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, that is a toboggan. Toboggan runs have been around for hundreds of years and are now dotted throughout Europe for all weather and adventure levels.
Where to find a Toboggan to Ride
Toboggan rides are incredible experiences, being such, you would think they’d be well advertised. They are not. The image above is the longest summer toboggan in Europe. This particular track is well advertised on travel sites and blogs because it is the biggest of its kind. 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.
Spur of the moment stops most of the toboggans that we were able to enjoy were random roadside stops when we saw a business advertising their ride. These were not billboard style signs 50 miles in advance. At one stop we actually drove past it on our way to Vienna and saw the track running up the mountain behind the store and proceeded to turn around. You will have to be on the look out to find and enjoy any of the smaller (less famous) toboggans.
Toboggan Riding with Kids
I hear this regularly, “weren’t the kids terrified?!?!?” The answer is OCCASSIONALLY! 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. Our 6 year old had no issues riding it alone. To my surprise, there were 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. Wow. I was shocked and our children were shocked to discover this immense amount of trust instilled in them by the operators! Especially so, given that there were signs everywhere (caution, brake, begin to slow, sharp turn) and my children couldn’t read at the time. Yikes.
The glorious 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 concerned parent might say “my kid will never climb the mountain to get the sled back up.” Nor should they. At the bottom of the mountain they hop off of the conveyer belt and get on another that pulls them and their sled back up the mountain. . .backwards. This portion of the ride takes the most amount of time as it moves very slowly.
The toboggan rides were fairly affordable by European standards. I do feel, that most Americans would find it expensive given the access we all seem to have 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. Therefore, the cost was quite affordable. If you can talk yourself out of doing it over and over again, but fair warning, you will want to. 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 we paid approximately $7 USD per adult and around $4 USD per child. Very affordable, once in a lifetime fun for the whole family.
But. . .There’s So Much Else to See!
You would be correct. There is so much to see throughout Europe that the toboggans come across as an unnecessary. Your agenda is already packed I’m sure. If you truly want a taste of what local living looks like, then a toboggan ride can give you that view. If you want to see the beautiful picturesque countrysides of Europe, then a toboggan ride can you that as well. I have always been a huge proponent of having a slow day to enjoy the atmosphere and view. The view. . .you really should see it. There’s no “bad view” from a toboggan.