Fancy an adrenaline rush on a wild rollercoaster ride? Or are you a Ferrari fanatic? Or do you want
to escape into a fairy tale world? Or a world of knights and gallantry? Europe’s myriad amusement parks and theme parks, which become increasingly popular with young and old, are to be found in exciting countries and trust us … they cater to your every taste.
Have a look and include one or more in your next Europe vacation.
Your kids will thank you, and the kid in you will thank you.
No. 6 – Efteling in Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands
Dispatches is based in the Netherlands and we know this is more than an amusement park. Efteling is a Dutch culture touchstone that every kid experiences. And what would a theme park be without a few spooky rides?
Only half the fun.
Get a shiver down your spine riding Spookyslot or Villa Volta. For another kind of thrill there is the vast steel rollercoaster called Python which features a double loop and corkscrew. If more sedate entertainment is what you’re looking for, Efteling offers a fairy tale forest, picnic spots, a steam train and a bit wilder river rapids.
The Netherland’s largest theme park is located in Efteling, Kaatsheuvel, North Brabant and the nearest bigger town is Tilburg. There are accommodations in Kaatsheuvel and Tilburg.
No. 5 – Legoland Windsor
If you are in the United Kingdom and plan a visit to, say, Windsor Castle, why not factor in the short
three-mile detour to Legoland? It’s a theme park the whole family will enjoy and features the brand new Mythica immersive platform that is unique in the world, a combination of augmented reality and 4D imaging.
All mystical creatures you or your kids create come to life in Mythica. You can buy the games and create and play at home. But there is much more in Legoland, all with magic and wizardry themes such as the Magical Forest or a stay in the on-site Lego Castle Hotel.
Ask for the Knight’s Room or the Wizard’s Room and escape into another world. Meet Merlin in the Magical Forest or go down the Flight of the Sky Lion ride and a few others.
For short breaks, you have the choice between the Castle Hotel, the Legoland Resort or the Woodland Village.
No. 4 – Ferrari Land/PortAventura Park in Tarragona, Spain
We mentioned a theme park for car enthusiasts, and here it is: Ferrari Land within the PortAventura Park, located an hour’s drive down the coast from Barcelona in sunny Spain. PortAventura takes you around the world, from China to Mexico and features some exhilarating rides such as Shambala and Dragon Khan.
There are some kid-friendly rides and play corners too, but the highlight for me is Ferrari Land, where you can experience all the rush and excitement of Formula 1. Discover the secrets behind the famous Italian car manufacturer, be seriously brave to ride Red Race, Europe’s tallest rollercoaster, hold on tight in the bends of Champion Race and shriek riding Crazy Piston.
No shortage of adrenalin rush in this theme park!
Tickets for PortAventura Park start at 48 euros and Ferrari Land costs you an extra 18 euros. Buy
them online here.
If after all that excitement your stomach still holds on, there are some interesting food options in several places of the park, including tapas bars.
No. 3 – Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen
One of Copenhagens’s many attractions is the famous Tivoli Gardens, located conveniently right in the city center and with an admission fee starting at 30 euros, it’s quite affordable considering it’s Denmark.
This is the oldest theme park in Europe and one of the most sophisticated, with the extravagant Nimb Hotel.
This park puts the emphasis on enjoying the gardens and the outdoors. Merry Corner has some rides, but there are plenty of safe areas for kids. Take a picnic and just have a fun-filled family day before or after visiting other parts of Denmark’s lovely capital.
But there’s way more than that, with concerts and a huge range of entertainment, including – unlike most theme parks – an emphasis on fine cuisine instead of frikandel and hamburgers.
P.S. Bring a lot of money.
Tickets: Tivoli Gardens, as do most amusement/theme parks, wants to make you a two-day deal, and theirs will run you 200 krone, or about 30 euros. A rare bargain in this, the most expensive country in Europe. This is partly to optimize revenue but partly because Tivoli has way more than you can see in a day. You can get tickets here.
Europa Park in Rust, Germany
Located between Freiburg/Bresigau and Offenburg near the Black Forest, Europa Park is not only a theme park but also a resort with several hotels.
This is a beautiful destination by any standard, with mountains and one very upscale town in Freiburg. The bonus is Europa Park, with more than 100 attractions, shows and events.
During the summer season, from 25 March to 29 September, Europa Park is adding four new shows as well as culinary delights for which the Black Forest is famous. There are 10 themed areas dedicated to European countries and their cultures. As the name suggests, this park takes you on a journey from Norwegian fjords to Italy, Spain, the canals of the Netherlands and an original English pub. And that’s not to mention 14 roller coasters, including a virtual one, in case you don’t want the thrill of the real thing.
See prices and book tickets here. Note that tickets can also be purchased on-site but a 10-percent surcharge is due.
Opening hours are from 9 a.m. to at least 6 p.m.
Our No. 1 in the world of theme parks is an old standby. It opened as Euro Disney in April 1992 but has lost none of its pull during the many years the park has been in operation. It has seen its ups and downs, and if you’re interested in a bit of history, take a look here.
But it’s indisputable that this is one of the most popular in the world because, well, Disney sets the standard. An average of 12 million visitors come to the park per year, which makes it the most visited in Europe.
It’s going to get even bigger, with expansions scheduled to be completed in time for the 2024 Olympics.
Disneyland Paris is located just a 20-minute train ride from central Paris, with 52 rides and 474 attractions spread out over several areas. In one you find the dizzying roller coaster ride of the Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, theater shows and Disney character parades.
Another area is the Disney Studio Park, Hollywood films, the Marvel Universe and the iconic Sleeping Beauty castle.
If you want to experience it all, better plan two days. You can spend the night in one of the on-site themed hotels. The castle is one of them.
Here are some more packages.
Check here for opening times and calendar.
Given the huge amount of visitors, it’s advisable to book well in advance. Here is an overview of the ticket prices, which start at €56 for a day ticket.
Read more about theme parks here in Dispatches’ archives.
Inka Piegsa-Quischotte is an international attorney-turned-travel and lifestyle writer based in Spain. She has contributed to BBC/Travel, several in-flight magazines, TripSavvy (Spain) and TravelAwaits among many other publications.