Tourism Abroad - Disabled Accessibility

Cologne, Germany December 2012


The Airline and the Airport

At Heathrow Terminal One, a queue skip was provided at the Germanwings check in desk.  The lady couldn't get us adjoining seats but said you can change them at the gate. On arrival at the gate the staff said you can change seats on the plane and the airline allows disabled passengers to board first. We boarded the aircraft by a walkway and were able to get adjoining seats.

On arrival at Cologne Bonn Airport, steps were taken to disembark the plane, then onto a van which has a lift to help wheelchair users from plane to ground. A quick skip through the queue for passport check was provided. The airport has plenty of good accessible features with disabled toilets and lifts. The only issue is that it is quite a walk to get to the train station.

At the Hotel

The Hilton had a spacious reception area, there are a few steps up to get to the bar and the lift area, but there is a stair lift in place for wheelchair users. There is also a ramp to the business centre. My bedroom was a standard double and wasn't as spacious as I had hoped, it seemed pretty basic. In the bathroom, the shower has a grab rail, which helps with mobility. This hotel has two disabled accessible rooms equipped with roll in showers.

Getting Around

As the hotel was in an excellent central location within two minutes' walk from the Dom (Cathedral), the best way around is on foot. Cologne is quite a compact city making it easy to get around. The city has a selection of public transport in the form of Trams, Buses and Trains (U-bahn and S-bahn).

There is quite a walk to get to the train station from the airport, but easy access was provided on arrival through lifts and escalators. Ticket computers have additional languages including English and French. Boarding the train is generally flat, but there can be a small gap. On arrival at Cologne's Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof), lifts were provided with lowered buttons for wheelchair users to access.


The Christmas Markets can be quite busy, especially the one near the Dom, but all markets are fairly accessible. The stalls are quite high for wheelchair users to see what they are selling. Also, as the markets attract a lot of tourists from other parts of Europe, awareness is quite poor as people are not inclined to give space.

The Dom is a Cathedral situated in the heart of Cologne. To get to this attraction, there are several steps up to the base, but as each step is around two paces wide, it is generally easy to get a wheelchair up these steps. It is flat to enter with plenty of space with the lighting just about right. For the fittest, there is a spiral staircase going up 500 steps to the top.

The Lindt Chocolate Factory has concessions for the disabled where I paid half the admission and my communicator guide got in free. This attraction is all fully accessible with disabled toilets and lifts.

The Ludwig Museum is an art museum displaying modern art. This attraction had a discounted rate for the disabled, and it is generally accessible, however, I didn't notice a disabled toilet there. The main issue is that there is lack of seating areas which was incredibly tiring when I visited; it is a rather big attraction with plenty of space.

Eating Out

Restaurants and cafes are generally flat to enter with reasonable space, some eateries lack facilities for disabled people, like disabled toilets. There was a café, Kamps Backstube located opposite the Dom, which was flat to enter with a disabled toilet. Another good place for eating was the large beer hall, Brauhaus Früh which had a disabled toilet, and reasonable lighting throughout.