I made lasting friendships. We plan to hopefully do another tour together!
Would definitely recommend this tour for anyone who wants to see more historic Greece. Great one to add onto your Island tours so you see both sides. Wouldn't suggest it just by its self though, unless you are really into history. The islands are just prettier and you have more fun in general.
Disclaimer: I had never heard of Contiki/Topdeck until I started doing research for this trip. We decided to try out both so did this with Contiki and then the Island Hopper with Topdeck. With my experience with Topdeck and the group/guide I had...CONTIKI ALL THE WAY!!! Topdeck was an older crowd (we had 5 older, married couples on a 23 person tour). My friend and I were so upset to leave our Contiki group, especially since almost all of them were going on to do different tour versions of the islands with Contiki.
We even ditched our Topdeck group on 3 or 4 occasions to go meet up with some former Contiki friends when our tours would overlap.
So if this was your first time and you're having trouble deciding between Contiki or Topdeck, definitely do Contiki!!
This tour was AMAZING!!! Had an AWESOME group and met some great people. Our tour manger Kiran was great and our bus driver Charlotte was amazing. The food and accommodation was great!!!!!!
The Stampede part of the tour was Amazing and a different experience. Although the hotel in Calgary was way out of town so make sure your prepared to find your own way home. Everyone on our tour loved the Stampede even if you weren't a county person. TIP: Make sure you have Band-Aids boots give you blisters!!!!
The scenery on the tour was Amazing have your camera ready at all times. Keep watch for BEARS as you have to be fast to see them.
The Optional's on the tour were GREAT Do them ALL and the Weather was Fantastic. You will meet LOTS of great people many of the locals being Aussies. But you will meet some nice Canadians mainly in Vancouver.
The tour is really what you make of it so be OUT THERE and ENJOY EVERY SECOND YOU HAVE!!!!!!!!
Make sure you stay in the Same Hotel the night before you meet most of your group early and get a head start on making friends.
Stay longer in Vancouver after the tour you will love it that much you will regret if you leave early. I DID!!!!!!!!
This trip is amazing, and Clarisa is the best tour guide I could imagine. You start in Cuzco, and there are a couple things to be aware of: 1) you will be at an extremely high altitude, so get there a couple days in advance so you're not dying of altitude sickness during the tour 2) you'll be meeting with a group that's been traveling around S America together for weeks already. This was no problem for me, as the group was super inclusive, but a cliquish group would make it difficult. You'll get loads of knowledge about Cuzco from Clarisa, who grew up there, before moving on to the Sacred Valley, where you get a taste of the natural beauty of Peru. Plus you visit an alpaca farm! Try eating them later. This trip includes the optional Inca Trail hike. It is difficult, with about 8 million stairs, so fitness is required. However, if you want to test yourself, or if you love great views, it is entirely worth it. My legs may have killed the next day, but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. Machu Picchu feels so much more rewarding after the trail. Then it's on to the rainforest, with an insane special stay (no walls and jungle sounds all night!) and fun inclusions. Do the cayman spotting, no matter how tired you are! The stars are not to be missed. Try catching a piranha with a couple great local guides. At the end, be prepared for a really difficult 'good-bye' to Peru. Overall? Perfect restaurant selections, great optionals, swank hotels, unforgettable landscapes, unique shopping, and sweet people (both locals and fellow travelers.) DO THIS TOUR WHILE YOU'RE YOUNG AND FIT!
Best. Vacation. Ever
If your thinking about doing this trip i've got only one thing to say, BOOK IT! Honestly you will not regret it! I enjoyed it that much i've since booked to more contiki's.
First things first - we had incredible tour manager (Clare) and bus driver (Jo) who made our trip what it was. They went above and beyond what was required by their job and because of them we understood and saw things that we never would have on our own. Above all I had an incredible holiday and we saw so many places. It was a great experience that I'll never forget.
However, there were some areas of the overall Contiki experience that I would have liked to know about before going on the tour so I felt it was important to share them here.
( 1 ) You don't really get the local experience. In fact, you really only ever spend time with your contiki group and then other contiki groups at American bars/clubs. So if you are looking for a more cultural atmosphere and want to meet some locals then I strongly suggest you skip some of the optionals and explore the town on your own.
( 2 ) There is A LOT of 'me' time. So research places you want to go in each country. Buy tickets if you can so you can skip the long lines. Also research public transport in each countries. FYI taxis are harder to get than you think when it's peak tourist season.
( 3 ) Food is good not great. While the onsite contiki meals were quite good, it wasn't always reflective of true local cuisine which is a major disappointment for a food like me. Still good food though. As for the Optional meals aka Tuscan meal and Athenian meals were some of the worst meals I had.
( 4 ) Your accommodation is exactly what you paid for. Ours was a concept tour and therefore our accommodation at different times ranged from really small, dirty and really far from the centre of town. The worst was definitely Rome where the accommodation was all three at the same time. Somewhere in our accommodation in Italy our Contiki group caught bed bugs (ps they stick with you for the rest of the trip!). Other small gripes was not having blinds at one stage and also having to run around for extra toilet paper (twice!). However, I think the accommodation was generally okay as long as you remind yourself that this is what you paid for.
( 5 ) It's never as good as it sounds in the Contiki brochure. Some examples include the "wine tasting" which was just our contiki group huddled in a cellar and given one glass of wine; the "Tuscan dinner" which served some of the worst ravioli I've ever had in a stuffy restaurant in Florence; and the Paris night tour which is during light hours because it doesn't get dark in Paris until 10pm. Of course, it wasn't that any of these experiences were bad it was only that they were never what they were promised to be which takes away a bit of the magic of seeing things for the first time. So to anyone taking this tour or doing Contiki for the first time - it is an incredible and memorable experience ... just don't always expect what you see in travel brochures.
Before starting this tour I was a bit worried/nervous as I was travelling solo for the first time. I definitely worried for nothing! I had a fantastic roommate and made some great friends for life. I never felt alone.
The tour itself was absolutely stunning. Every single day was an amazing experience, it was busy, but definitely worth it. Not a single destination disappointed. It truly exceeded my expectations. We sight-saw the heck out of Europe!
Dani (tour manager) and Levi (tour driver) were a fantastic tour team! They really made the experience even more special. Definitely went above and beyond for our group, and we will all be grateful forever!
Fantastic experience. I would recommend this trip/tour wholeheartedly!
Scandi is so different to the rest of Europe, absolutely breathtaking! It was some of the best 12 days of my life! Contiki tour itself was fantastic, well organized and I had the pleasure of the best tour manager in the world! Met long life friends! The only regret I have is not going onto Russia after Helsinki! The tour continued to Russia is a must do!!! Loved every moment.
if your not Australian don't join contiki a bunch of racist Australians that never seen the outside world, the tour manager did nothing to sort out the issues . I was bullied as I tried to make friends but not only I got called names I was violently harassed, had alcohol thrown at me and was pushed out the door followed by a punch from the fellow Australians,
the bus driver was the only person that I could of consider a nice person, and was quiet talkative, a few couples of met on the tour were nice as well, the tours were great and were set out in order. I felt that there was no introduction done at the start, the tour manager was not professional in this field he didn't introduce people to other people, I found the tour manager quiet selfish and only cared about himself and didn't answer much questions, without no answers from the tour manager I cut my contiki trip short and left after 6days,
My husband and I loved this trip, it really was the trip of a lifetime! We did all the extras on the list, saw and did so many amazing things. Made friendships with great people to last a lifetime. I would do this trip again in a heartbeat. Our tour manager Alex is the best in the business and our driver Kevin knows how to move a bus! This trip is the best way to see all the best bits of Europe in one visit.