7 of the coolest theme parks Europe has to offer

7 of the coolest theme parks Europe has to offer

Want to do something a fun but a little more adventurous than usual? We have just the thing! Europe is home to some of the coolest theme parks for you to enjoy during your down time, with rides for everyone from seasoned thrill-seekers, to family-friendly rides for kids. Here's seven of the coolest theme parks that Europe has to offer, in no particular order.

1. Gardaland, Italy

Garda Sea Life Aquarium allows you to venture into the deep blue via a transparent oceanic tunnel, showing you some of the most impressive creatures under the sea! Gardaland in northeastern Italy is not just a theme park; it is also an amazing aquarium! Look all around you, at sharks, rays and other tropical creatures. The aquarium also features interactive rock pools and 40 themed fish tanks amongst other spectacular sights. It is possible to visit the aquarium only, but for a full day of excitement, combine it with a Gardaland park ticket.

The park is full of attractions for all ages, so there will be something to do for the whole family. A few thrill-seeking rides you won’t want to miss out on are the Blue Tornado roller coaster, which will have you feeling like you are on a supersonic jet; Shaman, a double loop-the-loop roller coaster that is simply exhilarating and Mammut, which will have you racing over the roller coaster tracks to avoid the Mammoth that’s chasing you.

2. Europa Park, Germany

Europa Park, the largest theme park in Germany, takes the crown as the country's most popular theme park. It undeniably deserves a place on this list, as it is the second most popular theme park in Europe.

Located in Rust in Baden-Württemberg, in the southwest of Germany, it covers an area of 950.000 square metres and has more than 100 attractions and a whopping 13 roller coasters. What makes it special, though, is its 15 European-themed areas, featuring countries from Iceland to Austria and showcasing some of each country’s most admired scenes. It’s literally a mini-continent that allows you to whizz around 15 countries in a matter of hours.

There’s something for everyone at the park, and adrenaline junkies are sure to be satisfied with rides like Blue Fire Megacoaster, which takes you from 0 to 100 km/h in just 2,5 seconds, and Alpenexpress Coastiality, a roller coaster that has you wearing a VR headset whilst you ride. Experience a virtual reality world that perfectly matches the roller coaster movements!

It’s not all about European countries though: the park also features areas such as Adventure Land, where you can enjoy a lake adventure or simply take in the beautiful nature; and Grimm’s Enchanted Forest, where you can jump into some of your favourite Brothers Grimm fairy tales, such as Hansel and Gretel. 

3. Disneyland Paris, France

Naturally, Disneyland Paris belongs on this list, as one of the most famous theme parks in the whole world! And there is not just one park, no, Disneyland Paris has two! You’ll find the iconic Disneyland castle at Disneyland Park and, just around the corner, you can venture into the movie-themed Walt Disney Studios. In Disneyland Park, fairytales are spread across five lands, brimming with Disney characters and filled with attractions, street parades and shows.

Don’t be fooled by the sweet outward appearance of Disneyland, however. There are also rides that will have you scared silly and screaming your lungs out (but in a good way, obviously). Big Thunder Mountain is precisely one of these rides: the runaway mine cart will take you around a haunted mountain and have you screaming as you plummet through the darkness. Another famous attraction is the Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, a thrilling takeover of the classic Space Mountain. Is the force strong in you?

Want to uncover the secrets behind your favourite Disney film scenes? Then Walt Disney Studios is the place for you! You can learn how to animate the Disney way and also ride on attractions like the Finding Nemo-themed Crush’s Coaster or the half-pipe coaster RC Racer. Disneyland is perfect for the whole family. 

4. Phantasialand, Germany

While Europa Park is the most popular theme park in Germany, Phantasialand, located between Cologne and Bonn, is another fantastic German theme park. It attracts over 1,75 million visitors annually, and is famous for its unique rides and amazing shows. Some of the rides at the park even hold world records, like the high-speed roller coaster TARON, which is the fastest multi-launch roller coaster in the world, or RAIK, the fastest family boomerang in the world.

The park has six areas: Fantasy, Deep in Africa, Berlin, Mystery, Mexico and China Town, and some of the popular attractions include the Black Mamba roller coaster, with plenty of twists and turn; Maus Au Chocolat, where you have to shoot mice using pastry bags in a cake factory; and Temple of the Night Hawk, where you ride through the black of night on a virtual hawk.

5. PortAventura World, Spain

As the most-visited theme park in Spain, with around 4 million visitors per year, PortAventura is one of the most iconic and coolest theme parks in Europe. Located south of Barcelona in Salou, Tarragona, it has six worlds for you to discover. These include Mediterrània, Polynesia, China, México, Far West and SésamoAventura. And yes, that last one is a world based on Sesame Street!

The park has a bit of everything, from jump-out-of-your-skin roller coasters to water rides and child-friendly rides and mazes. A few rides catch the eye, such as the Furius Baco, Europe’s fastest roller coaster that hits 135 km/h in just three seconds; Shambhala, a 76-metre tall roller coaster, the tallest in the park and the one with the longest drop, and Hurakan Condor, a 100-metre long free-fall ride.

The park also boasts a 175-square-metre Mayan-inspired maze filled with sensations and visual effects: perfect for bringing out your inner explorer! And these are just a few of the awesome attractions the park offers. It also has a Ferrari Land, with more than 70.000 square metres of excitement. One ride that definitely deserves a mention is Red Force, which will have you accelerating to 180 km/h in five seconds with a force of 1,3G and reaching a height of 112 metres!

6. Tivoli Gardens, Denmark

Tivoli Gardens, located in the heart of Denmark's capital, Copenhagen, has entertained its visitors for over 100 years. This theme park is the second oldest in Europe and the world, having opened its gates in 1843! The park has something for everyone and is especially enchanting in the evening when fairy lights illuminate the grounds.

If you are looking for a thrill, step aboard the Aquila to experience the world upside down from 11 metres high and feel centrifugal forces of up to 4G being unleashed. Adrenaline junkies should also make sure they don’t forget to try the Golden Tower, one of the tallest rides in the park at an impressive 63-metres tall; or the Demon, a roller coaster with three loops and the option to experience it using a VR headset.

Kids can enjoy an array of rides and there are also stages across the park with certain performances already included in the ticket price. Need some peace and quiet? Tivoli also has an area offering green space and garden ambience.

7. Efteling, the Netherlands

Efteling, focused on fairytales, is the most well-known theme park in the Netherlands. The park started with just 10 fairytales in 1952 and now has 29. You can find them all in the Fairytale Forest. Efteling is, of course, not just famous for its abundant fairy tales, but also for its awesome rides.

Efteling is divided into five different areas, each with different kinds of attractions. For example, if you love roller coasters, Ruigrijk is the area you need to head to. If you have children, the Marerijk area is your best bet, as it has many child-friendly attractions.

The park has a mix of water rides and terrifying roller coasters, such as Joris and the Draak (Dragon), a double-track wooden racer roller coaster, which will have you squealing your lungs out as you accelerate to race the other team to the finish. Another extremely popular roller coaster is Baron, a dive roller coaster that plunges down 37,5 metres at a speed of 90 km/h. One more worth a mention is Vogel Rok, an indoor roller coaster that will surprise you as you dive through the darkness.

Tell us about your favourite theme park!

Of course, this list doesn't detail every cool theme park in Europe, since there are so many great ones! Have you visited any of the above-mentioned parks before? What is your favourite theme park in Europe? Let us know in the comments section!

This article originally appeared on IamExpat in Germany

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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