Accessible European Winter City Breaks
In winter, Europe can offer a unique experience when exploring the continent. Perhaps you’re thinking of taking a holiday later in the year to escape the grey skies of Britain, and find some winter sun, or want to go sightseeing in one of Europe’s many beautiful cities, soaking up wintry culture and charm.
When travelling with a disability, things can sometimes be trickier. Is the destination accessible? What do I need when I get there? How do I get around? What insurance can I get / do I need? This guide aims to offer you some inspiration and starting points.
Getting cover for your trip
Travel insurance is a key consideration when leaving the UK. Obtaining appropriate and sufficient cover can be confusing. If you have a disability or a pre-existing medical condition and are embarking on a journey, it’s worth considering an insurance company that’s capable of addressing your specific requirements.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may find it more challenging to find a quote. We’ve teamed up with our partners at AllClear to offer our customers a range of options to make shopping for Travel Insurance easier.
What’s the best way to travel to Europe with a disability?
Taking the Eurostar tunnel can be a great way to travel in comfort. Free assistance is provided for getting to and from the train in all stations. To ensure you get this assistance, Eurostar does recommend pre-booking with more than 24h notice, to arrange support. On the day, you will meet at a set location 60mins before departure.
Wheelchair spaces are available for those with mobility scooters, powerchairs and wheelchairs. If you book a wheelchair space, these carriages are equipped with a ramp. It’s worth noting that wheelchair users are able to opt for a regular seat, if able to walk – ramps may not be available to you if you opt for this.
You can find out more about the available options on the Eurostar website.
If you’re travelling with a carer, you can apply for special ticket options. Some airlines now charge the same for a carer companion, so Eurostar could be a cost effective solution for those who need to take a carer. You must contact Eurostar in advance of booking to discuss this and make the arrangements.
Onward train journeys
Eurostar’s most popular destinations include Paris (and Disneyland!), Amsterdam, Brussels, Rotterdam, and Lille. Don’t fancy these spots? You could consider taking an onward journey. Many of the main Eurostar terminals have nearby access to further trains. It’s worth doing your own research here and considering how you will get from one location to the next.
Flying literally provides a world of destinations. However, it may be off putting to some. Many airports and airlines have a lot of opportunities for assistance. We’ve written a range of guides on flying which can help you to understand what’s right for you:
Best accessible European City Breaks for Winter Travel
Amsterdam’s charm extends to the winter months, as its picturesque canals and historic architecture create a postcard-worthy scene. The city’s commitment to accessibility is evident in its accessible public transportation, museums, and attractions.
Eurostar from London: Approx 2.5h Direct
Flights to Charles-De-Gaulle Airport: available at most UK airports
Transfer from airport by 25m train, 40m by car or taxi to the centre of Paris – more info
Paris in winter can be a charming destination for disabled individuals, offering a mix of accessible attractions and cosy experiences. Many of the city’s iconic sites, such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral, provide accommodations for people with disabilities, including ramps, elevators, and accessible bathrooms.
Exploring the city’s wheelchair-friendly parks like Luxembourg Gardens or taking leisurely strolls along the Seine River while enjoying the festive lights can be delightful. Accessible public transportation, including buses and the metro, facilitates movement throughout the city. Numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops offer plenty of choice.
The holiday markets that pop up around December offer a great experience, with handicrafts, warm drinks, and local treats. Winter also brings fewer crowds, enhancing the overall accessibility of popular sites.
While cobblestone streets might pose a challenge, the city’s overall efforts toward accessibility make it possible for disabled individuals to enjoy the beauty, culture, and warmth of Paris during the winter season. Proper planning, including researching accessible options and contacting attractions in advance, can help ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip.
Barcelona, with its mild winter climate, makes for an excellent accessible winter getaway. The city has made remarkable efforts to improve its accessibility infrastructure, with numerous wheelchair-friendly accommodations, public transportation options, and attractions. Wheelchair users can explore the iconic Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and the historic Barri Gòtic, with well-paved streets and ramps ensuring easy movement. The mild weather allows visitors to enjoy outdoor activities and festive markets, like the Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas market.
Direct Flights available to Vienna International Airport from most UK airports
Transfer from airport by car/taxi 25m – more info
Exploring Vienna by wheelchair during winter offers a unique blend of charm and accessibility. The city takes pride in its well-maintained infrastructure, making it relatively wheelchair-friendly. Start your journey at Schönbrunn Palace, where paved pathways and ramps provide easy access to its stunning gardens and historical interiors. Move on to the Belvedere Palace, known for its art collection and accessible gardens.
The iconic Ringstrasse boulevard offers a smooth route to numerous architectural wonders like the Parliament, City Hall, and Hofburg Palace. Accessible public transportation, including buses and trams with designated spaces for wheelchairs, makes getting around the city efficient.
Don’t miss the magical Christmas markets, such as those at Rathausplatz and Schönbrunn Palace, where you can relish local treats and festive cheer. If you’re a fan of art and history, the Museums Quartier has multiple accessible museums to explore.
With careful planning, Vienna’s wheelchair-friendly features and winter attractions can be enjoyed to the fullest despite the cold and snowy weather.
Embarking on a winter vacation to Berlin while using a wheelchair or other mobility aids requires careful preparation to ensure a comfortable and enriching experience. Researching accessible attractions, accommodations, and transportation options is crucial. The city’s comprehensive public transport system, including buses, trams, and subways, typically offers accessibility features such as ramps and elevators, easing mobility.
Numerous iconic landmarks, like the Reichstag, and Checkpoint Charlie, have accessible entrances. However, winter weather might impact outdoor accessibility, so checking conditions and planning indoor activities can enhance the trip. Berlin’s world-class museums often have adapted facilities and exhibitions, providing engaging indoor options.