Accessible Antwerp: How To Explore Antwerp With A Disability

Posted by Jay in Travel on March 23rd, 2017

Accessible Antwerp

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The greatest thing about Antwerp is that it is a delightfully compact city. Having never been before, I had hoped that this European city would not be too difficult to navigate. Exploring anywhere with a disability, can be a bit tricky at times, but I had no issues with accessible Antwerp! I’m glad to say that I found Antwerp to be easy  to get around. The city was perfect for me, and meant that I did not feel like I was missing out. I got to see so many interesting sites in such a short space of time. Travelling with a disability usually means that a lot of your time is spent thinking about how long it will take you to get from one place to another. But there are so many things you can see and do with less than 20 minutes travel time between each place.

Getting Around Accessible Antwerp With A Disability

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Being a typical Londoner, I still have no idea how to drive, so good public transport is very important. There are many different modes of transportation available  to you in Antwerp.  I always find this to be a good indicator of the accessibility of a city. The more options there are, there is usually a good chance that they have thought of accessibility. Another added bonus is that for those with special access needs you will find that you prefer one particular type. Giving you a choice as opposed to having to pay for expensive taxis. There are many buses in Antwerp taking you all around the city, but I was not a fan. I did not find them to be very accessible as there were many raised seating areas. So I would spend some time actually trying to sit down on the available seats. Plus, the drivers rarely wait for you to sit down, and always seemed to be in a rush!

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You can use trams to get around Antwerp, and there are two types available. Some are distinctly old and very difficult to get in and out of, for those on crutches. It’s impossible to even get onto the older trams with a wheelchair. Even able bodied people with many shopping bags will find it tricky. The reason being that some of the doorways are split in two. On paper, it seems like a good idea. Allowing passengers to enter and exit at the same time. However, in reality it was a hassle. I only used this tram once during my stay as I found it awkward to board and disembark from the tram. Plus it does not help that you can feel all eyes on you.

My preferred trams were the newer, more accessible ones. The new trams are more accessible as the entrance and exit are not split into two. There is also a space available for wheelchair users. And they have a ramp that folds out from the tram to the street. I liked these trams as they were quicker than the bus, but I could still see the city as I was travelling unlike the metro. Public transportation is provided by De Lijn, and you can visit their website to get more information for your trip.

Things To Do In Accessible Antwerp

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Accessible Antwerp packs quite a lot of things into a very compact space. The entire city is nice and flat, which I absolutely love. Saves me from the huffing and puffing of going up and downhill. Antwerp is known as the diamond capital of Europe. If you are after a bit of jewelry, or just want to have a look at all the bling bling, go straight to the Diamond District. It’s located by the Antwerp Centraal station!

The Antwerp Zoo is also right besides the station. It’s located at the Koningen Astridplein exit of the station, so it makes for a a great back garden. It also means that even if you are only in Antwerp for a very short time, you still have an opportunity to experience one of the tourist hotspots without worrying about missing your train!

If you’d like to get a bit of shopping done, then you will find yourself right at home in Meir. This shopping street has all the international favourites, as well as some local brands. The large shopping centre, Staadsfeestzaal has a gorgeous atrium that is brightly decorated in gold. In the Meir neighbourhood, you can visit Rubenshuis. Even though it is now a museum, it used to be the home and studio of Peter Paul Rubens. 

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There are a lot of cobbled streets in the district and in the city as a whole, but most places have smooth stones. Which is great for those in wheelchairs and on crutches, so you don’t damage anything! I had a fantastic time in accessible Antwerp, and would definitely love to visit again. Might even be able to afford a diamond on the next trip. Or at least have someone else buy it for me!

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about Jayon UPDATE: As of 25/09/2015 Nigeria has been removed from the WHO's Polio Endemic List! Having been born in Nigeria, I hail from one of three countries where polio is still unfortunately endemic, the other two being Pakistan and Afghanistan. I had contracted the poliovirus before my ...Read More

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