Because reduced mobility shouldn’t stop you from travelling the world
The world’s population is ageing, and the number of older people will soon outnumber any other age demographic. This means that more and more people are keeping accessibility in mind when planning a trip. It’s no longer just disabled people who are keeping access in mind, the older population must also think about how they will be able to get around when abroad.
So we’ve rounded up the best, most accessible cities across the globe for you to visit.
Barcelona is an incredibly accessible city. The National Tourism Authority have been pushing accessible travel in this area for several years. As a result of this push, 80 percent of metro stations in Barcelona, and all the buses, are wheelchair-accessible. The streets themselves are also relatively flat (and cobblestone free!) meaning that you are free to roam the streets to your hearts content. Even the beaches in Barcelona are wheelchair accessible!
Don’t forget to take a trip to the main tourist spot – La Sagrada Familia – as wheelchair users can jump to the front of the queue, and sometimes get in for free.
If you think of Manchester, you might think of the Industrial Revolution. But Manchester is more than that. The centre of Manchester was rebuilt in the 1990s and benefitted from the addition of smooth, wide, step-free pavements. Stepless entries into shops, bars and restaurants became standard in this northern city – making it ideal for anyone with mobility requirements.
Manchester is well connected, with plenty of accessible public transport, meaning you can visit any of the many cultural landmarks, for example Old Trafford or the Museum of Science and Industry. Keep in mind that if you’re tired of the city, the Peak District National Park is only an hour away, and has plenty of well-developed accessible facilities.
Orlando is a great choice of city to visit, largely due to the modern wheelchair-accessible construction of the city, as well as an amazing transport system. There is also an unlimited amount of entertainment nearby, most notably the mind-blowing Walt Disney World Resort, as well as other various theme parks. This makes Florida a fantastic choice for a trip with the whole family.If you’re keen on visiting the parks but are worried about the accessibility, fear not – all the parks all make a lot of accommodations for less able guests.
If you’re worried about any sort of accessibility at Walt Disney World Resort, see if their FAQ page can help.
Often boasted as one of the most accessible cities in the world – Melbourne has a highly accessible public transport system, combined with a very compact city centre, meaning that it is very easy to traverse. Many of the restaurants and bars are wheelchair-friendly, and the natural scenery is absolutely breathtaking.
Enjoy spectacular views along the Great Ocean Road, but don’t forget to visit the zoo – one of the best in the world – as well as Melbourne’s many amazing parks, which are open to those who suffer from mobility difficulties.
Once a divided city, Berlin is now a city that welcomes everyone – regardless of ability. The entire city has invested in being fully accessible to all, and because of this it has an amazing, easy and fully accessible transport system that is made up of trains, trams and buses.
Berlin is jam-packed full of history, making it a top cultural destination in Europe. Don’t worry if you have mobility issues, pretty much all of the main tourist attractions are accessible. The theatres and museums are all accessible, and many of the bars and restaurants have followed suit.
Ljubljana is the mostly flat and heavily pedestrianised capital of Slovenia, but definitely worth a visit. It is served by mostly electric vehicles that are highly accessible, and the entire bus network is enhanced with audio and video stop announcements. Even the bus stop signs have Braille.
The city has a large network of tactile paths, allowing anyone to easily navigate the city centre. The main tourist attraction – the historic 16th Century Ljubljana Castle – can be accessed via a funicular that is free for the disabled, as well as a companion. If you don’t fancy that, there is also a train that will take you to the entrance via a more scenic route.
Stockholm has a vision for their future, a plan that they aptly called the “Vision Stockholm in 2030.” In this vision, they plan to turn the city, which is 30% water, into a city that is accessible to anyone, no matter their accessibility level.
They plan to do this by making all pedestrian crossing safe for people with disabilities, as well as making all public toilets and playgrounds easily accessible. Combine this plan with Stockholm’s naturally inclusive architecture design – and you have a city that is accessible to all.
San Diego, USA
As with Orlando, San Diego has a largely accessible infrastructure – mostly thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act. San Diego is laid out in the classically American grid system, and because of the location it is mostly flat. Their transport system across the city is a tram – which they call a trolley – but it is also very easily accessible.
San Diego also has a very reasonable climate, typically between 18-27 degrees Celsius, which is perfect for exploring the historic Gaslamp Quarter – itself very wheelchair friendly. Make sure you don’t miss out on visiting Balboa Park, in which sits the San Diego Zoo, or the miles of beautiful beachfront.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Located just one hour’s drive from Cancun International Airport, Playa del Carmen is nothing like its loud, party-central neighbour. It does still have the same sandy white beaches and beautiful blue seas, but the hotels and beaches here are all accessible – the beaches even have beach wheelchairs for rental.
If you can’t swim, don’t worry. There is plenty of adaptive equipment that will allow you to go snorkeling, giving you the opportunity to get a closer look at the stunning coral reefs, as well as get a chance to spot some elusive green turtles.
However, more than just the sandy white beaches, Playa del Carmen has something a little more special. Nearby is the Mayan archaeological site Chichén Itzá. What makes Chichén Itzá so special is that it is largely wheelchair-accessible, meaning that those with difficulties being mobile get a rare chance to be up close and personal with these amazing ancient ruins.
Bilbao makes our list because of the amazing way they have used information and communication technology across the city. This system was installed to help those with disabilities and includes a telephone service that helps those with hearing and speech issues.
Induction loops to eliminate loud background noises and improve city services for those with hearing problems are also available, and all public offices are fitted with simultaneous translation terminals.
If you have been to any of our suggested locations, or you have travelled somewhere that you think deserves to be on the list let us know in the comments below!