For people with disabilities or pre-existing medical conditions, some holiday destinations are a lot more accessible than others. Traversing old, cobbled streets or walking down miles of sandy beaches may sound like bliss but a lack of facilities for the disabled and other accessibility issues may put paid to such aspirations.
As a result it’s worth researching holiday destinations that cater for special needs. Wheelchair accessibility, positive sensory environments, accessibility to monuments and museums and a sensible climate are all elements required in a holiday destination and, once you find a suitable location, you can relax and unwind in the knowledge you’ve got an enjoyable trip waiting for you.
So, which destinations cater well to people with accessibility requirements? Here’s a quick round up of some of the best.
With approximately 500,000 people living in the area, Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden. Famed for its harbour and high-class University facilities, Gothenburg is a historic area that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Visitors looking for accessibility should put Gothenburg near the top of their list. The city was the winner of the Access City Award 2014, an awarded handed to cities that exhibit top-class facilities for the disabled. With accessible homes available for people with disabilities, 300 workplaces equipped with personal aids and the city working towards improving public facilities to accommodate those with special needs, Gothenburg has shown remarkable progress and is a high-class European city that should be on the radar for all travellers.
Barcelona, famous for its avant-garde architecture, steep history and grand football stadium, takes accessibility very seriously, making it a destination you should definitely consider.
Most public institutions are accessible for the disabled, old buildings contain lifts and ramps, popular attractions are accessible for wheelchair users while markings for the blind are found in Metro stations. It’s a very well-equipped city that features lowered footpaths, ramps to the beach and wheelchair-accessible toilet facilities. Guide dogs can also be taken anywhere in the city but muzzles are generally used when entering buildings and hopping on public transport.
Seattle, Washington, United States
A city synonymous with wind, rain and hills, you’d be forgiven for thinking Seattle might not be appropriate for those with access needs. Funnily enough, Seattle is one of the most accessible cities in the US with all bus and light rail lines (via Sound Transit) accessible for those in wheelchairs. Reduced fares and a map of accessible downtown is available on Metro Transit, helping visitors navigate a city well-known for its tricky terrain.
Buses and light trains stop at nearly all important city amenities, making travel easy for all commuters. It’s a big city with a lot going on but the accessible transit systems means it’s not too overwhelming for anyone thinking of visiting.
With no world famous attractions or superstar celebrities harbouring in the city, Ljubljana might not first on your list of destinations but it’s one of the most accessible cities around. Full public transport audio and video stop announcements, bus Braille signs, city centre tactile maps…Ljubljana is the perfect fit for disabled visitors looking to explore what the city has to offer.
A charming city full of museums, galleries, artists and scenery, Ljubljana might be one of the smallest capital cities in Europe but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with beautiful surroundings; a river run through the centre of town and an ancient castle lies a top a hill, overlooking the city. Best of all, it’s very accessible.
Like Gothenburg, the city of Berlin was handed the Access City Award (2013) for its dedication to making the city as accessible as possible for people with all needs.
Berlin pursues a policy of accessibility in the capital since 1992 and takes every step to ensure its facilities – from the humble pedestrian crossing to the creation of modern transport infrastructure to help the disabled – continually evolves. It managed to take home the award due to its strategic and inclusive disability policy, turning the formerly-divided city into an accessible, barrier-free environment.
Vice President Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, commented on Berlin’s win: “People with disabilities still face too many barriers in everyday life, but cities like Berlin are leading the way in making life more accessible for all.”
Image Credit: marganz