“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
Travelling should be something everyone gets to experience in their lifetime. We’ve compiled a list of the destinations most accessible by wheelchair for you to reference when you plan your next vacation.
Tecla makes it easier for people with limited upper body mobility to travel alone, with the ability to quickly make a phone call to your hotel or check Google Maps for directions to your next attraction. However, the accessibility of the public transportation systems, restaurants, hotels and resorts, attractions and general tourist-friendliness are vital in making your vacation a memorable one.
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Not only has Vancouver been consistently ranked among the top five most livable cities in the world, but the ever-improving city prides itself on the reputation as one of the most accessible places for tourists in the world. In 2013, British Columbia officially BANNED doorknobs thanks to a new building code legislation, so you know that local shops and restaurants will have design implementations to fit your needs. Some of the city's most popular attractions such as Stanley Park, Science World, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Aquarium have handicapped parking and are for the most part fully wheelchair accessible.
If you plan to visit Vancouver in the winter, the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program gives people with physical and cognitive disabilities the opportunity to partake in skiing and snowboarding with specialized equipment, therapeutic programming, and alpine ski instruction. They even have a physical and psychological support program available for those who returning to the slopes following an injury.
Bonus transportation service: BC Ferries, one of the largest ferry operators in the world, provides accessible services for those looking to explore BC’s coastal communities, including those on Vancouver Island like Canadian treasure: Victoria, BC.
Singapore has a reputation for not only being the most accessible city in the continent of Asia but also as one of the cities with the most accessible infrastructure in the world. This is largely due to its universal code on barrier-free accessibility which was put in place by the government more than 20 years ago.
One thing to note is that taxis that are accessible to power chairs are not as common. However, the accessibility of the mass rail transit (MRT) and buses for the visually and hearing impaired and those with physical disabilities make them unnecessary. All MRT stations (there are over 100 with more being built) are equipped with barrier-free facilities like ramps, lifts, and wheelchair-accessible toilets. Braille plates are available in station lifts and tactile ground surface indicators were installed to guide those with visual impairments from the entrance to the platform. Visual indications of arrival times and destinations of approaching trains on the Rail Travel Information System (RATIS) are located on platforms to aid those with hearing impairments.
Singapore has tons of tourist attractions that compete as some of the best in the world, most of which are wheelchair accessible. 90% of the pathways in the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari are paved and accessible by wheelchair, and wheelchairs are available to loan at the entrance for free on a first-come-first-serve basis.
This culturally diverse city makes the list for its extensive disability policy that has heavily influenced the adaptation of the city into meeting a highly accessible standard with a barrier-free environment for locals and tourists. Berlin is a good option for travellers who want to see as much of a city as they can because of its modern public transportation system which has buses and trams that are nearly all accessible as well as 77 subway stations equipped with elevator access.
Almost all of the many theatres and museums are wheelchair accessible, as well as many of the restaurants and bars. Whether you rely on a wheelchair to get around or not, a definite perk to a vacation spot is having multiple attractions located within walking distance. Museum Island in Berlin has multiple museums in close proximity to each other which makes it easy anyone to visit them in a single day. These include the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum, and the German History Museum which are all jam-packed with cultural artifacts.
Bonus for young travelers: Berlin has several wheelchair accessible nightclubs where people of all abilities come together to have a fun night.
Travel to one of the oldest civilizations and soak up the Mediterranean sun in Loutraki, Greece. We included this coastal town not far from Athens for the hotel designed exclusively for people with physical disabilities - the Sirens Resort. The units have everything you need from grab bars to roll-in showers and accessible kitchens. They also offer rentable electric beds, shower chairs, hoists and wheelchairs which may eliminate some of the luggage you’d normally bring. Remember to leave your electronic devices like a Tecla in your hotel room before getting your feet wet.
The feature which gives this resort an A+ is its fully accessible beach complete with an innovative ramp that goes directly into the sea. Once out in the water, you can get out of your wheelchair and float, grabbing a nearby floatie. Wheelchair taxis are also on-site and several accessible tours that are run by the resort so you can travel easily to some of the ancient attractions that Greece has to offer.
Bonus feature: the incredible views from the resort’s garden.
Australia is among the top countries which value wheelchair accessibility as a standard, and its most populated city of Sydney is no exception. The Sydney Opera House, as well as the adjacent Royal Botanical Gardens, are completely accessible. The latter has an abundance of Australian native plants and birdlife such as Cockatoos with lots to learn and discover. Want to capture the iconic image of the Opera House and city skyline? Hop on the wheelchair accessible ferry that will take you to the beautiful suburb of Manly Beach where you can loan a beach wheelchair for free from the Surf Life Saving Club.
Bonus attraction: The Sydney Tower which provides a 360 degree view of the city with an observation deck that is fully accessible with windows which are tall and ledges which are low enough for someone in a wheelchair can see out without anything obscuring their view.
Isla Aguada, Mexico
Located along the Gulf of Mexico, we chose Isla Aguada not just for its crystal blue waters and white sandy beaches, but for its completely accessible resort - Freedom Shores. Freedom Shores was founded by a veteran with quadriplegia who was injured in the Vietnam War and designed from the ground up to be fully accessible to people with physical disabilities. Some notable features include roll-in showers and shower chairs in each room as well as escorted wheelchair accessible taxis available for arrivals and local excursions. Once you’re ready for the beach, travel down along a wide promenade right next to the water and head to the accessible boat for a scuba diving adventure fit for everyone.
Bonus Point: the resort has on-site caregivers available to assist guests on request.
Oahu follows the jurisdiction of Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and has an abundance of hotels, restaurants, beaches and excursions with wheelchair access making this lush and historical city a prime vacation spot for people with physical disabilities. The factor that included Oahu in our list was the Turtle Bay resort, a luxurious experience that does not compromise accessibility.
Accessible room features include:
- Door Opener Horn/Strobe Electronic Drapery
- Lanai Door Ramp
- Refrigerator Dresser
- ADA Tub
- Tub Grab Bars
- Roll-In Shower
- Shower Grab Bars Accessibility Seat
- Low Towel Bars
- Low Robe Hooks and Toilet Grab Bars
- Wheelchair Accessible Vanity
- Closet Rod Accessible Door Handles
- Accessible Low T-Stat Audible ADA Type Room
- Physical ADA Type Room
To get from one end of this huge resort to the other, hop on a wheelchair accessible golf cart. Check out this video where the founder of Life Rolls On, Jesse Billauer, experience what the resort has to offer.
We hope your next vacation takes you to one of these accessible spots! Have you been to any of these destinations or have other favourite cities that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
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