Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
I have travelled a lot through Asia and Europe and this was the first Contiki Tour I have done. It was the second time I had been to Thailand and I have to say, the Contiki Tour really did it justice, I had much more fun the second time around!! I feel like I experienced all the best parts of Thailand in 9 days - elephants, beaches, snorkelling, tigers, 4-wheel driving, ladyboys, half moon party, pool parties, a giant WIPEOUT course.... and so much more! The best part is that so much of the tour is optional and you can play each day by ear. The accommodation is amazing and to a very good standard.... (be amazed in Koh Tao!!) Our tour guide, Natalie, was the best and her local knowledge ensured we were always at the most happening bars and never having to wait in lines. As someone who was closer to the *older* end of the age range, I wondered what the tour would be like... but everyone got along well and age was irrelevant - everyone was just there to have fun!
I would highly recommend this tour and strongly advise that it is the only way to see these three islands. The one and only downfall of the tour is that it ended!!
Nothing will ever prepare you for the go go go of contiki! This was the best 20 days of my life that I got to spend with 45 amazing other travellers and our fantastic tour manager, Mark Davies and awesome coach driver, Cathal Woods. We saw everything amazing that Europe had to offer and you get so much more out of your contiki experience than you'll ever expect. Yes, we partied a lot and yes we hardly slept and yes! We were always on the move but I wouldn't change my experience for the world. The food was always good and so was the accommodation, and don't skimp on the optionals! It's the best way to get to know your fellow contikians. I would do this tour again in heartbeat, my advice would just be to know that you'll never be prepared for what's about to hit you but get ready for the time of your life!
Just returned from the best holiday ever! Had a great time with our Contiki group of 36 people. We had a great mix of activities and a great tour manager and driver (Jen and Daz).
Had so much fun canoeing, white water rafting, hiking, horse riding and there were plenty of good nights out to suit everyone too. The accommodation and included meals were even better than I expected - even for a vegetarian! - and we didn't spend too much time on the coach (except the Banff to Vernon day which is to be expected).
My advice would be to just go - try new things and make new friends. I'm so glad I went, would definitely book with Contiki in future, great way to travel.
This trip was amazing, talking and hearing about things like the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors and Jade statues are one thing, but going to China and seeing them for yourself leaves you awe struck. There is so much to see and do and doing this trip with such a great mix of people such as i had, made it all the more special. Mad respect to Nathan McBain our tour guide for looking after us so well...Even after I got lost on the way to Mong Kok(my bad).
I recently did the European Experience tour this summer and had the time of my life! I loved how everything was already organized so I could spend my time making amazing memories, and friendships that will last a life time! My tour manager Chloe was absolutely amazing, going out of her way to make this the best trip ever, and our bus driver Scotty was so great as well! I would recommend Contiki to anyone and hope to do another tour sometime in the future! Sydney x
This trip was out of this world, truly. It was the first part of the larger Indochine trip that continued on to Vietnam...I didn't have 25 days to spare for the whole journey, but felt fulfilled with the three countries I did visit and the people I met on this trip. The tour manager was extremely knowledgeable and fun, had a balance between friendly and organized. We got local info at every new stop with helpful hints. The local guides were interesting and informative, really hilarious in most cases. Our hotels were way better than I'd imagined...all but one had WiFi and only one in Lao was a bit rustic. Expectations were exceeded from the first night.
I'd have to say I had slight reservations booking (being on the older side of the age spectrum) but it wasn't even a factor. Everyone was well-rounded and unique, all taking the trip for their own reasons and most were pretty experienced in travel. Since we kept a good pace to get from place to place, there was a lot of accountability, and people looked out for each other. Friendships were made. There was enough free time built in that you could explore a bit on your own or opt out of certain activities...but most of them were worth taking part in.
As soon as I returned home to see photos of myself hugging a tiger, riding on an elephant's back, playing in waterfalls, dancing in the rain, drinking snake whiskey, w/friends drinking/eating/dancing and just overall having the time of our lives...I realized I would definitely be taking another trip with Contiki. It's well organized and Contiki has made the right choices to maximize the time you have in the locations you visit. Someday when I'm much older and retired I'll take months leisurely browsing through areas...for now I like the pace and social aspect.
This tour was great, you got plenty of time in the greatest cities in the US. The flights were a great way to gain extra time, but the group connection/bonding time was lost by not having a coach.
The hotels are a bit better than what they are normally for a Contiki, as mentioned by our tour manager, they are more 3.5 - 4, which they really were.
You got plenty of time to do your own thing as well as planned activities. Made life long friends on this trip.
Disneyland, Universial... all arranged and transfers provided!
I had an amazing time on this tour. Our tour manager Karlene was the best! It was perfect for someone my age (18 at the time). I made great friends. People may think being on a coach for hours is terrible, its really not. That is where we all got to really know each other and bond. I have since been on another tour where there was all flights and no coach, the group connection was not anywhere near as strong.
The places we stayed in were fantastic, the special stay in France, the Chateau... AMAZING!
Highly recommend anyone to go on this tour, perfect amount of time to be away, and a great insight into each country. I know where I would like to go back to again with my partner!
Awesome tour cannot wait to go back!!
This trip was by far the best holiday i have ever had. We had a great bunch of people who all got along and made the experience all that more interesting.
Our tour manager Alex and our driver Geordie were fantastic and made the tour so much more worthwhile. "Alex's Adventures" were a highlight as he always made sure they were informative and fun. Geordie also made sure the late night bus trips home were a hilarious experience.....especially when great songs were played and everyone was dancing while the lights went into nightclub mode. haha. The effort they both put into this tour is very much appreciated!
The optional extras were ALL amazing. I particularly enjoyed the Cabaret show, the mountain in the Swiss Alps, Space Disco in Florence and the Gondola ride in Venice. But all of the others were equally as good.
Accommodation was as good as you could get for what you paid for. I was happy with all of the places we stayed. You have to remember Contiki is a budget holiday so you are not going to get 5 star hotels. For me as long as the hotel room was clean i was happy. Just don't set extremely high expectations for the accommodation you will be fine.
I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone even if it's your first Contiki. I enjoyed every single day and would definitely go on another tour in the future.
This tour is not for those who are looking for a relaxing tour of Europe-
Contrasts is the BEST way to see as much of Europe as possible in the allocated time.
Bring your vitamins, your Cold & flu stuff, anything that will help you stay as close to 100% as possible, because if you blink you WILL miss something amazing!
Contrasts also has the option of Sailing or the Contiki Resort in Corfu, Greece, which is an awesome way to get some much needed Rn'R. (Or party it up if you don't wanna stop!)
Even if you're afraid of something (ie. heights, water) that is part of the optional extras- it is DEFINITELY worth doing them all - You're in Europe and this is a once in a lifetime experience !
This trip is truly worth every penny, you'll bond with your contiki family, have an amazing time, see some of the most beautiful places, monuments & sights in the world and it is unbelievably well priced for the service you receive.
Anyone contemplating doing this tour, or aren't sure - take it from me it is 100%, no.. 200% worth it, you will NOT regret doing this and you'll create memories that will last a lifetime.
First time ever overseas! It was the most amazing trip ever, cannot wait to go back and spend more time at all of these wonderful places! Contiki is such a great way to do it, felt safe and made many new friends! Looking forward on planning a new zealand contiki for next year and a 6 week contiki through euroupe in 2015 love it love it love it!
The tour was lovely. Enjoyed ever minute of it. Also, the tour allows you to see/experience much of Spain on as little money spent as possible.
I went on this tour with my husband in July 2013. Overall what made this trip great was the people on the your with us, not the tour itself. The food was average at best with the good food being the optionals you pay for. The hotel accommodation was great in Amsterdam and Barcelona but in Paris our hotel ceiling leaked and the Lucerne jail hotel had bed bugs. Not something you want to find at midnight! The tour guide made us feel pressured into buying optionals as if he made commission on them. All in all this tour was not at all what I excepted it to be.
Awesome time island hopping and get to chill out alot of the time as well as have fun. Mel was amazeballs as a contiki leader, so chilled and yet organised.
Contiki's Ultimate European was the most exciting experience of my life. Not only did I experience so many cultures in the amount of time we had, but I made friends that I will have for a lifetime. This trip was worth all of my money and I recommend it to anyone wanting to travel Europe.
For those of you that may be interested, this is a quick run down of what we did on the first day.
We started our tour in London and quickly made our way via ferry to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is an amazing city. Full of bikes and quirky buildings. We explored the city on foot. We checked out the local shopping district and we had a Bratwurst (German Style sausage) for lunch. We saw the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and chilled out in front of the iconic 'I Amsterdam' sign. For those doing the optional extras of the Sea Palace Lunch- I'd highly recommend it. It was tasty Indonesian cuisine and plenty of free drinks. The other optional was a river cruise, which turned out to be a party boat with beer, wine and champange! We then hit the town and toured the red light district checking out the prostitutes of Amsterdam (looking of course..). Some of the guys went to the local coffee shops for some 'grass'. Others stayed and saw a live sex show, which was a mixture of sexy and hilariousness. That was our first night in Amsterdam. Others went out and hit the town afterwards, while some of us crashed in our hostel.
I could describe the other 18 days but you'll have to experience it for yourself. The accommodation in general was quite good. There were a few hotel upgrades and all hostels and cabins had the essentials and more. Our tour guide and bus driver, Kate and Phillipe, were great. They were incredibly organised and work hard to make the trip memorable as possible. The ME time extras do cost more. I spent about 350 euro extra on ME extras but they were well worth it. Things such as paragliding, whitewater rafting, gondolas in Venice, pub crawls, river cruises all added to the experience. The experience was incredibly intense. Be prepared to be exhausted after the end of the trip. One of the best aspects of the trip was how we managed to get so much done (in terms of sightseeing, partying, making friends, and other experiences) in such as short period of time. Our group bonded really well together and everyone was incredibly friendly.
If you are after a intense and wild time and want to see Europe quickly at an incredibly good price, I'd definitely recommend this trip. Only downside is that there was limited time in each city. So if you are looking to spend a while (more than two days) in each city maybe look somewhere else. Otherwise- 5 STARS
I just got back from my third Contiki trip. My first was Russia, Egypt was my second and Simply Italy was my third. Russia was pretty good, Egypt was excellent, but Italy was unbelievably amazing. Simply Italy was by far the best Contiki trip I've taken to date. Our tour manager Laura and our driver Cornelius were an excellent team. Laura was what really made the trip fabulous though. She provided us with maps at every stop and always explained things so well. She always answered our questions and her Italian was amazing and beautiful even though she was a kiwi. Everything was so well organized and Laura, our tour manager, always made sure to balance sightseeing with partying. She made it clear to us that it was our holiday and that we would also help make it what we wanted. If we wanted to party she'd take us and if we wanted to sightsee she'd recommend things for us. Boy, could that girl walk though! We ate tons of food on this trip, but boy did we burn/walk it off.
The tour overall was excellent. The only thing I'd change is our stop at Pisa and the mall. We had 1.5-2 hours at a design outlet mall, which I didn't really care for. In Pisa, we were only there for about an hour. My friend and I really wanted to climb Pisa, but an hour didn't leave us with enough time to do so. We thought it might have been because of driving hours though. That day we drove from Milan, I think, all the way to Rome so it was a long driving day. More time in Pisa would have been super though. I could have easily used another day in Florence and especially one more in Venice. Venice is so amazing it's almost a shame to only spend a good full day there. I really enjoyed this one country focused tour though. We did spend some time on the bus, but it wasn't overly excessive. I think focused tours that spend time in one or two countries only are the way to go.
Overall, the food was amazing. My recommendation is to go off the beaten path and find a place where locals are eating and away from tourists. Some of the places we went with the whole group were hit and miss. This pretty much sums up food on Contiki in general. After three contiki trips I can safely say that dinners you find on your own will be better. They aren't trying to mass produce food so you get better food and service. We had an amazing all you can eat pizza dinner in Sorrento, but another night in Sorrento we had an optional dinner we paid like 40 euro for and it was just way too salty and we went home hungry. We had some undercooked pasta in Florence in an included dinner, but that was were the bad meals ended. Every other meal was quite good. The included and optional dinners were, however, better on this tour compared to Russia and Egypt so I was happy with that. Watch out for the places closest to tourist areas. This sandwich/pizza place across from the Colosseum in Rome was very pricey and not too great. Our Sprite was literally 5 euro, which was like 10 dollars Canadian. I guess I can check off another point from the bucket list as I can officially say I I had a 10 dollar Sprite. The pizza was as hard as the colosseum there too, but we only had 45 mins for lunch that day and there wasn't much else around. The best pizza and pasta we had were places we found on our own. Be careful of ordering in Le Spezia as we ordered pesto pasta thinking we'd have enough time before our meetup time and we were wrong. We literally had to inhale our food and were chugging our drinks and devouring bread sooo fast as I think the servers are on island mentality. One other couple we talked to also experienced slow service there so I'd recommend eating lunch in La Spezia first and then seeing the castle or swimming. The beach in the Cinque Terre was amazing though. Our guide said it's rarely super hot and nice so we were very lucky. The fruit shake place across from the beach is amazing too! It's expensive, but it's all made with real and fresh fruit right there in front of you. You can also order ridiculously huge alcoholic drinks. There was an optional hike you could do instead of the beach, but my friend and I were tired of stairs so we opted for relaxation at this point in the tour. I'm glad we went here too as I don't think I'd have known about it from just exploring on my own.
Overall, the hotels were really good. Wifi was hit and miss. Wifi in Italy is like food in Cuba. Overall, Wifi connections just sucked! Some hotels connected well, but at the Regent literally it would get overloaded and the wifi would have to kick someone out before it logged someone else on. The Regent in Rome was just okay. It was far better than the horrible Victoria hotel we stayed at in Egypt. Basically, if I have running and hot water on a Contiki now it's pretty much fab, so it was okay in Rome. The hotel in Sorrento, the Grand Flora, was decent and had a pool which was great, but I didn't care for a tile floor. Then in Florence the Club hotel was super. Rooms were small, but very nice and the lobby was very stylish. The Holiday Inn by Venice was fine and the beds were bigger and softer, which was nice. The local pizza place down the road was really good too, but they didn't know how to handle such a large crowd. It took forever to order. If you go there, I think it's called Pizzeria Al Calesse, then do take out as everyone that did got the food right away and didn't have to wait forever and ever just to order. Le Spezia had an okay hotel. The lift was so small here though that we could only fit one person and a bag in the lift/elevator at a time though. I think the pipes were very old though as our shower just turned on in the middle of the night. Either it was water pressure or this hotel is haunted... We also locked the door at night to find it unlocked in the morning. Okay, maybe I'm going for haunted/ghost on this one?! The hotel in Milan, the NH, was amazing. It's too bad they couldn't all be that great and then we headed back to Rome.
In terms of souvenirs to bring back, leather is big in florence. We went to leonardo's, which was pricey, bur you know it's the real stuff. With contiki you could get your initials imprinted in your purchase for free so that was cool. They also had these really cool puzzle rings that have to be put together like a puzzle in order to wear them. I think that's the only thing I regret not buying. It's hard because you want to balance out your money and it's not like you can window shop in italy and then go back and buy stuff. Venice is where to get glass and masks. If I had more money I would have bought an expensive glass piece. They can ship right from their shop and they have insurance incase anything happens. One couple got a lovely love bird piece. I ended up just getting small earrings. It's expensive, but in the demo this guy like throws the glasses around very hard and they don't break so you know it's good quality. Overall, the demos on this tour were very good and I really enjoyed them. We did skip the lace demo in Venice though. Some people went for the air-conditioning, but lace wasn't really our thing. Masks were amazing in venice. Basically, just look for paper mache as sometimes the italians will order masks from china and sell them. If they are paper mache or you see someone making them then they are the real deal.
Well, I hope I encounter more amazing tour managers like Laura. She did say our group was really amazing and everyone got along so well. I am a teacher so I can understand how you could get a bad group, okay group or amazing group. I suppose that part is all luck, but overall I've been lucky and had some really good groups. Egypt was just okay though when I went as a huge family of cousins packed over half of the bus so it was harder to meet people. It all kind of depends on who signs up for your tour. I am turning 26 in a week and hope I can save for and do a few more contiki trips before my time is up and I'm too old. I also went with a friend on this trip who did contiki for the first time and she just loved it so now she's also recommending contiki. I'm so happy we had a great tour manager and driver that really helped to make the trip amazing. I can't wait for my next trip! I just hope I don't get sick again. I've come home sick all three times I've done contiki. This time I got hit especially hard as it's been almost two weeks now that I've been sick. I think next time I will bring more money for souvenirs though. I took 1000 euro to spend, but I could have easily spent 1500-2000 euro between leather, glass, masks, drinks etc. If you are looking to make new friends and are looking for a safe, organized, fun and amazing time then do a contiki! You won't regret it!
from the various drinking games to the beautiful beach it was the funnest trip with great people!
This trip was amazing!
The accommodations were way better than expected. The special night stays were great. In Tortuguero the lodge is in the rainforest. There is a lot of wildlife you can experience just walking around the lodge including howler monkeys, parrots and toucans. The tent special stay lodge was also really neat. You sleep in tents but they have queen size beds and a bathroom with running water. Some of the accommodations had AC but not all of them, however this was never a problem. It seemed to cool off enough at night that heat was not an issue, and with the amazing sounds of the wildlife I got some of the best nights of sleep in my life. Most accommodations had hot water. The only time I had an issue with this was in the tent suites...but you only stay there one night so it wasn’t a huge deal.
In Sarapiqui, you get to choose from rafting, ziplining, or rappelling free of charge. My entire group opted for the rafting which I would highly recommend. This was the only opportunity for rafting and there is better ziplining and rappelling in other areas of Costa Rica. The optionals that I participated in were canyoneering in La Fortuna, ziplining in Montverde, and kayaking and the catamaran cruise in Manuel Antonio. I would recommend all of these activities, especially if you are into adventure sports. The catamaran cruise was the last night of the trip which made it a great way to say goodbye to our group. The alcohol is free and there are snacks on board. There is an opportunity to snorkel, and ride a slide down into the water.
What to Pack
Clothing wise I would recommend a combination of adventure/workout clothes and a few nicer pieces of clothing (for nights out). A rain coat is a must and I would recommend a poncho as well. When it rains in Costa Rica it pours and even expensive rain coats got wet quickly. Once something gets wet it won’t dry for days due to the humidity. I packed a newspaper to help keep my shoes dry when there was no AC or hair dryer in the room. Water shoes are another must. I brought a pair of crocs along which worked great for canyoneering. During that excursion you walk through water constantly so a quick drying waterproof shoe is necessary. Bug spray and sun screen were also a must. Some people on my trip were bitten often so I would recommend bringing some sort of ointment to treat bug bites. I would also recommend packing a few general medicine items such as cough drops or cold/flu medicine. I had a head cold for a few days and having the medicine allowed me to fully participate in all the activities.
A waterproof camera is a must for this trip. Not only can you take great pictures in the rain, but can take it along on all the excursions such as canyoneering and ziplining. I invested in a cheap one right before I left and am glad I did. Those who did not have waterproof cameras were able to get some pictures but missed out on taking it along on many of the excursions.
There are plenty of ATM’s throughout Costa Rica so accessing money was not an issue. The only days ATM’s are not available are during the time in Tortuguero so make sure you have enough cash to get you through the first few days of the trip.
All of the hotels had safes, except for Arenal but the hotel has a safe at the front desk you can use. In Monteverde you have to give them a deposit to use the safe in your room but as long as you return the key you get all of your money back.
Overall this trip was unforgettable and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a great combination of adventure and relaxation. Most of the adventure activities are optional so even if you are not looking for that type of activity I would recommend this trip. Not only do you get to see wildlife like monkeys, sloths, toucans, and dart frogs, but there are plenty of days at the beach. Our tour group was great. The guide was knowledgeable and a lot of fun. This trip was truly an experience of a lifetime!