Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities. Despite the fact that there are some areas of the city that are cobbled and some of the historic houses are not not accessible if you are in a wheelchair, there is still much for the disabled traveler to see and do.
One big advantage of Amsterdam for anyone in a wheelchair is that like everywhere in Holland is that it is flat.
The Cycle Lane Network and Cycle Hire
One of the things that the Dutch are world famous for apart from their windmills is their love of bikes and Amsterdam has one of the most extensive bike lane networks in Europe. The network is available to not just cyclists, but as I discovered is welcoming to those of us who are in wheelchairs, powerchairs and mobility scooters. I had great fun trying them out and found they are a great way to see the city and get to know the locals. Indeed it was a local cyclist who suggested I try them.
You can however hire an accessible bike from Starbikes Cycle Hire who hire out bikes that are specially adapted for disabled people. There bikes cost between €20 – €45 a day. They even have a very nice cafe!
I am a big fan of the City Sightseeing Hop Hop Off Bus Tours. They are a great way to get to know the city. The buses are wheelchair accessible and have one wheelchair space downstairs. There is a running commentary as you go around, on some of the buses there is a live tour guide giving the commentary instead of a recorded on. My hot tip is to do the full circuit the first time round and decide on where you really want to see or visit then hop on and off on the the subsequent circuits. If you want to avoid the queues you can buy the tickets in advance.
The buses run regularly through the day and visit or stop near all the major attractions. However make sure you know what time the last bus is.
Amsterdam is a city that has always been famous for it’s Art Galleries. the most famous of which is the Rijksmuseum. The museum houses what are arguably the best collections of Rembrandt paintings and Dutch Old Masters.
The museum is very welcoming to Disabled Visitors. All the galleries are wheelchair accessible and there are lifts between floors. The museum has a wonderful range of accessible tours for disabled visitors. For example they do a tour for hearing impaired visitors in International Sign Language. The tour takes place every Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and lasts for an hour and a half and costs €30 pp in addition to the admission cost. The museum also does touch tours for visually impaired visitors and Dementia Friendly and Autism Friendly tours. These accessible tours have to be booked less than 14 days in advance. The museum is Assistance Dog friendly.
The other internationally famous art museum in Amsterdam is an outpost of the Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg. This museum displays works from the parent museum’s collection. All the rooms are wheelchair accessible however the entrance is a short distance from the road and you cannot be dropped or picked up right outside.
There is so much to see in Amsterdam and it can be exhausting, so a trip to Vondelpark can be a real tonic. The park was the brainchild of wealthy businessmen and prominent citizens who wanted somewhere to escape the pressures of life in the 1860s. They bought the land that the park now stands on. Today it is the most popular park in Amsterdam. There are some beautiful gardens, beautiful Routes to explore and some very good places to eat. However if you are easily offended or shocked then a visit to the park at night is not to be advised as it is legal to have sex in the park after dark.
The Royal Palace
The Dutch like the British are fascinated by their Royal Family. So one of the most popular attractions is the Royal Palace. The palace is not the residence of the Dutch King but is the Reception Palace for state visits. The Dutch King’s residence is in The Hague, which is the official capital of the country. The Royal Palace in Amsterdam is as you would expect of a Royal Palace dripping of chandeliers, wonderful artworks on the walls and finest textiles. The Palace is open most of the year and is accessible to disabled visitors. Wheelchair users are able to use the lifts to access the different floors and there is a free guide book to help hearing impaired visitors. Disabled visitors with assistance dogs are welcome to take their dogs around the palace with them.
Amsterdam is a city of canals and one of the best ways to really appreciate the beauty and the architecture of the city is by boat. The best company offering boat tours is the Blue Boat company. Their cruises are wheelchair and power chair accessible, however they cannot accommodate mobility scooters. They operate a city cruise that takes about 90 minutes. However they also operate an evening cruise and for something a little different they also do kids cruises, a Burgers and Dogs Cruise and even a Drag Bingo cruise too! Life is never dull in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam really does have a lot to offer the disabled visitor and a visit to the city will never be boring. There is so much to see and do that this article is just a taster. I hope you have found the article helpful and inspiring. I would love to hear your views and your suggestions of places to go.