Budapest: a pearl to discover

Our virtual tour across accessible Europe, this time, leads us to Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, also known as the “Danube’s pearl”, a place rich in fascination, history and culture, whose signs are still visible in the city districts. There’s always a good reason for a quick stop (or a longer stay) in Budapest (by the way, it is one of the cheapest European capital cities): but what about accessibility?

Budapest - Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge

If you’re planning a journey in Budapest (maybe for the next New Year’s Eve… but cover yourself properly!) and want to make sure that everything goes smoothly once there, I advise you to directly contact the main reference point in the city for disabled people: MEOSZ, the National Federation of Disabled People Associations, which, if needed, can also arrange for you a fully accessible transport service to reach the city from the airport or the railway station. To contact MEOSZ from outside Hungary, the best way is sending an e-mail (better in English) to international@meosz.hu. However, if you want to leave with an idea about what you’re going to find, once you arrive in Budapest, keep on reading!

Budapest - Heroes Square

Heroes Square

As usual, let’s start from public transport. The Ferenc Liszt airport (also known as Ferihegy) has been built quite recently, so you’ll find everything’s needed to ensure full accessibility for all the visitors. From here, to get to the city, you can use the cabs (the average cost for a route to the city centre is about 35 €) or the shuttle service. But be careful: the cabs aren’t equipped for wheelchair transportation, unlike the shuttle. If the hotel you’re staying at offers it, you can also request the pick-up service, which will take you directly at your destination, usually at a cost that’s equal to the cabs. Once you arrive in Budapest, to move across the city, you’ll have 4 subway lines, buses and trams. Pay attention: while most of the buses crossing the city have ramps to allow access of wheelchairs and, in many cases, lowered platforms to allow access also to people who, even though they can walk, have motoric issues, trams and subway lines aren’t still fully accessible, since vehicles and stations are usually very ancient. Among the tram lines, the totally accessible ones, so far, are 4 and 6, the most recent. As regards subway lines, instead, if you use a wheelchair or must avoid stairs, keep in mind that only the 4 (green) line is totally accessible, while the red line (2) ensures full accessibility only for three stations and the remaining two, older but also more fascinating under an artistic perspective, unfortunately, are off limits. Things are decisively better when we look at the touristic buses, which are equipped to ensure accessibility to every kind of passenger. If you have just a weekend, they are the best way to see the most interesting places in the city: the ticket for a tour, with different routes, lasts for 48 hours (during which you can hop on and off whenever you wish) and costs about 25 €. Furthermore, some routes also include a boat tour on the Danube: even in this case, accessibility is granted both by platforms and by the presence of qualified staff, always available to assist you. After all, kindness is a typical trait of Hungarian people!

Budapest - Arts & Crafts Museum

Arts & Crafts Museum

What to see in Budapest? You’re only spoilt for choice, among monuments, thermal baths, theatres, museums… And most of them are equipped to ensure full accessibility to visitors. Some examples? Let’s start from the thermal baths, a “must-see” for tourists visiting Budapest: the Gellért baths, the Dagály and Dandár baths and the Erzsébetliget swimming pool are fully accessible to people with motoric disabilities.

Budapest - Buda Castle

Buda Castle

Are you more interested in monuments and museums? Budapest won’t get you upset! From St. Matthew’s church to St. Stephen’s basilica (which is accessible booking the assistance service by phone), passing through the Opera Theatre and the Fine Arts Museum and the Art Gallery (both on the evocative Heroes Square), passing through the National Museum, the biggest Synagogue in Europe, the Parliament (also in this case, you need to book assistance in advance) and even the suggestive Buda Castle (that can be reached both by bus or using the accessible -and free, for disabled people- elevator from Dózsa György tér), you’ll have the chance to enjoy the many treasures this city offers in full accessibility. Furthermore, buying the Budapest Card, you can have free access to many of these attractions (however, there are special discounts for disabled people and their companions, as for elderly and children). For more information, you can check this website.

Budapest - The Parliament

The Parliament

Are you more attracted by culinary tourism? Well, with gulasch, the cuisines of the various cultures present in the city and the amazing desserts of the Austro-Hungarian tradition, you’ll find something to satisfy you. It would be a pity not to benefit from it, wouldn’t it?

London: a “cool” and accessible city

Are you thinking to spend the New Year’s Eve or one of the upcoming long weekends abroad, maybe in a European capital city? If you haven’t been there yet (but even if you want to get back there!), what about to pop over London, before you need a passport again to visit it, once Brexit will enter into force?

London - The Big Ben

The Big Ben

After all, there’s plenty of reasons to do that: should you be keen on music or arts, or interested in soccer, or in cultural tourism, or, again, you simply love shopping, London is the right place for you! The English capital city has a wide range of opportunities, attractions, itineraries, for all tastes, all ages and all budgets (even though it’s still one of the most expensive cities in the world). And, not a bad thing indeed, it’s increasingly accessible also for who has a reduced mobility.

London - Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus

London - Harrods

Harrods

Attention to all travellers’ needs is clear from when you get at the most important airports and railway stations of the city, all equipped with ramps, elevators, bathrooms and areas reserved to disabled travellers. But even when we consider the city public transport -luckily- things are essentially the same. All the subway stations have entrances reserved to travellers on a wheelchair, many are even totally stairs-free (for instance, Kings Cross, Wembley Park, London Bridge). Also the legendary double-decker buses are equipped to host wheelchairs (that can hop on thanks to the ramps) and, in the overwhelming majority, have lowered access platforms for people with motoric issues. There’s an increasing number of subway stations equipped with tactile paths and stops, ticket offices, buses and cabs equipped with magnetic induction audio systems, for deaf people. Even the legendary cabs are equipped to host passengers on a wheelchair. Furthermore, there’s a very well curated website, where you can find constantly updated info about the accessibility of the city transport network, not just as regards the disabled people needs, but also for pregnant women or little children.

London - Madame Tussaud

Madame Tussaud

And what about touristic attractions? Even in this case, you’re spoilt for choice among so many accessible solutions: Buckingham Palace, the London Tower, the London Eye, the Aquarium, the Tate Modern Gallery, Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, and the list goes on. Do you want to play it safe and get rid of all doubts about the accessibility of the attractions you’re more interested in? If your English is quite good, on this website (and on the app) you’ll find detailed info about the accessibility of a lot of touristic attractions, hotels, museum, restaurants, shops, parks, etc. You’ll also have the chance to create your customized itinerary, searching for the destinations that fit best for your specific disability or need.

So, what are you waiting for? Enjoy your trip!

Finland, where accessibility is a value

Christmas is coming and, for children (even those who are still children inside!), it’s approaching the time to write the fateful letter to Santa Claus and, maybe, send it directly at home, in Rovaniemi, in the charming Finland. Why don’t you take the chance (if you’re not afraid by cold, obviously) and “deliver” it in person?

Shouldn’t you believe anymore in Santa Claus or being interested in taking pictures of elves and reindeers, you still have excellent reasons to visit this evocative country. One for all of them? The northern lights, which are typical of the Finnish winter, particularly in the North of the country. But also lakes, sleigh tours, national parks…

Finland - northern lights

I think I hear you: “Great, but… with all that cold, will Finland be accessible also to who has reduced mobility?”. Well, the answer is yes! Indeed, doing some search, I discovered that Finland is one of the most accessibility-oriented countries in the world. This because, as in all the Northern Europe countries, people with a disability are fully included into the community, to the extent that, for instance, there’s no “protectionist” law for disabled people at work: simply because there’s no need to have one, since Finland is among the countries with the highest employment rates for disabled people!

Since the ‘70s, well in advance compared with many other countries, Finland has been applying policies to create services which could be accessible to all users, regardless of age, disability and anything else.

Finland - Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and all the other main cities in Finland have public transport networks that are almost fully autonomously accessible for who has a disability: the subway lines are 100% accessible, urban buses are for the majority and also trams are becoming increasingly “for all”. There are also many cabs allowing access to people on wheelchair, without requiring the transfer from the wheelchair to the seat. But pay attention: these services almost free (they cost as much as the public transport ticket) for disabled residents, while they cost a little bit more for tourists (but the amount is, all in all, affordable).

Public buildings, museum, malls: everything is designed and built to ensure accessibility and usability to everyone. And there’s even more: monuments and historical interest sites have also been, gradually, adapted, equipped with ramps and other expedients that make them totally usable from everyone, both tourists and not.

Finland - lake

Do you love the environment and, rather than in the cities, you’d be interested in exploring the savage and uncontaminated landscapes of Finland? Good news about it as well: many national parks and environmental attractions are equipped with boardwalks and ramps (that are useful both for disabled people and for children in the stroller); there are a lot of shelters equipped also for disabled people along the excursions routes, as well as sites enabling also sport lovers with any disability to safely enjoy their passion.

Are you ready to discover this amazing country? Cover yourself properly and enjoy your trip! 🙂

Accessible Austria: a destination for all tastes

What’s the first thing coming up on your mind, if I say Austria? Probably: Vienna, Salzburg, Mozart, waltz, mountains, Christmas markets and, of course, Sachertorte! In conclusion, a lot of reasons to visit this small country, rich in fascination and history. But is it also accessible to who has “special needs”? the answer is yes, starting from public transport.

Whether you pick airplane or train to get there, Austria will welcome you in fully accessible airports and railway stations, also thanks, in many cases, to huge interventions made in these last years to make them suitable for both motoric and sensory disabled people needs. Urban public transport is almost totally accessible, both in Vienna and Salzburg, that was awarded at the most accessible city in Europe back in 2011: buses equipped with lowered platforms, to help passengers hop on (in addition to the standard ramps allowing passengers on wheelchair to hop on and off), are the standard everywhere; almost all subway stations are equipped with elevators and paths for blind passengers. Do you prefer moving using a private car? For disabled people, many city parking areas are free, showing the appropriate symbol on the car windscreen.

Austria - Vienna, Schönbrunn realm

Vienna, Schönbrunn realm

The commitment to ensure the highest accessibility standards also expands to museums and touristic attractions. Do you want to live the atmosphere of Vienna during the era of Princess Sissi? The magnificent Schönbrunn realm is equipped both with steps-free accesses and elevator and offers the chance to benefit, upon request, from touristic tours suitable for your specific disability. Do you want to visit the Belvedere? Disabled people and their companions can benefit from discounts on the entrance ticket, tactile paths for blind people and reserved elevators. And the same is valid for many of the most famous museums, both in Vienna and in Salzburg.

Austria - Salzburg

Salzburg

But Austria is also among the countries which contributed more to the classical music history. Why don’t you take the chance to attend a concert of the Wiener Philarmoniker (they also play for free, once a year, in front of Schönbrunn castle) or to visit the houses where lived geniuses of the calibre of Beethoven and Mozart, without forgetting about Schubert and Haydn? In many cases, those buildings are accessible also to who has a reduced mobility and guide-dogs for blind visitors are always welcome.

Austria - Sachertorte

Sachertorte

Would you like to taste the local cuisine (and its very well-known patisserie)? A lot of restaurants, cafés and nightclubs are fully accessible to disabled people as well. And, should you be passionate for Christmas markets, you’re in the right place: in Austria, you’re only spoilt for choice, among so many options.

Enjoy your holiday!

 

“Io viaggio ovunque”: moving in Lombardy

Do you live in Lombardy and have a disability or are older than 65? You’d be eligible for benefiting from a favoured rate to buy “Io viaggio ovunque” (=I travel everywhere), an annual subscription on a magnetic card, allowing you to use without additional costs all the public transports both at regional and local level (including trains and subways). Useful indeed, mostly for those who- for business, study or leisure- travel daily or frequently.

COSTS and requirements

If you have a certified disability or are older than 65, you’d be eligible for buying an even more convenient card (the so called “IVOL Agevolata”, i. e. Facilitated “I travel everywhere”). Here you have the costs for the three facilitations brackets and the requirements to be entitled for them:

1st bracket – € 10.00/year

  • Invalid person due to war or service from the 1st to the 5th category
  • Deportee in Nazi death camps, with an invalidity from the 1st to the 5th category, or with a legally recognized disability not lower than 67%
  • Invalid person due to terrorism or criminality from the 1st to the 5th category or the corresponding percentage of reduction of the working capacity
  • Totally blind person (art. no. 2 138/2001)
  • Partially blind person (art. no.3 L. 138/2001)
  • Serious partially sight (art. no.4 L. 138/2001)
  • Deaf (art. no.1 381/1970)
  • 100% legally disabled person
  • Minor with disability, in accordance with the current law
  • Unable and invalid due to work reasons with a percentage starting from 80% (as certified by the INAIL minutes)
  • Victim of duty with a permanent disability not lower than 80%
  • Refugee in need (art. no. 1, n. 4, L. 763/1981)

2nd bracket – € 80.00/year

  • Invalid person due to war or service from the 6th to the 8th category, with an ISEE within 16,500 €
  • Invalid due to terrorism or criminality from the 6th to the 8th category or corresponding percentage reduction of the working capacity, with an ISEE within 16,500 €
  • Legally disabled person from 67% to 99%, with an ISEE within 16,500 €
  • Unable and invalid due to work reasons from 67% to 79%, with an ISEE within 16,500 €
  • Person older than 65, with an ISEE within 12,500 €

3rd bracket – € 699.00/year

  • Person older than 65 (without any ISEE limit)

"Io viaggio ovunque"

how to request the card

You can request the “Io viaggio ovunque” facilitated card choosing among the following procedures:

  1. downloading the request forms from the Trasporti Regione Lombardia website
  2. using the paper forms available at the post offices in Lombardy or at the SpazioRegione offices active in all the provinces
  3. directly on the dedicated website, benefiting, in this case, from a shorter timing to examine the documents

If you use the paper forms, you must fill them completely, attach the required documents (e.g. copy of the identity card) and bring or send them to the nearest SpazioRegione office.

On the contrary, if you choose the third option, you must answer all the questions that pop up on the screen (in order to identify the right facilitation bracket) and submit your request directly online (after having digitally signed it using the appropriate software, or, if not, after having printed, signed and scanned it), attaching a copy of your identity card.

tessera IVOLThe request and the documents are reviewed and, if everything is ok, within 40 days from when the request has been received, a postal payment slip is sent to the applicant, so that he can pay the subscription rate (only at a Poste Italiane office). Then, within 45 days, the card is sent directly to the applicant home. In the meanwhile, it is possible to travel using the receipt and a valid ID card. Shouldn’t the card arrive within 45 days from the payment, it’s necessary to get in touch with Regione Lombardia calling the toll-free number 800.318.318 or directly at its offices, to avoid fines.

Should the request be rejected, or the documents be found incomplete or insufficient, the applicant will receive a communication detailing the reasons for the rejection or the documents to add by the specified date.

how to activate the card

The card must be activated, as it happens for the standard urban subscriptions, using the ATM totems present in the subway stations or at the parking meters in Milan or even at the TreNord stations ticket offices and ticket validation machines.

how to renew the card

The “Io viaggio ovunque” card is annual. Right before a month to the expiry date, the Region will sent to those who keep the requirements all the documents needed for the renewal.

And what if, in the meanwhile, something should change in the requirements or personal data communicated in the past? If the variation implies to pass from a category to another, the applicant must present a new request. In all the other cases, on the contrary, he must simply communicate (through a fax or personally) the variations to the nearest SportelloRegione office.

Is everything clear? Enjoy your trip!

Prague: a city to discover and live

Have you just come back from summer holidays and are ready to leave again, yet? You can always plan a long weekend in one of the most enchanting European capital cities: Prague, the wonderful Czech Republic’ capital city, which, year after year, attracts millions of tourists from all over the world.

Prague - St. Wenceslas Square

St. Wenceslas Square

Sure, Prague isn’t totally accessible, yet, also due to its tight streets paved with cobblestones. But also who has movement issues (whether using a wheelchair or not) can enjoy the fascination of this city, rich in history and magic, which is moving forward as regards the accessibility of monuments, museum, public places and transport network.

Let’s start from public transport. Surface transit is gradually adequating to the needs of passengers with reduced mobility, replacing the oldest vehicles with others ensuring full accessibility. The subway network is moving forward towards accessibility too, with most of the stations equipped with elevators and clear info, also for blind people in the newest ones (guide-dogs are always welcome, also in monuments and public buildings). Furthermore, disabled people and their companions can access for free.

The most well-known and visited monuments in the city are improving their accessibility too, adding elevators, ramps, equipped bathrooms and dedicated accesses. Let’s see some examples:

Prague - The Castle

The Castle

  • The Castle, symbol of the growth of the nation, whose building started back in the IX century and went on for the following eleven, is made up by a majestic complex of religious buildings, fortification and offices representing all the architectonical styles and historical periods and cover 45 hectares. Originally, it was the Bohemian princes and kings’ residence, while nowadays is the presidential location. Disabled people and their companions can access for free the administrative area of the Castle and the Gallery. Among the churches that can be visited inside the castle complex, we must mention Vivian’s Cathedral, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert, a majestic gothic building, started in the XIV century and finished only at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, that is accessible through a ramp at the entrance and can be visited without any barrier in the interior part (there’s also an equipped bathroom) and St. George’s Basilica, in Romanesque style, almost fully accessible, despite it was built back in the X century. Always inside the Castle, there’s the ancient Royal Palace, built again many times throughout the centuries, accessible to people on wheelchairs through an electric stairlift, to visit, among the others, the majestic Vladislav Room.
  • The Ancient City Hall, which has been hosting the city authorities since the first half of the XIV century, has one of the city symbols, the astronomical clock with the statues of the 12 Apostles appearing on its top every hour from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. Accessibility is granted by a ramp at the entrance and several elevators, enabling to access the tower as well: here you can enjoy a wonderful view of the city.
Prauea - The astronomical clock

The astronomical clock

  • The Charles Bridge, built by Charles IV back in the XIV century to replace the Judith Bridge destroyed by the Moldova overflow, connects the Ancient City to the Malá Strana district. One of the most visited attractions in Prague, the Bridge is just a little bit longer than 500 m, has two fortifications delimiting its extremities and, along the path, statues of saints.
Prague - Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge

But Prague doesn’t just mean history and monuments. The city hosts, all over the year, festivals, concerts, exhibitions, which are usually accessible for everyone.

Are you tempted to leave, but, before booking your journey, would like to solve other doubts? Here you have a few references:

Enjoy your holiday!

Slovenia: an (accessible) paradise close to Italy

In the heart of Europe, there’s an authentic paradise: Slovenia. Among seas and mountains, with a unique cultural and environmental richness, Slovenia is a small state, but rich in treasures to discover. For Italian people, since it borders with Friuli-Venezia Giulia, it’s the perfect destination also for last minute holidays, all over the year.

Slovenia - Ljubljana

Ljubljana

In these last years, the Slovenian government is very committed to improve the country accessibility, making it more usable also from people with motoric, sensory or psychic disabilities, but also families with little children.

All the buildings, both public and private, built in Slovenia in the last years are fully accessible. But they’re working a lot also to adequate the existing ones, including historic monuments and natural parks, as well as urban spaces, with sidewalks equipped with ramps, reserved parking lots and ATM placed at a height accessible also from a wheelchair and, in many cases, equipped with Braille instructions for blind people. Furthermore, since 2011, the Slovenian Disabled Workers Association releases the “Handicapped people-friendly city” certificate to the cities actively committed to promote the disabled people’ inclusion.

Cities and touristic attractions offer discounts to disabled people and, sometimes, even free entry. Let’s see together some of the Slovenian symbols that are accessible to everyone.

Ljubljana, the wonderful Slovenian capital city, is investing a lot on the fully accessibility of public transport (the mission is almost accomplished, both for buses and for the railway station) and museums, art galleries and the most important touristic attractions. First, the Castle (in Slovenian, Ljubljanski grad); the symbol of the city, whose construction started in the IX century and today hosts exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events, can be reached by everyone thanks to a funicular railway equipped to host also disabled people. Even the city zoo has a dedicated access for disabled people. Furthermore, visitors with the city touristic card (Urbana) can benefit from free entry.

The Postojna caves (Postojnska jama), 20 kilometres of galleries and salt with calcareous concretions, every year attract thousands of tourists from all around the world. Since the end of the Nineteenth Century, they are equipped with electric lights and a small train enabling to visit them staying comfortably seated, at least for the first part of the caves. The Postojna caves have also a dedicated access for disabled people.

Slovenia - Postojna caves

Postojna caves

The wonderful Bled and Zbilje lakes, perfect for walking immersed in the environment or (mostly the second) for rowing lovers, are increasingly accessible for all, including disabled people. The same is valid for the thermal baths (such as the Dobrna and the Zreče baths) and for the Triglav national park, which has also two laboratories for blind people.

Slovenia - Bled Lake

Bled Lake

So, have I convinced you to visit Slovenia? I hope so!

Discovering the “barrierefrei” Germany

Germany is one of the most accessibility-oriented countries and, for years, has been investing resources to make cities, public transport, offices and touristic attractions increasingly “barrierefrei” (literally: barrier-free), to enable everyone to fully use them, no matter what your physical condition is. Unfortunately, total accessibility is still a mirage, but, compared with other countries, Germany is a safe haven for people with movement issues or sensory deficit.

The most important German cities, from Berlin to Frankfurt and Munich, provide both citizens and tourists with very detailed info services (also available online), allowing to plan and live a holiday without worries.

Germany - Berlin

Berlin

Let’s start our virtual tour from Berlin, the capital city of Germany and one of the most desired destinations for travellers from all around the world, mostly young people, thanks to its modernity, its cultural and economic ferment (Berlin is one of the most important start-up incubators), vivacity of its night life and much more. Its public transport network is totally accessible, both as regards the surface transit and the subway lines, both for motoric and sensory disabled people. If we talk about monuments and touristic attractions, you say “Berlin” and think about the Brandenburg Gate and the ruins of the wall that, for more than fifty years, divided the city and Europe in two. But Berlin has much more to offer, also to travellers with motoric limitations. For instance:

  • the Pergamon Museum, hosting three permanent exhibitions devoted to ancient art, Islamic art and Asian art, respectively;
  • the Reichstag palace, equipped with entrances and itineraries reserved to people with motoric disabilities, but also Braille signage in the whole structure and scale models of the building enabling blind people enjoying the experience using touch and, for deaf people, sign language interpreters;
  • the Friedrichstadt-Palast, the biggest variety theatre in Germany; Potsdamer Platz, where past and present meet and represent the International Film Festival’ backdrop; Alexander Platz, with its majestic TV tower, from the top of which (reachable using an elevator) you can enjoy a breath-taking view over the city, and a lot of museums, allowing you to live again the light and dark past of Germany.
Germany - Frankfurt

Frankfurt

Frankfurt, besides being the financial heart of Germany, is an important cultural center and nodal point of the national transport network. But, above all, it’s among the world cutting-edge cities for accessibility. Maybe this is also since many of its historic buildings were destroyed during the World War II. But even the surviving ones, over time, have increasingly become “for all”. To mention just some of many things to see:

  • Goethe’s house, where he also wrote “The sorrows of young Werther”, isn’t, unfortunately, accessible to who uses a wheelchair; in compensation, it provides blind people with dedicated guided tours, plus the chance to access with guide-dogs.
  • Römerberg, the historical center of the city that hosts the municipality, and Paul’s Church are more accessible. The latter is the place where German democracy arose and has a dedicated access for motoric disabled people.
  • All the city museums and parks have at least an accessible entrance.

Would you like visiting Frankfurt, but aren’t sure how to orient yourself among the things to see? The city offers a website and a PDF brochure in English, which can be downloaded for free, with constantly updated info.

Germany - Munich

Munich

But you can’t talk about Germany without thinking about Oktoberfest, that takes place yearly between the end of summer and the beginning of fall in Munich, another city that’s at the forefront about the accessibility of its spaces. Here, public transport is totally accessible and – hear ye! – free for those presenting a card certifying their disability. Furthermore, there are also guided tours of the city supported by a sign language interpreter, to make them accessible to deaf people as well.

Must-see attractions include:

  • the Rathaus, the city hall, with the Glockenspiel, the carillon clock with animated characters that move during the day, at the clock’ sound;
  • the Residenz, the royal palace, one of the most majestic in Europe, with an entrance inspired to the Florentine Palazzo Pitti;
  • the Frauenkirche, the gothic cathedral of Munich, heavily damaged during the war, but come back to its old splendour, after years of restoration, at the end of the Twentieth Century.

Also in this case, there’s a PDF brochure providing with accessibility info, but, unfortunately, just in German.

Do you need more info before planning your journey? Check the accessible tourism website (partially available into Italian as well) created by the German National Tourism Authority!

Accessible tourism: the global guide

On this website, we often state how important it is guaranteeing the right to an accessible tourism to everyone. Since also people with a motoric or sensory disability can and want to have fun, travel, discover new places, even very far from their daily life.

accessible tourism

One of the main obstacles preventing it from becoming real, in addition to the existence of architectonical barriers, is the fact that finding clear and detailed information about your dream destination can be very tricky. The Internet helps reducing distances and there’s a growing number of websites and blogs (including Move@bility!) that share useful info to enjoy a tourism for all.

accessible tourism guide

Now, there’s a new tool collecting info, contact details and reviews written “on the field” by disabled tourists and specialised operators: the Lonely Planet guide fully dedicated to barrier-free journeys all around the world. You can download the guide in PDF format for free from the e-shop area of the official website of the most renowned publisher of tourism guides. There are some countries missing (e.g., Brazil, Hungary, Czech Republic and Russia), but the guide is continuously updated, so maybe it will soon add new destinations.

But be careful! Traditionally, one of the features which made the Lonely Planet guides famous all around the world is the fact that the locations they describe have always been personally visited by the guide writers. In this case, even due to the guide’ global perspective, the main source of information is, on the contrary, the web, but they’re still considered reliable.

Of course, when we talk about journeys, needs vary based on the individual. And this principle, that can be applied to everyone, is even more so worth when we talk about accessible tourism, because, let’s say it paraphrasing Tolstoj, everyone is disabled his own way.

Therefore, my advice is to use the guide as a starting point to collect info. But you’d better check them calling or sending an e-mail to the hotel or the resort/attraction/location you’re interested in.

“The traveller is the journey”

Fernando Pessoa

Lisbon, surprisingly accessible

If Barcelona is my favourite city in the world, Lisbon, the Portuguese capital city,  follows it closely. I visited it a few years ago and I was totally enchanted by its magic and its breath-taking landscapes, as well as by the friendliness of local people.

Sure, when you think about Lisbon, with its tight and steep streets, with cobblestones and, often, without any sidewalk, the last thing you’d link to it is the concept of accessibility for who has motoric issues due to disability, age or anything else.

Yet, in these last years, also Portugal committed a lot to make this and other cities accessible to tourists and, first of all, citizens. Of course, there’s no way to change orography, but they’re acting where they can, starting from the public transport network. In addition to surface transit (including the unmissable tram no. 28) equipped with a platform to ease the access of people with motoric issues, Lisbon has one of the most accessible subway networks in Europe (luckily, since to go from the entrance to the platforms you’d often have to walk various flights of stairs…).

“To me, there are no flowers that can match the Lisbon chromatism under the sun” 

Fernando Pessoa

As regards monuments and attractions, indeed, if you must use a wheelchair, it could be tricky visiting the typical Alfama district, but Lisbon offers so much more to see!

  • São Jorge’s Castle, not that accessible for people with motoric issues, has ad hoc itineraries (and various resting areas to catch your breath), as well as the chance to access with guide-dogs for blind people.
  • Things go better in another “must see” for whoever visits Lisbon: the Belém district, fully flat and well paved, with the suggestive Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, where the church and the lower part of the cloister are fully accessible and there’s a tactile path for blind people. And, since you’re there, don’t miss the Confeiteria de Belém, to taste one of the symbols of the (excellent!) Portuguese patisserie: pastéis de nata (literally: “cream patisserie”)!
  • Another totally accessible part of the city is the area that hosted the Expo back in 1998. On the occasion of the global expo, the Parque das Nações district was built, reclaiming an ancient landfill on the Tagus. Here you can also get lost among gardens, museums (all of them are 100% accessible) and visit the Oceanário, the largest aquarium in Europe.
  • Also the main part of the city center can be visited without many issues: from Campo de Ourique, with its liberty architectures, to the congested Praça Marquês de Pombal, to reach Avenida Libertade and Parco Eduardo VII.
  • Do you want to take breath-taking pictures of the city panorama? Go to the Miradouro da Graça, fully accessible 24/7.
  • But you can’t leave Lisbon without doing at least two other things: a flying visit to the House of Fernando Pessoa, the poet and writer symbolizing Portugal, who also wrote one of the most beautiful city guides, and a night listening to fado, the Portuguese people sing which had in Amália Rodrigues its most famous interpreter. You can enjoy it “live” in many city places and restaurants.

Do you want to visit this wonderful city? Keep a check on the Portugal Acessível website by Associação Salvador, a “directory” of accessible places all over Portugal, constantly updated also through the users contribution. And beware of saudade!

Lisbon - Belem

Lisbon, Belém