Travelling in a wheelchair does not only mean finding wheelchair friendly accommodation and transport, it is also about the accessibility of the city itself. Indeed, what would be the point of preparing an entire holiday around destinations in which you’re not able to get about easily in your wheelchair, take public transport or see attractions?
Searching each city to see if it’s wheelchair accessible can be a real hassle. That’s why we’ve done our research. Did you know that since 2010 the European Commission has been delivering an annual award called “Access City Award” to cities that are improving their accessibility? We’ve based our list of the top 10 on these cities and their accessibility.
Here are the top 10 most wheelchair accessible cities in Europe!
Sweden’s second largest city is working very hard towards making everyone feel welcome. All the buses and most of the trams are wheelchair accessible, so you will always be able to get around the city. Although some of the oldest parts of Gothenburg might be difficult to access, the major streets are not and most of the main attractions are wheelchair friendly. If you see anything that you feel they could improve, you can always let them know on their app (Anmäl hinder) which is dedicated to improving the accessibility of the city!
Chester, United Kingdom
Chester is a historic city in Cheshire, England. It is one of the smallest cities in our top 10, but it’s even more of a reason to applaud their effort to make their city the most accessible possible. A lot of shops, bars and restaurants are wheelchair friendly. Wheelchair users can also easily visit the main tourist attractions such as Chester zoo, the Cathedral or the Grosvenor Museum. Even some sections of the city wall are wheelchair accessible!
In Salzburg, most of the sightseeing attractions, hotels and restaurants are wheelchair friendly. But to make your holiday there stress-free, the city of Mozart has put together all the information any person with a disability might need in one unique document. The ‘Salzburg without barrier‘ guide is easy to find on Salzburg’s tourism website and it lists restaurants, bars, accommodation, tourist attractions and ranks their accessibility with the help of logos. Moreover, trolleybuses and albuses are eco-friendly and wheelchair friendly. You now have no excuse not to put this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site on your to-go list!
Despite being the smallest city of our top 10, with less than 60,000 inhabitants, Ávila is one of the most wheelchair accessible tourist destinations in Spain. All the buses are wheelchair-friendly, and you can have a look at the guide to the town’s accessible resources, where you will find all the information about the accessibility of hotels, restaurants, monuments and more. With all the information you need all brought together in one unique guide, it will be easy to find your way around accessible Ávila.
Although you might not expect it from a city in eastern Europe, Poland’s capital and largest city has made significant progress in making its city more accessible in the past few years. The Royal Łazienki Museum, one of the main attractions of Warsaw, was renovated in 2019 and has been made more accessible, with adapted rooms and new lifts. The other museums are also wheelchair accessible. Warsaw is quite a big city (5 times bigger than Paris!), so you’ll probably need to take public transport at some point. We would recommend you take the bus, as it is now completely accessible and can take you anywhere.
The third largest city of France is recognized for its wheelchair accessibility. The tramway, underground, bus and funicular are all 100% accessible (except just one underground station!). Most of the museums, churches and the Roman Theaters are wheelchair friendly. Plus, most of them are in the same area so it’ll be easy to get there! If you want to do some shopping, go to a restaurant or stay the night, you will be able to find a wheelchair accessible option quite easily. The only thing that may make Lyon difficult is its steep hills and ancient cobbled streets, but that’s also what gives it its charm!
Borås, Sweden (again!)
Sweden is the only country to have won the Access City Award twice and what’s even more impressive is that they won it twice in a row! It’s not a surprise when you consider that in 2015 the Swedish parliament brought in a new law to make lack of accessibility a form of discrimination. The Boras Djurpark (Boras’ zoo) and the textile museum are both wheelchair accessible. The city centre is an art gallery in itself and you can just wander around to have a look at the street art on your own or go on a wheelchair-friendly tour!
As Italy’s second largest city, it is understandable that it might not be easy to become 100% accessible, but that’s no reason not to try! Milan has a website dedicated to accessibility around the city where you can find a lot of useful information. For example, you can see various itineraries which give you a description of what you should visit and gives you tips on which streets to take to make it easier to get there. The Milanese public transport is very wheelchair-friendly, with all the buses and most of the underground network being accessible.
Breda, The Netherlands
Situated near the Belgian border, this fortified city has made the most of the introduction of tourist tax by using some of the funds to make the city more accessible. The cobblestones streets in the centre have been modified to be accessible, all the while staying as authentic as it always was. Most shops are equipped with a ramp and all the buses are fully accessible. One of the main attractions of the city is its canals and there is a company that offers wheelchair friendly cruises!
Germany’s capital is one of the most popular cities in Europe and one of the most accessible. You can find a lot of information about the city’s accessibility on the website visitBerlin. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn are not 100% wheelchair friendly, but you can always count on trams and buses. All the main tourist sites of the city are wheelchair accessible, this includes all Museum Island museums, the zoo and the Cathedral, among others. The TV Tower is unfortunately not accessible to people with limited mobility for safety reasons, but the dome of the Reichstag is completely accessible! So don’t forget to book your free tickets in advance to see the sunset from the rooftop of the German parliament!
If you’re interested in visiting these cities, don’t hesitate to have a look at our Wheelchair Accessible Train Holidays page!