The Thrill of the Ride

Rollercoasters, ghost trains, candyfloss and big wheels, there’s no day out quite so perfect for families as a day at a theme park, and here in Europe we’re blessed with some fantastic options all across the continent. The most famous of these by a large margin is, of course, Disneyland Paris, the most magical place in Europe. However, don’t let this put you off exploring further afield, as there are so many more parks worth your time, including some which will guarantee an unforgettable experience for young children and adults alike.

So whether you’re looking for white-knuckle rollercoasters or fairy-tales and fantasy, you can find them all in our list of Europe’s top theme parks. Perfect if you’re planning on including a theme park in your 12 trips this year!

Disneyland Paris

Because why start anywhere else? Just a short distance from the French capital, Disneyland Paris has charmed children for generations, serving up the kind of hyper-stimulated, electric atmosphere which keeps kids of all ages in awe throughout. With a host of new rides and attractions across the 2 parks – including a Star Wars Jedi Academy following their purchase of the franchise – there’s absolutely no chance you’ll run out of things to do. Adults will find it impossible to resist the charms of their favourite Disney characters from childhood, and even seasoned theme park veterans will find rides to test their nerves, making Disneyland Paris the perfect family day out.

Parc du Bocasse

The Normandy area is a brilliant family holiday destination, packed with history, natural beauty and culture. Parc du Bocasse is a continuation of this theme; a family-friendly theme park which aims to give its visitors a memorable and extraordinary experience. Discover the 4D cinema, the giant trampolines, the summer sledge track and many other thrill-rides. This park also has 2 learning centres. Children over 8 years old can discover how bees live and how a hive is organised, while kids over 4 can pretend to be archaeologists and search for bones in an area focusing on prehistoric times.

Photo: Martin Lewison

Dennlys Parc

Another family destination in the north of France, Dennlys Parc is located right in the middle of a beautiful countryside environment. The park, and its mascot Denno the Tortoise, is designed for under 12s, and children under 12 can get on any ride in the park, which is a change from most theme parks!

Dennlys Parc has over 20 attractions, including waterslides, mini railways and child-friendly rollercoasters. There are also attractions dedicated to toddlers too.


Located near Le Touquet, one of northern France’s best beaches, Bagatelle gathers together a whole host of family favourites such a range of rollercoasters suitable for visitors of all ages as well as log flumes, rafting and even a 4D cinema adventure. However, there are also many activities for younger children. Bagatelle is a great place to go for families who are looking for an exciting outing, and the park’s flagship attraction is The Triops, a 45-metre high rollercoaster with loops and double twists, sure to be more than a match for any visitors.


The biggest theme park in Normandy, Festyland has such a wide selection of rides that there really is something for everyone here. Whether you’re travelling with friends or family, you’ll enjoy exploring the park and experiencing the wild rides. The park is divided into 4 worlds: Belle époque, Vikings, Pirates and Medieval, each one with its own unique character and style. Be warned, while this theme park is family-friendly, even the most ardent daredevils will be thrilled by the Eretic ride and the Esnambuc tower!

Photo: Fetsyland


The biggest theme park in Holland, and one of the best in Europe, Efteling is a world of fantasy and adventure, where fairy-tales come to life around you as you hear them told by a magical talking tree and a choir of singing mushrooms. While the park is aimed at providing children with a magical experience, there are plenty of rides and attractions for adults too, as well as shows suitable for families such as the tale of the fictional city of Raveleijn, or Aquanura, the huge water fountain show. During the winter, the park becomes Winter Efteling, and is decorated with seasonal decorations, transforming into a winter wonderland.


Another fantastic and thrilling Dutch amusement park with a range of rides suitable for either families or groups of friends. Duinrell is located in Wassenaar, near the royal city of The Hague and the popular Scheveningen beach resort. This park has all kind of rides, from thrilling rollercoasters to fun kids’ rides and huge playgrounds, so there’s something for everyone. Duinrell also has a large waterpark – the Tiki pool. This tropical swimming pool is a waterslide paradise with 11 waterslides including ‘X-stream’ where daredevils will feel the floor disappear under their feet before plummeting to the pool at around 30 miles per hour.

Photo: Martin Lewison


Another Dutch park near The Hague, Drievliet has a wide range of attractions which will delight any family with young children. There are over 30 attractions as well as large play areas and gardens and shows which will entertain everyone. There is also a 5D cinema adventure, which will absorb and enchant children. Thrill-seekers will love Formule X, a wild rollercoaster with twists, turns and more.

Photo: Michael Welsing


Belgium isn’t exactly the first country which springs to mind when you think of exciting thrills and spills, but it has its share of brilliant theme parks too. Bellewaerde is unique among these as it doubles up as a fantastic zoo. Home to over 300 exotic animals, as well as over 20 rollercoasters and attractions, including the Boomerang with its double loop, which is one of the most extraordinary rides in Europe. There are also plenty of shows and workshops available, including a raptor show, as well as education on elephants and leopards.

Photo: Michael Welsing

Walibi Belgium

Part of the popular Walibi chain, which has parks in France, Belgium and Holland, a great feature of this park is that there are nearly as many attractions for younger children as there are for teenagers or adults. With 8 thrill-rides, 15 rides for the whole family and 16 for kids this park has something for everyone.

The park’s feature attraction is the Psyche Underground ride, a totally covered rollercoaster that catapults you in less than 3 seconds to more than to more than 70 miles an hour, at a height of 45 metres.

Photo: Belpark


Part of Plopsaland, Plopsaqua is a wet and wild waterpark in Belgium which transports you and your family to the world of Vicky the Viking. The décor of the pool is breath-taking and intricate, helping capture the imaginations of young children to give them a more memorable experience. There are plenty of other fun packed facilities, including a wild river, waterslides, a storm bath, an outdoor pool, a sauna, Jacuzzis, and an area dedicated to toddlers. And let’s not forget the thrilling sky drop! Stand in a capsule 20 metres away from the ground, count to 3 and… Drop!


Plopsaland is an amusement park offering attractions for all ages, from log flumes and rollercoasters to rides aimed at children and toddlers, as well as more unique rides such as the high swing, which offers a stunning view of the park and the surrounding area. Large areas of the park are also indoors, so you can have a great day out even if the weather doesn’t co-operate with you. The park’s main attraction is the Anubis rollercoaster, which propels you forwards at breakneck speed up to a height of 35 metres.

Photo: Michael Welsing

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