Throughout much of Central and Northern Europe, you can find “primitive” roller coasters called Toboggans. If homemade boxcars, sleds, and the metal slides of our childhood made a baby, it would be a toboggan. Summer toboggans in Europe have been around for hundreds of years and are now scattered throughout the continent to enjoy in all kinds of weather and for all adventure levels.
Explore the Summer Toboggans in Europe
Where to Find a Toboggan to Ride
Toboggan rides are incredible experiences, but they tend to be a well-kept secret. They aren’t really advertised. Some of them are on travel sites and blogs for various reasons. Mount Pilatus in Switzerland (near Lucerne) is home to Europe’s longest summer toboggan. Yes, that means there is a longer winter one. The Alpine mountain range gives life to the majority of the European toboggans and the Swiss Alps definitely give lots of life to this one. But, if you aren’t actively searching online you will find zero leads on where to go.
You may find the majority of the toboggans you choose to visit by stumbling across them. Random roadside stops may occur when you see a hint of a summer toboggan. You may drive right past it on your way to Vienna when you see the track running up the mountain. You will have to be on the lookout to find and enjoy any of the smaller—and less famous—toboggans.
Toboggan Riding with Kids
Toboggans are generally geared towards older speed demons. You control your speed and most adrenaline junkies want to go fast. With that being said, controlling the toboggan itself is incredibly easy. Even younger children, like our 6-year-old, should have no issues riding it alone. And there are not any age restrictions.
If the child appeared to be old enough to control the sled, which is just a simple stick, then they could ride alone. It was nice to see that the toboggan operators trusted us and the kids to control the sled themselves. There are signs everywhere—caution, brake, begin to slow, sharp turn—but not all children can read these, so it’s still quite the adventure.
The best part about the toboggan’s design is that when you get nervous you tense up and naturally pull back on the stick. By pulling back on the stick, you brake. So if a child is scared and beginning to panic they will slow themselves down rather quickly. Another concern parents may have is how the child will bring the sled back up to the top. But at the bottom of the mountain, there is another conveyer belt that pulls them, and their sled, up the mountain—backward. This portion of the ride takes the most amount of time because it moves very slowly.
Why Try Toboggans?
The toboggan rides were fairly affordable by European standards. Most Americans will probably find it expensive given the easy access to amusement parks. The summer toboggan of Mount Pilatus was approximately $9 USD per adult and $5.50 USD per child. At that time, ages three and under were free.
The toboggan at Mount Pilatus is a bit more expensive than some of the more rural (off the beaten path) toboggans. For the random roadside stop toboggans, the cost is around $7 USD per adult and around $4 USD per child.
As long as you set expectations about how many times you’re going to ride the toboggan, you can enjoy very affordable, once in a lifetime fun for the whole family.
Toboggans are a great way to explore Europe while having some fun. It’s one way to get a taste of what local living looks like. You can see the beautiful and picturesque countryside of Europe from the top of a toboggan track. They can also be a great way to relax and break up some travel. There is truly no bad view from a toboggan.
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Photo Credit: Lydia Bradbury and Pixabay