This new study explores which European cities are on the ball when it comes to accessible travel needs
A Department of Transport study titled Disabled People’s Travel Behaviour and Attitudes to Travel found that, “People with disabilities are more likely to report a greater number of difficulties with trips undertaken for different purposes, especially as the grade of disability increases”. The report states, “25 per cent of people with disabilities report difficulties with any type of trip, compared with 10 per cent of people without disabilities.”
Cities across Europe are increasingly paying attention to the diverse range of disabilities, and accessibility needs many travellers face. To find the best cities in Europe for travellers with disabilities, Iglu Cruise gathered data from TripAdvisor and Wheelmap for the total number of fully accessible hotels, restaurants, leisure activities and tourist attractions for each capital city in Europe. The results were then divided by 100,000 per the population of each town and ranked from most to least disability-friendly by each category’s combined score.
Here, “fully accessible” refers to accessible spaces that are easy for disabled individuals to enter and leave. These spaces have facilities to make their stay more accessible and enjoyable. Disabilities are not always visible, and while the figures largely represent wheelchair accessibility, it’s always advised to research the best fit for individual needs.
The most accessible cities in Europe
Overall score: 209.6
Making the top 10 of the most accessible cities in Europe is Bern, Switzerland’s main city built around a crook in the Aare River. The city actually scored the highest out of all the cities ranked for leisure activities but has the lowest number of accessible hotels in the top 10.
Overall score: 248.4
Wheelchair Travel regards Prague as moderately accessible to wheelchair users, stating that, “getting around is relatively easy on the partially accessible public transportation system”. There are a reasonable number of accessible restaurants and hotels, although the lack of attractions with accessible measures in place let the city down.
Overall score: 250.3
Thanks to an increasingly inclusive mindset and an ever-evolving hospitality landscape, seeing the city’s ancient attractions is easier than ever. There’s a lift to the top of the Parthenon (call ahead for more details) and services across the city that can arrange tailored tours and transfers if a little bit of forward planning is involved.
Overall score: 285.3
Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, came seventh in the latest study. It ranked particularly well for accessible hotels but lost a few marks on the overall score due to a lack of accessible restaurants, tourist attractions and leisure facilities.
Overall score: 288.6
From the moment you land in the largest city in the Netherlands, a special assistance team is on-hand to help with any access needs. While this is a city break destination often associated with cycling, wheelchair users can ride the metro/subway, trains, and ferries – however, travel on city buses can require extra planning.
Overall score: 330.3
Thanks to many initiatives across the city, much of Dublin is accessible, especially to travellers dependent on wheelchairs. A vast majority of curbs in the city are cut, and there are hundreds of accessible hotels across the city, especially the more modern builds. Many attractions, including the famous Guinness Storehouse, have provisions in place for disabled visitors and encourage guests with specific needs to reach out in advance for extra assistance.
Overall score: 337.3
Iceland is known for its dramatic, rugged landscape, but its capital city has made a particular effort to improve its reputation as an accessible destination. A parliamentary act initiated in 2012 states that all new builds must provide disabled access, so expect little to no issues in the swanky new hotels and facilities in modern buildings. It’s also worth noting that the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s key attractions, can be accessed directly with specially designed wheelchairs.
Overall score: 350.3
In third place is Paris, a city perhaps more associated with the hustle and bustle of time-poor workers on the go. The French capital certainly isn’t short of stylish hotels, many of which cater thoughtfully and efficiently to disabled travellers. Restaurants fared even better, while attractions including the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Musée d’Orsay are all largely accessible.
Overall score: 450
The Italian capital lands second place due to many accessible hotels and restaurants. However, the tourist attractions and leisure facilities let the Eternal City down. This isn’t too surprising, considering many of Rome’s main attractions date back thousands of years, but we hope to see these fascinating sites put in the work to make sure everyone has the opportunity to experience them.
Overall score: 591.9
Surprised? Join the club. Lisbon came out on top in the study as the most accessible city in Europe right now. Perhaps the tricky-to-navigate landscape has actively encouraged hotels, restaurants and attractions to adapt services for those with access needs when it counts. The city has the highest combined score of each four accessibility points; per 100,000 of the population, Lisbon has 374 accessible hotels, 206.7 restaurants, 7.3 tourist attractions and 3.9 leisure activities.
Source: CN Traveller