Europe's Best City Parks and How To Get There

In Europe it's usually the big boy Resorts that get most of the attention. The ones that usually live in the countryside and have masses and masses of land to play with. But, there exists a certain kind of park that can get overlooked and that offer a wealth of amusement park history. I speak of course of the European city park! Forced to be creative with their use of space, these urban playgrounds are some of the oldest in the world and paint a picture of how the amusement and theme park industry has developed through the decades. And they're easier to reach than you'd think! So, train tickets at the ready, here's how to visit some of Europe's best city parks.

Parque de Atracciones de Madrid
Madrid, Spain

Dwelling in the Casa de Campo in the centre of Madrid, Parque de Atracciones de Madrid opening in 1969 and has somehow managed to squeeze seven coasters into just 50 acres. Naturally, none of the coasters are that huge but it is home to one of two Intamin Suspended Looping coasters in the world as well as a rapids, an AMAZING It's A Small World rip off and a scary as fuck 262ft Starflyer, so it's definitely not without it's thrills! You could easily spend all day here, but as with most city parks this is one best enjoyed once the hot Spanish sun goes down.

How to get to Parque de Atracciones de Madrid: The stop you're looking for is Metro Batán which is on Line 10 of the Madrid Metro (the dark blue one). From there it's just a short 50m walk from the station (walk towards the massive Starflyer, you can't miss it!). Metro tickets are just €1.50 for a single anywhere, so amazing value!

Tivoli Gardens
Copenhagen, Denmark 

Tivoli Gardens is without a doubt one of the most breathtakingly stunning parks I've ever visited. The park opened in 1843 as a pleasure garden, the park now exhibits a gorgeous variety of different building styles from decadent pavilions and gazebos to fantasy Orient style pagodas, all of which are lined with thousands of tiny light bulbs and bring the park to life after dark. And it's not all about the rides at this park, it's quite old fashioned in that way. There are loads of different showcases throughout the year including music, acrobatics and performing arts and festivals, alongside an aquarium, concert hall and restaurants.

But of course the rides. Tivoli has rides along every point of the spectrum, from vintage style dodgems and the awesome 100-yr-old Rutschebanen wooden rollercoaster to Daemonen, a minute B&M floorless coaster somehow squeezed into a small corner of the park and the extreme Vertigo - a vom-inducing plane-on-a-stick thrill ride ideal for G-force junkies!

How to get to Tivoli Gardens: There are a couple of ways to get to Tivoli Gardens using the train system. Your first option is to jump on board the S-Tog and hop off at Copenhagen Central (København in Danish) and Tivoli is directly opposite. On the Metro the closest station is Nørreport which is on both the M1 and M2 lines. Only difference is it's about a twenty-minute walk away. If you don't mind a stroll through Copenhagen though it's totally fine!

Tampere, Finland

Both of Finland's major parks are city parks, so it was a close call as to which one I chose for this post. I went with Särkänniemi, because I think the ride line-up is slightly better and also I wasn't violently hungover when I visited like I was when I braved Linnanmaki in Helsinki. The park opened in 1975 when the city of Tampere took over operations and just pips Linnanmaki for the most popular park in Finland based on gate figures, coming in at 1.1 million per year. Alongside the coasters and rides the park is also home to a Planetarium, a Dolphinarium and a children's zoo as well as the iconic observation tower that allows for really cool views across the park. I really loved the layout of this park, it's all twisted around quite steep hills and surrounded by tower blocks: a real concrete jungle! It actually reminds me a lot of Colchester Zoo layout-wise if anybody has been.It's also got five coasters all squeezed in there including the other Intamin Suspended Looping coaster to the one in Madrid. It really is a full day out kind of place and it's absolutely packed with things to do for people of all ages, so you can chill out in the Planetarium if the thrills get a little too much!

How to get to Särkänniemi: Honestly, Tampere isn't huge so if you're based here you're only a 25 minute walk from Särkänniemi from Tampere Railway Station. Alternatively you can always hop on the bus Number 3 or 20 from the central station and it'll drive you directly by the gates!

Gothenburg, Sweden 

After Tivoli Gardens, this is probably my second favourite city park in the world and it's home to one of my favourite coasters in the world, Helix! The park opened way back in 1923 has an incredible history linked with the theme park industry as we know it today. Originally the park was home to a state-of-the-art swimming pool with lights and waves and dancehalls, a place for entertainment and enjoyment. The park was also home to a side-friction style coaster with a brakeman that operated from 1923-1987, but it's only in recent years that the addition of more cutting edge coasters has been frequent. Similarly to Tivoli Gardens. Liseberg is absolutely essential for anybody visiting the city of Gothenburg as it's just as much an example of historical and local culture as it is a world class theme park destination, so you can pretend you're being all cultured whilst you queue up with the kids to ride Rabalder for the cred. But seriously, this park is absolutely stunning. The architecture is beautiful and it manages to be both vintage, timeless and modern all at the same time.

How to get to Liseberg: The first time I visited I walked from the town centre and it's not something I'd recommend. Way longer than I thought it'd be and with loads of trams and busses around to jump on it was a little silly of us really. Luckily the park is located right by the Goteborg Korsvagen, a massive transport hub so you're pretty well connected whatever direction you're coming from. For the sake of this post though, if you're heading in from Gothenburg Central Station jump on the Number 2 tram towards Mölndal Centrum for 3 stops and you're covered.

Wiener Prater
Vienna, Austria

Apparently Wiener Prater opened in 1766, making it one of the oldest amusement parks still operating in the world today! Realistically there's no way to put an actual date on that, but still it's safe to say this place is absolutely ancient, so it's got a lot of that kitschy retro vibe that I adore in parks like this. Plus it's got that added dash of European weirdness that make city parks so much fun to explore! Plus, did I mention this place has an obscene amount of coasters crammed into it? At the mo RCDB are calling it 13, but travelling coasters including the infamous Olympia Looping are known to come and go from time to time too! It's oldest currently operating coaster opened in the 50s but there are records of coasters operating as early as 1899! Also for all you ghost train connoisseurs, Prater has four, because you can never have too many Ghost Trains!

How to get to Wiener Prater:  There are three train stations close to Wiener Prater. These are the Praterstern Bf on the Underground, the Praterstern Bf on the Light Rail and Wien Praterstern Bahnhof main line station. These are accessible on both the U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines. From here it's just a 15 minute walk into the park to Wiener Prater - just follow the ferris wheel!

Grona Lund
Stockholm, Sweden

If you love rides, twinkling lights and pastel colours as far as the eye can see, get yourself to Grona Lund! Located on the Djurgarden Island in Stockholm, this tiny amusement park piles as many rides into its miniature footprint as possible so at some points it feels like you're literally encapsulated by coaster track - it's AWESOME! As with many of the parks on this list, Grona Lund is another oldie having been founded in 1883 and oozes that classic vintage fairground fun vibe with a side dish of European weirdness. Loads of weird dark rides, fun houses, insane ghost trains and coasters shoe-horned into the most awkward corners of the park yet somehow just work. Grona Lund is also host to loads of live music during the summer which really bring the island to life and believe me when I say the atmosphere of this place at night is something you definitely don't want to miss.

How to get to Grona Lund: So you can choose to travel the boring way by jumping on Bus 67 and getting off at the Liljevalchs/Grona Lund stop. But the best way (and the way I'd 100% recommend) is to step on board the Djurgarden ferry from Slussen and sail through the harbour towards the park. Honestly, it's an absolutely amazing sight to see the park getting closer and closer - especially at night!

Barcelona, Spain

Ah, sacred site of a gorgeous church and ridiculous thrill rides on top of a mountain, together at last! Tibidabo is probably one of the parks with the best views in the world. Found at the top of Mt. Tibidabo, the park offers stunning views out over the whole of Barcelona! The park opened in 1905 and many of its original rides are still in use. The park is home to some of the most terrifying rides I've ever been on, including what can only be described as a bucket on a stick that dangles you over the side of the mountain and a plane on a stick that hangs you over a cliff edge to simulate the sensation of flight.  Not to mention Krueger Hotel, one of my favourite horror attractions EVER lives here (they definitely don't have legal ownership over any of the IPs, but who cares when it's THAT awesome?)

How to get to Tibidabo: You can grab a ride on bus T2A directly to the park from Plaça Catalunya or alternatively (and probably more fun let's face it) jump on the Tibidabo Funicular by getting the FGC (line L7) to Av. Tibidabo. 

So there you have it. Don't know about you but I'm now in the mood to do some serious urban exploring!

Talk later xoxo,


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