If you have mobility issues, travel can be a frustrating experience - yet, it shouldn't have to be. Travel is for everyone, and in this modernising world, thankfully spaces are opening up to wheelchair users all around the world. We've compiled a list of the best destinations for disabled access, for some inspiration for your next hassle-free holiday.
An ageing population in Japan has led to many attractions and ancient sites updating their accessibility in recent years, so much so that today the country is considered one of the more attractive destinations for a wheelchair-friendly holiday. From famous shrines, such as the Todaji Temple in Nara Park, to points of historic interest such as the Gion Geisha district, to many of the viewing points for Mount Fuji, Japan has a lot to offer to wheelchair-using travellers. High-speed rail networks provide an easy way to get around the island, whilst in cities, bus and metro services are often accessible, meaning it's possible to plan a real adventure here.
Accessible travel has been a priority for Spain's national tourism authorities, and as one of the country's top destinations, Barcelona has been keen to make its streets and attractions wheelchair-friendly. Currently, all of the city's buses and a vast majority (80%) of its metro stations are full wheelchair-accessible, and its cobblestone-free Old Town makes getting around the historic part of the city easy. Even Barcelona's beaches provide disabled access, so you can soak up the sea views once you're done exploring the city's famous architecture.
Another historic city on our list, grand Vienna is amongst the easier European cities to explore by wheelchair. A former Habsburg stronghold, the city has mostly done away with its uneven street surfaces and kerbs in favour of a flatter approach, allowing for easy access to the collection of shops and coffee houses in the Austrian capital's centre. Many of the museums and other points of interest are also accessible, including the city's major highlight: Schönbrunn Palace.
The UK capital is rife with attractions - from West End theatre to world-class museums, fabulous restaurants and glorious public spaces that are just perfect for summer relaxation. As a major western capital, it also lives up to the modern expectations for easy access for all, making it one of the top destinations on our list. Attractions including St Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London and even the London Eye offer disabled access, for a hassle-free visit to this bustling city.
5. Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the US's most spectacular national parks, this is the place to go for some of the best mountain views in America. If you love wildlife, come here for the chance to spot elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, cougars, eagles, hawks and countless smaller animals, or simply spend your time admiring the seemingly endless views. Accessible boardwalks and trails make for easy exploration, and the park even has an accessibility brochure to help you plan your trip and navigate the site.
6. Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas! This fun-loving, up-all-night city welcomes travellers of all stripes, and thanks to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), high accessibility standards are ensured by law. So, if you're looking to have a flutter, catch a glitzy show or simply soak up the sights of Sin City, Vegas is the place for you.
Friendly Dublin is a delight, blending its ancient history with modern amenities and accessibility features. Sometimes nicknamed 'the most accessible capital in Europe', the city is committed to wheelchair-accessible tourism, yet has retained is character and charm. Many of the bridges across the Liffey allow free access for wheelchair users, and a number of the best-known attractions and pubs are easily accessible - as is the public transport. For 18th century grandeur, one of the world's oldest universities and incredible beer, Dublin is a great choice for a city break.
Germany's vibrant capital is a delight to explore, with historic landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, countless art galleries and museums, and a wealth of treasured architecture. The majority of attractions here are wheelchair-accessible, with pavements, hotels and public transport rated highly by disabled travellers. Wheelchair-friendly taxis are in short supply, but if you're happy to get around another way, the city is yours to explore.
Australia's cultural hub is a wonder to visit; from the Sydney Opera House, with its distinctive sails, to the blissful harbour it overlooks and the collection of galleries further from the shore, Sydney attracts travellers looking for high-brow entertainment, glorious weather and a chic urban atmosphere. Popular attractions such as the Opera House and the Botanic Gardens are fully wheelchair accessible, so if you're looking for a scenic city holiday with a slice of world-class culture, Sydney is your port of call.
The home of the Bard, Stratford-Upon-Avon is best known for its Shakespearian connections, yet revelling in the theatre is accessible for all. Whilst the older buildings in the area can prove difficult to access, both the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre offer disabled access, with reduced-price fares for both disabled guests and, if necessary, a companion. Book in advance to avoid disappointment - Shakespeare is perhaps more popular now than even in his heyday.