A guide to the Fairy-Tale Magic of Efteling

  • Family activities
  • The Netherlands
  • 7 min read
A guide to the Fairy-Tale Magic of Efteling

Looking for family holiday inspiration? Why not visit Efteling in the Netherlands - one of the most unique theme parks in the world.

Generally, the words ‘peaceful’ and ‘theme park’ do not go hand in hand, however, Efteling, the largest theme park in the Netherlands and the third largest theme park in Europe is an exception to the rule.

Officially opened in 1952, this fairy-tale theme park is one of the oldest in the world. Originally conceived as a nature park, today Efteling combines its beautiful surroundings with fantasy settings, amusements, and roller coasters.

The diversity of activities on offer makes Efteling perfect for both children and adults alike, and the ideal destination for a family holiday or mini break.

Where is Efteling theme park?

Efteling is located 70 miles from Amsterdam in Kaatsheuvel in the North-Brabant province of the Netherlands.  While the city itself has many popular attractions, including a visit to the Loonse and Drunensa Duinen National park, and a boat trip along the River Maas, undoubtedly Efteling is the star of the show.

Family group walking through Efteling with rollercoasters in the background

Driving to Efteling with LeShuttle

The drive from Calais to Kaatsheuvel is around three and a half hours via the E40, so you won’t have to wait long before you start hitting the rides. If you wanted to explore more of the Netherlands (and we think you should!), Efteling is the perfect stopping point for anyone planning a trip to places like Amsterdam or Delft.

Equally, to make the most of your drive across the Netherlands, you could book a stay in one of the Eurocamp sites along your way and make the most of the beautiful Dutch countryside. 

Discovering the magic of the park

One of the most striking things about a trip to Efteling is the atmosphere. When the park originally opened, it was a fairy-tale forest and comprised of 10 fairy-tale stories all brought to life through illustrations, mechanics, lighting, and music.

Efteling has evolved since then, with roller coasters like Python,the Piraña River Rapids ride and amusement rides being added throughout the 1980s. However, the park’s unusual set-up and different sections means that the original sense of magic remains.

Group of people watching an indoor show in Efteling

Efteling theme park rides

Whether you’re a daredevil seeking an adrenaline thrill or prefer something slightly more sedate, Efteling has plenty to offer in terms of theme park rides. If you are planning a visit, it’s well worth downloading the Efteling app which gives indications about the queue time for each ride. This means you’ll be able to spend more time exploring the park, rather than waiting in line.

In terms of roller coasters, Efteling has a couple of big rides that are perfect for any adrenaline junkies in your group.


The oldest roller coaster in the park is the steel roller coaster Python. Originally added in 1981, before being completely rebuilt in 2018, the ride contains 2 loops and a corkscrew, with a steep climb that gives anyone brave enough to ride it a stunning view of the park. 

The Flying Dutchman

All the rides in Efteling are based on a legend or story, which is incorporated into the ride design or experience, and another popular ride, Flying Dutchman is no exception. Providing you're over 1.2m tall, you'll have the chance to ride in the cursed ship of Captain Willem van der Decken. As this ride begins in the dark, the sense of anticipation about what is to come is fantastic. Equally, as the ride progresses through the drops and turns the sense of excitement builds and you’re bound to be left screaming!

Baron 1898

If you fancy travelling back to the mining region of 1898, look no further than the ride Baron 1898. Complete with ghost ladies who intend to prevent miners from going down the mine shaft, Baron 1898 opened in 2015 and is one of the parks most exhilarating rides. Anyone brave enough to ride this rollercoaster will be treated to a 37.5m drop from the mining station. With loops, corkscrews, and speeds of 56 mph, this is not a ride for the faint-hearted.

Piraña River

For anyone looking for something a little less terrifying, the Piraña River rapids ride is a great option. Following a 360m track complete with rapids, water guns, and waterfalls you need to try and avoid (heads up, you won’t!), this is a great family friendly ride. To explore the Maya and Inca inspired rapids, children under 1m tall will need to sit on an adult’s lap. We would also suggest bringing a change of clothes, as no matter how hard you try, there’s no way you won’t end up drenched by the end.

Ride at Efteling with a lake in front and treetops in the back ground

Accommodation at Efteling

Efteling is a place where you can easily spend more than one day. Booking accommodation in either the hotel or holiday homes means you’ll be able to enjoy everything on offer at your leisure. An added bonus of booking to stay in Efteling is that you’ll be able to make use of unlimited access to the park, and children up to 3 years old will be able to enjoy free access. Residents at Efteling also get an extra half an hour in the morning before the park is open to visitors. As queue times for some of the bigger rides are generally much shorter during this period, it’s a great opportunity to tick some of these off you’re list.

Even better, after a long day of riding rollercoasters and exploring enchanted forests, is the fact that that the hotel itself is only a 5-minute walk away from the park gates. To make the trip extra special, guests can also book one of the 20 themed suites at the hotel, including a Cinderella themed suite that any budding prince or princess will love.

If you’d prefer to enjoy a bit more space, the self-catered houses and family rooms are a 10 minute walk away from the theme park in the Efteling Bosrijk. Equally, for views across the treetops, book one of the holiday homes in Efteling Loonsche Land. Here, all the houses and hotel rooms are made from natural materials, making them incredibly beautiful as well as cosy.

The holiday village has a separate carpark, so you can unload your car outside your accommodation before parking it safely in the carpark for the duration of your stay.  

Cinderella themed hotel suite with a ceramic pumpkin and cauldron in the background

Shows at Efteling

Another benefit to booking an overnight stay at Efteling is discounted tickets to the CARO show. Don’t worry if you’re not staying overnight at Efteling though, as any guest can watch this incredible 70-minute performance that’s filled with acrobatics, music, and, wonderful lights and costumes.

The CARO show is one of the highlights of a trip to Efteling. The show is performed in both Dutch and English, but as it’s incredibly visual, you don’t need to be bilingual to be swept away in the artistry.

If you’re visiting Efteling just for the day, there are plenty of other shows on offer. The production Aquanura,  one of Europe’s biggest water shows is utterly breath taking. Little ones will also love the chance to meet some of the fairy tale inhabitants who live in the park’s forest and love to chat with visitors.

Performers standing in a circle in costumes with lighting displays

Eating and drinking

Efteling is filled with different food and drink options to suit your budget and time plan. Guests in the holiday homes have the option to self-cater for some or all of their stay, and there are plenty of supermarkets nearby where you can stock up. 

In the park itself, there are plenty of delicious restaurants and fast-food stops where you can grab a quick bite to eat or a coffee. All the restaurants are themed, so the magic of Efteling is continued throughout your time there.

Highlights include the chimney cake available at ‘t Verwende Nest, the French fries at Frau Boltes Küche, and the traditional Dutch pancakes from Polles Keuken (although we would recommend waiting until you’ve finished riding rollercoasters before enjoying these delicacies)!

Top tips for your visit

Get into the theme park early. Residents at Efteling get an extra half an hour in the morning before the park is open to visitors, and it’s well worth making the most of this, as queue times for some of the bigger rides tend to be much shorter.

Download the Efteling app. This will give you all the information you need for queue times, and the different shows, and attractions available.

Hire the karts and make use of the steam train to get around. For families travelling with small children, it can be a good idea to hire one of the wooden carts at the entrance or use the steam train to get from one side of the park to the other. Not only does this save little legs, but also adds to the fun throughout the day.

Discover the magic of Efteling with LeShuttle

Ready to book your next Netherlands adventure? Discover the magic of Efteling with LeShuttle.

Open a LeShuttle account to stay up-to-date with travel information, holiday inspiration, and special offers.

Become a member

Become a LeShuttle member and securely store, manage and use your information for faster and easier bookings - also now available on iOS and Android!
Indicative screenshot of the LeShuttle App
Travel updates and alerts direct to your phone
Simple, seamless bookings
Access your ticket and booking in one place
24/7 in-app customer service
App Store logo Google Play logo