Enjoying European beach culture in a wheelchair is easy at these spots, thanks to floating chairs, Seatrac systems, and accessible transport.
With advances in chair designs and a number of beaches making accessibility a priority, there is no reason to let your wheelchair hold you back from hearing those ocean waves. If, like most travelers, you’re heading to Europe this year, we have even more good news: Many shorelines across the continent are constantly working to make sure the sand and sea can be enjoyed by all, by incorporating the Seatrac system, which makes transitioning from sand to water easier than ever by allowing a person to sit in a seat while the chair is moved into the water.
With a little bit of research, you can be tilted back, basking in the sunshine, and getting those wheels as sandy as possible in no time. Ahead, read all about the most accessible beaches in Europe, from Greece to Italy.
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Valentino Beach Club, Italy
Located in Calabria, the Valentino Beach Club has gone above and beyond accessible expectations with the installation of private, raised platforms connected to a Seatrac system. The solar powered Seatrac allows wheelchair users to take a dip with the help of a smooth-seated track system. This experience is like no other, as there is no additional beach wheelchair necessary. If you fly into Lamezia Terme International airport, the beach is just 30 minutes away with accessible transportation—and there’s plenty else to do in the area.
North Berwick Beach, Scotland
There are five different sand-accessible wheelchairs to choose from at this beach in Scotland, so each traveler will be able to find the most comfortable chair for their accessibility needs. There is also a fixed outdoor hoist available to transition into beach wheelchairs, but you must provide your own sling. Popular with families, the shoreline spans a little over a half-mile long and has the most amazing views of nearby Bass Rock—plus, it’s less than one hour by train, bus, or car from Edinburgh. (ScotRail trains and Service 124 buses are accessible, and Allied Mobility has accessible van rentals).
Sirens Resort Beach, Greece
You’ll find this beach resort sprawled along the Corinthian Coast. A two-hour drive from Athens, Sirens Resort can arrange for an adapted van for pickup at the airport. For those looking to hit the sand, the hotel offers beach wheelchairs and scooters to its guests. There are also ramps on the beach that go all the way into the water. But, if simply relaxing above water is more your style, there are paved paths and larger areas to park and hang out on dry land. If you decide to stick around, the resort also offers five fully accessible and equipped apartments.
Agia Triada Beach, Cyprus
Roll right up on the sands of Agia Triada Beach, where you can experience the clearest blue waters Paralimni has to offer. Like a few others on this list, this beach has a Seatrac system, as well as floating beach wheelchairs. A beachside kiosk makes mid-day snacking and drinking easy, and the relaxed vibes at this beach are reason enough to plan a trip to this quiet resort village. If you’re looking for an accessible place to stay while in Cyprus, consider Villa Carpe Diem. This vacation rental is fully accessible and even offers wheelchair-friendly transportation, so you can get around the island with ease.
Vari Beach, GreeceOne of the most popular shorelines on Greece’s Syros Island is Vari Beach, a small coastline with great views of the sunny Ambelos Bay. What qualifies this stretch of sand as one of the best accessible beaches in Europe is the on-site Seatrac system, which allows wheelchair users to independently access the water. Beachgoers can also choose to transfer into a floating beach wheelchair to cool off from the hot sand. Accessible parking is available and ramps are in place.
Barceloneta Beach, Barcelona
Long considered one of Barcelona’s oldest and most-loved sandy spots is Barceloneta Beach. Located near the Gothic Quarter, it’s a beautiful wheelchair-accessible city beach with assistants on-hand to help sunbathers and swimmers make the most of the space. Wheelchair users can choose to use one of the on-site floating wheelchairs that will carry you from the sand directly into the water. There is also a hoist available for an easy transfer from your own chair into the beach chair. Keep an eye out for changing opening hours, though: Like Nova Icaria—which is a quick eight-minute drive down the coast—this beach is open from June through September with varying public hours.
Torre Guaceto Beach, Italy
Along the calm, clear waters of Puglia, you’ll roll upon Torre Guaceto Beach. Located a quick 25-minute drive from the city of Ostani, it’s fully equipped with beach wheelchairs—and a whole lot of them—for guest use. One of the on-site wheelchairs is designed to go into the water, whereas the other is designed for beach use. The latter will still get you close enough to the sea, though, that you can feel the ocean spray across your face. There are also adapted bathrooms on the boardwalk, designed for wheelchair users, as well as accessible parking.
Nova Icaria Beach, Spain
The most wheelchair-accessible beach in Barcelona—yes, even more so than Barceloneta—Nova Icaria Beach has manual and floating beach wheelchairs available for public use. There’s also volunteer assistance, and plenty of accessible paths that lead all the way to the water, in addition to accessible showers and toilets, plus a hoist to assist with transfers. Make sure and read up on the hours before you visit, though: In June, this beach is open on weekends and public holidays; in July, it’s open daily; and in August you can visit from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In September, it gets even trickier; the August schedule applies for the first half of September, but it transitions to weekends only throughout the last half of the month. Plan accordingly.
Source: Conde Nast Traveller