Accessible travel can be a challenge given that many popular destinations were built hundreds of years ago at the very least. Uneven surfaces, cobbles and narrow windy side roads can make visiting in a wheelchair feel like an almost unsurmountable challenge.
So, assuming that travel becomes a more of an option as the year goes by, which wheelchair accessible cities make a good option?
Starting at home, London is a great choice. A city with many parks and green spaces, and historic sights, museums and galleries, London is wheelchair-friendly as most of the main routes are wide and flat. Inevitably, as a major European capital and employment hub, it’s a busy, often crowded place but it is also navigable. Buses and taxis have ramps while many tube stations have step-free access and lifts.
Another island, Iceland’s spectacular icy scenery and volcanoes is stunning while the capital city, Reykjavik, is well-accessed. Notwithstanding the challenge of negotiating an unfamiliar transport system’s stops and schedules, the nevertheless excellent bus system is wheelchair-accessible. Geysers, waterfalls, glaciers and national parks form The Golden Circle which has accessible paths and walkways and the Blue Lagoon, a famous geothermal spa in the southwest of the island, offers a range of services and facilities for guests with other mobility needs.
Moving to mainland Europe, Barcelona, the cultural capital of Catalonia in Spain is a very accessible city. Yes, there are a few cobbled streets and some hills near the Gothic Quarter and Mont Juic, but in general it is fairly flat. Nevertheless, the metro system and buses have step-free access and ramps is required making the famous Camp Nou, Las Ramblas, Parc Guell and Sagrada Familia eminently visitable. What’s more, most of the beaches have flat, wide promenades for easy access.
Up from Spain to Germany, the wide, flat boulevards of Berlin make its fascinating history easy to experience. The mix of austere and elaborate architecture is available to see through uncomplicated routes and easily accessed. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Museum Island has easy links and the Brandenburg Gate and Tiergarten have wide flat walkways.
East of Berlin comes the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, which is extremely easy to navigate, despite the number of bicycles. Pavements are flat and wide and the numerous bridges over the canals are only slightly sloped making them very accessible. Many of the boats offering canal cruises have lifts for in and out of the boat and are wheelchair-friendly.
As hope of pandemic receding increases, so does the prospect of accessible travel.