Amsterdam Disabled Access Review
By John Sage
Disabled access in Amsterdam is better than other bridged cities like Venice, but still presents accessibility challenges like the sometimes inaccessible trams. Cobblestones and stairs to enter restaurants or reach bathrooms will also present challenges for disabled visitors.
Overall, Amsterdam disabled access is good enough that disabled visitors, with enough planning, should have a wonderful time visiting the capital city of Holland.
Best Aspects of Amsterdam Disabled Access
Bike paths and sidewalks are separated and clearly marked – The numerous bicyclists in Amsterdam can be dangerous for visitors that are not used to them. They move quietly and quickly and you need to look in all directions when cross the street.
Fortunately, the lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists are clearly marked (shown in the photograph on the right). The bike lane is on the left and has no curbs. The pedestrian lane is marked by broad white lines on the right and sometimes has small curbs (about 1 inch high).
Flat terrain – Unlike many of the popular tourist destinations in southern Europe, the city of Amsterdam is very flat and you’ll be hard pressed to find many hills.
Amsterdam cruise port is within walking distance (but a long walk) – Many cruise ports are located far outside European city centers, but Amsterdam’s port is only 1.6 km (1.0 miles) away from the train station. From there, you can walk/roll to some of the tourist attractions and take the tram to attractions located far away.
The tram is (sort of) accessible – The Amsterdam trams have steps at the front door, but a door closer to the rear has no steps. Unfortunately, the actual accessibility will depend on the tram station platform. Some of the tram stations have raised platforms which provides a level access to get on and off (shown in the photo on the left). Other tram stations have no raised platform and the height difference to get onto the tram can be the size of a large curb. Wheelchair users should make sure the tram route they want to take has level access at the start and finish of the route.
Accessible boat tour is an easy way to see the city – Disabled tourists who want to see the city without walking/rolling numerous blocks can easily do so using one of the Amsterdam disabled accessible boat tours. The rings of canals go through the oldest parts of the city where most of the tourist attractions are located, and the boat tours make for an easy way to see Amsterdam.
Most Challenging Aspects of Amsterdam Disabled Access
Many cobblestones – Cobblestones are found through many parts of the Amsterdam city center and present a challenge to wheelchair users and other disabled visitors. Some (like the ones shown at the bottom of the photo) are fairly smooth, while others (shown in the middle of the photo) make for a very bumpy ride.
Steep bridges and bridges with stairs – Most Amsterdam bridges are wheelchair accessible, however some have stairs (shown below on the left) or steep gradients (shown below on the right). And it always seems like the bridge you really need to use is one of these difficult ones!
Bikes can block accessible sidewalks – With so many Amsterdam bicyclists, they have to have somewhere to park all these bikes! Amsterdam Holland disabled access on sidewalks can sometime be blocked by bikes chained to bike racks and bridge handrails. The photos below show my wheelchair in a tight squeeze!
Construction can block accessible sidewalks – With so many historical buildings in the city center, renovation and construction is a continuous activity. Scaffolding and cranes, such as those shown below, can mean that an accessible sidewalk will suddenly require you to hop down and up a curb, or you will have to backtrack a long way to get around the construction.
Anne Frank’s house is not accessible – The top tourist attraction in Amsterdam has numerous steps leading up to the Frank family’s hidden room. No elevator is present.
Accessibility of Amsterdam restaurants – Disabled access in Amsterdam restaurants is hit or miss. Many restaurants (like the one shown in the photo on the left) have steps to enter them. Even more common are bathrooms located upstairs or downstairs with no elevator (shown in photo on the right).
Trams have steps at some stops – Some tram stops, like the one shown on the right, have a single step to get on and off them. Unlike the buses, there is no automatic ramp that can be extended.
Accessible buses do not enter old town – Although Amsterdam bus disabled access is good, they generally are not helpful for tourists. The buses don’t really enter the city center, so you will have to rely on trams or walking/rolling.
Difficult to hail cabs – In many European cities, it’s easy to hail a cab to bring you to your next destination. Amsterdam cabs are surprisingly absent in the city center and attempting to hail one could be a huge waste of time. Tourists wanting a cab will have to phone one a wait for it to arrive.
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Amsterdam Accessible Travel – main page
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