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European Holiday Breaks: The Best Destinations For Wheelchair Users

November 2, 2010

This is a guest post by Gowring’s Mobility.


Travelling as a disabled person can be stressful; particularly if you are not sure as to what level of accessibility your destination has in place. The following gives advice on a few of the best European destinations, all of which offer excellent facilities for wheelchair users to make your holiday what it should be; relaxing and fun.


Paris is a beautiful city with great architecture, museums and public spaces and also quite accessible for the wheelchair user. Look for the French Tourisme & Handicap label which certifies a certain standard of accessibility in those tourist attractions that display it. It covers four areas of disability: physical, visual, hearing impairment and mental disabilities. France’s tourism website should provide a list of accommodation and tourist attractions which bear the label.


The main art galleries and museums such as the Louvre, the Pompidou Centre, Musee d’Orsay and Musee du Quai Branly all provide excellent disabled access such as lifts, disabled toilets and wheelchair hire. A must see on a trip to Paris, the Eiffel Tower offers preferential queuing for disabled visitors and lift access up to the second floor where you can make use of the shops and restaurants. A separate lift will take you to the Jules Verne Restaurant but be sure to reserve the restaurant in advance.


It is always a good idea to take a document which proves your disability as it could give you and your fellow traveller free or reduced entry. A lot of museums will lend you a wheelchair and most will have some form of audio visual aids. The Cite des Sciences, the largest science museum in Europe is also accessible to wheelchair users, provides aids for those who are hearing and visually impaired, including induction loops and sign language interpreters. The Parc de la Villette is a beautiful park in the Canal St. Martin area of Paris which incorporates a contemporary arts centre, La Grande Halle. Most of the park is wheelchair accessible and there are bridges which cross the canal.


Another beautiful city with impressive disabled access is Barcelona, one of the most disabled friendly cities in Europe. Public transport is very accessible. About 80% of metro stations have lifts and at one end of the platform a raised section allows level access to the train. All buses in Barcelona are fully accessible with a kneeling automatic ramp and space dedicated for wheelchair use. Barcelona is also updating and improving access to automatic ticket machines in stations and improving signs and announcements for the hearing and visually impaired. By 2010 roughly 90% of Barcelona’s regional trains should be wheelchair accessible.


As with Paris, Barcelona has many tourist attractions including museums and galleries and the majority are wheelchair accessible. Spain’s tourism website provides comprehensive information as to what facilities are available at different attractions. One of best accessible museums is the Fundacio Miro where disabled visitors get reduced entry. The Fundacio Miro is in the Parc de Montjuic which should not pose any problems for access.


Berlin is another city which has dedicated itself to improving access for disabled people. Railway stations and buses come with barrier-free access following a policy of upgrading over the last few years and the vast majority of public buildings will have wheelchair accessible facilities.


One Comment leave one →
  1. August 23, 2011 12:59 am

    Have just come across your blog, whilst doing a search on accessible European cities. I am planning a few days in France next week – mainly in Paris, and am physically disabled, can sometimes walk about for a little while, often need to use a stick, but am currently having to use a wheelchair. I am now put off booking Paris since my most recent ‘flare up’ as have heard that the transport system is not good if you’re using a wheelchair? Can you give any advice on this? I have issues with pain as well, and that in itself has also put me off booking anywhere, in the hope that that aspect will ease by the time I plan to go. I will be in France with my son, who would be the one to push me around if I’m still solely reliant on the wheelchair by then…any advice would be great as I am just not sure what to do for the best !

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