Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family




The Alhambra Palace is a UNESCO world heritage site located in Granada, Spain that features well-preserved Moorish Architecture. It is also a vast and beautiful palace that travelers from around the world flock to see. Visitors can gaze at this fantastic “pearl set in emeralds,” cited as an example of Muslim historical art. If visitors find themselves in this part of Spain, they absolutely cannot miss this fantastic piece of history.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family landscape

Alhambra’s History

The Alhambra Palace was originally designed as a small fortress in the year 899. This fortress was forgotten by history until its renovation in the mid-thirteenth century. The fortress officially converted into a palace in 1333. The Alhambra Palace, as recognized now, was built for the last Muslim rulers in Spain.

Traveling European scholars rediscovered Alhambra Palace in the nineteenth century. Through its restoration, the Alhambra Palace has become one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and is the country’s most significant and well-known example of Islamic architecture.

What to Marvel About

The palace is composed of a series of rooms and courtyards intertwining to create a fantastical maze of architecture and design. The palace’s tremendous size can be attributed to the gradual addition of rooms varying in dimensions and connecting each other. As travelers will find out, the majority of the buildings are quadrangular in shape with the rooms opening up to a central court.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family water

Not only is the Alhambra Palace itself large, but it is also surrounded by an enormous woodland. The park (Alameda de la Alhambra) is a gardener’s paradise because of the overgrowth of wildflowers, roses, oranges and myrtles all planted by the Moors. Not to be missed is the dense forest of English Elms that were brought over by the Duke of Wellington in 1812 and which enhance the natural elements of the palace.

Not to be Missed

One should take the opportunity to visit the Hall of Ambassadors. The Hall of Ambassadors (Salón de Los Embajadores) was the grand reception room and also where the Sultan sat to greet his guests. The hall is exquisite with four-foot walls covered in tilework that hold a series of oval medallions with inscriptions, interwoven with flowers and leaves. The ceiling is also exquisite, painted in white, blue and gold inlays in the shapes of circles, crowns, and stars.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family tile

Those interested in stories and legends should stop at the Hall of the Abencerrajes. The hall itself is splendid with a honeycomb style dome and beautiful mosaic tiles, but it is the story itself that draws pedestrians. Legend has it that the last sultan of Granada invited the chiefs from the Abencerrajes family to the Hall of the Abencerrajes (Sala de Los Abencerrajes) and slaughtered them all because of a romantic dispute. In the room, there is a fountain where you can see rust spots claimed to be the blood of the murdered chiefs.

The Courtyards

There are a few courtyards that one must see if visiting Alhambra. Probably the more famous of the courts is the Court of Lions. The Court of Lions (Patio de Los Leones) is surrounded by a gallery supported by 124 white marble columns. Paved with colored tiles and white marble, the court gleams in the sunlight creating an airy feeling as guests stroll. Various depictions of foliage adorn the columns themselves. In the center of the court, you will find the famous fountain lions. The fountain is an alabaster basin supported and surrounded by twelve marble lions. The Lions all represent strength, power, and sovereignty. As visitors walk around the fountain, they will find at the edge a poem written by Ibn Zamark attempting to put the wonders of the Court of Lions into words.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family fountain

Another important court to visit is the Court of Myrtles. The court holds a pool to help keep the palace cool in the warm summer. Interestingly, this pool is also a traditional symbol of power. Water was scarce at the time, and keeping the pool full was a challenging and tedious task. There is also a pond set in marble full of goldfish with myrtle growing along the sides, which is said to encourage peace and tranquility.

Our Take

We took an organized tour so that we wouldn’t have to deal with tickets or entrances. The palace is wondrous, but it’s best enjoyed with older kids. Even our children had one or two moments where, after seeing several of the halls, they were a little “halled out.”

The most interesting thing we explored was the Women’s Quarters. Here, walls separated the harem from the rest of the palace. The separating wall had tiny peepholes that the women could peek through to see what was happening without being seen themselves.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family arch

Not only did our kids learn about Spanish history and the Moors, but they also saw the different beautiful mosaic designs on the walls and exquisite wood carvings unique to the palace. Our family considered it a day well spent.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The best time to visit is in spring or fall, as it gets crowded and hot during the summer. It is also best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid these crowds.
  • You can buy tickets ahead of time, which we highly recommend. Your family can also take an organized tour of the palace.
  • The palace is easy to walk, though there are a lot of stairs. Prepare your kid for walking, and make sure everyone wears comfortable shoes.
  • If you visit in the summer, you may have to deal with bugs or heat. Bring sunscreen, water, insect repellent or a mini fan from home, or consider coming in the fall.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family door

  • Pickpocketing is frequent around the area. Watch your belongings, wear a money belt under your garments, and don’t bring electronics unless you’re prepared to hold them in hand at all times.
  • Visitors are not allowed to touch things within the palace. Prepare your kid for this accordingly.
  • The palace is vast, and you could easily spend an entire day there without noticing. However, for kids, two to three hours is enough time to explore the best parts of the palace.
  • If your child is not a history or architecture fan, they might feel bored by the guided tour. You’d be better off just seeing one or two halls and courtyards and calling it a day.
  • Wheelchairs are available in the main ticketing office. There is a wheelchair accessible route through Alhambra, though visitors taking this course won’t see the entire palace.
  • You can buy replicas at the shop, all handmade by local artists. Our son fell in love with a beautiful bone model. These are expensive but well made.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family end

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island

Although the Spanish Canary Islands could have once housed the legendary Garden of Hesperides, these islands were mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his encyclopedia of the natural world. At that time, Lanzarote received the descriptor of a “purple island,” and the island’s name from the natives was Tyterogaka, meaning “one that is all ochre.”This was the location of the filming for original Planet of the Apes, and the island it is especially notable for its “Martian” landscape.  Today, people living on the island rely primarily on tourism and agriculture for their income. As is the case with any popular travel destination, there is plenty to see at this spot so here’s a list of some sights you should check out on your next visit.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island landscape

Timanfaya National Park

Travelers will want to take advantage of the complimentary bus ride around the lava fields at this national park. Commentary on this trip is in three different languages including English, and the journey lasts about fifteen minutes.
Hungry visitors should stop by the onsite restaurant which uses heat from the volcanos to cook the food that they serve. Our kids were fascinated with the process and watched it over and over again. Travelers should be aware that people arriving on organized tours get sightseeing priority over those that have made their own way to the site and make their plans accordingly. The park can be found about a half hour drive from the nearby town of Puerto del Carmen.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island sky

Be sure to take a camel ride, because it is a once in a lifetime experience that your family will remember forever. Instead of riding on top of a blanket like in most countries, two people ride on each side of the camel in a basket. According to the tour guides, they only use female camels that are more friendly and less likely to bite visitors. The ride is twenty minutes along the uneven sand dunes, and we spent the first five minutes in fear of the camel tripping making us fall from the basket.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island camel

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be sure to try a meal cooked over a volcanic rock while you’re here but rest assured they also have  spagetti  on the menu for th picky kids.
  • The national park is wheelchair accessible. Admission users get in for free, and some coaches are specially made to handle wheelchairs.
  • For the camel rides, prepare your child, especially if they are afraid of heights.

César Manrique Foundation

This unique home was created using the natural lava bubbles found here as a design element. The building is now home to a tidy museum that houses the modern artworks of its’ former owner, including sketches by Picasso and Miró. As the video shown by the museum explains, Cesar Manrique was a visionary who tried to protect his island from the effects of rampant commercialism. The house itself provides travelers with an excellent view of the surrounding area. Visiting this spot will only take about thirty minutes, and the grounds also contain a place that sells snacks as well as a gift shop.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island rocks

Autism Travel Tips:

  • You can grab a cup of  hot  chocolate and churro  in the garden.
  • This place is best for family members particularly interested in art and unique architecture.
  • The home is small and easy to explore quickly. It’s recommended as a quick stop during your vacation rather than an all day excursion.

Papagayo Beach

Papagayo Beach is a beautiful area with fantastic views and a perfect blue sea. It’s not very crowded most days, and the area is considered by main to be “pure” and “unspoiled.” Most of the nearby facilities are away from the beach, but there are restrooms and restaurants where you can get a bite to eat if you haven’t thought to bring your own provisions. You can find some special eating areas inside the nearby volcanic tunnels.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island red

Autism Travel Tips:

  • You will need to rent a car to get to the beach. Part of the drive is down a dirt road so plan accordingly.
  • Visitors will need to be able to maneuver up and down a flight of stairs to access the beach itself.
  • It’s a rocky beach, nothing like the sandy beaches of the Carribean, and some people might not like walking in the rocky areas.

Rancho Texas Lanzarote Park

As a current holder of a Certificate of Excellence from the folks at Trip Advisor, this animal populated area in Puerto del Carmen is sure to delight young children. Some performances take place on the grounds, and these are well worth making an effort to see, particularly the sea lion and parrot shows. Tasty, good value meals can also be found on the premises as well. Toddlers under the age of two are admitted free of charge. The park is open every day from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm but it does open a half-hour earlier than usual on Fridays.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island food

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is a Country/Western night that involves sitting with or next to strangers in proximity. If your child needs a lot of personal space, this might not be the best night to come.
  • Teach your kids to be respectful and wary of the local animals by telling them not to get too close to or touch them.

The Devil’s Caves

This cool spot is a good place to get away from the blazing hot sun, particularly during the summer months. The caves are an excellent place to view the impressive white crabs that make their homes here as well as the usual cave features such as stalagmites and stalactites. The site is open between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm, with the last tour departing promptly at 5 pm. The tours themselves last a little less than a full hour.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island rocky

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Those coming here should be aware that the cave walls can be quite narrow in places and there are no elevators on the premises.
  • The tour guides speak multiple languages, but their accents can be thick so keep this in mind when you and your family want to visit.
  • In the caves, water can drip on your head at any point. Kids need to be aware of this.
  • The caves are dark with uneven ground, and there is a strange smell because it is underground. Kids who are sensitive to any of these factors might have issues navigating the caves.

Favorite Family Spots for Exploring Salzburg, Austria

Favorite Family Spots for Exploring Salzburg, Austria pin

Salzburg, Austria is a beautiful place to visit, whether you come for the winter skiing in the Alps, or you visit in the summer to rummage through the traditional markets for antiques. It is a great city to explore for all ages. Music has put Salzburg on the map for many generations, from Mozart 300 years ago with his operas and classical music, to Rogers and Hammerstein with their Sound of Music Broadway hit. Whether you wish to stay in the city for a couple of days, or you’re just there for a day trip, Salzburg has a lot to offer for the entire family. Here are our favorite family friendly spots to discover on your next vacation.

Favorite Family Spots for Exploring Salzburg, Austria carriage

Salzburg’s Mozart Trail

Salzburg is the birthplace of the iconic composer Mozart. For those interested in his life and works you can spend at least an hour listening to a handheld guide and explore his birthplace along the trail. The part of the audio tour that our kids loved was listening to Mozart’s music. Not far from the trail is one of Mozart’s residences, sadly destroyed during WWII and reconstructed later. It is still worth a visit, especially if you have the Salzburg card. In the birth house, you can find documents detailing his early life, so if you’re a music buff or a fan of the composer this is a must see! For that perfect selfie with Mozart, stop by the Mozart Platz and photograph yourself with the composer’s statue from different angles. Make sure you don’t leave the city without trying the famous Marzipan chocolates named after the Salzburg’s beloved prodigy.

Favorite Family Spots for Exploring Salzburg, Austria building

Mirabell Garden and Park

This location was made famous by the Sound of Music movie, as the scene for the song “Do Re Mi” was filmed in its gardens. The palace, originally called Altenau Palace, was commissioned by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau who presented it to his wife Salome Alt as a token of his love in 1606. It was renamed Mirabell by Wolf’s successor, Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, and the palace itself was also redesigned from 1721-1727. It is thanks to designer Lukas von Hildebrant that we have the palace as it is today; Hildebrant was the one who was able to integrate the individual buildings into a self-contained complex. Now the gardens of the palace are the real must see with iconic images such as the Pegasus Fountain installed by Kaspar Gras and the four groups of statues around the fountain that represent the four elements and were designed by Ottavio Mosto. Also, you have to stop by the Hedge Theater and visit the Dwarf Garden where you can see misshapen creatures made from white marble.

Hohensalzburg Fortress

The Hohensalzburg Fortress rests atop of Festungerg, a small hill in Salzburg. This fortress was commissioned and began construction in 1077 by the command of Archbishop Gebhart von Salzburg. Gebhart decided to build it as a precaution due to an ongoing confrontation between the Pope and the Emperor who disagreed with each other about who should be the one to appoint the bishops. As a result, Gebhart maintained his loyalty to the Pope and ultimately sided with him. Thus the creation of the Hohensalzburg Fortress commenced. The fortress is considered one of the best preserved of its kind in Europe and is an iconic landmark of Austria with its towers peaking out high above the city’s skyline. The interior is richly decorated with intricate Gothic wood carvings and decorative paintings decorating the Golden Hall and the Golden Chamber. It is an informative place to visit for a couple of hours.Favorite Family Spots for Exploring Salzburg, Austria white building

Haus der Natur Museum

What better place to spend a chilly afternoon than in a warm museum? The Haus der Natur Museum is Salzburg’s Natural History Museum. It holds all aspects of nature such as a science center, aquarium and even a reptile zoo. The aquarium is considered to be one of the best in Central Europe with high standards of maintenance. It is famous for its vast collection of Mediterranean species and tropical corals. The museum also has a 10,000-liter tank that is home to seawater sharks which you can see feeding every Monday. The reptile zoo is an extensive collection of lizards, snakes, and amphibians. There is also a hands-on section that allows kids to do experiments in science and engineering. It is a nicely organized museum with five floors, making it easy to find the exhibits.Favorite Family Spots for Exploring Salzburg, Austria water

Salzburger Freilichtmuseum

The Salzburger Freilictmuseum is an open aired museum where you can walk around and explore collections of farmhouses and pieces of folk art from all around the province of Salzburg. Located within the community of Groβgmain, there are about 60 farmhouses as well as traditional barns, skilled worker’s houses, mills, fields and orchards still in use, and mountain cabins. The whole museum spans over 500 years of folk art and architectural tradition of rural Salzburg and also has exhibits that display folk dance and musical performances.Favorite Family Spots for Exploring Salzburg, Austria red

Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum)

Less of a museum and more of a kid’s playground, this is an ideal place to take young kids. There are some historical displays, but the location also provides great fantasy and imagination spots for kids to play. They have toys dating back to the 1600s. This museum is part of the Salzburg card.Favorite Family Spots for Exploring Salzburg, Austria river

Before you leave town, make sure you take your kids to experience a slice of Sacher Torte at the Hotel Sacher. Here, you can not only discover old fashioned ruins but also enjoy a slice of Sacher Tore chocolate cake and some hot chocolate.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If possible, take the funicular for the Hohensalzburg Fortress. There is a guided tour on the funicular. It can be rather pricey, around 12 euros a person.
  • Get the Salzburg city card to skip the lines. Some places, like the Mozart Trail, are free with the Salzburg card.
  • Be aware that some of the signs in the local museums might be in German with no available English. Download a translator app on your phone to facilitate in explaining the exhibits to your kids.
  • Go early to most places to avoid the crowds.

Top Four Family Friendly Spots on Germany’s Romantic Road

Top Four Family Friendly Spots On Germany's Romantic Road pin

As a traveling family, we are always looking for new things to explore and activities to introduce to our kids. While doing research on a dreary, wet day, we found something that we had never heard of before. In Germany, there is a route you can take that explores the 220 miles of highway between Würzburg and Füssen in Southern Germany, specifically in Bavaria and Baden-Württenmberg. The course is called Germany’s Romantic Road or, more commonly known, Romantische Straβe and it is one of the Germany’s oldest tourist routes.


The route was devised in the 1950’s by travel agents as a way to lure tourists back to Germany after World War II. The Romantic Road was originally a trade route in medieval times that connected the center of Germany with the South. There are many picturesque towns and castles along the way, and the road is thought of by many travelers to possess “quintessentially German” scenery and culture.

The Romantic Road runs through towns and cities such as Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It can be a mini-adventure of itself of an at least 2-3 days road trip, or can be divided into two long day trips out of Munich like we did. Driving along these old country roads, viewing the historic sights, is delightful. Here are the top four highlights of our journey.

Top Four Family Friendly Spots On Germany's Romantic Road landscape

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber lies in the district of Ansbach of Mittelfranken. The town’s name translates to “Red Fortress above the Tauber” a fitting name seeing as how the city sits on a plateau overlooking the Tauber River. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is known for its well-preserved medieval old town as well as the Night Watchmen’s Tour. It was an important city of power in the middle ages. The tour takes place at night and you are led around the inner walls of the town by the guide wearing the full garb of a 14th century night guards, great fun for kids!  It’s fascinating to walk around, especially for those interested in medieval history. The kids will be especially interested in the Doll and Toy Museum. Older kids might get a kick out of the medieval crime museum, where they describe the specific crimes and punishment of medieval times, with a specific exhibit about witches. Our son with autism couldn’t get enough of this museum and wanted to try out the chair in the top picture. There is also a German Christmas Museum with wooden toys and ornaments.

Top Four Family Friendly Spots On Germany's Romantic Road trees

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle needs no introduction since most children know it as Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland. The castle is a 19th century Romanesque Revival palace. The Neuschwanstein Castle is on top of a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria. Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the castle as a retreat and also to pay homage to Ludwig’s friend and composer Richard Wagner. Ludwig II paid for the castle with his personal funds, not the Bavarian public funds, but alas was only able to spend eleven nights there before he died. The castle was immediately opened up to the public after Ludwig’s death in 1886 and has millions of visitors each year. The castle is so outstanding and brilliant to look at that it has been in several movie productions and served as inspiration for Walt Disney and his film Sleeping Beauty. A staggering 1.4 million people visit this every year, as one of the most famous attractions in the world.

Top Four Family Friendly Spots On Germany's Romantic Road arch

Linderhof Castle

Prince Ludwig built another castle not far from Neuschwanstein called Linderhof after falling in love with the area during his hunting trips in the Alps. The building cost a staggering amount of German Marcs in those days and almost bankrupt him. It was built as an homage to Versailles, France and some places in it are miniature copies of it. It even has its own hall of mirrors, like the original French palace. Some call it the little Versailles in the Alps. The surrounding gardens of the palace are gorgeous with elements of the Baroque or Italian Renaissance. The outside landscaping and structures in the park are not to be missed, particularly if you are a Wagner fan, as they are a direct homage to the composer’s operas. The good news about this palace is that it is small, although the gardens are extensive.Try to get there in spring or summer, as the gardens are more spectacular in summer than in winter.

Ulm Münster Church

The Ulm Münster is rumored to be the tallest church in the entire world. It is a fine example of Gothic Church Architecture in Germany. You can see the steeple from miles away. It is a Lutheran church, and more of a cathedral because of the size. The church has dominated the city and region for hundreds of years and has become so closely associated with the town of Ulm. Standing at 530 feet, the Ulm Münster offers terrific panoramic views of Ulm, but be careful, as the passageway to the top is small and there is not a whole lot of wiggle room. It’s an excellent road trip stop for some tours, especially if you’re one of those people who needs to see the biggest/tallest landmarks available.

Top Four Family Friendly Spots On Germany's Romantic Road device

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Buy tickets in advance to most of these places, especially the Neuschwanstein castle.Your tour is at a set hour, down to the very minute, so make sure you don’t miss it.
  • If your child is a big Disney fan and you have to choose, then your absolute priority should be Neuschwanstein.
  • Many of these areas have a multitude of steps to climb.
  • Many of these buildings are medieval, and the rooms can be poorly lit.
  • Huge lines in the summer can be a significant deterrent, especially for Neuschwanstein. So try to travel off season.
  • Get a guided tour, because they get the tickets for you and you bypass the line.
  • Advise your kid about proper etiquette in these historic buildings. Often you are not allowed to touch anything.
  • Don’t leave the area without having a slice of authentic Black Forest cake.

We’re always looking for new things to ignite my family’s imagination and encourage their interests while we travel. If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to add Germany’s Romantic Road to your itinerary.

Top Ten Paris Experiences For Families with Autism

Top Ten Paris Experiences For Families with Autism pin

Paris is known as the most romantic city in the world, and there are lots of specific activities for adults to enjoy. In the beautiful city of lights, it can be difficult to think of activities fun for your child or children. But as Paris is a huge, wonderfully varied city, there’s always something for everyone. Here’s a list of the top ten experiences in the city of Paris enjoyable for kids of any age.

Eiffel Tower

It sounds cheesy and completely cliché but stopping at the Eiffel Tower is a rite of passage for anyone visiting Paris. You can take the elevator or the stairs up the tower. The ticket line for taking the stairs is much shorter and moves faster than the one for the elevator. However, the stairs only go to the second floor, and you will have to take the elevator to the third. You can buy tickets to the elevator in advance, but you better be quick seeing as how they sell like hot cakes. Either way, you will get to the top and experience a magnificent view of Paris.

Top Ten Paris Experiences For Families with Autism view

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Each level has a couple of hundred stairs. By the time you’ve reached only the second tier, you’ve walked seven hundred stairs. Unless your kid likes stairs, definitely preorder your ticket online and ask for accommodation when you get there.
  • The main issue with the Eiffel Tower are the crowds. Not only do you need to prepare your kid by packing an entertainment device like an iPad or Nintendo DS to amuse them, but once you reach the site go to the front of the line and ask for help with any possible accommodations to shorten the time in line.

The Louvre

Famously known as the home of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa the Louvre holds and maintains thousands of incredible pieces of artwork. There happens to be a private tour designed to take kids on a scavenger hunt through the Louvre. A private guide will come and lead you through the museum using puzzles and clues to find the prize. The tour is fun and educational, introducing kids to the history of art by taking them through a broad range of collections.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The scavenger hunt can be somewhat pricey for a family with several kids. If you want to do it on your own, getting the Paris Pass is recommended, since you will have a shorter line.
  • Be advised that the Mona Lisa is  actually a small painting in a moderately sized room, so there is an actual line to see her. If you’re interested in seeing her, head over there first before your child loses interest in the museum.

Top Ten Paris Experiences For Families with Autism above

Luxembourg Gardens

The Luxembourg Gardens are a lovely little park area with a playground and a fountain pond in which children can play. You can sit and enjoy the beautiful architecture of the surrounding buildings while your kids laugh at the Marionette Theater or spin around on the old carousel.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The gardens are a pleasant place to sit and let off steam between destinations. You can also have a picnic lunch while the kids run around or feed the birds.
  • You may want to introduce your kids to the Luxembourg Garden by reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, either the full version or an abridged version .

Jardin des Plantes and Natural History Museum

For a more educational trip, the Jardin des Plantes and Natural History Museum is perfect for kids. Founded in 1793 during the French Revolution, the garden used to be the royal garden of medicinal plants until Louis XV in 1718 allowed the gardens to focus on natural history. For children, there are plenty of things for them to see including the Menagerie, the world’s oldest zoo in the world. The Jardin des Plantes is a hidden gem that not many visitors know. It’s a wonderful location to take those family photos.

Top Ten Paris Experiences For Families with Autism river

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Although it is a park, you are not allowed to step on the grass. Advise your kids to be mindful.
  • This museum is an excellent activity for a sunny day; it can get somewhat muddy on rainy days.
  • Take your kids to the herb section, since it’s not only fascinating, but it’s a pleasurable sensory experience with all the different smells.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Top Ten Paris Experiences For Families with Autism dome

If your child is a fan of Disney, then you can take them over to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the main setting for Disney’s adaptation of Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” There you can see gargoyles, gothic architecture and intricate façade featuring biblical characters. It is a working cathedral, so you must be quiet and respectful while in the building. Not to be missed are the incredible stained glass windows. Some Sunday evenings might be hosting concerts worth listening to for the acoustics.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Like all churches, running around or shouting is not acceptable. Prepare your child accordingly.
  • You can visit the bell towers if you’re physically fit since there are several hundred narrow stairs to climb with little possibility to change your mind midway.

Pompidou Center

Another fun activity would be to take the children to the Pompidou Center. What’s so special about this place? It’s an inside-out building! The pipes and escalators are on the outside of the building and are color coded so that children can know what pipe does what: green for water pipes, blue for air-conditioning ducts and yellow for electricity cables. There is also a fantastic modern art gallery inside as well as a permanent exhibition of art from 1905-60 which showcases art from Chagall who drew illustrations for the fables written by Jean de la Fontaine.

Top Ten Paris Experiences For Families with Autism city

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Check out the rooftop cafe for delicious sandwiches and a view of the Paris skyline.
  • The escalators and elevators in this place are fun to take up and down just on their own and can be a very sensory activity for kids with autism, especially younger children.
  • Not to be missed: the Stravinsky fountain next to the center, along with the antique clock on the wall.

Galeries Lafayette

No visit to the city of lights is complete without some shopping. The best places to shop are the Parisian department stores, and the iconic Galeries Lafayette is one of them. Forming the department store are several buildings that occupy a few blocks in the city. It provides a shopping extravaganza for the locals and tourists alike. Make sure you explore the large food department, sampling some of the cold cuts and desserts that they sell.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • For the perfect Parisian selfie, take the elevator to the rooftop where you can get your perfect postcard snapshot in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Top Ten Paris Experiences For Families with Autism background

Paris Catacombs

The catacombs are part of the city’s museums and are infamous as the world’s largest gravesite, holding the remains of over six million people. In the 19th century, the city renovated the underground caverns into what we know now as the catacombs. The site first opened to the public after the 1815 Napoleonic War. The catacombs are in underground tunnels in a small part of the city known as the Mines of Paris, beneath Rue de la Tombe/Issoire. The rumor is that the Parisian members of the French Resistance used the tunnel system during WWII against the Nazis. In 2009 it was briefly closed because of a vandalism incident.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be aware that visitors need to descend a narrow stone stairwell 90 meters underground in partial darkness. It can be frightening for some.
  • There are carefully arranged human bones on the walls and caverns, which though artistically arranged might not be suitable for younger kids.

Musee des Egouts de Paris

Not for the faint of heart, this is an underground tour of Paris’s sewage system. Visitors can sit and traverse the city from side to side just like in Victor Hugo’s famous description in Les Miserable when Jean Valjean is trying to escape Javert, the police inspector. A highly historical place and quite the engineering feat of its time, one can visit the museum and get the information via posters and info boards.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This museum a sewage museum so it is reasonably smelly. For people with autism who are smell sensitive, this might be difficult to endure.
  • Be aware that the place is somewhat dark, and the floor can be slippery because of water seepage.
  • If you plan on visiting, introduce your kids to Victor Hugo’s books, including Les Miserable and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Top Ten Paris Experiences For Families with Autism family

Sightseeing on Bike

If you are looking for a more active way to view the city you can join any one of the many companies that offer bike tours, the most famous of these being Fat Tire Tours. You can see the central Paris attractions while enjoying the lovely French weather on your bike. The tour last about four hours and you bike around four to five miles so be mindful if you have young children as this type of tour may not be for them. The company also does segway and night tours of all the sights.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Do not book this tour unless your kids are experienced bikers. Traffic lights in the city might split your group.
  • You might want to pack a lunch and bring it with you since the bike tour only stops in one particular place for everybody. This site tends to be a bit pricey without as many food options as needed if your child is choosy or has dietary restrictions.
  • The company does offer tandem bikes and trailers for those not comfortable with their kids riding on their own.

Though Paris may be considered the most romantic city in the world, it is still a family friendly place. So if you are thinking of taking a trip that the entire family could enjoy, Paris can easily be one of those locations.


Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums


Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums pin

Whether you’re by yourself, visiting with friends or bringing the entire family along, Paris has something for just about everyone. There is so much to do in the city that you could spend an entire year abroad and never experience everything. Paris boasts an extensive selection of over 200 different museums of exceptional quality. Here are my top six Paris museums for those with kids.

Musee d’Orsay

The first stop you should make is the Musee d’Orsay. Located on the left bank of the Seine, this museum started out as a railroad station. Today it houses works of art by those of Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, and Van Gogh. Unlike the Louvre, which houses many pieces art and can seem overwhelming, the Musee d’Orsay is smaller and situates their art with a distance between pieces to give the air of welcoming spaciousness.


Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums hallway

A fun feature of the museum is the interactive guided tour. Designed to entertain children with lessons about the exhibits while their parents wander the museum, this tour is free for children ages 5 to 10. It doesn’t require any previous booking and is an excellent way to keep the little ones entertained while you take a look around. Another feature is their scavenger hunt which you can review via THAT d’Or.

You can find the Musee d’Orsay at 1 de la Legion d’Honneur, 75007, Paris. Admission is free for anyone under the age of 18.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Unlike other museums, this Musee d’Orsay is a smaller, more manageable size. It is pleasant and filled with light, so it feels less like a museum than most famous Paris museums.
  • If you’re traveling with small children or anyone requiring the use of a wheelchair, you will enter from the priority gate entrance.
  • Like in most museums, kids need to be mostly quiet.
  • There are plenty of places to sit.
  • Be sure to prepare your child for proper museum etiquette before arriving.
  • For the younger kids, have them read kids’ books about Monet and Degas, like “The Magical Garden of Claude Monet” or “Degas and the Little Dancer.”


Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums pyramid

The Louvre was first built as a royal palace and fortress. The museum itself didn’t open until 1793 and only housed 537 paintings. It is the largest museum in the entire world and is one of the cities most popular tourist attractions. Visitors of the Louvre can visit almost any time year round, except on Tuesdays, Christmas Day, New Years Day and May Day (May 1st). It is open to receive visitors Monday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm and Wednesday and Friday from 9 am to 9:45 pm. Admission for children under 18 is free.

The Pyramids were added to the entrance in 1989, designed by world famous architect, I.M Pei. They’re comprised mainly of glass and metal.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Consider getting a Paris Pass to enter the Louvre, because the lines can be horrendous and the Paris Pass allows you in on a different line, equivalent to the Disney fast pass. One of the benefits of having the Paris Pass is the fact that you are allowed multiple entries so you can come back the next day. The pass is perfect for kids with little patience to sit for extended periods of time.
  • If you don’t wish to purchase a Paris Pass, you can speak to the person in charge about helping and accommodating children with disability.
  • Some private companies offer scavenger hunt tours that add a level of interactivity and engagement for kids.
  • The Louvre is equivalent to several theme parks put together. Don’t expect to see everything in one visit. You will need to map out your visit and decide what areas you want to visit ahead of time.
  • There is a lot of walking in the Louvre. Although it is wheelchair friendly, there is still a lot of distance from section to section. Make sure your child has comfortable shoes.
  • Unlike other museums, there aren’t a lot of places to sit, and crowds are a major issue, so visiting late afternoons and evenings is recommended.
  • If possible, avoid the days of waived museum entrance fee, because those days are typically crawling with visitors wall to wall.
  • If you have kids with autism that tend to get lost or run away, make sure they have a hotel card with the address in their pockets, along with a small GPS locator in their clothing or backpack.

Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums decoration

Musee de Cluny

Before entering the museum itself, you walk through the Boulevard of Saint Michael, where you can stop and see the remains of the Gallo-Roman baths built 14 centuries before. The Musee de Cluny’s collection includes art from antiquity all the way to Renaissance times. It features some true masterpieces like the Pillier des Nautes from the 1st century and the tapestries that make up La Dame a la Licorne (The Lady With the Unicorn) dating back to the 15th century.

The museum offers both independent and guided tours. When there are exhibitions, the admission fee is a little higher to cover the costs. Group tours are also available to visitors, but you must call ahead of time from Monday to Friday during the hours of 9 am to 4 pm. The museum is free to visitors the 1st Sunday of the month and is free for anyone under 26 from countries within the European Union as well as primary and secondary school teachers. Musee de Cluny is closed on Tuesdays and opens again, except for holidays, from 9:15 am to 5:45 pm.

Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums faces

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The museum is small, contained, and manageable.
  • If your child is antsy and needs to let out energy, make sure that you spend half an hour or an hour in the beautiful Luxembourg gardens that are close by before you get to the museum.

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou was designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. It is known today as a 20th-century architectural marvel and is recognizable by its exterior escalators and enormous brilliantly colored tubing. It is home to the National Museum of Art and is internationally renowned for its 20th and 21st-century art collections.

Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums red

The museum is open to visitors for groups, independent and guided tours. You can always purchase an annual pass if you’re planning on visiting multiple times, and adults under 26 can buy these passes at a discount. Group bookings must be made in advance Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:30 am to 1 pm.

Those eligible for free entry must be either under 26 and a resident of the countries of the European Union or primary and secondary school teachers. They can purchase their tickets from the Georges Pompidou Centre Cash Desk.

The address for Centre Pompidou is at 75004, Paris.Autism Travel Tips:

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The Centre Pompidou can be a sensory overload. Unlike other museums, where the main thing is to see things, there are interactive exhibits where you engage many of your senses, so multiple short visits are better for younger kids.
  • Just like the Louvre, this is a spread out museum, so be prepared to travel long distances. A multi-day pass or yearly pass is not a bad idea.
  • Some kids with autism, especially those who crave movement, will find the outside elevators very relaxing.
  • Be sure to see the Stravinsky fountain, a brightly colored fountain made by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle.
  • The rooftop cafe is a good place for a quick lunch as well as scenic selfies with the Parisian skyline.

Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums statue


Conciergerie is known as a museum by tourists, but before its conversion into a museum, it was a palace, then a prison. In the 14th century the palace, then known as the Palais de la Cite, was abandoned by the King of France, and it was turned into a judicial building with an attached prison. During the French Revolution, it was home to hundreds of prisoners later beheaded by the guillotine. In fact, the infamous Marie Antoinette lived her days imprisoned here.

In 1914 the Conciergerie was decommissioned and dubbed a historical monument. It is now open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction. Although it is open to the public for viewing, the Conciergerie sees use as a law court, so only a small portion of the museum is viewable to its tourists.

Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums fountain

Visitors can enjoy both guided and self-guided tours upon arrival. There is no booking required for the guided tours. For self-guided tours, the visitors guide is available in some languages. Guided tours last for approximately 1 hour and are open during the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. Admission is free to those visitors who are under the age of 26. You can also indulge in Tour Lectures, which last for about an hour and a half.

The Conciergerie is located at 2, Boulevard du Palais 75001, Paris and is accessible via subway, Bus and Rer (Parisian train system).

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There are 20 total stairs to travel, so the Conciergerie isn’t wheelchair accessible.
  • Some might find the history of the Conciergerie either fascinating or disturbing. Younger kids might find it a little scary because it’s non-interactive, not colorful and it covers a morbid era of France’s past.
  • It is highly recommended to get the Paris Pass that includes this location since it is a bit pricey for what it offers.

Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums tube

  • Do talk, if possible, to your kid about the French Revolution. The Conciergerie brings the French Revolution’s violence and brutality to life.
  • The lines are not too long, as this is one of the less famous museums.
  • You can see some of the cells including the one where Marie Antoinette spent her last days.
  • Though not a must see, it is good for kids with autism that are fascinated with history.
  • Can be coupled with a short visit to the Saint Chapelle church.

Hotel des Invalides

The Hotel des Invalides was commissioned in 1670 by Louis XIV. It was used to accommodate wounded soldiers while giving them hospital care. 5,000 soldiers of the Great Army were sent to Hotel des Invalides in 1815, after Napoleon’s abdication. Today the site is known for museums and monuments relating to the military history of France. Here you can find armoury and WWI-WWII artifacts.
It is also known as the burial site for famous war heroes of France, such as Napoleon Bonaparte. The building from the outside is impressive with a domed, golden top which stands out in the Parisian skyline. As you enter, the center is Napoleon’s  impressive tomb. A little-known fact is that the Hotel des Invalides is a currently functioning hospital for modern day veterans.

Visitors are welcome to visit between the hours of 10 am to 6 pm from April to October and 10 am to 5 pm from November to March. You can access Hotel des Invalides via the Metro and tickets are free to children.

Taking Your Kids to Paris Museums lake


Autism Travel Tips:

  • Hotel des Invalides should be visited in connection with the Conciergerie, since it’s not that far from it and it is still part of the French Revolution and what came after it (the Napoleonic Era).
  • Try not to skip visiting Napoleon’s tomb, although there is somewhat of a line. The tomb is a magnificent sight of its own. Visitors see the massive marble mausoleum by standing on a staircase and looking down.
  • The Hotel des Invalides is a part of the Paris Pass. Napoleon is very much alive in death, so even now lots of people come to visit him.

If this is your first time in Paris, it’s important to make a list of famous paintings or exhibits that you can’t live without seeing. Understand that Paris is a treasure trove of sights that cannot be covered in one trip. Families should do their best to have a fun time and create magical memories and not stress out over seeing every sight. Parents should bear in mind that Paris is not just about the museums; so make sure they experience Paris as a whole, with all its restaurants, flea markets, and even its famous cemeteries. The trick for all visitors is to enjoy your time in the city of lights as much as you can, and leave a little something for next time.


Top Four Destinations in St. Petersburg, Russia

Located on the Baltic Sea, St. Petersburg is known as the second largest city in all of Russia. Peter the Great founded the city in 1703, and it was the imperial capital for nearly two centuries. Today St. Petersburg is known as Russia’s cultural center with offerings like the ballet, theater, and the Russian Museum, which houses Russian art. St. Petersburg is filled with rich history and architectural gems that one can’t pass up if you’re thinking of traveling to the city.

Depending on what part of the year you’d like to visit, St. Petersburg is a beautiful place to visit. There are times during the year when you can make the most of your trip. For example, there’s the White Nights, a time when the sun doesn’t set until midnight. These nights happen June of every year and are the perfect time to take in the nightlife.

Top Four Destinations in St. Petersburg, Russia outside

As the second largest city in Russia, covering every inch of ground within the city is next to impossible if you’re only visiting for a day. The key to taking in all the sights and smells of St. Petersburg is to research ahead of time and find the places you’d like most to see and narrow them down to a handful of your favorite, must-see locations. Some of the best places in St. Petersburg include, but aren’t limited to:

Church on Spilled Blood

Located on the assassination location of where Emperor Alexander II in March of 1881, the Church was built between 1883 and 1907. Officially, the Church is named The Church of Our Savior On Spilled Blood and the funding for the church was provided almost entirely by the imperial family and private donators. Both the exterior and the interior of the church are home to beautifully detailed mosaics that were designed by prominent Russian artists. The church closed its doors for some 30 years after the Bolsheviks began destroying churches across the country. Church on Spilled Blood wouldn’t open its doors again until 1997.

You can’t miss the Church on Spilled Blood from the outside. It’s simply massive. Although you can take in its magnificence from the outside, free of charge, you have to pay for a ticket to view the thousands of mosaics inside of the church.

Top Four Destinations in St. Petersburg, Russia painting

The Church itself is small, so you can expect to spend no more than an hour inside seeing the mosaics. You can visit the Church on Spilled Blood via the Nevsky Prospekt metro station. The Church is open from 11 am to 7 pm. From Thursday to Tuesday the ticket office closes at 6 pm.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Take into consideration that the tour is somewhat long. The guides expect participants to keep quiet. If your kid is not an avid art, architecture or history buff, you might want to skip this tour.

Hermitage Museum

Considered one of St. Petersburg’s most popular visitor attraction, the Hermitage is one of the world’s largest museums. It houses over 3 million items, so you won’t be able to take them all in during your trip to St. Petersburg, but you’ll leave with a craving to return to see everything you missed. Take a guided tour to catch all of the highlights.Top Four Destinations in St. Petersburg, Russia white

Admission to the Hermitage includes entry to the main museum complex as well as the different branches. You can also visit each section individually, such as the Winter Palace of Peter the Great or Menshikov Palace. Admission is free to preschool aged children, school children, and students. To avoid long lines at the museum, you can purchase tickets online. The address of the Hermitage is 2 Dvortsovaya Ploschad or Palace Square.

For travelers and residents alike, the Hermitage Museum is accessible to those with disabilities. The museum has multi-level floors, and each has electric lifts. They also feature elevators for greater maneuverability.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is no AC, and the place can become very stuffy.
  • It is frequently crowded with people.
  • The best times to go are either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the tour groups are gone.

St. Issac’s Cathedral

St Issac’s Cathedral was originally the main church in St. Petersburg. It was also the largest cathedral in Russia, built between 1818 and 1858. The intention behind St. Issac’s was to be one of the most impressive landmarks in the Imperial capital. Now, 180 years later, St. Issac’s still sports the impressive exterior and interior that residents of the capital have admired for years.

Top Four Destinations in St. Petersburg, Russia red

Not to be missed are the bullet holes on the side of the building. These were never fixed since the locals wanted, and still want, to remember the Nazi invasion back in WWII.

The Cathedral is closed on Wednesdays but is open to the public daily from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm. Evening openings in the summer are available May 1st through September 30th from 6 pm to 10:30 pm. White night openings start from June 1st to August 20th from 10:30 pm to 4:30 am.

Admissions for the Cathedral is 250 Rubles for adults, 50 for children. Audio Guide is available in Russian, English, German, French, Italian or Spanish and can be purchased for 100 rubles.

The address for St. Issac’s is 4, Isaakievskaya and is accessible via the metro.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Bear in mind that this is a church and inside voices are heavily encouraged. Remind your child at all times to whisper.
  • Take a guided tour so that you can benefit from the stories and history involved.

Peterhof Palace

Peterhof Palace is one of St. Petersburg’s most well known and popular attractions. Also known as Petrodvorets, Peterhof Palace has often been referred to as the Russian Versailles due to its grandeur and elegance. In fact, Versailles was the inspiration behind the construction of Peterhof Palace. During the 2nd world war, Peterhof was overtaken by German troops.

The best time to visit Peterhof Palace is during the summer season. In the summer, all of the buildings are open to visitors and the famous fountains housed within the grounds are in full operation. However, summer is also the most crowded time and ticket waits can get lengthy.

Top Four Destinations in St. Petersburg, Russia blue

When traveling to Peterhof Palace, there are several different modes of travel available. Electric trains are running from Baltiskiy Station to Noviy Peterhof and take about 45 minutes. The station itself is about a 20-minute walk from the gates to the Upper Garden. There are also several buses that can get you where you need to go during your visit. The metro is also available and takes a little over an hour to get to your destination.

There are separate sections for admissions to the different buildings at Peterhof Palace. Each of these sections has different prices, and there are discounts for children and students.

The Lower Park is wheelchair accessible. Admission is free to The Upper Garden, said to have been a formal garden dating back from the reign of Empress Elizabeth. The Grand Palace sits at the very center of the Peterhof estate. There are many other wings of Peterhof to visit during your trip.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • When traveling with younger kids, have them watch Anastasia, an animated version of the story of the last Russian princess before the revolution.
  • When we visited, they made us put on shoe covers to preserve the old wood floors. Prepare your child accordingly for this.

Top Four Destinations in St. Petersburg, Russia pin

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

Filled with amazing sights and smells, Rome is home to many tourist attractions that are worth seeing if you’re an avid traveler. For someone who is traveling for a short amount of time, your family might find it hard to fit everything in for one trip. While there are many ways for your family to enjoy Rome, a good starting list should include at least one architectural landmark fountain, one museum ,  a noteworthy church and the famous catacombs.

As much as sticking to a set list has its advantages, you should also leave enough leisure time for exploring. You can take this time to visit neighborhoods like Trastevere and Campo De Fiori. If you look around long enough, you might even come across places like Rome’s cat sanctuary or The Vatican, with time to find some of Italy’s best eateries.

The Colosseum

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

The Colosseum , our first stop is one of the most visited locations in Italy. It is an iconic symbol of Rome and its history. Commissioned around A.D 70-72 by Emperor Versapian as a gift to the Roman people, the Colosseum was home to 100 days of games, some of which included gladiator combat and wild animal fights. Built of sand and concrete, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater in history. It’s open daily from 8:30 am to 3:30, seven days a week. At night, the Colosseum lights up, making a magnificent view.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be aware that there is an uneven terrain with many stairs to climb, so closed toe shoes are important to wear.
  • Bring a water bottle, especially on hot days, because you’ll need it, along with a mini fan if your child is temperature intolerant.

Torre Argentina

Kitty corner to the Colosseum (no pun intended), there is a cat sanctuary among the ancient ruins of Rome that kids and adults alike can enjoy. Torre Argentina is open most of the day, and you and your family can visit their nonprofit store and chat with the volunteers who come to feed the cats.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Bear in mind there are over 100 cats living in this area, if you or anyone in your family is allergic then it’s not a recommended location.
  • Explain to your child that these are feral cats that should be approached cautiously and with respect.

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill sits at the center of the famous seven hills of Rome and has a close link to Roman mythology. In Rome’s Republican era, Palatine Hill was the place for occupants to take up residency due to its beautiful views soaring 230 feet above the city. It was also believed that the air at that height was cleaner than “diseased” air of the working class below.

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

The Farnese Garden’s are beautiful and open to visitors at the northwest end. Tickets are on sale at the ticket queue outside of the ruins, and the wait is minimal at best, so you don’t have to allow for an extra time as you would for other sites. You can access Palatine Hill from the Hop On Hop Off Tour buses that run between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Palatine Hill is a steep hill, so wear closed-toe shoes and bring plenty of water.
  • There’s an interesting museum to visit recommended for children 8 and up.
  • Arrive early in the day to avoid the extreme heat and the hordes of tourists.

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum was the center of the Roman empire. Up until the 4th century AD, it was the site of critical decision-making for Europe’s future for over a thousand years. The Roman Forum sits between Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Hills. You can access the Roman Forum easily by foot or by bus as there are several stops near the location. Admission prices are just 12 euros, and the forum is open in the summer from 8:30 am to 7:15 pm and in winter from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The Forum is closed December 25th and January 1st.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If possible, the best way to visit both Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum is to get a guided, narrated tour, especially for kids who are interested in history.
  • If you come on your own, be sure to come early to avoid crowds.

The Pantheon

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

The Pantheon is known today as one of the most iconic buildings of ancient Rome. It is also the most well-preserved piece of architecture from that period. Dedicated to the gods of pagan Rome, the Pantheon is built by Emperor Hadrian in 27 B.C. to replace Marcus Agrippa’s Pantheon, which burned down in 80 A.D. When visiting the Pantheon admission is free to visitors and there are no lines to wait in or fees to pay when arriving. You can explore the marvel that is the Pantheon individually, or you can go on a guided tour that will help shed better light on the history of the Pantheon.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Though the marble flooring is beautiful, it can become slippery after rain.
  • Make sure that you try the 1 euro pizza slices in the nearby pizzerias.

Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore is one of five great ancient basilicas of Rome. It stands on the site of a temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele and according to legend, the first church was built by Pope Liberius on the location of the apparition of the Virgin Mary. Over the passing decades, the church has had many other names. The interior, exterior and 5th-century indoor mosaics are some of the most noteworthy aspects of the Santa Maria Maggiore that draws in both pilgrims and tourists alike. It’s open to the public daily from 7 am to 7 pm.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Prepare your kids for the fact they will need to be quiet since it is a place of worship.
  • Make sure your children dress appropriately, especially for preteen girls.

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

Piazza Navona and Fountain of Four Rivers

Piazza Navona was built in the 1st century, AD on the location of the Stadium of Domitian. The ancient Romans would gather to watch the games, and it has since become a popular tourist destination for travelers. Features of interest at the Piazza Navona include the Fountain of Four Rivers, and two other fountains, Fontana Del Moro on the southern end and the Fountain of Neptune at the northern end. The Piazza Navona is located just west of the Pantheon and is situated in the historic center of Rome, which is also one of the liveliest squares in the city known for its nightlife, outdoor cafes, and nightclubs.

Fountain of Four Rivers depicts gods of the great four rivers in the four continents recognized by Renaissance Geographers: The Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Danube in Europe and Rio de la Plata in America. Back in Baroque Rome, fountains were seen as a sign of great generosity associated with the papal family. These fountains were not only a means of entertainment for passersby but also a vital source of water for the people, making it not only a beautiful fixture but also an important source of sustenance. It was Pope Innocent X Pamphilj who commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to construct the Fountain of Four Rivers.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If your kid is intolerant of crowds, be sure to arrive extremely early in the morning since the place crawls with tourists throughout the day and even more so at night.
  • Beware of pickpockets, make sure that any valuables that you or your family members carry are in either a money belt or in zipping pockets.

St. Peters Basilica

St. Peters Basilica is an Italian Renaissance Church in the Vatican city. Designed by some of the best artists of that period, Michelangelo, Bramante, Maderno and Bernini, St.Peter’s is known as one of the largest churches in the entire world. Not to be missed is the famed Sistine Chaple that took Michelangelo and his apprentices over five years to paint and complete while standing on ladders with their necks tilted back. Considered the holiest of Catholic shrines, St. Peters is also home to the burial site of St. Peter himself, a former apostle of Christ as well as the first known Pope. St.Peters is open to visitors from April-September from 7:00 to 19:00 and October-March from 7:00 to 18:00.


Autism Travel Tips

  • The lines surrounding St. Peters are quite long, so it’s idea to arrive early and expect a long wait.
  • There is no AC, so the temperature inside can quickly reach 100 degrees between the outside heat and the hordes of people inside.
  • Expect close physical proximity to other patrons.
  • After you’ve taken your pictures of the balcony where the Pope himself stands to greet people, you can visit the Vatican Museums, which also has lines as long as found at St. Peters.
  • You should have a mapped strategy when visiting or take a guided tour so you can get the most out of your visit.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain is one of the most photographed fountains in all of Rome, frequently features in Hollywood movies. It is considered to be a “must see” attraction for first-time visitors. Situated in the center of the city, Trevi Fountain sits amongst a maze of streets and alleyways. Many tourists enjoy visiting in the evening before wandering off to enjoy a meal. Admission to Trevi Fountain is free of course and is easily accessible by foot or bus. Although the Trevi Fountain is beautiful to look at it, it also serves a higher purpose: providing water to fountains all over the city.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Just like in other fountains in Rome, Trevi Fountain has many tourists, especially in the summer, who come to check out the filming locations of nostalgic movies like Holiday in Rome.
  • As we discovered, the best time to take a decent selfie with few crowds were the early Sunday mornings when the locals and most of the tourists were still sleeping.5527069588_7597a0ca51_z

Catacombs of Callixtus

The Catacombs of Callixtus are known as the greatest and most important catacombs in all of Rome. There is a guided tour that is free of charge to visitors, and the guides are known to speak several different languages to suit the needs of their various guests. The entirety of the tour will last about 30/40 minutes on average, and there are some discounts available on ticket pricing as well as free options for children under 6, professors or teachers who are accompanying student groups.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Though historically significant, this is not a recommended place for kids that are afraid of the dark or who are sensitive to smells, because this place has both, since it is mainly underground.
  • Be aware that the ground is uneven, and you’ll have to walk through narrow pathways, so unless your kid feels comfortable enough to do this, it would be best to skip this destination.

Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori is situated right in the middle of historic Rome and is an outdoor market for tourists and residents alike. Day and night, the Campo de’ Fiori market is a bustle of activity. The name Campo de’ Fiori translates to “field of flowers” and is thought to originate back when the site was an open meadow. Known for its outdoor market by day and nightlife by evening, Campo de’ Fiori is the only outdoor market in all of Rome.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Perfect spot for antsy kids to run around and for families to buy some Italian delicacies and have an outdoor picnic.
  • For those looking for souvenirs, this is as close to heaven as it gets; however, don’t be afraid to haggle the price down – whatever the price asked, start with half and work yourself to 2/3rds.

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps were built between 1723-1725 by little-known architect Francesco de Sanctis. It is a must see tourist location if you’re visiting the holy city. The steps are constructed in a wide, irregular pattern and consist of 138 steps altogether. Whether you’re looking for a good place to rest or snap a picture, the Spanish Steps are a beautiful work of art that your entire family can enjoy.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Antsy kids can get a kick out of running up and down the stairs, providing they’re not too crowded.
  • Make sure to visit one of the many gelato places situated around the bottom of the steps.

General Autism Travel Tips

  • Beware the hectic pace of their transportation avenues.
  • When sightseeing or hunting for the best place to shop or eat, it might be best to avoid buses or the subway, as there are often long waits between stations with the possibility of getting lost between stops.
  • In Rome, your best method of transportation is your feet, although it’s important to bear in mind that Rome is a large city full of hills that can make walking unbearable in the hot summer months.

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Taking Your Kids to Paris Churches

Paris is beautiful. Whether you’re traveling on your own or traveling with family, there is something for everyone in your family to enjoy. From priceless art exhibits to delicious food to unique shopping boutiques and more, Paris is the city to visit if you have a thirst for adventure, a passion for history or an eye for fashion.

The lovely sights across Paris are just one reason why travelers are gearing up for a visit. Paris is known for its culture, art, cafes and tourist sights. If you’re traveling to Paris and are looking for some must-see places, then you should consider putting the city’s famous churches on your itinerary. Of course, you can’t visit every major church that Paris has to offer. Narrowing it down might be hard because there’s so many to choose from and so much history to soak up; however, I can list the top 4 on my list and hope that one or all of them end up on your bucket list when touring the City of Light.

Notre Dame

Taking Your Kids to Paris ChurchesNotre Dame is one of the oldest churches in Paris. Its history dates back more than 800 years! Maurice de Sully desired a cathedral worthy of the grand capital. The project was encouraged by his then classmate, King Louise VII. Construction began in 1163, and at the time of construction, the entire city banded together to see the idea come to fruition. While some participated in actively building, others offered money and knowledge. Construction on Notre Dame continued for 100 years.

Notre Dame was dedicated to Mary, Mother of God, and housed within are over 37 different variations of the virgin mother. These representations include works of art like stained glass windows, paintings, sculptures, etc. Aside from its dedication to Mary, known as the Lady of Paris, Notre Dame was also home to multiple historical events such as the marriage of Henry IV and Marguerite de Valois.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Notre Dame is open most days from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm
  • Admission is free for anyone under 18
  • Visitors with a Paris Museum Pass get in free with noticeably shorter wait times
  • Admission to Notre Dame is done in groups of 20 every 10 minutes with lengthy wait times by the entrance
  • The many fan-shaped stairs leading up to the towers are old and can be slippery after rain, so it is important to wear comfortable shoes with traction
  • There is no place to stop or catch a breath without delaying other patrons, so make sure to prepare your son or daughter for the experience
  • You can find Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cite, the oldest part of Paris
  • You can access Notre Dame via the Metro or Rer (travel train) as well as other buses running nearby

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur, in the neighborhood of Montmartre, was constructed in 1919. If you go to the top of Butte Montmartre, you’re afforded a breathtaking view of the city below. Housed within the walls of the Sacre Coeur, you’ll find France’s largest mosaic as well as the crypt, which is well worth the visit if you’ve got some time to spare.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The tour includes a visit to the crypt and may take at least an hour, so prepare your child for a long time period of relative quiet and observance of church mannerisms
  • Admission to the Dome’s breathtaking view of the city is 6 euros
  • If you want to visit just the crypt you can expect a lower admission price
  • Ask for a discount if your child is younger than 18 or disabled
  • A ramp and lift are readily available to accommodate those with physical disabilities
  • The Dome and crypt are both closed from the 1st to the 15th of January
  • For more details, remember to look on the website for recently updated hours

Taking Your Kids to Paris ChurchesSaint Chapelle

Saint Chapelle was built in an astonishing 7 years. The construction of Saint Chapelle was intended to become the housing for ancient Christian relics such as Christ’s Crown of Thorns which was acquired by Saint Louis, the head of the Western Christianity at the time of Saint Chapelle’s construction.

One of the most beautiful aspects of Saint Chapelle is its stained glass windows. Spanning across 15 windows, each of which measures 15 meters high, is 1,113 scenes from both the Old and New Testaments. The scenes recount the history of the world until the arrival of the relics Saint Chapelle was built to house. The stained glass windows are famous around the world, not only for their beauty but also because they’re the largest collection of original stained glass windows and are a big draw for tourists and native Parisians.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Summer hours differ from fall hours, so be sure to check the website
  • Saint Chapelle has no organized tour, so you can spend as long or as short of a time as you wish wandering the church
  • The church sits within walking distance of other historical spots, making it easy to plan a mini day trip of history and architecture

La Madeleine

La Madeleine is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. The first design was drawn up by Pierre Constant d’Ivry and began construction in 1764. After his death, Guillaume-Martin Couture took on the project and decided he wanted to start the project over completely. The design was based on the Roman Pantheon.

Taking Your Kids to Paris Churches

By the time the revolution came to pass the La Madeleine had sawed a discontinuation of construction. Debate swirled about what its purpose would be in Revolutionary France. Ideas for a ballroom, library and marketplace were all suggested but discarded upon discussion. It wasn’t until 1806 that Napoleon decided what the site was to become: Temple of the Glory of the Great Army. It was that decision that caused the construction to be deconstructed and started anew. It was after the fall of Napoleon that it was decided by King Louise XVII that it would be used as a church. Construction was finally completed in 1842.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • La Madeleine is within the heart of Paris, a short distance from the main department store Galeries Lafayette that can itself become a day destination and other famous patisseries that serve world famous desserts
  • There are two different tours, independent and guided
  • Free admission to visitors using the independent tour feature
  • Doors are open from 9:30 am to 7 pm

Taking Your Kids to Paris ChurchesSaint-Sulpice

Saint-Sulpice was built in the 17th century. Today the church is one of the biggest in Paris. If you’re touring local churches in Paris and want to make your itinerary memorable then adding Saint-Sulpice into the lineup of places to see is definitely a must. Inside Saint-Sulpice visitors can admire the nave of the church while taking in Chapelle de la Vierge with a statue of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle and much more. The best part is that cameras are allowed within the church so you can document your trip with pictures to share with your loved ones who couldn’t make the trip with you.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Independent and guided tours are available for visitors
  • Admission is free
  • Doors are open from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm, so you’ll have all day to make the trip

Taking the kids to Paris Churches

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism

As some of you may know our readers are always invited to contact us to ask for advice, tips or any other help planning their trips. The service is free and is available through private email on our contact us section on tour navigation bar or via our FB page. 

In this case, Lisa’s question about taking her son with autism on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela was first posted on our FB page and as we thought other readers might benefit we decided to turn it into a post.


Dear Margalit

Do you have any thoughts on taking one’s adult autistic offspring on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela? I am considering doing just that, although would take it a lot slower than most people, and have more rest days.
I would spend about two years physically and mentally preparing my son to go.
As my son is also intellectually disabled, an epileptic, as well as a coeliac, am I crazy to even consider it?
Any feedback would be gratefully received.
Thanks, Lisa.


Dear Lisa,
Thanks so much for your question.
The Camino is quite different than some of my other destinations as it is really ‘off the beaten track’, so to speak, and unique in its place in the travel industry.
It is, of course, a magnificent part of the world; with some routes and their monuments in both Spain and France even earning UNESCO World Heritage status.
Known as a predominantly Catholic pilgrimage route for centuries and called Saint James Path or The Way of Saint James; it used to be referred to as a means for spiritual growth or soul-searching for a few dozen pilgrims each year.

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism view

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

Nowadays, it has become far more familiar with a few hundred thousand travelers making the journey annually and not only for spiritual reasons.
A lot of people like the idea of peace and quiet and the tranquillity of the path that the Camino offers for an alternative holiday or getaway. Some hikers use it as a personal conquest and for some, it is not unheard of to walk the Camino to find a spouse.

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism hikers

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

In years gone by pilgrims did the journey on their own, but now there are even organized tours that make arrangements for singles, couples, and groups.
In recent years, there have been some unique accounts of people making the trek in wheelchairs with the help of their family or friends. The ultimate aim of the journey is to be able to receive a certificate of accomplishment (Compostela) to say that the pilgrim has completed at least 100 kilometers by foot; the only thing that is required for this is to walk, eat and sleep.

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism boot

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

What you need to know.

  • Good hiking boots are vital and then one has to decide on food and lodging.
  • Some people complete the walk with the bare minimum; camping out in the open and really ‘roughing it’.
  • For those who don’t like sleeping under the stars, other options are little hostels called refugios that are economical and give one the opportunity to contribute to the community’s economy.
  • The route passes through small villages and towns, and there are cathedrals and chapels along the way that appeal to religious and non-religious alike.
  • The architecture and views are spectacular and along the whole route, care has been taken to show hospitality to pilgrims with trails marked out accurately and foot fountains to soothe aching feet.
  • As a bonus, these days, all the refugios offer free WiFi, really appealing to the modern pilgrim.
Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism car

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

Regarding special needs and autism, it absolutely can be done and has been done.
A woman with autism from the United States completed the route in 2013 which was a fantastic achievement.
It is, of course, imperative to plan, like you said.
Every single need and possible concern should be discussed and taken into account.For most people with autism, a schedule is vital.In an unusual way, walking the Camino provides a routine in itself.Even though you wake up in a different place every morning, the pattern of the day is the same, and there is an end goal.Your son would not need to feel pressured; walking pace and resting times are flexible.

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism road snacks

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

Autism Travel Tips

  • How comfortable is your son with sleeping in a different bed than his own? Part of your preparation can be to expose him to sleeping in different motels.
  • If he is sensitive to light, make sure that he has a sleep mask as each refugio will have different arrangements regarding blinds or curtains.
  • If your son is noise-sensitive, then earplugs or headphones will be very beneficial.
  • If your son is sensitive to heat, then choose to travel in the cooler months.
    Most hikers start out early in the morning also to avoid the heat of the day. I suggest you break-in new shoes a few weeks before to avoid getting blisters.
  • You mentioned that he has celiac disease so you would need to make allowance for carrying extra weight in gluten-free substitute foods and snacks in your backpack.
    There are stores and stalls for purchasing food along the way, but there is no guarantee that it will be suitable for your son’s digestive system.The meals at the refugios are simple, and if you are in a town or village, there is the possibility of eating at a tavern or restaurant.



Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism solo hiker

Photo credit Bev Kelly

  • If your son is on medication for epilepsy, for example, you will need to take an ample supply and also a means to keep it dry and at a suitable temperature no matter where you will be staying on the route.
  • If you choose to go with a specialized tour, they do provide you with water, food and first aid as well as the option of a ride to the closest medical center if necessary. It should go without saying that travel insurance is a priority.
  • If your son enjoys the outdoors, gets a sense of accomplishment from completing goals and embraces the challenge of doing something new, then walking the Camino might be just the thing for him.
Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism mountains

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

Please let me know if you are going to do it. We, at Autistic Globetrotting, would love to hear about your experience.


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