Barcelona in a wheelchair - worth a trip!

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View from the "Olympic mountain" Montjuïc

Barcelona

The Catalan capital

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain after Madrid. Since the unsuccessful declaration of independence of Catalonia from Spain, Barcelona is represented again and again in the media and thus moved even more into the focus. Barcelona is located - as one can see on the picture - at the sea, namely at the Mediterranean Sea approximately 120 km at the south of the mountain range Pyrenees and the border to France

The Catalan capital is spatially constricted from all sides. Thus, on one side is the Mediterranean Sea, on the opposite side is the Mountain range Serra de Collserola and on the southern and northern side Barcelona is surrounded by the Rivers Llobregat and Besòs kept in check.

The Serra de Collserola, which is part of the coastal mountain range, is not particularly high. Thus reaches the highest point, the Tibidabo just 512 meters. On the Tibidabo stands a transmission tower visible from afar with 288.4 meters, the Torre de Collserola.

The highest point of the city itself is the Mont Tàber at Barri Gòtic old quarter. This is an important point for the city, because about 2000 years ago the Romans built here the settlement Barcino, from which later Barcelona emerged. In addition to Mont Tàber, there are several other small built-up hills in the city, each of which has given its name to the neighbourhoods that have sprung up there. 

In the southwest of the city lies the Montjuïc, one of the two "House Mountains" of the Catalan capital. Here, among other things, the World's Fair 1929, the world championship races of the Formula 1 as well as the Olympic & Paralympic Games 1992 organized/carried out.

The most important places

The Plaça de Catalunya is one of the most important places and therefore also one of the most important traffic junctions in Barcelona. It is very central and is used for special occasions. In the square there are sculptures, trees, in the side streets you can find many shops and cafes. One of the most important and famous streets, the "La Rambla" ends at the square. In recent times, demonstrations for the independence of Catalonia take place here from time to time.

La Rambla" is Barcelona's most famous and popular boulevard. Every visitor to Barcelona must have been here once. Unfortunately, the visit is one of the most exhausting of the city, as every day thousands of tourists cavort here and also the souvenir sellers are very busy here. To the right and left of the Ramblas there are also some other sights.

This square with its large roundabout is one of the most famous squares in Barcelona, although there is never much going on here, it is considered one of the traffic hubs of Barcelona. In the middle of the roundabout there is a fountain with a small lake and in the middle there is the monument built in baroque style with the name "España Ofrecida a Dios" ("Spain consecrated to God"). By coming from the airport, one should decide here at the latest in which direction one wants to continue travelling. Under the ground there is a big subway station and at the roundabout itself there are bus stops that are served by approximately 30 bus lines. From here you also have access to the fairground, the National Palace and the local mountain of Barcelona, the Montjuïc.

The Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, or simply "Glòries" is a large square in Barcelona, originally designed by Ildefons Cerdà to serve as the city centre in his original city plan. It has since become more of a transport hub, with the Glòries metro station and tram also connected here. 
However, if you walk down Avinguda Diagonal from the square, you will first come across the Torre Agbar (Torre Glòries), an impressive tower that can also be seen from all over the city and which looks particularly impressive at night, as it lights up in a variety of colours. Also, a little further down, you will find the shopping centre Glòries, which is also very well frequented and offers all kinds of shopping possibilities. 

The Port Olímpic is the new Olympic port. Here you will find restaurants with everything your heart desires. At the weekends the youth of Barcelona meets here. Here the big cleaning up started before the Olympic Games in 1992. Factories etc. were demolished and the Olympic village was built, whose apartments were sold afterwards. The Olympic harbour is now a popular marina. At the beginning there are two skyscrapers, which are visible from everywhere in Barcelona. 

The Barceloneta district is located at the end of the port area and is popular with residents and tourists alike. There are many winding streets and great original Catalan restaurants here. The most beautiful beaches of the city are located here and connect the old port (Port Vell) with the new port (Port Olímpic). In the beginning Barceloneta was a settlement of fishermen, who were then gradually displaced by factory buildings. Cheap and illegal housing was built here during this time. For the Olympic Games, this was changed. Important streets and well-preserved buildings were preserved, others restored. Illegal and neglected buildings, on the other hand, were demolished. Thus, a new quarter was created that has nevertheless preserved the charm of the old times.
And ... here are the best fish restaurants in Barcelona. 

Arriving in Barcelona

Airports

Barcelona can be reached by plane via three airports. The main airport is the Barcelona - El Prat (BCN) which is about 14 km from Barcelona in the suburb of El Prat del Llobregat is located. This airport has two terminals. 

Terminal 1: The part of the airport that was enlarged in 2009 will be in Barcelona T1 and was built in the shape of an airplane. The reconstruction cost about 1.3 billion euros at the time and was designed by architect Ricardo Bofill. Most airlines take off and land here, except for the so-called low-cost airlines.

Terminal 2: Or also called T2, is the former, old airport, where almost only the budget airlines and charter flights land. The terminal consists of the areas A, B and C. 

Since the two terminals were built relatively far apart, the transport between the terminals requires Transfer buses which run every 5 minutes and can be used free of charge. Likewise, you can use the buses the so-called Airport station reach.

Besides Barcelona - El Prat there is also the Girona Airport (GRO)which is at the Costa Brava about 91 km from Barcelona and which is almost exclusively served by Ryanair. As a third variant there is the Reus Airport (REU) at the Costa Doradawhich is located about 105 km from Barcelona. This is the smallest of the three airports and is also flown to almost exclusively by Ryanair.

Transfer to the city

From Barcelona - El Prat airport there are two different ways to get to the city centre:

Train

With the already mentioned airport shuttle bus you can get from terminal 1 and 2 to the airport station. From here you can get to the city center in about 15 - 20 minutes. The train runs every 20 minutes between 5:42 and 23:38. The one-way ticket costs 2,20 Euro per person. (as of 01/2020). Optimal stop for the onward journey within Barcelona is the stop Barcelona Sants.

Note on accessibility:
We didn't try the train for the transfer to the city center, so we can't say how accessible this option is. 

Aerobus

With the airport bus service (Aerobus) you can reach the city center every 5, 10 or 20 minutes in a period from 05:30 to 1:00. The buses depart from T1 and also stop at T2. From there it goes with some stops to the city center. The final stop is Plaça de Cataluny. Aerobus is a private company, so public transport tickets do not apply here.
Other stops: Plaza España, Gran Via Urgell, Plaça Universitat.
Tickets can be purchased online or purchased directly at the stop. 

Note on accessibility with the Aerobus

We took the Aerobus from Terminal 2 to Plaça de Catalunya. For this it was necessary to buy a ticket at the bus before. Shortly before the bus arrives, a cashier is on site or gets off the bus. Normally, one can only get into the bus at the front entrance and the queue at the bus stop is worked through one after the other. If at a certain time in the queue the bus becomes too full, one has to wait for the next bus. This was the case with us. We also had to point out to the cashier that we were there with a wheelchair. He was not very enthusiastic and did not want to take us in the already full bus either. However, he did inform the driver of the following bus that there was a wheelchair user waiting at the bus stop. Since Terminal 1 is apparently on the route before Terminal 2, the buses always arrive at this stop already relatively full. It is therefore depending on the season possibly recommendable to get on at T 1. 
The fare is not reduced for the disabled and if you do not want to stand in line yourself, the accompanying person can do this. Communication with the cashier and driver is possible in English or Spanish.
The bus has a wheelchair ramp that is folded out by the driver. There is a wheelchair space just to the right of the rear entrance, which is also equipped with belts. The drivers are also careful to make sure you "park" correctly, which is also highly recommended as the ride through city traffic can be rough.

Cable car to Montjuïc © TMB

Sign on the door of the Metro © TMB

Public transport

Barcelona has a very good and comprehensive local transport system, which consists of buses, trams and metro. Especially the very well functioning metro lines bring you to the most remote corners of Barcelona and often very close to the sights. In addition, these are very inexpensive.

Information about the changes regarding accessible public transport in Barcelona can be found here (unfortunately only in Spanish):

There is also a quite helpful PDF document (in Spanish and at the end also in English) which can be downloaded here.

Tickets can be bought directly on site or also in the tourist information. Here, different tourist passes are offered with which one can explore the city. It is best to get advice here on the spot, because the offers and prices for the different tickets change regularly.
If you are planning to explore the city by wheelchair or on foot and don't want to use so many means of public transport, the so-called T10 card, which you can buy at any ticket machine of public transport, is worthwhile. With this card you can travel 10 times with a public transport. (T10 card) To do this, simply pull the card through the slot on the access triangle. The journey is automatically recorded on the card and the remaining number is saved. The T10 can be used for more than one person and is valid per journey, i.e. if you have to change public transport once on a journey, this still counts as one journey and is not charged again.
The tickets are not valid for the Aerobus, the Hop-on-hop-off bus, the cable cars , the blue tram Tramvia Blau and the funicular to Tibidabo.
Besides the T10 and the T30 card (validity of 30 days) there are also for the tourists interesting Barcelona Card and the Barcelona Card Express. Here, in addition to public transport but also sights are included, so you should check before whether this is really worth it.

Bus

The bus network in Barcelona is very well developed and you can actually get everywhere by bus. The tickets can be bought directly from the driver at the counter - if you don't have a day ticket or similar. At most of the bus stops, there are no lowered curbs but rather raised areas that are supposed to help to get to the bus with the help of a ramp. The ramps are usually manually extendable, and some are already electrically extendable. The driver does not usually assist with boarding and alighting. On buses, the ramp can either be extended by the driver or extended by the passenger using a button on the rear door. Not all bus stops have a raised curb, so it is not possible to make a blanket statement about which bus stops are barrier-free.

More information can be found at the bus providers.

© TMB

Metro

The metro is usually a very good way to get from A to B. However, as a wheelchair user, it is important to follow the signs. There are often several entrances to the larger metro stations, which are located on different sides or corners of the street. Usually, there is an elevator at one of the entrances with which one can change to the underground area. Above the elevators you will find the wheelchair sign.

Please only use entrances and lifts where this sign is visible.

If you catch one that doesn't have the sign, the path after the elevator is usually not accessible.
In particular, the connecting paths in the individual stations and to the various exits are often very narrow and lead over stairs. These are usually only 2-4 steps, but these are very narrow and already for pedestrians rather than chicken ladder. Therefore, please only use the paths where a wheelchair sign is attached.
We speak from our own experience, as we did not understand this at the beginning and therefore got lost in the corridors and then could not get out of the corridors without the help of the metro staff.

From the Metro operator, a Metro map offered, and usually this is also posted in each station, where, in addition to the station, the accessibility is given. The metro is already quite well developed, but not all stations are accessible. Therefore, one should check beforehand which station is the easiest for one to reach a certain sight, but at the same time also if this station is really barrier-free.
detours may have to be taken.

The barrier-free entrances to the metro have a separate area for the entrance control, which is designed wider and thus facilitates the way for wheelchair users as well as for example parents with prams. Signs with a wheelchair user are also attached to the directions to the respective metro, which should indicate that this is a barrier-free access. Please do not use any routes without this sign.

On the platforms there is a specially marked area for wheelchair users. Here, the platform edge has been raised a little higher or subsequently raised by an iron ramp. This ensures access to the trains. On the trains themselves, there is a reserved area for wheelchair users, which is also equipped with belts. As usual, you have to shoo other people away here from time to time.

Sightseeing

Here we would like to present a small selection of the sights that we have visited and that we liked. Here we go ...

City area around the cathedral

Accessibility:
As it is in old cities, you can not exclude that in one or the other place stairs or steep ramps block the way. But we made the experience that with a city map and some creativity you can get through the city centre of Barcelona without any problems.

Cathedral La Seu
As one can see in the pictures, there are steps at the entrance of the cathedral. However, if you drive through the small streets around the cathedral, you will find the visitor exit on one of the long sides. By this way, it is possible to visit the cathedral from the inside with a wheelchair. We did not have to buy tickets thanks to the gatekeeper and could enjoy the cathedral.

In the direct city centre area from Plaça de Catalunya to the old port there are some sights to marvel at. The best is to drive with a guide the individual points or let yourself drift by the streets and the people. A nice circular route is from the Plaça de Catalunya down the Ramblas and from there to the old port.

On the way over the Ramblas one can marvel at all the posh boutiques and other interesting shops. Right at the beginning of the promenade is the Fuente Canaletas, a fountain that has been here for about 100 years and where the editorial office of the biggest sports newspaper once stood. Here, the scores for the individual football matches arrived and accordingly, the crowd of people was, because everyone wanted to know the scores first. Today, people still party here after FC Barcelona matches.

A little further down, it is also worth taking a detour to the market halls Mercat de la Boqueriawhich, however, are often very crowded. In these very famous market halls you can get everything your heart desires, from vegetables and fruit to cheese and meat and fish. It is worth to stroll through once, because the Mercat de la Boqueria must have seen once. But personally, we liked a different market hall better: the Mercat de Santa Caterina near the cathedral. This one is not so crowded and very invitingly designed.

This lies in the Barri Gòtic districtThe gothic quarter is located on the left side of the Plaça de Catalunya. Here you can admire the beautiful old town, go shopping and admire various museums and churches. Among other things one finds here the La Seu Cathedral, the City Hall of Barcelona, the Plaça del Rey (King's Square) and the Plaça Reial, probably the most beautiful place in Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia is probably by far the most famous church in Barcelona. The construction of the church began Antoni Gaudí about 100 years ago. To Laying of the foundation stone on 19 March 1882 Francesc de Paula del Villar was the first official architect of the Sagrada Familia. Due to a disagreement between the architect and the construction management, the architect resigned just one year later and the search was renewed. Joan Martorell, the object examiner, then suggested one of his former students, Antoni Gaudì.

First Gaudí built the cryptThe first services were held there in 1885, but it was not completed until 1889. However, it was not completed until 1889. Today the crypt of the "Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família"as the church is officially called, the Gaudí's last resting place.
The Sagrade Familia belongs in any case to the Mandatory of a visit to Barcelona. However, it is just because of this often overcrowded. As a wheelchair user, you are almost a little lucky, because there are Special tickets (see below) and also a separate entrance to the Sagrada. Since the visit opportunities are also somewhat limited, we found that then quite ok.
The Towers - although equipped with a lift - can be reached with the Wheelchair not visited The stairs directly from the elevators are steep and cannot be overcome by a ramp. Likewise, a visit to the Crypt not possible with wheelchair. However, in the nave you can move freely and also the outside facilities are good to visit. The nave is simply breathtaking. Antoni Gaudí has used the building of the church Works of Mother Nature oriented and inspired and you can see that at every point. For example, the columns in the nave are based on trees. Thus, one sees mighty trunks that branch out into mighty branches above under the dome and thus become a kind of treetop that holds the vault.

In order to get to know the different backgrounds of Gaudí's thoughts, as for example the figures and the windows, it is definitely worthwhile to use the audio guide.
This can be booked when booking the ticket online.

Tickets:
A previous Online booking of the tickets is in any case recommended.
The tickets are for people with a Restriction of 65% for oneself and one companion free of charge. You may be asked for a certificate of disability upon entry, so it is better to carry them along. The Online portalswhich can be used for booking, do not check this in detail. Depending on the booking portal, it may happen that the accompanying person is not free, but can book for a lower entrance fee. Since the entrance fees are very high, the booking with the help of the disabled ID is worth it in any case.

Connectivity:
The Sagrada Familia is located a little bit away from the old part of the city, but is within walking distance. Especially if you want to get to know the other parts of the city. However things are looking upThat is why you need either some pushing help from an attendant or an electric drive. Of course, it depends on your own condition. 
Who with the public transport to the Sagrada Familia, you can take the Metrolines L2 (purple) or L5 (blue) and the Buses 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50 and 51.

"Olympic Mountain" Montjuïc

The local mountain of Barcelona - the Montjuïc, was one of our highlights. For one thing, because from here great view of Barcelona and on the other hand because we Olympian and found it very interesting to see the "old" facilities of the 1992 Olympic Games to examine. Generally, there is a lot to see on the "Olympic Mountain" but there are some sights to marvel at. So there is right at the foot of the Bergen at the Plaza de España the fairgrounds, directly to the fountain in front of the National Palace. From the Terraces of the National Palace you have a great view of the city and the architecture is also admirable. The fountains, by the way, are regularly a point of attraction for many tourists, because here the famous waterworks takes place. So it is definitely worthwhile to stop by here in the evening. The spectacle is also good to see from the Bullring (currently a shopping mall) on the opposite side of the Plaza de España. Unfortunately, we have not tried this option and therefore do not know how it stands with the accessibility. But it is certainly worth a try.
In general, on Montjuïc you will find many beautifully landscaped parks, where you can stroll. Since it is a mountain there are here of course relevant grades and slope. Therefore, it is best to climb the local mountain of Barcelona with a electrical assistance or with an escort to conquer. Gradients and slopes with up to 25% are possible at the various points.
In any case worth a visit is the Olympic Stadiumwhich is for Athletics was used and into which you can look through a side entrance. However, apart from looking at the stadium and a small souvenir shop, there is not much to do there.

Right next door is the Olympic Museum, which we had to take in any case. The Admission for disabled people is free, the accompanying person pays a small fee. We had expected to find only pictures and objects of the Olympic Games, but not of the Paralympic. But far deceived, also para-basketball etc. were represented. This, of course, made our eyes light up.

Directly opposite are the Water polo facilities and when we strolled past there were just competitions and so we have simply cheated us in. Whether that was allowed or not we do not know. In any case, the wonderful viewOn the one hand to the water polo players, but also to Barcelona itself. There is also a small bar up there where you can buy cold drinks when there is a game.

The Castell de Montjuïc we have of course also looked at, but only from the outside and with some difficulties because of the rough paving right outside the gates. Unfortunately, we had no towing equipment with which could have pulled us over the pavement.
The castle was initially built as a defensive structure. This was to protect the townspeople and the harbour. However, in the course of time, the use changed again and again. Today, there is a military museum. The entrance fee is 5 euros, but every Sunday from 15 pm admission free.

In any case, it is worth to include the Montjuïc in the planning, best with a whole day..

Accessibility:
There are several options to conquer the local mountain of Barcelona. On the one hand from the Land side and on the other hand by the Oceanfront.
The Sea side we haven't tried. But we were told that the Webs to the Montjuïc are barrier-free. Here, the tourist information can certainly help.
About the Land side you reach the local mountain of Barcelona with the Bus 150which on Plaza de España starts (barrier-free bus) and with some intermediate stops directly to below the Castell. Those who want to avoid the climbs can thus travel by bus from stopover to stopover. The bus runs at regular intervals. 

Parc de la Ciutadella

This really beautiful park is located facing the sea on the left side of the old town. Next to the famous Arc de Triomf (no, not the one from Paris) the zoo of Barcelona is also located in the park. 

We have used the park mainly to get away from the the stressful hustle and bustle of the old town or have you seen our Lunch break spent. Since we have not gone to lunch in the numerous restaurants, we have mostly bought at the Marcato de Santa Caterina a few treats and have and then retreated into the park. This also seems to do some locals, in any case, the park was always well attended. Attention because of pickpockets and the like, unfortunately, the park also has one or the other to offer.
If you like it a bit more active you can go to the exit in the direction of the street Carrer de Wellington. Table tennis play. As you can see, we were also busy, but without racket and ball. Sometimes the thought is enough to revive old times.

Beach & boardwalk

The beach has us during our stay magically attracted, which is probably mostly because we only get to see mountains otherwise. The Boardwalk Sync and corrections by n17t01 lovely to stroll through and to enjoy the mild winds and the atmosphere in the evening. We are for this regularly at the Olympic port started and headed towards the Poblenou district walked.
Along the beach promenade there are a few small restaurantswhich invite you to linger and which are regularly well frequented in the evenings.
Who would like to eat on the beach will certainly find something here. However, we have always retreated to eat in our district Poblenou, which was on the way anyway.

We also liked the beaches in Barcelona so much, because there are so many facilities for the disabled there is. Thus, in addition to the Bdisabled WCs also have showers. These are somewhat sparse and in the open air, but certainly good for a quick shower. Chairs, fastened and of a hard material, were placed, and over them a "Stand-up shower" set up. So you can move and shower without the wheelchair is soaked. However, the chairs are certainly not very comfortable. In addition to this Wooden footbridges up to approx. 1-2 meters in front of the water over which one can drive with the wheelchair without problems. In some places small "Platforms." partly with roofing, on which one can put down bags, backpacks etc. or also set up the sun lounger.
On the beach of the Barceloneta district and on other designated beaches (there are signs right in front on the boardwalk) are "Lifeguard" or lifeguards on duty, who can also help you if you wish. launch, you should not be able to overcome the last 1-2 meters on your own.

Park Güell & Casa Batlló

The Park Güell and the Casa Batlló are also achievements of Antoni Gaudí. The park is located in the north of the city and is definitely worth a visit as well, especially if you want to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind for a moment. There is a small area with free entrywhich is also good to go with the wheelchair. The park has otherwise many built-in stairs and is therefore with the wheelchair rather more difficult to accomplish. The park can be visited with the Metro lines L3 (green) and L4 (yellow) which is recommended as it is steeply uphill from the town towards the park. 

From Plaça de Catalunya it is only about 500 metres to Casa Batllò on Passeig de Gràcia, which is Barcelona's grand boulevard. Today, the Casa is a museum and from the outside, one cannot deny Gaudí's hand. The museum is barrier-free, has both lifts and ramps and is therefore suitable for a visit. However, there is no discount on the entrance fee, which surprised us a bit. We were not inside ourselves.

Hotel

Hotel NH Barcelona Diagonal Center

The hotel chain NH Hotels is well known for barrier-free rooms and equipment and also in this hotel we were completely satisfied. The hotel is also located in the district of Poblenou and is also very easy to reach with the metro lines. 
The hotel does not have a wellness area, but we did not miss it, as we were mostly on the road anyway.
The room was very clean and the staff was very friendly and helpful. The room was very clean and the staff was very friendly and helpful. 

© NH Hotel Group

Hotel Ilunion Barcelona

The hotel is located in the Poblenou district and is easily accessible by the yellow metro line. However, you have to walk a little bit. 
The hotel is rather modern, has a pool and various leisure facilities such as a gym. 
The swimming pool is on the roof and there is also a lift to get into the pool. 

We can definitely recommend the hotel. However, we only stayed here because we were otherwise every free minute in the city or on the beach.

Poblenou district

It may be one or the other surprised that we have chosen these hotels, because you can see pictures of the district on various sites and also read about the disco there and could therefore be deterred. But one has to say that the district Poblenou used to be a district with a lot of factories and of course one can still recognize that. Nevertheless, a lot is done in this part of the city and in the meantime, Poblenou is a quite hip district in which many IT companies are located and also culturally a lot is offered. Therefore, one should not be frightened by the first impression.

What we liked, besides the good accessibility and the hotels, is the "restaurant mile" Rambla del Poblenou, on which you can walk and watch the hustle and bustle. For dinner, you can always find something and if not, there is a supermarket just around the corner. A few restaurants/cafés we liked either because of the good food or/and the nice service. We have noted these on the map!

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Conclusion

We liked Barcelona's without exception. You can feel the influence of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in every place and in many places we were thrilled by the "accessibility". Certainly there are still one or two things that need to be worked on. For example, the metro network is not yet 100% barrier-free, but you can still get from A to B, even with a wheelchair.

Of course, it must be remembered that the most attractive parts of the city are very old buildings and at the time of their construction no thought was given to accessibility. Accordingly, not every building can be visited. 

But even with this restriction, one can spend weeks in Barcelona without having seen everything. Due to the many tourists, it is sometimes a bit stressful, which is why the relaxation options with the many parks and beaches were a welcome possibility for us. 

Barcelona - definitely worth a trip!
- even with a wheelchair -

To travel is to live - to live is to travel.​

Jean Paul
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