Top 10 Accessible Holiday Locations for Summer 2023
Travelling is one of life’s great pleasures and can be a rewarding investment of your time and energy. Sadly, it’s one that we’ve all had to put on the back burner for a few years! While we can attest that the challenges you face along the way can enrich your experience, when you are living with a disability, each of those challenges can be multiplied.
If you or your loved one are living with a disability, it’s more important than ever to plan out your next holiday to avoid any unexpected hurdles or accessibility obstacles. Your unique needs can take many forms, but whatever they are, you deserve to enjoy your holiday to the fullest.
Although much of the world has a long way to go in terms of accessibility for all, many top destinations have made great strides in recent years to include people of all abilities. Designated wheelchair accessible beaches, adapted hotel rooms, mobility vehicles, and accessible restaurants, museums, and other attractions can all make travel for people with disabilities a lot more manageable with the help of experienced NDIS housing providers.
Home or Away?
Now that the world is slowly opening up, it’s tempting to jump on a plane and sail the seven seas to new pastures. If you consider extensive travelling to be a bit too challenging, then there’s always the option of the all too familiar stay-cation. When you live around tourist attractions, it’s perfectly normal to take the local options for granted. But Australia is among one of the best destinations in the world for people living with disabilities due to the government’s efforts to work collaboratively at the federal, state and territory levels to incorporate people with disabilities into every aspect of society.
Other countries may seem more exotic or exciting when planning your next trip, and we’ve included some of our top options for the best overseas destinations, but a lot can be gained from travelling within our own country: we tend to feel more connected to the place we call home; we can save money on travel expenses; encounter less hassles; and even feel more rested from less time spent on the journey. The best thing about travelling close to home is that Australia has some of the most accessible destinations in the world.
You’re never short of sights to see and things to do in Sydney. Sydney ensures wheelchair accessibility across the majority of its highly rated attractions. Also known as the Harbour City, Sydney also includes roll on/roll off access on their ferry boats which hop between riverfront destinations as well as their bus system weaving throughout the city and its suburbs.
This world renowned tourist destination boasts jaw dropping coastline such as Bondi and Manly beaches accessible to all by public transport.
The iconic promenade along the river’s mouth features the Sydney Opera House. This architecturally unique building includes lifts, escalators and ramps throughout and a large flat area outside for exploring the area along the riverfront.
The Red Centre
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Alice Springs, Uluru or Kings Canyon, then you should add them to your list. Wherever you are in Australia, you can reach the Red Centre within three hours via air. This region is full of ancient culture, incredible natural wonders and many accessible areas for all.
Uluru (Ayers Rock) features compacted and concrete paths throughout the base with multiple viewing decks and accessible restaurants and shops.
Alice Springs has many wheelchair accessible cafes, restaurants and hotels to choose from. Some nearby sightseeing options include The Kangaroo Sanctuary and the Alice Springs Desert Park – though if you require wheelchair access, you may need some off roading tyres.
The Gold Coast
The subtropical climate, fantastic surfing beaches, theme parks and nightlife attracts millions of tourists to the Gold Coast annually. In recent years, the Gold Coast City Council have been implementing some incredibly inclusive initiatives to the area for visitors of all abilities. They provide easy access to all public amenities, parks, beaches, public transport, bars and restaurants and also accommodations.
The Queensland Government Accessibility Guide to the Gold Coast and Mobility Maps help to assist visitors to plan their stay and move around the city safely. You can even rent beach wheelchairs to enjoy the sandy beaches.
If you’re in the area, you may want to try your hand at the Aussie past-time of surfing with The Gold Coast Disabled Surfers Association, who hold “Let’s Go Surfing” events once a month during the summer for people of all disabilities and ages.
The Great Barrier Reef
This wondrous UNESCO World Heritage Site is made up of the largest coral reef system on the planet. It won’t be around forever and the protection of it and its inhabitants is imperative for the future of our planet. What better way to learn about this beautiful phenomenon than by experiencing it for yourself.
If you think discovering the underwater world is out of reach to those with disabilities, think again! Whatever your abilities, local tour operators have modified their offerings to create a Great Barrier Reef tour for you.
Whether you are a wheelchair user, someone living with a disability or limited mobility, you can drift in the weightless waters surrounding the reef, take a helicopter tour to view the reef from above or peruse the numerous viewing decks along the reef. Check out the different types of access available to experience the magnificent Great Barrier Reef with The Tour Specialists.
It’s hard to group a whole country into one holiday destination, but when it comes to being accessible in New Zealand, there are numerous options. A lot of visitors to New Zealand choose the road trip route because there are just so many stunning areas to explore and see along the way.
You may choose to start in one of their city hubs and do a loop around the North or South Islands, or just start at one end and end in another. Whatever you choose to do during your trip to this majestic country, be sure to check out some specialist car rental companies such as Freedom Mobility, ability tour companies such as Ability Adventures, and you can find beach access for everyone at Accessible Beaches NZ.
Not all regions in New Zealand accept mobility parking permits from overseas; find out how you can apply for a local one with Mobility Parking New Zealand.
Singapore is full of clean lines and sharp architectural wonders coexisting with lush greenery and a diverse, melting pot culture. The modern infrastructure is designed to be very inclusive. Their wheelchair friendly public transport also features braille plates, tactile paving and station announcements. Excellently maintained pavements, accessible public toilets and easy-to-access attractions create a navigable city for everyone.
The beautiful Marina Bay District features flat paved areas, wheelchair accessible lifts to the skypark and free shuttle services available for people living with disabilities. Wheelchair rental is also available at the Visitor Service Centre.
With its iconic architecture, fun nightlife and beautiful beaches, Barcelona is a great place to mix city culture and lazy beach days. As ancient European cities go, Barcelona has done a pretty good job at making their city accessible to all. It is known as the most wheelchair-friendly city in Europe with an almost fully adapted public transport system.
La Sagrada Familia features wheelchair access, ramps throughout the visitor paths and adapted toilets by the entrance. Free admission is granted to people living with disabilities plus one companion.
Barcelona is a top choice holiday destination for those living with disabilities especially with a little extra planning. Reach out to restaurants and accommodation in advance to make sure you find the right fit to make your visit truly exquisite.
Portugal is a popular tourist destination due to its rich history and culture, fine food and wines, as well as their top surfing beaches and music festivals. Another huge appeal to Portugal as a nation is its accessibility. Voted as the first most accessible country in the world by United Nations World Tourism Organisation in 2019, they rigorously prioritised accessibility and availability in their government agenda.
With the help of Visit Portugal, you can find all the information you need to plan your perfect holiday across the country. From airport accessibility to driving, accessible beaches with surfing lessons, to custom planned itineraries for those living with disabilities, we truly hope your experience exceeds all your expectations.
Vibrant and bustling Tokyo makes for a stimulating and fun cultural experience for those who have the pleasure to grace their shores. Japan is well known for their high speed bullet trains that makes visiting the rest of this beautiful and peaceful country pretty appealing.
In 2022, Tokyo was listed as one of the world’s most accessible travel destinations. The main reason for this has to do with the adaptation of their train services with space for wheelchairs, ramps and elevators, tactile paving and voiced announcements.
Although many businesses, especially in the tourism industry, are adapting their premises to accommodate everyone, some older buildings will struggle to make space and add ramps. Be sure to enquire ahead of time and find out the fine details when it comes to your specific needs.
Las Vegas, USA
Las Vegas is surely a head turning option for a once in a lifetime getaway experience. With the neon lights, delicious food, the exhilarating shows, breathtaking desert hues and of course, the high stakes gambling, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea for a holiday. However, our Wild Card holiday destination is still one of the most accessible cities on the planet.
Since the main Las Vegas strip was mostly built and renovated after the Americans with Disability Act was passed in 1990, you will find the majority of the strip, including hotels, venues, casinos, restaurants and bars, and even wedding chapels are all designed with the ADA in mind.
How to Plan a Holiday for People Living with Disabilities
These are just some of our favourite destinations to consider for your next holiday and we hope it has inspired you to get out and see the world around us again! Wherever you choose to visit, make sure you do your homework and research the place before you go.
Don’t hesitate to call places and ask about any limitations they are aware of so you can prepare for known obstacles and minimise any disappointments. Many establishments continuously update their accessibility features and offerings, so you may not get the full picture online – that’s why we visit! Get out and explore – the world is your oyster!