Ever since the 1992 Paralympics were hosted there, Barcelona has worked hard to make sure it’s an accessible tourist destination for all. Over the years, it has introduced dropped kerbs, tactile paving and audible, flashing crossings. The transformation of its transport facilities and most popular attractions, however, is particularly remarkable.
Simply put, Barcelona is the perfect location for disabled visitors and travellers with visual or hearing impairments. Here’s why:
All of Barcelona’s buses, of which there are more than 1,000, are fully accessible. They have ramps, low floors and reserved spaces for passengers with reduced mobility. The bus shelters are also slowly being adapted too – eventually, all buses and shelters will provide both audio announcements and visual information on screens.
Taxis are another great way for disabled people to get around the city, as many of them have been adapted. By law, all drivers must allow guide dogs in their cabs for no extra charge.
Barcelona’s metro system may be 100 years old, but recent updates to its stations and trains means that the service is becoming increasingly accessible for all. The ticket barriers emit audio and visual signals to let travellers know if their ticket has been accepted or not, and at the newer stations there are platform screen doors to help ensure the passengers board the trains safely.
In some stations, disabled tourists may need help with getting on and off of trains. However, ramps are being fitted to solve this problem, and eventually all lines will be fully adapted just like Barcelona’s bus service.
Known as the largest ornamental fountain in the city, Font Màgica combines water acrobats, lights and music to create an epic display that should not be missed. The water show is mostly visual, so it is highly recommended for tourists who are deaf or hard of hearing; however, visually impaired visitors will enjoy it too for the music and the sound of the water.
To get the best viewing spots, travellers who are visually impaired or disabled should arrive early. They are permitted to bring their guide dogs too. There are a few steps at the fountain, but these can be avoided by taking one of the alternative routes designed for wheelchair users.
Zoo de Barcelona
There are more than 7,000 animals to see at Zoo de Barcelona, including the world’s smallest monkey. It’s easy to see why it’s popular with tourists and locals alike and travellers with additional needs are well catered for here.
Disabled guests can enjoy a reduced entry fee – just remember to bring your handicap certificate. There are parking spaces reserved for disabled badge holders too and the grounds are equipped with ramps to help you get around.
Basilica of La Sagrada Familia
This unusual but beautiful temple has been in construction since 1882 and isn’t expected to be completed until 2030! It’s recommended that wheelchair users and visitors with reduced mobility visit the temple with a friend, as accessibility is limited due to the ongoing construction work. Travellers with disability levels of 65 per cent or more can get into the temple for free, as can their companions.
Despite the attraction not being fully accessible, tours can be arranged for visitors with special needs. Plus, all the displays are audio-visual, and blind/visually impaired tourists can enjoy the many tactile features of the temple. To find out where they are, pick up a guide from the information point.
Many of the city’s wonderful beaches have facilities especially for sun-seekers with reduced mobility, including reserved parking bays, showers with seats, adapted toilets, wooden walkways to the water’s edge and preferential zones for disabled bathers. There’s a whole host of different beaches to visit – Nova Icària is ideal for families as it’s one of the more peaceful beaches; Sant Sebastià and Barceloneta are the city’s oldest and therefore the most traditional, and Mar Bella is popular with younger tourists.
Disabled travellers will no doubt be pleasantly surprised by how accessible Barcelona is, and it looks like things are only going to get better.
With its cobbled streets and often-crowded tourist attractions, Rome can seem a daunting holiday destination to wheelchair users. However, we firmly believe that every traveller should visit this beautiful city at least once in their lifetime, and you may be surprised by just how accessible Rome is.
Our guide below details how accessible the top attractions are and provides some tips to getting around the city day to day.
The Colosseum and Roman Forum
The Colosseum has recently been modernised, so it’s easy for wheelchair users to navigate. Its paths are mostly flat and smooth and there is an elevator which allows visitors to access the upper floor, where you can view the Colosseum from a different perspective.
The Roman Forum, however, presents a bigger challenge for wheelchair users. Whilst there is a lift down into the ruins, the paths are mostly cobbled, so you may need a friend to help you get around. There is a disabled access toilet, but you must overcome an uneven path to reach it.
There is a lot to see and do in the Vatican City, so bear this in mind if you’re planning to do it all in one day. Luckily, the museum and the Sistine Chapel are incredibly easy to navigate as a wheelchair user. If you don’t always use a wheelchair, but think you may require one for the long museum tour, you can hire one – just be sure to book in advance as there are only a few available.
You can find accessible bathrooms throughout the museum, and the friendly staff are always on hand to help if need be. In fact, it seems as if there are some advantages to being a wheelchair user here, as you’ll have the opportunity to access parts of the museum not available to others. For example, you’ll get a wonderful view of the Sistine Chapel.
One of the only parts of the Vatican City that cannot be accessed via wheelchair is the Vatican Gardens. This is due to the tricky terrain – in fact you’ll need to be pretty fit to take part in this two-hour long tour.
The Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon
If you want to get down to the water’s edge, you’ll need to navigate a handful of steps, so bring a friend who can help you down safely. Be wary that the Trevi Fountain is almost always crowded, which will also make it difficult to get down those few steps.
The Pantheon, on the other hand, is completely wheelchair accessible and free to visit.
Restaurants and cafes
Most eateries are rather small and are therefore not well suited to wheelchair users. If you’re visiting in the summer, we recommend eating outside – not only does it make things easier for you, it’s the best way to eat in Italy anyway! Finding accessible toilets can be tricky too; if you’re struggling to find a suitable public toilet, try the nearest McDonald’s as they will almost certainly have one.
General tips and advice
You will find your trip to Rome much less stressful if you take a friend with you that can help you navigate the cobbled streets. Your transport options are limited, so we suggest staying within the city centre and using a taxi or bus to get from one part of Rome to the other.
If you don’t want to travel with a friend, or are unable to, consider going on an accessible tour. There are lots of specialised tours to choose from which allow you to see the best parts of the city. Who knows, you may even make some new friends on your trip.
With a little help and forward-planning, it is possible to explore Rome with relative ease. Most of the main attractions now have disabled access, and the ones that don’t are bound to incorporate it in the future. After all, Rome was not built in a day.
Travelling is one of life’s perks and can be hugely enjoyable, but when you have a mental health condition, travel can add to the challenges of arranging a trip abroad.
With one in four of us expected to experience some form of mental health condition throughout our lifetimes, it’s common for people to travel with one disorder or another.
From depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s important to remember that it’s all about planning well in order to ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
The team here at Insurancewith have compiled a handy travel checklist for you to read through before you embark on your trip:
Packing physical things isn’t the only thing you need to think about before travelling. Travel can be stressful at the best of times, so doing your research and preparing well can lower your stress levels and reduce the risk of any panic. Insurancewith recommends that you:
As with many chronic health conditions, high blood pressure can make planning a holiday more stressful than normal; especially for an activity that’s supposed to be relaxing in the first place. However, with the correct preparation, you can still have an enjoyable and fun time on your holidays even if you have hypertension.
Take a look at the travel tips that we have gathered below, to ensure that you get the most out of your holiday.
Researchers have revealed that consuming one avocado a day can help improve bad cholesterol levels. Known as the ‘avocado’ diet, the fruit is said to improve blood fat scores linked to heart disease, including significantly lowering cholesterol. Read more