30 thrilling theme parks and water parks perfect for summer fun

The summer holidays are now in full swing, and with them the chance to spin, soar, and splash at theme parks and water parks all over Europe. We’ve curated 30 indoor and outdoor entertainment venues sure to up the ante when it comes to family fun, together with towns that make them worth visiting and nearby holiday rentals perfect for you and your family—the ideal way to personalize your theme park holiday.

Trip the light fantastic at Phantasialand in Brühl, Germany

Close to the city of Cologne, this is one of the country’s most established and best-loved theme parks. A new-for-2016 themed zone, Klugheim, features two epic roller coasters that between them hold six world records. But in addition to thrill rides, there are plenty of gentle attractions for young kids and those of a more delicate disposition. Don’t miss the Geister Rikscha, a ghostly underground ride based on a Chinese myth, or the eye-opening shows, one of them an energetic mix of stilt-jumpers, trampoliners, BMX riders, and breakdancers.

Find a fantastic holiday rental in Brühl >

Photo credits: Phantasialand/Schmidt-Löffelhardt GmbH & Co. KG

Check out 4 further fantastic theme parks around Germany

  1. Europa-Park in Rust, Baden-Württemberg Europe’s second most popular theme park, with a brand-new virtual-reality coaster. Find a place to stay in Rust

  2. Legoland® Deutschland in Günzburg, Bavaria LEGO®-themed fun aimed at ages 3–12 years. Find a place to stay in Günzburg

  3. Playmobil FunPark in Zirndorf, Bavaria Toy-themed play areas for young kids. Find a place to stay in Zirndorf

  4. Freizeitpark Ravensburger Spieleland in Meckenbeuren, Baden-Württemberg Fun-park created by a puzzle manufacturer, with an interactive focus. Find a place to stay in Meckenbeuren

Take a tour of world history at Parc Astérix Plailly, Picardie, France

Just 45 km north of central Paris, this quirky site provides a Gallic counterpoint to the more famous Disneyland Paris less than an hour’s drive away—many of its roller coasters, family rides, and shows are based on the classic Astérix stories by Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny. But other historic cultures—the Romans, ancient Greeks, Vikings, and Egyptians—get a look in too. Don’t miss the hilarious dance-off between the Gauls and Romans during their “match” in the Arena, then refuel on wild boar brochettes and Julius Caesar salad in the Restaurant du Lac with its outrageous fruit-and-vegetable bedecked exterior.

Book a family-friendly French flat in Paris >

Photo credits: © Parc Astérix

Find 4 more French theme parks for the family

  1. Disneyland Paris, Marne-la-Vallée, Ile-de-France Europe’s most popular theme park—an enduring classic. Find a place to stay in Marne-la-Vallée

  2. Puy du Fou, Les Epesses, Vendée Historically themed spectacles, from Vikings to musketeers. Find a place to stay in Les Epesses

  3. Futuroscope, Chasseneuil-du-Poitou, Poitou-Charentes Unique multimedia- and cinema-based shows and rides. Find a place to stay in Chasseneuil-du-Poitou

  4. Nigloland, Dolancourt, Champagne-Ardennes Four zones of thrill and family rides, including France’s highest drop-tower. Find a place to stay in Champagne-Ardennes

Fall under the spell of the Isla Mágica, Seville, Spain

Themed on the discovery of America, this park also has an historic setting in its own right—it took over the site and facilities of the Seville World Expo '92. Seven lands invite you to explore 16th-century Seville, venture into the Amazon rainforest, and invoke the wrath of the gods at Quetzal, among other experiences. A water-park area, Agua Mágica, has also opened in the past couple of years. Among the big-hitter rides and attractions is the five-inversion roller coaster El Jaguar, plus the world’s biggest virtual-reality cinema, complete with moving seats.

Find a sensational stay in Seville >

Photo credits: Isla Magica

Seek out more sensational Spanish theme parks

  1. PortAventura, Salou, Catalonia The country’s most popular theme park, with record-breaking rides. Find a place to stay in Salou

  2. Parque Warner Bros Movie World, Madrid Vast park with cinematically inspired attractions, including superhero coasters. Find a place to stay in Madrid

  3. Tibidabo Amusement Park, Barcelona Quirky amusement park with panoramic city views. Find a place to stay in Barcelona

  4. Terra Mitica, Benidorm, Alicante Rides and attractions themed on Mediterranean civilisations. Find a place to stay in Benidorm

Italia in Miniatura, Rimini, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Speed-tour your way through Italy and Europe as a whole at this gentle amusement park with its 300-or-so scale models of famous buildings, including the Colosseum of Rome, St Peter’s Basilica, and Verona’s Arena, criss-crossed by miniature trains. Other rides and attractions are aimed mainly at younger kids—think the likes of Pinocchio-themed mini-cars and pony-rides. Older kids will be happy on the log flume or in the science funfair area with its interactive physics experiments. There are also gardens to roam and parrots from around the world on view.

Rent a holiday flat in seaside Rimini >

Photo credits: Italia in Miniatura park archives

:Investigate other Italian theme parks

  1. Gardaland, Castelnuovo del Garda, Veneto Coasters and family rides, plus a sea-life centre. Find a place to stay in Castelnuovo del Garda

  2. Mirabilandia, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna Amusement park including the world’s tallest water-coaster. Find a place to stay in Ravenna

  3. Leolandia, Capriate San Gervasio, Lombardy Younger kids’ fun park including scale models of Italian landmarks. Find a place to stay in Capriate San Gervasio

  4. Cinecittà World, Rome, Lazio Cinema-themed park including rides and movie sets. Find a place to stay in Benidorm

Aquatic wonders at Alton Towers Waterpark, Staffordshire, UK

Previously known as Cariba Creek, this indoor aqua park offers tropical-themed fun year-round, even when the adjoining theme park (Britain’s largest) is closed for the season. Expect watery thrills and spills for all ages, from the Master Blaster Water Coaster slide to the Wacky Waterworks Tree House with its 70+ interactive water features, including cannons and pull ropes. Free buoyancy aids are available poolside, and there’s on-site dining at the Adventurers Cave, or sundaes, hot waffles, and floats at the ice-cream parlour.

Stay in a Staffordshire holiday cottage >

Photo credits: Alton Towers Resort

Peruse 4 more UK theme parks

  1. Legoland Windsor, Berkshire LEGO®-tastic park designed for kids aged 2–12. Find a place to stay in Berkshire

  2. Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire Iconic seaside resort with something for all ages. Find a place to stay in Lancashire

  3. Oakwood Theme Park, Pembrokeshire, Wales Family adventure park including Peter Pan–themed rides. Find a place to stay in Pembrokeshire

  4. Paultons Family Theme Park, Hampshire Younger kids’ park, including the popular TV-themed Peppa Pig World. Find a place to stay in Hampshire

Other European destinations:

Go back in time at the Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark

One of the world’s oldest amusement parks, this 1843 pleasure garden with its plum position in the heart of the Danish capital has something for all the family, from a three-inversion modern rollercoaster to 1920s bumper cars. Other old-school attractions include a pantomime theatre and a classic carousel. Keep the kids up late to marvel at the enchanting nighttime shows on the lake, using lasers, fire, smoke, and water, and refuel from any number of restaurants and stalls serving up everything from noodles and shawarma to hot dogs and churros.

Book a Copenhagen holiday apartment >

Photo credits : Tivoli Gardens

Feast your eyes on 4 more European parks

  1. Walibi Belgium, Wavre, near Brussels Rides for all ages, plus an adjoining waterpark. Find a place to stay in Wavre

  2. Liseberg, Gothenburg, Sweden Large theme park with something for all, including a new spinning plane ride. Find a place to stay in Gothenburg

  3. Efteling, Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands Amusement park based on ancient myths and fairytales. Find a place to stay in Kaatsheuvel

  4. KidZania, Lisbon, Portugal Indoor entertainment centre where kids can try out different jobs. Find a place to stay in Lisbon