Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Discover Europe with Contiki

Background of Contiki Tours

The Contiki philosophy is simple. Create hassle-free vacations with an unbeatable mix of sightseeing, culture, people your own age & free time. We are the worldwide leader in tours for 18-35’s, operating in over 40 countries around the world.

What are the benefits to expect from Contiki Tours?
1) Experience - 49 years on, the Contiki spirit is stronger than ever. We travel to over 40 countries on 5 continents. We have more fun. We meet more people. And we’re trusted by travellers all over the world.
2) Age group from 18-35 - No one older. No one younger. Travel with us & you’ll meet people your age, make friends from all over the world & share some incredible times together
3) Fantastic crew members -   Your Contiki crew doesn’t just organise your trip, they’re part of it. They’re young, friendly & have done their homework on where you’re going to help you find what you’re after; meaning you’ll enjoy the places you visit even more.
4) Holiday mood and less hassle - Lugging a heavy backpack in the rain? Getting lost? Hanging around wasting time? Not with Contiki! We do the hard work for you, so you can get on with having a good time
5) Free time – All our tours are flexible and give you free time every day. So you’ll have plenty of time to do your own thing. We also give you plenty of great ideas (and prices) with our Explore More optional activities.
6) Must see sights all included - Every tour has Included Highlights included in the price of your tour. Wherever you are, we’ll line up trips to famous monuments, guided walking tours, organised nights out & more. At no extra cost.
7) Fresh food, local food - All Contiki tours include breakfast every day & many dinners. But we don't cover every meal, especially lunches, so you can explore in your free time, meet the locals & try things out on your own
8) Solo traveller - For a small supplement, you can book your own room. Or we can pair you up with another traveller (same sex), for no extra cash.

9) Local know how - Get off the beaten track with our expert local guides, who’ll share their knowledge, so you can discover even more.
Simply Italy Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive Rome
1.        Check-in to your hotel, drop off your stuff and head out into the streets of Italy to get a sneak peek at Rome. Later, get to know your travel buddies and Tour Manager over dinner.

Day 2 – Rome to Sorrento
1.        Head past gritty Naples, home of the pizza, and catch a glimpse of Mt Vesuvius. Then dive into Pompeii’s well-preserved past in an interesting optional excursion to this UNESCO World Heritage site, where our expert Local Guide retraces ancient history
Next up: the knock-out location of Sorrento. Set on sheer slopes, Sorrento doles up sweeping views over the Bay of Naples. You’ll enjoy the vista and an included glass of prosecco (Italian champagne) when you arrive.
Tonight there’s an optional dinner, where you’ll feast on Italy’s most famous culinary offering - the pizza! Try pizza as it was meant to be (with a thin crispy crust, fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella) in a popular local pizzeria and eat Italian style in the heart of town.

Day 3 – Capri

1.        This morning, it’s a boat ride to the main marina of the island of Capri, famous for its stunning caves and surrounding rock formations.
Get out on the water of the Bay of Naples in an optional cruise around Capri in our very own traditional wooden motorboat. See the world-famous Green and White Grottos and choose to get up closer to the world-famous Blue Grotto, with its intense blue glow, on a separate boat ride into the cave.
With plenty of swim stops on the cruise around the island, cool off in the Mediterranean and then use your free time to explore even more of the island. Soak up the views and head off with some friends into the cute, white-washed villages where you can try out the region’s sweet lemon liqueur, limoncello.
If you have time, explore Sorrento’s web of narrow streets or the Villa Communale Park, which has stunning views of Mt Vesuvius

Day 4 – Sorrento to Florence

1.        Wind through the Apennine Mountains and Tuscan countryside to the Renaissance city of Florence.
Before arriving in Florence, we’ll stop off for a wine tasting in the rustic hills of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside, known for its iconic cypress trees and olive oil. In an historic villa, the group will see a working winery, complete with its old cellar and vats. Here you can learn more about the region’s wines as you taste a glass or two of the local wine.
Then, it’s on to breathtaking Florence. The scene-stealing Duomo cathedral rises above the city’s centre, which serves up frescoes, markets and priceless art. After dinner, walk along the River Arno with your Tour Manager, take in the atmosphere and head into the heart of Florence, where you can sit back and relax Tuscan style with a glass of Chianti wine.

Day 5 – Florence

1.        Jump start the day uncovering this open-air museum. Our Local Guide gives you the inside track as the group learns about Florence’s cultural beginnings and explores streets crammed with artworks from masters like Michelangelo. Then take a look into a skillful demonstration of Florentine leather making and understand this region’s traditional art.
With bargains and bustle, the city’s markets are a great place to hang out. Grab a gelato and enjoy this gorgeous city.
Tonight, there’s a choice of a group dinner - an authentic Tuscan feast. Try regional dishes in the pretty Tuscan country setting. Then keep it moving with a night out and get your groove on at Florence’s biggest club.

Day 6 – Florence to La Spezia

1.        This morning, there’s free time in Pisa and some fun photo opps of its most famous monument, the Leaning Tower.
A little further on, we hit the national park and UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cinque Terre, where colourful coastal villages dot 18 kilometres of ragged cliffs and old walled vineyards tumble down the hillside almost to the water’s edge.
It’s a great travelling combination of cruising (if the weather holds) and training along the coast, giving you the chance to take in the unique atmosphere. Watch the locals fishing along the shore, rub shoulders with the rich in famous in Portovenere and check out picture-postcard towns of Riomaggiore and Monterosso.
One of the best things to do in your free time is walking the legendary Via dell’amore (Lover’s lane) for amazing sea views. Or if you want to just chill out and get a slice of the good life, grab a table at a beachfront cafe and try some mouthwatering pesto with locally baked foccacia bread.

Day 7 – La Spezia to Milan

1.        Today the energy levels turn up a notch as we spend a day in Italy’s fashion capital and economic powerhouse, Milan.
Your Tour Manager will show off Milan’s monuments and talk to you about the massive Duomo cathedral, the elegant shopping arcade of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the world-famous La Scala Opera House, where many singing greats have graced the stage.
With a free afternoon, hit the streets of this cool capital and you’ll be rewarded with designer stores and funky little boutiques. Your Tour Manager, who knows Milan’s ins and outs, will be happy to point you in the right direction for the best buys before you flash the plastic.

Note: SHOPPING TIME!!!! It is Milan. Oh yesh, I skipped the tour for Shopping. : )

Day 8 – Milan to Venice

1.        Along the pretty shores of Lake Garda, we drop into the quintessential European lake town of Sirmione, complete with vine-covered villas, Roman ruins and a castle. For amazing views of the surrounding Dolomite Mountain range and an interesting lakeside look at the local lifestyle, we’ve organised a chance to go out on Italy’s largest lake in an optional cruise.

Then we travel to Verona, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Get romantic and stand under one of the world’s most famous shrines to love, Juliet’s balcony from Romeo and Juliet. Check out the main shopping street and the Roman arena, before heading off to Venice.

Day 9 – Venice

1.        Known as the “floating city” Venice is packed with character, crammed with hidden lanes and linked by a network of canals.
The group travels on our private boat through the waters of the lagoon to visit the city’s historical heart. The limestone Bridge of Sighs, the gothic arches of Doges’ Palace and the expanse of St Mark’s Square (pigeons and all!) show off Venice’s unique beauty and way of life.
Learn about local artistry with a traditional glass blowing demonstration – a craft the city has been famous for since the 13th century.
Take some time to explore the floating city and lose yourself in the backstreets. There’s an optional walking tour where you can discover the labyrinth of interweaving lanes, waterways, palaces, piazzi and markets with our Local Guide. You’ll see historic monuments, hidden treasures and the Rialto market - a local favourite for food shopping.
Maybe grab a table on St Mark’s Square and eat some delicious Italian food al fresco.
Cap off the day with an optional gondola ride with your friends. Take a bottle of prosecco (Italian champagne) and toast this unforgettable experience as you are punted through the waterways.

Day 10 – Venice to Rome

1.        Criss-cross the Apennines Mountains as we head south.
Next up: Stylish Rome. This place oozes energy and overflows with relics from another age. Get into the thriving atmosphere of this living timeline as your Tour Manager shows you the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Piazza Venezia and Piazza Navona. Honour tradition at the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in the fountain’s waters (it’s meant to improve your chances of returning to Rome!). Maybe hang out with your new friends at the Spanish Steps, sit back and people-watch before our included dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 11 – Rome

1.        This morning, make the most of our Local Guide’s inside knowledge and uncover the remains of an ancient empire with a fantastic optional tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum.
Then check-out the smallest country in the world and home to the Pope, the Vatican City. There’s included entry and our Local Guide to show you St Peter’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel.
Take off into the city and absorb the atmosphere, as vespas flash past timeworn monuments that are surrounded by fountains, pizzerias, cafes and bars. In your free time, live the local lifestyle by indulging in a long lunch on a paved piazza or knock back a shot of espresso at the bar, like the Romans do.
Before you hit the shops, let your Tour Manager point you in the right direction with some tips on the best buys.
Make your last night on tour special by hooking up with your friends for an optional dinner. In a typical Roman restaurant, you’ll enjoy an authentic Italian experience, complete with an opera singer, live music and pasta.
But don’t stop there – afterwards dive into Rome’s night action with your buddies and finish up your travels with a night to remember.

Day 12 – Depart Rome

1.        The tour ends after breakfast and it’s time to say “arrivederci” to your new friends.

Personal Opinion
I totally enjoyed myself during this trip, making loads of new friends from US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and other Asia countries. It is not only learning about the culture of Italy but also the time for you to find out about your travelling buddies’ culture. The activities planned were intensive with clubbing included for all of us to chill and relax over drinks. It covers an extensive area of places that you would not be able to chance on or too expensive to visit if not for the packaged tour. Only qualms I had during the entire trip was that I had craving for spicy food and hot soupy stuff. I would advise you to pack some cup noodles as it would taste like delicacies once you are sick of pizza and pasta. Another thing to note is to bring some medications along especially if you are travelling for a long period of time say 2-3 weeks as it was pretty tough for me to see any doctor as I was told. For anti-botics, it was only available in hospitals =(  

Would I recommend it to my friends?

Yes, I would as this is an fuss-free alternative for me if I do not have the luxury of time to research on the places of interest or the know how on where and how to book hotels all over the region. It would be a kick start especially if it is your first time to Europe and want to explore the maximum number of places of interest you can at a budget especially when some places can be dangerous especially for solo travelers. Go for one and experience the fun for yourself, meeting new people from all around the world without the lugging your heavy luggage after massive shopping. =) 


  1. Thanks for sharing such nice feeling about Contiki Tour. Hopefully going to with this soon.

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  2. Hi, sorry for the late reply as I didn't manage to get any notifications on the comments left. :)
    Did you managed to go on any Contiki tour yet? Only thing you need to have with you is your passport, cash and yes lots of energy and ability to drink!!! =)
    Have great fun!!!