Archive Tag:europe

Contiki Europe: What it’s really like

It’s pretty much an Australian rite of passage that at some point in your 20’s you will jump on a Contiki tour bus, see way more countries than thought possible in a short amount of time, drink copious amounts of alcohol all while claiming to your friends and family back home that you are ‘finding yourself’.

contiki europe review

In 2014, 6 months after I had just turned 18, I headed off on my first big trip away from home and as scary as it was, I felt comfort that I was part of an organised tour and did not have to worry about where  was going to sleep each night.

The Contiki tour I went on was called European Contrasts and it saw us travel to 13 countries over 29 days.

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t tired or sick or hungover pretty much every day but contrary to belief, you actually do a lot more than drink! I had the best experience of my life in Europe and if you’re thinking of doing a Contiki tour soon, here’s my favourite things about these famous tours!

It’s not just all Aussies!

A big misconception is that you’ll be put on a tour with 50 other Australian’s which will feel like you never left home.

Although there is a big chance over a third of the tour will be from Australia, Contiki is also very popular with Americans, Canadians and Kiwi’s as well as people from the UK and even other European countries.

The range is normally quite diverse which is cool because then you get to make friends all over the world and you’ll never know when you’ll find yourself needing a bed to crash on in the future.

Everything is organised for you but the freedom is still there!

contiki europe review

When you book a tour, you get the advantage of knowing everything is booked and paid for and you can then focus instead on deciding if you’ll have pizza or pasta for dinner in Italy (the answer is always both btw) rather than how you’re gonna get from London to Paris.

However, each day you have the opportunity to choose what you want to do with extra optional activities that are provided or not provided.

You want to go paragliding in Austria, go ahead! If that’s not your thing, no problems! Our tour guide kept telling us, ‘it’s your holiday, you decide what you want to do’!

The themed parties.

Toga, tight white and bright, P party, just to name a few! Because Contiki own a lot of their accommodation around Europe, there is often plenty of time for themed parties! These are the best fun because where else in Europe could you seriously dress completely different and head to a club? Nowhere!

At the Contiki accommodation, there are often multiple tours staying here at the same time giving you a chance to party with new people every night in hilarious costumes!contiki europe review toga party

AMAZING SIGHTS with express entries!

Ever visited somewhere and been overwhelmed with what to do and where to go while you’re there? I know I always want to make the most of my time and have trouble fitting everything in.

On Contiki, you always get to see the best and most incredible sights and attractions of each city. This means you won’t have to choose between Vatican City and the Colosseum because it’s a definite you will get to experience both!

Also, because you are on a tour, this often means express entry. Say goodbye to waiting in lines for hours (let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got time for that) and say hello to more time eating gelato!

Lastly, Contiki is the perfect taste of Europe!

Basically, you have 1-2 full days in a city then the next day will be a travel day with stops along the way. This is the perfect way to see all the major sites and discover the countries you want to explore further on your next trip.

contiki europe review

You also learn the places you don’t want to go back to in future (Liechtenstein I’m looking at you).

Some people don’t like the idea of being rushed so if this is you, maybe look at tours that don’t stop in so many countries however I felt most cities we has adequate enough time to see and do everything (apart from Paris that is, you can never have enough time in Paris!) For those first timers to Europe, Contiki is the way to go!

If you are thinking of doing a Contiki tour and have any questions, please comment below! Or have you done a Contiki and think I’ve missed something, would love to hear from you too!

Five places in Europe to experience a White Christmas

So it’s Christmas. And while beach parties have their own unique vibe, there’s nothing quite as magical as a white Christmas. In the north, bells are jingling and cities are decked out with markets and contemporary Christmas clichés. Leaving Paris and London to Dickens, I’ve searched through my travel journals and atlas to bring you a selection of great places to spend Christmas in Europe.

Amsterdam

 amsterdam

A white Christmas in Amsterdam could mean anything, but right now the city’s red light district is even more colourful. From the Christmas tree in Dam Square, a stroll along any illuminated canal path could end at one of 26 neighbourhood markets, including the main craft market at Museumplein and an ice rink among the stalls at Leidsplein. Alongside the Christmas Palace, the floating Bloemenmarkt (flower market) is ready to sell travellers a pine or two; or for something less traditional, the Pink Christmas celebration at Zeedijk could float a few different boats.

Vienna

 vienna

The City of Lights could turn Scrooge into a Christmas convert. The echoes of the Vienna Boys’ Choir ring through Hofburg Quarter and the cobblestone lanes of the ol’ city, which is lit up all-year-round. Seasonally, red hearts and hot-air balloons decorate trees in Christkindlmarkts speckled around the city. At the city’s gothic town hall, the Rathaus, I like to sample sausages topped with horseradish, while taking in the brass band. And I can almost taste that Chrissie brekkie of hot chocolate and gingerbread.

Zurich

 zurich

I know European cities like to outdo each other with their Christmas trees, but Zurich’s singing tree at Werdmuhleplatz must take the cake, with children’s choirs performing from stands hidden behind the giant tree’s artificial branches. From there, a stroll along Bahnhoffstrasse, stopping at the stalls that pepper the route, will bring you to the main markets in the train station lobby. Surrounded by the Swiss Alps and cosied up in a lakeside restaurant, I could happily tuck into a Chrissie dinner of Zurcher Geschnetzeltes: sliced veal with sliced mushrooms in a cream sauce.

Stockholm

 stockholm

The uptown girls and guys are as pretty as the Christmas lights in the city of islands and the market in the main square of Stortorget is just as delightful, with all kinds of quality goodies to blow Santa’s budget. The real Christmas festivities begin on Lucia Day (December 13), and for the dozen days following I’d be sure to look out for banquets serving up reindeer meat and traditional Swedish candy. I’d also recommend a Stromma dinner cruise through the archipelago – you can listen to the sounds of church Chrissie concerts while working on your seasonal waistline.

Brussels

 brussels

That gateway to Europe too often ignored by travellers, Brussels, has gathered some attention due to its burgeoning Christmas market, which now covers a two-kilometre long stretch from the Grand Place to Place St Catherine with around 240 chalet-style stalls selling gastronomies and gifts. Punctuate your shopping spree with a turn on the indoor ice rink or big wheel, not to mention a few winter warmers at the bar – it’s open for a Christmas tipple until January 5.

Spend Christmas with relatives or grab a group of friends and enjoy an authentic white Christmas in one of these magical destinations in Europe. If you need help booking airfares or accommodation Student Flights can help with student rates or under 26 deals.

Author: Student Flights consultants have spent the Christmas holidays in a variety of locations around the world, so can provide you with some top tips for your trip.