Updated: Nov 2, 2022
Europe is a favorite vacation destination for many families. There are numerous countries to visit, whether one right after another or during multiple trips. As an adult with an autistic child, you may think that a vacation in Europe is out of reach. However, as a travel advisor who assists autistic families like yours, I can tell you that vacations in Europe are possible! I can plan an amazing vacation in Europe for you in one of the best autism-friendly destinations. Contact me to learn more. If you have been wondering what the best autism-friendly destinations in Europe are, you are not going to need to wonder much longer. I have finally compiled a list of the best places for autistic families to visit in Europe.
Best Autism-Friendly Destinations in Europe
You may think that you must skip the UK when planning a vacation in Europe for your autistic family because it can be crowded. While the streets of London can be quite packed most days, there are still ways you can enjoy your time in this part of Europe. You don’t even need to spend too much time in London to have an amazing family vacation in the UK!
The ThinkTank Science Museum in Birmingham opens early most weekends for those on the autism spectrum. The quieter environment is perfect for getting used to the four floors of hands-on exhibits.
The Eureka Children’s Museum in Halifax is another option. When you arrive, you can request headsets to block noise. There is also a chill-out room for when your autistic child needs a break from the action.
Other autism-friendly options include:
Diggerland Theme Parks, Bowood Country House in Wiltshire, and the Thames Valley Adventure Playground in Maidenhead. And if you want to spend a few days in London, I recommend riding the London Eye, exploring the Dawnasaurs exhibit at the Natural History Museum, and visiting the Tower of London. I can even help plan your vacation in the UK for a time when a theater will be holding special performances for autistic audience members. Imagine watching The Lion King with raised house lights and fewer loud and scary sounds.
While you are vacationing in the United Kingdom, you may want to head over to Ireland for a couple of days. There are plenty of destinations to visit in Ireland. However, the autism-friendly town of Clonakilty should be at the top of your list. Clonakilty was the very first town in Ireland to be designated as autism-friendly.
You can read more about Clonakilty and travel in Ireland with your autistic child in my blog post here.
Certain areas of Spain are more autism-friendly than others. Andalucía, Benidorm, and Costa del Sol are three of the most autism friendly destinations in Spain. Your autistic family will love having access to multiple beaches and swimming pools when you stay in these areas.
While you could easily spend most of your time in the water, there are many other things you can do while on vacation in Spain. Most travelers like yourself will spend their time in Seville, Cordoba, and Granada while vacationing in Andalucía. In those cities, you can wander around the different neighborhoods. You can even check out the cathedrals and palaces. Parque de Elche can be found over in Benidorm. Hundreds of white doves spend time at this park near Poniente Beach. One of the best ways to see Benidormis by taking one of the open-top bus tours.
The Netherlands is considered one of the best places to raise children. Over in Scheveningen, your entire family can feel like giants in the miniature world of Madurodam. The park is filled with miniature replicas of some of the most famous landmarks and cities in the world.
If you are more interested in theme parks than miniatures, then Efteling must be on your list of things to do in The Netherlands. This is one of the oldest theme parks in the world and yet it never disappoints. Your kids will love the talking tree, popping into Little Red Riding Hood’s house, and maybe even coming face to face with a fire-breathing dragon.
And if your family loves animals, you must make sure you venture over to Beekse Bergen Safari Park. Over one thousand animals call this safari park home. While you can drive a car through, you will learn much more during a bus safari. Other things to do while on vacation in The Netherlands include exploring the NEMO Science Museum and playing at Linnaeushof.
Of course, you won’t be able to do any of this until you have tried the pancakes at Hans & Grietje Pannenkoekenhuis. This magical pancake house has the best pancakes in The Netherlands. It also has floating tables, upside-down rooms, and floors that move back and forth.
Most people forget about this boot-like destination off the coast of Italy. If you want to avoid the crowds in the major cities of Italy, as well as within wine country, Sicily is an excellent option. I recommend visiting Sicily when the weather is warm and sunny, so your entire family can spend some time at the beach each day. Sicily may appear small, but honestly, there is so much to do, you need weeks to explore it all. Therefore, it is best to focus on a smaller section each time you visit. This may prevent your autistic child from getting overwhelmed during a short one-week vacation.
Over in Eastern Sicily, you can all ride the cable car from the beach to the higher part of town in Toarmina. You can even check out Mt. Etna, which is the tallest active volcano in Europe. It is important to note that there are quite a few stairs to climb all around this town. Please keep this in mind if your autistic child does not like stairs or a lot of walking.
The smaller town of Catania might be a better option with the smaller city center, fountains of the elephant, and a park called Villa Bellini. The tourist trains in the Noto Valley are also a hit with the kids. In Western Sicily, you have the Teatro dell’Opera dei Pupi (Puppet Museum), Parco della Salute, and a few markets to explore. A gorgeous harbor is waiting for you in Cefalu, while plenty of beaches can be found in the area called Riserva dello Zingaro.
One of the best ways to see the city of Aarhus in Denmark is from the rainbow rooftop of the ARoS Art Museum. This colorful rooftop offersstunning views of the city. Another colorful place to play is the LEGO House. This house may look like it is constructed from LEGOs, but it is not. On theinside, it is divided into three colorful zones that include nine play terraces. There is also a Masterpiece Gallery and an exhibit on the history of LEGOs.
If we plan your vacation in Denmark carefully, you may be able to visit when hundreds of Santa Clauses arrive at Bakken in July. Imagine the look on your child’s face when they see multiple Santasand trying to figure out which one is the real one. Other amazing things to consider during a vacation in Denmark include visiting the home of Hans Christian Andersen, looking for fossils at Mons Klint, and checking out the underwater bridge.
Disneyland Paris is obviously going to be at the top of your list of autism friendly things to do in France. But what else should be on your itinerary during anautism friendly vacation in France?
Well, in Paris you can ride the old-fashioned carousel in Tuileries Gardens and cruise the Seine. It is all about castles and caves in Dordogne. And animals are everywhere at the Montpellier Parc Zoologique. Snow is everywhere in Les Arcs. We can add that destination to your itinerary if your family loves to ski. At the end of the day, you can all sit around a bonfire while toasting marshmallows and getting warm. Of course, your autistic child won’t be able to resist the beaches over in Nice. In between swims, you can wander along parts of the Promenade Anglais or play at the Promenade du Paillon.
One of the best places to vacation in Greece with autistic children is Crete. This family friendly destination is filled with water parks, beaches, and plenty of opportunities for downtime. A couple favorite places to go, when you are not at the beach, include Labyrinth Park, Crete Aquarium, and the Natural History Museum. If the city of Athens is on your must-see list, we will need to plan your itinerary carefully. It can get hot there and visiting some of the historical sites is best done earlier in the day.
The Acropolis will most likely be at the top of your list. However, watching the changing of the guard at Syntagma Square will be at the top of your kids’ list. There are plenty of other islands to explore if you do not want to spend that much time on the mainland. The Cyclades Islands are excellent for families. Paros is more family friendly than Mikonos or Santorini. But you can have an amazing time on any of the Greek Islands.
These are some of the best autism friendly destinations in Europe. I would love to know which one is at the top of your list to visit during your next vacation. Contact me today to let me know, so I can start planning an incredible vacation for your family in Europe!