What makes a city accessible? If you have a spinal cord injury and want to visit new places, it’s important to understand what challenges you might face in each location.
As we mentioned in one of our previous blog posts containing travel tips following a spinal cord injury, careful pre-planning is crucial. One huge part of this is trying to determine which destinations are accessible and which are best to avoid.
The good news is that many countries (and their towns and cities) around the world have made huge strides when it comes to accessibility. There are a number of things to consider for the individual:
The team at Alpharooms.com recently took a closer look at the most accessible cities in Europe, according to their own criteria.
Here are the most accessible cities in Europe, according to their results:
The French capital is one of the top locations to visit in Europe but only comes in at number 10 on the list for accessibility. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t made huge efforts to make the city of love more wheelchair friendly in recent years.
According to Alpharooms.com, only 22% of train stations (including the Metro) are fully wheelchair accessible. There are hotels that offer accessibility options including adapted showers and bathrooms but you have to search to find them. Many are in the center of the city.
Access to the local attractions is improving and there is a useful ‘Accessible Paris’ guide which you can download for free here.
The capital of the Czech Republic is fast becoming a popular tourist destination for US holidaymakers. If you have a spinal cord injury and are looking for a city steeped in history that is making a huge push on accessibility, this is a great choice.
The transport system is at least partially accessible and the hotels use the Americans with Disabilities Act as their guiding light. It’s worth making sure that any hotel has what you need – whether it’s a roll-in shower or grab bars – before booking.
Unfortunately, wheelchair access is still limited at some of the most popular attractions, though this is slowly beginning to change.
Rome has so much on offer that attracts people from all over the world. Accessibility has improved gradually over time and, while there’s the odd cobbled road here and there, getting around is easier than in many other cities.
Attractions such as the Roman Forum and the Coliseum have lifts installed and there are plenty of restaurants that have outdoor dining that is easy to access.
One of the most magical cities in Europe, Barcelona actually came in at number 2 for public transport in the Alpharooms.com survey. Unfortunately, this is not matched by the city’s attractions, many of which have restrictions for those in wheelchairs. Having said that, it’s still a great place to visit.
Another Italian city that has a lot to offer for tourists. Milan is considered as one of the best for accessible hotels, according to the Alpharooms study, with excellent facilities as well as a reasonable transport system.
The attractions have ramps and access points for the most part. Like many older cities, however, you need to watch out for the cobblestoned pathways and roads.
Famous for its canals, Amsterdam is another popular holiday destination for US tourists, not least because a lot of the people speak English. Locations like the Rijksmuseum have been renovated in recent years with accessibility in mind.
Getting around is quicker by tram and many of these have wheelchair ramps for ease of access.
London takes the top spot if you are just thinking about locations and attractions. The UK capital has done a lot of good work over the last couple of decades to make the city more accessible. Even historic tourist attractions like Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London are accessible.
One problem that is still an issue is the London underground. With less than 30% of stations offering step-free access, there’s still plenty to do for the capital if they want to beat the likes of Dublin.
Berlin was just about equal with London at the top of the list for accessible hotels. The city itself has made a lot of effort in helping to make those with disabilities as independent as possible.
Even their cruise boats are accessibility tested.
Vienna might seem like an outlier when it comes to tourist destinations but it’s highly popular. It’s also one of the most accessible locations in Europe with good scores on the survey for hotels, transport and local attractions.
That’s because they’ve been pursuing a two-decade-long ‘barrier-free’ development plan.
The capital of the Republic of Ireland hits the number one spot, just ahead of Vienna, because of its all-round performance. Their train system is completely accessible and the city comes second only to London when considering tourist attractions.
Many of the hotels have accessible solutions for wheelchair users and others with disabilities.
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