Venice is probably one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. We have seen a thousand films set in the city’s incredible streets and canals, we have in our eyes the paintings of Canaletto depicting this city, once very powerful and rich, and today one of the top world attractions.
There really is no need to suggest what you could see in Venice, we are sure you have your own bucket list: what we want to tell you is that, even with the bridges and the canals and the apparently inaccessible features, Venice is a city that is highly enjoyable by people travelling in a wheelchair.
At a first glance it would appear incredibly complicated to move around, but the local public administrations and transport companies have done a very good job in making the city accessible for all. It is estimated that 70% of the historical city’s surface is actually accessible. But how ?
Wheelchair Accessible Itineraries
The Municipal administration of this very special city has created full detailed wheelchair optimized itineraries, divided by area. You can read them online, and download each one as a very practical PDF to bring along on your trip. The itineraries include information on the heritage sites, the accessible bridges and streets (“calli”) and indicate the best way to get to places or to see them – when they are not accessible in any way – from a great viewpoint. It also includes indications of public accessible toilets along the way, as toilets in bars and restaurants (especially the really nice and typical/traditional ones) are not the most easy to use, being often very very small and not adapted.
Gondolas & Wheelchairs
Always dreamt of a romantic tour on a gondola? Well, dream no more: some very cool gondolieri have created just the thing for people in wheelchairs: a special lift to get you on and off a real gondola, in all comfort. Gondolas4all is a great project, and you can book your “ride” in their website. The website is only in Italian but it is pretty easy to figure out.
Want to be sure you can make it with your chair? They have a maximum size/weight: width 70 cm, lenght 100 cm and weight 180kg. For more info you can ask them directly by sending an email or calling – and one more thing: the price of the gondola is the same as the other non-accessible gondolas.
Venice is also a summer beach destination, in case you should want to relax and just lounge for a day or two, the Lido is for you! Reachable via the “vaporetto” boats (also accessible and a highly enjoyable ride), the Lido has three baths equipped for beachgoers with special mobility needs. The baths, managed by Venezia Spiagge, are the “Lungomare d’Annunzio”, the “San Nicolò” and the “Blue moon”. They offer easy access for people in wheelchairs, special chairs for swimming and adapted showers and changing rooms. The information at the links provided is in Italian, and we were not able to find the corresponding information in other languages. A mission for Google Translate!
General Accessibility of the area
Tip: Want to see all the city from a boat for dirt cheap? Take the vaporetto line 1 or 2 (the 2 is faster and stops less often) and see all the best spots of the city! The ticket has the reduced price of €1.50 and the accompanying person travels for free.
Moving around in Venice for people with mobility impairments is not easy, mostly because of the (wonderfully beautiful) structure of the city: the canals, the bridges, or the fact that to reach some places you have to use a “vaporetto” (public transport ferries). The city is ancient: most restaurants and shops have steps, there are cobblestone pavements, not to mention the fact that during the winter there is high water, most likely in November and December, which means that the city gets flooded and you risk getting stuck in your hotel or apartment for a few hours!
But for a city with such terrible starting points, Venice is extremely enjoyable for many reasons.
First of all, vaporetto lines are accessible, thanks to ramps that are laid out for you when you need to board and disembark (not convinced? check out the video further down the page). The full list and itineraries are at the link below. Once you are on, the vaporetto is a great way to explore the city from a great point of view, and almost for free! The normal tickets are very expensive (7,50 EUR), but the fee for travellers in a wheelchair is of 1,50 EUR and the person accompanying travels for free.
Also, on the lines 1 and 2, up to 4 people travelling in wheelchairs can be on board at the same time, perfect if you have a little group.
Not all bridges are un-accessible and during the winter months (including the carnival period) there are wide wooden ramps laid out to allow you to cross most of the unaccessible ones in the central part of town.
The itineraries presented by the Venice Municipality are a great tool: if you follow them, you can avoid the harder parts of town and they include the location of accessible public toilets. Add the accessible gondolas and a good selection of adapted hotels, with all ranges of prices, and your trip to Venice is not as difficult as you would think.
The mapping of accessible public toilets is also guaranteed by a website and free mobile app entirely dedicated to this.
The main airport in the area is Venice Marco Polo, but there is also an airport in Treviso, the A. Canova Airport (TSF). Treviso is a lovely city half an hour away from Venice by train. The Treviso airport is very small but accessible.
Accessibility in the Marco Polo airport is very well managed, with a lot of practical information, maps and further information available at the links below. The Airport has a mobile landing stage at the dock, free reserved parking, and a “Sala amica” “friendly lounge” near the boarding gates in the Departures Hall.
Their service includes accompanying people with reduced mobility (temporary or permanent) and all other disabilities. They have a special project for people with autism, to help manage the airport passage.
To reach Venice from the Marco Polo airport you can take one of the accessible boats of Alilaguna, or a train (thanks to the assistance service), or arrive by car and park near the train station Santa Lucia, in Piazzale Roma (there are 14 dedicated parking spaces). If you are arriving by train you have to book the assistance either beforehand, or go to a Sala Blu and ask there.
Assistance for Trenitalia trains
Alilaguna – From the Airport to the city and back by boat
Venice Marco Polo – Information on accessibility and special assistance
Venice Marco Polo – Useful tips on how to get from the airport to the city from Sage Travelling
Venice Marco Polo – Official map of the airport’s accessible facilities
Venice Marco Polo – Useful information for travellers with autism
International Airport A. Canova Treviso (TSF) – Information on accessibility and special assistance
Photo credit: header photo is by Mitja Juraja from Pexels