Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
We departed Dover on Wed 28th Dec 2011 and never looked back. The ferry over to Calais, France was rough but we were buzzing with the excitement of what lay ahead, and too busy getting to know our Contiki family for the next 19 days.
We hit Amersterdam running with our first stop the elusive Red Light District. What a way to get up close and personal with your tour buddies than to watch a dazzling and entertainig live 'show', of which included a gorilla and lots of laughs ;)
From there the tour was non-stop, and full of excitement. Not even the zero degree tempertaures (it was the middle of winter) were going to stop us. We explored the canals of Amsterdam with an intriguing tour of Anne Franks Haus.
Next stop Berlin for the most amazing New Years spectacle ever. The streets were jam packed with locals and tourists wielding fireworks and celebrating in 2012 with many a German Ale. New Years day and we explored the dark history of Berlin, including visiting the Wall and Checkpoint Charlie, to name a few stops.
Prague brought many a surprise, including amazing gothic architecture, an interesting lunchtime canal ride and a crazy 5 story nightclub.
One highlight of the tour, among the very many, was our time in Munich and our lively dinner at the famous Hofbräuhaus Beer Hall. This was followed by an informative walking tour of Munich, with a focus on Hitlers time there.
With a quick stop in Austria to visit the Swarovski Crystal store, we wound our way through the Alps, in the snow whilst singing to the Sound of Music (hehe) and arrived in beautiful Italy. Six days were spent exploring the magistic canals and alleyways of Venice, the strength and history of Rome and beauty of Florence and Tuscany.
Nearing the end of our trip, we arrived in Lucerne, Switzerland and journeyed thousands of metres up to the most amazing view of Mt Pilatus. Something we will never forget. Not to mention being pelted in the head with a snowball by our cheeky tour guide Garai, it was a once in a lifetime view of the clear, snowtopped mountains.
It was finally time for our last stop, but perhaps one of the best - Paris! The ultimate highlight was skipping the line and being taken to the very top of the Eiffle Tower at night to view the cityscape of Paris. Finally to top off such a mindblowing trip, was our final night at The Moulin Rouge. A must see for anyone visiting Paris (The trip back to London the next day was not so much fun with the headaches we all had).
To cap it all off, this tour can be described in one word as - spectacular! The instant life-long friends we made on day one made it even more incredible. Our tour guide Garai and bus driver were hilarious and made sure we had the time of our lives. The bus was our home away from home for the 19 days and super comfortable and modern. All the accomodation was comfortable and accessible.
I highly recommend anyone wanting to visit Europe, but a bit unsure about where to go, to give this tour a go. My hubby and I loved it as a couple, but there were also just friends and singles with us.
Thanks Contiki for helping us live our European dream xx
It was my first trip with Contiki and I went with two friends on the European Highlights tour. Considering it was my first time to Europe, I thought going this way would minimize the amount of "guess work" in terms of getting around, knowing where to go and what to do, etc. What I got was 100x more than that! This trip paved the way to having loads of new friends which I still keep in touch with a year later. We saw the most amazing cities, landmarks and sites with our awesome tour manager Amy who gave us the low down on just about everything. There was always something to do, parties to be had and it was hands down the best two weeks of my life. Be warned though, this trip is going to test your endurance like crazy! It was just go, go, go! But it was worth the lack of sleep, tired mornings and long days. It's only 2 weeks guys, don't waste it on sleep!!! Thanks Contiki for the awesome memories! I'll be doing a Thailand Contiki tour next, can't wait!
This review will cut off part way through, so msg me if you want the whole thing.
I wrote a pretty long review for the escapade and received positive feedback from others in my situation who were tentative to go on their own. After 2 Contikis, I have learned that there is no reason to be worried about traveling solo with this company. Whether or not your are into partying, sightseeing, or a combo of both, Contiki does an excellent job of catering to everyone's interests. There are always people on the group who want to drink, those who want to sight see, and those, like myself, who enjoy the combo.
I had a phenomenal tour guide named Roxy this time around. She was genuinely interested in the happiness of the group. The Contiki personnel is exceptional, I have never had a bad experience with them. Our driver, Pat, was a crazy good driver. They will give you tips on each city, maps, and answer any questions you have. I went into this trip with very minimal knowledge of each city, so let them tell you what's cool! It's their job!
First and foremost: money. The trip ran about $2500 CAN to book. A flight from Toronto should ring you $1300 or so, don`t be stupid like me and forget to include airplane taxes and pay $1900. I am bitter. You will be eating out A LOT on this trip, but it is up to you as to where. MOST pubs cost around £12.00 for a meal plus drink. Pints ranged from £3.50-5.00 depending on the town, and soft drinks were usually £2.50 for a 200-300ml tiny bottle. Try to find Tescos and smaller shops to eat. On days where there is no included dinner, try to eat a bigger lunch and then a smaller meal (maybe street meat) at dinner. That will save you £8.00 or so, but it is nice every once in a while to get a dinner. I figure I spent about $400 CAN on gifts, but food/alcohol is the killer. Bars/Clubs can be quite costly, and some nights rang me up around £75.00. But you don't have to be stupid like me and buying people shots because they have heard of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Budget about $75.00-100.00 a day and you should be more than fine unless you are an alcoholic or buy expensive clothing/gifts. You will be charged for almost every building that you go into, and this can range from £6 to £20. Every castle, church...just be ready to drop a lot of money on sightseeing. Your tour guide will let you know what's worth visiting or not. I probably finished around $1500-1600 in extra altogether in food/gifts/drinking.
Food is generally good. Every morning you get an English Breakfast (scrambled eggs (usually shitty), bacon, sausage, toast, hash browns, beans, cereal, fruit, blood pudding, etc. Only 2x did we only get cereal. The included dinners are fairly good, only 2x or so were they sub par, but they will fill you up, and they are generally tame for people who are picky eaters. Sometimes you get options as well. The optional dinners were too expensive for what you get, but I would recommend doing them regardless.
Accommodations were fine. I am 6'5, so I had issues with how long the beds are, but for most people they would be fine. They do not have AC in most hotels, so be ready for some warm nights, especially if there is a freak heat wave like I just had. That can get uncomfortable. They paired me up with somebody and we shared rooms the entire time. If you are worried about being paired with a stranger, I'm not sure how much extra it is for your own room, but to be honest I wouldn't worry about it. Hotels ranged from standard Holiday Inns/Jury Inns/Ibis, so more character buildings like the Loch Ness Lodge and Kilford Inn. 1 hotel had a gym, so if you need to work out, it's not happening. 1 hotel had a tiny pool.
What to bring. I came prepared for every type of weather, and all we got was blistering hot weather that they never actually get there. I had 4 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 nicer shirts for going out, 10 t-shirts, 10 pairs of underwear, lots of socks, runners, nicer shoes, and sandals, a rainproof jacket, and 2 sweaters. I think that's it. All your typical grooming stuff. I just used hotel soap/shampoo, but many of the girls complained about its quality. Bring lot's of medication. Have strepsils or throat lozenges handy, because YOU WILL GET SICK. If you can, even get some antibiotics from the doctor before you come, haha. Going to the doctor in Ireland is quite easy, but in England they throw some roadblocks.
I'll start off in London. Give yourself an extra day at the start to get rid of some of the jet lag. The Royal Imperial is a nicer hotel for slightly more, but you will have to drag your luggage to the Royal National on the morning of the trip to get to your coach (really not a big deal). When you get to Heathrow, take the tube. I was afraid to the first trip I did, but holy crap is it foolproof. Just follow the signs at the airport and jump on the Piccadilly line to Cockfosters. It's actually the only train there, and ran me £5.50 opposed to a £60-£75 cab ride. From Gatwick, take the train to Victoria Station, and then a cab ride is about £15 to the National or Imperial. I will advise booking another night after your tour as well, as you will arrive quite late and probably won't make any flights on the last day of your tour...take that extra day. Consult with a travel agent to make sure the dates line up if you are unsure. Check in with the Contiki basement to see when you have to meet your group. Afterwards, grab a drink with them at the pub and get to know everyone. If you don't then it becomes more difficult down the road, as everyone already knows each other! Your tour does not include anything in London, so give yourself time to see stuff. I know it mentions that you "see" some stuff in the tour, but it is literally a drive by 30 before heading to Liverpool.
ME Time Optionals. This trip is actually quite inexpensive for MeTime Optional activities. I'll go through them and some of the stuff I saw in each city for recommendations etc.:
Liverpool -- Wasn't a fan of this place, really. The Beatles bus tour was pretty weak. The Maritime Museum isn't really worth it because there is an infinitely better Titanic Museum in Belfast. Nobody really liked Liverpool, lol. The Cavern Club was awesome and we bar-hopped after.
York -- Very cool little town. It's a neat place just to wander. I did the Jorvik Viking experience, it was neat, but definitely OPTIONAL! Like, only if you really love vikings, heh.
York Ghost Walk -- It was neat. Very inexpensive. Expect to tip all tour guides, or at least it's recommended (even when you pay for the tour).
Windermere Cruise -- somewhat pointless. Just wander around instead. It's relatively cheap, but there was nothing I couldn't see from the water. Rent a kayak instead, it would definitely be more fun. You're only there for 3 hours or so anyway, just wander around the shops.
Activities -- I can't say because our bus broke down. Only the High ropes are £25, Archery and Rock climbing are cheaper. I think your group goes there regardless, so choose something.
Edinburgh -- See the castle, the underground Close tour was really cool, I can't remember the cost.
Hadrian's Wall -- you are stuck there for about an hour. Might as well do it. I personally love it, but I am a history nerd.
Gretna Green -- don't bother. Somebody will upload the picture to facebook.
Scottish Evening -- expensive for what you get, but everyone does it, so you might as well.
St. Andrews + Loch Ness -- one of my favourite days on the trip. Breathtaking views everywhere.
Isle of Skye Day -- Amazing day, just all outdoor stuff.
Eilean Donan Castle -- go in, pay the £6 or whatever it costs. Amazing.
Stirling -- William Wallace Monument was cool, I think it was around £7. The town has a ton to see as well. The beheading stone sounds cool, but it's kind of weak.
Glasgow -- Kind of a nothing town except for the nightlife.
Dublin -- Kilmainham Gaol wouldn't let us in because we came "as a group". So be sure to find a small party and sneak in. The Leprechaun museum was NOT worth the money. You will come back here, so if anything you can use this night as a rest, as you will arrive just about when everything is closing. Either that or go drink in Temple Bar, but again you can do that the last night as well.
Belfast -- Visit the Titanic Museum. There is Titanic stuff in Liverpool (weak), and Titanic stuff in Cobh (but it's free), but this is like a super multi-million dollar museum. Just do it.
Giant's Causeway -- DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Londonderry -- Walking tour was quite good, excellent guide. He was the only one that almost 100% of the people tipped.
Galway -- There is nothing to do in Galway.
Aran Islands -- Do it, otherwise you will be stuck in Galway. But honestly, this was one of my "WOW" moments as Roxy called it. Fantastic views, amazing culture. Rent the bike, be ready for a tough day, haha. This and Giant's Causeway made my Ireland leg the best.
Blarney Castle -- Very cool. Lengthy line to kiss the stone, but you're there anyway! There's also lots of cool stuff to see around the grounds. Also, included!
Cliffs of Moher -- nice views, and included!
Jameson Distillery -- decent tour. The Guinness one is better, but you are stuck in that town. So you might as well do it, because everything was closed in the town for those who tried to save money here.
Cork -- We played ping pong, pool, and Bowling! Actually quite fun. Not included in the optionals list, but it was organized by Roxy (13 euro).
Kilkenny -- Take the tour. Actually quite a neat town. It's inexpensive anyway, some people skipped out. If you don't do it, not a huge loss. Some very neat pubs there.
Dublin Again -- Guiness tour is amazing, even if you don't like Guinness.
Remember to join your Contiki meet-up and talk with people before hand. It really makes a difference when you arrive and don't know anyone. Usually somebody makes a facebook group ahead of time, and trust me, just knowing somebody's name and attaching it to a face makes things way easier. The first couple of days, you HAVE to be outgoing. People won't just come to you. Make an effort!
Had the most amazing time ever! Would like to thanks our Tour Manager Chris and bus driver Miki made our trip the trip of a lifetime.
The optionals offered are so much fun and definitely worth doing. You're able to see everything that you want in each country. In Paris though be prepared for queues which may lead you to not be able to see inside some museums or inside Versailles. Accommodation wasn't the greatest, but it is what you pay for and there weren't any complaints. All of the food is amazing! All of the Contiki workers were amazing! I would definitely recommend this tour! It's a great tour for people seeing Europe for the first time.
My first Contiki, and what a way to start! Visited so many incredible places with incredible food. It never felt like we were on the coach for too long at a time either, as all of the longer journeys were broken up with shorter excursions, e.g. Pompei and Pisa. Me Time optionals are well worth the extra, especially the meals, as it allows you to sample the typical fare from each area, and there is always lots of wine on the table! Make sure you book The Last Supper viewing in advance, so as not to be disappointed when you visit Milan (they only let in a few people at a time, so it tends to sell out a couple of weeks in advance). The hotels were good. Some better than others, but all were perfectly reasonable and comfortable - we even got upgraded a couple of times, which was nice! Tour manager and coach driver were amazing as well. This trip is definitely fantastic value, and a great way to see the highlights of Italy
This action packed tour changed my life! from the snow on the Alps to the magic of Paris, we had an experience of a lifetime! now i crave my next adventure!
This was the absolute most amazing, beautiful, entertaining and fun time of my life. I wouldn't have done it any other way, we saw so much of the world in such a short time. This tour is definitely the one that covers the most amount of ground in the shortest time for the least amount of cash.
We literally saw every attraction listed plus so many more surprises, contrasts was good because it started off with the full on citys like paris and florence and then eased down to the slower places like munich. 29 days is a perfect amount of time to go, I was only just getting tired in the last 2 or 3 days and ready to go home.
Our tour manager (Maaaaat) looked after us amazingly between our hospital trips, missing persons and general misbehaviour, and our bus driver (Martin) was a great driver who was often called to show off his skills.
We also had the best group of people you could have asked for, everyone was like minded and full of fun. We became so close straight away and at the end it was like saying good bye to your brothers and sisters for the last month. I've been home for 2 weeks and we have already organised a catch up!
The not so good:
A lot of people on tour were annoyed with the amount of time spent travelling on the bus- thats how you get around, deal with it. If you want to see 12 countries in 29 days you are going to be spending a lot of time in transit.
The accommodation was usually neat and clean, bed bugs were an issue for a few people at some places. Several places were really far away from the city (30E + taxi) so it was hard to kind of do your own thing of a night and it often felt like a lot of pressure to drink (and spend your money) at the Contiki-run bars.
The food was always reasonably healthy and tasty, expect to eat a lot of cold bread, cold ham and cold cheese for breakfast. Contiki always did a good job of dinners and the only real bad meal we had was an optional in St Goar- that was terrible.
I'm not sure if it was just luck of the drawer but Contrasts always seemed to get the short end of the straw when it came to party nights at the contiki accommodation, it feels like every time we got somewhere none of the other groups wanted to go out because they had a massive night the night before with games and contests, and then when it was on again we were leaving in the morning.
The other thing that surprised a lot of people was that Contiki is a party. We drank and stayed up most nights and slept on the bus the next day- I enjoyed it most of the time but others may not have. You don't ever *have* to go out but sometimes if you don't you feel like you miss out a lot.
I did this tour in Jan of this year and we had the best time! the included dinners were great along with the two optional dinner we could chose to do, I highly recommend both optional dinners just make sure you are hungry!
We unfortunately at the start of our tour did not have an 'official' contiki bus as they had all buses already on the road and it was peak season, but we did nab ourselves one in Queenstown.
Our TM Sarah was amazing, she went out of her way to help you and answer any silly questions we might of come up with, between her and Adam (our bus driver) they made the times on the bus between where we were going to great fun, whether it was Adam getting Sarah to play a song that he wanted to listen to or the first time we were introduced to our day song Everything's gonna be alright! The included Jetboat in Queenstown was great fun! I did the white water rafting on the shotover and also did Milford sound day trip while in Queenstown. We didn't make it to Franz Joseph on the day we were meant to given the bad weather and the road had been closed - it was the middle of summer and the weather took a turn to the south including we woke up one morning to snow on the remarkables in Queenstown.
We got to Franz and Fox glaciers the next day and the weather had improved enough that those who had booked the helicopter trips and hikes could go up onto the top of the Glaciers nothing like throwing a snowball on top of a glacier we did not get ot see franz as their was cloud cover in the valley but we still got ot see fox and land on top of it one of the highlights of my tour.
I really do not think I can praise our TM and driver high enough especially given I had been injured on the Monday in Queenstown, by the friday after already seeing a doctor who told me everything would be fine I gave my TM and driver a scare when my body went into shock, Sarah stayed with me while Adam waited for the Ambulance to arrive dressed in a coconut bra and grass skirt! Then Sarah came with me to the local medical centre while they got me all sorted out and dosed me up on painkillers along with giving me crutches (thankfully the trip was ending the following afternoon).
This trip can be as adventured packed or as alid back as you want it to be, our first night on tour left us speechless given our location we were in a ski lodge over looking lake Ohau.
Where do I begin. This was the best trip/ experience I've ever had. It was a great way to get a taste of multiple countries in two weeks. The hotels were nice & clean (barely in them enough to have a complaint), the coach bus was always clean and comfortable, the food was a great sampling of each country, and I can say I left with several new friends from all over the world and many, many memories. I have to mention how incredible our tour manager, Danny Steenkamp was. Always working, always planning, always willing to go the extra mile to make everyone's holiday memorable, always positive...a wealth of information, great sense of humor, and made the experience seamless from country to country. This was my first trip to Europe and it definitely won't be my last. I am still blown away by the history and beauty of each country and truly had sensory overload. We were able to see pretty much everything we wanted to see at each stop (with some planning in advance and a quick walking pace) and Danny would have put us in the category of the "culture vultures" - but I was definitely in pure bliss through out the whole trip, taking it all in. We did most of the ME Time Optionals; The Tuscan Hills Feast is a must (one of the most memorable times with the group), Gondola ride was best way to see Venice away from the tourists and take it all in, white water rafting gave the most beautiful views of Austria & the Alps, wine tasting in St. Goar was a cool experience in a creepy, old cellar, Canal Cruise in Amsterdam great kickoff with group and relaxed way to take in views of Amsterdam, Swarvorski Crystal Museum is worth the 8 euro for a one time trippy museum experience, Mt. Stanserhorn was a breathtaking view of mountains in Switzerland and the Cabrio cable car was so cool, recommend the group photo since it was the only time everyone was together and there was a beautiful view of Florence in the background, & Cabaret Show in Paris was such a memorable way to end the trip. Only slightly disappointed with Vatican tour & Colosseum/ Roman Forum tours- they are back to back, with minimal time in Vatican museum, both are so crowded with tourists, it was crazy hot for the Colosseum & Forum and more than half our group left probably from hunger & dehydration and skipped the Forum (which was incredible to stand in a place over 2000 years old)- so plan ahead, bring water & snacks because it was a long morning and a little information overload but worth seeing! Otherwise some tips: keep change for bathrooms, introduce yourself to everyone day 1, bring cash bc it's just easier, glad I had a rain jacket & umbrella for different weather, bring meds ( i got a chest cold & heat rash- probably needed to drink more water consistently), do what you can to see everything you want to see- you might never be back, I loved having my Ramble & Rove travel journal (off Amazon) made journaling easier with writing prompts, glad I had video camera & regular camera, took IPhone but kept it on Airplane mode so could make text over iMessage, FaceTime instead of call, use for alarm clock, and get online (had wifi at most hotels)---overall have no regrets, I sure don't, I only wish I could have stayed longer.
First trip travelling alone, never felt more at home with everyone, amazing experiance!
The Italian espresso tour was lovely and we had a nice group, met some great people. Was a little disappointed in the standard of accommodation and felt that the itinerary breakdown of the tour sugar coated a lot of what we did. Did not find the included dinners to be of a decent standard and the optional dinners were very poor considering that after contiki my friend and I travelled Italy more extensively and often had 3 course meals with wine etc. and it cost less than what the optional "special" dinners did. Also there are lots of costs that don't get mentioned or the impression is created that something is included in our backstage pass when actually u see the thing from a distance. Also was quite disappointed in the level of professionalism regarding tipping, I found it very unnecessary and unprofessional that we got reminded not once, twice but three times about tipping. I felt that one explanation is sufficient seeing as the tipping is optional and in all fairness the average person doing contiki with the odd exception is not loaded with cash. Other than these let downs, contiki is a good brand especially if u in a country for the first time but is definitely most beneficial to sociable young people.
The tour is great but also exhausting. Me as a german not used to hot climate really needed time to cope with the high humidity in Ixtapa and Acapulco. Also the height of Mexico City, Morelia and Taxco can be exhausting. Nearly everybody felt a little sick (Food, Heat, Elevation). The tour is really great and in the end I needed "holidays". ;-) So stay a few more days longer in Cancun. It's worth it... and do the Mayan Jungle Encounter, it's so much fun. I'm glad having done this trip because it gave me 1000s of new impressions and many nice pictures. But it's a lot to see/experience in a short time. Traveling fast pace... and bring your own travel pharmacy, you'll need it.
This was the most amazing trip of my life................ I really got the best tour manager and driver Anna and Atur!! (The A Team) and of course my contiki family!!
We have created many memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life :) travelling around Europe has always been a dream of mine and I am so glad I got to experience it with my contiki family!!
Don't forget to WORK HARD, PLAY HARD!!!!
Saw the most amazing places, & met the most amazing people... Thank you contiki for inspiring me to see the world and travel more. This was truly the time of my life and I would do another tour in a heart beat.
It's commonly known that Italy is a beautiful country; and for a first visit there, it was exactly what you can expect and even much, much more! The trip was truly action-packed and memorable thanks to our incredible and brilliant Contiki staff (Enzo and Giuseppe) and our fun and friendly group (we all bonded very easily, it was great and it made the whole trip so much more fun!)
In 12 days, we covered so much ground (from Rome to Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Florence and then Venice, Verona, Milan, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Vatican, etc.) that you get the feeling you get to see it all. Everywhere we stopped, we wanted to stay longer (especially in Sorrento and Capri!). Beautiful cities and landscapes, amazing food and wine (Yes, I'm a French woman who enjoyed Italian wine much to the amazement of our tour manager, Enzo!), fun nights out, lots of culture (I recommend the walking tours in Florence, Venice and Rome) and playful moments at the beach (great memories from Portovenere and Monterosso). Accommodation-wise, it was incredible. We stayed in great places. My favourites are the rooms in Sorrento, Florence and Milan. Fabulous! Best value for money!
Time flew by in an instant but all these great memories will stay forever. I strongly recommend you do all the optional activities, they're worth every penny (especially the dinners such as the fancy one in the restaurant on the hills of Florence and the farewell dinner in Rome). All in all, you get to experience La Dolce Vita and you won't be willing to leave at the end of the trip but at least you know what places you want to return to (for me, Sorrento, Capri, Florence and Cinque Terre). Ciao tutti!
This tour was really amazing, it was my first Contiki and I can't wait to do another one, very hectic and don't count on getting lots of sleep but soooo worth it!
Best 2 weeks that one could ask for. Beautiful country. Amazing beaches. Delicious food. Unreal all night parties. The best "sex on a beach" drink I've ever had at paradise beach in Mykonos. Lie in the sun during the day. Lots to see and do. Made amazing friends. My third contiki and definitely not my last! Dance, drink, never sleep. - my theme for this trip!
I did this trip back in 2011, and I had always wanted to see europe, england especially. I had the most amazing time of my life, and even though I went by myself I met some amazing people, some of which i still keep in touch with today. The tour manager Michelle was AMAZING and she went above and beyond to make sure we had / and saw everything possible. She even took the time to take us out to bars and whatnot whenever we had the chance. Same goes for our Tour driver Pete! He was super funny, and again went above and beyond for all of us to ensure our experience was amazing.
The best moments were probably getting a little tipsy at a pub in the middle of the day in a small town, and crashing a wedding in a hotel we were staying in.
I always recommend contiki to my friends, and I also recommend going by yourself if you can!
Amazing 21 days! Lots to fit in, and heaps was coverd! Had lots of busy time,as well as chilling on your own, great group of people! All the hotels beat my expectations although some of the dinners could have been a lot better.
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a good idea of Europe and be mezmorised by some of the things you will see! I really had an amazing time, an I'm sad to be home without my contiki family!x