Tourism Abroad - Disabled Accessibility

Stockholm and the Artic Circle, Sweden February 2013

 

Conducted by Laurence Pipkin and Kirsty Ewing

 

The Airline and the Airport

We flew with Norwegian Airlines and as no disabled passengers travelled on our outward or return flights we cannot comment or make any observations about the airlines approach to disabled travellers.

Stockholm Arlanda Airport is a very modern airport with lifts and escalators at all locations where steps exist.  Generally each of the terminals is on one floor so there are not many stairs anyway. There are disabled toilets using a code system so you have to ask airport staff for the code.

 

At the Hotel

Bishops Inn - There was a lift at the hotel to access the rooms and a ramp to enter the hotel. The rooms are very spacious so there is enough room for wheelchair user to move around, however there are no specially adapted rooms. The doors in all areas of the hotel are very heavy due to the importance of keeping the heat within the building (for half of the year the temperature will be more than minus five degrees centigrade). The doors were not automatic so a disabled individual may need assistance opening them.

Nordic Sea Hotel - Lifts to all floors were available, button press opened main door for wheelchair users. Larger rooms were available for disabled people though not specifically designated for that purpose.  Our room was very small and not suitable for wheelchairs larger rooms are available but are more expensive.

Unfortunately, there was no information in large print or braille at either hotel.

 

Getting Around

Kiruna - Kiruna is 100 miles into the Arctic Circle and therefore during winter will normally have heavy snowfall. That said the pavements were treated with grit every day and excess snow was cleared twice a day in the town centre. Kiruna is slightly hilly which may make it difficult to get around but if a wheelchair has good tyres, it may be one of the few places it is actually easier to get around than on foot. For a disabled person using crutches or prosthetic limbs they may find it very difficult to get around. A person with visual difficulties may find it difficult to see differences in gradient due to snowfall; additionally they may not be able to see ice patches which may cause them to slip.

Mainline trains have steps to get on and off but would assume a ramp or a lift could be provided.

Getting around Kiruna can only be done in cars or buses we did not see any wheelchairs in Kiruna to see how they would be accommodated.

Stockholm’s tram system has step free access with ramps at most stops. We did not use the Stockholm metro as it is a compact city. 

Parking in Kiruna seemed fairly easy and there did not seem to be any charge for parking, we did not see any disabled bays. Stockholm did not have much parking available being a capital city; it seems everyone uses public transport and taxis. Any parking seemed to be underground.

 

Attractions

Kiruna – The Ice Hotel had no steps apart from getting to the Northern Lights viewing platform.

Stockholm – At the Royal Palace there were steps throughout which made it very inaccessible. However, on the upper levels we saw a lady in a wheelchair who had come through a door where the general public were not allowed, therefore there must be lifts which allow disabled individuals onto the upper and lower floors. Access to the treasury was via a long winding ramp however steps preceded it so it was not clear whether access could be available.

Stockholm - Skansen is a huge open air museum celebrating the rural and town life of all of Sweden through history including a zoo and aquarium situated within ten minutes of the city centre by bus, tram or boat. It is a very hilly place but generally there are no steps.  It could be very tiring for a wheelchair user. In the summer the steepest part of the museum is accessible via a train which may help a disabled visitor, however in winter this does not run.

Noble Museum – This was mostly level throughout but five steps to get in the front, there is a level entrance at the side.

Boat Trip – There was a ramp to access the boat however there are steps inside the boat to get to the top deck.

Medieval Museum – This was rather difficult to see how disabled people could access the museum as it is built inside a bridge and you have to walk down twenty steps to get to the entrance, it is level throughout so it is strange that access is now provided to the entrance, it may be that there is another way in but we did not see it.

Unfortunately, no braille or large print guides appeared to be available. Also, we could not see any concessionary tickets to any attractions.

 

Eating Out

Kiruna - Scandic Hotel Restaurant (not our hotel a different one) which offered authentic Swedish cuisine. Our hotel had a good restaurant but offered English Gastro Pub food which we could get at home. The restaurant had fully step free access.

Stockholm - Den Gyldene Freden had step free access on ground floor level, but the basement level would not be accessible. Unfortunately, there was no evidence of a disabled toilet on the ground floor.

Lighting was good in the Scandic Hotel Restaurant but was deliberately low in Den Gyldene Freden as it was lit by candle light.

 

Bars and Nightlife

We didn’t go to many bars as alcohol is so expensive, but noticed some to be step free.

 

Disabled Toilets

Disabled toilets were generally available at most attractions or there was a disabled toilet stall within the gents or ladies toilets.

 

Any Other Comments

Kiruna during winter would be a challenging location for a traveller with disabilities, but paradoxically a wheelchair user might find it easier than an able bodied person due to the extra grip provided by their tyres.

Stockholm is a modern exciting city and is generally easy to get around. However, please note Gamla Stan the ancient heart of the city and the area filled with the best restaurants, cafes and interesting shops is mainly cobbled and would present difficulties to wheelchair users.

Most restaurants in Stockholm were not particularly accessible which is disappointing, but that may be because we normally ate in Gamla Stan where the buildings are very old and not easily adapted. The more modern areas of the city seemed to have more accessible restaurants.