Is Amsterdam wheelchair friendly? It’s possible to get around in Amsterdam and the rest of Holland without too much difficulty. The Netherlands has an active accessibility policy.
A high level of welfare, and legislation, guarantee 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 is below.
I’ll also share a personal story about beach access for those who use a wheelchair.
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Amsterdam Wheelchair Friendly? Old City Centers Can be Challenging
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: old buildings and cobbled streets. As you can imagine, those are not always as comfortable as you want.
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, 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 and more comfortable to navigate than in 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 must 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 assist you at your departing, transferring, and arrival station. Special guiding tiles/lines are available at the platform if you use a guiding stick to find your way around the platform and the station. Also, don’t forget that most Dutch people will be happy to help. For example, locating the doors or keeping 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 cities like The Hague will be less accessible, 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.)
Traveling with a guide dog is always free for the dog on all modes of transportation, 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.
Are you traveling to the Keukenhof with a wheelchair?
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 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 famous museums in Amsterdam:
The Rijksmuseum for wheelchairs:
The Rijksmuseum has measures in place to make your visit enjoyable. 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 the museum, but mobility scooters are not. The museums offer free wheelchairs if you need one (for example, when you arrive on a scooter.)
If you can’t access the museum alone and you’re traveling with a caregiver, that person can enter the museum for free. Guide dogs are also allowed.
The Van Gogh Museum for disabled visitors:
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.
You can buy a skip-the-line ticket for the Van Gogh Museum (fast blue lane timed slot).
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 one is why you want to visit the museum, which, unfortunately, isn’t accessible at all. Read more in my 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 ensure your visit will be without problems, especially if the place is in a historic part of town.
Internet 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 my post about the best SIM card for Europe here to find the best deals!
Beach access with a wheelchair
Did you know that at most beaches in Holland, you can now rent beach wheelchairs? Today, even the sand is no limitation anymore to visiting our gorgeous wide beaches when you use a wheelchair.
This is very important to me 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 is commonly available to everyone. Just Google “rent a beach wheelchair + beach town,” and you should be able to find what you’re looking for. Most coastal towns have rental facilities.
Online Resources for Accessible Travel in the Netherlands
- Dutch railways: booking wheelchair travel on the train (at least one hour in advance)
- Amsterdam public transport: GVB
- Ongehinderd is a great website to discover sites that are accessible in the Netherlands. It’s a free resource, but in Dutch only. (Use the automatic translation function in the Google Chrome browser)
- Accessible Travel Netherlands is a travel agent specializing in travel for people who need assistance. You can book your complete holiday here, hotels, or look up tours that are accessible. They also rent mobility equipment via their website, like mobility scooters, wheelchairs, shower chairs, et cetera. Recommended by the official I Amsterdam organization and Lonely Planet.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wheelchair-Friendly Travel in Amsterdam and Beyond
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 the entrances. Sometimes you can park for free, but not always. Check with local cities before you travel.
Can I travel to the Netherlands by myself if I’m impaired?
Yes, I would encourage people with less mobility to travel independently. You need to plan a little bit more before you go. Make sure you choose hotels that are easily accessible, think about transportation (arrangement), and research the sites you want to visit to check if they are accessible to you.
Are European countries wheelchair accessible?
Well, yes, but it’s Europe. It’s old, especially its 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 don’t speak Dutch.
In general, you’ll find that facilities in Northern European countries are much better organized than in the South and East of Europe. This is because Northern European countries are more affluent, and thus infrastructure is better.
Do You Find Amsterdam Wheelchair Friendly Or Not?
I’d love to hear your thoughts: Do you have any tips for other travellers with accessibility issues traveling to Holland? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬.
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