Top 10 Europe
Handicapped Travel Tips
My Top 10 Europe Handicapped Travel Tips are based on my own
experiences from traveling with my wheelchair to over 80 cities in
Europe and planning countless trips for other disabled travelers.
I’ve experienced numerous challenges during my travels, and I can tell
you that that they can almost always be overcome!
Prepare well for your trip, follow these Top 10 Europe
Handicapped Travel Tips, and travel with an open mind..
….you’ll be sure to have a great accessible European vacation!
1. Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead
• I hear all the time that “Venice is not wheelchair accessible” or “Paris
has poor accessibility”.
• While there are certainly some accessibility challenges, the truth is
that the more accessibility research you do, the more accessible your
trip will be!
• Avoiding bridges in Venice and hills in Paris is entirely possible, I’ve
done it myself!
Did you know that Herculaneum has nearly identical ruins as
Pompeii but is very wheelchair friendly?.
And that disabled cruise passengers don’t have to take the “donkey
path” up the cliffs when visiting the island of Santorini? Nearly every
accessibility barrier can be overcome or circumvented with the right
amount of planning.
Your vacation doesn’t need to be a struggle filled with a handful of
good moments…plan ahead and your vacation will be filled with
fully accessible hotel accommodation, accessible routes between
accessible tourist attractions, and wonderful accessible travel
Do your homework before your trip….it will be well worth it!
Accessible Herculaneum ruins shown on left….difficult Pompeii ruins
shown on right
2. Book hotels far in advance
Before I started Sage Traveling, my decision about the timing to book my
hotel room was based on the question “how far in advance do I need to
look for hotels to find one?” I was asking the wrong question!
It wasn’t until I started planning trips to the same destination over
and over again that I realized this Europe handicapped travel tip: It
is almost always cheaper to book your accessible hotel
accommodation FAR in advance.
Many disabled hotels in European city centers have only 1 or 2 disabled
hotel rooms. The best ones get booked very far in advance!
We often plan trips for people 9 months in advance and place
them in the most affordable, most accessible, most centrallylocated hotel rooms.
If you’re traveling in the summer, you should make your reservations in
Good “accessible” London hotel on left….bad “accessible” London hotel
3. Your accessible guided tours will likely be the best memory
that you have
• We hear it time and time again. Seeing a beautiful city like Florence or
a bustling city like London is a great experience.
• But to truly appreciate the special characteristics of the city, you’ll
need a tour guide to point out the fascinating hidden history behind
what you’re seeing.
Without a tour guide, you might walk/roll right past Hitler’s bunker
in Berlin, the spot where St. Peter preached in Athens, or the
location of the infamous guillotine in Paris.
Tour guides will not only show you the city…they’ll bring you back in
time to experience everything that has happened in the city.
One that specializes in accessibility will be able lead you on the flattest,
smoothest, shortest tour routes! Find a great tour guide and you’ll leave
with unforgettable memories!
4. Carefully plan your route
• If you know what you’re getting into before you arrive, you’ll have a
much easier time on your trip.
• Often there are numerous options to get between the various tourist
attractions that you’re so eager to see.
• Some routes will have wheelchair ramps (such as the photo in Rome
shown below on the left), smooth pavement, and flat terrain.
Others can have steep hills, bothersome (and even dangerous!)
cobblestones, and flights of stairs (photo of Rome sidewalk stairs
shown below on the right).
Europe Handicapped Travel Tip #4 says to research accessibility of
sidewalks, bus routes, subway stations, and the location of accessible
building entrances before your trip so you can spend your visit enjoying
5. Stay in the most accessible parts of town
• It’s one of the most difficult parts of planning your accessible trip.
• You may have found a great accessible hotel, but what will you find
when you walk/roll out the front door?
• Are there hills in all directions?
• Will you have to roll over cobblestones to get anywhere?
• Are there accessible restaurants nearby?
It’s crucial to not only investigate the accessibility of the hotel, but
also the neighborhood it’s located in.
Dining at a charming accessible restaurant in Venice (such as the one
shown on the right) will be much more enjoyable than eating in the
6. Figure out your accessible public transportation options
• When choosing a hotel, don’t forget to factor in the price of
• If you have to pay for a taxi to get to accessible restaurants, accessible
shopping, and the tourist attractions, that hotel “deal” you found
won’t feel so like such a good deal.
In cities like London, Paris, and Barcelona, stay near one of the
accessible bus stops. In cities like Berlin, Istanbul, and Venice, stay
near one of the accessible metro, tram, or boat stops.
In cities like Florence, Cambridge, and Edinburgh, stay right in the
middle of town so that you can walk/roll everywhere!
Accessible metro in Athens shown on left. Accessible bus in Paris shown
7. Rely on the experience of other Europe handicapped
• You’re almost certainly not the first disabled person to visit your
• Find out the accessibility challenges that other disabled travelers
encountered and how they got around them.
• You can check the various online travel forums to find previous traveler
• If you do, be sure the information is not out of date.
If you don’t, you might look for the wheelchair lifts on Venice
bridges (taken out of service), show up at the Picasso Museum in
Paris (closed for renovations during 2012), or miss out on the
accessible London Tube Stations (massive renovations in progress).
If you don’t want to spend the time finding out what internet
information is out of date, you can utilize the assistance of an accessible
travel agent who stays current on the ever-changing accessibility
8. Choose the right time of year for your destination
• Many European destinations have times of year you should avoid.
• Visit Venice in November, and you could end up trapped by extensive
flooding (shown in the photo on the right).
Northern attractions could be cold outside of summer months,
and Naples will be scorching during July and August. In Paris, the
city will shut down on July 14th for Bastille Day, and virtually
everywhere will shut down on May 1st for Labor Day.
A great European accessible vacation will require great timing!
9. Have a back-up plan
• On even the most perfectly planned accessible vacation, things can go
wrong when traveling with a disability.
• When it does, how will you deal with it? If you prepare for all the
potential issues, unexpected events won’t turn into trip potential tripruining problems!
What will you do if a part on your wheelchair breaks? When a
train strike occurs in Italy, how will you get between Florence and
Rome? If your hotel has messed up your reservation, where will
you stay? Know what your back-up plans are (or have someone
who can take care of problems for you), and you won’t have to put
your vacation on hold to figure out a solution.
10. Enjoy your trip!
• You’ve done as much planning as you can. You’ve relied on the
experience of other disabled travelers, and you have back-up plans.
• Now it’s time to enjoy your trip! Majestic cities, beautiful art and
architecture, fascinating history, exquisite food, and wonderful