Europe with Contiki - 19 days of everything and more!

Well where do I even start! Contiki has lived up to my expectations in every way possible! I had heard they were full on and it brings out the free spirited side of you but I don’t think I quite understood to what extent!

As a young person you always hear people talking about Contiki and how it’s pretty much a party holiday. Most people want to experience one as they are intrigued to see what these Contiki holidays are all about, myself being one of those people. Well I can now say I would have to agree with them, it is definitely a party holiday. I was travelling by myself and I had not been to any of the countries I was going to nor I had travelled on a holiday like this by myself. I was traveling across Europe covering 11 countries in 19 days experiencing the local things as well as the activities/attractions these places are famous for.

Contiki is a very well known tour company that offer organised holidays around the world for people aged 18 – 35 years. They offer many trips depending on what your wanting to see and what countries you would like to visit in your time there. They are very safe and well organised tours with no stress attached for young people like myself. I also know for my parents this was a tour where they know they could sleep at night knowing I was some what safe. J

The most important thing I have learnt about these trips is that they are for someone looking for a stress-free and safe holiday. Your accommodation is organised, your food most nights/mornings are catered for which makes life that bit easier (also, money wise). Every time you entered a new country you would get a country introduction of what to do, history, famous people in that area, things to watch out for etc. Your guide will also give you handouts on the language, maps, train maps etc. You will also get a guide every morning on the bus as to what the plan is for the day and the next day so you know what is going on day to day. I honestly can’t tell you enough how amazing these guides are! They give you wee tips at each place such as where the best restaurants are or the cheapest bar for drinks. These kinds of personal recommendations you can’t put a price on.  

Your mode of transport is a coach kitted out with everything you will need. Your seats have USB ports to be able charge your phone and for the people that can’t live without the internet the bus does have WIFI. You get 120mb free and after that you have to pay but still quite reasonable. The bus also has an on-board toilet for those long drives, however you do have service stops. Very nice coaches.

We were lucky enough to have only 29 people in our group rather than 54. This makes a huge difference as you get to know everyone so much quicker and by the end of 3 weeks you’re like one big family. This was also helpful as on the days where a sleep was needed as you had room to spread out! No matter how many people are on your tour, if everyone is willing to make the most of everything you will have the time of your life. Once you have gotten over those nerve racking first few days, remember everyone is in the same boat as you, you become more relaxed and ready to tackle anything that comes your way. They have what’s called optional add ons. These are activities/attractions/themed dinners that are at an extra cost but are not compulsory! This can be quite expensive if you have not pre- planned or seen what these are before you depart on your trip. Of course, there were activities and themed dinners I could choose to do but I wasn’t sure I would do them all, until I realised most people were doing all of them. I then thought well I’m on here to experience new things so I might as well make the most of it. I can wholeheartedly say that was the best decision of the whole trip because the things you didn’t think you would enjoy were usually the ones I enjoyed the most. I would highly recommend doing all the add ons! They also are great for making the most of your time in these countries.

 A normal day in the life of a Contiki member goes as follows …

  • Go for breakfast (which is a buffet) you usually have 45 minutes to enjoy.

  • They will then request you be on the coach by a certain time with your suitcase.

  • You will then begin your day with your wake up song (mine was Paradise by George Ezra) This gets everyone pumped for the day.

  • You may be having a long travelling day or you may have a short drive to your next destination.

  • At night you will have a dinner at the hotel already prepared, sort yourself night where you go to town and get your own tea or a themed dinner. The themed dinners were always an enjoyable night. You would usually have dinner around 8pm. Once dinner is finished they will always ask if there is anyone wanting to go out clubbing or to a bar. As you can imagine most people jumped on this. You have massive days as you can start your day at 7.00am and not see your bed until 2.00am.

  • You would think by day 10 I was struggling but I surprisingly wasn’t as neither was anyone else.

I do have to say I really think Contiki is best suited to young people that are open minded, willing to have a laugh at themselves and most importantly want to have a really good time. Do be aware on these trips, or at least on mine, there is a lot of drinking and staying out partying so if you are not into that you may struggle slightly. Specially because most of the stories and the most enjoyable nights were when the majority of us went out! These are also not your normal clubbing nights especially from my little town where I have one pub that is open till 1am and then everyone has to go home. This was an eye opener for me! From drinking panthers milk (Yes real milk from a panther in Barcelona) to getting 5 litre buckets of sangria you could say you really drink in style. You also have the chance to go to the hottest night club in Barcelona which you can only imagine how amazing that was but then you also can go to little pubs in quiet little towns where they have a pub that after 10.00pm everyone must stand on their table. Even the waitress delivers your drinks by walking down your table! This is a must!

My trip visited some amazing countries and cities. My favourites would have to be Switzerland for the scenery and Spain especially Madrid – as this was more filled with locals rather then tourists and just had an amazing vibe about it.

As much as I could sit here and tell you all about the places I visited and everything I saw and did I would have to write a book! You fit so much into a day and when I look back I can’t believe everything I managed to do in my time. However, as much as the destinations were great, it was more the experience/people that made this trip! I went on this trip to see the different places but also to experience this party life I had heard of as well as meeting friends that I will have for a life time.

All in all I would highly recommend Contiki and I can truly say I have came home having no regrets!