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The World Is Yours

The Americans With Disabilities Act requires cities, institutions, and businesses to make their facilities accessible to everyone. That includes public transit such as buses and subways; infrastructure including sidewalks, stairways, and elevators; and hotels, restaurants, schools, stores, movie theaters, museums, and so on. Although the ADA has been in effect since 1990 and was amended in 2009, there are still many places and spaces across the country that aren’t in full compliance — and some places globally that have no such law — making travel potentially difficult. Some top destinations are more accessible than others.

We started with the same resources you would: looking to travel experts such as WheelchairTravel, Curb Free with Cory Lee, Wheelchair Traveling, Scootaround, and others who've done the hard (and hopefully rewarding) work of testing accessibility firsthand. Anyone who uses a wheelchair — or traveling with someone who does — would do well to dig into those expert sites before heading off on a trip, hopefully with confirmation that more than a few of the world's biggest travel destinations have taken measures to be friendly to tourists on wheels.

Editor's note: This story has been revised since publication.


Washington, D.C.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was called "perhaps the most-accessible public transportation system in the world" some years back by Our Traveling Blog. The broad sidewalks downtown make it more wheelchair-friendly than most cities its size. Combine that with the Metro (which has elevators at every stop), van transport when elevators break down, kneeling buses, and a mandate to make 100 percent of taxis wheelchair-accessible, and D.C. leads by example. In the nation's capital, most every attraction you can think of makes it easy for wheelchairs and strollers to get through.

RTD Denver


Don't let the Mile-High City moniker or the mountains fool you: Public transportation makes this place easy to navigate in a wheelchair. Yes, Denver can get cold and snowy, but its public transportation system goes to great lengths to be fully accessible. Trains and light rail have ramps and priority seating. The Access-a-Ride paratransit service requires one to three days' notice but is available in dusk-to-dawn and dawn-to-dusk shifts, goes anywhere within a three-quarter-mile radius of standard transit, and is available to out-of-town visitors.

wheelchair space in London Underground transit car by Martin Belam (CC BY)


The London Underground, the lower decks of its buses, and even the Black Taxi Cabs — each of which has a ramp, high door openings, and extra room inside for wheelchairs — make London one of the most accessible cities in the world. Buckingham Palace offers step-free access through a private front entrance, and the Royal Mews are completely level. Attractions such as the Tate galleries and British Museum are similarly accessible, and the cars on the London Eye Ferris wheel are step-free.


Las Vegas

The shows and casinos on the Vegas Strip (and even the zip lines) are wheelchair-accessible. The city is flat, the sidewalks are broad, and the rain is minimal. There is a sprawling paratransit system, which is open to wheelchair users from other places, and fares for people in wheelchairs on buses are $1. Even the monorail is wheelchair-accessible. As for strollers, don't worry: That family-friendly stint during the '90s means there are plenty of accessible attractions such as various malls, the Bellagio fountain, the Neon Museum, Fremont Street, and Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.

wheelchair user waits to board Rapid Ride bus by Seattle Department of Transportation (CC BY)


Despite Seattle's hilly nature, WheelchairTravel ranked the city No. 1 among its most wheelchair-accessible cities a few years ago, thanks to wheel-friendly ferries and taxis with ramps. The mild weather and high safety rating help, but the bus system has been fully accessible for more than 20 years, and Sound Transit light rail is wheelchair-accessible as well. Major tourist attractions including the Space Needle, zoo, and aquarium are wheelchair-friendly too.


Oslo, Norway

Bordering Sweden, this city makes great effort to attract visitors who use wheelchairs and walkers. Although most of the city is flat, with well-kept sidewalks and curb cuts, attractions such as the Royal Palace are often on grades. (You can get a great look at the Oslofjord from wheelchair-accessible sites such as the Oslo Opera House and Akershus Fortress.) The Nobel Peace Center, Viking Ship Museum, Fram Museum, National Theater, and Kon-Tiki museum are similarly accessible, and all reachable by trains and buses.


Los Angeles

Los Angeles doesn't mess around. All buses are built for wheelchair access, all rail stations have ramps or elevators, and all wheelchair-using passengers pay less than half price. The Metro also tweets to let riders know if their local stop's elevator is down. The Consolidated Transportation Services Agency has a free fare program and a seven-day-a-week rideshare program. Also, almost all the area's major attractions are wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.


Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Riviera Maya — the touristy area south of Cancun, with its Playa del Carmen resort town — has a slew of accessible beaches, some shopping and dining districts that can offer an occasionally frustrating lack of curb cuts or step up into a business, swimming with dolphins, and one huge draw, according Wheelchair Traveling: access to ancient Mayan ruins with the tour company Cancun Accesible.


Tenerife, Spain

The largest of Spain's Canary Islands seems to specialize in going the extra mile to provide access, Handiscover reports. Las Vistas beach has a wide promenade and floating wheelchairs, Teide National Park offers the Roque de Caramujo Path, and there are enjoyable excursions to check out to the third-largest volcano in the world — not to mention hiking in all-terrain chairs. Even better, “you are almost guaranteed sunshine any time of year,” according to Travel Breathe Repeat.


Portland, Oregon

Reduced fares for people with disabilities limit the cost of public transit to $28 a month. Those who can't take wheelchair-accessible light rail, buses, or streetcars can apply their fare to the LIFT transport service. Bus, train, and streetcar stations are all built with access in mind, while the city itself is relatively flat in most areas.



Shanghai boasts a few dozen London-style taxis with wheelchair ramps, "which means those with heavy duty power wheelchairs will find the taxi to be a very tight squeeze," according to WheelchairTravel. The city's maglev train is accessible with some planning and the subway system has elevators, although they can be hard to find on the street. (Buses are not accessible.) Sidewalks are broad and easily rollable. The Shanghai Museum, Jin Mao Tower, People's Square and Park, Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, and Oriental Pearl TV Tower are all wheelchair- and walker-accessible.



There's been a lot of investment in making Berlin as inclusive as possible, and easily rollable sidewalks with plenty of curb cuts certainly help. U-Bahn and S-Bahn subway trains accommodate wheelchairs and walkers easily, but there are some stations where this is still an issue. Berlin's buses, tram, and commuter rail are all generally accessible — which is good, because wheelchair taxis are nearly nonexistent. The Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, the Berlin Wall memorial, the Holocaust memorial, and all of Berlin's museums offer easy access.



Don't listen to the locals complaining about the T: It runs better than the New York City subway, and above- and below-ground trains have good wheelchair access. In fact, a lawsuit against New York City pointed out that the huge majority of T stations in this tourist-friendly city are wheelchair-accessible. That's getting even better, with 90 percent of stations friendly to those with wheelchairs and the T updating platforms and elevators wherever possible in recent years. The Freedom Trail is one of the most wheel-friendly attractions in the country, while the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Museum of Fine Art, the Esplanade, and the Public Garden and Boston Common are all easy to navigate with wheelchairs and strollers.


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This capital city is considered one of the most accessible in Southeast Asia by WheelchairTravel. That's saying something about the rest of the region, as sidewalks are narrow, curb cuts are hit or miss, and wheelchair taxis are rare. But light rail, commuter rail, and hop-on, hop-off buses all have either flat entryways or available ramps. With many of the biggest attractions built in the past few decades, sites such as Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur Tower, KL City Center, Aquaria, and Merdeka Square are easily accessible. Even older sites such as the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, St. Mary's Cathedral, and Little India street market are surprisingly simple to navigate.


Barcelona, Spain

As a Mediterranean port, Barcelona brings in a whole lot of cruises, and ramps, elevators, and level walkways help accommodate the passengers. This is one of the most accessible cities in Europe, with 100 percent accessible buses and subways and wide sidewalks flanking even the most treacherous cobblestone streets. A rolling tour of medieval sites including Barcelona Cathedral, built more than 500 years ago, and the Santa Maria del Mar church, erected in the 14th century, is fairly simple, while Parc Guell, La Sagrada Familia, and some of Antoni Gaudí's other creations can be either explored or seen from accessible routes. Sant Jaume Square, Las Ramblas boulevard, the former Royal Palace, and all the outdoor cafes in between are also wheel-friendly stops, especially for those looking to park and take in paella, bombas, and other Spanish cuisine.

Page Light Studios/istockphoto


Nothing about lake-effect snow seems particularly wheelchair-friendly, but we're talking about public transportation. The buses are generally as accessible as tourist attractions including Sears Tower and Wrigley Field, although WheelchairTravel notes that Chicago could certainly invest more into improving train access. While the Chicago Transit Authority's system is about 70 percent accessible, it's trying to reach a D.C.-like 100 percent by 2036.

Imre Cikajlo/istockphoto


The capital of Belgium and the European Union is still heavily cobblestoned and steep, which can make it daunting for visitors who use wheelchairs and walkers. But the city has some accessible hotel rooms and taxis — about one in 10 has a wheelchair ramp. Only about half of city subway stops are wheelchair-accessible, and the trains themselves are often a few inches above their platforms, but all buses and international trains at Gare du Midi have wheelchair access. While the cobbles of Grand Place make it tough to get around, destinations such as the EU Parliament, the Fin-de-Siècle Museum, the Magritte Museum, the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and the Musical Instruments Museum are all accessible.


Richmond, Virginia

Only about 30 percent of the city was within reach of public transit in 2011, but that's changing quickly: Richmond's high-frequency bus rapid transit system launched last year along more than a dozen stops. Passengers using wheelchairs pay 75 cents per ride, and have access to a fleet that's now 100 percent wheelchair-friendly. Buses run late into the night, and there's a fleet of 80 vehicles dedicated solely to curb-to-curb paratransit. That makes it easy to get to wheel-friendly destinations such as the Kings Dominion theme park, Maymont Victorian estate, the canal walk, and the Edgar Allan Poe museum.


Bucharest, Romania

The Romanian capital and former Soviet bloc city has been improving wheeled access steadily since the fall of Communism in 1989. The Cismigiu Gardens, Arcul de Triumf, Herăstrău Park, the National Museums of Art and History, the Palace of Parliament, and the Village Museum are now wheelchair- and walker-accessible. City buses and trolleys are largely accessible, and much of the subway has wheelchair access and flat platform-to-train connections, though gaps in between could prove problematic for powered wheelchairs. While WheelchairTravel gives the public transit and hotels high scores and the attractions a moderate score, taxis and sidewalks score on the low end.

Albuquerque, New Mexico by Jyaroch (CC BY)

Albuquerque, New Mexico

A fairly flat city to begin with, Albuquerque also has one of the most accessible transit systems in the country. All its buses are wheelchair-friendly, and the Sun Van curb-to-curb service takes up the slack for those who can't ride the bus. Fares for people in wheelchairs are roughly a third of the normal fare, and all NM Rail Runner express train stations are wheelchair-accessible. Nob Hill, the Balloon Fiesta, and most attractions are accessible by wheelchair. Don't bother looking for an accessible taxicab, though. A rental van is, unfortunately, the best way to drive around this city.


Seoul, Korea

This city gets high marks for its buses and subways built for wheeled access, and for broad sidewalks and shop entrances that are among the most wheelchair- and walker-friendly in the world. The Myeong-dong shopping district, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Namsan Cable Car, Seoul Tower, various museums, and the World Cup soccer stadium are all welcoming to visitors using wheelchairs and walkers, with some offering as much as 30 percent off the ticket price to those wheeling their way in.

National Park Service

San Francisco

When New York was sued for its lack of access, the suit noted that all of San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit stations were wheelchair-accessible. Caltrain is similarly accessible, as are Muni buses and trains. The same applies to San Francisco Bay ferries. While nearby Berkeley has free wheelchair repair, drivers in San Francisco are trained to belt chairs into place before traversing the city's steeper streets, and many of the city's most popular destinations, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, and Alcatraz, are wheelchair-friendly.



This British territory bordering Spain may look like an unforgiving rock, but it's a surprisingly accessible tourist hot spot. Sure, elevation makes things tricky elsewhere, but the city center is made up of wide sidewalks and gentle curb cuts. With a large part of its economy built on tourism, Gibraltar has made destinations such as Europa Point, the Rock of Gibraltar, Siege Tunnels, World War II tunnels, Trafalgar Cemetery, Casemates Square, and even the beaches wheelchair- and walker-accessible.


Orlando, Florida

It's the vacation capital of the world, and every tourist attraction in this town is wheelchair-accessible, from the Disney and Universal parks to Legoland and SeaWorld. The Lynx bus system, which keeps late hours and runs year-round, charges half-price fares for riders in wheelchairs while offering curb-to-curb access paratransit service.



The airport train, hop-on, hop-off buses, and city buses are largely accessible; trams and the subway aren't quite as friendly. Though Russian winters and stairs to pedestrian tunnels under busy streets can be obstacles, most sidewalks are broad and simple to navigate. There are lots of Western hotels with roll-in showers, but the sheer age of sites such as the Kremlin, Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, and the Pushkin Museum make them far less accessible than similar tourist draws around the world. Instead, go to a ballet at the wheelchair-accessible Bolshoi or spend some rubles at the GUM Shopping Center.



Attractions such as the Constitution Center, Museum of the American Revolution, Franklin Institute, Liberty Bell, and even the art museum (the Rocky steps aren't the only way in) are wheelchair- and stroller-friendly. The hotels do a fine job as well. Philly's transit has access but has work to do: Roughly 70 percent of the buses and trains are wheelchair-accessible, and much of that improvement has come in recent years. While SEPTA's bus system is 100 percent accessible, passengers have lobbied for improvement at train stations, especially for regional rail. The PATCO rail line fares only slightly better, but the city is still loaded with accessible options.



There's little accessible public transportation to speak of, and the sidewalks are basically impossible to navigate in a wheelchair or walker, but those aren't the only ways to see Cairo. The city's London-style black cabs have wheelchair ramps and are affordable. While you can't see all the excavation, the pyramids of Giza have remarkable access, as do Al-Azhar Park, the first floor of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo Tower, and the Cairo Citadel.

WSB Service


Covering more than 97 percent of the city, Honolulu's bus system is exceptional. Fares for those with wheelchairs are about a third of the standard adult fare, and all buses are wheelchair-accessible. If the buses themselves prove difficult, the city's paratransit service covers a whole lot of ground. Honolulu's beaches have all-terrain wheelchairs on hand, while attractions such as Pearl Harbor and the royal palace are also wheelchair-friendly (even if Diamond Head is not).



The street food, the zoo, and even Raffles, home of the Singapore Sling, are wheelchair- and walker-accessible, thanks to mandated barrier-free accessibility that's been built into code for more than 20 years. A fully accessible rail system and buses — combined with sidewalks replete with curb cuts and stepless building entry — make Singapore and its myriad malls easy to navigate.

R.M. Nunes/istockphoto


There's one group in particular that's making Montreal accessible: Quebec-based Kéroul. The organization helps those using wheelchairs and walkers — as well as those who need visual and hearing assistance — find accessible tourist facilities in the province. The nearly 290 establishments in Montreal with full access include museums, the Biosphere, the Canadiens' home at Bell Centre, theaters, churches, and more. It also offers Tourist and Leisure Companion Stickers that provide free entrance to attractions for those accompanying people using wheelchairs or walkers.



Indianapolis' transit system hasn't been all that helpful to wheelchairs and strollers, mostly because its 32 bus routes are strong east and west of downtown, but not necessarily north and south of it. That is changing quickly. Bus rapid transit is coming in, more routes are being added, hours are being extended, bus frequency is picking up, and overall service is increasing by 70 percent. That puts access on par with attractions such as the Indianapolis Children's Museum, the Canal Walk, the World War Memorial, the NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.



The Bavarian city is among the most accessible in Germany. Sidewalks are wide and flat, and have a whole lot of curb cuts and crossing signals. All subway trains, commuter trains, trams, and buses are designed for wheelchair and walker access, and there are numerous wheelchair taxi services to choose from. The BMW Museum, Deutsches Museum, Marienplatz, Munich Stadtmuseum, Olympia Park, Olympic Tower, and the Dachau Concentration Camp sites are all wheelchair- and walker-accessible, offering ramps and push-button doors for ease of passage.



Atlanta has gone through a renaissance within the past 20 years, which means many of its most popular attractions have been designed with access and the Americans with Disabilities Act in mind. The World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park, the SkyView Ferris Wheel, and CNN Center are all wheelchair- and stroller-accessible, as are all its buses and the MARTA subway system.


Cape Town, South Africa

Wheelchair taxi service here isn't the best, but city buses and trains (including hop-on, hop-off buses) have far better access for walkers and wheelchairs. Flat terrain, wide sidewalks and tons of curb cuts and sidewalk ramps make this one of the easiest cities to maneuver in Africa. A cable car to Table Mountain, the Cape Wheel observation wheel, the District Six museum, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), Signal Hill, and various parks and gardens are also fairly easy to navigate.



Downtown Dallas, the Sixth Floor Museum, the observation deck at Reunion Tower, the Farmers Market, the Deep Ellum neighborhood, and most of the city's museums are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. The city bus, tram, and light rail systems are all built for easy rolling, and the city's hotels are largely accessible. The sidewalks are ... well ... improving. And it doesn't help that the ADA taxis have been "contracted out to the city's paratransit service," WheelchairTravel says.



Bustling Bangkok is unsurprisingly treacherous for those who traverse the sidewalks and roadways with wheelchairs and walkers. But there are wheelchair-accessible stops on the BTS Skytrain and more robust wheelchair access on the subway and airport rail. Wheelchair-friendly taxis are available, but should be reserved in advance, and Western hotels have roll-in showers. Bangkok's parks, Baiyoke Tower viewing deck, Wat Traimit Temple and golden Buddha, and Grand Palace grounds are all accessible, but may require a cab ride.



There are hills, but the light rail, buses, and funicular are all accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, like the city's stadiums and arenas and attractions such as the Andy Warhol Museum, Mount Washington, Point State Park and the Carnegie museums.



Portions of the Great Wall of China are completely wheelchair-accessible, which makes up somewhat for hit-or-miss subway access and a surprising dearth of wheelchair-accessible taxis. Buses are all equipped with ramps, though, as is Beijing's Forbidden City. WheelchairTravel warns that many Beijing hotels still don't have wheel-in showers, so do some digging in advance.


New Orleans

It's a bit old and uneven, but lively, charming New Orleans has a city bus system serving all parts of the city that is fully accessible. The street car system's red cars, which operate on the Canal Street and Riverfront, have motorized wheelchair lifts and securement areas, but steer clear of the Green Line. While many of the upper-floor attractions on Bourbon Street aren't accessible, Bourbon Street itself, Cafe du Monde, Jackson Square, Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, City Park, Harrah's New Orleans Hotel & Casino, the jazz clubs of Frenchmen Street, Armstrong Park, and the city's cemeteries are all largely accessible.


Hong Kong

Though the Victoria Peak and on-street trams aren't built to handle wheelchairs or walkers, the city's subways, buses, and airport express trains are. Wheelchair taxis are available (but need to be reserved), and the sidewalks are surprisingly navigable, given the city's density. Most importantly, tourist attractions such as Victoria Peak (which doesn't require a tram ride), the Victoria Harbor ferry, the Symphony of Lights, Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car (though not the giant Buddha at its end), and the Temple Street all accommodate chairs and walkers.


Salt Lake City

About 90 percent of Salt Lake City falls within the city's transit corridor. There is an expanding web of bus lines, TRAX light rail, commuter trains and streetcars within the Utah Transit Authority, and all are wheelchair-accessible. There may be an older commuter rail car here or there that is an issue, but they won't keep people who use wheelchairs off transit altogether. Buses are also fully accessible, though there is an extensive paratransit system that offers curb-to-curb and door-to-door service. Salt Lake City wants people to know that the large majority of attractions within the city are accessible by wheelchair and stroller-friendly, and that national parks, state parks, and public lands have adaptable options to help people in wheelchairs explore them.



Fortunately, big draws such as Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, the Astronomical Clock, the National Museum, and even the hilltop Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral have significant wheelchair and walker access. The flatter parts of the city are easy to navigate, and the completely accessible bus system can navigate the tougher stretches. The Prague subway and tram are a bit more efficient, but finding accessible Metro stations and tram cars can be tricky. When all else fails, there are wheelchair-accessible taxis sponsored by the government.


Melbourne, Australia

The Disabled Surfers Association of Australia can help people in wheelchairs surf the southern coast, but attractions such as the Eureka Skydeck, hot air balloon rides, safari tours, and more are all wheelchair-accessible. Even better, Melbourne's beaches have a lot of access points in place to help people in chairs or struggling stroller-pushing parents get onto the beaches and watch the waves roll in.


Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Flat and flashy, that’s the new Dubai for you, with accessible hotels (including the iconic, sail-shaped, five-star Burj Al Arab); metro, tram, and buses, though accessible taxi vans have to be reserved; and attractions such as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and Dubai Mall, which is inside. Even the Dubai Grand Mosque and Al Fahidi Fort will seem doable in a reliable powered chair, according to WheelchairTravel. But not too far from the most modern parts of the city, including in the Old Souk, getting around can be frustrating, Wheelchair Traveling warns.



Sydney takes its work on accessibility seriously, which is evident from its accessibility map, but hasn’t perfected its transit — trains are accessible, but all train stations are not, for instance, just like all ferries are accessible, but some wharves are restricted by stairs. The city’s accessible attractions are many, though, including Taronga Zoo, Manly Beach, and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Wheelchair Traveling has a comprehensive rundown.



Whether you're going to Alaska, Russia, Israel, the Mediterranean, or the Caribbean, Curb Free with Cory Lee notes that cruise lines have updated their ships and added more access from the rooms all the way to the pools.


Ljubljana, Slovenia

The Slovenian city is the right size and so friendly to chairs that New Mobility magazine calls it “The Accessible Capital.” (There’s even a Ljubljana by Wheelchair app.) The experts say not to be put off by the cobblestones, and that even the most unlikely attractions are probably doable: Not only is the funicular to towering Ljubljana Castle accessible, but New Mobility quotes a tourist who called it “my biggest accessibility surprise by far in Slovenia … How many castles have accessible bathrooms?”



Snow's no problem from April through October in Vienna, a wheelchair-friendly, mostly flat city with accessible public transit systems, attractions, restaurants, stores, and hotels. The outdoor cafes are a welcome break around the flat Stephansplatz pedestrian area with plenty of level-entry cathedrals and monuments, not to mention restaurants and touristy souvenir shops. The Spanish Riding School and its Lipizzaner stallions are accessible, as are attractions including the Belvedere Palace and Albertina art museum.


Bridgetown, Barbados

The Eastern Caribbean isn't particularly accommodating to wheelchairs, but the 2012 Fully Accessible Barbados initiative is changing that by offering incentives to investors who wish to build or refurbish a property for tourism. Some hotels and resorts in or near Bridgetown have taken advantage, some even providing water-friendly wheelchairs; Bathsheba and other beaches are good examples of accessibility, along with Harrison Cave and some churches. But remember that Rolling Without Limits (seconded by Curb Free with Cory Lee) says some access is possible only because of helpful locals.


Phnom Penh, Cambodia

For those who truly want to see this Cambodian capital: It's possible, though not a breeze. Although Phnom Penh has the highest number of amputees per capita of any city in the world, and the travel industry has an interest in better infrastructure, sidewalks and public transit are a rarity in this still-developing city. So, how do you get to the Tuol Sleng Cambodian Genocide Museum, National Museum, Olympic Stadium, wildlife rescue center, or even a KFC? Wheelchair-accessible tuk-tuks, complete with ramps. But there are only seven of them, so "a trip to Phnom Penh is not for the faint of heart," according to WheelchairTravel. "You'll still have a great time if you arrive with the appropriate expectations."