popeye village
5th February 2016

The Ultimate European Theme Park Guide

Fasten your seat-belts and get ready for an action-packed tour around 12 of Europe’s most awesome theme parks…

Europa-Park

europa park

 

Second only to Disneyland Paris in terms of popularity, Germany’s Europa-Park is a rollercoaster filled ode to Europe’s countries. A thrilling 50 attractions await, which side-by-side would cover the size of eighty football pitches. The park is located around 35 km north of Freiburg, close to the village of Rust, making it the perfect day trip destination if you’re heading between Strasbourg or Karlsruhe and the Swiss Alps.

 

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

tivoli gardens

 

Visitors to Copenhagen have been falling under Tivoli’s spell ever since it opened its gates in 1843. With its cute-as-a-button mix of amusements, attractions and performances it’s easy to see why.  Stepping through its famous arch, you enter a world of fairy tales, exotic lands and exhilarating rides. Even Hans Christian Andersen was a fan. There are big thrills to be found too – the park contains one of the world’s highest chain carousels and a number of show-stopping rollercoasters.

Disneyland Paris

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It’s the Magic Kingdom, and then some. Just over an hour outside the City of Light, Disneyland Paris is home to seven official Disney-themed hotels, the Disney Village entertainment and shopping district and two theme parks: Parc Disneyland and the Walt Disney Studios Park.  You may never want to leave.

 

Popeye Village, Malta

popeye village

 

Malta’s Popeye Village was originally built as a film set for the 1980 Popeye movie, starring Robin Williams. These days, the cartoon town of Sweethaven is an open-air museum and family entertainment complex. Visitors can check out sets and props from the film, take a 15-minute boat trip around Anchor Bay and snap the thoroughly instagrammable scenery from the sea. As far as amusements go, there are audio visual shows (including clips from the actual film), a 9- hole mini golf course, as well as water trampolines and numerous Popeye-based games.

 

Gardaland

garda land collage

 

Look forward to adrenaline-fuelled adventures on six epic rollercoasters – all in stunning surroundings. Gardaland has one of the most privileged settings in Europe. Located on the banks of the glorious Lake Garda, the park offers entertainment for all ages. Younger children will adore Gardaland’s Fantasy Kingdom, with its Toy Town and treehouse of Prezzemolo, the park’s mascot, while thrill seekers can up the ante on the fast flowing Jungle Rapids water ride or the hair-raising Blue Tornado rollercoaster.

 

Efteling

efteling

 

 

Once upon a time there was a theme park where all your favourite fairy tales were brought to life.  Efteling, a dark and enchanting world of princesses, pixies, fairies and trolls is located in Kaatsheuvel in the Netherlands. Cinderella, Rapunzel as well as numerous folk tale characters are represented in the park’s attractions, which feature 35 rides including six rollercoasters and four water rides. Top billing goes to ‘Joris en de Draak’ a wooden rollercoaster offering extreme thrills. The park’s pièce de résistance though, is Aquanura, Europe’s biggest watershow.

 

Futuroscope

futuroscope

 

Just a short hop from beautiful Poitiers, the Futuroscope park in Charente Maritime, uses cinema, 3D and 4D technology to create a futuristic sensory experience, alongside fun educational elements.  Very few of the attractions operate height restrictions, meaning young and old can share the experiences – this truly is fun for everyone in the family, from tiny tots to grannies and granddads. The park is open all year round apart from January.

 

Legoland Billund

 

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Little did local inventor Kirk Christiansen know he’d put Billund on the map when he came up with the Lego brand in the 1930s. Today, the Danish town is home to the global headquarters of Lego, as well as the Lego factory, and most famously, Legoland, where 9 themed Lego ‘lands’, four rollercoasters, two water rides and over 40 other attractions built from a whopping 60 million bricks provide bucket-loads of fun for all ages.

 

PortAventura

port aventura

 

Sun, sand, sea….those spectacular Gaudi buildings…. just when you thought a trip to Barcelona couldn’t get any better, PortAventura beckons with its six magical, action-packed ‘worlds’ filled with everything from Sesame Street characters to wild west- themed adventures and exhilarating rollercoaster rides. Situated just over an hour from the city, PortAventura is the perfect day trip for city breakers or families visiting the sun-drenched Costa Dorada.

 

Paultons Family Theme Park: Home of Peppa Pig World

peppa pig world

Image via Facebook

 

Toddlers of the world rejoice! Everyone’s favourite pig family has its very own theme park –  Peppa Pig World, located within Paultons Family Theme Park, right on the edge of New Forest in leafy Hampshire. Entry not only covers all things pink and Peppa, but also includes access to 60 different attractions and rides. Thrilling rollercoasters, gentle carousels, monstrous dinosaurs, museum exhibits, animated shows, colourful play areas, exotic birds and other fun activities await, all within a picture-perfect garden setting.

 

Tayto Park, Ireland

tayto park

Image via Facebook

 

A theme park based on a crisp? Only in Ireland. Dedicated to probably the world’s best dressed potato, Mr Tayto,  Tayto Park is just a short 30-minute drive from Dublin and features its own zoo with meerkats, buffalo and Amur tigers as well as thrilling rides such as the Zipline Extreme, Rotator and the Cu Chulainn Coaster, (the largest wooden rollercoaster in Europe to offer up-side down thrills). Between its zoo, factory tour, water features and rides, Tayto Park makes for an action-packed day out for families or groups visiting the Irish capital.

 

Bakken, Klampenborg, Denmark

 

Fact: The world’s first theme park was founded in 1583, is just a 10-minute drive from Copenhagen and is kind of a hipster’s dream. Located in the pretty woodlands of Dyrehaven, Bakken is a unique amusement park that combines modern and fun amusements with vintage nostalgia. Due to its history and unique location, no big brands are allowed to set up stalls at Bakken and neon signs are banned. Instead you’ll find a charming hodgepodge of colourful wooden structures and small independent shops. The park’s star attraction is an 82-year-old wooden rollercoaster, but there are 33 other thrilling rides to choose from as well as 78 other attractions including shooting stalls and gaming arcades. Best of all, the entrance is free.

 

Have you visited any of the theme parks on our list? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

Fiona Hilliard

Fiona Hilliard

A love of new cultures is what drives Dublin travel writer Fiona Hilliard to explore the cities of Europe and beyond.

7 Comments

  • Jennie

    You have completely got missed the best Liseberg in Gothenburg.

    8th February 2016 at 7:35 pm
  • Colin Bradley

    Futures cope is great went there once with the family

    9th February 2016 at 10:44 am
  • HILLARY Grant

    Legoland Billund best theme park have been there three times at Easter . With the family . Have done legoland Germany as well.

    9th February 2016 at 2:16 pm
  • Andras

    + Phantasialand in Bruhl, near Cologne

    10th February 2016 at 11:32 pm
  • Claire

    Great article, a few I wasn’t aware of in there that sound worth a look. Glad to see Alton Towers and co didn’t make the list!! A couple of other favourites in our family:
    Duinrell in Holland (between Amsterdam and Rotterdam) is fab for families, stay onsite, also has a brilliant indoor waterpark.
    Phantasialand, near Cologne/Koln, Germany – on a par with Disney Paris in our book!

    24th February 2016 at 2:20 pm
  • Ann

    Europapark all the way! Been there many times over the last 30+ years. One entrance fee and unlimited rides, record breaking roller coasters, stunning shows and beautiful park scenery in sunny weather. Also regional food in each “country”. Allow 2 days to visit to make the most of it.
    Wonderful hotels with the most amazing breakfast buffets as well. Would recommend Bell Rock. Specials around Halloween & Christmas!
    I’ve been to Legoland (back then one had to pay for every ride seperately) and to Tivoli (the latter was so, so).

    27th February 2016 at 12:51 pm
  • Kenny

    Excellent piece – thanks from the Jacobs family

    29th December 2016 at 12:49 pm

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