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Amsterdam

The information displayed on this page is taken from John Morris' blog
John says that Amsterdam is wheelchair accessible. The city  Quite comfortable for a wheelchair passenger. Most of the city's top attractions, including boat tours of the Amsterdam canals, are wheelchair accessible. Although parts of the public transportation system may not be suitable for some wheelchair users, the streets and sidewalks are extremely accessible. It is easy to find an accessible place to sleep, as many hotels operate according to ADA recommendations.  With proper planning, comfortable wheelchair mobility in the capital of Dutch culture can be easily realized.

Image by Ben Koorengevel

01

Schiphol Airport

Upon landing at the airport, you will be directed to the departure hall. You will then proceed to passport control. Your travel documents will be inspected and stamped, and you will proceed to claim your luggage. After collecting your luggage, go through customs and the arrival hall. It's a fairly quick arrival process.

Wheelchair accessible toilet facilities are located throughout the airport and in many of the business lounges and first class airlines.
Learn more:
  www.schiphol.nl

If you are traveling with your own wheelchair, the responsibility lies with the airline. They are responsible for notifying
​​ To assist in the wheelchair and ground staff of the airport on your arrival or departure, and the specific needs you have.

Before traveling, I inform the airlines of my electric wheelchair, and my expectations that it will be delivered to the gate upon arrival. On trips where I start my way in Schiphol, or connect there, I note that I expect to hand over my wheelchair at the entrance to the plane.
Chances are, they will tell you on the day of travel that your request is "not possible" and "the airport is not designed to accommodate this." These statements are incorrect, and illustrate the failure of your airline to schedule / request the level of assistance you need.

Checking gates Any type or size of personal wheelchair is possible at Schiphol. There is an "ambulolift" that allows entry with the wheelchair directly to the opening of the plane. It may help to tell your airline to request it for you. For more information on the assistance available at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, check out their website directly. And of course it would not hurt to take a printed copy of the information regarding wheelchairs being inspected at the gate.

 

There are several wheelchair accessible transportation options available for traveling from the airport to the city. The least expensive are the city bus and the suburban trains.  Pre-booking for trains is required. If you do not have a reservation in advance to travel on the InterCity train, go to the information desk and a staff member will assist you. This involves waiting an hour to 90 minutes for departure. Wheelchairs are needed for boarding. Trains take about 15 minutes to reach the city.

The airport express bus (city bus no. 197) and the night bus N97, offer a service from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam city center, with a stop at Museumplein. These buses have wheelchair accessible ramps that the bus driver must fold out. Not all bus drivers know how to operate the ramp, in my experience. Buses leave from the B9 bus platform, directly outside the airport. More information about the high-speed bus to the airport can be found here:
 
www.bus197.nl

All passengers, especially disabled passengers, must arrive at the airport to check in two hours before their departure. If you need a wheelchair on loan to cross the airport and terminal or if you need assistance from another type of disabled person, contact your airline directly.

02

Things to do in Amsterdam

Almost all of the city's popular attractions are wheelchair accessible, except the Anne Frank House. Due to the lack of an elevator or lift, wheelchair users will not be able to access the Anne Frank Hidden Loft without going up the stairs. Still, the city has a lot to offer and is one of Europe's great treasures.

 

Sign I  Amsterdam
Each tourist takes a picture with the iconic letters "I Amsterdam", located behind the Rijksmuseum in the beautiful Museum Square. It will surprise many visitors to the city (and even some locals!) To know that the letters in the picture above are not completely unique - two more facilities are in the city. The letters in Museum Square have now become a landmark and represent the city's willingness to accept everyone, regardless of race, gender, nationality or physical ability.
Nearest metro station: 1.7 km from Weesperplein, lines 51, 53, 54.

The Royal Concert Hall
The Royal Concert Hall, or Concertgebouw, is one of the leading concert venues in the world. Built between 1883 and 1886, the building is located near Museum Square. On its 125th anniversary, in 2013, Queen Beatrix honored the venue with the royal title “Royal”.

The Concertgebouw hosts about 900 concerts and annual events. Performances usually focus on music
​​ Opera or orchestra, but the place also welcomed jazz musicians and world musicians. The hall is wheelchair accessible, but there are only two wheelchair seats in both the main hall and the recital hall. Wheelchairs have access to the halls via a lift, and accessible toilets are available.
Learn more:
concertgebouw.nl
Nearest metro station: 2.3 km from Weesperplein, lines 51, 53, 54

Rijksmuseum
Originally opened in 1800, moved to its current building in 1885 in Museum Square. The focus of the museum is on art and history. About 8,000 works are on display at any given time, the collection spans the history of the country from 1200 to 2000. Among the most valuable items of the collection can be found paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, with many of the works produced by masters including Rembrandt and Vermeer.


All Rijksmuseum galleries are wheelchair accessible, with lifts located throughout the building. Accessible streams are also available. Tickets to the museum are € 17.50 for adults. Guests with disabilities who can not navigate the museum without assistance, may bring one free escort.

Learn more: 
www.rijksmuseum.nl/en

Nearest metro station: 1.6 km from Weesperplein,

Lines 51, 53, 54.

Van Gogh Museum

National Museum of the Netherlands and contains the world's largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh.

The museum is located in Museum Square and is fully wheelchair accessible. Access is provided via elevators, and inside there are services designed for wheelchair users. Admission for adults is € 17.00. One lender may accompany wheelchair users free of charge.
Learn more:

www.vangoghmuseum.com
The nearest metro station
  2.2 km from Weesperplein, lines 51, 53, 54.


Museum Square
A public square located next to the Rijksmuseum. The square is crossed by a number of wheelchair accessible paths, the square serves as a venue for art and cultural events, demonstrations and other public gatherings. Within walking distance of the square are the Van Gogh Museum, the Stadlik Museum and the Diamond Museum.
 

Nearest metro station: 1.6 km from Weesperplein,

Lines 51, 53, 54 .

Canal boating

In June 2015, I went on a cruise offered by Blue Boat. Many of their cruises are wheelchair accessible via a ramp and elevator. The elevator easily handled my heavy electric wheelchair, and the 75-minute cruise was great fun.
Nearest metro station: 1.3 km from Waterloopline,

Lines 51, 53, 54.

Amsterdam Museum
The Amsterdam Museum may be a museum of history, but it is remarkably innovative. The museum presents the history of the city in ways that are truly fascinating. Interactive exhibits steal the show and are perfected by a large number of audio / video displays. Less reading and standing (or sitting) quietly! The 2-3 hours you will spend at the Amsterdam Museum will be worth it.
Nearest metro station: 1 km from Waterloopline, lines 51, 53, 54.

Wendelpark
The 120-acre Wendelpark is a public park in the Amsterdam-South district, within walking distance of Museum Square. The park is a center for community activities. The Openluchttheater hosts free music performances from many genres during the summer months of June, July and August. There are trails throughout the park, which are utilized by cyclists and pedestrians alike. Wheelchair users can roll as well.
Nearest metro station: 1.9 km from Waterloafline,

Lines 51, 53, 54.

Dam Square and the Royal Palace of Amsterdam
In the center of Amsterdam, within walking distance of the main train station, sits Dam Square. The square is one of the most popular in Amsterdam, mainly because the Royal Palace of Amsterdam is adjacent to it. The dam also contains a national monument, dedicated to the victims of World War II. The cobblestones of the square are difficult to navigate in a wheelchair, but not impossible. I have surveyed other cities in Europe with much harder areas than stone floors.


The Royal Palace, originally built in 1655 as the town hall, is the main tourist attraction of the square. The building became a royal residence in 1808, when King Louis I of the Netherlands, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, took over the republic. Today, the palace is used by the Dutch royal family, but mainly for ceremonies and special events. The palace is open to the public many days during the year, with an entrance fee of € 10.00.
Self-guided tours, with a free audio guide, wheelchair accessible. Access to the upper floors is provided by an elevator, and I was able to access the same rooms as other tourists. Inside there are wheelchair accessible toilets. Wheelchairs for loan are available for guests who have not brought one of their own.
Nearest metro station: 0.7 km from Nieuwmarkt, lines 51, 53, 54.

Rembrandt House Museum
The house of Rembrandt Hermanson van Rijn, and a place where he worked / painted. The building was recently renovated, returning it to a period style from the 17th century. Unfortunately, this makes the house itself inaccessible to wheelchairs.
The building adjacent and connected to Rembrandt's home contains the exhibition galleries and restrooms of the Rembrandt House Museum. This building is wheelchair accessible. Unfortunately, without access to the historic property, you would prefer not to visit there.

Nearest metro station: 0.4 km from Waterloopline,
Lines 51, 53, 54.

St. Nicholas' Basilica
Built between 1884 and 1887, St. Nicholas' Basilica is the city's main Catholic church, and the best known. Located in the city center, it is just a short walk from the main train station.
Wheelchair access to the church and temple is quite good. An elevator allows travelers in wheelchairs and those who have difficulty on the stairs to avoid them completely. You may need assistance at some of the doors, like me, but other visitors and community staff will be happy to help.
Nearest metro station: 0.7 km from Nieuwmarkt, lines 51, 53, 54.

The Heineken Experience
The Heineken Experience is an interactive self-guided tour through the historic brewery of the Dutch Pilsner capital, Heineken. The building, located in Amsterdam, was built as the first Heineken Brewery in 1867. It remained the company's main brewery until 1988. In 1991, it became the company's official visitor center.
Nearest metro station: 1.3 km from Weesperplein, lines 51, 53, 54.

Image by 3DVisu
Image by Martijn Baudoin

03

Public Transport

Amsterdam's public transport network is partially wheelchair accessible, but there are a few important things you need to know. Due to the difficulty of renting a wheelchair taxi, I rely almost entirely on public transportation visiting the city. On this page, I have listed the critical accessibility information for all means of public transport. I have also attached some tips that will make its use much less stressful.
 

Subway - Metro
Amsterdam's metro system contains 4 lines numbered 50, 51, 53, 54 and after writing this mam a line 52 was added. As of 2017 the network included 33 total stations. All stations are wheelchair accessible. Accessibility features include ramps / elevators to access the station platform and wider entrance gates.


The metro system uses four different types of trains, which are randomly assigned to different lines. The picture on the left shows the new model type "M5". It is the most accessible of the four, with a space of only two inches between the train and the station platform. Other trains have a gap of 2-4 inches, depending on the design of the station.
 

My electric wheelchair, the Quantum Q6 Edge, has 3-inch front wheels. I always felt comfortable crossing the gaps, and never got stuck. Managing these gaps will be much easier for manual wheelchair owners. My Verdict: The Amsterdam Metro is very accessible. Wheelchair users should not have difficulty using it. Just be sure to pay attention to the route maps and get on the right train!

 

Electric-elevated trains
The streets of Amsterdam also contain the tram rails. Trams are a very popular option for public transportation, as they are fast and easy to use (for physically capable passengers). The tram network on the street consists of 15 lines that run throughout the city.

Understanding the reality of wheelchair accessibility in trams can be difficult. There are many factors that determine whether you can get on the tram with your wheelchair. Here's what the city's public transportation agency says:

Wheelchairs accessible by the older type have space in the lower middle part of the wheelchair. The new Combino trams have a wheelchair ramp and the wheelchair space is located next to the driver. The accessible points on the trams are marked on the sticker. For both the tram and the bus, the wheelchair space is also the trolley space. Please remember that a wheelchair is always a priority over a stroller .

The tram fleet consists of two types. The "older type" trams mentioned above have stairs on all doors except the middle one. The middle door has a low floor, but no wheelchair ramp. Newer trams have low floors along their entire length and a wheelchair-accessible retractable ramp. The various tram models are rotated throughout the network, so there is no guarantee what type will serve a route on a particular day.

The ability to easily get on a tram in a wheelchair or not (or at all, if you use a motorized seat), depends on the tram station itself. Many stations include an elevated platform that allows for a level rise even in old-style trams. Others have only a partially elevated platform, while some have none at all. The space between the electric door and the elevated platforms can reach a width of up to 5 inches.

a train
Trains connect Amsterdam Airport to the city in about 15 minutes. They also provide service between the city's Zuid, Central and Bijlmer ArenA stations, among others.
In order to get on or off the train, hikers
  In wheelchairs you will need a station worker to connect the accessible ramp. As in all of Europe, trains meet a strict schedule. In order to ensure timely service at both ends of the journey, passengers using a wheelchair are required to book a seat in advance. Reservations can be made by calling the NS Disability Assistance Office at +31 (0) 30-2357822
 

If you have arrived at the airport and do not have a suitable car ticket, consult the information desk. They will issue you a ticket, but you may have to wait up to an hour. For intercity trains or sprints to the airport, or between stations within Amsterdam and the Netherlands, only advance reservations are required. It will be difficult to find an English speaking staff at stations outside the airport, and this staff may not be willing to make the call with you in English to issue you a ticket.

I showed up at stations in Amsterdam twice without an invitation, and it was hard to convince anyone to help. After much frustration, I did get the help I needed. I never pre-book an airport service. I never know how long it will take to pick up my wheelchair and luggage, so I do not mind waiting for an order to be placed for me at the information desk. Once the people at the airport have set the reservation, I go out for coffee and pastries while I wait for the planned departure of my train.
Learn more:
  www.ns.nl

Gold Tip:
Ask at the reception of your hotel to call and make the reservations for you!

 

City bus
Amsterdam's public transport system has 46 city bus lines, many of which operate at night. Most often, buses do not provide links to places in the center or south of Amsterdam. Most tourist sites are connected by tram and metro. Still, buses can provide tourists with a certain value, depending on where you are traveling. All city buses have a folding wheelchair ramp in the back door, and space for a wheelchair inside the bus. Not all bus drivers will know how to operate the ramp. You can do your best to guide them, but it may be best to wait and try your luck with the next driver. The time between the buses is 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the route.
Learn more:

www.gvb.nl.

ferry
The city operates ferries on 14 lines across the IJ River, "Amsterdam Coast". The ferries are completely free to travel, and are utilized by pedestrians, cyclists and moped / scooter users. Many of the ferries leave from Central Station and provide service to several points across the river.
Amsterdam ferries are wheelchair accessible. The ascent and descent is via a ramp that descends from the ferry, out to the pier. Wheelchair users can roll without assistance.

Cost and method of payment

An OV-chipkaart is an easy-to-use, rechargeable public transportation card. It can be purchased at ticket vending machines, and is valid for use on all Amsterdam public transport services, as well as on trains of the Dutch National Railways across the Netherlands. Buy an OV chip card at the airport, charge it with money and use it with the help of the public transportation system.  

04

Street accessibility

Sidewalks can be a barrier to wheelchair travel in many European cities. Not in Amsterdam! Wheelchair users will be able to easily navigate the city with the help of these tips. If you have the power or battery life of a wheelchair to roll over, you may prefer to do so instead of using the city's public transportation.

The geography of the city is mostly flat, or flat. You will not roll up and down steep hills. This means you will not have to use a lot of energy to explore the local area, and you will be able to roll at a leisurely pace as your friends walk by your side.

 

Amsterdam is a city of cyclists, and it offers wheelchair users a big advantage. If you come across a sidewalk in poor condition, roll your wheelchair onto the bike path. Be sure to watch out for bikes! Do not worry - even cyclists on wheels, so they will understand your need for a smooth ride without barriers.

Trams on the city street are a major component of public transportation. These trams ride on tracks. When crossing a street, you will also need to cross these lanes. Although they are embedded in the street itself, they stand out 1-2 inches. You will need some power to roll your manual wheelchair over them, and it will be bumpy. I have never had a problem crossing the tram tracks in my motorized wheelchair.

Paved stones will shake you a bit in your wheelchair, although it is much less noticeable compared to other European cities. Most sidewalks are not made of paved stones. Dam Square, where sites like the Royal Palace are located, is the most paved with such tiles.
Common sense tip: Plan the shortest path possible across these bumpy trails!

 

Image by Matheus Frade
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