Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
It's hard to capture into words the experiences I had on this trip. It was one of the greatest times of my life and I'll be forever appreciative to our TM Zsofi, our TD Marcin, and my entire tour group for it.
No matter where you came from, Europe was always going to be a different experience. Yes, reading reviews is helpful in choosing the right tour for you, and if you want to label this tour something, it's a taste-tester of all the major sites that mainstream tourists would want to visit (plus other hidden morsels along the way). But one of the best things you can do with these tours is to approach it with little to no preconceptions. Let it sweep you away, teach you things that you never would have thought possible, experience magic in each moment. For example, the food in Germany (Rhineland) wasn't what you might consider the greatest. But you know what? You're in Germany. You're sitting on a land of hundreds of years of significant history. Who cares if the food sucks in your estimation? It's just a matter of different tastes and they've obviously been eating it for longer than we've been alive. You then learn that that food's not to your taste and you don't pick it next time you go out to a restaurant. The next day you're visiting Hofbräuhaus in Munich and it can take you at a minimum of half an hour to find a table among the hundreds that eat there every night, with servers (men and women alike) carrying 8 x 1 litre steins in both hands weaving in and out between everyone, and proceeding to eat a pork knuckle the size of your head after you do find a table (slight exaggeration). A completely different experience.
It's pretty self-explanatory that a tour of 12 days and fitting 8-9 countries in isn't going to be a leisurely stroll in the park. The excitement came from cramming as much action into the days as you could, running in those last minutes to make sure you didn't miss the bus, reading a map for the first time and trying to pronounce the unpronounceable, the smiles of the locals at your funny accents, the puking on the bus after New Year's Eve in Germany (still makes me nauseous thinking about it), the wonder on a little Roman girl's face when she found out I was from Australia (priceless), deliberately getting lost on the canals in Venice. There's all these little moments at the places you visit that adds extra meaning to everything you experience. The optionals are exactly that, optional, so you don't have to feel obliged to do everything. Again, 8-9 countries in 12 days doesn't leave you with a lot of spare time but take on board the things that you do with the group and you're still getting a lot from each place. You can't expect it to be smiles and roses the whole time; you're on board a bus with numerous other people, some with rusty social skills. Take the good and the bad and turn it into one of the best things you ever chose to do.
This was my first time out of the US and I really enjoyed it. I had a bit of a hard time adjusting in the beginning but the contiki tour guides certainly helped me out. I came around and thoroughly loved the majority of the trip.
Czech Republic (Prague) was absolutely my favorite. Very lovely city with lots to see and everything was relatively cheap. Town Square was really cool to hang out at.
Germany (Berlin) was awesome, reminded me of NYC. Had lots to see, plenty of history.
Austria (Vienna) was very beautiful. I absolutely loved the Mozart concert at the Schonbrunn Palace, really surreal. The only bummer part was that for the tour dates I did, we were only in Vienna for two nights, having one full day and it was a Sunday so mostly everything was closed.
Hungary (Budapest) was really interesting and was a nice ending to the trip. I think my favorite place there was the Fisherman's Bastion.
Overall it was definitely life changing (being it was my first tour) and I already plan on visiting again!
Absolutely loved this tour. It was a great way to see and explore a lot of history and culture in a short period of time. I was travelling solo but by the end I was friends with everyone. So if you're unsure about doing it by yourself, just jump in the deep end and do it. You'll make friends and have a great time.
Although there was little time, we did a lot! Each day was full of something new and exciting. Every city we went to was amazing in it's own right and it's hard to pin point a favourite place because they were all good. Our tour manager and bus driver just made the trip even more special and fun. Having a history nerd as the tour manager was the icing on the cake.
All the accommodation was reasonable with some really fantastic places and some ok places. The location of the hotels was great except for the one in Boston. That felt a little far out compared to everywhere else we'd been.
Food, American food...it is different for those not used to it. Everywhere we went can be a little hit or miss when it comes to food but generally it's all pretty good. If you are a coffee lover, don't expect good coffee as it's Starbucks or nothing in most places.
One thing to be aware of is tipping. Budget a little extra when it comes to tipping otherwise it can catch you by surprise, especially to those where it's not normal to tip. Anyone in the service industry can be tipped and it's deemed offensive if you don't. Some tipping is included in the tour cost but when you're out on your own it's customary to tip in restaurants, bars etc.
If you expect a party tour, don't come on this one. Yes, we went out most nights and had a blast however it's not the focus of this tour. This tour is aimed more for those that want to do the sights and learn something along the way.
This tour gives you just a taste of each place enticing you to come back. I would definitely go back to all the places I visited so I could explore them more thoroughly. I have #noregrets
Coming to explore New Zealand was the best decision I made in 2013. Our tour guides made us feel so relaxed and comfortable as we got to meet everyone on the trip. A minute did not go by without feeling truly lucky to be there and having something awesome to look at.
I learnt so much about the culture and made new friends from other cultures at the same time.
Definitely worth visiting, ewe'd be sheepish if you missed out.
The tour starts off with four days in Athens, Dephi and Olympia which I felt was sufficient to see the land portion of Greece and the historical things you want to see. The hotels provide oh-my-god amazing views, especially in Delphi. The tour takes you to all the tiny mom and pop restaurants which is nice and you get a real taste of Greece. Nightlife is amazing and the tour manager was able to point us in the right direction each time.
The reason I put four stars instead of five was that I felt I didn't get enough time to see the islands. I could give up Patmos and Kusadasi for more time in Santorini and Mykonos. If you're looking at this tour may I suggest the longer cruise or the island hopper that leaves you more time in the islands, you WILL NOT regret it. If you can get the time off work DO IT!!! That is my only complaint which is not really Contiki but the cruise and tour itself.
This was my first over seas trip and it opened my eyes to traveling and it truly was a life changing experience.
The European experience is defiantly worth the money! I had the most amazing time with the best group of people. Made life long friends from all over the world along with great memories!
The contiki group on this tour were rad! All so happy and willing to help with anything!
Don't think twice about this tour just DO IT! #noregrets
Great value for money. Tour guide ish is amazing, so knowledgeable, fun, easy going!!!
Great food great hotels great parties!!!
Overall excellent tour would recommend to anyone!!
This contiki wasn't the best there are others that are so much better ie south east Asia or Mexico.
It was very pricey and you don't get a lot for what you paid.
It doesn't help that my tour guide I got the feeling didn't want to be there.
The food wasn't all that great and our tour guide kept taking us to the most pricey places, which is ok if your loaded but I was just your general mid twenties traveller.
Our group was made up of 13 passengers (accommdates up to 16) and 3 crew members. The ages ranged from 19-31 but everyone got along great and we quickly became a family.
The crew was great. Some review said that they have limited English. Yes English is not their first language but they are very socialble and it does not stop them from talking with you and joining in the activities on and off the boat.
Transfers with Contiki are not included and upon arrival I luckily met up with two other Contiki travelers and we shared a taxi to the pier. It is about a 40 min taxi ride and a flat rate of 110 Lira for the one way. There is also a bus that runs from the airport to the bus station, which is 14 Lira. The bus station is about 5 block from the ship. Most of us didn't know about the bus so didn't use it on the way there but used it for our transfer back to the airport.
Upon arrival it said to look for the Barbados booth. None of us found the booth however while wandering the pier we were met by a local who asked if we were from Contiki and led up to the boat. The boat has a contiki flag and the walkway a contiki sign so I recommend just looking for the Conitki signage.
I flew in the day the tour started and flew out the day the tour ended. If you have the time I would highly recommend extending your trip and spending an extra night in Bodrum. Most of our group did extend their stay in Bodrum and it was sad to be one of the only ones departing and leaving our family. Borum has a number or ruins and a castle to explore. I have also been told that jewelry shopping is best in Bodrum, better than Istanbul. Not the tourist market but actual stores. The tourist market is the same as in Istanbul. Don't know that the about the actual jewelry stores since I didn't have a chance to go shopping.
Meals on board the ship are DELCICIOUS!!! We never have left overs. Memet, the chef, is AMZAING! Always a variety of dishes to try.
Excursions - The Mudbath was the best part of the day excursion. After doing it, I don't know I would do it again. I would have rather spent the day enjoying the sun on the boat.
The Marmais night is a definate must. It was amazing. The club they took us to, The Arena, was fantastic. Just outside the club is a place that has amazing kebobs for cheap, a great snack before heading back to the boat. Everyone on our ship went on this excursion and loved it.
Packing - I completely overpacked! We pretty much lived in our swim suite so I really only needed a couple swim suites, a pair of shorts and a tank top or two, clothes for our two nights out and warm clothes for at night (as it does get cold) and in case of rain. Space is really limited so if you have a large suite case it makes getting around in your cabin quite difficult.
One thing that none of us packed is Aloe. I definately recommend packing some as if the weather is nice you will need sunscreen and aloe.
I can't say anything bad about this trip. It was so amazing. I would definately do it again. It was so relaxing. The perfect way to unwind after 10 days of traveling throughout Turkey.
What a month it was. European Escapade gives you a taste of everything Europe has to offer. If you're looking to get as much out of Western Europe as you can in a reasonable amount of time, this is the tour for you. My tour guide and driver team was amazing. Anything you needed to know or needed assistance with Clare was there and Rado our driver? Oh Rado... What a GEM! I miss them both so much. Contiki is amazing, they plan everything for you and the on-site teams were also insanely cool. Those were my favorite stops along the way... Contiki themed hostels/lodges/chateaus always had a cool atmosphere, wicked bar and usually a club of some sort. All you basically need to do is wake up on time and Contiki team does the rest for you I had a blast. I literally could not give you one single complaint or regret. It was the time of my life, just be prepared because they have theme parties at a few of the contiki stops, tight & bright, shock your mother, i heart roma.. Those are the best times so pack some funky items just in case!! ALSO bring vitamins and cold meds from home the contiki cough WILL get you! One last thing... The suggested budget is a little off if you're a big partier like myself because I don't they don't factor in drinking.. Factor in some wiggle room for the budget if you plan on drinking your face off which will probably happen because it's contiki! There's something for everyone on this tour and there were some people in my group who preferred to hang alone but honestly if you're looking for a party atmosphere this is it. I have never laughed and smiled so hard for so long in mt life 26 days of pure, uninterrupted HAPPINESS!!!
I loved this trip. I always knew I wanted to go to Asia. This trip was the best introduction into how amazing Asia can be. I'm definitly addicted and want to go back.
Our tour guide was Amazing. She went above and beyond every day. Always giving us ideas of what to do with our free time so that we did not miss anything.
Our tour mates were great - always cracking jokes and the puns. We still keep in touch and are hoping to travel together in the future. The age group was all over the place once group younger one group older. But we all got along. I think there were 30 of us.
Do all of the optionals - If you are like me then #YOLO - How often will you be going back to the same places in Asia? Asia's huge.
Also Asia is cheap - the hotels are amazing b/c they are cheaper then Europe, food is usually $10 or under for a meal. Getting around town is generally under $10. Anything you ever wanted to do - will be more affordable in Asia. Side note - Bring American dollars with you or use debt at ATMs for $.
This trip is jammed packed. If you want to only sleep and party - this is not your trip, sleeping is not part of the deal. Also make sure you sleep before this trip. You will want to go out every night to experience all these amazing cities.
If you want a play-by-play of what is on this trip read my blog: http://andreamcgrath.com/?cat=7
This trip will be one of the top 10 highlights of my life :)
This tour was a great way to see the highlights of Europe without blowing your budget. A great way to make new friends and see the world. Our tour manager Faye was fantastic, she was confident and knowledgable and was always looking out for our best interests. The bus was always clean and tidy and if we ever needed anything there was no hesitation to ask our manager or driver. If you haven't been to Europe before and you want to go on a short holiday; this is it. You stay at some amazing campsites and hotels, and meet some amazing contiki staff (who are all really great cooks) you are guaranteed to have an awesome time.
This trip was amazing! It's a whirlwind travelling from across Western Europe in 18 days, but you really do see all the big sites and you have enough time to explore each city on your own. Our tour manager and driver were fantastic, and an overall amazing experience. Just book it! You won't regret it
One of the best times in my life. I would highly recommend it!
My Tour Manager Elisa is the best person in the world. She never stopped working, she was amazing. I met the most incredible people on my Simply Italy trip. It has inspired me to do a yearlong trip. I plan to use contiki again to go to Australia and New Zealand.
Contiki was the best experience I've had on holidays ever. I will recommend it to everyone I know.
I want to live in Capri someday. The backstage passes, and me time optionals were perfect. A great amount of time to do everything you wanted.
I have very mixed feelings about this tour. I really loved the places we saw and am happy to have gone to California after wanting to for so long.
There were only 4 people who were on the "California Highlights" tour. We were added to two other tours who had started a week before us. This wasn't at all what I had been led to believe and it was sort of daunting stepping into a massive group who had already formed friendships within the first week. By the time we got there it was hard to really get to know other people because groups had been formed.
I didn't feel our tour guide made an effort to introduce us to the group and there would be times where I had to explain when I arrived into the group. Given I didn't know I was being added into a much larger group, I'd have appreciated having the situation explained. We were given the impression that we'd all start and stop together, so being thrown into another group wasn't what I had in mind and had I had that knowledge I likely would have signed up for a different tour.
We weren't given our "day plans" until about an hour, sometimes even 5 minutes, before we were to depart the bus at a place. Sometimes we'd only find out we were going to have free time 10 minutes before getting off the bus, which gave people no time to make alternative plans. I'm not sure why the day plans weren't done in advance, but it really made things more difficult than they needed to be.
I thought the tour guide was very nice, but I also thought that she had very limited knowledge of places. She didn't seem to read up on any place and gave us the type of tour that most people could probably give of a place they're from. I really thought I'd learn more about a place. I didn't realize how little we were told until the last day when our bus driver ended up using the microphone to give us a tour of LA. He had so many facts and stories. He really seemed to know what he was talking about. This made me realize how unprepared our tour guide seemed. She was a very nice person, but I really didn't feel like she was making an effort, which was annoying to me since I had been saving for this trip for a while.
Honestly I didn't hate this trip or even dislike it, but it was not what I thought I was paying all this money for. The two best things I did - Alcatraz and Warner Bros. Studio Tour - were the two things I went out of my way to plan and spent extra money getting to.
The rest of the trip seemed fine, but my honest opinion is to skip the California Highlights tour and make sure to ask if your tour is being added to another. That can make a very big difference in deciding.
This tour was absolutely amazing! I went in May of 2014 and had the time of my life. It definitely hit all the right spots and gave us heaps of free time to see anything and everything that you want. I went on my own on the trip and made friends that I will have for the rest of my life. I would recommend this tour to anyone that is a "culture vulture" (meaning someone who wants to see the history, experience the culture and visit all the major sites). The options were well worth it, though some of the included dinners were sub-par. If you do this trip, do the salt mines and the Budapest cruise! I am still laughing about the memories we made on those. Overall, I would recommend this tour to anyone wanting to make new friend and have a heck of a time in Europe!
Great intro into South America. Peru is full of culture, Argentina is more like a Spanish European town, and Brazil is beautiful and something else. This tour joins with a few that have already been together for a week (if not longer), which would have been nice to know before hand. Optionals were poorly organized and many that were advertised were not actually available to do, and it was obvious Contiki is still working out the kinks. I'm glad I got to see and do everything that I did, had a blast but would be the worst tour of the now 4 that I have done.
Our tour guide Kate and driver Pedro were incredible and led us on a great adventure through Europe. The group we had was fun and full of different types of people, all with great attitudes and fun personalities. The only bad part was the hotel in Florence Auto Park Hotel. It was a shitty place but we survived it. Hopefully Contiki never uses that hotel again. Other then that, the trip was perfect and I will gladly go on another Contiki tour again.
This trip had its highlights and its downfalls! It’s hard to review this particular tour because this is not your typical Contiki experience compared to a tour in Europe for example, and each time your Tour Manager will be a different person than mine, so please keep that in mind with this review. For example, we had two Tour Managers: one for the Turkey part and one for the Greek Island cruise part (3 days). Our group was 90% women, lots of Canadians, Americans, a few Aussies and 2 Kiwi’s. I was travelling solo and found it easy to make new friends and meet some awesome people from around the world.
For the Turkey part of this tour we had a freelance tour guide from Turkey, a local, who handled this part of the tour. His name is Ahmet and he was a 46 year old Turkish man. I liked him, I thought he organized the tour well even though at times it was last minute planning it seemed to work out. Ahmet was an expert in the history of Turkey and was passionate about his country, which showed. At times Ahmet re-organized the pre-planned Contiki itinerary, which proved to be to our advantage. He knew the places we were visiting well and suggested to rearrange things to create a better experience for us all.
For example one pre-planned day had us getting up super early sightseeing Istanbul and going for a Turkish bath and then sightseeing again right after. Ahmet rearranged the Turkish Bath to another location because he knew after the bath we’d be in a relaxed mood and wouldn’t want to be going on another excursion straight afterwards. He was right, we ended up postponing the bath to another location and the people who did the bath were happy, because as he predicted, after the bath most people wanted to relax and take it easy, which is what we were able to do thanks to Ahmet’s re-arranging.
This tour is very fast paced, we cram a lot of sights into the short amount of time we had in Turkey. The days start early, around 7 am each day and end late. If you do a lot or all of the optionals it can get exhausting but you have a great time though so I thought it was worth it. I had a blast in Turkey!
The included meals were not very good to be honest, most of them are buffets and significantly lack in flavor, or worse, have been sitting for awhile and are served cold. When we had free time to pick our own places to eat, the food didn’t disappoint (I had THE best chicken curry rice dish in Taksim Square area at this amazing rooftop restaurant overlooking Istanbul!)
The sights in Turkey are beautiful. Istanbul is an interesting bustling city where men dominate the streets. At times as a woman I felt uncomfortable in certain areas, especially at night, without a guy as an escort. The population is dominantly Muslim and especially with the way you dress, you could get harassed (I was tisked at verbally a lot). I went on the optional boat cruise in Istanbul which I enjoyed a lot, but beware of the crew selling drinks. We had an incident where they came up with orange juice and made it seem like they were free the way they were handing them out and insisting we take one…until they came back a few minutes later informing us that our small plastic cups of orange juice cost 3 Euro (9 Lira) each and that we needed to pay up now. Yikes!! I’ll just say that there was a lot of pissed off people…The Blue Mosque was pretty, however it held little to no resonance with me so it wasn’t a highlight for me. The Grand Bazaar is pretty cool, worth it to check it out and Taksim Square is the heart of Istanbul, with plenty of adventures to get yourself involved in.
The countryside and the coast of Turkey are picturesque. Pamukkale was a highlight for me, along with Anzac cove and Ephesus. The ancient ruins of Troy were a letdown, the reconstruction and site pales in comparison to Ephesus and Ancient Pergamum. Unexpected visits turned out to be good highlights, like a visit to a carpet maker family property and a lamb leather fashion show!
After a whirlwind of a time in Turkey, we said goodbye to Ahmet and embarked on our cruise ship to the Greek Islands.
My expectations for this cruise were we would see a lot of the islands. In reality you see more of the cruise ship that the islands as you have to be on the ship at night and miss out on the true Greek Island experience. If you really want to experience a Greek Island adventure I recommend after this tour, hop on the Greek island hopping tour which is slow paced and gives you a true visit to the islands. On the cruise you only had a couple of hours sometimes to visit the place. Then there was the Oia fiasco. Santorini is a highlight for most people, unfortunately for our tour we only saw 1 very rushed hour of it when we were promised 4 hours. Most of us paid quite a lot of Euro (55 Euro) to get off the cruise ship, take a boat, then a bus ride to Oia. But because the cruise ship arrived in Santorini an hour late, our excursion was cut down significantly because the ship was still leaving at 8:15 pm. A lot of people on our tour were upset. I wasn’t too gutted as I was getting off the tour in Santorini anyway, what I was really pissed off about was getting to the island and disembarking the cruise ship early. I believe one person on our tour was going to file a formal complaint about her experience.
There were four of us from the tour who were disembarking the cruise in Santorini (the best decision we ever made) AND going on the excursion to Oia. 2 other girls were also disembarking the cruise but not going on the excursion. For us four, it was a nightmare experience. Our tour manager Stacey was very unorganized during this time, and the experience for the four who were also going on the tour and disembarking was awful to say the least. Stacey was not very helpful and all of us were super stressed during this process. We were left to check out on our own, standing in hour long line ups on the cruise ship to pay our drinks bill and check out early. What should have happened is Stacey could have gathered us four together and explained as a group or at least notified to the staff what was happening with us as the reception clerk who handled me didn’t know what was going on and was refusing to give me my passport early (I almost missed getting on the tour because of this major miscommunication). All of us four were not pleased with the way this unfolded, the famous question amongst alot of our tour that evening was ‘What is going on?’ And the common answer was ‘I don’t know’. Our tour manager was nowhere to be found to answer people’s questions during this time which led to more confusion and frustration among several people on our tour. I’ve been on other Contiki tours where our tour manager went above and beyond to ensure our holiday was stress free and relaxed, so to experience this was a shock from Contiki. What was really annoying was we completed our evaluations for the tour manager that morning, and this fiasco happened in the evening, leaving no room to write comments on the tour manager’s performance within this situation (hence this long-winded part on this review). The situation had miscommunication problems all over, especially between Louis Cruises and Contiki and definitely has a lot of room to be improved for future tours.
All in all I had a great time in Turkey, but not as stellar a time in Greece. Luckily I got off the tour a day early to stay in Santorini so I got to experience my Greek Island adventures sans-Contiki and had a blast. One great thing about this tour? The friends I made from the group. We hung out pre-tour and post-tour for days after, it was great. The friends I’ve made outshone the downfalls of this tour and for that I’m still going to give Contiki another shot.