10 Most Wheelchair Accessible Cities in the World
Join us as we take a look at the 10 of the most accessible and wheelchair-friendly cities in the world.
Everyone comes back from Japan talking about how much they loved it, and you can too! There are plenty of elevators, priority ones for those who need them as well and the accessible public bathrooms are incredibly impressive. The major attractions are all close by an accessible train station and they are relatively easy to get around. Most of the museums are wheelchair friendly, as are the gardens such as Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Nara Park and the Bamboo Forest, the Nijo Castle and most of the temples. Finding an accessible hotel can be an issue as Tokyo isn’t known for its large rooms, but it is possible. Just double check with the hotel about your own personal accessibility requirements.
Washington, DC, USA
Washington has been praised for having a highly visible community of people with disabilities due to the accessibility of the city. The public transportation is second to none; with lifts at each station, getting around is easy. There has been an active effort to make it inclusive — major attractions such as the Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian Museum, National Zoo, Washington Monument, Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Kennedy Center are all wheelchair-friendly. The U.S. is known to be one of the most wheelchair accessible countries in the world, but this is one city you definitely don’t want to miss!
Berlin has to be on this list due to its investment in making its historical city more accessible. In 2013, it won the EU City Access Award from the European Commission due to its comprehensive policies for those with disabilities. The public transport system is almost 100 percent accessible as are the many attractions. However, there are few wheelchair accessible taxis. The Jewish Museum of Berlin, the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall Memorial and many other theatres, museums and restaurants are all wheelchair friendly. This center of European history has mostly been rebuilt since World War II and has since invested in becoming an inclusive city for all.
Oslo is breathtaking, and not only because of the amount of wheelchair accessible options it has. This Scandinavian city has plenty of wheelchair friendly sights including the Munch Museum, Vigeland Park and opera house. It is quite a small city, but you can access one of the many wheelchair friendly ferries which provide tours of the local fjords, which are not to be missed. Do be aware though, it is the fourth most expensive city in the world. Nevertheless, as home of the Vikings, it shouldn’t be missed and the world’s most beautiful train ride, as rated by Lonely Planet, departs from Oslo — so you should definitely check it out while you’re there.
One of the best parts about Vienna is the friendly attitude of everyone. Waiters are more than happy to accommodate you in the smaller restaurants and strangers in the street will stop to help. Vienna has one of the most wheelchair-friendly public transportation systems in the world, with sidewalks and plenty of drop curbs you don’t need to fear getting around this gorgeous location. The museums, opera house and palaces are also plenty accessible. The Stephansplatz is a pedestrian-only area filled with live music, restaurants, shops and more. Some of the shops do have a step up, but there are plenty with flat entryways.
While you may need to navigate the rain for this gorgeous area of Europe, you shouldn’t skip on it due to its accessibility. Despite a few cobblestones here or there, the majority of sidewalks do have dropped curbs and most venues have flat entryways. Moreover, the government is now only issuing new taxi licenses to wheelchair accessible vehicles, so there is an ample supply. Accessible hotel rooms are everywhere with plenty of roll-in showers. The most crucial sights to see such as the Trinity Library and Guinness Brewery are also wheelchair-friendly, so make sure you pop in to try a pint from the birthplace of beer itself.
If you’ve ever tried to venture onto a beach in a wheelchair and had the sinking into the sand feeling, you might be asking, why is the Caribbean on this list? Well, since the launch of their fully accessible Barbados program, this tropical paradise is making strides towards being a wheelchair-friendly destination. The majority of resorts have floating beach wheelchairs for you to enjoy the turquoise waters like never before. You can visit Heroes Square, the George Washington House, Harrison’s Cave via their accessible tram and even enter St. John’s Parish Church.
When we say the most accessible city, this one might be teetering on the edge due to the miles of cobblestone streets that fill the ancient quarters. In December 2012, the Knesset passed a comprehensive law requiring the majority of venues to be disability accessible by 2018. Some of the ramps are steep, but if you’re willing to brave it, then you can enter some of the most ancient wonders such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wailing Wall and museums. The entire city is also filled with wheelchair taxis to help you dodge some of those cobblestones. Make sure you also venture to Mount Scopus and Haas Promenade to take in the breathtaking views of the entire city.
Slovenia is a small country in the middle of Europe that only became independent in 1991. Its stunning capital city has progressed rapidly, making it one of the most accessible cities in Europe. The entire city is filled with appropriate ramps and dropped curbs, while the major tourist areas are pedestrian only, which also makes it so much easier to get around. Moreover, the museums, parks and other attractions have also been rebuilt to be wheelchair accessible since the earthquake in 1895 reduced the area to ruins. The alpine areas surrounding the city are also accessible by tram. The city hosts the country’s castle as well as a host of ancient bridges boasting Italian architectural influence.
For an ancient city, Rome is incredibly advanced for their accessibility. Although there aren’t any ramps on the Spanish steps and there are still plenty of cobblestone streets about, Rome is home to over 700 accessible hotels which are suitable for people with varying amounts of mobility. Moreover, there are plenty of accessible transportation options and ramps on many of the curbs, plus accessible bus tours to help you see all of Rome including the trickier bits to navigate. Main attractions such as the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museum, Capitoline Museum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Villa Borghese are accessible. You can definitely experience Rome to the max, but bear in mind it is still an ancient city, so do your research.
This story originally appeared on Suzanne’s blog.
Getty image by Little Wormy.