27 of the best theme parks in Europe

There are many reasons why we love to travel; the food, the culture, the history and the weather. We also love to travel to have fun! And where better to get your thrills and spills than at a theme park?

Europe is full of fun amusement parks with big blockbusters such as Europa-Park in Germany and Alton Towers in the UK. But it’s also home to some lesser-known theme parks including Moominworld in Finland and Grutas Park in Lithuania.

Some come with big rollercoasters and others don’t have a single ride. The one thing they all have in common, however, is that they are a guaranteed great day out. If you’re wondering where to go first then take a look at this list of the best theme parks in Europe.

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The best amusement parks in Europe 

Best Theme parks in Europe
Efteling Park in the Netherlands

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Best theme parks in France

The following are some of the best theme parks in France. Tie in a visit to one of these amusement parks when you visit France with kids.

Puy du Fou

Best theme parks in Europe
Technical wizardry- Photo Credit Puy Du Fou

France’s second most popular theme park is not one that many outside the country have heard of. But Puy Du Fou (pronounced Pwee du Foo) is a household name in France and absolutely brilliant.

It’s not a theme park in the traditional sense; there are no rollercoasters or rides to be seen. Instead, Puy du Fou is a combination of Cirque du Soleil acrobatics, Vegas’ theatrics and West End plays. The park stages 19 spectacular shows based on moments in European history. These are not stuffy history lessons, however, these shows involve fireworks, explosions, spectacular light shows and ships rising from lakes.

The performances are staged up to seven times a day, welcoming some 2,400 to 6,000 visitors per performance! Most of the shows take place in outdoor theatres and go ahead rain or shine.

Set over 55 hectares of forest Puy Du Fou started in 1978 with an amateur reenactment of the history of the Vendée, the region where the park is located in Western France. This show went on to become what is today La Cinéscénie, the biggest nighttime show in the world that performs to an audience of 14,000 people in high season.

Puy Du Fou is located in Les Epesses, in the Vendée region of Western France. The closest airport is at Nantes, roughly one hour away.

Futuroscope

Best Theme parks in Europe
Futuroscope in France

Growing up in a family of theme park enthusiasts, I have been to many of these attractions around the world, but there’s nothing like France’s Futuroscope. This unique theme park, which first opened in 1987, takes you on a journey through the fascinating and fun world of multimedia cinematic innovation. And it’s not just for kids.

You will be transported to outer space or under the sea in impressive 3D IMAX cinemas. To take it one step further, multi-sensory 4D cinemas immerse you more than ever into popular movies such as Ice Age and will definitely make you smile.

There’s even Europe’s first ever ‘flying’ movie theatre, where you are catapulted around in your seats along with the action, so you feel like you are fully inside the film. In their Dances with Robots ride, you sit in the hand of a giant robotic arm that propels you around in time to pumping dance tunes and lights for an exhilarating experience.

This futuristic theme park is close to the historic city of Poitiers in western France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine, which is two hours from Paris and dates all the way back to the first century. Poitiers has cobbled streets, cute cafés and renowned architecture. Its church of Notre-Dame la Grande is a Romanesque masterpiece and well worth a visit.

Futuroscope is about more than just rides. At its Futur Expo exhibition, you can try out the latest technology that will soon transform our daily lives, from robots to connected devices and 3D printers. There are also many cool places to eat and drink, including the world’s first ‘sky bar’, where you can enjoy a drink while suspended 35 metres high in the air.

Even just walking around Futuroscope is special, as there are space-age metal and glass constructions, quirky sculptures and dazzling water features everywhere you look. If you stay until the evening, everything lights up to create a magical ambience and you can enjoy a jaw-dropping Cirque du Soleil show.

Contributed by Claire, Backpacking Bella

Asterix Park

Best Theme parks in Europe
The Asterix Park in France

I grew up reading the stories of Asterix, the plucky Gaul who defends his village from Roman occupation. The tales of Asterix, a powerful magic potion and his gung-ho friends remain incredibly popular in France (and beyond) so it’s no surprise that the Asterix Park is so well-loved.

Located in Plailly in the Hauts de France, Asterix Park is easily reached as a day trip from Paris with kids. There are plenty of rollercoasters for big kids and teens, gentle rides for younger kids and a great selection of rides that will leave you absolutely soaked! There are also shows and performances but these are in French only.

Some of our favourite rides included the Menhir Express, Le Grand Splatch and Le Nationale 7. Not surprisingly, the Asterix Park gets very busy. It’s well worth investing in the Filotomatix, which gets you to the front of the line for some of the park’s most popular rides.

If you want to make the most of your time at the park then consider staying overnight. There are a handful of hotels on site, including the newly opened Le Quais de Lutèce Hotel, modelled on Asterix’s village.

Disneyland Paris

Best Theme parks in Europe
Disneyland Paris, France

If you’re visiting Paris with kids, or even just young at heart, of course one of the best theme parks to visit is Disneyland! Here you’ll get to see all your favourite Disney characters, enjoy some great shows and go on some wonderful rides.

If you have been to other Disneyland’s around the world, you might be surprised how small the Disneyland park in Paris is. However, if you’re travelling with small children this is actually a great thing as it makes it really easy to get around. But don’t be fooled, lines can still be super long and so making using of the Fastpass system when you can is totally worth it.

Right next door to Disneyland is Walt Disney Studios. There are plenty of rides here too but with more a focus on shows. If you want to visit both parks during the day you will need a ticket which allows this, so take care of choosing the right ticket.

Of course you can stay in the various Disney Hotels around the parks, this is ideal if you are spending multiple days at Disneyland. However if you are just looking for a day trip from Paris, simply jump back on the train at the end of the day. Make sure you stay for the fireworks though!

Disneyland is super easy to get to from Paris, its only about a 40-minute train ride and the train takes you to right in front of Disneyland. You can of course by tickets once you arrive, but I recommend buying tickets in advance so you can get a deal and save a few dollars. Afterall Disneyland is expensive!

Contributed by Melissa, Thrifty Family Travels

Best theme parks in Germany

Germany is home to one of the biggest theme parks in Europe, Europa Park. But you’ll also find some lesser-known amusement parks here such as Tropical Island, perfect for if you’re visiting Berlin with kids.

Europa Park

Best Theme parks in Europe
Europa Park in Germany

Located in Rust, Germany’s Europa Park is the place where dreams are absolutely made! Many other people talk all the time about that ‘other’ famous theme park but I can guarantee you, if you haven’t been to Europa Park you haven’t theme parked!

There are lands within the park from all over the world and every one of them had something for every age. Spain was our favourite with daily shows featuring horse riding and flamenco dancing. Some lands are themed on previous movies and some on fables from German folklore.

There are huge, scream-inducing rides that take your breath away and nice slow little rides for the smaller ones of the family. There are ones in between too for the ones that want a small thrill but nothing too large!

When you arrive through the gates make sure you get a timetable as to what the free shows are during your visit and what time they are on. These ones you have to wait for entry but you will find roaming performers around the park as well.

If you think you will need more than one day to get the best out of Europa Park there are hotels, resorts and even some mobile home spaces for you to stay at. Some of the hotels are themed and have activities that will get the kids extremely excited about their visit to Europa Park. Many of them have a free shuttle service to the park or they have a stop on the sky train where you can board it.

The food is also fantastic, especially in France. You can go to any of the ‘lands’ and fins some foods from that country but don’t worry you can find some good old hamburger and hot dogs there too!

Contributed by Bec, Wyld Family Travel 

Tropical Island Berlin

Best Theme parks in Europe
Tropical Island in Berlin, Germany

The Tropical Island located just 60 km from Berlin is quite a unique theme park. If you’re looking for a warm beach and a lush jungle in the middle of Europe at any time of year, then look no further.

The Tropical Island offers relaxation, adventure, as well as a wellness experience. Whether you’d like to spend your day lazing out on the beach ‘shaded’ by palm trees, getting your adrenaline levels up on various slides or being pampered by massage and sauna, you can have it all.

Explorers will love the rainforest featuring real trees and plants lining small paths. Apparently, this is world’s largest indoor rainforest! You can even spend the night, on a beach. Be it in a simple tent or in a luxury suite, there’s again something for everybody.

I highly recommend spending a full day at least. There’s just so much to do and explore and if you want to take it all in, you need to go slowly.

Gourmet experiences can be had too – there are 12 restaurants, bars and lounges to choose from. An outdoor area was added in the recent years, which features a large swimming pool, sports facilities and even a whitewater river.

Checking out the Tropical Island Park comes highly recommended, especially if you’ve crossed off all major sights of Berlin (such as visiting the Reichstag) and want to venture out for a truly different experience.

Contributed by Veronika, Travel Geekery

Playmobil FunPark

Best Theme parks in Europe
Playmobil FunPark in Germany

Playmobil FunPark in Germany is one of the best amusement parks for children in the country and draws thousands of visitors every year. There are dozens of attractions that bring kids and families to this southern Germany park every year.

Action Park and the Adventure Tree House are great places for kids to play and goof around. The tree house in particular encourages kids to explore higher levels and pretend as if they live in a tree. Similarly the indoor climbing area is also a clever maze where kids can weave their way in and out of the different climbing areas and slide down to escape their friends.

There is a huge knight’s castle where the interior courtyard is a gathering place for adults to watch their children explore the different towers and areas of the castle.

Older children will enjoy the power paddle boats as well as the slide slope. The water paddle boats allow children to sit in their own paddle boat and paddle with their hands. The slide slope is a bit of a climb and children slide down one of several winding slides through trees and brush before landing at the bottom.

Playmobil has many more attractions for children and has fantastic indoor eating areas as well as at least a dozen cafes and restaurants spread out throughout the park. Families and children consider Playmobil as one of the top parks in Germany and for good reason.

Contributed by Diana, Travels in Poland

Best theme parks in Sweden

Did you know that Sweden is home to one of the largest theme parks in Europe? Liseberg, in Gothenburg, is the biggest amusement park in Scandinavia. Sweden is also home to one of the quirkiest theme parks, the Astrid Lindgrens Varld.

Liseberg

Best Theme parks in Europe
Christmas at Lisberg in Gothenburgh, Sweden

Liseberg Amusement Park in Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg, is the country’s national treasure. The amusement park first opened in 1923 and since then it has been attracting millions of Swedes and tourists to its exhilarating rides, shows, games, restaurants and gardens.

Liseberg theme park is situated in the town centre, so is easy to reach by foot, tram or even by boat along the canals. Liseberg is open during summer, Halloween and Christmas, and attracts more than 3 million guests a year.

Christmas is a special time of year for the theme park, as it hosts the largest Christmas Market in Gothenburg and in fact the whole of Sweden. During this time Liseberg regularly pulls in half a million visitors due to the huge selection of Christmas stalls, amusement rides and Swedish winter treats.

The park is transformed by over five million Christmas lights that are sustainably powered by Liseberg’s very own wind turbine (which also runs some of the rollercoaster rides!). In addition to the 80 stalls selling gifts, handicrafts and Swedish delicacies like cinnamon buns, there is an ice skating ballet show that takes place on Liseberg’s Ice skating rink, a traditional Christmas buffet and of course Santa’s workshop.

Contributed by Roshni, The Wanderlust Within

Astrid Lindgrens Varld

Best Theme parks in Europe
Astrid Lindgrens Varld in Vimmerby, Sweden

Fans of Pippi Longstocking won’t want to miss Astrid Lindgrens Varld (Astrid Lindgrens World). Located in the author’s native city of Vimmerby, this theme park is a celebration of the author’s works.

Here you’ll find Villekulla Cottage, Katthult farm, Matt’s Forest and plenty of other places that devotees of Astrid Lindgrens’ books will recognise. Even if you aren’t familiar with all her works, however, kids will love this theme park.

Instead of rides you’ll find performances by characters found in the books and magical worlds where children can journey through Lindgrens’ stories for real. You may even get the chance to meet Pippi herself.

The park is open from May to August with performances and events featured daily. There’s a small stage near the entrance and a main stage where you’ll see plenty of sining and dancing.

If you can’t make it to Vimmerby but are visiting Stockholm with kids then head to Junibacken, a museum and cultural centre devoted to Swedish children’s literature, in particular the works of Astrid Lindgren.

Best theme parks in Denmark

Home to the original Legoland and Tivoli Gardens, Denmark has some great theme park options.

Legoland Billund

Best Theme parks in Europe
Legoland Billund in Denmark

Billund is just a little town in the middle of Denmark about 300 km from Copenhagen. The reason why the first Legoland is located here is that Billund is actually home of Lego.

Not surprisingly, Lego is actually the very first thing that you will see once you enter the park. There is a miniature park made entirely out of Lego blocks, you can see here some famous castles like Neuschweistain in Germany or the city center of Copenhagen. Also, some of the highest buildings in the world have here their remake.

Other than that, Legoland Billund offers a lot of rides that thematically fit with Lego itself, there is a pirate ride with crocodiles and pirates statues. But the park is also trying to live out of the newer spirit, so there is an entire part of this park dedicated to Lego Ninja.

Billund is the city to go for this attraction, the easiest way of getting here from Copenhagen would be actually by plane because this little town has its own airport. Otherwise, it is possible to get here by bus from the capital, but it takes around 3 hours.

The park is great for anyone who loves Lego and everything around it. But at the same time, it has some fun attractions and rides for people who just want to have fun. Kids can also find here penguins or little aquarium. So all in all, it is a great place to spend the whole day outside of Copenhagen.

Contributed by Albi, Ginger Around the Globe

Tivoli Gardens

Best Theme parks in Europe
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark

Located in the heart of Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital-city, the Tivoli Gardens is the second-oldest amusement park in the world. Opened in 1843, it is believed to have inspired Walt Disney to build his famous theme park. However, the Tivoli Gardens is very different from Disneyland, or any other modern theme park that we had ever seen before.

In fact, we visited the Tivoli Gardens by chance. It was during Christmastime, and we traveled all the way to Copenhagen just to watch the Nutcracker, a traditional Christmas ballet. This live show in Copenhagen is special because it’s co-produced by the Royal Danish Ballet.

The show is performed in the concert hall inside the Tivoli Gardens and, as we held tickets to the show, we didn’t have to pay entrance fees to the them park itself. But when we saw Tivoli’s majestic main entrance right next to Copenhagen’s main train station, we were so mesmerised by the enchanting atmosphere that we would have paid the full entrance price anyway.

Like other theme parks, there are also exciting rides, restaurants and shops in the Tivoli Gardens. But here you get to taste delicious Scandinavian gourmet food next to a real fireplace, shop for traditional Scandinavian keepsakes and knitwear inside hundreds of cozy little booths, and enjoy thrilling nostalgic rides that make you travel back in time.

If you love theme parks – or even if you don’t but you happen to be in Copenhagen – we highly recommend you to visit the Tivoli Gardens. Because the Tivoli Gardens look like a timeless Nordic fairytale land shifted out of the 19th century.

Contributed by Mei and Kerstin, Travel with Mei and Kerstin

Best theme parks in Finland

Finland might not boast big rollercoasters but it is home to Moominworld!

Moominworld, Finland 

Best theme parks in Europe
The Moomin house at the heart of Moominworld in Finland

The magical world of all things Moomin is located in Naantali, just outside the Finnish city of Turku. There are plenty of things to do in Turku itself but Moominworld is definitely one of the most popular attractions.

Located on an island, this park celebrates Tove Jansson’s loveable characters. There are no rides or rollercoaster instead the park is divided into different Moomin worlds.

At the heart of the park stands Moomin House. Here you’ll find the Moomins themselves along with other characters from the books including mischievous Little My. They’re more than happy to take photos or give Moomin hugs.

Other places to discover include Snork’s Park of Inventions, the Cave of the Hattifatteners and Sniff’s summer cottage. Performances are held on a handful of stages throughout the day. Many of them are in Finnish but some are also in English.

It’s a really lovely place to visit with kids, even if you’re not sure what kind of animal a Moomin is! Moominworld is open during the summer months and for one week in February.

Best theme parks in Portugal

If you want water parks then head to the Algarve but if you’re looking for some theme park fun in Lisbon with kids, you must try KidZania.

KidZania

Best Theme parks in Europe
There are a number of Kidzania parks around the world

Located in the northern end of the city, KidZania Lisbon is one of the best theme parks in Europe. While some might not necessarily consider it a theme park, kids will see it as one as it is a place dedicated entirely to kids!

As part of the worldwide KidZania theme parks, Lisbon is very like its global counterparts. For anyone not familiar with KidZania, it is a miniature city designed for kids.

Within the city, kids must work to earn Kidzos, the official money of KidZania. These can be used to pay for certain activities, can be saved in their bank account (only within each city, it is not transferrable) or they can spend their Kidzos in the shop or at other KidZanias around the world. It is a great way to teach kids where money comes from, the effort needed to earn it and to teach them how to save or spend their money wisely.

Jobs at KidZania Lisbon include being a pilot with TAP Air Portugal, being a paramedic with INEM (one of the paramedic companies within Portugal) and working in a Vila Gale hotel.

Other activities include acting school, being a news reporter, working as a vet, going to driving school to get your driving licence and more. There are activities suited to children of all ages. Check the sign at the entrance of the activity for the minimum age requirement as some are not suitable for all ages.

If you are visiting Lisbon with kids, KidZania is somewhere to consider. Just be prepared for some activities not to be suitable or available if the supervisor does not speak much English. Many do, but there is always the chance they don’t, you are in Portugal after all. However, English-speaking children can still enjoy their time there, particularly if they’ve visited another KidZania before.

Contributed by Cath, Passports and Adventures

Best theme parks in Italy

From the enormous Gardaland to the less well-known Tarot Garden, Italy offers something for all theme park enthusiasts.

Gardaland

Best Theme parks in Europe
Gardaland in Italy

Italy’s Lake District is famous for its beautiful landscape, like Lake Garda or Monte Isola. However, the area is a real paradise for theme park lovers as well.

You can find several incredible parks at the shore of Lake Garda. Movieland attracts a lot of movie enthusiasts, while the Caneva Aquapark is a must-visit place in the hot summer days. However, the biggest attraction is Gardaland Resort.

There is something for everyone at Gardaland. The Gardaland SEA LIFE Aquarium is home to over 200.000 creatures. It is a great place to discover marine life.

In the Gardaland theme park, you can get an adrenalin rush on the park’s epic roller coasters. Oblivion the Black Hole became the first vertical drop roller coaster in Italy. It attracts many adventure seekers each year but there are some more gentle rides as well in the park.

The Peppa Pig Land is ideal for small children, as it has some fun rides like a pirate ship. The little ones can even meet Peppa and her friends and take pictures with them. Gardaland Resort has its own hotel with different themed rooms. But of course there are other accommodation options nearby, like campsites, which are more affordable.

Contributed by Aniko, Travel Hacker Girl

Tarot Garden

Best Theme parks in Europe
Tarot Garden in Italy

On the way from Rome to Grosseto, just across the border between the regions of Lazio and Tuscany, lies one of the most magical places in Italy. The Tarot Garden is an artistic theme park inspired by the major arcana of the Tarots.

The creator of the garden is the French American artist Niki De Saint Phalle, who recognised the Tarot Garden as the biggest artistic achievement of her life. Niki worked on her creation together with her husband, a group of well-known artists, and a team of specialised workers for 17 years.

The 22 sculptures representing the arcana are made of glass, mirrors, and colourful pottery assembled together on metallic structures. The garden can be seen as an initiatory journey into the divine feminine. Going up and down the hill where the park is located, sculpture by sculpture, the viewer might feel mesmerised and astonished. The sculptures are enigmatic and expressive at the same time, their colours lively, and their shapes sinuous.

Niki De Saint Phalle declared that she drew inspiration from the sculptures in Barcelona’s Park Guell and in the Bomarzo’s Park of Monster in Italy.

A visit to the Tarot Garden represents an easy way to travel Tuscany from Rome. If you want to get there, the most convenient mean of transportation is a rental car.

Contributed by Annalisa, Travel Connect Experience

Best theme parks in Lithuania

Lithuania is home to one of Europe’s most unusual theme parks.

Grūtas Park

Best Theme parks in Europe
Grutas Park is not your typical theme park

Grūtas Park is definitely not your typical theme park, but it is a park with a theme! It’s just that the theme happens to be Soviet sculptures. There’s an area for kids to play near the entrance, but it’s more like what you would expect to find in a playground than in your usual theme park.

The controversial neo-Soviet park is known officially as Grutas Park and unofficially as Stalin World. In the fiercely anti-Soviet Baltic states (where there are ‘occupation’ museums in all three capitals), the opening of a park for the display of Soviet sculptures within just 10 years after the fall of the Soviet Union was met with some resistance. But in fact, the purpose of the park is not to glorify the Soviet era.

It’s actually very anti-Soviet, detailing the terror the regime inspired in Lithuania, and is very well presented. Walking around the forest past the sculptures – which include about a dozen Lenin and two rare Stalin sculptures (one bust and one full-body sculpture) – with Soviet music playing from nearby speakers was an eerie feeling.

While Lenin statues are a dime a dozen in many of the former Soviet republics, Stalin sculptures have been much rarer ever since de-Stalinisation began inside the USSR during Krushchev’s ‘thaw’ in the late 1950s. I’ve traveled throughout the former USSR, and the only other place I’ve seen one is in the Muzeon Park of Arts in central Moscow, Russia, where many Soviet sculptures were placed after being removed from their places of honor.

Grūtas Park is in southern Lithuania, near the border with Belarus. To get there from Vilnius or from Kaunas, take a bus heading to Druskininkai and then get off at the turnoff to the park and walk the final kilometre. Alternatively, you could stay on the bus until you reach Druskininkai and then get another bus from there that will drop you right at the park entrance.

Contributed by Wendy Werneth, The Nomadic Vegan

Best theme parks in Austria

Austria is home to one of Europe’s best loved theme parks, the Vienna Prater.

The Vienna Prater

Best Theme parks in Europe
The Vienna Prater

The Vienna Prater is an amusement park located in the 2nd district in Vienna, Austria. Here you will find the infamous Giant Ferris Wheel, which has also turned into one of the city’s most iconic symbols. This is not a massive theme park, but it definitely has something for everyone.

One part of the park is filled with 250 rollercoasters and attractions, perfect entertainment for young and old. Next to the amusement park you will find the so-called Green Prater, an area filled with lush greens, which was once used as an imperial hunting ground.

The Prater is open from March till October, but the world famous Giant Ferris Wheel and a few other attractions are open and welcome visitors all year round. The park is highly appreciated among locals and tourists; it’s the perfect getaway for runners, walkers, cyclists, adrenaline junkies and nature lovers.

The Vienna Prater has also been used as a film location for numerous productions, such as The Third Man, Before Sunrise and Woman in Gold.

Getting here is quite easy, as the park is conveniently located very close to the city centre. Just take the U1 or U2 metro line and get off at “Prater”. Once you get out of the metro station, you just can’t miss the Giant Ferris Wheel in front. Make sure you put this theme park on your list because it is one of the best places to visit in Vienna.

Contributed by Lyubomira, Bulgarian On The Go

Best theme parks in Holland

Holland is home to one of the Europe’s best theme parks; Efteling Park is where the Brothers Grimm fairytales are brought to life.

Efteling Park

Best Theme parks in Europe
Efteling Park in Holland

Efteling Park is a real hidden gem of a theme park and there is only one way to really describe it and that is magical. Many people say it is better than Disney!

Efteling is in Holland, just an 1 hour and 15 minutes from Amsterdam and 20 mins from the famous Beekse Burgen Safari Park. It is perfect place to visit for a long weekend with its own hotels and lodge accommodation within the park or as a day out if you are staying nearby. There are so many great family days out in Holland.

So what can you expect when visiting Eftelng? Efteling is a fairytale theme park that is suitable for all ages. Everyone from toddlers to the older generation will love their visit and have the most amazing time, with rides to suit everyone.

There is everything from enchanting rides for the family and talking trees. The fairy-tale woodland walk, also known as the largest living picture book, is where you can walk between giants and trolls and see all of your favourite characters from classic books such as Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Pinocchio.

If you are a thrill seeker and one who loves rollercoasters, then you won’t be disappointed as there is even something for you!

You have to visit at least one of the shows on offer at Efteling throughout the day. If I had to pick only one I would recommend the magnificent light and water show in the evening just after sun set. It really will take your breath away and be the perfect way to end your day.

Contributed by Anna, Twins and Travels

Best theme parks in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to plenty of theme parks with rides and rollercoasters to suit all ages.

Alton Towers

Best Theme parks in Europe
Alton Towers in the UK

Alton Towers, next to the sleepy village of Alton in Staffordshire, is England’s second most visited theme park. It’s set in the grounds of a private estate that was the home of the Earls of Shrewsbury. In 1890 to help with running costs it became known for hosting summer fetes on the estate.

Most people don’t think about the history of Alton Towers, they come here simply for the fun. It’s owned by the juggernaut Merlin Entertainment, who also own Thorpe Park, Chessington and Legoland Windsor (the most visited park in England) as well as Legolands over the world and the Sealife Brand. Suffice to say, they live and breathe theme parks.

This means that Alton Towers has a little bit of everything. There’s Cbeebies Land for the little ones as well as shops and food outlets. There’s Sharkbait Reef (a Sealife Aquarium), rides for the bigger kids and also for thrill seekers. Family rides include the river rapids, duel (a laser gun game through a haunted mansion), the runaway mine train and hex.

For the thrill seekers, Alton Towers like being the first to launch new rides.

They created Air, now named Galactica, as a flying roller coaster in the 90s. Nemesis, in 1994, became Europe’s first inverted roller coaster. Oblivion followed in 1998 as the world’s first dive coaster. Rita in 2005 propelled you to speed with a launch system capable of 0 to 93km/h in 2.5 seconds.

The past ten years has been quieter but the park steadily develops. TH13TEEN, in my eyes. was a lacklustre affair but featured the first vertical free drop on a roller coaster. Smiler holds the record for the most inversions on a roller coaster – 14 in total.

Wickerman is their latest affair, opened in 2018, and the first wooden rollercoaster in Britain for over two decades.

You can get round the park by monorail or sky ride. Open Mid-March to November, they also host a scarefest around Halloween with spooky mazes, and a stunning Fireworks display for Guy Fawkes night in November.

The best way to get to the park is definitely by car, although you can take the train to Stafford or Uttoxeter (closest 10 miles away from the park), and get buses or taxis from there.

If you want to stay the night, then you have the option of the original Alton Towers Hotel, Splash Landings Hotel, Enchanted Village with its lodges and 6 treehouses, the Cbeebies Land Hotel and the more simple Stargazing Pods. There’s even the Alton Towers waterpark attached to Splash Landings which is a day’s fun in itself.

Contributed by Dave Chant, www.davechant.com

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Best Theme parks in Europe
Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is the self-proclaimed most iconic theme park in the UK and one of the world’s pioneering amusement parks, with a host of records.

Founded in 1896, it is one of the UK’s most visited attractions, and has the largest number of roller coasters of any park in the country, with a total of ten, four of which are wooden. It was voted the best theme park in the UK and ninth best in Europe by Travellers Choice Awards 2014.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is suitable for families and offers excellent value for money, costing just £25 (adult) and £23 (child) when you book online. It’s also situated in a picturesque setting by the sea with a pier, and there are plenty of affordable hotels nearby.

The park is famous for its exhilarating collection of head-spinning roller coasters including the world famous The Big One, which was the world’s tallest, fastest and steepest roller coaster when it opened in 1994 (it is currently still the tallest roller coaster in the UK).

There is also the Big Dipper, the world’s 8th oldest rollercoaster, which first opened in 1923.

Many of the roller coasters are record-breaking attractions. Other thrilling rides include: Infusion, Valhalla, Ice Blast, and the newest addition: Red Arrows Skyforce.

Blackpool Pleasure beach is situated along the Promenade (aka The Golden Mile) in Blackpool, England. The nearest train station is Blackpool South, four minutes drive, or 20 minutes walk. Manchester Airport is the nearest airport – an hour’s drive away.

Contriibuted by Billy, BRB Gone Somewhere Epic

Chessington World of Adventures

Best Theme parks in Europe
Chessington World of Adventure in the UK

Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey started life as a zoo and has evolved over the years to become one of England’s best loved theme parks.

From an early age I have been visiting Chessington and subsequently brought my own children when they were younger. A short 35 minute train journey from Central London and then a 10 minute walk from the station will find you right outside the park’s gates. If you are driving then there is a small parking fee to pay.

Chessington caters for all ages and is a real family-friendly destination. Children will love the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, bringing to life the popular children’s tale of the mouse’s journey through the deep dark woods. Meanwhile thrill seekers will enjoy the Vampire ride as they are whisked around on this rollercoaster in never-ending loops.

Chessington still retains its zoo which has now become more of a safari park aptly named Zufari. Here you will be transported to the depths of Africa in a safari jeep without ever needing to leave the country. See giraffe, rhino, ostrich and then stop off to have fun in the monkey walk-through enclosure.

A Sea Life centre provides added family value, with a walk-through aquatic tunnel and daily shows are put on featuring sea-lions.

The on site hotel is in keeping with the safari theme where windows look out onto the “savannah” and give families a magical view of the wild animals.

If all that still leaves you wanting for more, you can be a zookeeper for the day and get down and dirty with the animals by helping with the cleaning and feeding of the more gentle species.

With over 40 rides and attractions and 10 “themed” lands, Chessington World of Adventures still retains the magic it always has done bringing joy to all the family.

Contributed by Angela, Where Angie Wanders

Drusilla’s Park

Best Theme parks in Europe
Drusillas Park in the UK

Drusilla’s Park is a theme park for the under 7’s in East Sussex UK. This theme park is large enough that the children can run around and exhaust themselves but small enough that you don’t have to worry about losing them. With such attention to little ones, Drusilla’s allows younger children to play without fear of being trampled by older kids or having to wait in long lines.

There is a large play area with all sorts of activities such as soft play, climbing frame and a playground. There is also a dedicated Hello Kitty area. In the summer, there is a splash pad and a water play area as well. The theme park rides are perfect and non-threatening for young ones, for example, a carousel or spinning tea cups.

There is also a small zoo with exhibits devoted to what little children like, such as meerkats, monkeys and snakes. You can engage in animal encounters like meeting the meerkats or flinging fish to feed the penguins. Conservation and education are a big part of this little zoo. There are lots of interactive exhibits that let you learn about the animals you are meeting.

Most of the activities at this theme park are included in the admission price. There are some extras to pay for such as temporary tattoos or the climbing wall. We have found these sort of extras are usually extra fees at all theme parks. You also pay extra for the food which is in a cafeteria setup with the usual kid-friendly food – burgers, chicken etc.

Drusilla’s is open most of the year except for three days around Christmas. It is open from 10AM until 5pm or 6pm (in the winter and summer respectively). Located on the A27, Drusilla’s is 6 miles from Eastbourne and 12 miles from Brighton. The parking is extensive and right near the park.

We were really sad when our kids aged out of Drusilla’s. Our kids loved visiting Drusilla’s especially with their grandparents. The non-threatening rides and small area to walk around in is perfect for older adults.

Drusilla’s was a big day out where they were guaranteed to have fun. As they got older and needed less supervision, we could also let them play while we got to sit on a bench on the side!

Contributed by Shoba, Just Go Places

Drayton Manor Theme Park

Best Theme parks in Europe
Drayton Manor in the UK

Drayton Manor Theme Park is probably best known for its Under 5s area which is called Thomas Land, based on the television and book character Thomas The Tank Engine.

Drayton manor is a great theme park for the entire family, the toddlers love Thomas Land, they also have a zoo with some very entertaining animals, our children love the meerkats, within the animal area there is also a dinosaur trail, with large dinosaur models and a great adventure play area.

For the teenagers there are some brilliant fast rides, including Maelstrom which is a stomach-churning, head-turning gyro swing that faces outwards as you’re raised into the sky, gaining massive height with every arc before you plunge towards the ground whilst rotating 360 degrees as you fly.

The Drunken Barrels is a unique take on the popular tea cup ride. The older ones also loved Air Race where each plane performs its own white-knuckle loops that take you a full 360 degrees around, swinging you upside down and towards the ground.

If it’s a warm day, then the entire family will love the water rides, Splash Canyon and Stormforce 10, just prepared to get wet!

If you are looking for somewhere to stay near the theme park, they have a Hotel onsite, that gives you cheaper access to Drayton Manor, alternatively there are numerous Premier Inn and Travelodge hotels located nearby. Drayton manor is located in Tamworth, Staffordshire, B78 3TW.

Contributed by Mandi, Big Family Little Adventures

Thorpe Park 

Best Theme parks in Europe
Thorpe Park in the UK

After growing up in the UK, Thorpe Park was a huge part of my childhood. The theme park is designed completely for thrill seekers and provides the best adrenaline rush you’ll find throughout the UK and abroad. Its proximity to London also draws in visitors. On a summers day the park is always packed, and it’s not hard to see why.

Thorpe Park is most famous for its many rollercoasters. My absolute favourite is Stealth – the ride shoots you off, reaching speeds of 80mph in less than two seconds. It then sends you high into the sky before plummeting back to earth. The ride lasts less than 20 seconds but it’s well worth the queueing time.

My other favourite is Colossus. This ride has 10 loops and was the rollercoaster with the most loops in the world when it was built (not anymore, sadly). If rollercoasters don’t suit you there’s also a beach and water slides. It’s a great place to relax on a sunny day, especially with the coast being so far away!

Thorpe Park is located in Staines just outside of London. Ample car parking is available on site but be prepared to pay the £5 for it.

Alternatively, take the train from central London to Staines, where you can switch to take the bus directly to the park. Your journey should take around an hour to an hour and a half in total. I recommend arriving early for opening time to ensure you make the most of your day there.

Contributed by Hannah, Hannah’s Happy Adventures

Best theme parks in Spain

For big rides, big splashes and one of the most unusual theme parks in Europe, head to Spain!

Mini Hollywood

Best Theme parks in Europe
Mini Hollywood in Spain

Mini Hollywood near Almeria in Southern Spain is definitely one of the quirkiest theme parks in Europe. Would you expect a Western-themed park in Southern Europe?

First, you may wonder why create a Western theme park in the Tabernas Desert near Almeri. Well, the desert was the filming location for some of the most famous Western films out there: Once Upon a Time in the West, Indiana Jones, Lawrence of Arabia and Exodus – all film successes made in Andalusia.

The theme park Oasys, Mini Hollywood is great fun for young and old. Enjoy authentic westerns scenarios hosting fun live shows, a huge zoological reserve with more than 800 animals of 200 different species, pool areas and a large range of restaurants and educational activities.

It’s perfect to spend at least a day here and if you want to extend your stay, there are plenty of things to do in Almeria that will make you fall in love with this part of Spain.

Contributed by Paulina, Paulina on the Road

Siam Water Park

Best Theme parks in Europe
Siam Water Park

You have to believe an attraction is good when it has been ranked #1 in the world for the sixth year in a row! Yes, Siam Park deserves every bit of this praise.

Siam Park is a water park in Costa Adeje, in the south of the warm Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It is designed in a Siamese theme and was even inaugurated by the Princess of Thailand Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

It is one of the coolest water parks I have ever been to. Here you can surf giant waves, slide at some of the best water slides, and enjoy some relaxing time at the beach and Thai cabanas. Not only it is a lot of fun, but it is also very clean and well organised, even with so many visitors.

Two of my favourite rides are Singha and Kinnaree. They both gave me an adrenaline rush and the moment I got out of them, I wanted to go again. These water slides are more of a roller coaster than slides.

Given its wonderful warm location, you can visit this park at any time of the year. We visited it in December and it was just perfect. Not cold at all and we only had to wait 5-10 minutes maximum.

It can get really crowded in summer. I recommend getting a VIP access ticket if visiting the park from July to September. During the summer the park also opens in the evening, so that could be an option as well.

Siam Park offers its own shuttle service to pick up visitors from the north and south of the island. Please make your reservations 48 hours before by calling the park. Otherwise, you can take a taxi to this well-known destination.

Tips and suggestions:

  • Arrive early and target the famous slides like The Tower of Power first, as they tend to get crowded later.
  • Check the timings of the rides, some rides close earlier than others. Plan to take them first.
  • The floor can get really hot in summer. I will recommend taking/buying some water shoes. They are allowed on the slides.
  • Just next to the park is the Siam mall, a good spot for shopping and food afterward.

Contributed by Nisha, And There She Goes Again.

PortAventura World

Best Theme parks in Europe
Portaventura

When it comes to theme parks in Europe, PortAventura World sets the standard!

Located in Spain, near Salou, it’s the perfect place to go to if you love roller coasters. It only takes 10 minutes to get there from Salou Town Centre by car. There is a big car park onsite. If you prefer taking public transport, you will also find various shuttles.

If you are flying, the airport Reus Barcelona is only 15 minutes away. Perfect for visitors who want to hit two birds with one stone and visit Barcelona as well.

The park is split in different themed areas including an Italian village and a western Texan town.

The most famous rides are the Dragon Khan, Furius Baco, Shambhala and El Diablo Tren de la Mina. You will also find some “easier” rides but bear in mind that PortAventura really is about roller coasters. Thrill seekers will absolutely love it but if you are not into rides, you may not find it as fun.

PortAventura also offers a water park: Caribe Aquatic Park. This is perfect during summer! This area of Spain gets very hot in July and August, so PortAventura water park is the perfect activity to get away from the heat.

It can get quite busy in summer so I would highly recommend getting a fast pass. Even though it is an extra cost, it’s worth it. You will get to make the most of your day with it.

PortAventura is one of the best entertainment parks in the world. It definitely competes with the famous theme parks in Florida. It’s the perfect place to go if you are looking for a shot of adrenaline!

Contributed by Pauline, Beeloved City

Things to do in London in February

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