Disabled Access Review of Venice
By John Sage
Venice Disabled Access – Venice is one of the most popular destinations in the world, yet few disabled tourists tackle it because of the intimidating bridges throughout the city. While there are hundreds of bridges connecting the islands throughout the city, disabled tourists can avoid them if they understand how the city is laid out. Several large neighborhoods, including the one containing St. Mark’s Square, can be visited without encountering bridges. These neighborhoods have few cobblestones and no steps. Venice disabled access building codes require that remodeled buildings are wheelchair accessible, however most buildings have not been remodeled.
Venice Disabled Access – Best Aspects
More than 50% of the city is accessible – Most people think of a whole lot of bridges and canals when they think of Venice. While this is accurate, there are actually numerous neighborhoods that can be visited without needing to go over any bridges. As a result, over half of Venice can be visited in a wheelchair.
Vaporetto boats are somewhat wheelchair friendly – The vaporetto boats in Venice are generally wheelchair accessible and very useful for getting from neighborhood to neighborhood. The #1 and #2 vaparetto routes run down Venice’s Grand Canal and are the most popular for tourists. Several other lines run through the lagoon surrounding Venice and are also helpful. You can view more details at our Venice vaporetto disabled access page. The video below shows one wheelchair user getting assistance to get off the boat, and one wheelchair user who gets off the boat without assistance. Note how much smaller the height difference is if you let the people get off the boat first (this is one of our 11 Venice disabled travel tips).
No cobblestones anywhere – Unlike other cities in Italy, there are no cobblestones in Venice. The sidewalks and streets in the neighborhoods are paved or have smooth paving stones, and there aren’t any curbs anywhere.
Completely flat – There are no hills in Venice. All of the Venice neighborhoods are flat (apart from the bridges). A picture of a typical Venetian street is shown on the right.
St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace are wheelchair accessible – The two most popular tourist attractions in Venice without a doubt are St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. They are located right next to each other along St. Mark’s Square. Disabled tourists can skip the long line at St. Mark’s Basilica by heading to the exit at the left side of the church. The Doge’s Palace has a significantly shorter line and you will also need to enter through the exit which is located at the end closest to St. Mark’s Basilica.
Plenty of accessible things to do – Sometimes it surprises people how many accessible sights there are to see and things there are to do. Many people only stay for 2 or 3 days and wish they had stayed longer!
Venice Disabled Access – Most Challenging Aspects
Bridges are everywhere and generally not wheelchair accessible – There are over 400 bridges in Venice. Only a few can be called moderately wheelchair accessible and then only if there is someone there to assist. You can find more information on our Venice bridge disabled accessibility page.
Misinformation about bridge lifts – Numerous websites say that there are wheelchair lifts on 5 bridges in Venice. This was true but the lifts have been taken out of service. We were told that the saltwater made them too difficult and expensive to maintain.
Moving between neighborhoods can be slow – The vaporetto come at regular intervals, but your journey can take a little while especially if you have to switch boats. The boat may stop at numerous docks between the time you get on and the time you get off. If you have a dinner reservation or need to catch a train or plane, be sure you allow plenty of time or use an accessible water taxi.
Boats can get crowded – Getting on and off the vaporetto boats can be difficult if the boat is full of people. Sometimes there is absolutely no room left on the boat and the boatman will tell you to wait for the next one. Even if the boat is not completely full, people generally stand near the door so they can quickly get off which may make getting on and off a little trickier. The #1 and #2 boats are particularly crowded going towards St. Mark’s Square in the morning and towards the train station in the afternoon (video shown below).
Some neighborhoods are very small – Some of the accessible neighborhoods in Venice are very small with few restaurants or attractions. There is no sign on the vaporetto docks indicating the extent of the accessible portion of the neighborhood.
Finding accessible toilets – There are a few public accessible toilets, and some restaurants in Venice have accessible bathrooms. Locating them is not always and easy task, and finding a Venice wheelchair accessible restroom when you are looking for it can take some time.
“Accessible” hotels – Many of the “accessible” hotels in Venice have numerous bridges between the hotel and the Vaporetto stops. The only way for wheelchair users to reach them is to pay for a private wheelchair taxi which can get expensive quick. Disabled visitors to Venice should make sure that their hotel not only has a disabled hotel room but also has and accessible way to reach it.
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View our Venice Accessible Travel Packages
Venice Accessible Travel – main page
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Venice Cruise Port Disabled Access Review
How to Use the Venice Vaporetto with a Disability
Wheelchair Accessible Water Taxis in Venice
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Travel Insurance for Disabled Travelers
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Venice Accessibility Guide by John Sage
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