Madrid is a city that is known for its history and rich culture. However, it is not necessarily known for being accessible. The good news is that this is improving ever so slightly though. Even slow progress is progress, right? I am glad for the effort! Following are a few tips in the meantime to assist you, should you decide to do some rolling around Madrid.
For starters, as usual, you should have no problem navigating the airlines. Most of the major airline companies are more than accessible and will work to accommodate your travel needs. They can even help you on and off the plane should you require assistance.
Once you arrive at the city though, things change slightly. For starters, the metro is about 50% wheelchair accessible. And by that, I mean that approximately 50% of the metro stops are suitable for wheelchair users. Granted, a lot of these are not in what would be considered the heart of the city, but each metro map will show you very clearly which stations are equipped with lifts and are available for disabled access.
Euro Taxi is a company that caters to disabled travelers. You can book 24 hours a day, which is really convenient. They also are equipped with wheelchair ramps, and have very spacious interiors so your luggage will not be a problem.
A word about the bus system. The main Madrid EMT bus service will cater to people in wheelchairs. However, be forewarned, you will have to flag down the bus in order to make it stop. This is always a lot of fun, but can also be somewhat of a headache if you are not used to it or are stuck behind several people waiting on the curb.
The suburban trains also cater to disabled travelers. In fact, it is their company policy as a result of being part of the national RENFE train company. So any of their employees should be more than willing to assist you with your traveling needs.
The only challenge you will have in Madrid will be the adventure of navigating around the streets with massive volumes of people. Madrid is a tourist hotspot, and as such, there are scores of people around every corner. However, most of the streets are level, with very few hills, holes, or other terrain variations. In addition, most crossings are equipped with access ramps so there should be no curb bumps as you attempt to cross the street.
A Word About Restrooms
Generally speaking, there is a noticeable lack of public toilets in Madrid. The easiest way to get around that issue is to pop into some sort of bar, or better yet, a restaurant. Now keep in mind, there is no real definitive guide on which bars and restaurants have restrooms that are accessible and which ones do not. Yet, you can always use a standard traveler’s trick. If you look for fast food restaurants, or second tier international food chains, they are always equipped with handicap accessible restrooms since they have to pass worldwide certification guidelines before the buildings are constructed. Now you have a handy trick for going to the restroom no matter where on earth you should find yourself.
There is a lot to see and do during your visit to Madrid. A few sites that I would recommend putting on your itinerary would be The Prado Museum (one of the world’s largest art collections); Retiro Park (12 acres of stunning gardens); and the Royal Palace of Madrid (an opulent palace that you have to see to believe).
The other good news about Madrid is that all of the major tourist attractions or cultural attractions are equipped with disabled access. In addition, several of them also give the option for you to rent a wheelchair should yours break down or you need to rent one for some other reason. I don’t know what that reason would be, but hey, I’m not here to judge you if you want to try rolling around with two wheelchairs. I just provide the information people.
All joking aside, it is a nice gesture for main attractions to offer such services and they do come in handy more often then you would think. Another word about attractions, sometimes the disabled access entrances can be a bit hard to locate. Just make sure you find a guide on site who will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Other handy tips to keep in mind would be to carry a lot of water for hot summer days, and perhaps a windbreaker for cold Spanish nights. The temperature can really drop sometimes in the evening and catch you off guard so I always make sure to pack an extra sweater or windbreaker if it looks like the weather will not be going my way. Other than that, arm yourself with a few tourist maps, some tokens or tickets for the bus and trains, and you will be well on your way to rolling around Madrid.
Looking for more information on Madrid? Check out this in-depth guide.
*I have not visited Madrid. All information was found online from various sources.