Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
I had never done a contiki before and honestly it changed my life. This tour I think blows all the others away you get all of Europe that you want to see for the sights and also get 3 nights in Greece which are the best chilled out 3 days to just relax and have a beer/cocktail. It was great having 2 days in most countries didn't feel rushed to do and see things. This tour was a great mix of sightseeing and partying all rolled into one. You meet the most amazing people and new friends. I highly recommend this tour well worth every cent. I loved every second of my tour European contrasts 2012 cheeky monkeys for life and best tour manager Kat and best bus driver Raf can't forgot those cheeky monkeys too.
The whole trip was great! I'd definitely do it all over again. It was relaxed and we got a great feel of the cities. My 3 stars goes towards the tour manager, not the actual tour. He was a great guy but majority of the people on our tour had not been overseas before and we felt like our tour manager could have helped out a bit more in that sense.
(4 star). This tour is great for big cities on the eastern side of North America (Washington DC, Toronto, Montreal, Boston), and obviously everyone spends time in New York separate to the tour. There is necessarily a lot of American (and some Canadian) history covered on this tour and our guide, Ryan was very knowledgable in this regard. Included are a couple of special day stops at Arlington National Cemetry (the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a sombre moving experience for me) and Gettysburg (American Civil War battlefield). The nightlife was a bit lacking especially in the early part of the tour but this is dependent on the places I guess. Toronto and Montreal were the best in terms of nightlife. The three hour Montreal bike tour optional was really worthwhile being a fun and efficient way to see the sights with a guide. You also get to keep your bicycle for the rest of the day and cycling the F1 Grand Prix track was one of my personal tour highlights. The group of 44 consisted of mostly Aussies with a good spread of ages.
I looked up all the hotels that Contiki booked before this trip and found that they all had one and two star reviews on Hotels.com and other review sites, this should have been a red flag for this trip. Everywhere we went the accommodations were very bad, the staff and the locals were very rude, everything was designed as a sales pitch. Honestly, many of the activities of this trip felt like timeshare weekend, they are really showing you the wine, or the leather, the glass blowing, etc. because they want you to buy it. I guess that's not really a bad thing, if these activities would have been a good experience. The problem is that the staff and the locals everywhere we went were very obvious with their disdain for us, whether that is due to the fact that we were foreigners or with Contiki I am not sure. The accommodations were all terrible, the staff resented us, no air conditioning, no internet, broken bathrooms, no amenities.. basically many hostels are better. On the first night the tour guide took us on a crowded bus in Rome, in which I did not want to go on, where I was subsequently pickpocketed, which crippled my finances for the rest of the trip. There was not proper warning given for the pickpocketing on the buses in Rome, something I would expect a tour guide to be aware of. It also takes some of the enjoyment away from seeing the sites, as the thieves frequent all those locations and you have to look out for them as much as looking at the sites. It should be known that pace of this trip is very grueling, expect little sleep as the night activities can go late and every morning there is a wake up call at 6 am to start the days activities. In my case this led to a fever and chills on the 5th day, as my "Contiki cough" was strengthened by my lack of sleep. This also complicated things as I had limited capability to get medicine or change the trip due to being pickpocketed. The bright spots of the trip was people I met and traveled with on Contiki, who were very nice and interesting, and the bus driver, who was really good.
I went on Aegean Classic in September 2011. This was my second Contiki Tour (European Magic, 2006 was my first) and I would have to say compared to my previous tour this one seemed a little harder to meet and bond with folks as you are on a larger cruise ship as opposed to a coach bus, so it will take a little more effort to make friends especially if you are travelling alone. I was not, but this is what I observed. This review was written mainly about the cruise and the activities while on board and on land. Anyway, here is my review. Enjoy!
Pre-night Athens - the dinner in Athens the night before was a good time and the only time you will get to meet as a full Contiki group (outside of meetings). I would recommend making an effort to attend this if you can.
I went on the Louis Majesty cruise to Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Patmos and Kusadasi Turkey from September 5-September 8th 2011 with a friend of mine. This was actually my very first cruise and I was impressed with the fact that it was international and I had a good time.
Embarking – You will need to turn in your passport for a passport receipt and boarding card which will then serve as your identification and you will need to use it to embark and disembark at the remaining ports.
Food – The food on the cruise is pretty decent. We dined at the Four Seasons, Café Royale and mainly and at the top of the deck. The desserts are a little subpar in the dining rooms, and the food is usually culturally aligned by night (greek, Italian, etc).
Bar- everyday there is a cocktail of the day for about 4 or 5 euros so I would recommend taking advantage of that. The cocktails were pretty good! In addition to the drink of the day, they also had happy hour specials (2 for 1) that I took advantage of. So combined with the drink of the day, happy hours and the option to purchase liquor at the cruise ship store, I did not see a value in the all you can drink option.
All you can drink purchaes plans – I did not take advantage of this special and I consider myself an avid drinker. The bottles of liquor on the ship are actually VERY well priced considering the convenience, so I took advantage of this and had a mini-bar in the room. They will not let you bring your own drinks in the disco but otherwise, I didn’t have a problem walking around with my own drinks. You will have plenty of opportunities to purchase the all you can drink option in the first couple of days while on the ship, so I would recommend waiting it out the first day to gauge your drinking level. Also, everyone in a cabin must sign up for the all you can drink package so make sure to confer with your partner first. You are not allowed to purchase by day and from whatever day you begin your cabin will have the feature from the day you leave. Does not include premium liquor, however you can purchase a premium liquor upgrade. You can also purchase a non-alcoholic all inclusive drinks package that includes soft drinks, fruit juices, coffees and teas, non-alcoholic cocktails, alcoholic free beer and mineral and sparkling water by the bottle.
Prices: Non-Alcoholic Package: 3 days – 44.85; 4-days – 59.80 Alcoholic Package: 3 days – 83.85 4-days -111.80 (euros). The drinks unlimited package averages about 27.95 per day and the non-alcoholic about 14.95 per day. ALL PRICES IN EUROS. If you wait to purchase on the second day, the prices will be reduced by about 15% of the prices stated above.
Ship Activities – I did not participate in any activities (except karaoke at the disco) but I wish I had. They had greek language lessons, salsa lessons, arts and crafts, bingo, yoga, trivia, casino, etc.
Islands – Crete was the most disappointing and Mykonos was the best, wish we had a longer time her. Once in Mykonos, you have to try the crepes, they are AMAZING! The best I have ever had. Patmos and Santorini are beautiful. A lot of biblical history in Patmos which made it very exciting.
Kusadasi – I recommend trying the Turkish apple tea. Very good. While shopping, bargain, bargain bargain! They also accept US dollars at the shops here, so I would recommend using those if possible. Of course you can’t go to turkey without browsing the fine carpets and rugs! There are plenty of shops in this area. I went on the Ephesus and House of Virgin Mary tour. It was a great tour, however, make sure to bring a hat as the sun is very strong and you are in open area for a couple of hours with no shade.
Internet – Very expensive! I would recommend leaving your electronics at home. 20 euros for one hour on board the ship.
Cash – Excursions are paid with cash on board the ship. Each island has an ATM, so I would recommend getting cash once you arrive on the island.
Patmos – In Patmos, we did the Scenic Island Tour, however, if I could change it up, I would select the Monastery of St. John tour instead. The Scenic Island Tour was ok and a majority of it was going around Patmos via coach bus.
Shopping – DO NOT SHOP UNTIL YOU GET TO RHODES! I was very disappointed in myself for accumulating so many souvenirs before I got here! The best island for shopping in my opinion. Pretty good variety and unique souvenirs.
Settling your Onboard account – I chose to settle my account with cash which worked great. The lines were surprisingly short and the transaction went quickly. If you choose to settle with a card, you will need to have a credit card on file and they will give you the bill before arrival in Athens. Once your account has been settled, you will need to pay cash from then on because they will not take credit on the last day.
Disembarking – There will be an announcement to pick up your passport before arrival into Athens. You will need to leave your suitcase outside of your door the last night on the ship so it can be picked up by staff. I made sure to purchase locks on my suitcase prior to leaving it out. Since we traveled in a group, our group leader brought colored ribbons so we could all identify our bags more quickly as a group. Pack an overnight bag with essentials and use this for the last night.
CABINS - Cabins are pretty small. We had a view of the ocean in our cabin and I couldn't imagine being totally enclosed. It was nice to look out of the window to get a sense of the weather when disembarking. However, housekeeping did a good job and always left the room spotless.
SHIP TOILETS: It is recommended in Greece not to flush toilet paper down the toilet, due to the fact that the drainage system is very narrow. You will see a mini trash in your room and this is for disposal of toilet paper, rather than putting it down the toilet. Interesting...
Excursions – If you book an excursion at a specific port, you will have to disembark usually very early. Passengers with excursion tickets are usually the first to disembark at each port by group. You will need to decide and pay for the tours by 4 p.m. the day of arrival on ship. Your contiki tour manager will provide more details regarding the excursions.
Athens – Avoid the Athens City Tour that will be presented as an excursion once you arrive back in Athens. This is a waste of money and you can easily get a good view of Athens from the double decker bus tours for half the price. If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Athens pre or post days, try the Plaka Hotel, great views of the Parthenon and reasonably priced! Great shoping on Ermou street and Monastraiki
This tour is honestly the most perfect way to explore Italy. It was so in depth and I left Italy feeling like I had properly explored the country and really got to experience the culture.
The day trip out to Capri from Sorrento is just incredible, one of my favourite places. I highly recommend doing the optional boat trip around the island. Jumping off the cute wooden boat into the gorgeous ocean was an awesome experience. Sorrento is so cool as well, explore the smaller side streets for local products and buy some limencello! The coastal towns of Cinque Terre are amazing as well.
The nightlife in Florence is incredible! The hotel was super close by as well so take advantage of this and have a crazy night out! Venice was just breathtaking and so surreal. Definitely go on the gondola ride for a true Venitian experience. Of course Rome was fascinating, its literally a walking muesum. You will enjoy every moment in this city. Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain to increase your chances of returning to Italy!
The food is simply delicious too! Pizza from the Naples region is the best as they are famous for their tomatoes, so so yum.
Matt and Cornelius were the best crew anyone could ask for, so informative, cheeky and so much fun! Lots of Aussies on my tour and we all got along so well and had a blast.
This was the perfect Italian experience that I'll never forget!
I can say without a doubt that this was the best two weeks of my life. This tour has so many things to offer, from rich incredible history, amazing unique experiences, visiting fascinating places and amazing nightlife and parties every night! It is truly the perfect mix of culture and fun.
The accommodation was really nice and usually reasonably close to the city squares, especially in Krakow (really great underground cave bar there, check it out!) Budapest, Prague and Krakow were my favourite cities. This tour had so much partying and something exciting happening every night which was the best for adventurous people like me.The pub crawl is Prague was INSANE. I don't actually remember most of that night except it was so much fun! The nightlife in Eastern Europe is crazy so get amongst it!
Going to Auschwitz Concentration Camp was a once in a lifetime opportunity and was truly eye-opening, I'll never forget it. You will learn so much history about the Berlin Wall and World War II which is still so evident in all the cities. Learning so much was a true highlight of this tour for me. The cuisine was so delicious (especially Hungarian goulash) and the optional dinners were the best experiences to have a great night with your contiki mates and try new dishes.
Petula and Angela were our brilliant tour guides, easy going, so much fun and energetic, and full of knowledge. I had the best time with a great group of people from a variety of ages and cultural backgrounds.
I would definitely recommend this tour because it is the perfect way to discover Eastern Europe. I wouldn't change a thing!
Grand Northern was AMAZING! The hotels we stayed at were good, most of the optionals were great. Our tour mates were killer and I would totally reccomend it! Its a good party / sight seeing ratio.
We have got the best photos and even better memories ;)
Amazing place & amazing people! Did all the optionals and they were so worth it! If I could do it again the only thing I would change is I would spend a few extra days on Ios at the end :)
Definitely not for the casual traveler. This tour is almost a country a day. Expect to spend a lot of time traveling on the bus. And plan to do most of your sleeping on the bus because we went out and got smashed just about every single night. It's a lot of fun, definitely had the time of my life, but don't expect a particularly in-depth look at most of the places you visit. You get some extra time in Venice and Paris, but Munich and Innsbruck go by in a flash. You probably won't remember Amsterdam, but that's OK! You'll know you had fun anyway ;)
I always wondered if these reviews are from real people. But this one definitely is. Hi. I'm Jessica, and I live in Chicago. I was totally nervous about going solo on this tour...and, at first, it's intimidating. It's like going on 51 blind dates. But these people become your family. FAST. The Tour Managers (we had Amy, who is excellent) and your drivers (we had Ricky -- again, AMAZING) are in your age bracket and are wildly knowledgeable, AND are not afraid to knock some beers back and dance on tables with you.
This trip is absolutely what you make of it. Commit to learning everyone's name. Stay out late. Let Venice take your breath away. See Paris from the Eiffel Tower at night. Save more money than you think you need and pack less clothes. Make room for souvenirs.
I am absolutely happy to talk to anyone about this trip -- any excursion in any city. What to do, what to skip. Give you my packing list (of things I brought and things I wish I had.) Just message me with any questions -- no matter how weird you think they are. All you need to know now is that you totally made the right choice to do this tour. The rest will fall in place.
I loved this tour, wish i had more funds to extend it to the "Grand Northern" i didn't want to leabe. Enjoyed EVERY MINUTE of the tour!!!!!!!!
Look out for the day you start you tour on... We started this tour on a Monday 16th July and missed out on the Rodea in Texas, College night life in Tallahassee (missed by 1-2 nights) Other than that the tour was amazing. People i meet were awesome!
I went on this tour in August 2012. It was the best time ever, made tons of friends and I am still sorting through pictures.
You have to know that if you can, book more time before and after in the cities you are visiting. There is not enough time to see everything. But this is a great tour to get to see and experience the basics and then you can plan where and when to come back.
I booked the London Explorer before, so I ended up with 5 days in London, which was great and gave me plenty of time to do a lot. Paris was the only disapointment, as if you do the optionals (which are so worth it, Moulin Rouge and the Bike Tour which was THE favoritest moment on the tour) you are running a bit short on time, especially with the included Palace de Versailles visit.
I picked the + Rome option, so I feel like I did not have enough time in Paris, but for a first time, I did get to see a lot. I also booked an extra night in Rome, which allowed me to get off the touristy path and take a morning off to a beach outside the city. Totally worth it!!!
Contikis are fast paced but well organized and you do experience travelling in a completely different way, but its so worth it. Yes, the hotels aren't always the best and the included food sometimes is just ordinary, but those are just minor details in exchange for all the breathtaking moments Contiki will give you a chance to experience!!!
This is not a trip of its own, its an adition, before or after, to another longer Contiki.
This was a great idea. Granted, you can pretty much book the same on your own, but then, you will miss on all the little "Contiki" details that just made those few days an even greater experience for me. (A girl from my trip booked the same hotel on her own for the same nights, and Breakfeast wasn't included for her.)
With Contiki, you get the included breakfeast, maps, the Hop-on Hop-Off bus ticket (Which is absolutely worth it!!!) many coupons and my ultimate favorite, a choice for a West-End musical. (I highly recommend that booking your musical is one of the first thing you do, as the choices aren't as many as I thought and do not play every night, so plan early, I saw the Wizard of Oz and it was magical!!!!)
I chose to stay at the Imperial Hotel, that's where my tour was based as well, and the staff was very friendly and helpful, the rooms clean and the breakfast was good as well!
This was my first Contiki. I went in September 2011, first time overseas. It was dream come true.
The 4 days of the Spotlight on Greece were absolutely magical. Very fast paced, you're up early and you cover a lot of ground, but its worth it, if you want to see it all. You do spend some time on the bus, but you make so many stops and then you get to enjoy the sceneries and your new friends, time flies by.
As for the cruise, unfortunately, I wasn't aware thats where the group broke up. There were different options. But as for the cruise itself, it was great. The food, installation and entertainment were awesome.
I was a bit disapointed in the TM and the whole "Contiki" experience, as you were pretty much set loose on your own once aboard. Except for the official excursions on the Islands, there wasn't anything organized as a group. But no matter, it was still a lifetime experience, its Greece after all, who can say they had a bad time there? I have been on another Contiki since and plan on many more, I just think thta maybe cruises can be booked on their own, not necessarily through contiki.
This trip had it all; relaxation, sightseeing, nightlife, and free time. If you were to take the best of the Caribbean, Europe, and the Mediterranean, mix them together, you get Croatia. This is a great tour to travel alone or with someone. You meet plenty of people, see loads of beautiful places, swim in crystalline waters and eat amazing foods. Although it wasn't my first travel experience, it was my first with Contiki and I was blown away with the quality and caliber of travel experience. Do not hesitate in booking this trip! You will not be disappointed. If you do this trip, plan to bring cash, it's a lot easier than dealing with credit cards because most places didn't accept them.
This was the first time my wife and I have ever done a tour with Contiki, and we were actually very pleased. We thought we'd be the only couple on the trip, but were surprised to find atleast 4 or 5 other married couples on this trip!
Our tour guide pretty much showed us around all the highlights of London & Paris that we wanted to see, and explained how to get around. We had plenty of free time for ourselves to see what we wanted to see. Public transportation was a bit difficult, but we figured it out once we took it a few times. We were exhausted from walking so much but it was worth it!
I recommend all of the optional tours and activities which were very exciting, EXCEPT for one optional activity in Paris, which was the Moulin Rouge! Worst show EVER and nowhere near worth the 140 Euro p/ person. Other than that, I'm already planning on the next trip for next year with Contiki!
this trip was so unbelievably awesome, from the people on the tour, the tour manager, the weather, views, amount of time spent in each place, hotels and the nightlife and food and beaches. everything was better then i could have imagined. i would do this tour again in a heartbeat. already planning my next contiki!
In 18 days we visited 10 countries. I have never been so exhausted and so broke, but it was worth every minute and penny spent. Both our tour manager and our driver were one of kind guys and were a bonus to the experience and the friends I made are friends for life. Not to mention, the sites, the food and the stories I've written have changed my perspective on life. I will never forget this trip and I highly recommend anyone wanting to experience the world and to have a little fun sign up for summer 2013! You won't regret it.
The optionals Contiki offers are wonderful and I suggest, to get the full (and best) experience, you sign up for all of them. Even tackle the ones you're scared of, like I did. Now, I cant wait to go paragliding again! In each country, try the quisine they're known for - you may not like it, but "tick the box" ;) Utilize your crew and dont be afraid to ask them so research something you're interested in seeing/doing that isnt on the itinerary; theyll do anything to make your trip the best you've ever had. The accomodation on the trip isnt always the nicest, but it's comfortable and who really cares? Trust me, you'll onlly be in the room to sleep.
Be prepared for long rides on the bus, but that's to be expected and the drives are always worth what you step into on the other end.
Take this trip!!! You will absolutely love and you'll come home with memories you wouldn't trade for the world.