Barrier-free travel in Prague

The atmospheric Czech capital, while not yet perfect, is gradually increasing its accessibility

Getting around Prague for a person with reduced mobility, whether simply traveling to or living in the city, certainly equals overcoming some challenges. With its rich history and cultural life, Prague is without a doubt one of the European cities offering the best atmosphere and experience, but its centuries-old architecture, cobblestone streets, and hilly terrain make some places inaccessible. It may not yet be as far along as other European destinations, such as Vienna, whose transportation system is reportedly almost 100 percent accessible, but Prague scores a moderate “grade” in being wheelchair-friendly and takes its further improvement quite seriously. Whether one is looking to enjoy some sightseeing, get to work easily, or simply grab a beer with friends, being aware of the city’s strengths and limits in that area is crucial.

Transportation


Traveling from point A to B in a short time still poses a bit of a challenge, but since the establishment of its first accessible lines in 1994, the city has greatly improved. Currently, around 70 percent of Prague’s metro stations, 50 percent of its trams, and 80 percent of its buses are barrier-free.

Most metro stations operate passenger elevators, and in case of technical problems, some of them, including Opatov, Háje, Chodov, Roztyly, and Nádraží Holešovice offer freight elevators. However, it is often reported that the elevators break and accessibility is limited, leaving commuters with reduced mobility unable to use the transportation. Similarly, on some stations, the elevators are located in an entirely different place than the main entrance, making them hard to find for those who do not already know where to look for them.

When it comes to fully accessible buses and trams, there are many, but still the gaps between them are often long and the schedules are sometimes not very accurate. Some tram stops are also located directly on the street and have high curbs that cannot really be passed without assistance, further limiting the options for wheelchair-bound persons. On the other hand, the Prague Public Transit is constantly conducting renovations in an effort to transform the city into an easy-to-navigate destination for everyone.

For the time being, the best option to guarantee smooth travel is to plan the trip in advance, and regularly check the Prague Public Transit website (www.dpp.cz/en) for updates on technical issues and station accessibility. Alternatively, the city also operates a few accessible taxis (www.centrummobility.cz) that operate 24h a day, but it’s best to book them in advance.

Prague’s Ruzyně airport offers continuous assistance to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility free of charge, from check-in, through security and passport control, to boarding the plane. The assistance is best booked with the airline one plans to fly with, and possibly in advance, in order to make sure it will be available immediately. All of the airport’s terminals are equipped with accessible restrooms, and free parking is available for those with disabled persons ID cards.

Sightseeing

The historical center of Prague can provide a breathtaking experience, and the UNESCO World Heritage status it received in 1992 serves only as proof. Unfortunately, that status also means that ensuring a barrier-free access to the sights and buildings becomes troublesome, as any changes have to be approved by the heritage departments and have to be made with preserving the aesthetics and technicalities of the building in mind.

Still, most of the major sights, such as the Prague Castle, Town Hall, Charles Bridge, or Petrin Hill are fully accessible. Out of the castle’s ten areas open to the public, eight are fully accessible. While Prague’s cobbles are sometimes a bit rough, reportedly most sidewalks still offer a relatively smooth ride, as compared to other cities, such as Brussels or Amsterdam. Otherwise, alternative routes can also be found. To help wheelchair-bound visitors with navigating the city’s picturesque center, the Prague Association of Wheelchair Users published a comprehensive guide – Prague Heritage Reservation: Accessibility Atlas for People with Impaired Mobility. It contains useful tips about historical sights, best routes, and all the details about their accessibility, and can be found at Prague Information Service Center at the Old Town Square.

For those who prefer to have a trip planned by an agency, there are several possible options. Bezbatour (www.bezbatour.cz) offers not only tours of Prague, but also the whole Czech Republic, and is open to organizing personalized trips according to the client’s needs. Similarly, Accessible Prague (www.accessibleprague.com), with an outstanding TripAdvisor rating, helps tourists with anything they may need, starting from finding accessible accommodation, providing Prague tours, to hiring scooters for a better “roll-ability” around the city.

All in all, Prague is slowly transforming into a wheelchair-friendly location and the city’s organizations try their best to raise awareness of the hardships of wheelchair travel. One such example is the “Jedeme v tom s vámi” project, organized by Asistence o.p.s. since 2007, in which many executives, celebrities, and students tried for a day how it is to navigate the city on a wheelchair.

“When you are sitting in a wheelchair, you suddenly realize how different from your usual impression Prague really looks,” said Tomáš Končický, one of the participants of the 2015 edition and the director of Prague’s Gutmann Bank. “It’s crucial for everyone to be able to get to all places without any limits. This initiative is great and we definitely support it, which is one of the reasons we are here today.”


For more information on the issue and accessible travel tips, visit:
Asistence o.p.s.: www.asistence.org
Prague Association of Wheelchair Users: www.pov.cz/en
WheelchairTravel: wheelchairtravel.org/prague

Video on YouTube

Related articles

Facebook comments

Prague Daily Monitor

Prague’s # 1 source for Czech news in English - Sign up for...

Expats Center Prague

All you need to help you settle in and to make your life...

Portuguesa Panská

Portuguese wines & Port wines in Prague!

ZENERGY Top Hotel Praha

Thai massages in Prague 4

Qatar Airways

Book flights with a World-Class Airline!

myDriver (by Sixt)

First class airport transfer in Prague

Eat with Locals

Authentic local food tours Prague

Other Way Holiday

Maldives - The Sunny Side of Life!


PragueMonitor.com

Prague’s # 1 source for Czech news in English…


PragueConnect.cz

Expat and Czech Business Professional Network


Tschech.News

German Language Info Service