Tourism Abroad - Disabled Accessibility

Berlin, Germany June 2011

The Airline and the Airport

Flying out, Easyjet had no priority seating for the disabled with a lengthy queue of passengers to the tunnel. On boarding, I had to walk to the end of the plane as nearly all the seats were used up.

At Schonefeld Airport, steps were to be taken and then walking into the terminal. The route taken was all steps, and could not see a wheelchair getting through at all. However, there could be an alternative route as I noticed a disabled toilet in the airport on my return.

At The Hotel

The Holiday Inn Express was the best European hotel I have stayed in based on disabled access. This three star hotel is completely flat to enter with electric doors sliding open and has a spacious reception area. The staff speak fluent English and are happy to help all your needs. There are two lifts which access all the six floors and have Braille on the buttons too.

The hotel has rooms adapted for wheelchair users and there is also a disabled toilet on the ground floor. Breakfast can be busy at times and most tables are full. This may be difficult for wheelchair users to find a table as generally the easy-to-reach tables were all used up.

Getting Around

The city of Berlin is very spread out over a vast area. Pavements can be wide at times, but can also be cobbled. The city has a great transport infrastructure with a selection of buses, trams, taxis, and the U-Bahn (underground).

The U-Bahn is an extensive underground network with 90 miles of track, with good wheelchair access by lift down to the platform. Though not all stations have lift access, but the ones I used did. The lifts also have Braille on the buttons. This underground system is not as busy as the London Underground which is good for those with mobility issues. There are no ticket barriers, and normally there is a small step down to board the train. On numerous occasions, the doors seemed to open a few seconds before the train drew to a complete stop.

All bus and tram services offer wheelchair access for disabled passengers. There is priority seating for the disabled on all of Berlin's buses. However, when I boarded a nearly full bus no-one got up to offer me their seat and I was nearly knocked off balance as I made my way to the back.

Please note in Berlin there are a lot of bicycles, so be aware that they can cycle on pavements, even though there are designated bike paths.


Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlins best known monuments situated in Pariser Platz, which is open to all.

The Fernsehturm (German for "television tower") stands at a height of 1,207 ft, and is the fourth tallest structure in Europe. Visitors can enjoy a 40 second lift journey up to the top where they can see a panoramic 360 view of the city. However, as there are two lifts, this structure is not accessible for wheelchair users. The lifts are not on the ground floor, they are up two flights of stairs. Strangely, this attraction does offer concessionary tickets for the disabled.

At Checkpoint Charlie Museum there were three steps to enter, with no concessionary rate for the disabled. This attraction was three floors with no lift access and lack of seating areas. Some of the descriptive text is quite difficult to read as it is not all at eye level.

The Berlin Wall is a short walk from Checkpoint Charlie and has good ramped access for wheelchairs leading down to the viewing area. The descriptive text is in German and English. However, the English text is grey over white background whereas the German transcript is black. This is very hard for the visually impaired as it is poor contrasting colours. The sun made it even more tough to access the
text as it shone directly on the Wall.

The Berlin Zoo is very spread out with easy access for all. The area is flat plan, but some sections can be cobbled. It can be quite difficult for the visually impaired to spot the animals. This attraction has disabled toilets and also has plenty of seating areas.

The Siegessäule (Victory Column) is an old Berlin monument, opened in 1873 and situated in Platz der Republik. There is a steep spiral staircase of 285 steps to the top. Due to the structures age, it is not accessible to the disabled, even I didn't go up it as I felt it would be too tiresome.

Eating Out

Access to some restaurants in Berlin are rated as average. Some have a few steps whereas some are flat and easy for wheelchairs to enter.

There was a restaurant opposite the hotel called Wirtshaus Hasenheide, which is accessible for disabled people. Tables are well spaced out for wheelchairs to fit through and this eatery has a disabled toilet. However, the lighting was a bit dim and there were no large print menus available.

Bars and Cafes

Cafes are generally accessible, but rarely have disabled toilets.


Souvenir shops are all over Berlin, some have steps and some are easy to access for wheelchairs. The big souvenir shops are the best bet as they provide more space to aid mobility.

Disabled Toilets

Other than the hotel, the restaurant opposite and the airport, I did not spot any other disabled toilets throughout the city.

For more information on disabled access in Berlin, please check out this link: