Here’s a list of some of the most accessible destinations in the world, according to Lonely Planet:
5. Manchester, UK
Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester, was largely rebuilt in the late 1990s, making smooth, wide, step-free pavements, and stepless entry into shops, restaurants and bars are generally the norm. Public transport is accessible, and it’s free to visit Old Trafford and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Section for supporters with impairments
4. San Diego, USA
The Americans with Disabilities Act has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, enforcing much of the USA’s infrastructure to become accessible. Top of the pops is San Diego, generally flat and with a fully accessible trolley (tram) system. Visit the historic Gaslamp Quarter, the massive Balboa Park and it’s miles of beachfront promenade – all wheelchair accessible. The latter has beach wheelchairs available, including a motorised one with caterpillar tracks at Mission Beach.
Motorised wheelchair at Mission Beach
Barcelona boasts 80% of the metro stations and 100% of buses wheelchair-accessible, as well as a relatively flat and cobblestone-free old city. Wheelchair users not only jump to the front of the queue for attractions such as the breathtaking Sagrada Família, they often get in for free. You can roll the length of La Rambla and get around the famous Mercat de la Boqueria, and the beach has wheelchair access and people on hand to help.
The metro in Barcelona is 80 % accessible
Slovenia’s flat and largely pedestrianised capital, served by accessible electric vehicles, is well worth a visit. Its bus network is well endowed with audio and video stop announcements, complemented by Braille bus stop signs and a network of city centre tactile paths. The city’s main drawcard, the 16th-century Ljubljana Castle, is reached via a funicular (free for anyone with an impairment and a companion) or train, both wheelchair-accessible. Many of Jože Plečnik’s famous bridges have recently been made accessible, and were joined in 2010 by the award-winning Butchers’ Bridge, which allows wheelchair users access to boats.
Ljubljana Castle’s can be accessed via a free funicular
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
One hour from Cancún International Airport, Playa Del Carmen is a far cry from its brash neighbour, yet still has accessible hotels and an accessible beach furnished with beach wheelchairs. Even if you can’t swim, there’s adaptive equipment to allow you to go snorkelling to enjoy the coral reef and green turtles. With everything within walking distance, there’s no need for accessible transport. But the main reason for coming here is to visit the nearby and largely wheelchair-accessible Mayan archaeological sites, Chichén Itzá and Tulum, a rare chance for the mobility-impaired to get up close to ancient ruins.
Mayan archaeological sites, Chichén Itzá and Tulum, are wheelchair accessible
For more advice on accessible travel, see http://www.independenttraveler.com.
(Pictures: wisdomandfaith.com, f1destinations.com, ljubljanskigrad.si, manutd.com, cancunaccesible.com)