Contiki Europe review
Did you know that Contiki was founded by a Kiwi?
Back in 1961 a kiwi guy in London, started up the company because he wanted to travel around Europe, but he didn’t have any money. So he thought he’d con tourists into chipping in for petrol money by advertising himself as a tour guide and taking them where he wanted to go in Europe. Genius.
Now a Contiki Tour through Europe is a rite of passage for many young Kiwis and Australians – and one that I’ve just ticked off my bucket list!
Over 29 action-packed days I visited 13 countries with 49 new friends on the Contiki European Contrasts + Corfu Resort tour, and it was AMAZING!
A few quick points:
- Rome my favourite stop
- A lot of alcohol was consumed
- I spent more money than I anticipated
- Most people on our bus caught the ‘Contiki cough’
- I got lost twice but never left behind
- I ate gelato most days
- I cried on the last day
- It was worth every penny
Now for a more detailed Contiki Europe Review…
I chose the European Contrasts + Corfu Resort tour because I there were so many places I wanted to travel, and I didn’t want to miss out on any of them. I remember even being a little bummed out after I booked this one, because it didn’t include Spain… as if 11 countries wasn’t enough.
Looking back, while it was great to see so many places, 29 days was a LONG time to be travelling around on a bus.
Contiki is super tiring. There’s a lot of sight-seeing, most nights are late ones and so you only have a little bit of time to rest and recharge. After a while, it’s only natural that this catches up with you.
If I was to re-do the tour I’d probably pick one a few days shorter, like this 25 day European Escapade.
I also think that the tour would have been better if we spent 2 nights in most places. It’s hard to see somewhere properly when you arrive one day and leave the next. I could have happily missed out on the Rhine Valley stop altogether, (there’s nothing there) in exchange for an extra night in Munich.
Apart from this, the general itinerary was great!
For most of us, it was our first time in Europe, so stopping in the major cities and seeing all the typical tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Colosseum was really important. We all got the mandatory Leaning Tower of Pisa photo (you know the one), drank beer out of large steins in Germany and ate the brownies in Amsterdam.
Things that all first-time tourists should do!
Accommodation + food:
The accommodation is pretty decent, so long as you don’t mind a good bunk bed.
It’s never in the city centre, but always accessible by public transport (although it could be up to a 45 min ride…) and the Contiki bus often drops you in town anyway.
The food was what you’d expect for ‘free’ included tour meals – nothing amazing, but edible. The vegetarian options were often pretty bad – just fried food/ bread and piles of iceberg lettuce, which they deemed ‘salad’. It pays not to be a fussy eater on these kinds of things.
Our group was made up of 22 Australians, 22 Canadians and 4 Kiwis (including myself). Our tour guide was from South Africa and our bus driver was Eastern European and had a really strong love for Adele, which was borderline creepy.
As a result of our fairly sparse cultural mix, our crew coined the corny nickname ‘CanstraliaNZ’, which we used as a #hashtag to share photos.
The average age would have been about 22, and we were lucky to have a pretty near split of boys to girls (I’ve heard it’s usually about 70-30, in favour of girls). Probably half the bus was single, and the other half were couples, on the tour together.
There were hook-ups, break-ups, secrets shared and tears shed over the course of our trip… as to be expected. But in general most people got along with everyone (apart from that one night, when sh*t got real and one person got sent home… but I won’t go into that, because I’m still not sure how I feel about it).
I made some friends for life.
Overall my European Contiki experience was AMAZING.
I would totally recommend it to other young travellers looking to get their first taste of Europe and cross of this rite of passage before life starts getting too serious!
A great addition to your gap year idea or Big OE!
Have you done a Contiki tour? Which one? What’s your European Contiki review like?