Tourism Abroad - Disabled Accessibility

Prague, Czech Republic June - July 2008

Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is attracting an ever increasing number of tourists from every corner of the globe. Thanks to the city's participation in a project called Disabled Access it has now opened its doors to disabled visitors who will discover the same facilities here as in many other Western European cities. For more information on this project, please visit Czech Tourism website, which can be accessed at the Czech Tourism Website

View of the Charles bridge in Prague

Getting Around

The easiest way to get around in Prague is on foot. The city is very compact, so distances between sights and attractions are fairly short. Accessibility for disabled passengers on public transport is improving: Around half of Prague's metro (underground) stations offer wheelchair access, where there is access by lift at some stations. Buses and trams are also efficiently operated, but have no access for wheelchairs. However, newer, more disability friendly transport is slowly being introduced. Most pavements are cobbled, notably in the Old Town area, which can limit mobility. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive, so are a good option for travelling around. Pedestrian-crossing lights in the centre make a ticking noise to indicate a green light to the visually impaired.

Attractions

As Prague has a wealth of historical attractions, access to some areas can be quite limiting. The Cathedral of St Vitus which is situated in the castle grounds, is easily accessible by ramp, this is very good for wheelchair users. Meanwhile, in the castle grounds, the pathways are quite uneven and cobbled, making balance and mobility very difficult. There are also steps in various areas.

Access to the Astronomical Tower is by lift. The nature of this building does not lend itself to easy access for a wheelchair, as of at the top there is a path around the perimeter of the tower which appears to be quite narrow. Some wheelchairs may be able to fit through this area.

Prague's National Museum interior view

Steps make the National Museum difficult for visitors with mobility issues

Another attraction is the National Museum, where the wheelchair entrance is around the left-hand side of the building, there is a buzzer to ring for assistance. I was not aware of this and had to handle the many steps up to the museum. Afterwards, I fell down a flight of steps outside. Furthermore, there were no signs guiding us to the wheelchair friendly zone. This illustrates how poorly developed Prague's concept of disability issues was, but it is now improving.

Eating Out

There are a wide variety of restaurants in Prague, catering for many different cuisines. Access to these establishments is relatively easy; most are well laid out with no barriers for disabled people. Others have lifts to cellar restaurants and roof terraces. However, only a few eateries have a step or two, with no ramped access for wheelchairs.

Bars and Nightlife

When I visited in June, the nightlife in Prague is mainly relaxed, with most bars not busy at all. However, there are quite a few bars which have steps. There were no disabled toilets in the establishments I visited.

Shopping

Many shops in the main city centre are very small and limit mobility. However, there is a shopping centre which is spacious and disabled people may find it much more accessible. There is lift and escalator access to all levels. On the top level, there are restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as disabled toilets. Shopping in Wenceslas Square is rated as average. Some shops have steps with no ramped access, whereas others are on one level.

Prague has many picturesque bridges

Disabled Toilets

In Prague it is noted that disabled toilets are very scarce and may be an issue for disabled people visiting the city. This is due to Prague's rich history, making it difficult to put in new toilets for the disabled. However, there is a disabled toilet located in the shopping centre in the city centre.

General Information

During my visit, I booked a British Sign Language interpreter through Prague Tourist Information Centre, to take us on a tour of three hours for two days. This proved helpful as there are a lot of English speaking tours.