So many cities, so little time… We’ve asked our friends at Disability Horizons to share their list of favourite city breaks for disabled people.
Susie Twydell is a wheelchair user herself, who set up the travel review website, www.wheelchairworld.org and is certain to have the edge on where to go and put these notes together.
Being a modern city, Berlin’s accessibility is first-rate. It has a smorgasbord of wheelchair-accessible cultural attractions, and throughout the city the pavements and public transport are easy to navigate. There is also a good variety of adapted accommodation to suit your needs.
Barcelona is a very popular tourist destination and has made great efforts to make accessibility commonplace. Pavements and buses are accessible as are the vast majority of Metro stations.
There is a city beach that has walkways to the water, a lifting hoist, adapted changing facilities and an assistance programme where lifeguards support wheelchair users into the water. There are also lots of things to see throughout Barcelona, such as the impressive Gaudi Sagrada Familia church and the Park Güell. Not all elements are wheelchair accessible, but you can definitely enjoy a good eyeful of these impressive works of art and architecture. There are also various Gaudi structures around the city, which can be enjoyed from the street.
www.wheelchairworld.org includes hotel recommendations – and ones to avoid.
Ljubljana’s old town is exceptionally accessible – the entire area is pedestrianised and has level access. Thanks to the gentle Slovenian climate, the majority of restaurants have outside seating, making nearly all suitable for wheelchair users. Ljubljana’s castle is the place to go for exceptional views over the city. Access is via a funicular railway. Although not every viewing point is accessible, generally it’s pretty easy to get around.
When I visited, I stayed at the central City Hotel. It had a massive adapted room with two bathrooms and there was an adapted toilet in the main area too. Ljubljana’s only downside is that it doesn’t have an abundance of disabled toilet facilities. I only found two – in the castle and near the tourist office. (You’ll need to ask about the castle’s disabled toilet since it’s located in a place off-limits to the public.)
Sydney is another fairly modern city with good accessibility facilities throughout. The famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as surrounding areas, are easy to explore, and Bondi Beach has beach wheelchairs you can borrow. To request one, just ask one of the lifeguards who will bring it to an accessible ramp down to the beach.
It’s worth taking a look at Clickability, an Australian directory of disability services featuring ratings and reviews from users, visit: www.clickability.com.au
The Americans with Disabilities Act means that most cities in the US are reasonably accessible. One reviewer on www.wheelchairtravel.org said: “San Francisco boasts a cultural sense of inclusion, and this is carried through to the accommodations, museums, restaurants and other public places. Wheelchair users can ride trains, city buses and most streetcars and can also easily access the famous attractions and sightseeing ferries.”
A lot depends on the needs of the individual, but these cities seem to be the most frequently mentioned locations for good wheelchair accessibility on disability travel websites and blogs. As one friend recently said to me: “Accessibility is having a moment and things are improving all the time.”
Find out more travel advice at Disability Horizons: