The 3 Most Wheelchair Accessible Cities in Europe

I get this question all the time “what are the most accessible cities in Europe?”  While it does depend somewhat on your specific accessibility needs, I want to give you some general guidance based on my own travels to 140+ European cities in my wheelchair.
* Note – The focus of this list are places to visit, not places to live… after all, you signed up for this newsletter because you’re a traveler! 
The 3 Most Wheelchair Accessible Cities in Europe
London is one of the best destinations in Europe for disabled tourists! Compared to other European cities, getting around in London in a wheelchair is fairly easy, primarily because many of the cobblestones did not make it through the bombings of WWII and accessible transportation is plentiful. 
  • Almost all of the tourist areas are flat, including Trafalgar Square, the theater district and the area near the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum and the south side of the Thames River.
  • Overall, the sidewalks are very well maintained and most street intersections have curb cuts for wheelchair users.
  • Disabled travelers who speak English will benefit from the fact that there is no language barrier (other than maybe learning where “the boot” is located and what it means to “fancy” something). This makes communicating your needs easier.
  • You can easily stay at an accessible hotel in the city and arrange for outstanding day trips from London to Stonehenge, Cambridge, Oxford, Windsor Castle, and Greenwich.
London accessible cab with wheelchiar ramp
In my opinion, Berlin is one of the most underrated cities for tourists(including disabled travelers). For anyone interested in the 20th century history, this is one of the top destinations in the world! No other city tells the story of WWII and the Cold War like Berlin does. 
  • The German capital offers a fairly flat terrain with a great sidewalk system (with ramps) in the “Berlin Mitte”.
  • Many of the famous Berlin highlights are all within walking distance of each other. This makes the city ideal for anaccessible walking tour.
  • The Berlin public transportation system including buses and subways are generally accessible.
  • Berlin was heavily bombed in WWII which means that there are fewer cobble stones and the buildings used for hotels and museums are of newer age.
  • Because of its ideal location, you can easily take an accessible train from Berlin to other European destinations including Amsterdam and Paris. No need to fly to do a multi-city trip!
Example of smooth sidewalks in Berlin city center
I gave Barcelona an overall 5 Star Accessibility Rating (my highest rating) – for a good reason of course! This spectacular city provides a great accessible public transportation system, where all buses are accessible, and many metro stations have ramps and elevators. One of my favorite things about Barcelona is that the medieval city center has very few cobblestones. This means that wheelchair users will have a much smoother ride than in cities such as Paris, Bruges and Istanbul.
  • Combine your city stay with a beach trip! Barcelona disabled access at beaches is some of the best I’ve encountered anywhere in Europe. There are ramps to get from the sidewalk down to the sand, and there are wooden paths to get to the water. You can even rent beach wheelchairs in some places!
  • While mountains and ocean surround the city, most of the Barcelona city center is actually flat without hills.
  • Most accessible Barcelona hotels (even in the city center) use modern buildings with flat access at the entrance and roll-in showers. You’ll have numerous accessible hotels to choose from!
  • Because many cruises depart from and arrive in Barcelona, you can easily combine a pre or post cruise stay in the city with an accessible cruise.
Accessible beach visit in Barcelona with wheelchair access to the sand and the water
 Did You Know?
So these cities are accessible, and I won’t have any challenges visiting them?  Not exactly…many changes remain:
  • London has sooo much to see that you’re going to be short on time (or completely worn out) if you visit for less than 1-2 weeks. Planning an efficient London itinerary, combining central walking tours with relaxing driving tours and museum visits, is an essential part of getting the most out of your money, time and energy.
  • In Berlin, you will need to know where the out-of-order elevators are located before planning your routes on the U-Bahn subway, and you will want to hire an expert tour guide to show you hidden sites and stories like Hitler’s underground bunker.
  • In Barcelona, the most common challenge is that a visit to the city is often combined with other less accessible destinations like Madrid, Avignon, or Mediterranean cruise ports. Don’t forget to plan accessible sightseeing in all of your destinations!

Even the most accessible destinations cannot guarantee that you won’t experience any challenges. Be prepared for any emergencies that might arise during your trip (taxi strike, broken wheelchair, flight cancellation, etc…).  We have a team of accessible travel experts that provide 24/7 emergency support.  When Sage Traveling plans your trip, you get to relax knowing that we take care of everything for you!

Travel Wisely,
John Sage, Founder and President of Sage Traveling



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