We know that there's no one-size-fits-all solution to autism friendly holidays and that different visitors will have different needs. There’s plenty of choice if you’re looking for activities in Wales that are both fun and specially tailored to your requirements.
History and heritage
A visit to one of Wales' many historic sites can be ideal for children and young adults with autism, providing an immersive and engaging way to learn about the past.
Our heritage railways offer lots of opportunities for autism-friendly experiences, particularly for young visitors who love trains. At Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways and Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway, visitors can ride on or simply observe the different historic engines (though their loud sounds may not be suitable for everyone). There is information available on the different locomotives and trips on offer, giving families and individuals with autism the ability to plan their visit in advance.
Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum provides an accessible way to learn about our industrial heritage. There are a host of interactive exhibits to explore, while the machinery gallery gives enquiring minds the opportunity to see complex equipment in action. There’s also a chill out room for any visitors who need to take a moment away from all the sensory stimulus.
If open spaces are important, St Fagans National Museum of History near Cardiff is an excellent choice. With historic buildings from all over Wales spread across a 100-acre site dotted with woodland and pathways, there’s always a quiet spot for a picnic. Children will also enjoy the working farm, especially during lambing season when they can a get close look at all the new arrivals.
At Picton Castle and Gardens near Haverfordwest, visitors can enjoy a range of activities. There are over 40 acres of gardens to explore, providing plenty of space, plus the Welsh Owl Garden and Zoo, where you can get a closer look at creatures like owls, otters and exotic birds.
Animal encounters and glorious gardens
There are more amazing animals at Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire. Alongside the livestock, younger visitors can have up-close encounters with exotic creatures like giraffes, tapirs and monkeys. There’s also plenty of open spaces and places to play, plus a selection of fun fairground rides. To ensure a relaxing day, you can download and print a map of the park and plan exactly what you want to see and where you want to go ahead of your visit.
Explore an undersea world at Anglesey Sea Zoo, near Brynsiencyn, where you can see an astonishing range of aquatic creatures , including colourful jellyfish, seahorses and darting fish, in an autism-friendly environment. The Zoo’s staff are adept at helping visitors with additional needs, offering quiet times on request and giving extra help (like turning off the wave machines if some find them too noisy).
Hi-tech hothouse Plantasia brings a touch of the tropics to Swansea. Younger visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds of the rainforest, including exotic plants, brightly-coloured birds and animals and tumbling waterfalls in a relaxed and calming atmosphere (there’s also a quiet area for anyone who needs a break).
Experience more fantastic flora at the National Botanic Garden of Wales at Llanarthne in Carmarthenshire. There’s a sensory trail through the Great Glasshouse’s warm Mediterranean environment and plenty of wide-open spaces to explore outside. You’ll find designated quiet areas by the lakes and there’s even a bird of prey centre sure to spark the imagination of younger visitors.
Science and technology
Encourage experimentation with a trip to one of our interactive science museums. At Techniquest in Cardiff Bay and Xplore in Wrexham, younger visitors can go hands-on with exhibits which illuminate everything from earthquakes and electricity to space travel and surgery. There are plenty of quiet areas where visitors can rest and relax, with Xplore also offering a monthly autism-friendly quiet session.
A visit to an art gallery, museum or theatre can be a great option for autistic people, providing peaceful and controlled environments.
At Theatr Clwyd in Mold, Torch Theatre in Milford Haven and Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre there are regular relaxed performances, giving adults and children with autism the opportunity to enjoy live performances that could sometimes be overwhelming. Changes such as increased lighting, lower volumes and reductions in special effects, alongside chill out areas and easy access in and out of the auditorium transform the theatregoing experience and increase accessibility for everyone.
For live music fans, there is also the Gig Buddies scheme. Covering South and North Wales, it pairs people with additional needs and volunteers who share their interests. so that they can go to gigs and other cultural events together.
Autism-friendly adventure and the outdoors
There’s plenty of choice for adventurous young people. A coasteering trip with Celtic Quest Coasteering in Pembrokeshire is sure to get pulses racing. The company has years of experience helping people of all abilities enjoy this exciting way to experience our coastline. With super floaty kit and adventures tailored to each individual’s requirements, it’s an adventure that’s open to just about everyone.
There’s more action at Oakwood Park, near Narberth, a theme park with a focus on fun for all the family. There’s a handy Ride Access Pass which provides accessibility information on the park’s more than 40 rides, making it easy to find suitable experiences for every visitor. The passes, as well as free tickets for carers, can be arranged in advance of your visit.
There’s lots to do outdoors at Pembrey Country Park at Burry Port. Alongside miles of cycle paths to be explored by adaptive bike and the dry ski slope where visitors of all abilities can enjoy accessible sessions with Ski 4 All Wales, there’s peaceful Cefn Sidan Beach and acres of woodland to investigate. Young visitors will also love the sights, sounds and smells of the park’s new sensory trail, launched in 2022.
Secluded accessible beaches in Wales
While some of our better-known beaches can get quite busy in peak seasons, there are a number of quieter accessible beaches more suited to autistic travellers. Pretty Poppit Sands is a sheltered spot away from the crowds, while wonderful Whitesands near St Davids provides lots of space on its sweeping shore. To get the best out of your visit, be sure to check the tide times before you travel.
Help when planning autism-friendly holidays
To help you have the most enjoyable time on holiday either as, or with, an autistic person, plan ahead and create an itinerary so that you know when and where you are going in advance. Print off maps and information sheets so you're fully informed before you arrive. You can also find plenty of useful information using the links below: