Venice, Italy: Wheelchair Travel Tips

Handicapped accessible travel to Venice is about so much more than just finding a hotel.  Many disabled tourists only see a very small percentage of Venice because they’re not aware of everything that they can do.  To make the most of your trip follow these 10 Keys to Success for handicapped accessible travel to Venice Italy.

1.    Get away from the tourists – Many visitors to Venice take a picture in St. Mark’s Square, visit the San Marco Basilica, and then head towards their cruise ship or another Italian city.  While it’s true that they have been in Venice, they haven’t really experienced Venice   In St. Mark’s Square you’re as likely to hear Japanese as you are to hear Italian.  Get away from St. Mark’s Square to visit the neighborhoods where the locals live, eat, and work.  It will be your favorite part of your handicapped accessible trip to Venice.

2.    Choose your hotel carefully  Choosing a Venice accessible hotel is more complicated than choosing an accessible hotel in other cities.  In addition to the normal accessibility questions that you need to look for such as a step-free entrance and a roll-in shower, you will need to ask questions about the accessibility of the neighborhood around the hotel.  Be sure that your hotel has no bridges between the hotel and the vaparetto dock.  The vaparetto boats float lower in the water when they are full causing there to be a step to get off of the boat.  They are usually full when they travel down the Grand Canal – consequently electric wheelchair users and mobility scooter users may want to avoid hotels in neighborhoods along the Grand Canal.  Disabled visitors to Venice should also try to make sure that there are several accessible restaurants nearby their hotel.

3.    Take an accessible guided tour  Guided tours are a great way to get an overview of any city and Venice is no exception.  Most of the group guided tours in Venice involve going over bridges, so you should check with the tour company to ensure that their route is wheelchair accessible.  If a group tour will not meet your needs, consider hiring a private guide to show you around the city.

4.    Don’t stay on the mainland – It may be tempting to find a cheap hotel on the mainland, but to really experience Venice you need to stay in the middle of things.  Make sure that any hotel you talk to is located in the islands of Venice.  You also may want to make sure that you’re not staying on the islands of Burano, Murano, or Lido

5.    Don’t spend too much time at sights – If you are visiting multiple cities in Italy, you will likely be visiting art museums and churches that are as good or better than what Venice has to offer.  There’s only one Venice and you may want to spend all your time along the canals.  If you make Venice the last city you visit on your trip, you will be able to easily decide which attractions you want to visit and which you want to skip in Venice.

6.    Don’t skip the tourist sights entirely  In Venice, the city itself is the best attraction.  Nevertheless, you should still make time to visit some of the churches, palaces, and museums that Venice has to offer.  The most popular sights are the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica so you should at least visit those two.

7.    High fashion and bargain shopping Like other cities in Italy, Venice has great shopping options.  While you’re here be sure to visit the world-class high fashion shops that celebrities visit as well as the bargain shops that locals visit.

8.    Know where the bridges are before you go  Knowing which areas of Venice to avoid will allow you to make the most out of your time spent in Venice.  You can figure out where the bridges are located from various Venice maps (including Google Maps). Some partially wheelchair accessible Venice bridges exist.

9.    Experience all of the accessible Venice dining options  While in Venice, make time for the four accessible dining experiences: 1) accessible dining on the Grand Canal, 2) accessible dining looking out over the lagoon, 3) high-end restaurants with music on St. Mark’s Square, and 4) intimate neighborhood restaurants visited by the locals. 

10.  Visit at least 5 neighborhoods Each of Venice’s neighborhoods has its own flavor.  Some are where people pick up their fresh groceries at the market, some are where they meet friends for dinner or drinks, and others are where they catch transportation to the mainland.  Some neighborhoods have wide, open streets and others have narrow, intimate alleys.  Be sure to take the time to visit a few neighborhoods in Venice to really get a feel for the city. 

John Sage John Sage (2 Posts)

John Sage is founder and president of Sage Traveling which provides accessible trip planning services and accessible tours in Europe. He has visited more than 120+ European cities with his wheelchair while researching accessibility.


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