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Travelling with a wheelchair can be challenging but if you know the right destination to visit and if you choose a location that makes accessibility easy you can enjoy a memorable trip for all the right reasons!
For starters, here are a few things to consider if you are planning a vacation involving a disabled person:
- Is the city wheelchair accessible?
- Does it have barrier-free access to public transport, restaurants, stores, hotels, and other important facilities?
- Do the taxis in the city have wheelchair ramps?
- Are the pavements wide enough, well-maintained, and favourable for rolling a wheelchair?
- Are medical needs easily accessible in the city?
- Is the environment ‘sensory positive’? For instance, a city suffering from air pollution is not ideal for someone with a breathing impairment like asthma.
- Do the hotels in the city have ADA compliant rooms and bathrooms (if in America) or the equivalent (if in another part of the world)?
6 wheelchair accessible cities to consider on your next vacation
Located in Italy, this historic city is known for its unrelenting endeavours to make its environment inclusive for everyone. It has made many improvements to its transportation system, has removed architectural barriers, and has improved its atmosphere to accommodate people with various sensory impairments. It’s no wonder it won the 2016 EU Access City Awards.
Some of the attractions worth enjoying in Milan include the majestic Milan Cathedral and its Gothic artworks, Sforza Castle and its mediaeval fortress housing art treasures, Brera and its botanical garden, and the grand opera Teatro alla Scala famous for its Italian classics.
In recent years, Israel has made great achievements when it comes to making its cities accessible for people with special needs. In the case of Tel Aviv, the inter city bus lines are very accessible by wheelchair. They are even fitted with tech that helps visually-impaired people navigate the city. A great example of this is the use of speakers to announce bus stops.
Tel Aviv also has solid building codes that guarantee that new houses are wheelchair accessible and that restaurants and stores have ramps where necessary. Hotels in Tel Aviv are equipped with panic buttons, accessible rooms, wide doors, and special bathtubs.
Some great attractions in Tel Aviv include the Jewish history and cultural museum Beit Hatfutsot and Yarkon Park and its botanical garden and pond.
This beautiful city located in Washington on the West Coast of the United States has a transportation system that has been accessible for nearly four decades now. Wheelchair users get discounts on transportation. In addition, the city’s para-transit minibus service, ride-share program, and special maps detailing the most easily accessible routes make navigating the city seamless for those with a disability.
Worthy attractions in the city include the conservation-focused Woodland Park Zoo, which sits on 92 acres, Pike Place Market and its diversity of tantalising seafood, Museum of Pop Culture, and the awe-inspiring Space Needle, the city's famous landmark.
When it comes to making public transport accessible to all, the port city of Gdynia on the Baltic coast of Poland ranks among the top in the world. With Braille signposts for people that are visually-impaired, ample disabled parking spaces in restaurants and museums, and information boards accessible to people in wheelchairs, a list of accessible cities would be incomplete without Gdynia.
Gdynia also boasts many tourist attractions, including the 59-year-old maritime museum Dar Pomorza, Gdynia Aquarium with its sharks and piranhas, and the naval museum ORP Blyskawica, which nestles aboard a WWII destroyer.
One would think that a city situated in the Rocky Mountains would be a nightmare for wheelchair travellers. In the case of Denver, an American metropolis rooted in the Old West era and the capital of Colorado, the reverse is the case, as its topography is actually quite flat.
Not only is Denver one of the top accessible cities in the US, it boosts assortments of cultural and recreational activities. It also has a metro transportation system that is fully accessible, and its para-transit system offers door-to-door service. When you now consider the fact that many of its museums offer sufficient accessibility options for and special tours to people with hearing impairments, you begin to see why Denver made this list.
Denver also has many attractions worth checking out. Downtown Aquarium, for one, will wow you with its underwater exhibits and on-site eatery. Then there's Denver Museum of Nature and Science and its cinema chain specialising in 3D films. Elitch Gardens Theme Park is another great place to visit while in Denver.
Being the capital of Germany, Berlin, on its quest to becoming totally accessible and barrier-free, gets plenty of attention from its government. The implementation of its comprehensive disability policy has gone a long way in improving the city's accessibility. In fact, the city won the EU City Access Award for its effort towards creating an accessible transport system and a barrier-free environment in 2013. On top of that, many of Berlin's restaurants, bars, museums, and theatres are easily accessible.
Visiting Berlin, of course, comes with its sightseeing perks. The Berlin Wall and its beautiful graffiti. The historic, glass-domed Reichstag building. Brandenburg Gate - the grand classical archway and city divide and the spectacular Museum Island in the Spree river. These are all wonderful attractions you can’t afford to miss on your trip to Berlin.
There are, of course, many other accessible tourist cities across the world. Chicago and Washington DC in the United States. Barcelona in Spain with its cobbled mediaeval city centre. And London in the United Kingdom and its well-maintained streets.
Sight seeing is so much easier when you have the right equipment! Check out Sunrise Medical's range of lightweight wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Thinking of taking a beach break? Check out our guide to accessible beaches in Spain.