There are just as many sightseeing tips for Berlin as there are rumors about Berlin’s new international airport BER. So, how about a collection of tips of what to do and see in our beautiful capital for people who are mobility impaired? We asked two true “Berlinsiders”, our boss and inventor of Wheelmap.org, Raúl Krauthausen and Berlin based writer and psychologist, Laura Gehlhaar. Read their insider tips and advice on how best to experience Berlin in a wheelchair.
General information – Eating, Sleeping & Moving Along
Wheelchair accessible hotels in Berlin:
Public transport and handicapped accessible cabs:
- Public transport is operated by two providers: the Berliner S-Bahn (urban railway), operated by Deutsche Bahn, and the Berliner Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (BVG), responsible for all busses, the subway and the tramway.
- Generally, the situation in Berlin regarding public transport is ok. There are some old tramways in the eastern part of the city that are not accessible, but all busses do have a ramp to get in. Many of the urban railway and subway stations have elevators. You can find a detailed overview of all barrier free stations here. The yellow icons indicate stations with an elevator or a ramp.
- However, even in Germany elevators are occasionally out of order ;-) To avoid frustration you can check which elevators are affected on the webpage of the S-Bahn and the webpage of the U-Bahn.
- The company Tourenbus offers special busses for wheelchair users. They are quite pricy though and you’d need to book them a couple of days in advance.
- Try Londontaxi in Berlin if you’d like to take a cab.
Especially in the eastern part of the city the infrastructure is rather old. Be prepared to face potholes and loads of bumpy cobblestone pavements. Usually you can find broken glass scattered on the pavements on the weekends, left behind by partying people. Our advice: bring a replacement hose or inform yourself beforehand where to repair your wheelchair if necessary.
Wheelchair accessible restaurants and cafés:
- The cakes and the homemade fish fingers at Kuchenkaiser in Kreuzberg are incredibly yummy.
- Also try the marble cake at Café Bilderbuch in Schöneberg.
- My (Raul’s) favorite place is the Café Ahorn in Kreuzberg. They have the best pasta with pesto ever.
- An all time favorite of the alternative scene is the Südblock directly at Kottbusser Tor (Kotti).
What to do – Sightseeing, Going out & Being adventurous
Wheelchair accessible pubs, bars and clubs:
- Kaffee Burger is not only popular for it’s Russendisko (Russian disco), but also for being a notorious pickup joint. And as long as you manage the 10 cm step at the entrance you don’t need to worry about where to bring all that beer you’ll drink – the toilet is wheelchair accessible!
- If you’re looking for hard and loud house music you should not miss out on the Berghain. And if you’re lucky, the bouncer will let you jump the long, long queue.
- The Lido is the place to go for those who love balkan beats, live concerts and dancing till the break of dawn. They have a mobile ramp at hand at the entrance and a wheelchair accessible toilet backstage. Just ask.
- A great location for partying along the river Spree is the Kater Blau.
Sights that are great to visit with a wheelchair:
- The glass dome of the Reichstag (Reichstagskuppel ) is one of THE attractions in Berlin. As a wheelchair user you can use a side entrance without even having to queue.
- The elevator of the Aufzug des Bode Museums is an architectural gem.
- The whole Museumsinsel in general can be visited quite conveniently by people with a mobility impairment.
Things you should do:
Hang out on Admiralbrücke in summertime. Enjoy a boat ride on the river Spree.
Areas to avoid (e.g. due to bad road conditions):
Some of the eastern parts of the city are rather hard to reach by public transport. Do some planning before going there. If you want to visit Potsdam you have to take the S-Bahn or a regional train which can turn out to be a bit complicated. Not all regional trains have ramps. And not all elevators at train stations do always work…
Necessities – Supply & Service
Medical supply stores with a great range:
- We can recommend Ortmaier and Medicar.
- There’s a breakdown service for wheelchairs that helps 24/7 in case of flat tires or if the motor conks out: Rollstuhlpannendienst Berlin
Of course there are many many more wheelchair accessible places to explore in Berlin and you can find them all on www.wheelmap.org/map. Our apps for iPhone and Android are super handy when you are out and about.
We’re happy to read your personal tips in the comments. Sharing is caring!