Europe has some awe-inspiring cities, but planning a trip can be daunting if you’re a wheelchair user or have additional needs. In recent years though cities across Europe have made impressive advances toward opening its doors to everyone, including travelers with limited mobility. Here’s a guide to help you plan your trip, and make the most of all that Europe has to offer.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning ahead is the most important tip for disabled travellers. It’s true that without taking care over making sure you’ve thoroughly planned every aspect of your trip things can be overwhelming on arrival, but the truth is that the more research you do, the more accessible your trip will be. For example, did you know that avoiding bridges in Venice and hills in Paris is entirely possible? Did you realise that Herculaneum’s ruins are nearly identical to Pompeii’s, but are wheelchair-friendly?
Your holiday really doesn’t need to be a struggle — do your homework and your trip can be filled with fully accessible hotel accommodations, accessible routes between accessible tourist attractions, and wonderful accessible travel experiences. It’s almost always significantly cheaper to book your hotel accommodation far in advance to ensure you have a room that’s suitable for your needs. Due to the compact nature of many city centres, it’s even more important to do this, as some hotels in the heart of the action will only have a few accessible hotel rooms.
Getting from A to B
When you’re in a strange city and the signs are in a different language getting from A to B can be confusing. Again, this emphasizes the importance of planning in advance. If you know what you’re getting into before you arrive in Europe, you’ll have a much easier time on your trip. There’ll likely be numerous ways to get to the tourist attractions you’re so eager to see, at least some of which will have wheelchair ramps, smooth pavement, and flat terrain; others may have steep hills, cobblestones, and flights of stairs – so make sure to research before you go to avoid disappointment once you’re there. Research the accessibility of sidewalks, bus routes, subway stations, and the location of accessible building entrances before your trip so you’re armed with all you need to relax and soak in all the sights.
It’s also important to consider the location of your hotel, and what kinds of pavements and terrain there are nearby. Will there be cobblestones and stairs immediately after you head out the front door? A surprisingly great resource to help you check this out is Google Street View! You should be able to use it to get a really great idea of the lay of the land, and you can always get back in touch with your hotel if you have any questions. If you’re arriving at an airport outside of the city you’ll need to organise transfers that are suitable for your needs. This may mean you’ll need to arrange a wheelchair accessible car to pick you up and drop you off at your hotel, or ensure the rail links are suitable accessible. Whichever you choose, make sure to also arrange the suitable transport for the return journey!