Travelling should be for everyone. Whether you’re young and nimble, older or have a disability (be that a wheelchair user, deaf or blind), exploring this big and beautiful world should be as accessible as possible, from public transport to tourist attractions. Luckily, the travel industry seems to be catching on and these are the most accessible destinations for disabled travellers.
80% of the metro stations and all buses are accessible for wheelchairs in Barcelona. There’s a huge effort in the city to make it easier for disabled travellers, with spectacular, famous sites such as the Sagrada Familia offering a queue-jump to the front, and sometimes even discounted or free entry. For the hot summer days, the beach has wheelchair access, and as it happens, one of Barcelona’s biggest attractions is the street La Rambla – you only need to roll yourself along to see it.
Seattle has been one of the original, long-standing cities that have kept disabled travellers in mind. It’s been accessible for close to 40 years with its public transportation system, even offering discounts to wheelchair users. There are specialised maps to help guide the handicapped through the most easily accessible routes of the city and there’s a paratransit mini bus that will transport a wheelchair user around, as well as a rideshare program.
It’s not your obvious destination, an island off the coast of Italy, but Sicily is actually a very interesting and accessible place for disabled travellers. Two Guinness World Records have been set here: the first paraplegic to dive to 59 metres and the first blind woman to dive to 41 metres. So this is the place to dive, whatever your capability level. There’s also 4WD off-road driving, traditional Sicilian fishing and olive oil making (on top of the usual drool-worthy cuisine we already associate with Italy).
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Playa del Carmen, Mexico
If you want to immerse yourself in all things Mayan, we have good news: Chichen Itza and Tulum are wheelchair-accessible, so disabled travellers can get up close and personal to these archaeological sites. Playa del Carmen itself has accessible hotels and beaches, as well as plenty of adaptive equipment for swimming so it’s possible to enjoy snorkelling the coral reef and spotting a few turtles.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv has made some great strides in recent years when it comes to making the city more accessible to people with disabilities. Almost all bus lines are wheelchair-accessible, even including technology where the bus stations read out upcoming buses and buses that announce their number when arriving, perfect for people who are visually impaired. On top of that, building laws ensure that all new construction is wheelchair-accessible, and most stores and restaurants have ramps. Hotels in Tel Aviv are aware of disabled travellers, offering handicapped-ready rooms, bathtubs and panic-buttons.
Manchester is a growing tourist destination – there’s more to the UK than London, after all. Although the city’s roots are in the Industrial Revolution, much of Manchester has been made accessible for disabled travellers with smooth, wide, step-free pavements and stepless entry into shops, restaurants in bars (good thing, too, as the food and drink scene here isn’t to be missed). Public transport is accessible, so there’s nothing stopping you from experiencing a soccer match at Old Trafford. If you want to escape the city, the beautiful Peak District National Park is only an hour away, where there are well-developed facilities for disabled visitors.
Melbourne and Sydney, Australia
Both of these cities are incredible places to visit in Australia, as well as being highly accessible for disabled travellers. The public transport system in Melbourne is easily navigated and you’ll be making the most out of the incredible food scene in the city with plenty of wheelchair-friendly restaurants. Trips to the Great Ocean Road and Victoria’s parks are made accessible for disabled travellers so you can make the most out of the city.
Travel to: Australia
Sydney comes well-recommended as a wheelchair-friendly destination from blogger Cory at Curb Free with Cory Lee. A main – and amazing – way to experience and traverse the city is on its ferries, all of which have ramps. Other transportation, such as taxis are accessible, as well as hotels, wherever you’d prefer to stay within Sydney.
Known for its glamour, shopping, family-friendly activities and the Singapore Sling cocktail, it’s good to know that this is all accessible for disabled travellers. Many hotels are affordable and accessible with great service and Raffles Hotel make trying the famed cocktail a breeze. A visit to Chinatown should be high on the list, which is made possible by the highly accessible mass rail transit (MRT) and buses.