The disabled cruiser visiting Barcelona will discover that while it still has its challenges, Barcelona disabled access is better than most cities in Europe. With the right amount of planning, any disabled or senior traveler can enjoy the magnificent sights in Barcelona.
Many European cities are built around a medieval city center, and Barcelona is no exception. However, unlike other medieval cities, Barcelona has very few cobblestones and wheelchair users will have a much smoother ride. Barcelona’s medieval streets are covered in smooth pavement. Additionally, most of the Gothic Quarter is flat and where sloped streets do exist, they are generally mild slopes. Also, Barcelona’s metro system is far more accessible than most, the disabled cruiser will often find elevators to reach the metro platforms. All of Barcelona’s bus lines use buses with wheelchair ramps. They are quite easy to use and do a decent job of connecting the tourist attractions.
Barcelona disabled access at beaches are some of the best you will encounter anywhere in Europe. There are ramps to get from the sidewalk down to the sand, and there are wooden paths to get to the water. Wheelchairs designed for the sand are also available.
While Barcelona is well advanced in disabled access, the Disabled Cruiser will discover the following difficulties. Barcelona’s gondola from Montjuic Hill to the harbor offers great views but unfortunately, it is not handicapped accessible, with steps at both the harbor end and the Montjuic end.
While most of Barcelona is flat, visitors will encounter hills at the Olympic Stadium, which is located on Montjuic Hill, and Gaudi’s Park Guell is also located on a hill.
There are stairs before the elevator to the Sagrada Familia tower. There are several steps leading to the elevator which is very small. For “safety reasons” wheelchair users and other disabled visitors are not allowed to use the lift.
Many of the tourist attractions are located inside or near the Gothic Quarter but several require transportation to reach. Gaudi’s Park Guell is over 4 km away from the Gothic Quarter.
While most of the Metro stations have elevators, some of the stations near the major tourist attractions have poor disabled accessibility. For example, there are no elevators at the Placa de Espanya station on the L3 line and the Juame I station on the L4 line near the Picasso Museum.
For additional information on disabled access, please see the Points of Interest Section.
The port of Barcelona lies in the Catalonia region of southern Spain.
Barcelona is a big city, and although the central attractions can be visited on foot, the city’s extensive metro (underground) network is necessary to visit significant attractions such as the Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, the Olympic Stadium and the Neu Camp (home to Barcelona FC).
There is a good sized beach, however this is a very long walk from the port and a taxi would be a better option.
You should note that the Cathedral, which is worth visiting, is NOT the Sagrada Familia which is away from the city center although easily reached via the Metro.
One of Barcelona’s best attributes is that while it seems large and spread out, its neighborhoods are surprisingly walkable and easily accessible by bus, metro or even on foot (in comfortable shoes). Don’t miss a stroll along Las Ramblas, replete with produce and flower stands, and a historic opera house.
Tapas is a mixture of small dishes which is traditionally served at bars, however many restaurants also offer tapas in a less traditional setting.
Where You’re Docked
Barcelona cruise port disabled access is quite good with step-free access including ramps and elevators to get onto the cruise ships.
Barcelona has 2 main cruise terminal areas. The Word Trade Center area is located at the bottom of Las Ramblas. Its three docks (North, South & East) cater mainly for smaller cruise ships. There is no need for a shuttle from this terminal as it’s within easy walking distance of the heart of the city.
All larger cruise ships dock at the Moll Adossat which comprises of 4 brand new purpose built cruise terminals located about 1 mile from the bottom of Las Ramblas. It is possible to walk from the terminal into Barcelona, however a large bridge needs to be crossed which makes it unsuitable for anyone with walking difficulties. A taxi will cost approximately €8 and take around 10 minutes. Buses run from the terminals to the Columbus monument at the bottom of Las Ramblas.
Good to Know
Barcelona is notorious for pickpockets. Leave valuables and passports in your hotel or cruise cabin safe, and carry credit cards and cash in a safe place. Carry only a copy of your passport, which should be sufficient for identification.
Leather bags and shoes, local ceramics and lacework are good keepsakes. Inexpensive souvenirs and FC Barcelona football memorabilia can be found at the many stalls that line Las Ramblas. Meats and cheeses in vacuum-sealed bags, think Parma, Iberian or Serrano hams, and Manchego or goat cheese, are a tasty souvenir to bring home, but are subject to the customs restrictions of your home country. Even with declaring these items, we made it back to the U.S. without a problem and with our Spanish delicacies to share with family and friends.
Barcelona is a city of distinct neighborhoods. The old city, Ciutat Vella, is the heart of everything, with museums, shopping and cafes. Then there’s the port area, Port Vell, which features bars, restaurants, shops, an IMAX theater and the largest aquarium in Europe. (Port Vell is different to the working port area where cruise ships dock, but it’s not too far away.) Enchanting and ancient, the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) is the center of the old city and brings together the best of Barcelona in a series of narrow streets, shops, cafes and magical corridors.
One of Barcelona’s best attributes is that while it seems large and spread out, its neighborhoods are surprisingly walkable and easily accessible by bus, metro or even on foot, in comfortable shoes. Don’t miss a stroll along Las Ramblas, replete with produce and flower stands, a historic opera house and maybe even a glimpse of Marilyn Monroe calling to you from the balcony of the Erotica Museum.
Just be sure to rest your feet now and then over a few plates of tapas and an ice-cold pitcher of sangria or a bottle of cava, the region’s sparkling wine.
Points of Interest
- Barri Gothic – Featuring labyrintine streets and the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, the Gothic Quarter is the center of the old city of Barcelona. Some buildings date back to medieval times and the remains of a Roman wall are visible. The Disabled Cruiser will enjoy an easy walk, some slight hills and dips. The streets are large flagstone rather than cobble stones, making it an easy ride and very wheelchair or mobility aid friendly. Some large open spaces to relax in or take a break to absorbed the atmosphere around you. At the Cathedral, once inside the interior has areas of devotion decorated with so much gold it is almost dazzling, very beautiful. There is a lift, for a small charge, to access the roof terrace. This area is not really accessible for wheelchairs as almost as soon as you leave the lift there are steps leading to the higher levels.
- La Sagrada Familia – The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s most idiosyncratic and flamboyant church, is regarded as architect Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece and has been under construction since 1882. It features breath-taking spires and awe-inspiring stained glass windows. The Sagrada Familia can be seen towering overhead the Barcelona skyline. The Disabled Cruiser will discover that it has an accessible entrance and ramps throughout the visitor path. However, you will encounter steep ramps to enter and exit the lower level containing the museum and the elevator to the towers is not wheelchair accessible. It can be reached by accessible bus tour, public bus, the metro, or taxi. It has adapted toilets near the entrance, and admission is free for a disabled visitor and their companion. The accessible entrance is located on the southwest side of the building on the Nativity Façade.
- Montjuic / Olympic Stadium – This stadium hosted the opening ceremonies for the 1992 Olympic Games. There are a multitude of stairs in the Olympic area and Disabled Access is limited.
- Las Ramblas – Barcelona’s famed pedestrian street is lined with outdoor markets, shops, restaurants, and cafes. Stroll the old medieval quarter of Barri Gothic. The Disabled Cruiser will discover it’s not wheelchair friendly in the middle of the wide street because that portion of the street is wavy. However on both sides of the street there are flat sidewalks for wheelchairs, strollers & walkers. The middle portion of the street has vendors selling souvenirs, restaurants has tables for eating, and artist’s display their ware. There are regular souvenir shops on each side of the street as well as regular restaurants (many with menus outside).
- Montserrat Benedictine Monastery Complex – This wonderful monastery, considered Catalonia’s most important religious retreat, is hidden high in the craggy Montserrat Mountains. The world’s oldest publishing house, established in 1499, is also located here. For the Disabled Cruiser, getting on the mountain isn’t a problem when you are in a wheelchair. Just be sure to get off the second train station at Montserrat and take the trackrail up the mountain and not the cable cart. Once you get up the Monastery know that you need a strong person to push you or have a very good electric wheelchair, because it can get pretty steep. But it is totally worth it. Unfortunately you will not be able to go completely up the mountain as the train to go up has some steps at the top so you will need to walk a little bit. There are toilets available by wheelchair via a lift.
- Park Guell – Designed by Antoni Gaudi, Catalonia’s master architect, this glorious park features many works of wonder, including a serpentine-shaped bench, stunning views of the city and a mosaic dragon at the park’s entrance. The Disabled Cruiser visiting Park Güell should realize that it gets busy and crowded, so I would suggest going early in the day. Park Güell is located 15-20 minutes from a Metro station, and there is a hill you have to climb up to reach the entrance so wear comfortable shoes.
- La Pedrera – Known locally as Casa Mila, Gaudi’s most accomplished, finished work features an ornate façade with undulating walls and iron art nouveau balconies. Disabled Cruisers in a wheelchair get in free with a companion paying. A majority of the building and the apartment are accessible for wheelchairs. Definitely worth a visit even if you are disabled. Be aware that the original lift used to get to the apartment is slightly narrow and wider wheelchairs may not fit. According to a management representative about the accessibility, the public parts on the tour of the building are adapted for access without obstacles; except the Roof-Terrace, which does not allow wheelchairs or pushchairs because of the constantly changing level in Gaudí’s structure. But, even here, there is a platform just outside the lift to enjoy a general view.
- Picasso Museum – The Picasso Museum houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. One of the most popular attractions in Barcelona, it consists of five adjoining medieval palaces. The building is wheelchair accessible but you need staff to show you where to go and to take you up and down in the elevator.
Barcelona Accessible Excursions
Disabled visitors to Barcelona have several fully accessible Barcelona tours to choose from. Accessible walking tours are available to experience the old history of Barcelona, from its founding as a Roman city through medieval times. Accessible driving tour allows you to see the modern side of Barcelona including the world famous Gaudi sights.
Highlights of Barcelona Accessible Guided Tour
This 8 hour accessible Barcelona tour is escorted by your expert tour guide, you will use an accessible vehicle and step-free routes to discover the very best treasures of the city. From ancient remains of Roman walls to the still-under-construction Sagrada Familia, you’ll get to see all of the most popular Barcelona highlights on this fully-accessible tour.
– Montjuïc Hill and Olympic facilities
– Plaça Espanya and Placa Cataluna
– Passeig de Gràcia (Barcelona’s most elegant avenue)
– Triumphal Arch
– Sagrada Familia (interior visit)
– Gothic Quarter
– Barcelona Cathedral
– Former Royal Palace
– Columbus Monument
The Highlights of Barcelona Accessible Guided Tour is entirely step-free, and it encounters very few hills and cobblestones. It does involve walking/rolling between the sites in the afternoon. Transportation on this accessible guided tour of Barcelona is provided by a van with a wheelchair ramp and wheelchair tie-downs.
The walking portion of this Barcelona accessible guided tour uses routes that are proven to be wheelchair and mobility scooter friendly. The tour routes use sidewalk ramps and, where possible, avoid Barcelona cobblestones. The tour visits many pedestrian and shopping streets with small restaurants and boutiques. Handicapped accessible routes are used at all times.
Essential Barcelona Accessible Driving Tour
This 4 hour Barcelona accessible driving tour is a wonderful way to experience the best of Barcelona in a short amount of time. Led by your expert tour guide, you will visit some of the most popular attractions of the city, using a wheelchair accessible van and step-free routes throughout.
– Plaza St Jaume
– Barcelona Cathedral
– Passeig de Gràcia (Barcelona’s most elegant avenue with Casa Batllo, La Pedrera, Casa Amatller etc.)
– Gothic Quarter
– Sagrada Familia (interior visit)
– Jewish Quarter
The Essential Barcelona Accessible Driving Tour is entirely step-free, and it uses a wheelchair accessible van for transportation. It involves very little walking/rolling. Transportation on this accessible Barcelona driving tour is provided by a van with a wheelchair ramp and wheelchair tie-downs. The walking portion of this Barcelona accessible driving tour uses routes that are proven to be wheelchair and mobility scooter friendly. The tour routes use sidewalk ramps and, where possible, avoid Barcelona cobblestones.
Accessible Barcelona Private Tour to Montserrat Mountain
This 5 hour Accessible Barcelona tour to Montserrat Mountain will leave you in awe. Just an hour west of Barcelona, we find the most amazing mountain range, Montserrat, which’s name literally means serrated mountain.
– Montserrat Mountain
– Views over the Catalan Landscape
– Farmers market
– Monastery of Montserrat
– Church where the Black Madonna is located
The Accessible Barcelona Private Tour to Montserrat Mountain is entirely step-free, and it uses a wheelchair accessible van for transportation. It involves very little walking/rolling.
Transportation on this accessible Barcelona private tour is provided by a van with a wheelchair lift. The Montserrat Monastery is perched high in the mountains on an unusual rock formation.