From exotic gardens and rich history to parks filled with Disney characters, when it comes to European theme parks, you’re spoilt for choice. Here are five of the best amusement parks in Europe, and they aren’t just for children!
Tivoli Gardens amusement park in central Copenhagen is steeped in history. The park was founded by Georg Carstensen and, since it opened on Aug. 15, 1863, has served as inspiration to many creatives, including fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney.
It offers rides like the Dæmonen (the Demon) and the Golden Tower, which allows you to see the most incredible views of the city and then wakes you up with a sudden drop to Earth. Not into rides? The grounds are breathtakingly beautiful and great to wander round while taking in the atmosphere.
Pros: There’s something for everyone. The serious daredevils can experience the Vertigo (which will turn you upside down at 100 kilometres per hour and has caused people to pass out), while those who prefer keeping their feet firmly on the ground can enjoy one of the ballets or theatre productions in the concert hall.
Cons: You need more than half a day to experience all this beauty, and rides are charged individually.
Find out more about the park on the Tivoli Gardens official website.
Alton Towers Resort
Alton Towers Resort is located in Staffordshire, England. It’s a theme park and water park dedicated to family activities, so if you’re wanting to go to a park that is great for kids — have an adventure on the Congo River Rapids or the pay a trip to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — then this park is not short of entertainment for your little ones.
Pros: A wonderful family experience to be had by all. The focus is on entertainment for children — both young and old.
Cons: In 2015, the park experienced a horrific crash which left four people seriously injured in an accident on the Smiler rollercoaster. Staff had reportedly allowed a manual override of the rollercoaster’s safety system, which caused those on board to smash into the back of stationary carriages. However, Merlin Entertainment has since “taken steps to upgrade safety standards from what were already very stringent safety standards”.
Find out more about the park on the official Alton Towers website.
Gigantic theme park PortAventura World is located about an hour away from Barcelona and includes a multitude of world-class attractions, rides, hotels, restaurants and shows that will suit everyone from ages 2 to 99.
Pros: There are hundreds of rides to suit all ages and wonderful themes throughout. There is also the option to stay inside the resort in one of the many luxury-themed hotels, or you can even choose to stay in your own campervan.
Cons: Park operations are a bit laid-back, and people will cut in front of you in queues, which is enough to send most of us into fits of rage.
Find out more about the park on the PortAventura World website.
Legoland Billund Resort
We’ve all heard of the popular Danish toy LEGO — if you haven’t played with it yourself, you’ve stood on it and cursed the company for being so popular with your kids — so it makes perfect sense that there would be an amusement park dedicated to the toy in its home country.
Legoland Billund Resort offers you the chance to walk through themed cities, take water rides and experience the largest LEGO store in Europe. Plus there’s an impressive LEGO hotel which you can stay in (and relive your childhood), which makes Legoland in Denmark the perfect place for a whole day (or more) of fun, whether you’re alone or with your entire family.
Pros: The park is surprisingly large — it’s designed with great attention to detail and plenty of fun rides.
Cons: Some rides remain closed when the temperature is below 5 degrees C, so go in summer for the best experience.
Find out more about the park on the official Legoland website.
Disneyland Paris is a resort in Marne-la-Vallée, a small town located 32 kilometres east of the centre of Paris.
As the name would suggest, the park is filled with Disney characters and themed attractions, but that doesn’t mean it’s just for kids (although it’s a bonus if you’re planning a trip for the whole family). There’s plenty of entertainment for adults, like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Coaster starring Aerosmith, the Twilight Zone Tower of TerrorTM or the Finding Nemo on Crush’s Coaster.
Pros: While the park is big, you don’t need a whole week to see the highlights (two to three days is perfect).
Cons: The park gets extremely crowded, and you can spend half your day waiting in line, especially during French and British school holidays — make sure you know exactly how tall your child is before waiting in line. The park is best experienced in good weather, as most attractions are outdoors.
Find out more information about the park on Disneyland Paris’ website.