If you use a wheelchair or you’re traveling with another disability, it’s certainly possible without too much difficulty to get around in Amsterdam and the rest of Holland. An impairment should not be a reason for not traveling to the Netherlands.
A high level of welfare, and legislation, guarantees a certain level of accessibility for people with disabilities in Holland.
In particular, in public spaces and buildings there is a lot of attention to wheelchair-accessible facilities. More about that below. We’ll also share a personal story with you about beach access for those who use a wheelchair.
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Old city centers, like Amsterdam, can throw you some challenges
As you might expect, there are also challenges. This is Europe, and Europe is old. Most cities and towns, including Amsterdam, have historic city centers. There are old buildings and cobbled streets. As you can imagine, those are not always as comfortable as you want them to be.
Some of these streets will be rough on wheelchairs, and it’s easier to fall if you are visually impaired. Once you get to the more modern parts of town, you’ll find navigating is much easier.
Modern cities like Rotterdam are a breeze to get around
Modern cities like Rotterdam are built mostly after WWII. You'll find city streets in Rotterdam more modern for that reason and more comfortable to navigate than Amsterdam.
Public transport for wheelchair users and those who are visually impaired
Newer frequent stopping trains have direct low-level entry. You can use these Sprinter trains without outside assistance. Inside most of these trains you'll find a wheelchair-accessible toilet.
For most Intercity train services (longer distances), you need to request assistance at the station before you travel, because a ramp is required. This can be done up to one hour before departure. Specially trained staff will then be available to assist you at your departing, transferring, and arrival station. A link to do so online can be found below in the resources section.
At the platform, special guiding tiles/lines are available if you use a guiding stick to find your way around the platform and the station. Also, don't forget most Dutch people will be more than happy to help. For example, locating the doors or keep the area clear for you. Just ask.
Buses and trams:
Almost all buses are accessible for wheelchair users because they have low-level entry points. Or the bus has a lift/ramp inside that the driver can operate for you. The Airport Express bus from the Airport to the Museum Quarter in Amsterdam has easy low-level entry.
You can buy tickets for this bus service here.
With trams easy access depends, newer trams are easily accessible. In Amsterdam, that is almost any tram. While in cities like The Hague, it will be less easy, some lines use new trams, while others still use the old (inaccessible) trams. To be sure, check with the local public transportation company for more info. (Google public transport + city.)
PS: If you need day tickets for public transport in Amsterdam you can get them here.
Traveling with a guide dog is always free for the dog on all modes of transport, as long as the guide dog is identifiable as one. This can be done, for example, by displaying the logo of a guide dog organization on its collar, handle, or coat.
Traveling to the Keukenhof with a wheelchair?
Know that the direct public transport buses like bus line "858" to the Keukenhof all have a wheelchair lift on board or are low level entry! There is absolutely no reason you can't visit the Keukenhof independently if you're in a wheelchair.
Most museums have excellent facilities for disabled visitors. They’ll have lifts or ramps and toilets suitable for people with a disability. Check the museum’s website for more information, each museum has a special section on its website dedicated to accessibility.
Wheelchair access in the most popular museums in Amsterdam:
The Rijksmuseum for wheelchairs:
The Rijksmuseum has some excellent measures in place to make your visit as enjoyable as possible. You can easily access every exhibition space in the museum. A lift is available to visit all floors, as is an extra spacious toilet. Electric wheelchairs are accepted to enter the museum, but mobility scooters are not.
The museums offer free wheelchairs to use if you need one (for example, when you arrive on a scooter.) If you can't access the museum by yourself and you're traveling with a caregiver, that person can enter the museum for free. Guide dogs are also allowed.
More information about accessibility at the Rijksmuseum can be found on their website.
The Van Gogh Museum for disabled visitors:
This museum has elevators and no bumps. Making it easily accessible. The museum is a modern building with all the facilities you'd expect. Guide dogs are allowed. The museum offers excellent services for visitors with different disabilities. Whether you use a wheelchair, are hearing impaired, have problems with your vision, or have sensory sensitivity.
More information about accessibility at the Van Gogh Museum can be found on their excellent website.
You can buy a skip the line ticket for the Van Gogh Museum (fast blue lane timed slot) or read our post if the "I amsterdam City Card" is a better deal for you..
The Anne Frank House Museum for wheelchairs:
Less accessible are the old museums that are small. Most notably, the Anne Frank House. Only the new part of the museum is accessible, while the old museum is the reason why you want to visit the museum, which unfortunately, isn't accessible at all. Read more about that in our post: One Day in the Life of Anne Frank.
Theaters and restaurants and accessibility
Most Theaters and restaurants are perfectly accessible for wheelchairs and people with other disabilities. But check with the venue before you arrive to make sure your visit will be without problems. Especially if the place is in a historic part of town.
Money tip: the best way to find information about a restaurant is online. If you have an affordable data bundle and local minutes for Europe on your phone you can easily Google this and then call the venue. Plus you can use Google Maps to navigate there. Read our post about the best SIM card for Europe here to find the best deals!
Beach access with a wheelchair
Fun fact: did you know that at most beaches in Holland you can now rent beach wheelchairs. Today, even the sand is no limitation anymore to visit our gorgeous wide beaches when you use a wheelchair.
This is very important to me (Gerjo) personally. My grandmother lived at the beach and loved it. But wasn’t able to go for many years due to her wheelchair.
We fought hard for public beach wheelchairs and won the battle after a while. She died many years ago, but I still see her face vividly filled with pure happiness and gratitude each time we took one of these amazing chairs for a long ride/walk over the beach.
Nowadays, thankfully accessible equipment like these wheelchairs are commonly available to everyone.
A convenient PDF is developed by Travel Accessible Netherlands together with our favorite charity "De Zonnebloem" with beach wheelchair rental locations along the entire Dutch coastline from North to South. You can download it here.
Online resources for Accessible Travel in the Netherlands
Frequently asked questions
What is the best way to travel within the Netherlands with a disability?
You can travel around Holland independently on public transportation without many problems.
The railways have a separate service for assistance if needed during your travel. Other modes of transport have mostly low-level entrances or a ramp/lift available.
If you prefer to travel by car, know that most major rental car companies can provide modified cars if you reserve them on time, our favorite car rental company is Rentalcars.com.
When you hold a handicapped blue card, you can use parking facilities close to entrances. Sometimes you can park for free, sometimes you can't. Check with local cities before you travel.
Can I travel to the Netherlands by myself if I'm impaired?
Yes, we would encourage people with less mobility to travel on their own. You just need to plan a little bit more before you go. Make sure you choose hotels that are easily accessible. That transportation assistance is arranged et cetera, but it's certainly do-able.
Are European countries wheelchair accessible?
Well, yes, but it's Europe. It's old, especially it's city centers. Modern buildings and areas are all accessible, but with old buildings, it varies.
Inquire before you go to make sure everywhere you want to go is accessible. The Travel Accessible Netherlands organization (see resources above) is specialized to help you with this.
Also, the Dutch language site "Ongehinderd" (see above in the resource section) is a fantastic resource. Just use the automatic Google Translate feature in Google Chrome to understand the website if you're Dutch is not fluent.
You'll find in general that facilities in Northern European countries are much better than in the South and East of Europe. This is because Northern European countries are more affluent and thus infrastructure is better.
Did this post about accessibility in Holland help you?
Thank you for reading this post. We hope it was helpful for you.
If so join the conversation below in the comments. Also let us know if you missed any information in this article or you've found an error that we can correct.
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