Europe is a treasure chest of discovery, from its lively cities with their fascinating histories, stunning and diverse scenery and the smorgasbord of delicious cuisines. Touring Europe used to be regarded as a rite of passage, and we can see why.
Taking a trip here is certainly something you’ll remember for the rest of your life and you can make it even more memorable by going on a trip with Contiki, a company’s whose sole original purpose was to see Europe as part of a gang.
Although it’s grown worldwide since that first minibus trip in 1962, it holds on to that youthful, carefree spirit and Europe is still its “spiritual home”.
So why are we such fans?
To put it simply: it’s just so much fun. And that’s what travel should be – fun. It’s not about walking around historical sites (although if that’s what floats your boat, do it!), it’s also about meeting people, making friends, having wild nights out and enjoying being young and experiencing new places.
It helps that it’s pretty wallet-friendly as well, and takes all the stress out of planning a long trip. It’s exclusively 18 to 35-year-olds so you know you’re going to meet people who are on the same page as you, who are keen on adventure and making memories.
So what are our favorite Contiki Europe itineraries?
Called the ‘ultimate’ tour for a reason, trips to Europe don’t get any more extra than this. So extra, in fact, that you even head out of the continent to experience the magic and mystery of Egypt.
It’s not one for people who don’t have much time as it takes 45 days. Does it sound like a lot? Well, that’s how long it takes to properly enjoy the 18 countries on this epic Contiki Europe trip. Starting and finishing in London, this itinerary includes all flights and ferries, as well as 69 scrumptious meals.
With so many fantastic things to do and see it’s hard to find highlights. For us, spending three days the City of Love (Paris) was definitely one – this is near the beginning of the trip and wandering the streets of this beautiful city is a great way to start it off. Having a few days of sun, sea, and sand in Corfu in the middle was also pretty idyllic.
Another high point has to be Egypt, of course. There’s a reason this country has captured the imagination of so many travelers with ancient history and the last remaining Ancient Wonder of the World.
Not for the faint-hearted traveler, this is one hell of a tour!
With the perfect mix of city and countryside, this European Highlights tour does just what it says on the tin – takes you on a whirlwind trip around some of the very best places this incredible continent has to offer.
It’s two weeks, so fits into most people’s daily lives a bit better than the Ultimate (although if you’ve got a job where you can take 45 days off, never let it go!) and you’ll still get to see nine countries. The perfect loop starts and finishes in London, hopping through the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain and France, among others.
We loved the time in the Beaujolais wine region (of course there’s wine tasting, we can’t believe you even need to ask!) immediately followed by three glamorous days in the French Riviera, including Monaco. The last full day is spent in Amsterdam and, as you can imagine, things get pretty wild! It’s the last day, so you can make a move on that attractive backpacker you’ve been eying up the whole trip without it being awkward!
You also get to stay in Contiki’s own private chateau – need we say more?
This Contiki Europe tour walks the middle path between the two just discussed – this is the choice for those of you who crave adventure and experience. With a great group and an efficient Trip Manager, the European Trail offers you plenty of both.
In 23 days, just over 3 weeks, you’ll see 14 countries, spanning Europe from West to East, taking in France, Italy, the Czech Republic and Hungary along the way, with once-in-a-lifetime sights and experiences in all.
We loved spending time in the fairy-tale Swiss Alps, heading up to the peak known as the ‘top of Europe’ and drinking in the views. From mountains to rivers, our other highlight is Budapest where you get to spend time exploring independently and choosing whether you focus on the fascinating history, delicious food or just having some beers and watching the world go by.
Delightful choices like this are one of the main reasons we love Contiki Europe so much!
Now, while many of us might have already been to France or Italy, how many of us have spent time in Eastern Europe? If you haven’t discovered this area of the world before, this tour is the best way to do so and you’ll learn an important thing: Eastern Europe knows how to party!
A brisk 8-day tour means you take in 7 countries, spending a good amount of time in Berlin, Prague and Vienna, where you’ll finish. You get to see the lasting impression history has left on these fascinating places while enjoying the modern developments that have been made.
We always love Berlin, now, in the past, in the future; this trip is no exception. Exploring the iconic sights and then the iconic clubs with your tour gang is so much fun. Seeing the gothic architecture in Prague is also fantastic, and there is some great food on offer here, too.
It’s intense, but totally worth it.
By Contiki standards, this is a pretty relaxing tour! Really, how could it not be chill to hop from one magical Greek island to the next, taking your time to explore the villages, beaches, and volcanoes of each one?
It’s a luxurious 13 days here and don’t worry, you’re not just relentlessly moving from place to place. You get 3 nights in Mykonos, Ios, Santorini, and Athens so you can really unwind in each destination and properly discover them.
Santorini, in particular, will take your breath away. Those iconic white houses and purple flowers against a cobalt blue sky are famous for a reason, and being here in person is a pretty magical experience. Make sure you catch all the sunsets (and sunrises, if you’re feeling hard-core – although make sure that’s from staying up all night, not setting an alarm for 5 am!).
It’s also great to get a chance to explore the ancient sites of Athens at the beginning and end of the trip, so you feel like you get some culture too!
From the indulgent Mediterranean to the stripped-back beauty of Scandinavia, this is a very different but equally as memorable Contiki Europe tour. It’s ideal whether you’re into culture, design or cinnamon-flavored snacks.
12 days takes you around 5 countries, giving you lots of time to explore each one. Starting in Berlin and ending in Helsinki, you’ll take in the art, culture, and food of the capital cities, the fjords of Norway and enjoy an overnight cruise from Stockholm to Finland.
As soon as you arrive in Copenhagen you understand why it’s so often voted as one of the most liveable cities in the world – great cafes, hundreds of elegant bicycles (be careful when crossing the road), brilliant galleries and, oh, the food! It’s tough to drag yourself away from here, although the rest of the trip is worth it.
We also love that there’s an opportunity to see the stunning scenery of Norway along the way.
Called the European Whirl because it’s the perfect way to tick off many of the ‘must-see’ destinations, this tour is ideal for you if you never know where to start when it comes to planning. You can relax, knowing you’re not going to miss anything with this whirlwind trip.
10 countries in 18 days helps you take in some of the most iconic cities and locations in Europe. Taking a wide loop from London, out East to Prague, south to Italy and then back through Switzerland and France, this Contiki Europe tour seamlessly mixes cultural discovery with some pretty epic nights out.
The magical floating city of Venice is a definite highlight – a city so beautiful it’s hard to believe it exists – as is exploring the ancient sights of Rome. Bavarian beer culture in Munich also provides an alternative to museums for a day or two.
The United Kingdom might get a bad rap for its weather, but trust us; a trip here is a memorable and fascinating experience. There’s stunning landscapes, super-cool cities and tradition and culture galore.
The question of how many countries you’ll visit is a slightly controversial one, but let’s play it safe and say four – England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. You’ve got 16 days to properly deep-dive into life here, and even that won’t seem like enough!
Our favorite city spot has to be Edinburgh, Scotland’s spectacular and lively capital. In terms of landscape, it’s a face-off between Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and the striking peaks of the Lake District.
Pack a raincoat and let’s get going!
Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big wide world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance, protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN, compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals!
Many budget travelers (including me) indulge in worldwide airport lounge access, so we can experience luxury while still slumming it in economy. Naturally, we would never leave home without a more general travel guide since we couldn’t possibly cover everything here!
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your own path and don't forget to share your best inspiration stories with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...I'd love to hear from you!