Tourism Abroad - Disabled Accessibility

Dreams on the Danube

Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest - May 2013

The Airline and the Airport

At Heathrow Terminal One a member of staff allowed us to skip the queue for check in.  The walk from the terminal to the gate was around fifteen minutes.  Austrian Airlines allow disabled people to board first and my communicator guide and I boarded the plane via a walkway.



At Vienna International Airport, we disembarked the plane by a walkway, and I was offered a wheelchair which I politely declined.  The airport is well facilitated for disabled people with lifts, disabled toilets and clear signage, especially in English.  For more information on disabled access, please check out the link:

At the Hotel

Hotel Nestroy is located in a quiet area of Vienna roughly half a mile from the heart of the city.  There is a bus stop about two minutes’ walk down the road.  At the main entrance there are four steps but there is a disabled entrance a bit further up the road.

The rooms are spacious and there are lifts to all floors.  The bathroom was large enough for me and the shower / bath had a grab rail to aid support.  There is one disabled adapted room on the ground floor with a roll in shower.  This hotel was very stylish and I enjoyed my stay here.  My room felt a lot more luxurious compared to my stay at The Hilton in Cologne.

Getting Around

There are lots of choices of transportation with trams, buses and the subway.  The newer version of the trams are accessible, but the older ones have three or four steps to board.

Most subway stations have lifts and it is flat to enter the carriages.  Platforms are wide, clear and are not so busy.  There are markings on the ground for visually impaired people guiding them from the lifts to the trains.

Tourist Information Centre

I went to visit the main tourist information centre to enquire about disabled access.  I was very surprised to be handed an in depth A4 guide to the city, entitled ‘Accessible Vienna’.  I have never seen such a detailed document, which has more than eighty pages on disabled access!  For more information on Accessible Vienna, please check out the link:


The main cathedral, St Stephens Dom is a spectacle of fine architecture, situated in the heart of Vienna.  Access to this attraction is relatively easy; it is flat to enter but can be dark inside which takes time to adjust.  There are 343 steps up to the top which seemed a little too much for me. 

Hofburg Palace Grounds are mostly flat but can be cobbled in some places.  It is free to enter the grounds, but to enter the Palace there are concessions where the carer gets free admission.

Hofburg Palace

The Schönbrunn Palace is Vienna’s most visited attraction and a World Heritage Site, displaying fine art, by the likes of Klimt, Monet and Van Gogh.  This beautiful attraction is fully accessible with ramps and a lift.  The only issue is that as it is rather large it can be tiring with lack of seating areas.

The Spanish Riding School is a spectacle not to be missed.  This attraction provides discounts for the disabled with special seating on ground floor, which was not easily wheelchair accessible as there are two steps but staff are happy to assist.

Freud Museum is not wheelchair accessible; up one flight of stairs but concessions are offered where the carer gets free admission.  There are audible guides available in various languages.  This was no help to me as I am hearing impaired but my communicator guide was able to interpret the key facts of what was said.

The Belvedere’s two baroque palaces, Lower and Upper Belvedere are completely barrier free, with lifts and ramps in place.  There are disabled toilets and wheelchairs are on hire for visitors with mobility difficulties.  Concessions are also provided at this attraction.


Eating Out

Dining in Vienna is very pleasant, many restaurants serve Central / Eastern European dishes, but it can be a challenge to find them.  The restaurants I dined at required at least a step to enter with no disabled toilets although the toilets were level with no steps.


Vienna is famous for its cafes; there are an abundance of these little places throughout the city.  Most require a step to enter and I could not find a disabled toilet.

The Train Station

Vienna Train Station (Wien Hauptbahnhof) is accessible with lifts in place.  However, it was quite difficult to allocate the ticket office for international journeys.  The train to Bratislava had steps to enter, but there is a way to get a wheelchair on-board as there was a disabled toilet on the train.  The journey from Vienna to Bratislava is just over an hour.



At Bratislava train station (hlavná stanica), passengers offered us assistance with the luggage as we disembarked the train.  There were no staff on the platform, so if you are a wheelchair user, I would advise you to book in advance of your arrival.  There is a ramp from the main entrance / exit just outside the station.  Aside from the outside ramp the station is not well adapted for wheelchair users.

At the Hotel

Hotel Saffron is a nice modern hotel located around twenty five minutes’ walk from the old town.  There is a ramped walkway to enter with a very spacious reception area.  There are two lifts taking guests up to all five floors.

This hotel has one adapted room for wheelchair users.  However, the bathroom does not have a wet room or roll in shower.  There is a bathtub where the person will have to transfer from their wheelchair.  There are grab rails in place for support.

Getting Around

The Slovakian capital is very compact so walking or wheeling around is the best option.  However, some pavements are quite narrow and the ground is quite worn out in some areas.  The only mode of transport that I noticed in the city were trams.  They appeared to be inaccessible to wheelchair users with steps to enter.


Bratislava Castle is a massive rectangular structure standing on a hill in the heart of Bratislava.  It offers beautiful panoramic views of the city and the Danube River.  As this attraction is located on a steep hill, it can be difficult to reach for some disabled visitors.  The steep hill is mainly cobbled and quite uneven, which I found rather challenging.

View from Bratislava Castle

At St Martins Cathedral, entrance to the ground floor in a wheelchair is relatively easy although the street outside is cobblestone.  The only problem here is the underground section is not accessible with stairs down and up to the balconies.

Eating Out

The Old Town is a lively part of the city with many restaurants and bars mostly serving eastern European cuisine.  There are many small shops around the area as well.  The access on the other hand is not too good as most restaurants have steps to enter.

After spending one night in Bratislava, it was time to continue our journey.  We headed to the train station, bought our tickets and soon we were on a train headed for the Hungarian capital, Budapest.



Disembarking the train may pose a challenge as there are four to six steps down, but disabled people could ask for assistance if they require it.  There is nothing really interesting about the station though it is mostly flat.

At the Hotel

Hotel Castle Garden is located on the Buda side and is generally easy to access.  There is a lift taking guests up to all five floors.  The rooms are not well spaced out for wheelchairs, but this hotel has one disabled accessible room.

Getting Around

The city is very spread out but has a wide majority of public transport to choose from.  The metro is not accessible to wheelchair users with escalators being the only option.  Some trams are accessible, the new ones are completely step free but be aware not all tram lines have them; the older trams have a few steep steps to board.


St Stephen’s Basilica is a masterpiece of architecture with spectacular views at the top.  This attraction is partially accessible for disabled visitors, with a stair lift in place on the outside steps.  However, the handrail is strangely placed from the far side, which made it a challenge for me.  There are two lifts, taking visitors to the top, with a flight of steps afterwards to reach the top of the dome.

St Stephen’s Basilica

Budapest is famous for its hot thermal baths so this was definitely top of the list.  We visited the Szechenyi Baths which was absolutely amazing!  There is a disabled changing room and there are stair lifts in place.  However, entering the hot baths can be difficult for the physically disabled as the only thing for support was a hand rail with a few steps down.  The pool on the other hand had a chair lift to lower the disabled into the water, but they need to transfer from their own chair.

Szechenyi Baths

The famous Chain Bridge is a fantastic example of how beautiful the city is especially when it is lit up at night.  This bridge has a pedestrian walkway which is fully accessible.

Eating Out

Dining in Budapest is rather pleasant and cheap.  However, the disabled access is not as good; the few restaurants I eat at had a step or two to enter with no disabled toilets.

For information on disabled access in Budapest, please check out the link:

Budapest Train Station

On our return to Budapest train station for our return to Vienna Airport, we obtained our tickets and luckily the train was on the same side as the ticket office.  There was a member of staff who offered us assistance to carry our cases onto the train and then he helped me board.  The train journey was just under three hours.

Vienna Train Station

On arrival back at Vienna, all platforms have a lift and we left to catch the airport coach which was located right outside the station.  Unfortunately, this mode of transportation is not accessible for wheelchair users as there were steps to board.