5 Accessible and wheelchair-friendly destinations

Man pushing woman in wheelchair
Man pushing woman in wheelchair

5 Accessible and wheelchair-friendly destinations

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Being stationed in Europe offers a fantastic opportunity to travel. Seeing places you’ve only read about in history books or lounging along the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean sounds blissful. However, when you factor in that many cities were built hundreds (or even thousands) of years ago, it can be challenging for those who rely on wheelchairs or need walking assistance. Cobblestones, steep hills, uneven terrain and tight corridors can make it feel almost impossible. The good news is that it is entirely possible to get around some of Europe’s breathtaking locales. Here are five wheelchair-friendly destinations to consider.

Amsterdam. Although bicycles are one of Amsterdam’s most notorious hazards, it is surprisingly easy to navigate your way through this charming Dutch capital. Wide, flat sidewalks and gently sloped bridges crossing the canals are great for accessibility. If you want to see the city from the water, many canal cruises are wheelchair-friendly and offer lifts in and out of the boats. To get ideas, tips or schedule a rolling tour of the city with experts, visit Accessible Travel Netherlands. The travel gurus can also help with itineraries in cities nearby.

Barcelona. The vibrant Catalonia culture capital is one of Europe’s most accessible cities. Very few streets are cobblestone, and aside from a handful of hills near Mont Juic and the Gothic Quarter, relatively flat. Public buses and the ever-efficient metro system offer ramps and step-free access for those who need it. Visitors can easily check out Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Las Ramblas and even the famed football stadium Camp Nou. Feel like camping out at the beach for the day? Most beaches in Barcelona are lined with wide, flat promenades making it easy to cruise around for the perfect spot. Barcelona Special Traveler is a great company to assist with questions and tours.

Berlin. A hipster’s paradise, Berlin is full of complex and fascinating history. A quirky array of architecture, such as grand palaces to rows of identical and nondescript apartment towers grace the storied city. Thankfully, Berlin is a place accessible to everyone. Following the former divide between East and West Berlin is uncomplicated thanks to the network of level sidewalks and streets. Museum Island (a UNESCO World Heritage site) is easily linked and the museums are located right next to each other. Visitors can also wheel beneath the grandeur of the Brandenburg Gate and along the tree-lined paths of the Tiergarten. Download the accessBerlin app to help plan your visit.

Iceland. Iceland’s stunning landscape of volcanoes and ice is sure to be on a lot of bucket lists. Full of adventure and spectacular scenery, one might overlook this amazing Nordic country. Getting around the capital of Reykjavik is relatively straightforward, with a little extra homework. While the bus system is wheelchair-accessible, the schedule and stops can be a little complicated to figure out. However, tour operators such as Iceland Unlimited can help ease the burden. The Golden Circle encompasses national parks, geysers, glaciers and waterfalls, all with accessible walkways and paths. The famed Blue Lagoon also offers plenty of options for guests needing a little extra assistance.

London. With plenty of sights to see and green places to explore, London is a must-visit on any European itinerary and is surprisingly wheelchair-friendly. Most of the main thoroughfares and pathways are spacious and flat. While there may be a few crowds, there is usually plenty of room to navigate safely. Home to world-renowned museums and galleries, Trafalgar Square is a great place to start. Traverse along the walkways through St. James Park, and you’ll find yourself near Buckingham Palace. Transportation is a cinch, as cabs and buses are equipped with ramps, and many London Underground stations have elevators (lifts) and step-free access.

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