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Autism Friendly European Destinations for Your Next Vacation


A photo of a bridge in London.  There is a title that reads Autism Friendly European Destinations for your next vacation.  Autism Friendly European Destinations for Your Next Vacation


Taking your autistic child out of their comfort zone to travel can be a little scary at first. But after a few trips, your entire family will get into a rhythm. You will learn how to prevent overstimulation. You will understand the triggers your family will need to try to avoid. And you will be more than willing to step out of your comfort zone to tackle longer trips. When that happens, there are plenty of autism friendly European destinations to choose from for your family vacation. Today, I am going to share some of the European destinations your autistic family will love. And remember, I am here if you need to chat about how you can finally tackle a European vacation with your autistic family. 


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Autism Friendly European Destinations for Your Next Vacation

ETIAS


Before I dive into the best autism friendly European destinations for your next vacation, I would like to address ETIAS. This is a new travel authorization system for the European Union. It stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. This system will begin in 2024. 


Any travelers that are coming from a country not within the European Union, or EU, will need to fill out the form and pay a fee prior to their arrival. Security checks will then be completed before a person receives approval for their visit. 


The application fields include name, gender, date of birth, passport information, and background questions on health and criminal records. The fee for this application is 7 euros, which is slightly more than $7. Anyone under the age of 18 and over the age of 70 will not need to pay the fee. 


Clonakilty, Ireland


Clonakilty is Ireland’s first designated autism friendly town. More than two hundred organizations within this town have been designated as Autism Friendly Champions. 


When you decide you want Clonakilty to be your autism friendly European destination for vacation, you will need to choose an airport to fly into. Your best options include Cork Airport, Kerry Airport, and Shannon Airport. This last airport is the furthest away from Clonakilty. But there are some benefits from choosing that airport for your autistic family. 


Shannon Airport was the first airport in Europe to create a sensory room for autistic families. This room offers an aquatic bubble tube, color changing LED lights, and space to simply relax. You will find this space within the departure lounge. 


There are quite a few autism friendly things to do in Clonakilty. Depending on the time of the year you visit, and the weather, swimming at Inchydoney Beach should be at the top of your list. You will even find a surf school at this beach. This is perfect if your family has always wanted to learn how to surf! 


Other things to do include whale watching tours, visiting the Clonakilty Black Pudding Centre, and having fun at the Clonakilty Park Adventure Centre. Train lovers will definitely want to check out the West Cork Model Railway Village too. 


Prato, Italy


Your autistic family would love spending time in any of the cities and towns in Italy. However, if you really want an autism friendly European destination, I recommend considering Prato. This is another city in Europe that has taken time to train business owners, employees, and the public in regards to how they should interact with people with autism and other disabilities. 


Since Prato is a city in the Tuscany region, it is simple to explore more of the region during your autism friendly vacation. A few of the popular attractions in Prato include Palazzo Pretorio, Piazza del Comune, and the Castle of the Emperor. 


Although, the kids might be happier wandering around the streets and checking out the shops. If you decide to do this, keep in mind that many of the stores and restaurants are open during the morning and evening hours. Many of them will close down by one in the afternoon and reopen at four. The owners and employees use this time to go home, enjoy a meal, and spend time with their families. 


Glasgow, Scotland


Glasgow is a city in Scotland. This city has been working on becoming more autism friendly for years. And they have finally reached the point where many of the attractions in the city are all-inclusive. 


One of the most autism friendly attractions in Glasgow is the Glasgow Science Centre. They offer autism friendly hours on Sundays, at least once a month. You can also request weighted blankets and ear muffs from the staff during your visit. The staff is fully trained to assist autistic families. So, you should ask them for assistance, or guidance, if you need it. 


Other amazing autism friendly things to do in Glasgow include the Riverside Museum and Glasgow Film Theatre. Your family can even access the sensory box at Ibrox Stadium if you decide to watch a game during your visit. 


Aberdeen, Scotland


If you think Glasgow is too large for your autism friendly vacation in Europe, Aberdeen might be a better option. Yes, it is still a city and it is big. But there is plenty of space and opportunities for downtime. Plus, you will find more kid friendly things to do in Aberdeen. 


The kids will love playing at the park after walking along the cobblestone streets in Footdee. You can’t go wrong with a visit to the Little Treasures Toy Museum. And the whole family will have a blast at the Aberdeen Science Centre thanks to the interactive programs. 


The Zoological Museum, Codona’s Amusement Park, and the talking cactus at the David Welch Winter Gardens at Duthie Park are other autism friendly options. 


Zermatt, Switzerland


A vacation in Zermatt, Switzerland can include a lot of skiing during the winter months. If your family hasn’t skied much, or your autistic child is leery of skiing, this is the best place to go. Many of the ski slopes in Zermatt offer assistance during mountain activities for autistic families and people with other disabilities. I can help arrange for these when I am planning your autism friendly vacation in Europe. 


If you don’t visit during the winter, but want to see the gorgeous views from the top of a mountain, ride the cogwheel mountain train to the Gornergrat viewpoint. From there you can see the Matterhorn and Gorner glaciers. 


Your family may even be interested in riding the world’s highest cableway to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. The cable cars will take you right over the glacier. 


There are plenty of parks and playgrounds throughout Zermatt. The kids will love playing at them during your visit. If you are interested in seeing the sights though, I recommend a horse and carriage ride. Or you can easily walk the loop around the village. 


Algarve, Portugal


Portugal is a European destination that is usually skipped over by so many travelers. I’m not sure why though, because it is a beautiful place that is also autism friendly. One of the best things to do in Algarve is spending time at the beach. There are a few beaches to choose from. Praia da Rocha is one of the largest beaches that is also family friendly. Salema Beach is a hidden gem tucked away, while Praia da Manta Rota is large enough to let the kids run around. 


When you are not in the water, you may be on the water taking a dolphin tour. One of the best dolphin tours will take you around the Ria Formosa. 


If your autistic child doesn’t want to swim at the beach, there are a couple water parks to choose from in Algarve. Aquashow Park is the largest. Aqualand is usually the easiest water park to reach from many of the resorts. 


Other things to do in Algarve include playing a round of mini golf and checking out the sandcastles at Sand City Lagoa. 


Côte d’Azur, France


The larger cities in France have a lot going for them. Sometimes though, you need the calming atmosphere you can find in Côte d’Azur. If you have been wanting to vacation in the French Riviera, this European destination should be exactly what you need for an autism friendly trip. 


The Côte d’Azur region is full of family friendly things to do. One of those things is spending time at the beach. There are quite a few beaches to choose from. I recommend visiting a couple if you have the time. This will allow you to choose your family’s all-time favorite. 


Other fun things to do in Côte d’Azur include a ride on the Train de Pignes, a visit to the Musee Oceanographique, and time exploring the islands near this region. 


Paris, France


If your family really wants to visit a larger city for your European vacation, head to Paris. This city is actually very autism friendly. So, you won’t have difficulty getting around or enjoying the attractions. 


Most autistic families have Disneyland Paris at the top of their list of things to do. However, there are many other autism friendly things to do in Paris. 


I recommend starting at the Louvre. I can easily arrange for a private tour of this museum for your autistic family. This will ensure you can see the incredible artwork without dealing with the massive crowds. Plus, your child will get to go on a scavenger hunt to find a prize. It will keep them engaged without being overstimulating. 


Walking is one of the best ways to get around the city streets in Paris. If your autistic child is not a fan of walking, but loves to ride a bike, a bike tour might be better for your family. The bike tours are best for older kids. Although, many of the companies offer tandem bikes and trailers if your kids are younger. 


A Seine boat cruise is another way to see the sights in Paris. You get to sit down for this adventure, which is excellent when you need a break. 


Other fun places to go include Luxembourg Gardens, Jardin des Tuileries, and Centre Pompidou. You should go to the Eiffel Tower too. Choose to picnic in front of the tower or decide to go to the top. If you choose the latter, be prepared to walk up a few hundred stairs. It is best to pre order your tickets to avoid the long lines. Once you arrive at the Eiffel Tower, you can ask for accommodations from the staff to cut down on your wait time amongst the crowds. I can help you with all this as I am planning your autism friendly vacation. 


Iceland


I’m sure you’re not surprised to see Iceland on this list of autism friendly European destinations for your next vacation. After all, it is one of my dream destinations! You will discover so much information about how Iceland is autism friendly in this blog post here


One of the must visit destinations in Iceland for families is The Blue Lagoon. These geothermal pools are just what everyone will need for an hour or two of relaxing. And don’t worry if you want to stay longer. You can absolutely choose that option if we plan accordingly. 


A couple other low key activities in Iceland include playing by a waterfall, taking a whale watching tour, a puffin watching tour, and checking out the Northern Lights or Midnight Sun. Oh, and I guess you won’t want to miss watching water shooting out of a geyser. 


A day can be spent driving the Golden Circle. If you do this, I recommend checking out Thingvellir National Park. A couple hours at the Berserkjahraun Lava Fields are always a hit too. Most kids love climbing on the large lava rocks. Those rocks also work well for games of hide and seek. Basically, this field is perfect for getting the wiggles out! 


I also recommend spending time in downtown Reykjavik. You can wander through the museums, dine at the restaurants, and check out Hallgrimskirkja Church. 


Norwegian Fjords Cruise


Sometimes, you may want to think a little out of the box when it comes to autism friendly European destination vacations. One of those times is when you want to vacation in Norway. There is so much to see in this beautiful country. And the best way to see most of it is via cruise. 



When you dock in Stavanger, you will be only a ten minute walk away from the city center. While your family is in every port, you will get to choose your activities for the day. And remember, you can always head back to the ship early to enjoy the onboard amenities. 


These are some of the best autism friendly European destinations for your next vacation. I can help you determine which European destination is best for your autistic family. Once you have made your decision, I can start the planning process. A lot goes into this process, but the end result is a fabulous vacation itinerary that works well for your autistic family. Contact me today to get started and before you know it, your European vacation will be more than a dream! 


A photo of a bridge in London.  There is a title that says Visit Autism Friendly European Destinations for your next vacation.

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