Lonely Planet’s 10 Most Accessible Vacation Destinations

The world’s population is rapidly aging and this is having an impact on global business and tourism as companies are slowly starting to realize that accessibility is not just an issue that must be addressed for those with a disability. It’s a real issue that many grey nomads are putting some extra thought into before booking their next vacation. Lonely Planet agrees that with an aging baby boomer population that isn’t willing to slow down when it comes to travel, accessibility is becoming paramount. With this in mind they’ve put together this list of the most accessible vacation destinations for 2016:

10. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Snowbirds love to head south in the winter, and mexico is a popular winter destination for many including those over the age of 65. Playa del Carmen is only an hour away from Cancun airport but it’s a far cry from the lively Spring Break destination city. Accessible hotels are available and the beach is also easy to navigate with the help of special beach wheelchairs and even special equipment to help you snorkel, even if you can’t swim.

wheelchair accessible beach

9. Barcelona, Spain

The tourism agencies of Spain and especially the Catalonia region have been pushing the importance of accessible tourism for quite some time now. As a result, 80 per cent of metro stations and 100 per cent of public buses are wheelchair accessible. And unlike many old historic cities, the old town of Barcelona is cobblestone free reducing the risks of trip and falls and making it easier for those with walkers and wheelchairs.

Plaza Barcelona, Spain

8. Galápagos and Amazonia, Ecuador

After watching these nature-centric destinations on programs like Planet Earth, they may not seem like an option for those with mobility issues, however they’re a lot closer in reach thanks to Lenín Moreno, a paraplegic who was the vice president of Ecuador from 2006-2013. Moreno’s work is responsible for the inroads in accessibility in this largely inaccessible continent.

blue footed booby

7. Sicily, Italy

When one thinks of Italy, images of cobblestone streets and elevated countryside usually come to mind -not exactly the picture of accessibility. But Lonely Planet says Sicily is breaking new ground on this front and is home to a tactile museum and Europe’s only sensorial botanic garden. Two Guinness world records have also been set here by people with disabilities; the first paraplegic to dive to 59m and first blind woman to dive to 41m.

Sicily, Italy Cathedral of Palermo

6. Manchester, England

Although Manchester is indeed an old city, much of the central business district was rebuilt in the late 1900s. The result is a city with wide, smooth pavements and many shopfronts, bars and restaurants that are completely step free. Perfect for those with reduced mobility. The city’s public transit is also wheelchair friendly and offers service to just about anywhere you’d want to get to in the city.

Manchester street sign

5. Melbourne, Australia

The city of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia has been called the ‘best in the world’ for a lot of things, but it can now add ‘most accessible’ to that list as well. The city’s highly accessible public transit has received global praise and the compact central city core helps earn the city’s status as one of the most accessible cities in the world. Lonely Planet even has a guidebook dedicated to the subject titled ‘Accessible Melbourne.’

Tooykrub / Shutterstock.com
Tooykrub / Shutterstock.com

4. Ljubljana, Slovenia

The capital city of Slovenia is relatively flat, a fact that many aging travelers will appreciate. It’s also equipped with highly accessible public transit which features audio and video stop announcements on buses (because there’s nothing worse than missing your stop!) The main attraction of the city is the 16th century Ljubljana Castle, and while you wouldn’t expect anything built in the 16th century to be accessible, the castle is actually wheelchair accessible.

Ljubljana Castle, Slovenia

3. Singapore

Singapore is arguably the most accessible city in Asia and one of the most overall accessible in the whole world. You’ll find stepless access to most buildings and an endless supply of curb cuts to make sure there are no barriers for those in wheelchairs.  The city’s mass rail transit (MRT) and buses are also designed for the visually and motor impaired, making this city one were there are essentially no limitations.

Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com
Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

2. San Diego, USA

Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (which just celebrated its 25th anniversary) most of the United States is very accessible, but Lonely Planet picked San Diego, California as a standout in its class. The city is easy to get around with a fairly flat grid system and public transit is easy with a fully accessible tram system. The most notable feature is the miles long beachfront promenade which offers beach wheelchairs to those who need them.

Greta Gabaglio / Shutterstock.com
Greta Gabaglio / Shutterstock.com

1. Vienna, Austria

Like Manchester but perhaps even richer in history, Vienna is a historic city that’s been refurbished to meet modern day demands. Unlike many old European cities, its cobblestones have been removed as have many curbs and central shops, cafes and restaurants are wheelchair friendly. One of the city’s most notable attractions, the Schloss Schönbrunn is fully accessible making it a must-see for everyone, no matter your age.

Schloss Schönbrunn Vienna

England for Sports Fans: Where to Go and What to See

When thinking of England and sports the first thing that comes to mind may be soccer/football, and while footy is the national staple on TVs around the world many other venues provide up close and personal experiences not necessarily available elsewhere. While select soccer stadiums are recommended, the scope of sport in England is much wider than that of North America given its proximity to other nations. Leaving no sport untouched (except for the beloved cheese-rolling event), take a trip through England to visit the best venues and sports the country has to offer.

8.  Horseracing: Aintree Racecourse – Sefton, Merseyside, England

This track is home to the Grand National steeplechase, one of the most prestigious horseraces in the world. Over 4.5 miles, the Grand National is considered one of the most difficult in terms of stamina and jumping, in some cases resulting in less than a quarter of the horses that started actually finishing the race. Motor racing, music and golf are other events that are known to take place at the grounds; however the steeplechase is the premium draw. A fine day can be had at Aintree; dress up, place a few bets, and enjoy the sophistication of this venue.

Lesley Rigg / Shutterstock.com
Lesley Rigg / Shutterstock.com

7.  Hockey: National Ice Centre – Nottingham

Ask anyone what sport they expect to see in England and almost no one will answer “hockey”. Following the demise of the Ice Hockey Superleague, the Elite Ice Hockey League was born in 2003 and consists of 10 teams. With teams scattered across the U.K., the Nottingham Panthers’ venue is the place to visit as the most dominant English team in recent years. The $70 million arena holds 7, 500 seats and is a great way to take in the cold-country sport. The Panthers have won 3 out of the last 4 play-off tournaments, making them a sure bet for the most exciting matches in England.

hockey rink

6.  Tennis: All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club – London

Most popularly known for hosting the Wimbledon Championships, it goes without saying that the members of this iconic club are rather prestigious. To shed some light on how prestigious; the club’s patron is Queen Elizabeth II and the club President is the Duke of Kent, Prince Edward. Amazingly, most of the financial surplus from this venue funds the development of tennis in England, which is said to be around $47 million USD per year. As the only Grand Slam tennis event still played on grass (and demands that players wear white) attending Wimbledon there is like being a part of history. Want to become a club member? Obtain letters of reference from four existing members and go from there.

Stuart Slavicky / Shutterstock.com
Stuart Slavicky / Shutterstock.com

5.  Darts: O2 Arena – London

A friendly game for pubs and rumpus rooms in some places, darts is a nationally loved sport in England. Premier League Darts launched in 2005 and is currently a 10-player tournament with matches held at various venues in the United Kingdom and Ireland. O2 Arena was selected however, as it has hosted the Championship finals the last 3 years. Drinking a beer with 20, 000 other fans is exactly the way to take in one’s inaugural professional darts competition. With foreign players entering/being selected for the tournament more often in recent years, the competition has only grown and the crowds become more raucous. Try taking a drink every time someone yells “One hundred and eighty!”

Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB / Shutterstock.com
Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB / Shutterstock.com

4.  Cricket: Old Trafford Cricket Ground – Trafford, Greater Manchester

Just half of a mile from the Old Trafford used for soccer lies the cricket ground, England’s second-oldest cricket venue. Use had slowed down from 2009 to 2012 due to poor quality facilities, but developments to the grounds have changed that. International cricket matches continue to be played there each year as national support has never wavered for the sport. The venue is currently home to Lancashire County Cricket Club, which plays its home games there April through September. Old Trafford Cricket Ground also finds income through music, and while sparingly used for such, attracts big-name artists.

Old Trafford Cricket Ground

3.  Formula One Racing: Silverstone Circuit – Silverstone, Northamptonshire

Forget NASCAR, these are the fastest drivers on the planet. Silverstone Circuit hosts The British Grand Prix which (along with the Italian Grand Prix) is the oldest Formula One World Championship Grand Prix in existence. Contracted as the venue for the event until 2026, there is still plenty of time to see these athletes whiz around a complex track at speeds up to 220 MPH. The track itself is exciting with several large straightaways as well as tight turns. This venue will not only have spectators holding their hats, but guessing how fast those blurry objects whizzing by are going.

ZRyzner / Shutterstock.com
ZRyzner / Shutterstock.com

2.  Soccer/Rugby: Old Trafford – Trafford, Greater Manchester

Home to one of the most popular soccer teams in the world, Manchester United, Old Trafford is a piece of sports history that seats over 75, 000. While Manchester United may not be the most dominant team in the country anymore, the ambiance and tension in the crowd is as exciting as ever while this team attempts to recover its powerhouse reputation it had just a few short years ago.  Nicknamed the “Theater of Dreams” Old Trafford also hosts the rugby league’s Super League Grand Final each year.  Whether for soccer or rugby, this living, breathing piece of history will always be worth visiting.

mrmichaelangelo / Shutterstock.com
mrmichaelangelo / Shutterstock.com

1.  Various Sports: Wembley – London

Whether soccer, football, rugby or boxing, Wembley is a massive stadium and the centerpiece to English sport that seats up to 90, 000 fans. Traditionally the host of the Football Association Cup (FA Cup) final each year, the stadium holds a plethora of other sporting events and the list is constantly growing. While rugby has been played here for a number of years, the NFL began playing regular season games at Wembley in 2007, and has been scheduling more each year since. Boxing put its name on the list in 2014, setting a post-war British attendance record for boxing at 80, 000. Connected by 2 underground rail stations, and with more than 5 buses going by, Wembley is easy to get to, and well worth braving the large crowds that congregate here in the name of sports.

Tadeusz Ibrom / Shutterstock.com
Tadeusz Ibrom / Shutterstock.com

10 of the World’s Oldest Active Sports Stadiums

Sporting events over the last century have been an integral part of the human experience. They have inspired millions of athletes and fans all over the world. As a result, some of the most fantastic architectural creativity has gone into the construction of sporting arenas. These stadiums are a tribute to the memory of the players and fans alike, harboring the ghosts of spectacular victories and devastating defeats. They are dedicated to the unrelenting pursuit of pride and greatness.

1. Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne, Australia)

The oldest continuously operating sports arena in the world is also one of the largest, with a capacity of over 100,000. Built in 1854, it has grown into an enormous spectacle, hosting events for one of the fasting growing sports in the world. It also boasts the world record for the highest light towers in a sports arena.

2. Churchill Downs (Louisville, Kentucky)

The grandfather of American horse racing venues, Churchill Downs is a truly historic landmark. It has been in operation since 1875, and has played host to hundreds of breathtaking high stakes finishes in the crown jewel event of the Triple Crown.

Churchill Downs
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

3. Anfield (Liverpool, England)

Home to the world famous Liverpool Football Club, Anfield is one of the world’s sports meccas. Constructed in a stalwart square shape in 1884, the stadium has undergone several modern upgrades, but has stayed true to its original form.

Anfield Liverpool
mrmichaelangelo / Shutterstock.com

4. Old Trafford (Manchester, England)

The name says it all. The home ground of Manchester United, Old Trafford is one of the oldest and most fabled sports arenas in the world. Many famous players and key events in English and world football have graced its pitch. Built in 1910, it has become one of the most advanced and appealing stadiums in the world.

Old Trafford Stadium
Debu55y / Shutterstock.com

5. Fenway Park (Boston, Massachusetts)

Constructed in 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest major league baseball stadium in America. Fenway is famous not only for the Boston Red Sox, but also for its unique architectural features. Its left field wall, known as the Green Monster, is the product of limited building space and strange angular dimensions.

Fenway Park
JASON TENCH / Shutterstock.com

6. Wrigley Field (Chicago, Illinois)

Wrigley Field ranks just behind Fenway Park as the second oldest MLB ballpark, built in 1914. Its field is a vast green expanse shadowed by remarkable views of the Chicago skyline.

Wrigley Field
Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com

7. Wimbledon (London, England)

Known as the cathedral of professional tennis, Wimbledon was erected in 1922 at the site of the All England Racquet Club. It only plays host to public events for two weeks out of the year, during the Wimbledon grand slam tournament. Its new center court is a marvel to behold, featuring comfortable 360 degree seating under a retractable roof.


8. San Siro (Milan, Italy)

The San Siro, named after its neighborhood in the city of Milan, Italy, is the home of two world famous football clubs, AC Milan and Inter Milan. Built in 1925, it underwent a major renovation in 1990 when Italy hosted the World Cup. Its brilliant and unique features draw thousands of visitors every year, including sports fans and architecture buffs.

San Siro
Bokic Bojan / Shutterstock.com

9. Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

Home to the University of Alabama’s legendary football team, Bryant-Denny was built in 1929, and has hosted over 200 home wins for the resident Crimson Tide. It is the home of the most national championships in NCAA football, and the legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Bryant Denny Stadium

10. Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend, Indiana)

One of the most historic sites in college football, Notre Dame Stadium, built in 1930, is one of the most recognizable stadiums in the world. Its field, surrounded by its huge bowl-shaped coliseum, has hosted countless legends in college football.

Notre Dame Stadium