The holidays are approaching! To get in the Christmas mood, we have selected 5 Christmas markets in European cities that are perfect for wheelchair users.
You haven’t decided yet what to give the people you love for Christmas? Take advantage of it. In many european cities there are Christmas markets, where you can buy presents, but not only. You’ll have the opportunity to taste typical delicacies of the winter period and pamper yourself with something sweet. The Christmas markets are a great excuse to take a break and visit a city at it’s winter best.
Wheel around the many Christmas markets in Cologne – Germany
The Christmas markets are a fundamental part of the German tradition and it is no coincidence that most cities host one or more with various themes. These markets represent every year a great attraction for tourists and locals alike. Cologne is worth a visit not only for it’s stunning cathedral, but here every year 8 Christmas markets are held in the city centre, the main one is right next the cathedral. Another one worth visiting is the Old Market, with the ice skating rink, the Angel Market which is located in the area of the city dedicated to shopping and the Port market right next to the Rhine river. As the center of Cologne is very compact you can visit it easily, and the city is generally very accessible. The sidewalks are only partially in cobblestone and ramps are available literally everywhere. Also the public transport system is very efficient and accessible for wheelchairs. All markets are also equipped with level access and ramps.
If you are looking for accessible hotels or you need tips to organize your Cologne Christmas holiday take a look at our accessible city guide, with hotels, attractions and tips. If you want to explore other German cities for Christmas send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, our Germany pages are in construction and we can send you a sneek peek!
Plaisirs d’hiver: a full Christmas village and a bird’s-eye view of Brussels
Brussels gets dressed up for the holidays. To create an unforgettable and enveloping Christmas atmosphere, the city has a large Christmas market all throughout the centre, called Plaisirs d’Hiver (“Pleasures of winter” in French – officially translated as Winter Wonderland). You will find many local and exotic products to buy, taste or try, and you can warm up with a steaming hot chocolate or a hot spicy wine. In addition, many attractions are set up, such as a Ferris wheel to see the city from above, an ice rink and a light show at night. For this event Brussels this year is equipped to be as accessible as possible. Among the accessible features there are tables suitable for people in a wheelchair to sit outside, accessible toilets with access ramps along the market circuit and the Ferris wheel is equipped with a wheelchair accessible capsule, allowing everyone to enjoy the beautiful view of the city. Not only. The ice rink is also accessible to wheelchair users if accompanied. More info on the accessibility of the Plaisirs d’hiver here.
If you are looking for accessible hotels or you need tips to organize your holiday in Brussels look at our accessible Brussels guide.
At Christmas, Paris becomes even more romantic (if you can believe that)
During the winter period Paris is set up to impress – even more. The streets are decorated with thousands of colorful lights and the atmosphere is fun and romantic. At this time of year, Paris is the scene of several Christmas markets throughout the city that welcome a huge number of visitors, so plan accordingly to avoid the rush – if you prefer a less crowded atmosphere. Among the main ones, there is the Notre Dame market, the Champs de Mars one, where there is an ice skating rink located just below the Eiffel Tower, the Esplanade de La Défense, and the Gare de l’Est, known for its typical products of Alsace such as Bretzels and gingerbread.
Not only that, the city also has other markets, dedicated to vegan products, vintage items, delicacies from other countries such as the Norwegian Christmas Market, the Swedish Christmas Market, or the English Christmas Market, to immerse yourself in the culture of northern Europe. They also have an eco-friendly Christmas Market at the Recyclerie, where you can find different types of plants and you can follow short workshops where you can learn how to make small gifts. The cantine/café of the Recyclerie is wheelchair accessible but this year, they have informed us, the Christmas market being to large, it will take place in the outside area which is only accessible via a flight of stairs. There are also Christmas Markets dedicated to products from faraway countries such as the Japanese Christmas Market and the #Afro Christmas Market.
The markets are located near the main places of interest of the city, so you can easily access them. Another important detail for shopping enthusiasts is that in this period in Paris all department stores remain open on Sundays, so you can immerse yourself even more in the search for Christmas gifts. Both the markets and the main tourist attractions are accessible and you can reach them by public transport: a tip is to use the buses as preferred means of transport as they are fully accessible, while the metro stations are a bit of a nightmare (the metro in Paris is often rather old and there are complicated connections to the – sometimes malfunctioning – elevators). Take a bus, enjoy the view, avoid the metro!
Vienna: Christmas market in the most exclusive Austrian city
The elegant city of Vienna has a Christmas market that attracts many visitors every year. The Santa Claus village is located in front of the Belvedere Palace. For this reason, the palace makes the walk through the stalls even more picturesque. As with other markets you will find typical products, hot food and drinks and local crafts for sale. The whole market is accessible and it‘s also possible to visit the Belvedere Palace, which is very well equipped for wheelchair users. There are elevators to go from one floor to another and the toilets inside the building are wheelchair accessible.
Amsterdam is fully lit during the Amsterdam Light Festival
Amsterdam is a very active city during the Christmas period. In fact, there are several Christmas markets throughout the city and not all are the classic conventional type but there are some very very original ones. An impressive Christmas tree is displayed in Dam Square, while in Rembrandt Square and Museum Square there are ice skating rinks decorated with many colorful lights. But that’s not all. Amsterdam also offers special markets, such as the Funky Xmas Market, where you can buy handmade decorations by local artists, the Midnight Market, which lasts all night and also includes several music shows, the Winter Parade, and much more. In the markets you can find stalls full of many typical Dutch delicacies such as stroopwafels and cheese.
To get even more into a warm and festive atmosphere, the canals and streets are lit during the Amsterdam Light Festival, a blaze of lights and colors that make the city even more magical – this year it will start on November 29 and last until January 20. To better admire the lights you can go on a cruise on the canals, there are some accessible ones for wheelchair users – you can ask our local partner Accessible Travel Netherlands. More information on accessible tours in Amsterdam here.
After the tour of the markets you can still visit several tourist attractions as they are adjacent to the markets, and therefore easily reachable. For example the Museum square which is home to the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, but also Dam square where you can find the Royal Palace and the Madame Tussaud Museum – is wheelchair accessible, but not suitable for battery operated electric wheelchairs or scooter. For safety reasons the Madame Tussaud Museum can only admit two wheelchair users at any one time, so it is preferable to book first.
This article was researched and written by our Destination Scout Giulia Arduino. Have a question or a comment? Use the form below to let us know!