How Accessible is Athens?
By John Sage
Athens Disabled Access – Athens provides world-class attractions for tourists to visit including the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Ancient Agora. Unfortunately for disabled tourists, these buildings were not designed for wheelchairs and have deteriorated over the centuries.
Fortunately for disabled tourists, the Greeks have done a good job of making these attractions as accessible as possible, and all can be visited by travelers with disabilities. At the numerous museums, Athens disabled access is generally quite good although steep ramps and small elevators do exist.
Athens has a long history and numerous historical ruins to visit, and an accessible walking/rolling tour can help put everything in context. Standard group walking tours can be done by wheelchair users and depart from the metro station under Syntagma Square. On these tours you will encounter some uneven ground at the Temple of Olympain Zeus and some cobblestones on the south side of the Acropolis. Wheelchair users and other disabled tour participants will have to separate from the group and use the elevator to get to the top of the Acropolis. Disabled tourists may prefer hiring a private guide for a Athens disabled accessible tour moving at a slower pace.
Wheelchair accessible sidewalk restaurants can be found on Syntagma square and throughout the Plaka neighborhood. Souvlaki, gyros, and pita bread are common and can be found in very affordable restaurants. The popular greek liquor, ouzo, as well as numerous types of wine are popular with locals and tourists alike.
Disabled access at Athens tourist attractions varies depending on the location. At the most popular attraction in town, disabled access to the Athens Acropolis is via an elevator on the north side of the hill. Disabled tourists should get there by having a taxi drive them up the hill and drop them off a the green gate. The nearby New Acropolis Museum is fully wheelchair accessible and located just south of the Acropolis. The Ancient Agora is another excellent tourist attraction and contains far more historical artifacts than the Acropolis. You can access it by going down a hill at its north entrance. The Temple of Olympian Zeus is located on the opposite side of the Acropolis and has wheelchair ramps to get from the entrance to the columns. On the north side of town,a side entrance at the National Archaeological Museum provides a step-free entrance. Overall we gave Athens a 5 star rating for the quality of sights and a 3 star rating for the quantity of sights.
Getting around Athens in a wheelchair can be challenging because of numerous areas with cobblestones or hills. Additionally, many parts of Athens have broken concrete on curbs and in the sidewalk ramps at street intersections. The tourist attractions in Athens are somewhat spread out, and disabled tourists may want to take taxis between locations. This is particularly true when visiting the National Archaeological Museum located on the north side of the city. On a positive note, disabled tourists will find that the metro system is perhaps the most accessible in all of Europe, with nearly all stations having elevators down to the platforms. We gave Athens a 2 star rating for proximity of sights to each other and a 4 star rating for accessible transportation.
Few hotels have disabled access in Athens due to the old buildings found throughout the city centre. Many have a step or two at the entrance and old bathrooms that are too narrow for a wheelchair user to enter. Disabled tourists should call hotels before their visit to confirm the exact accessibility features. Alternatively, you can use a disabled travel agency such as Sage Traveling to arrange accessible hotel accommodation in Athens.
The presence of cobblestone streets, hilly sidewalks, and uneven ground at the ancient ruins can make overall wheelchair access in Athens slightly more challenging than other popular European destinations. Nevertheless, Athens is a world-class destination visited by many disabled tourists every year.
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