- MemberJuly 31, 2018 at 10:34 pm
I did a trip to Brussels last weekend. After recent trips to Barcelona and Berlin my experience in Brussels for wheelchair accessibility was nowhere near as good.
The trams were not accessible, the buses are supposed to be but I have heard from others that the ramps often don’t work (I didn’t try them.) I got a taxi from Midi station to the Grand Place which cost me €10 for a regular taxi (a tram would have been about €2), when I wanted to go back to my hotel I found the taxi rank and a driver went off to find a different driver with a wheelchair accessible taxi. As he was about to put me in he told me it would be €25 for this ‘special’ taxi… I said too expensive, I could get in a normal taxi, so he dropped the price to €15 which I accepted because I didn’t have the energy to argue further.
Grand Place and the streets around have cobblestones that make for a very wobbly ride. Most of the shops have one or more (often BIG) steps to get in. The restaurant I went to, and one of the bars, I could only access the outside tables. The Irish bar I got in with a little help but the gents toilets were down stairs and the ladies up stairs. I did not see an accessible toilet the whole day I was out.
The Sunday I was lacking in energy and didn’t want to be fleeced again for taxis so spent the day in the vicinity of Midi station until my Eurostar departed in the evening. Around the station on a Sunday it seems all the surrounding streets are turned in to a giant market. And for six weeks in the summer the streets near my hotel are turned in to a fairground.
I stayed at the Hotel Mercure Midi Central which was very accessible.
More details coming on my blog in the next few days.
- MemberAugust 1, 2018 at 5:11 am
I wouldn’t totally write off Brussels, but it is very challenging if you are up for it. 🙂
- MemberAugust 1, 2018 at 11:17 am
Thanks for a very honest review. I met someone from Belgium that said accessibility was less than great, but had trouble believing the capital of the EU would be so bad…
I found the price gouging for a special taxi very upsetting.
But thank you for your positive attitude! Love your blog too!
- MemberAugust 2, 2018 at 3:57 am
I thought with the EU parliament being in Brussels the city would be an example of accessibility, sadly not.
I think my next visit to Belgium will be to Antwerpen (Antwerp), I like visiting zoos and the one in Antwerpen backs on to the railway station so easy to get to. I also understand that the trams there are accessible.
- MemberAugust 2, 2018 at 12:21 pm
Please be sure to share your Antwerp review after you go!
- MemberAugust 2, 2018 at 7:25 pm
That will possibly be next year, my next trip will be Venice in about 5 weeks time. 🙂
(This year I have been to Barcelona, Berlin and Brussels so people are telling me to spell it
- MemberAugust 2, 2018 at 7:47 pm
Please do leave a review on Berlin here too!
- MemberAugust 2, 2018 at 8:15 pm
I’ll do that at the weekend, still lacking in energy from Brussels and writing up my blogs from that trip. 🙂
- MemberAugust 12, 2018 at 12:06 pm
Seems kinda silly that the bar closes on the weekends!
After you finish your Eurostar write up, please start a discussion here too! I have so many questions! I’m very jealous that you can take a train to different countries!
Say hi to Mikey!
- MemberAugust 12, 2018 at 8:03 pm
Will do, I previously posted that the Eurostar review and the Brussels trip write up will be done today, whilst that remains true I have decided to publish one on Tuesday and the other on Friday.
I consider England and Wales to be different countries so for me to take a train from north Wales to the capital, Cardiff, I have to cross the England/Wales border at least 4 times. :O
(When I publish a post my Blog gets lots more visitors than normal so I decided to spread them out to maintain interest. :D)
- MemberAugust 14, 2018 at 7:42 pm
Very sly, but it worked – I’m hooked!
- MemberAugust 18, 2018 at 5:22 pm
Another great post!
About Grand Place, was there an accessible toilet? What was the cobblestone like in a wheelchair? Really bumpy?
- MemberAugust 18, 2018 at 7:47 pm
I didn’t find the cobblestones too bad.
Ah, accessible toilet, I forgot to mention in my blog that I didn’t find a single accessible toilet all day whilst I was out! The only ones I found in Brussels were in my hotel room and at the railway station. :/
At the toilets in the railway station for the able-bodied toilets you had to purchase a ticket (€1?) which you used to get through a turnstile, for the disabled one there was a button by the door to press and someone would come to open it. (When I needed it someone with the key happened to be walking by so I don’t know what the wait is like.)
- MemberAugust 20, 2018 at 5:53 pm
Good to hear that you plan to visit Antwerp (and maybe some other Flemish cities, too?). Please let me know if I can help with anything. I work for Visit Flanders
- AdministratorAugust 20, 2018 at 7:47 pm
Thanks for the great info!
- MemberAugust 21, 2018 at 11:18 pm
I think I visited the ‘Visit Flanders Visitors Centre’ but did not notice they had accessible toilet.
Is it the place just around the corner from The Sister bar?
I hope next year to visit Antwerp for the zoo, and maybe Plankaendaal too. I also have a Turkish friend who lives in Ghent. 🙂
- MemberAugust 21, 2018 at 11:38 pm
That’s the place, indeed. I agree that it should be indicated better.
Antwerp, Mechelen (Planckendael) and Ghent: sounds like a great tour! Keep me posted, here or on accessible-at-visitflanders.com.
- MemberNovember 3, 2018 at 9:47 pm
I would also like to contribute with a list of 6 Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Brussels. After participating in the Destinations for All World Summit on Accessible Tourism I had the chance to do an accessible guided tour around Brussels.
It is definitely true that the accessibility is far from perfect, but still, there are some quite nice things to do in Europe’s capital city.
- MemberNovember 5, 2018 at 12:36 pm
I love the art in your title pages. Is it yours? It adds real character.
Good to see that there are some great museums available (I love museums) that are putting an effort in to be wheelchair accessible, but yikes those are expensive taxis!
- MemberFebruary 17, 2019 at 5:52 pm
I saw this sign near my hotel in Brussels (nice big letters in the window so it is hard to miss!). It seems that this organization is a lobbying group for the EU. Hopefully they are making headway!
- MemberFebruary 17, 2019 at 6:01 pm
I am also on the lookout for accessible toilets in Brussels, but public toilets in general are few and far between (or just difficult to spot!).
Here is one that stood out with a wheelchair mark near the square of Sainte-Catherine. You need to put in a few coins to use it.
This area is a kilometre or so from the Grand Palace touristy area, but has lots of outdoor cafes and areas to stroll.
- MemberFebruary 17, 2019 at 11:38 pm
I saw this sign near my hotel in Brussels (nice big letters in the window so it is hard to miss!). It seems that this organization is a lobbying group for the EU. Hopefully they are making headway! Hopefully, though they have already been in existence for nearly 25 years. 🙂
- MemberMay 12, 2019 at 5:43 am
Toilets are hard to find at the best of times in Brussels. For wheelchair users this is made even more difficult because many restaurants and coffee shops in the tourist centre core have a step up to get in. Here are a few wheelchair accessible toilets we found last weekend.
A posh hotel only a couple of minutes walk from the Grand Place in the direction of Manneken Pis. The staff let us use the accessible washroom without hesitation for free.
Rue de l’Amigo 1-3, 1000 Bruxelles
+32 2 547 47 47
2. Novotel Brussels Off Grand Place
Another washroom that we used near Grand Place on the way to the central station. You must pay 1 euro at the front desk to get the key but they have an accessible toilet for use.
Rue du Marché Aux Herbes 120, 1000 Bruxelles,
+32 2 620 04 29
3. Ubiway The Mint
A little bit North West from Grand Place and just past De Brouckere Metro station, a spacious spot to rest for coffee indoors with a free accessible toilet. Don’t even have to buy coffee to use the washroom.
Boulevard Anspach 2, 1000 Bruxelles,
+32 2 261 03 80
- MemberMay 12, 2019 at 1:46 pm
I posted this elsewhere on a discussion about buses, but for completeness I will repost it here. We found that buses are frequent in Brussels and had a mostly positive experience. We didn’t try the metro because you have to pre-book for assistance and we wanted more flexibility.
As for easy boarding/getting off, we were 2 for 3 on the buses that we took (line 27). Two times the ramp deployed, one time it was broken. Even still, the bus ‘knelt’ down and we could board and get off the bus in a manual wheelchair with a bit of assistance without the ramp (probably not possible in an electric wheelchair). Sorry I can’t give you results from a bigger sample size!
Some routes in Brussels are identified as being “more” accessible. (I assume this means the ramp will always work??) Check this his page out:
As you can see, line 27 that we took isn’t on the list, but it was still possible to ride in a wheelchair.
The bus routes from the airport are on the list as “more” accessible (Routes 12 and 21). Good service every 10 to 20 minutes. I ride the bus to the airport frequently, but I have yet to see a wheelchair on it. However, the buses are the same type as the ones we rode elsewhere in the city so I wouldn’t foresee any problems getting on. I recommend telling the driver where you want to get off beforehand and he/she will stop the bus in a easy position to get off.
- MemberMay 22, 2019 at 8:46 pm
Berlin Berlin is beautiful I like it.
- MemberFebruary 5, 2020 at 2:20 am
Thank you for your thorough albeit discouraging post. My partner (and my kids’ father) l-o-v-e-s Belgium and really wants us to go (although it is a big trip for us coming from the western USA). I’ve told him “fine — you plan it.” He has never, ever planned a trip in his entire life (before we got together he traveled frequently with work, or his friends planned everything). He tries to sneak out of getting his phone online (when in other countries) so he doesn’t even have to help navigate, do on-the-spot research where to eat, etc. So I am pretty sure we will never get to Belgium. Maybe that’s for the best, eh … but I still copied your post to share with him, in case lightning strikes. Ha ha! After our last stressful trip (Puerto Vallarta, MX) I am kinda taking a break from planning any more trips (although we are go London next month and then Greece this summer — already planned + paid for) — my psyche needs the respite.
Hope your other travels have been and continue to be fun and ACCESSIBLE.
- MemberFebruary 6, 2020 at 6:10 pm
Just a small note from a local: what goes for the capital doesn’t necessarily go for the whole country. If your partner wants to plan a holiday in Belgium, I suggest to start from http://www.accessibleflanders.be. Flanders is the northern region of Belgium. It’s far from perfect in terms of accessibility (lots of old places) but if you prepare a bit, it will be worth the effort.
- MemberFebruary 8, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Thank you Pieter! I shared your idea with my partner. He used to go to Brussels a few times a year when he worked with Apple, and he has such a warm fuzzy feeling about it. I have that same feeling about chocolate, so … who am I to argue? Ha!
I would like to see Mannekin Pis and show it to our sons: when they were little and working on toilet training I would let them stand on a back porch and tinkle off the side into the garden — they were out little Mannekin Pis boys. (This was before our youngest’s catastrophic regression and the sweet reason why I get to participate in this forum.)
Have a good weekend, Pieter — thank you again for your thoughtful tip.
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