Sightseeing is an essential part of any holiday for most people, and that goes for wheelchair users like myself or someone like my partner who has a sensory deficit, in his case a visual impairment, just as much as anyone else. Particularly as I am one of those people who is not a fan of sitting on a beach or by a swimming pool. I always get itchy feet and a desire to explore. The good news is that accessible sightseeing need not be difficult and it need not be expensive.
City Sightseeing Bus Tours
One of the first things I do when I am planning a city break is I check out if there is a City Sightseeing Hop on Hop off bus tour. City Sightseeing operates their tours in cities worldwide. Most of the buses they use are all wheelchair accessible with a space for a single wheelchair user. So this means that just like most public transport buses if the wheelchair space is occupied by another wheelchair user, you will have to wait for the next one.
They are a great way to get round a city as they have stops at all the key sights. Now I am aware this may sound sad but I always do the tour twice. I try and do the full route in one go the first time and I decide what I want to see or explore more the second time around. Then I hop off at what I really want to see and do.
One of the great things I love about City Sightseeing tours is that in some cities you can explore not just one route, they have several routes and in some cities you can even do a night tour. My favourite night tour was the one We did in New York, it took us all around Manhattan and Brooklyn and they even took us to a spectacular photo stop to see the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Skyline. You can also buy 48 and 72 hour passes in many cities, which if you are there for a few days is a great way to get around and lets you explore at leisure.
Some museums, art galleries and attractions offer a range of ways for disabled visitors to explore them. For example some of them offer an audio guide or touch tours for visitors who are visually impaired. Some attractions like Guinness Storehouse in Dublin will offer to take disabled visitors on a private tour. Which we found very helpful as they ensured we were able to see and enjoy everything they had to offer and follow the accessible route around the attraction.
Another thing to watch out for is that many attractions and tours offer either a discounted entry or complimentary entry. A good example of this is the La Sagrada Familia Basilica where disabled visitors enjoy a free admission and priority entrance. However attractions will often ask for proof of eligibility, I have almost always found that my disabled bus pass was all I needed. Indeed at the La Sagrada we were amazed to find we were fast tracked and did not have to queue.
In most European cities and many American cities the public transport buses are a cheap and great way to get around. I found this to be particularly true on my last visit to Miami. We were staying in an area called Sunny Isles just north of the main Miami Beach area and caught a bus to Miami Beach and the Art Deco quarter. The bus had an automatic ramp and took us all the way passing some amazing places and cost around $3 each way. It is also a great way to meet local people. We were really lucky in Miami because a local tipped us off about a lovely beachside walk that would lead us to the famous and very glamorous Ocean Drive.
These are just a few examples of how you can enjoy sightseeing on your accessible holiday. As you can see it need not always be expensive. As with anyone, planning your sightseeing ahead is a great idea.