- 19. 08. 2023
10 Disability Friendly Cities
19. 05. 2021
Top 10 Disability-Friendly Cities
Choosing the top 10 disability-friendly cities - what a difficult task! Why? Because luckily, many of them are putting in some extra effort to improve their offer and make sightseeing and other activities more accessible than ever.
However, after a very thorough examination, we still managed to narrow down the selection and make a list of destinations that are in a league of their own when it comes to accessibility. The cities are listed in random order as it is difficult to judge which one of them deserves the top ranking. We are simply happy that more and more people are thinking about travellers with disabilities and the fact that they also deserve amazing holidays in different cities around the world!
Washington DC (USA)
The U.S. capital and a city on the Potomac River represents one of the most disability-friendly cities in the world. DC is proud of its hospitality industry, which is more than ready to welcome tourists with various needs so you can expect to spend amazing holidays in this city.
It boasts imposing neoclassical monuments and buildings, including the iconic Capitol, White House, and Supreme Court. If you want to visit them by car, you should not have problems with parking as disability tags from other states are also accepted as proof of disability.
In case you are not planning to get around the city by car, you can use the DC metro. It is one of the most disabled-accessible public transportation systems in the world. All of its 91 subway stations are fully accessible, along with its rail carriages and the entire bus fleet.
As Washington DC is home to iconic museums and performing-arts venues, there will definitely be no shortage of things to do. The city’s attractions and cultural institutions welcome disabled visitors and some even boast web pages outlining their accessibility features, including ramps, sign language-interpreted tours, and wheelchairs. Some attractions, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also offer a limited number of wheelchairs for loan.
Seattle is one of the centres of the rapidly-evolving tech industry, boasting the headquarters of Microsoft and Amazon, as well as mountains, evergreen forests, and numerous attractions, so you will definitely not run of things to do! The city is committed to celebrating and accommodating visitors of all abilities, which is why you can expect to spend an amazing time there.
Access to transportation in the city is incredible as city buses, ferries, and taxis boast wheelchair ramps, making it easier for everyone to get around. In case you want to use a wheelchair, you might be wondering if this is actually possible in Seattle, where many streets have a slope grade of 10% or even 20%. We recommend you use the AccessMap, a map-based app that allows you to choose wheelchair-friendly routes while navigating through the city. Instead of choosing a street with a steep 10% grade, AccessMap will choose the option including a slope of, for example, less than 2%, making sure you can safely reach your destination.
The attractions offer something for everyone. It is of course a must to visit the Space Needle, the city’s icon and one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world – luckily perfectly wheelchair-accessible as well! Since its opening on 21 April 1962, this landmark has continued to symbolize the innovative spirit of Seattle. It is 605’ tall and is one of the most photographed structures in the world. Make sure you snap a photo with it!
And that is not all – you can also visit the Boeing factory, Seattle Aquarium, the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum, and much more. You will definitely not regret visiting this emerald jewel of the Pacific Northwest!
In case you have always wanted to visit the land “down under”, there are no limits anymore! Sydney, one of the main destinations for tourists visiting Australia, is also one of the most wheelchair-friendly places in the world so you will undoubtedly enjoy your trip.
The city is full of things to see and luckily, many of its attractions are fully disabled-accessible. You can, for example, visit the Sydney Tower Eye, a true landmark offering amazing views of the harbour and extensive wheelchair facilities.
Of course you cannot miss the Sydney Opera House. This unique building is definitely something everyone has to see in life. Since the interior features lifts, escalators, and ramps throughout as well as accessible bathrooms on the lower ground level, you will be able to navigate your visit with ease. And for what is more – they also offer special tours for the handicapped. After the visit, you can finish the day with a dinner at the Opera Bar and enjoy the sunset views.
Lyon was awarded the European Commission’s annual Access City Award in 2018, recognising all the efforts that were done in order to improve the accessibility of public services, transport, culture, and other parts of social life. Therefore, you can definitely expect a lot of this accessible city in case you travel to France.
And once you are in Lyon, you should not miss the culture and its museums. The good news is that the majority of large museums are accessible to disabled visitors at special rates so you will probably be able to save some money.
As France is also known for its gourmandise, you can choose among a number of wheelchair-accessible restaurants. Additionally, some are even equipped with talking menus to provide blind and visually impaired diners with better service. Just do not blame us if you return home with a few extra pounds!
Barcelona is also one of the most disability-friendly cities in the world. Almost all of its streets are wide enough for people travelling in wheelchairs so you should be able to see all the sights without problems.
You can truly enjoy an amazing holiday in Barcelona as it boasts hotels without barriers, accessible beaches, sign-language tours... For culture aficionados, there are also museums adapted for the blind and partially sighted... Truly something for everybody!
In 2013, Berlin was chosen as a “Barrier-free city” by the EU Commission, especially thanks to its public transport and barrier-free new buildings.
Pro tip: If you are a wheelchair user in Berlin, you can download the accessBerlin app which will take you on six accessible routes around the city, from Kreuzberg to Grunewald or from Zoo Station to Potsdamer Platz. This means that you will never end up in an awkward situation as you will be able to plan your sightseeing trip beforehand.
Rome might not be the first city that pops into your head when you think about accessibility, especially because of its paved streets.
Well, while we cannot guarantee you that you will be able to navigate the Spanish Steps, the city still offers wheelchair-friendly transportation, ramps installed on pavements, and one of the highest concentrations of hotels with handicapped-accessible rooms. This means that some burden will definitely be lifted off your shoulders on your holiday.
In case you want explore this Austrian gem, you are in luck. For over 20 years, the city has pursued a “barrier-free” development plan with accessibility embedded in buildings and other regulations. In 2016, Vienna was also recognised as one of the world’s most accessible destinations by Lonely Planet.
If you are planning to get around the city using a wheelchair, you do not have to worry as the pavements are generally flat and smooth. Public transportation includes ramps and lifts, which is also the case with most points of interest. Many trains, trams, and buses come with low floors and raised platforms for easier boarding. A true heaven for any traveller!
Warsaw is the winner of the 2020 Access City Award, representing the first country in Central and Eastern Europe to be recognised in this way.
The city has many hotels that offer accessible rooms and roll-in showers. In its endeavour to make the city more accessible, even its historical areas have undergone improvements to become more wheelchair-friendly so you will not miss out on culture on your trip.
Once you are in that area, you can jump on an accessible train ride to Krakow, another accessible city only two hours away!
Ljubljana has been improving the level of accessibility for more than a decade and is the winner of the Bronze Access City Award 2015 as well as the Silver Access City Award in 2018.
Additionally, Ljubljana has also won the European Green Capital award in 2016 and the Golden Apple award (Tourist Oscar) in the same year. All those accolades are only a cherry on top as the beauty of this city speaks for itself. Ljubljana is a wonderful green city, extremely wheelchair friendly and one of the best wheelchair-friendly travel destinations at the moment so you will definitely not regret stopping there!
Ljubljana is the winner of the Bronze Access City Award 2015 as well as the Silver Access City Award in 2018.
During your trip, we recommend you to visit the centre and the old part of the town, which are both completely accessible, to truly experience the vibe of this city. In case you do not want to do it on your own, opt for a guided tour that will take you to all the places you simply must see.
Keep in mind that the disabled can access almost all city museums and galleries and city parks or even take the boat ride on the Ljubljanica river and the funicular up to the Ljubljana castle. Ljubljana is also the perfect starting point for various tours if you want to explore the rest of Slovenia. Plenty of possibilities for everyone!
As you can see, the number of disability-friendly cities all over the world is truly on the rise and many are doing a great job at attracting and embracing all visitors. Of course such cities cannot only be found in the US, Australia, or Europe as luckily, the accessibility is also improving in some parts of Asia, in particular Japan and South Korea, where wheelchair tourism is on the rise.
Hopefully all cities get to develop in this area soon so everyone gets to experience travelling around the world with truly no limits whatsoever!
Check out some photos (of Ljubljana, Berlin, Barcelona Catlunya wheelchair Friendly airport and Vienna) in our gallery that we prepared for you.
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