Nine days and seven countries across Europe. 15 days in Italy. 11 days hopping around Greek islands. If this all sounds like travel for people with fat 401ks, think again — these are trips run by Contiki, a brand that specializes in social travel for 18- to 35-year-olds, with price tags to match Millennial / Gen Z budgets. (Think roughly $1,000 to $3,000 per person. Yeah, that’s right.)
While “going on Contiki” is a common phrase in Australia and New Zealand, it’s just now catching on in the US. If you’re checking them out for the first time, what you’ll find are over 200 Contiki trips offered across six continents — so your options abound. Need a place to start? Read on to uncover Matador’s favorite Contiki trips.
1. European Magic
9 days, 7 countries
Like a Friends episode title, this is “the one that gives you a taste of Europe’s highlights for those tight on time.” Your European Magic trip starts and ends in London, hopping from the canals and gable houses of Amsterdam to the beer halls of Munich to the piazzas of Venice, the peaks of the Swiss Alps, and the glittering lights of Paris. If you have a bucket list to fill and roughly a week to do it, this Contiki will do the trick.
Like many of these trips, you’ll be traveling with an average of 39 people, which always includes your expert Trip Manager (who’s trained to know each destination better than Wikipedia), your Driver, and local guides. And no matter where you go, accommodations, transportation, and breakfasts are always covered.
2. Peru Panorama
11 days, 1 country
Yes, this is the one where you can trek Peru’s famous Inca Trail — or simply enjoy the Sacred Valley vistas via train. Peru Panorama is an 11-day excursion that goes well beyond the terraces of Machu Picchu, though: Starting in Lima and ending in Cusco, you’ll watch for Andean condors soaring above the impossibly deep Colca Canyon, meet local female weavers on Lake Titicaca’s floating islands, party in a modern Incan hotspot, and make a mandatory stop to pet the llamas.
3. Simply Italy
15 days, 1 country
On the 15-day Simply Italy adventure, you’ll get two weeks to soak in la dolce vita, from fresh wine and endless pasta to Roman ruins, basilicas and UNESCO sites, and pastel villages pouring into the sea. You’ll fly into and out of Rome, hopping aboard a comfy coach to explore the country’s landmark cities: Milan, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Siena, Naples, the Amalfi Coast. Pack your Ray-Bans and scarves for a real-life Roman Holiday.
For this one, you’ve got a few variations to choose from, too: Pick a summer trip, a winter trip, or one with exclusively 27- to 35-year-olds.
4. Egypt and the Nile
8 days, 1 country
You’ve seen pictures of them a thousand times, from textbooks to storybooks to wanderlusting Google image searches. Well, on this 8-day Egypt and the Nile Contiki, prepare for pyramids and sphinxes to pop from the page and come to life.
You’ll begin and end your trip in Cairo, from where you’ll ride an overnight train to Aswan and embark on a 3-day Nile River cruise. Along the way, you’ll see the ancient city of Luxor (known as the “City of the Dead”), the Avenue of the Sphinxes, dozens of royal tombs, and the Temple of Ramses II — with time in between to jump into sand dunes as well as the surprisingly blue waters of the Red Sea.
5. Garden Route and Addo
8 days, 1 country
With this 8-day South African extravaganza, you’ll get all the wildlife and wonder of a safari without sacrificing local nightlife experiences — or the comfort of cozy hotels.
Starting and ending in Cape Town, you’ll hit the Karoo Desert’s famous “Route 62” for a guided tour of the Cango Caves and a visit to Oudtshoorn, the Ostrich Capital of the World. From there, it’s all bush dinners and game drives through several wildlife reserves, including Addo Elephant National Park, beach time at Plettenberg Bay and an ocean safari in Knysna, music sessions with the Xhosa locals, time in the wine town of Stellenbosch, and so much more.
6. Classic Ireland
8 days, 2 countries
Whether you’re curious about castles and on-island Guinness or connecting with your Irish roots, this 8-day Classic Ireland adventure — which explores both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland — checks off all the Emerald Isle’s iconic experiences. Starting and ending in Dublin, you’ll walk atop the Cliffs of Moher, kiss the Blarney Stone, bike through Kilkenny, step foot on the Giant’s Causeway, and a lot more. And, yes, this trip includes a frothy taste-testing of local Guinness. Naturally.
7. Greek Island Hopping
11 days, 1 country
With equal parts culture and nature, this 11-day Greek Island Hopping extravaganza gets you exploring Greece’s four most popular islands: Mykonos, Paros, Santorini, and Ios. Porting in and out of Athens, you’ll get plenty of lazy sun-soaked days relaxing on beaches, plus time to explore villages like Naoussa, snap the blue domes of Santorini, and walk amid ancient ruins. It’s one of Contiki’s most popular trips for a reason (and is known to sell out, so if you’re keen, be quick).
Expect volcano views, water safaris to hidden coves, and partying till dawn in Hora. Or do none of that, and simply spend your time swimming, snorkeling, and basking in the beauty of life on the Mediterranean.
8. Asian Adventure
16 days, 3 countries
Limited to 24 travelers, Contiki’s Asian Adventure is a little more intimate than most trips. Starting in Bangkok and ending in ruin-rich Siem Reap, you’ll cram a gap year’s worth of experiences into 16 days across Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Explore Buddhist temples and palaces, raft the River Kwai, taste the street food of Chiang Mai, take in the sunset from a Laotian stupa, and, naturally, gaze upon the magnificent Angkor Wat, the “7th Wonder of the World.”
And that’s not to mention the experiences you’ll inevitably stumble on yourself, from temple meditations to Laotian waterfall-scouting to jumping into the River Kwai right from your hotel room. Contiki’s itineraries may be “planned,” but the adventure is all yours.