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Accessible Austria

Reprinted from PN July 2017

Absorb some European culture with beautiful art, historic castles, tasty treats and more with visits to picturesque and accessible Vienna & Salzburg.

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One of the joys of traveling to Europe is the opportunity to see multiple countries. While planning a trip to Germany, we decided to extend the trip by a few more days and added Austria to the itinerary. Traveling from Munich to Salzburg is approximately two and a half hours. Salzburg to Vienna is a two-hour ride. Dozens of trains run between the two countries daily. With advance preparation, wheelchair travelers can find affordably priced tickets and accessible seating.  

Vivacious Vienna

Regarded as Europe’s cultural capital, the city of Vienna with its music, museums, theaters, art and cafés should be slowly savored like a perfectly aged glass of wine. Ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world, Vienna is stunning. The capital of Austria is wheelchair-friendly, and the official tourism website (austria.info/us) includes a wealth of information on barrier-free travel. 

Transportation


For the past few years, Vienna has diligently modified its busy train stations, providing even more accessible features. Wheelchair users are required to coordinate their trip with the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) at least 24 hours in advance for travel within the country and 48 hours prior for journeys outside Austria. The mobility service will assist travelers with disabilities with ticketing, as well as arranging for personnel to meet you at a designated time and place to help with boarding. We used the phone number provided on the ÖBB website (oebb.at/en/barriererefreies-reisen/voranmeldung-beim-mobilitaetsservice) and spoke to an English-speaking staff member. Our tickets were mailed to us about a month before our trip. We always arrive early at train stations and stop by the customer service office to remind them we’re boarding with a wheelchair. The doors to some trains are quite high and require the use of a ramp to board. The relaxing train ride from Munich to Vienna took us past the rolling countryside, and we even caught a glimpse of the Alps.  Arriving in Vienna, we hopped on a wheelchair-accessible underground metro to reach the center of the city. Vienna’s subway trains and stations are almost completely wheelchair accessible. All of the stations are accessed by either a ramp or elevator. You can check that elevators are operational in real time on the internet (wienerlinien.at/aufzugsinfo). 

At our stop, we found an elevator that took us to the heart of the first district. Rising to ground level, the first building we saw is the symbol of the city — St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was married. One of Vienna’s most popular attractions, the Gothic structure construction started in the 12th century and boasts four towers; the tallest is 447 feet. Guided wheelchair-accessible tours are offered daily. The roof and catacombs are not accessible. Our hotel was less than a 10-minute walk through the Golden Quarter, a new upscale shopping experience where fashionably dressed mannequins beckoned from the display windows of internationally recognized brands such as Prada, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. The brilliant, blue sky contrasted with the snow-white buildings. The streets and sidewalks were flat, and maneuvering in a wheelchair wasn’t difficult. 

For more information, visit austria.info/us.

 

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Accessible Austria

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