Yo yo what is up!
I’m so excited to share with you my Contiki Tour review today!
I’ve been on 3 Contiki tours over the past few years, and they were all in Europe. I know when I went on my first Contiki Tour, I had so many questions about everything and I was so curious about how the trip was going to be and if I was making the right choice. I was spending a hell of a lot of money and I was excited and scared, and I really needed to make sure I was making a good decision to book a Contiki Tour.
When I was doing my travel research, there really wasn’t that many reviews for Contiki online, besides the ones on the Contiki website – and most of them were great – but I didn’t know how authentic they were.
There still isn’t a lot of Contiki reviews on the internet, so I wanted to help people out who are looking to book a Contiki trip, or have already booked and are just looking for some perspective of what to expect!
My Contiki Trips
The Contiki Tours I went on were:
- European Adventurer – 39 days all over Western Europe (it was epic)
- Greek Island Hopping – 13 days on Greece’s popular party islands
- Berlin To Budapest – 11 days “best of Central Europe”
So I’ve had about 63 days total Contiki experience – if you want to call it that. I want to share my thoughts and opinions about everything and hopefully it will give you some perspective about picking the right tour for you, if you should even choose Contiki, or give you an idea of what to expect on your trip if you’ve already booked!
Also, I’ve only been to Europe, so my Contiki review will be based on my experience in Europe with them.
How Contiki Tours Work
Contiki is a fully guided bus tour that takes you around Europe. The main way you get around is on a coach. The coach is your home on the road basically, and you’ll be spending a lot of time on it. If you choose a High Energy Contiki Tour, expect to be on a coach a lot. High Energy tours tend to cover a lot of ground, and you only get 2 days, sometimes 3 in most cities.
High Energy Tours
The European Adventurer is a high energy tour. It had of a lot of late late nights drinking and socializing at our accommodation, or being out out late in town. Every couple days or so, we almost always had to wake up early in the morning (like 7-9 a.m.) so we could drive to the next destination and get there at a reasonable time.
During the drive, people usually sleep for another few hours until the first stop, which could be a food/bathroom break, or an actual sight seeing thing along the way. Either way, we were usually never on the bus for more than a few hours at a time no matter how long the actual distance was from a city to the next.
5-6 hours on the coach during transit days were pretty common, but there were a few true “bus days” where time in transit was up to 8-9 hours. Basically, we woke up early and got to the next destination in the evening.
So what did we do on the bus? Well this depends on your tour manager (the person who guides the tour). He/She could play bus games and/or give you history of the city you’re about to arrive in or things you are passing by. Your tour manager really matters a lot, because they can turn your trip from “good” to “the best thing you’ve ever done”. Just hope you get a good one – it’s all you can do! A lot of our time on the bus was spent catching up on sleep and socializing with the people around us though.
I’d choose a high energy tour if you want to party a lot, drink, go out and do fun stuff, and just really enjoy the social life. I feel this type of tour attracts these people the most. There were many people who didn’t go out every night and were more low key and quiet who also had an amazing time on this type of tour so just because it’s “high energy” it doesn’t mean you need to be!
I think the average age on my tour was probably in the very low 20’s. We definitely had a young group. Of all the tour types, this one was my favorite. I had the most fun on this Contiki and it’s something I want to do again some day.
In-Depth Contiki Tours
The Berlin to Budapest that I went on is an in-depth tour. These tours spend anywhere from 2-4 days per city typically. You get roughly an extra day in each city when compared to a high energy tour.
These tours are good if you want to experience more “city” and do more of the tourist stuff. The bus days tend to be shorter too. For the Berlin to Budapest tour, 5 hours was our longest bus ride – which meant more time to explore and less time on a bus!
I found this type of tour attracted different types of people. The people seemed a little bit older and tend to have more professional backgrounds. I’d say the average age was probably around 27. There were way less partiers compared to my European Adventurer tour. There weren’t too many crazy nights either.
But we did go out a lot as a group and we still had some messy nights and regretful mornings. I got a chance to really experience a city more and I never felt rushed, since we had a few days in each city and I felt I had enough time to do all the things I really wanted to do.
Easy Pace Tours
My Greek Island Hopping tour is an example of an “easy pace” tour. When Contiki says easy pace, they mean you won’t be traveling around a lot going from place to place. But let me tell you, it has nothing to do with a chilled out tour. If you want to party your face off, then you really need to do a Greek Island Hopper with Contiki! The Greek Islands is one of the best places to party in the world.
I had a lot of fun on this tour too. We spent very little time on coaches/ferries. This tour didn’t require our own coach, we used local vans and coaches to get around Athens and the Greek Islands.
Easy pace tours have tons of free time to wander around and do your own stuff. You get guided around historical places in town too. It’s a nice mix of relaxing and doing things at your own pace. You can chill by the beach all day or drink all day. It’s very flexible. If you want to do this tour and you want to party, go during summer months because there will be more people and parties are better with more people. If you want to experience the Greek Islands with less people, go during the shoulder season (early spring and late fall).
Prices on Contiki
Though Contiki is a budget tour, I wouldn’t say it’s cheap. I feel you get enough value for what you pay for in terms of the overall trip amenities (your guide/driver, coach, accommodations, included free food, etc). I’ve done other guided tours that were cheaper than Contiki so that’s what I’m basing it off of.
The optional extras are generally overpriced. I think this is where Contiki makes a lot of their money. The majority of people end up doing most of the optionals (this was the case for all 3 of my Contiki’s), So I recommend budgeting for all of the optionals. You pay for them up front at the beginning of your tour. If you change your mind later you can get a refund – just talk to your tour manager.
I believe the Contiki tour managers receive commissions when they sell optional activities. The more they sell the more they will make. Some try and sell it for sure and some don’t. It’s hard to know if it’s actually going to be good or not. What I recommend is to just do all of them, even if they are overpriced.
You’re not in Europe every day. Good or bad, it’s still an experience you had abroad and you can take home stories about it. Not everything will be amazing, and you won’t get your moneys worth for everything, but that’s kinda how life goes! I think doing new stuff in a new country with new friends is amazing by itself – even if the actual thing you’re doing didn’t live up to expectation.
Overall though, I felt most optionals I did with Contiki were fun and enjoyable! Now, the price for some of them… a little bit high…. but hey… they’re a business at the end of the day.
The People On Contiki Tours
As I said earlier, the people you end up being on a tour with will probably differ depending on the type of tour you choose.
Regardless though, when you’re in a group of 50 people, you’ll find others “like you” no matter what. You’ll figure out who likes to do the same stuff you do and make friends with them.
What usually ends up happening is that you create your own group of friends and then end up spending most of your time with them. Like you’ll explore a city together and probably eat together at dinners too. And during night time or any group activities, everyone just meshes and mingles with everyone else. But you’re little “core” friends are the people you’ll end up getting real tight with. I still talk to a lot of people I met on my Contiki’s.
The Food On Contiki Tours
Overall, I would say the food is good. I’m not a picky eater and I don’t have any allergies or a lot of foods I don’t like eating. I’m really easy going with food.
For breakfast, typical foods are breads, juices, coffee, bacon and cheese.
Lunch usually isn’t included on any tour I’ve been on.
Dinner foods vary widely. It kinda depends on what city you are exploring too. In central European places like Berlin or Prague, we ate a lot of meat and potato type dishes. They were okay (it was a little boring). In Rome, we had pastas and pizzas. In Greece, we had chicken, Greek salads and fish.
But again, overall, I thought it was pretty good and fair for the price I paid for my trips.
Overall Structure Of Contiki Tours
Contiki basically takes care of everything for you. It’s one of the most “complete” tours you can take.
Everything is organized. Your accommodations, transportation, food, sights you get to see, clubs/bars you’ll go to, etc. Your entire itinerary is planned for you.
There are days where you get to explore a city at your own pace. They call it “me time” or something like that. And lunches and some dinners will require you to pay for your own food. Other than these things, everything is scheduled for you. You need to wake up at a certain time and have your bags to coach by a certain time. You’ll need to meet back at the meet up point when doing your own exploration at a certain time. The coach will come pick you up at a disco/bar at a certain time and you can get a ride back to your accommodation or find your own way back later if you want to stay.
Every day is broken down with a schedule. You’ll be able to plan what you want to do with your free time and know what to expect for the next day or so.
You also have the choice of completely leaving your tour and doing something on your own. Some people have done this, like when they have a friend in town or they’ve done that thing before already and want to do something else. Just let your tour manager know and he/she will tell you where to meet back up later.
I recommend Contiki if you suck at planning or don’t know how to travel or have never travelled before.
Another benefit is that you get to explore new cities and create experiences with similar people. I think that’s one of the funnest things about traveling. It’s more about the people you meet and the memories you guys create together rather than seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa and adding another photo to Instagram.
Overall, I enjoyed most of my experiences with Contiki. Your experience with Contiki WILL widely differ based on the trip you take and the people who are on the trip. My European Adventurer Tour was better than the other two Contiki’s I did combined. The people were better and things we did were better. So take time to choose an itinerary that suits your personality the best. You’ll likely meet more people who have similar travel tastes too.
I think Contiki is a great way to see the world and meet people you’d want to keep in touch with well beyond your tour. It’s a bit cliche, but YOLO! get out of your city and do new stuff. Whether it’s with Contiki or not, you WILL NOT regret traveling while you’re young and free. You won’t get this time back. Just get out there and make memories – good or bad ones – who cares, they will all be meaningful in some way, and the amount you will grow and mature will be astronomical compared to spending another summer at home.
I hope you enjoyed this Contiki Tour review!
Do you have any questions about Contiki? Hit me up in the comments below!