Travel is a big enough challenge at the best of times, but if you suffer from a disability or have mobility problems, getting away for some rest and relaxation can actually result in more stress and anxiety. Exploring a European city can be a joy, discovering the winding city lanes and cobbled roads, but if you’re travelling on wheels, this can suddenly become a holiday from hell. So today we look at all the best cities in Europe where you will not only have good access in a mobility scooter or wheelchair, but also have a fantastic time learning about the city and soaking up its cultural history. So pack your suitcase mobility scooter, grab your tickets, and explore Europe!
Germany, being a land of industrial innovation, is as expected very accessible. The capital has a motto, “Berlin is for everyone”, and this could not be more true. Most tourist attractions, shopping centers, restaurants and hotels are all now fully accessible. Many of the main tourist attractions are fully accessible, as are its parks, shopping centres, and restaurants. You’ll also be able to enjoy boat tours and its museums – the Bauhaus Archive is a highlight for art and design fans.
If there one city that is associated with music and art it’s Vienna. Home to some of our greatest classical composers, such as Strauss, Brahms and Mozart, while also being where Sigmund Freud developed psychoanalysis, it has become known as the city of music and dreams. It has splendid art galleries and museums, along with a great bohemian urban culture with trendy cafes and traditional Beisln, which serve goulash and beer. Along with this, Vienna is a very accessible city that welcomes people of all abilities. Buses have lowered floors for easy access and the main tourist attractions have disabled friendly entrances.
Stockholm consists of 14 islands joined by over 50 bridges, so it does not scream accessible. But the country’s capital is making great efforts to provide access for all. This can first be seen in its great museums, the Vasa Museum, the Royal Palace and the City Hall, all of which now have wheelchair friendly entrances and routes.
Stockholm also has a very accessible metro system – almost all trains are now level with the platform for easy ride on and ride off access. Buses come with ramps and raised pavements at bus stops, and most hotels have lifts for upper floors.
Barcelona is a city that has it all – great architecture, a vibrant nightlife, trendy and traditional bars, and of course, a fantastic coastline with excellent beaches. The old Gothic Quarter is a firm favourite for tourists too. Barcelona’s transport authority has been working for years to make the city’s bus and metro services 100% accessible. As well as good wheelchair and mobility scooter access, tour guides from Barcelona Access also offer easy walking tours and help tourists find the best accessible hotels and restaurants. Barcelona also gas adapted beaches with staff on hand to help bathers.
While much of Italy is difficult at best for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, Sicily is one of the most accessible areas of Italy. The island town of Ortigia is especially good as it is flat and on the coast. The quieter roads on the island also make it safer to navigate the region, and it is a popular destination of Sicily Accessible Tours.
If you don’t fancy going overseas, then there are some great options in the UK. Glasgow has been rated as Britain’s most accessible city. The city is bustling with culture, history, shops, museums and galleries, music venues, restaurants, and stunning architecture. Some of the most accessible tourist attractions include the Riverside Transport Museum (which recently held a wheelchair exhibition), and Kelvingrove Art Gallery, which offers free BSL guided tours. Popular retail hubs such as Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch Centre both have a Changing Places toilet.
Last but certainly not least, is Norwich in Norfolk. Norwich is a medieval city that sits on the River Wensum, and is full of charm and character. Highlights include Norwich Castle, which is home to some of the best art and history exhibitions in the city, and the The Theatre Royal or The Norwich Playhouse, both of which have accessible toilets. If you go in Spring or Summer then you must visit the Whitlingham Country Park, which has accessible boat rides along the adjacent broad. And if you need anything to make your trip easier, pop into the Norwich mobility shop to grab a bargain while you’re their!
While accessibility is often the biggest problem in many cities, there are certainly some locations where people’s attitudes to the disabled is rather outdated. These places can be an even greater challenge as prejudice and discrimination can mean that not only are you not helped, you may be deliberately hindered. Hopefully all the cities listed above will not only be accessible but you’ll also hopefully be given a warm welcome wherever you go.