Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
I absolutely loved this tour, mixing history, culture and parties perfectly. It provided just the right balance and there was never a dull moment. Our tour guide Andy was fantastic and so was our bus driver Ed. They really went out of their way to make it a tour we would never forget including organising other stuff for us to do including seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates play and Cirque du Soleil tickets. The optionals were fantastic especially the jet boating in Montreal.
The hotels we stayed in were beyond what I imagined and were quite fancy. I'd definitely recommend this tour to anyone wanting to do the North-East of the US and Canada. You don't get to see much of NYC on your first day so if you want to see it you should definitely book a few extra days there at the beginning or end of your tour.
Hi I did this tour in April 2013. It was a great experience! I travelled solo from Canada this was my first contiki tour and first real trip to Europe on my own. Everything went well! I managed to get my self around Athens on my own as I flew in a day early to do some sight seeing on my own. I met up with the 13 other travellers from the contiki group the following evening for dinner. Majority were all solo so I was not ever left alone. I opted for a single room and it worked great. We all met up for dinners in the evening and were together during the day on excursions or just hanging out. Our group was great we all got along well! Tour manger rocked and had everything planned out! The boat we were on was OK..food OK also. I have cruised before so I would not say this cruise line was top notch but I went to see Greece and meet new ppl and that part was great so It did not totally matter about the boat. Excursions were nice. It would have been nice to stay in santorini a bit longer. I did not purchase the alcohol package on the boat and every port we stopped in I just purchased my own beer and brought it on and had no issues. This was way cheaper than the 100 euro drink pack! I would recommend this tour nice way to visit Greece.
This was a fantastic tour, in the instance where we were able to see the 'highlights' of Europe (exactly as per the title). This was good for us, as we were time limited and wanted to cram as much in as possible.
However, there were a few downsides.
Firstly, the accommodation was often out of the way from the towns (so you had to stick to the group schedule unless you were willing to take a boat on your own back to some camp site 30 mins away from Venice). Some of the accommodation was infested by mosquitos - mainly the campsites.
Secondly, we were expected to do a session of 'chores' where we had to help serve or clean up after a meal. This was really inconsistent as, while I was never allocated a shift, other people were allocated two (in the 2-week period). Slightly poor form, considering we'd paid to go on holiday. Food was a reminder of boarding school, and being in the middle of no-where meant we didn't have a choice.
Thirdly, our tour guide made the tour seem like a school trip. Not fun when we are bullied into doing things we don't want to do, under the guise of 'fun'. This was a minor complaint, and it was amusing seeing the tour guide explain that we should give her positive feedback otherwise the company asks her questions. Our tour guide also discouraged us from visiting nearby Cannes when we were in Nice, stating we wouldn't have time. (We did though!).
Forth, we really underestimated the distance between some of the locations, and spent a LOT of time on a bus. Had we known this, we may have thought twice about coming on this trip.
Overall, some great memories and met some lovely people! Seeing Paris/the Eiffel Tower and heading to Oktoberfest were my highlights. Would probably think twice about doing this type of tour again though.
I had an amazing time on this trip. Our group was amazing, our tour manager was amazing, our driver was amazing, Europe is amazing! My only complaint is that in the winter you get less daylight and since you're trying to see so many countries in such a short time, you spend most day hours on the bus and have to explore the cities by night. Some cities are meant to be explored by night (Amsterdam, Paris etc) but some are not (like Munich). Having said that, it is cheaper and the lines to attractions are shorter and it is a special season to visit. Each city has Christmas markets and is decorated in lights. Its worth experiencing.
Berlin to Budapest is an amazing trip. The pace gives you enough time to see everything in Berlin and Prague. There is a little less time in Vienna and Budapest, but you also get to see about as much as possible in just a couple of days. I opted for all the optionals and really enjoyed them. We got to try local food at each stop and it was all really good, the restaurants we visited each seemed to be great picks at giving us a bit of music and food true to the location. Bike riding through Prague was definately a trip highlight. The walking tour in Prague and Berlin were also amazing. This tour doesn't have too many long coach rides, but any time spent on the coach was definatley fun and memorable thanks to our amazing tour manager Lucian and road crew Levi. Levi kept the coach clean and smooth sailing and always greeted us with a wonderful smile and some great stories. Lucian created amazing memories with our day song and his contagious energy. He truly went above and beyond to make sure that each of us on the trip were having the time of our lives. Everyone on tour seemed to be having a great time and all got along really well. Almost everyone went to the baths in Budapest which was a great end to a wonderful time spend abroad. I definately recomend this trip. #noregrets
I had the Tuscan optional meal in Florence last night. Someone found a maggot in the main dish and a fly on the dessert. It was disgusting and disappointing to say the least in how it was handled. Don't opt in for the optional meals, it's expensive and you don't get the quality meal you're told to expect. We were told 4 pastas, we got 3, the chicken had maggots and the dessert had flies. It also cost over 30 euro.... And no effort was made to resolve the situation.
I got to meet great friends, and taste amazing food. This was an incredible experience. Rome was such a huge city, we spent two days there at the coliseum and Vatican City. Our tour manager, Enzo, was so funny!! He was very informative and had good suggestions for extra places to eat and shop.
The Vineyard was really nice, settled in the Tuscan hills. Florence was beautiful, the hotel was walking distance from the main streets. We got to see Pisa, the leaning tower, and the charming Verona, in the rain! I wish we had more days in Venice, it was lovely with its canals. Italy is such a nice country, I want to go back soon! Thank you Enzo for a memorable trip!
The European Horizon was a really fun road trip around Europe. It gave you a great taste of each country and allowed you to do the 'Best Of' in each place. It is a fast paced, action packed adventure! So much fun and lots of laughs!
Just got back from the discovery tour..and it couldn't have been more perfect our tour guide Lisa was AMAZING!! Our bus driver Christian was the funniest French rapper iv ever met...lol! The people Nd the sights...no words can do it justice! You are constantly on the go so you get to see everything in the short amount of time you are there. I highly recommend this tour to anyone who is looking to travel alone! We partied hard every night Nd woke up early to see the world. Lifelong friends and memories were produced...and I will never be the same again! Lisa had so much knowledge about everywhere we went, yet still an amazing sense of humor! She made the trip what it was Nd was so organized and went above and beyond to make sure we had enough information! This trip was the BEST thing I have ever done and will DEFINITELY be doing another one!
One of the best trips I’ve ever been on! This adventure opened my eyes to a whole new world and culture. The best things about this trip were the places we went to, the activities we did, our outstanding tour manager (Luke), our local guides - and best of all - the other people in the group!
I had initially thought of going to China with another tour company (Wendy Wu), which probably would have been cheaper, since they include flights, visa costs, and all meals. However, having spoken to people that have gone with that company and others, the average age of people on such tours is 40+ (sometimes 50+), the pace is rather slow, and I think I would’ve been bored! I’m so glad I went with Contiki, I'd heard great things about the company (this was my first trip with them), and there were always like-minded people up for having a good time, and for taking part in the more lively activities. (Most people were 20s-early 30s, with a surprising number of people with dSLRs – a random observation!) Also, Hong Kong was included – which was the cherry on top!
Every day was action-packed. The highlight for me was climbing the Great Wall - a day I'll remember for years to come! The Backstage Pass activities were excellent – some of the places that were included, like the 798 Art District in Beijing, were places that I’d never have considered going to if I were on my own, and the lunch with a local family in their house in the Hutong district, would not have been possible if I were on my own! I did all the optional extras, except the last one (the light show in Yangshuo?). Also, in the free time that we had, Luke’s recommendations were always great. The accommodation was top notch. We stayed in four-star hotels (most of them with free wifi) which had great Eastern and Western style breakfasts. The included meals on the tour were all good. And for those of you who are also adventurous with food and drink – there are plenty of opportunities to try the crazy stuff!
Our guides in each city/town were amazing. In Beijing we had Hubert; Xi’an – Ken; Shanghai – Linda; Yangshuo – Julie; and Hong Kong – Gain. Each was a character in themselves! What was great about them was how they added their own touch to each town – whether it was their sense of humour, personal stories, encyclopaedic knowledge, or their god-like ability to retrieve wallets/passports left on trains or in restaurants. Although I am a fan of reading guidebooks, having a living, breathing and interactive guide to tell us about each place was so much better.
To summarise, going to China with Contiki was full of memorable experiences. I wouldn’t have been able to do so many things, learn so much, make so many cool friends, and have such a great time if I went solo, or with another company. The tour was a great introduction to China and Hong Kong – I can’t wait to go back!
This trip was unbelievable. My expectations were pretty small Thailand East really did exceed every expectations! I can't put into words how amazing this trip is!
Had so much fun!!!! Lots of great sites, lots of great people, partying, drinking and learning so much about different cultures and countries. I even met my now fiancee on it.
Everyone should do this at least once in their lives!!!
Three years later I'm still talking with many of my fellow travelers regularly on facebook. This was my first European trip and it was a great introduction to a lot of major European cities as well as some beautiful mountainsides in the Alps. The optional activities were all fun however the optional meals were AWFUL. The Indonesian meal in Amsterdam, Italian meal in Florence, and meal in Paris were all terrible and they weren't cheap so I would suggest avoiding them. The quality of the food made it clear that these restaurants did not care about our satisfaction. It was nice to at least to spend more quality time with my tour mates but if I did it again I would have gotten a group of friends together and dined somewhere else.
My only other complaint was the hotel in Amsterdam was pretty dumpy and in a dodgy area. Ironically, all of the other accommodations, which were campsites and hostels, were absolutely superb. Overall it was an excellent trip.
I had the best time, made the best friendships. Our tour guide was fantastic.
Do all the optionals they were def worth it.
Accommodation overall was pretty good
This tour was hands down, the most memorable and amazing experience I have been lucky to do. I met so many great people from all around the world and because it was such an extended tour, we became like a family. The sights and sounds were breathtaking and I will never ever forget taking the plunge of going into the tour completely solo, but leaving arm-in-arm with some many friends.
This tour far exceeded my expectations. It was 7 jam packed days of sightseeing and partying. I was absolutely exhausted at the end but I had such an amazing time and made such good friends.
I genuinely couldn't find any low lights of the trip. People will always find something negative to say and I'm sure not everyone will have had the entirely positive experience that I did, but I truly believe if you go into the tour wanting to have a good time and are open to all experiences you will not be disappointed.
The highlights for me were definitely the helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon (or the Grand Canyon in general!), speed boat tours in San Diego, jeep tours through Sedona, every night out we had and just generally meeting such an amazing group of people.
The schedule is designed to fit a lot into a fairly small amount of time. When you consider how far apart Vegas is from LA, you have a lot of ground to cover which means you do spend a bit of time on the bus so you have plenty of time to catch up on sleep.
In almost every destination there are optional activities. I was not originally planning to do many of the activities but ended up doing most of them. In San Diego they have changed the harbour cruise (which people found boring) to a speed boat tour which is basically little 2 person boats which you get to drive yourselves and race around the harbour. I was reluctant at first but it was probably one of the best things I did. Try as we did, you can't flp these things but you can definitely race each other, not to mention its a great way to see San Diego a little differently. If you don't go on the boats you are taken to a shopping mall which isn't the most exciting way to spend 4 hours so definitely consider it! On the second day in San Diego you can do Sea World or the zoo. Contrary to other reports, you can definitely do both. If you do one you get dropped off and picked up at each destination, if you want to do both you just have to get yourself between the two, but it is definitely possible. In the afternoon you head to Mission Beach and you can do a surfing lesson (probably only a summer option though!)
In Phoenix, Arizona you pretty much only spend the night although it definitely has some memorable and enjoyable night life and the weather is beautiful about 90% of the time. On the morning you leave you have the option to do a hot air balloon ride. I didn't do this one but everyone seemed to enjoy it, although a few found it a bit slow. You head out very early as you are supposed to be up there for sunrise, so the views are undoubtably amazing. From Phoenix you head to Sedona which is set amongst these amazing red rock cliffs. Although the scenery is amazing from the bus and walking around, I definitely recommend the jeep tours which are run by (for want of a better word) cowboys who are absolutely hilarious. They weave you through this amazing scenery and you see things you just don't from the road.
From Sedona you head to the Grand Canyon. When you arrive at its quite late in the evening so you get just a quick look at the canyon which is enough at first for you to appreciate the magnitude of where you are. The next day you have the whole day to explore the canyon. Unless you have great plans to hike all day or you are afraid of heights, definitely consider the helicopter tours - especially the 45 minute one. It's quite expensive ($260 from memory) but completely worth it. You get the see the scenery in a way you can't even imagine by land and it is completely breathtaking. The other option is 25 minutes, but considering you have about a 5 minute trip each way over the forest to get to the canyon, its really worth while paying the extra $70 for the extra time. In the afternoon you have the option of doing bike tours, which I didn't do but I'm told were also very enjoyable. As I say, if you don't plan to spend the whole day hiking its great to have another activity to do during the day. That evening, if you have awesome tour manager like we did, they might take you somewhere to watch the sunset. The accommodation here are these tiny little cabins right on the south rim of the canyon so you literally only have to walk about 3 minutes to get to edge of the canyon but fair warning, especially in spring/summer, its very hot during the day and absolutely freezing during the night so pack accordingly. It is also high altitude and very dry which can play havoc with your breathing a bit.
From the Grand Canyon you head to Vegas via Route 66. This tour combines with a few others. The Wild Western, LA to the Bay and you are joined in Vegas but people doing the California Highlights, but whether it's your last nights on tour or not, the partying in Vegas is epic. We stayed at Harrah's right on the strip, so you are central to everything. It's in Vegas where you also do your surprise. I won't mention what it is but it is amazing and so much fun, especially as a group so for $10, just do it. There's no way you can't have fun. On both nights in Vegas you head out to two different clubs (not sure if they vary depending on your tour manager) but be prepared for a considerable increase in the cost of your alcohol. Good news for girls, everyone pays $10 to cover entry for both nights, guys sometimes have to pay extra and we usually get a couple of free drinks! Depending on your stamina these nights can finish very early the next morning. You have one whole day to yourself in Vegas but definitely don't waste it sleeping! There is shopping, amusement parks, crazy attractions like an indoor gondola ride and of course gambling. If you do this tour this is your last night in Vegas so you spend it at another awesome club. A lot of people carrying on with other tours choose not to go to bed.
As exhausted as I was by this point, I was definitely sad to be leaving all my new friends but for me this tour was the perfect amount of time.
Just some general tips about the tour, try everything! Obviously everyone has different budgets but definitely do as much as you can. The best way to get to know people and really see the sights are to get out there and do the optional activities. I genuinely didn't regret any of them. Also, as dorky as this will sound, go into the tour wanting to have a good time. Contiki run a pretty smooth tour but not everything will go according to plan. Just roll with it and don't be the person who complains about everything and I'm sure you will have amazing time. If you have an amazing tour manager like we did, definitely tip them well. It might seem like an easy job, visiting these places and going out with you but when you don't see them they are busy organising everything to make sure it runs smoothly so it's definitely not a week long party for them.
This was probably one of the best weeks of my life and I would recommend this tour to anyone. The places you visit, the optional extras, the accommodations, included meals - can't fault any of it!
I just got back from the Italian Espresso trip and it was a total blast. Our tour manager, Yannick, was the most fabulous guide and our group could not have been more fun. The sights were amazing and all the optional activities were wonderful. The only activity we skipped was the leather making demonstration but other than that I'd highly recommend everything. This was my first trip to Italy and I gotta say it would be damn near impossible to have done/seen everything we saw if I had done it on my own. The access to some of the bigger tourist attractions (the Vatican, Colosseum and things like that) were amazing. If you were on your own you would stand in line for forever, with the Contiki group we walked right in. All in all I had the most wonderful time in Italy and would absolutely not hesitate to recommend this tour to anyone - espeically if you can have Yannick as your tour manager. Ciao ciao! :)
This was the best trip I have ever been on! Do not let your friends, family, or the media scare you into thinking this place is unsafe. I never felt unsafe once. I had the best time and I encourage everyone who is thinking about it to just do it! You will not regret it.
A perfect mixture of history, sight-seeing and partying! Accomm was basic but it was fine because you're out all day anyway! From the history of Rome to the romance of Verona and Venice - it really did give us a taste of just about everything! A tip for anyone in Florence - don't think twice about buying a leather jacket! Just do it!! Trust me!! You want one!!
The only thing I would do differently is stay a few days longer (we already added 1 extra night!) There is so much to see and do that an extra couple of days would have been great! Contiki was a good starting point for us though and the hotels and contiki basement are perfectly located and easy to find!