Ask a Peer: Accessible European Holiday

I am planning a trip to Europe this summer and wanted to know if anyone had any tips or destinations that would be most accessible.  Destinations I am considering at this point are London, Germany, Rome, Paris and Amsterdam.  However, I am open to any and all suggestions.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Travelling the “Old World” in a wheelchair can be tough, as many of these areas are not easily accessible. Of those destinations, our peer mentors believe London and Madrid are among the most wheelchair-friendly. All London cabs are wheelchair accessible and equipped with ramps, making getting around the city quite easy. In Madrid, all buses are wheelchair accessible as well – and one peer noted that having been to both London and Madrid in a wheelchair, that Madrid is easier for a chair.

In Italy, the mentors found Florence to be fairly accessible, but said Venice would require a “strong helper” to get around. If you’re thinking of day tripping to Monte Carlo, bring a motorized chair – it’s very steep and hilly. According to one peer, Germany was either all or nothing – hotel rooms are either completely accessible or have nothing. Be sure to call ahead to find out. The peers also recommended several accessible travel websites, including TripAdvisor, WheelchairTraveling.com and the country’s tourism agencies. Here are some thoughts from our peer mentors:

  • “Since my injury (T-3 complete), my wife and I have been to London four times.  On the first trip, we booked a special van to get us around, but quickly discovered that all London cabs are wheelchair accessible, are equipped with short ramps, and have trained cabbies who can use those ramps to tilt you up into the cab in the chair.”
  • “Of all the places I have been in Europe in a wheelchair, I feel it is hard to beat Madrid, Spain.  All of the buses are accessible and the sites are good to go for a wheelchair. The museums all had lifts and ramps so all floors were reachable.  As compared to London, it is hands down nicer and easier for a chair. Just my opinion, having been there done that.”
  • Monte Carlo needs a motorized chair with a low center of gravity.  Boy, is that place steep and hilly.”
  • Stay away from Italy and Greece. My friend managed, but many cobblestones, curbs, hills and narrow doorways.
  • “If you’re travelling to a destination with a lot of cobblestone streets, there is a thing called a Free Wheel that clips on the footrest and helps the chair go across grass and cobblestones.”

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