Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
In short, I loved this trip. I went in thinking London and Ireland were going to be my favorite places, and at the end, in beauty and scenery and fun, Scotland took the cake. There are not enough words to explain the beauty of that country. I wish i could move to England, I have never felt more at home. When I arrived back home, nothing felt right anymore. What also made the experience amazing was my wonderful roommate and the exceptional tour manager (Mike) and driver (Matt). Mike is very knowledgeable and if he doesn’t know the answer he will find out for you, a very accommodating sweet guy. Matt kept us alive! Always a smooth comfortable ride. Talk to him, he is very nice, funny and entertaining and will also give you lots of information. They added so much to the trip experience.
The Ibis hotels are great. Nothing fancy but it is clean and everything is tiny and it has a nice vibe to it.
Try the haggis, it really isn’t bad, just don’t listen to what it is made of.
Breakfast is always served buffet style (mostly) and you will encounter basically the same every time. Bacon, eggs, breads, sausage, haggis, fruit, cereals, beans. It’s really a wide selection.
The bus was ALWAYS spotless. Poor Matt cleaning up after us. But it always smelled amazing and the windows were cleaned very often. Thanks Matt! If you get car sick, then aim for the front of the bus (first seat is best. Best views and more space.) but beware after this gets out, it will become a fight to the death to get it. Another great seat is the one right in front of the charging station. You can charge your phone while using it. Oh the bus has wifi, but you have to pay for it. Womp Womp. The bus also has a bathroom, don’t use it. Nobody wants to smell pee the whole time on the trip.
The trip was a full house. 51 travelers! Mostly from Canada and Austrialia. Then there were a mix of other countries. The age group was from the very young (18) to the older crowd mid 30’s. Mosty in the early to mid 20’s.
Details in no particular order (sorry its all jumbled together in my mind at this point):
London- Get to London at LEAST one day before the tour begins. There is so much to see, all the touristy attractions, museums, pubs, coffee shops, shopping etc. When I go back I will spend at least 2 days before and after the trip to see more of London and the surrounding areas. I arrived one day early, met with my roommate and we wondered aimlessly and ended up having an amazing time away from all the craziness of central London (Primrose and Camden). The first day of the trip there is a driving tour of London so you won’t get to do anything but take pretty picture of London.
Liverpool- What an amazing city. The lady that talks about the city is amazing and easy to understand. The waterfront is beautiful and yes there is Beatles stuff everywhere. At nighttime I again left all of the main areas and wondered around to random pubs with my roommate. Yes they look at you strangely but eventually they warmed up to us. The Philharmonic is a must see, it is beautiful to sit there and have a pint or two. Also there is a pub one block over from the hotel, its relaxed and this is where I had my first real ale (I never knew that existed, your beer life will change after this).
Carlisle- Is this tiny city, that basically consists of the one main street. Everyone ended up drinking at the Wetherspoons (our first of many) across the street and if you felt like it, you walked up the road and find more pubs or dancing. It was great because the hotel is right in the heart of town, so drink up, you can just walk back to the hotel.
Oban- The hotel is right on the water, beautiful scenery. We again went to a Wetherspoons, and there was the Scottish dancing night! One of my favorites. A great way to dance with that cute boy on your tour bus or just have a laugh with the friend you have already made. Don’t be shy, just dance!
Gretna Green- Get ready for one of your to get married, and a group photo for the memory of this incredibly awkward event between two strangers.
York- Was one of my favorite stops. Cute little city, lots of pubs, lots of people. The ghost tour thing was alright, not my favorite, I would have preferred to keep walking around on my own.
Lake District- Do the high ropes activity. I was scared beyond belief, but when I was done I felt amazing that I completed it. The Windermere cruise was alright, I would have skipped it.
Edinburgh- We spent 2 nights there. Luckily we went during the festival time. The Fringe festival is a collection of merchants selling random stuff, be warned it is EXTREMLY crowded (not my scene), I also went to see the Military Tattoo. It rained beyond belief, but it was worth it. The next day I spent it at the Castle, shopping, and again just pub hopping (Rose St I think it was called).
Scottish Highlands/Lochness- This is the only place that the whole group is has to stay in the hotel. There is nothing around to do. So it ended up being a really fun night (there is a bar in the hotel) getting to know everyone. Also do the Lochness dip in the water. It is freezing cold and the rocks are slippery and slimy but hey it was a fun time!
Glasgow- This is where the travelers who only did up to Scotland leave. . Goodbye drinks, fun times. Another Wetherspoons.
Dublin- You really only need one night there, but you will spend two. Pick up the travelers who are only doing Ireland. Be nice, they haven’t been traveling with the same group for a number of days now. Basically one street for drinking, so go hopping around and listen to all the live music and dance. Do the Guinness Storehouse thing (if your into getting a free Guinness at the end, and how it is supposed to taste). Group photo time! This is also the last city for the only Ireland travelers. The Merry Ploughboy thing is nice, not sure what else you would do if you skipped this. So just do it.
Hadrians Wall- A must see! Beautiful scenery and a fantastic place to show the beauty of Scotland.
Giants Causeway- A must see. Great scenery and a place to take photos of the beauty of Ireland.
(London)Derry- This place will blow your mind. I don’t want to spoil all the history of this place, but it was a shock for me. The walking tour guy is lovely. The hotel is one of the fancier hotel you will stay at.
Galway/Aron Islands- Rent the bike! Other options are using the bus (you wont see much that way) and a horse and carriage (stinky) or simply walk (it will be a very very long walk).
Cork- Cliffs of Mohr is beautiful and time to kiss the Blarney stone.
Kilkenny- Leaves a lot to be desired. The hotel is attached to seedy looking bar, its very old and kinda smells. Not my favorite. Skip the bike tour that is offered!
Had an absolutely amazing time on this tour! Saw all the major tourist sites - the Pyramids, the Sphinx, Abu Simbel, Luxor and Karnak - and some of the lesser known sites - Kom Ombo, the Unfinished Obelisk - but the highlight has to be the Valley of the Kings! Just absolutely inspiring!
The Red Sea was just spectacular - it would have been fantastic to spend more time there.
The guide we had - Sherif - was just so knowledgeable and made the whole trip just so wonderful. Literally the only things that could have made this trip even better would be to make it longer so we can spend more time at the red sea and maybe even visit Alexandria!
The hotel in Cairo is nice - but it would have been nicer to be in an area that is maybe slightly more touristy.
Both the best tour and tour managers Contiki have to offer. Abe's is a legend and this tour is legendary.
This was my first Contiki tour. I had never heard of the company until my travel agent had suggested it to me. I was a little nervous at first because I am not the biggest partier and I am kind of a nerd for culture, history, and anything Tolkien. I decided to take the plunge and book my New Zealand adventure with Contiki. IT WAS THE BEST DECISION I COULD HAVE MADE! New Zealand is the most beautiful place I have ever had the pleasure of touring and it was made even better by travelling with other like minded adventure seekers in my own age bracket who also came to New Zealand to bungy jump and sky dive for the first time; to dance like a Hobbit at the site of Bilbo's 111th bday party in Hobbiton; to learn more about the Maori culture; and to live it up in the Minus 5 Ice Bar in Queenstown just like me. I could not have imagined comfortably doing all of this with a group of older adults in their 50's or 60's.
My tour manager, Soap, was extremely knowledgeable about everything New Zealand and I feel that by the time we reached our destination for the day everyone on the bus was more than prepared to explore the wonders New Zealand had to offer because of all the history and tips that he gave to us before we got there. He also organized everything flawlessly and the only thing I ever had to think about was making sure I was back to the bus on time.
Personal trip highlights in a nutshell... Milford Sound, Bungy jumping, sky diving, and horseback riding in Queenstown, traditional Hangi and Haka dance in Rotoura, OGO Balls, Hobbition/Weta Workshop, Mt. Doom, helicopter ride over Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers, riding through the southern Alps, Ice Bar, kayaking in the Bay of Islands, and Waitangi Treaty grounds (lots of highlights!)
Do the Big Tiki as opposed to the other New Zealand options if you have the time and money. This tour showcases everything New Zealand has to offer and is a combination of all the other Kiwi tours combined. This means that travelers on the tour are always coming and going. The friendships formed on Contiki are strong and seeing people leave mid tour because they didn't sign up for the whole thing is hard.
Do as many of the Me Time optionals as you can... most of them are once I'm a lifetime opportunities: Hobbiton, helicopter over glaciers, Bungy jumping off the original bridge where the sport started, OGO ball ride, and cruising the stunning oasis that is the Milford Sound. If you think you want to try something but are hesitant throw your caution out the window... I mean when are you ever going to get this chance again.
Enjoy your adventure :)
Best trip of my life. Exceeded all expectations!
I am so glad that I did this trip. I was a bit nervous about going to Russia with all that you hear on the news, but this trip was great.
I always felt safe. Our tour guide was Danny who was wonderful. He really did a great job in recommending what to do you in your free time.
I did all the optional excursions. They were all great. If you are on an extremely tight budget then the one you absolutely can NOT miss is the Kremlin Armory. That place houses all the treasures of Imperial Russia....and our local guide explained each and every one....including one royal dress that was made entirely out of silver.
If I had to not do one....it would be the circus...it is on your last night in Russia and you could probably spend your time picking up last minute souvenirs instead.
This trip was part of a 22 day Scandanavia Trip, so some people were already friends for a long time, but I blended in with them quite well.
The local tour guides Anna and Galina were out of this world. They knew so much history! I absolutely loved it.
Have a great time!
I had the most amazing time on Contiki! This was my first solo trip in Europe and it couldn't have been better! :D Every single experience in every city we had the chance to do was so awesome; from white water rafting in Austria to Amsterdam and the bike tour/hofbrauhaus in Munchen. Make sure you do every me time option, I did and I am so glad. It's a very fast paced tour, and you barely get sleep, but who doesn't like partying till the early hours of the morning every night?! You will definitely have memories for life. On the last night of the tour in Paris, the taxi driver took a group of us to the wrong hotel, so we were walking around the streets at 3am. At the time I was annoyed, but looking on it now, that's something I'll remember. You become close to your tour group and they become your family. We had the best tour team - I'm talking about you Scotty and Gaz! I can't recommend this tour enough, and I can't wait to go on my next Contiki!
Everything about this tour was incredible! 14 days of Spanish history, food and culture are truly captured along the way. This was my first contiki and was very unsure what I could expect. Our tour manager Zach, was a big highlight for our group. His keen sense of spanish history and passion for what he did made all of us so excited to tour through each city with him. Our whole crew became life long friends that took advantage of every moment from the stress of Bilbao to the partying in Ibiza!
Do not think twice.... just book it!
Get ready for an insane adventure! This trip exceeded all of my expectations and I certainly won’t be forgetting the experiences we had as a group any time soon.
It's HOT. Proper hot. You will sweat and at times will be uncomfortably hot. Nothing you can do, just ride it out, drink lots of water and enjoy those cool showers when you can.
Consider packing light. There are an abundance of markets where you can buy cheap shirts, tops and ‘elephant pants’ that will cover you for temple dress.
90% of the time we wore thongs (flip flops) or sandals. Good idea to have a light weight comfortable pair of walking shoes too though.
Rain coats are a waste – they will make you sweat. Take a good quality umbrella instead. An emergency poncho is also worth it though I never used mine.
Any type of suitcase is fine but be prepared to carry it up stairs in some hotels that are minus an elevator.
All Visas (Laos & Cambodia) are available on arrival for most nationalities, if you get yours beforehand you will still wait for the others in the group. Might not be worth worrying about it at home. All you need are passport photos and two blank pages in your passport for each country.
Tap water shouldn’t be drunk so plan on buying heaps of bottled water; drink bottles are not needed.
Take lots of sunscreen, good quality bug spray and a wide brimmed hat. Lots of people got savaged by mozzies.
Malaria is described as not being present in all three countries – Meds shouldn’t be needed but it’s up to you if you’d rather be safe.
Don’t fear the cheap street food. It’s generally very good, but check with the tour manager for tips.
Do all of the optional extras – cheap and all are good fun. The Thai cooking class is particularly enjoyable!
The whole group share a car on the overnight train to Chiang Mai in a bunk bed style arrangement. Air conditioned and much more comfortable than it sounds.
The bus trips in Laos are windy and bumpy at times – if you get motion sick easily, sit at the front and take it easy the night before.
Spectacular View Restaurant is exactly that. Have the camera ready!
The first realistic opportunity to do washing is in Luang Prabang (7 days in). The next is in Siem Reap just before the end. Usually about US$1-2 per kilo.
Angkor Wat on a busy day can be ruined by big crowds. Be prepared. Look for the monk near the main entrance – good photo op.
Do not miss the afternoon trip to the other Siem Reap temples – they are better than Angkor Wat.
If you get time in Siem Reap after the trip – go to the circus. It is incredible (brochure at hotel reception).
Honestly though, the best piece of advice is to simply approach the trip with an open mind. First time contiki travellers, fear not, this was my fourth trip, my fourth exceptionally talented tour manager and my fourth insanely colourful and friendly group of travel buddies. You WILL have a good time, never doubt that. It’s quite a journey, take each experience as it comes and jump at every opportunity to see every inch of three amazing countries. You can sleep when you get home! Enjoy!
This trip was simply amazing. But be warned, this is not for the people after a "relaxing holiday", this trip is "Traveling" , is extremely fast paced and you're always on the go. You get too a place, have an awesome night out, have a look around and your back on the go. expect very late nights and early mornings. You will get very accustomed to the bus and sleeping on the bus is something everyone does. But the best part about the long bus trips is talking to all the different people and you get to know everyone really well. Yes you could do this trip by yourself and yes it could probably be cheaper, but this is SO worth it. The people we went with truly made this trip. It was worth the money just for the people. They truly made the WHOLE trip worth it. It is a bucket list trip. You see and do a whole lot in a short 2 weeks but the friends and memories are worth it in itself. It isn't perfect, some people want to spend more time in places but it was just the most amazing experience of my life. The last day was the hardest, even though it was only 2 weeks, I made some of the best memories of my life and made them with some of the best people i've met in my life from all over the globe. Jade our manager and Dave our driver we found at the end it was their first trip, and it was great to share that with them. If you're thinking about it, just book it. Dont think. You won't EVER regret it.
Hint: Do all the optional activities. Cost another approx $600AUD depending on the conversion rate but most people do them all and it s so worth it to get the best out of the trip. #NoRegrets.
1 tip is come home broke. Memories are worth more than money.
I was very nervous at first, but after a day, I need not be. By the time I really got involved with the friends I made to the day I left, I had the best time I could wish for. Some days were better than others, other activities were better than others, but the people you associate with, the laughs you have, the memories you share together, makes the trip so worthwhile. I would defiantly recommend Contiki as a company to travel with as you really all do become a family and see parts of the world in a really different way than I would have expected to do. You won't make friends with everyone, but the ones you do, your never really apart from them and you become friends for life!
I had the experience of a lifetime and would like to thank Brooke, our tour manager and Sandro, our bus driver, and all the friends I made, for such an awesome time!!!
Thanks so much!!
When I booked this trip I didn't think it was long enough and that I wouldn't see much. But I was wrong in 18 day we covered so much of Europe and the countries we went to. This was my first trip to Europe and on a contiki and I have to say I couldn't of done it better another way. The people you meet and the memories you make travelling day in day out with 50 people was amazing.
My trip would have be as inspiring and full of history if it wasn't for our trip manager Evana, I have never met someone with so much knowledge of every country, towns, names, business's, sports teams, artists..... Of the places we saw. She blew us all away with the information talks entering every country. Anyone wanting to do a contiki and wants to learn about the places you go as well as party then do one with Evana and Chris our bus driver, an amazing driver like wow and a funny bloke as well top guy.
I have only just returned but definitely want to do it again with the same group! Had a ball and have made many friends for life :D
This trip was absolutely amazing! This was my first time ever overseas and I loved every minute of it! The things you see the amazing people you meet!
This was my first Contiki and I went on it with 3 other friends. A year later we are still talking about the amazing memories we had made on this trip. From the Cliffs of Moher, the little streets of Galway, and my personal favorite- the Aran Islands and Inishmore each day is great. Not to mention the people of Ireland are wonderful and the Guinness speaks for itself.
This was my first Contiki and first group tour ever. I've been on many vacations all over the world, but I decided to try this tour because I enjoyed the "no planning" aspect of this package and letting someone else arrange everything from beginning to end.
Our tour manager was Giuseppe and what can I say, he made this tour very special for me and everyone else in the group. He went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the whole group had a great time outside of "Contiki" time and as a result, our whole group of 50 people really had a chance to bond and get to know one another. As a result, everyone was very social and inclusive and we all had an incredible time.
I enjoyed the optional events as it gave me a chance to experience the local culture without having to research and figure out "what to do" in each city. Some of the hotels weren't that great, but towards the last half of the trip, the hotels were good. I feel like Contiki starts your trip off at the worst hotel and then gradually increases the quality so you can end on a high note.
I would recommend Contiki to everyone and would love the opportunity to do it all over again!
I went on Contiki with a friend of mine from work to see what all the fuss was about. We both lived in a regional town and were keen to have a holiday.
Let me tell you, it was literally everything I thought it would be times a hundred. Contiki was unreal. Everyday felt like a dream! The accommodation was good and even though some countries (particularly Prague and Venice) were extremely hot in the rooms, we overlooked it and didn't hang out there much anyway.
I found our tour manager knew a huge amount about the countries which made it much more interesting on the bus. She also was helpful with restaurants to go to and the best shopping areas. Ask the manager as many questions as you can! The food was good and I couldn't complain about any meals. The European Whirlwind trip was the best way to see Europe and gave you a taste of the culture there. Some countries I would have liked to see for more than 3 days but you can always go back yourself and explore later on. Although I got really sick with the Contiki cough and then bronchitis later on, I made the most of it. Everybody got sick and you just battle through it because you are in Europe of course! The best part about Contiki for me was meeting a bunch of random people who ended up sharing the same interests and humour as me. I would push people to get out there and introduce yourself to as many people as you can early on, especially if you are travelling solo. Don't stay in cliques and go and float between groups of people, that way you can say you made 50 friends! I would highly recommend going on this particular tour which is 18 days. Also, sign up to ALL the Me Time activities, they are brilliant and not that expensive. Say YES to everything and don't come back with regrets. Go for it!! :)
Traveled with my husband and in laws. I've done the Hotels only trips before with Contiki so I wasn't totally sure what to expect with the contiki stop overs and cabins. I can say that everything was adequate for the price. The cabins were fine for sleeping in and getting ready even if some of the showers were questionable. Some of the camp grounds were pretty rustic but all had a fun bar area with cheap drinks. All of the optional parties at the camp grounds and stop overs are so fun, just go with it and get into the spirit. There was no air conditioning at the cabins or stop over Chateau so the only thing I would recommend is to go during the months that are not as hot as August because it was super warm. Other than that everything was fine. The hotels and hostels were adequate as well and my guide always made sure to put me with my chosen bunk mates. Make sure you pack bed bug spray and regular bug spray for you body just to be safe. This can be an issue with any accomodation in Europe...especially budget ones. We sprayed all our mattresses and our cabins and didn't really have an issue. Do your research and be prepared! Sometimes things change so be flexible as well...this isn't a tour for rigid people who can't go with the flow. They do adhere to the weight limit for your bags so be aware of that. If you are looking for a relaxing trip this isn't the one for you. This trip is designed to give you a taste of each place so you won't be able to explore until your heart's content. You have to adhere to times of when to leave and such. We saw SO much in a short amount of time but be aware this comes with late nights and early mornings. You WILL have some long days on the coach but you'll likely spend them sleeping so I didn't have a problem with it. You will definitely have a lack of sleep on this trip but it is all worth it. All of the optionals were worth it in my opinion, especially the group dinners. If you want to skip one I'd say you can not do the bike ride or water bikes in Amsterdam but it was okay. Breakfasts are okay (typical European breakfasts) and I thought most the dinners were good. Our Tour Guide and Driver, Marine and Luce were absolutely awesome and really made the trip enjoyable for us all. Knowledgeable and fun, we couldn't have done it without them. I miss them actually! Overall, this was a great trip for what we saw for the price and we met a lot of new friends. I wish I was back on this trip now. If you can handle the fast pace and want to see alot, DO IT. Travel now while you can and make it happen.
The optionals were amazing! The view from zip lining was breathtaking and absolutely incredible! All the lakes we visited and saw were beautiful and stunning. The Pyramid lake and lake Patricia were surprises for us, and in all honestly, no picture could do those lakes justice. Jaw dropping! The Rockies too! Definitely plan on returning in the winter to hit those slopes, but those mountains, gorgeous! All the accommodations we good and comfortable. The crew, tour manager Alex and bus driver Steve, were wonderful! Super fun and full of passion for their jobs. I would recommend this trip to everyone and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat! Definitely exceeded my expectations!!