What makes a great skate park? It’s not just about the quality of the build, the size of the quarterpipes or the shape of the rails. It’s also about the ‘X-factor’ – the vibe that tells you you’re in a place that understands skateboarding culture. Europe’s full of great parks, but here are some of our favourites.
The beachside location, deep bowls and a variation of vert ramps adorned with vibrant graffiti, along with Marseille’s sunny climate, consistently make Le Bowl a magnet for skateboarders from across the globe. Spend an hour bowl riding and watching some of Europe’s greatest skateboarders showing off their skills, then take five to dip your toes in the Mediterranean before returning to the smooth concrete to perfect your technique.
The park is free to enter and is lit up at night. In its 25 years, Le Bowl has played host to world-class events like Quiksilver Bowlrider and the Orange Massilia Freestyle Cup, so check out the schedules if you’re planning to skate yourself.
No need to worry about the weather at Berlin’s largest indoor park Skatehalle. It has something for all riders with plenty of vert ramps indoors and concrete bowled ramps outside. The park opens at 2pm most days and it’s exclusively for skateboarders, except after 5pm on Saturdays when you’ll be sharing it with BMXers.
Skatehalle is one of the best-organised parks in Berlin, featuring a 400m² bowl and mini ramp area, plus 1200m² of street course. It’s also famous for having the largest halfpipe in Germany.
As publicly funded skate parks go, Stoke Plaza is a giant leap that’s worthy of Danny Way himself. Its main section is a huge plaza with a shape reminiscent of the Millennium Falcon tastefully dotted with ramps, flat banks, rails, hubbas and ledges. To the side is a generous bowl comprising three interlocking circles for maximum flow.
Incidentally, the neighbouring town of Leek looks set to win £200,000 of investment for a rival park, which could make this corner of Staffordshire a skateboarder’s paradise in the near future. Watch this space.
In the south of the Netherlands, 10km from the Belgian border, the next generation of world-class skateboarders is training at Ladybird Skatepark. It’s an indoor park that almost feels like it’s outdoors thanks to a skylit main plaza. Take one look at the smooth runs and see how long you can resist the ramps, quarterpipes and hubbas.
You can also take time out in the adjoining café where you can meet other skateboarders. There’s a real community feel to Ladybird, but it’s still a serious park, hosting regular tournaments and pro training sessions for all ages.
Those lucky Bolognese have one of the most impressive bowls in Europe in the shape of Elbo Skatepark. It’s a speed junkie’s dream, a beautifully transitioned bowl layout with 1.8m high slopes engulfing a central full pipe for testing out Italian gravity (it’s a lot like gravity everywhere else).
It’s a real testament to the ambition of the locals and the designers and it brings skateboarders from miles around to spend uninterrupted hours carving and grinding around its vast expanse of smooth concrete.
Malaga is home to a smattering of decent local skate parks for the casual user, but the main attraction has to the Rubén Alcántara in the north west of the city. Named after one of Spain’s most famous BMX riders, you’ll be able to guess it’s a mixed-use park, but skateboarders make up a good proportion of the visitors and there’s plenty of room for all.
You don’t need to speak Spanish to appreciate the exhilarating curves of this enormous park, replete with a sprawling bowl, halfpipes, verts and an iconic breaking-wave-shaped feature that challenges the imagination as well as your skills.
Poland is home to Techramps, a designer and builder of skate parks with an impressive list of builds. One of theirs is Ave/Park in Warsaw, an indoor park that needs to be part of any skateboarding trip to Poland.
The skate park has all the professionally-made wooden ramps, verts, halfpipes, quarterpipes and grinding surfaces you could ever want, spread over 500m² – and there’s even a sponge pool to practise your tricks pain-free. Ave/Park is a destination in itself, with a café, video games, finger skateboarding and other amusements to boot. And thanks to their skateboard hire, you can even turn up boardless.
The skateboarding scene in Europe is thriving and the enthusiasm is being met with a surge in the number of professional private and public skate parks. These highlights are just a small sample of the excellent parks dotted around the continent. What are you waiting for?