Accessibility is improving year on year, but there will always be cities that stand out above the rest. Whether it’s their attention to detail, their seamless transport systems or their wide range of options for disabled travellers, some places just know which boxes to tick. People play a huge part in the travel experience, too, which is why the cities on this list aren’t just some of the best for accessibility, but also the friendliest. Happy travelling!
Wellington, New Zealand
First up, New Zealand! NZ is best known for its beautiful landscapes and friendly, welcoming people. Wellington, the country’s capital, has both of these, plus it’s an easy city to navigate, even if you have a disability and/or you’re confined to a wheelchair. The majority of public transport in Wellington is completely accessible. Trains and buses are convenient, but why not do something different and take a ride on the cable car? There are wheelchair spaces available and you’ll be treated to stunning panoramic views across the whole city. If the weather is good and you want to spend time outside, then you can borrow a mobility scooter for free and explore at your own pace.
Ireland is renowned for its friendly, helpful people and Dublin is no exception to the rule, with locals always happy to lend a hand to visitors. The best way to get to know Dublin is by doing a tour, which can be arranged especially for
disabled guests. Your guide will share their knowledge of the city’s history and architecture, pointing out interesting sights along the way and answering any questions you might have. If you’d rather travel by car or public transport, look for the low-floor buses, which have spaces for wheelchair users, or book an adapted taxi in advance. If you need to get a taxi there and then, look for one with a wheelchair sign on the roof.
If it’s raining, head inside to the National Gallery, which caters for all kinds of disabilities. All floors are accessible and there are tours for those who are visually impaired or hard of hearing. Alternatively, find a spot in a cosy cafe or pub and indulge in a spot of people- watching — it’s one of the best ways to really get the feel of a place.
If your favourite thing about travelling is getting some sun, then look no further than Barcelona. Warm weather, sandy beaches and a fun atmosphere all contribute to the city’s charm, and since it’s pretty flat as far as European cities go, it’s ideal for disabled travellers. All buses are wheelchair-accessible and you can even book a tour of the city. Barceloneta Beach has ramps down to the sand, and you can still hit the water if you have reduced mobility — there are services available to help you get in and out of the sea (just ask the attentive staff for details). If you can bear to leave the beach, try and see some of Barcelona’s beautiful architecture.
The Roman Catholic church La Sagrada Familia is accessible, has audio guides in different languages, and includes tactile materials in their exhibits for those with visual impairments. La Pedrera, another Gaudi creation, goes out of its way to offer something for everyone.
This historical house has lots of assistance for disabled guests, including:
Lectures presented in sign language
History, art, shopping… there’s plenty of culture in Berlin, with something to suit everyone. It’s one of the best cities in the world for accessibility, with locals, staff and tourists alike happy to help if need be. Accommodation is easy to find, with most western hotel chains offering rooms with facilities like lower surfaces and roll-in showers.
Travel around Berlin is simple. There aren’t any adapted taxis, but don’t let that put you off — accessible public transport is available from both airports (Berlin Tegel and Berlin Schӧnefeld) and throughout the city itself, and pavements are easy to navigate. The majority of metro stations are accessible, while all tram and bus services can be lowered to ground level and have spaces for disabled passengers and their wheelchairs.
Most of the museums and attractions are accessible, meaning disabled travellers won’t miss out. The beautiful Berlin Cathedral has a separate entrance for wheelchair users, where you can reach the ground floor via a lift, and the guided tour has a reduced rate for disabled visitors. Art lovers will find themselves spending hours in Alte Nationalgalerie (the Old National Gallery), home to a vast collection of art, including pieces from the Neoclassical, Romantic, Impressionist and Modernist movements. Every floor can be reached by lift and there are
bathrooms on the ground floor for disabled guests.