Accessible Berlin : Getting around Berlin with mobility limitations
After looking at the Berlin accessible website I was fairly confident that Berlin was going to be a great city to explore, even with my mobility issues and I wasn’t disappointed.
From stepping off the plane to travelling to the city by public transport, getting to our hotel, and travelling around Berlin City during our visit everything just seemed well thought out to make it easy for people that may have mobility limitations and other disabilities.
Each disability is different and people may have different needs and requirements I can only comment on my personal experience from travelling around Berlin but I do have to say right at the beginning of this article that Berlin is one of Europes most accessible cities I have visited so far.
If you have mobility limitations and are looking for a city to visit, one of my top recommendations will now be Berlin read more about how I found exploring the city during my recent 3 days in Berlin.
If you have read any of my articles before you may be aware that I have mobility limitations but to quickly recap so you can understand where I’m coming from here is why I sometimes have difficulties with mobility when travelling.
I have secondary cancer due to side effects from treatment and some medications that I am on. I suffer from fatigue, joint pain, cramps all of which make it difficult for me to walk long distances.
I do still however want to travel as much as I can so I try and find ways to make my travelling experience the easiest possible so I do not waste energy. Little factors like having a bench to sit on, not having to queue for long amounts of time and using lifts instead of stairs make my experience better.
I spent 3 days in Berlin, I travelled from London alone meeting a friend once I got there to explore the city together.
I was working with Visit Berlin and they chose the hotel that we stayed at and I have to say it is one of the best hotels for accessibility that I have stayed at and if you do have any accessibility needs then I would highly recommend staying at the Hotel Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz.
How accessible is Tegel Airport
There are two airports in Berlin. I was meeting a friend who was travelling from a different airport in the UK and this was the best airport for us to travel to in order to arrive at similar times.
I have to say that I found Tegel airport quite accessible. One of the first things I noticed was that the airport did not seem overly big therefore you did not have to walk far to get to different parts of the airport.
For example when I got off the plane we had a bus take us to the terminal building the passport control was straight inside the door, the queues were moving quickly so I did not have to stand for long which is where I begin to struggle.
Once through passport control I was at the luggage belt where I had arranged to meet my friend when she arrived. I was able to sit whilst I waited for my friend who arrived a few minutes after me.
Whilst she was waiting for her lugguage (I had carry on only) I went to the toilet which wasn’t a long walk and didn’t have any queues. We then had a short walk to get through customs where we saw signposts for taxis buses car hire etc
Visit Berlin had organised for us to have a Berlin Welcome card which we need to collect from the main tourist information desk, it was in a different building but was not a long walk.
To be honest we did walk straight past it at first but asked someone for directions and realised we were too busy chatting and totally missed the desk, not sure how as it is bright red and easy to spot.
Once we had collected our Berlin Welcome Card we then stepped outside the building and this is where the buses were that we needed to get to the city centre. We had already Googled which buses we needed to get and these were easy to find and the people at the Berlin card desk had already explained to us how to activate our tickets.
The Berlin Welcome Card is really easy to use and once it is activated at one of the machines near the bus stops that’s all you need to do. I’ll explain more about the card in this article. We didn’t have to wait long for the bus, it was not overly crowded and we managed to get a seat.
We then had to get a metro to the hotel this sounds like a lot of hassle but it was all really easy even with me carrying my backpack. The public transport in Berlin if some of the best I have used on my travels.
How accessible is Berlin
I kept reading that the western part of the city is more access-friendly than East Berlin but to be honest I couldn’t get my bearings and didn’t know if I was travelling in the west or the east as I didn’t really notice the divide which I guess is great now as it is one integrated city.
Not all the attractions in Berlin are accessible so it is worth checking the websites if you have certain requirements when travelling. I personally have mobility limitations that can vary on a daily basis. I don’t require a wheelchair but sometimes use a walking stick and being able to sit and rest is important.
I cannot comment about how easy the cities to navigating a wheelchair as I do not require one but here are some articles that you might find helpful
How accessible public transport in Berlin
The metro system is a great way of getting around Berlin some of the trains can get busy and they do have seats allocated for people with disabilities but my limitations are not very visible sometimes it can be hard to get a seat.
I do find that if I travel with my walking stick people are more aware that I have issues. I have to admit I didn’t see anybody in a wheelchair use the Metro.
I did find the metro really easy to use. Some of the stations that we visited did have stairs but they tended to be only one or two flights and didn’t seem as complicated to navigate such as the London Underground where you have to go up and down different flights of stairs to get to the relevant platform.
I also noticed that some platforms did have lifts and some of them had escalators. On the platforms there were seats but we never really had to wait that long for a train as they are very frequent.
I didn’t use taxes as the public transport is so great in Berlin but I did notice them at major tourist attractions and throughout the city.
There were scooters that you could hire, a local told us that these had only just come to the city and they looked popular we saw a lot of people using them. I was a little wary of using them as you had to go on the roads and they looked a little bit too busy for me but a fun way to get around Berlin.
I also saw a lot of people using bikes to get around the city, I can’t ride a bike so didn’t even consider this an option but again it shows that Berlin has so many ways of exploring the city.
Walking in Berlin
Even though I have mobility limitations I do sometimes enjoy strolling around a city and I found Berlin quite easy to walk around. It is large and getting from some points is easier by bus or metro but actually walking around the city is nice as it is flat.
There are lots of benches and walls to sit on and have a little rest. There are also lots of cafes which I didn’t mind stopping in to have a little rest and a cup of tea and watch people go by, as plenty had outside seating and the prices were not astronomical (see more in my food and drink section of Berlin travel guide)
Berlin is a well paved city meaning that it is easy to walk around I wasn’t falling down any uneven kerbs and I should imagine that they should make it easy to navigate if you are in a wheelchair. I find it difficult to do high curbs and I didn’t really notice any. The footpaths are wide and even though it is a historical city there are not many cobble streets which can be difficult to walk on with mobility issues.
It was also easy to cross roads but I did notice that road crossings did not stay red for very long so you have to be able to walk quite fast to get across the road in time.
If you do feel that you may require assistance while you’re travelling in Berlin it may be a good idea to check out the Visit Berlin website as this has contact details for you to request some free assistance while you are in the city. I was travelling this time with a companion but if I was travelling on my own and felt I needed a little bit extra support this is always good to know.
It seems that the tourist board have spent a lot of time considering the accessibility needs of as many people as possible making this a easy city to travel if you have mobility, visual, hearing or any other special type of requirements. Read more about disabled travel in Berlin Here.
There is a free visit Berlin accessible app and their website has some cool tips for travelling with accessible needs.
After travelling around Paris a couple of weeks before with my mum who has more complicated mobility needs than myself and had a few difficulties getting around Paris I am so impressed with Berlin as it seems to be quite advanced in meeting the needs of people with accessible requirements.
You can even hire a mobility scooter to help you get around Berlin. One of the things I loved about the Hotel that I stayed at in the city was they had a free mobility scooter and wheelchairs that you could use and I have not encountered this before on my travels.
Accessible things to do in Berlin
There are so many accessible things to do in Berlin mainly because a lot of the attractions are outside so you don’t have to contemplate building access. This is a great website to find out more about accessible information in Berlin.
One of the things I did love about Berlin was the amount of green outdoor space. We went into two parks and they were flat and had good paths to get around.
The Hop on Bus is a great way to see the city, I love bus tours as I don’t have to get off if I am not feeling up to it but I still get to see the city. I did however hop off quite a bit during this tour as I wanted to see as much of Berlin as I could in the short space of time. Luckily I was having a good few days and was able to get around.
You can read my full review here on the bus tour that I did here. However there are a number of different hop on bus tours you can choose from.
A great place to explore in Berlin and something you should not miss is Check Point Charlie and The Berlin Wall both of which I found easy to navigate.
Alexanderplatz is great place to explore at night with it’s street artists and to listen to some musicians. It is a central transport hub so it is bustling in the day and night. At Christmas this is where the Christmas markets are. It is an easy accessible area making it a great place for people with disabilities and wheelchairs to visit.
One of the other things I find important when travelling is access to toilets, when I need to go I need to go and Berlin was great. I didn’t notice many public toilets but there were plenty of cafes and coffee shops and for the price of a cup of tea I was able to use the toilet.
It is interesting to know that since 2006 all newly opened restaurants in Berlin must have a barrier free entrance and accessible restrooms.
Accessible hotels in Berlin
If you require wheelchair accessible hotels then this is a useful link. If you are looking for a hotel in a great location then I would recommend the Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Hotel where I stayed in Berlin. I didn’t see the accessible rooms but what I did encounter was such high quality you can read my full review here.
The Novotel Berlin Am Tiergarten offers, for example, step-free access, accessible showers, corridors and elevators as well as a total of 27 wheelchair accessible rooms. The hotel’s own car park has three dedicated parking spaces for visitors with disabilities and near the reception wheelchair users can communicate with staff “at eye level” (information provided by VisitBerlin)
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