Travelling overseas and immersing yourself in different cultures is a wonderful experience – especially in Europe. However, it can also present many challenges, from lost luggage and flight delays to inferior hotels. For people with disabilities, it can be even more of a challenge.
The reality is that much of Europe still doesn’t cater for people with limited mobility, which can make it more difficult to travel here. However, there are a number of European cities that are ahead of the pack, offering hospitality, infrastructure and transport to make travelling with limited mobility easier.
Countries including the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal are becoming more and more accessible for people with disabilities. And many tourist attractions in these countries, from museums to galleries, now cater for tourists in wheelchairs.
Here, we look at the most disability-friendly cities in Europe, based on accessible public transport, ease of access to hotels and public attractions. So if you’re planning a trip to Europe, check out our top three picks and the best stopovers on the way!
1. Rome, Italy
As well as being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Rome is also one of the most accessible cities in Italy. All modes of transport in the city are wheelchair-friendly, and you can also hire mobility scooters. The ancient city has wheelchair ramps on the footpaths, and there’s plenty of space for wheelchairs in most restaurants. At the very least, there is a ramp at the entrance to most galleries and museums. Rome also offers accessible bus tours to people with reduced mobility to major attractions such as The Vatican and the Colosseum. As far as accommodation goes, Rome has more than 700 fully accessible hotels, suitable for people with limited mobility.
2. Berlin, Germany
Germany has invested heavily in making many of its cities more accessible for people with reduced mobility. The capital, Berlin, received the 2013 EU City Access Award from the European Commission, for its comprehensive disability policy and investments in accessibility for people with disabilities – and it continues to make constant improvements. Berlin’s public transport system is almost 100% accessible. Many museums, theatres, restaurants and bars in Berlin are wheelchair accessible including attractions such as the Jewish Museum of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall Memorial, to name just a few.
3. London, England
All public transport in London is fully accessible, plus many regular taxis in London offer wheelchair access. This means a person in a wheelchair (depending on the chair) can flag down a taxi and get both themselves and their wheelchair into the taxi. Most streets have wheelchair ramps and almost all hotels in London have at least 5% of their rooms dedicated to guests with a disability. Tourist destinations such as the London Eye and London Aquarium offer fully accessible routes.
The best stopover destinations
Like to make a stopover on your way to Europe? Dubai and Singapore are two excellent options for people with mobility issues.
As a very modern city, most buildings, restaurants and attractions in Dubai offer excellent wheelchair accessibility. The city has a modern metro system that is barrier-free for people with reduced mobility. The Dubai International Airport is one of the best in the world when it comes to accessibility, offering special services to wheelchair users including expedited screening at security checkpoints and a dedicated line for wheelchair users at passport control. The city also offers a fleet of accessible taxis, and Dubai is home to a large number of international hotel chains with disability-friendly rooms.
Singapore is arguably the most disability-friendly city in Asia, if not the world. In terms of transportation, Singapore’s train system, the MRT, is designed to be fully wheelchair accessible. Almost half of public buses and taxis in Singapore are wheelchair-friendly, and the bus stops provide barrier-free access. A large number of buildings and tourist attractions also provide barrier-free access, to make them more accessible, including Singapore Zoo, Sentosa Cove and the Gardens on the Bay.
Where do you start?
Our number one tip is to do your homework before you go. Check out other people’s experiences and do some research on hotels, restaurants and transport. The internet is packed with information, advice and blogs by travellers with limited mobility. So start planning your European holiday today!
Trust the experts at Power Mobility
Using the right mobility equipment when you travel can make all the difference. At Power Mobility, we offer a wide range of powerchairs including two models that are particularly good for travelling. The Pride iGo and Jazzy Passport are lightweight and foldable, so they make great travel companions.
An NDIS Registered Provider with over 40 years experience, Power Mobility provides the perfect combination of quality mobility products, personal service and expert advice. Widely regarded as the power chair specialists, Power Mobility also offers a wide selection of scooters, lift chairs, manual wheelchairs and much more. So give our friendly team a call on 07 3265 4663 or drop into our showroom in Geebung.