It’s mid-summer, and Europe’s most exciting waterparks are calling.
Did you know it’s believed the origins of waterparks date back to ancient Mexico and South America, where the civilizations like the Aztecs tended to gather around waterfalls and hot springs? It was a center of community with food stalls and even rudimentary attractions.
Over the centuries, waterparks have come a long way, with ever more elaborate attractions, waterslides and pools. Most importantly, there are indoor and outdoor waterparks across Europe, so families can celebrate the summer regardless to the weather.
A little more history: The first waterslide was seen in New Zealand as early as 1906. Indoor waterparks followed in Switzerland, France and the Netherlands, whereas the United States was a bit slow to catch on what great attractions they are … but eventually did.
Nowadays, there are waterparks just about everywhere in the world, often combined with theme parks and vacation resorts. In Europe, some of the best are not where you think you’d find them.
Let’s take a look at some of Europe’s newest and best:
It may surprise you to learn that one of Europe’s newest and largest waterparks is located in Poland, but, here you are. Poland is definitely not the country with the most sunshine and good weather in Europe, which is why this huge waterpark is under a glass roof. But some of the pools are outdoors too. There are sections for kids and adults.
Suntago only opened in 2020 and is huge, with three separate zones – Saurnaria with saunas and indoor pools, waterslides and restaurants.
Located in Wrecza, some 60 kilometers from Warsaw between the A2 motorway and the S8 Expressway, the waterpark is rather easy to reach. Not only does it feature an on-site, 3-star hotel, restaurant and shops, but also no less than 32 waterslides, with names such as Rainbow Race and Neon Torpedo.
Suntago also has 18 different pools, dry and wet saunas, spa treatments and much more.
Depending on the sections you want to visit and the length of your stay, the admission fees vary, starting at 155 Polish Zloty, or approximately 35 euros. You can get tickets here.
Opening hours for the water park and other attractions are all over the place. So, it’s best to check them out here before you go.
There are bungalows available at Suntago Village.
Okay, this destination is closer to where you would imagine a water park would be. The Canary island of Tenerife is by itself already a rather exciting destination with its volcanic landscape, rich vegetation and choice of black and white beaches.
Add to this one of Europe’s largest aqua parks, Siam, inspired by Thailand and you will never be short of things to do for the whole family.
This is the first Green waterpark, which means there is a desalination plant on site. Every attraction is modeled on the Thai theme, including temples and floating markets. Get a thrill on one of the water rides including the Tower of Power, the Dragon or splash around in the wave pool, which claims the biggest man-made wave in the world.
The park has at least 15 major attractions ranging from an “adrenalin” rating to family friendly. Here’s the link to all the rides and other info.
By the way, the Siam landing page points out that Tripadvisor users have voted this the No.1 waterpark in the world eight consecutive times, so expect crowds.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Siam is open year round and an all inclusive ticket starts at 41 euros and goes up to 150 euros. Not a cheap adventure if you are a family, but, hey, you are on vacation!
Siam Park is located on the island’s south coast on the Costa Adeje.
If you like the Asian waterparks theme, you are in the right place at Aquaworld/Budapest. It’s not Thailand, it’s Cambodia that inspired this waterpark, complete with an exact replica of the temples of Angkor Wat.
There are indoor and outdoor pools and for an extra adrenaline rush, go down the Mountain River, a waterslide that rushes past sheer cliffs. (You can find less exciting places, especially for kids.)
This also doubles as a resort, so you can stay at the wellness hotel and enjoy the many splendid sights of Budapest. Check out rates and availability here.
Weirdly, though Hungary is a European Union country, it doesn’t use the euro. So, all tickets are in Hungarian Forints.
Aquaworld is open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Poreč, Croatia near Pula
Croatia is an increasingly popular and affordable holiday destination, so it’s no surprise you will find several water and amusement parks. The largest and best is Acquacolors on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
The slides and pools with names like Magicone and Looping Rocket are designed for families with kids, there is even one called “Family Slide.”
A large pool has an indoor bar for adults and the park features a large relaxation area surrounded by lush greenery.
Aquacolors is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 .pm.
Note that prices are not calculated by age but by height.
Kids under 1 meter in height are free. The reduced ticket is for kids from 1 meter to 1.40 meters in height and is 29 euros (218.50 kroner).
The standard ticket for guests all above 1.4 meters is 36 euros (271.24 kn).
Acquacolors is located in Porec on the westen coast of the Istrian peninsula, one of the most visited tourist destinations in Croatia.
Nearby is another waterpark, Aquapark Istralandia, in Nova Vas, which features 12 slides and Croatia’s highest free fall slide.
This is a somewhat unconventional waterpark because it is entirely encased in a gigantic dome that covers a pool the size of three Olympic swimming pools.
Located some 20 miles south of Germany’s capital Berlin, this waterpark conjures up the image of tropical islands with regulated temperatures and a tropical rain forest with 50,000 plants of 600 varieties.
Kids up to the age of 3 years old have free entry. Otherwise the admission for a full day starts at 37.90 euros. You can get tickets here.
Of course, this being Germany, there is also a spa.
Portugal is another popular holiday destination and the country’s biggest and most complex waterpark is Aquashow. This is a huge indoor and outdoor park as well as a hotel, located north of Faro at the beginning of the Algarve coast. The outdoor park includes Mammothblast, Watercoaster, a free-fall and a wave pool. Indoors you find pools, saunas, relaxation ares, playgrounds for kids, bars and restaurants.
This is all part of a giant hotel and you can see details here.
Ticket prices vary between indoor/outdoor park admission and spa treatments or
special activities and start at 3 euros.
Opening hours for the indoor park are from 10:30 a.m to 7 p.m.
See more here about Europe’s waterparks 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.