Switzerland: Disabled Needs
A summer and winter sports paradise
Although Switzerland can pose difficulties for the mobility impaired, because its most scenic areas are mountainous, the Swiss have gone to great lengths to improve access. According to Switzerland Tourism, more than 150 railway stations now have wheelchair ramps, and another 150 stations in Switzerland have special wheelchair lifts to help passengers on and off trains. In smaller towns in Switzerland, station employees may lift wheelchair passengers on and off the train by hand.
Many lake steamers in Switzerland are wheelchair-accessible. (The main deck is usually at the same level as the landing platform or gangway.) Check with the local boat ticket office, since some sailings may be more wheelchair-friendly than others. Hotels, pensions, and inns in Switzerland vary in their accessibility. Small inns in rural areas in Switzerland may not have elevators, but many do, so it’s best to check before travelling.
Newer or renovated hotels in Switzerland often have special facilities such as bathrooms with roll-in showers and toilets with grab bars. The Swiss Hotel Guide uses symbols to identify accessible hotels, and a special hotel guide for disabled travellers can be ordered by mail from Switzerland. You will find that cities and towns in Switzerland have special public restrooms for disabled travellers. These are usually unisex restrooms with the international wheelchair symbol on the door.
In train stations in Switzerland, the wheelchair restroom may be locked. If it is you can borrow a key from the stationmaster or the clerk at the information counter.
Larger cities and towns in Switzerland such as Zürich, Geneva, Bern, and Lucerne are usually easy to get around, at least in the main tourist areas. Lakeside promenades in Switzerland can be especially nice for wheelchair travellers.
In the mountains, seek advice from the local tourist office. Many hiking paths in Switzerland are paved, some aren't at all steep, and quite a few are accessible by cogwheel train or cablecar. Don’t think that anyone who has impaired mobility will be denied Switzerland's alpine scenery – though it will be easier to visit mountain resorts in the summer, since ice and snow can make it difficult to get around.