Amsterdam Travel: Accessible Travel Guide for Amsterdam
This is one of the most important Amsterdam travel blog posts on this site, and is almost certainly the most important Amsterdam travel guide you will find on this site as it's aimed at reaching and helping travellers to Amsterdam with different accessibility needs than what the majority of other travel guides cover.
Writing about accessible travel in Amsterdam has been on my list of posts to write for a long time but for many important reasons I realised the reason I hadn't yet written or published it is because I wasn't qualified to write it. And so I reached out to someone who was; Sarah Poitras of the Travel Breathe Repeat blog, and Accessible Itineraries.
Aimed not only at wheelchair users, but for all travellers with specific accessibility needs, I hope this accessible travel guide for Amsterdam gives you the information you need, but if it doesn't or is lacking or out of date in one area (or more!) please let me know so I can address that and answer any questions you may have.
Another quick note, this post was not written to accommodate social distancing rules in Amsterdam and other requirements and restrictions in place in 2020 so some of the attractions may not be available as presented in this post. It is always my advice to check individual websites to find out opening information, social distancing requirements and to book tickets in advance, where possible.
Happy travelling to Amsterdam, friends! Now over to Sarah...
DISCLOSURE: This post includes affiliate links to products and services that may benefit you. If you make a purchase I will get a small commission. Thanks for supporting this blog!
Accessible Travel Amsterdam - Guide, Tips & Advice
This accessible travel guide to Amsterdam aims to help everyone get the most out of a visit to this great city. It includes information about getting around Amsterdam in a wheelchair, the accessibility of museums and attractions, and accessible hotels.
This accessibility guide offers perspective on visiting Amsterdam as someone with access needs. I collated and consolidated information that can be found online and provide my own personal perspective on the city. Much of it is focused on tips for wheelchair users and people with mobility limitations, but it also includes information for people with other disabilities.
Accessibility means different things to different people. In all but rare instances, it is not possible to offer a definitive accessible guide that suits everyone. The intent is the same as I advise others in the tourism industry to aim for: provide as much information and color as possible to help independent planners make educated decisions.
Amsterdam and the Netherlands Accessibility
Amsterdam is a glorious, stunning city, in large part because it is very old. You may be nervous about its general accessibility. Don’t be. There are a few general factors contributing to the overall good accessibility of Amsterdam.
First, the Netherlands is a flat, flat country. Flat as a pancake (or “pannenkoek” as they say in Dutch). Sure, Amsterdam itself has some (ok, many) bridges that are a wee bit hilly. But by all measures, the terrain of the city is quite level. That makes walking around pretty manageable for a large variety of folks with mobility concerns.
Second, accessibility is taken seriously in the Netherlands, especially in the tourism industry. And since Amsterdam is the number one tourist destination in the country, they take it seriously here too. The level of transparency is high.
The majority of the attractions in Amsterdam (and in the country as whole) are accessible to wheelchair users and also provide accommodations to people with other access needs and disabilities. And, most importantly, information you need is available online.
Third, Dutch people are very direct by nature. That’s good when it comes to accessibility because if you ask a specific question of a hotel or an attraction, you’re highly likely to get a specific and reliable answer. Additionally, the Dutch are the best non-native English speakers in the world. That means you don’t need to know Dutch to get the information you need. It's also possible that some Dutch people will know some ASL or ESL, but of course the main sign language in the Netherlands is Dutch Sign Language.
Travelling to Amsterdam - Accessibility Info, Tips & Advice
If you’re arriving to Amsterdam by plane, you’ll arrive at one of the best airports in the world for accessibility: Schiphol. Schiphol offers numerous accessibility features for disabled travelers, all of which are posted on their website.
When it comes to getting from Schiphol to Amsterdam, there are two options: taxi or public transport. I personally have never taken a taxi in the Netherlands. They are not the easiest, nor most cost-effective means of transport. Unfortunately, to guarantee a wheelchair-accessible taxi this will require advanced booking – both to/from the airport and in the city in general. Her are your best options to make your booking:
(Frankie Note: Unlike Sarah, we have taken quite a few of the taxi rank taxis at Schiphol, and while it's true that they are not budget-friendly and of varying quality in terms of service, it's also true that while not all of them are wheelchair accessible, some certainly are. The taxi rank is immediately outside the Arrivals floor (follow the signs for the official taxi rank and ignore anybody who approaches before you reach the entrance) and it is nearly always staffed by people who you can ask about a wheelchair-friendly taxi. I can't promise you will get one instantly but they should be able to assist and advise you the best way to get one should you not have booked one in advance.)
Public transport from Schiphol Airport is easily accessible from the airport's main lobby area; trains arrive and depart from platform area immediately below this, and buses depart from just outside the building too.
Getting Around Amsterdam with Accessibility in Mind
Taking the train from Schiphol into the city is relatively straightforward. The trip takes less than 20 minutes. The national train company, NS, has detailed information about their accessibility services on their website. It includes information about types of mobility vehicles allowed as well as instructions for bringing guide dogs on board.
The one thing to note is that there are two types of trains that make the trip. Most “Sprinter” trains are lower and able to be boarded by wheelchair users without assistance. The “Intercity” trains have higher entrances and if you cannot get on board by yourself, you’ll need to request NS assistance at least one hour prior to boarding to arrange for a ramp.
Download the NS app before you arrive in the city and you’ll be able to see the train schedule including train model. Otherwise, the customer service representatives at the NS service desk will be able to help.
It should also be noted that some trains have wheelchair-accessible toilets and some do not.
If you’re arriving by train (either from the airport or elsewhere in Europe), you’ll most likely arrive at the main train station: Amsterdam Centraal. Amsterdam Centraal is fully accessible to wheelchair users and has other services available for people with other disabilities. There are lifts and escalators at every track and you can find more information here to help you prepare for arrival and departure from Centraal Station..
All regional train stations in the Netherlands are accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. There are tactile guidelines and signs in braille. In Amsterdam Centraal there is also a tactile map. You can read more about all the accessibility features here.
(Frankie's Note: If you require taxis while in Amsterdam, you should make a note of the number for TCA (020 777 7777) or download their app which is also available in English. They are Amsterdam's main radio taxi company and are used to call for taxis when you need them or to pre-book in advance. While the app does work great most of the time, I would recommend calling so you can specifcally ask for one of their wheelchair accessible vehicles and/or you can advise the driver or any other assistance you may require.)
Getting around Amsterdam on Foot or Wheels
Amsterdam is not a homogenous city. Not all of its streets are the same.
Some have narrow sidewalks; some have paved bike lanes where wheelchairs are also welcome; some have cobble stones; some have wide open squares; some are connected by small bridges.
All of this to say if you’re a wheelchair user, some streets will be easier to get down than others. For the most part, though, I think the streets in Amsterdam are navigable by wheelchair.
One helpful resource is this guide of five wheelchair-accessible routes in Amsterdam. Though it was written in 2015, the routes are through major tourist areas of the city and should be somewhat similar. It’s actually likely that accessibility has improved in the years since it was created.
Public Transport in Amsterdam
Public transportation in the Netherlands is fantastic. With one travel card, you can take all forms of public transport throughout the country. This is true for the regional trains as well as the local transport. Maps and the app make the system easy to understand and follow.
Additionally, it is (if not fully) mostly accessible. I have never been to a station that doesn’t have lifts or escalators. Tactile pavement is everywhere. When comparing public transportation in Amsterdam to other capital cities in Europe, it’s definitely near (if not at) the top of the list.
The system consists of the Metro (subways), trams, and buses. The city is well connected. You can see a full system map here.
The company that runs public transport in the city, GVB, provides pretty comprehensive general information about the accessibility of their services on their website.
All Metro stations and overground train stations in Amsterdam are wheelchair accessible.
When it comes to trams and buses, there are a few things to consider. All vehicles are technically wheelchair accessible but not all stops are. Many tram stops, specifically, are raised and narrow. On the GVB website you can check if any of the stops on your route is not accessible. Additionally, certain older vehicle models require manual assistance (e.g., ramp to be lowered). There are dedicated wheelchair and pushchair areas on trams.
Scooters which exceed specific measurements are not allowed on public transport. These are clearly outlined on the website.
Strollers are also allowed on public transport, but take secondary priority to wheelchairs if there is limited space. The GVB also promotes the wearing of a “baby on board” button by pregnant women so others will more proactively offer their seats.
(Frankie's Note: Having been pregnant twice in Amsterdam, I have had a mixed experience with people offering me a seat, even when very noticeably (and heavily!) pregnant. In my first pregnancy I would rarely ask for a seat, but in my second, I was more proactive and I was never refused. Dutch people are direct and will not be offended by you asking, and indeed, they would probably expect it more hence not offering it if they see someone who may need it but they are not asking for the seat or assistance. Here are some more travel when pregnant tips, and also a post about being pregnant in Amsterdam and the Netherlands.)
On all public transportation, stops are announced both visibly and audibly (which is great for everyone who wants to know where they are going!). At stations, there are boards that announce when the next vehicle is arriving. There are buttons blind or visually impaired people can push to hear this information.
Accessible Cycling in Amsterdam
The Netherlands is known as a country made for cycling. It’s no different in Amsterdam. There are many places to rent bikes in the city, including at least one that offers adapted bikes for disabled customers.
While cycling is a great, sustainable, and very local thing to do here, I might suggest that anyone seeking to do so start with/stick to a park, areas outside of the city (so outside the canal belt) or for exploring the greater Amsterdam and Waterlands region.
However, if you are feeling brave you can find Frankie's best tips for cycling in Amsterdam here. There are wonderful parks to explore without the (honestly quite real) issue of pedestrian/vehicle/crazy tourist/crazy local traffic!
Best Accessible Places to Stay in Amsterdam: Hotels & Apartments
There are a ton of hotels in Amsterdam, many of which have wheelchair accessible rooms and facilities. We’ve listed some options located in different neighborhoods at different price ranges with accessibility features noted.
Please note, though these hotels all claim to be “accessible,” it's my opinion that not all of them provided all the detailed information you might require on their website. You may also want to look at the best luxury hotels in Amsterdam as they may well provide more accessibility options than other hotels. All provide contact information so you can confirm a hotel meets your specific needs and this is a recommendation before you make a reservation.
Urban Lodge Hotel has a special “accessible” room category and offers great value for money with rooms around €50-60 a night (at the time publishing). They actually have photos of the room on their website, one of which shows a roll-in shower. However, they don’t provide specific details about the dimensions of the room or anything else so you would possibly need to call to find this out.
The hotel isn’t exactly in the touristic center, but is under 10 minutes away from Centraal Station by Metro or even overground trains.
A great mid-range option price wise, this NH hotel is located in the center of the canal belt so perfect if you want to sleep on the most famous canals in Amsterdam.
According to its website, it has wheelchair accessible rooms, elevators, and facilities.
This NH hotel is located near the major museums in the city so is a great choice if this is a priority for you.
According to its website, it has wheelchair accessible rooms, elevators, and facilities.
Citizen M Amstel & Amsterdam South Amsterdam
If you're looking for very budget-friendly hotels with a modern, design-focused finish, Citizen M hotels are a great choice, but do note that both of these hotel locations are outside of the city's main centre. The Amstel location is a bit closer to attractions and museums, but it is on a busy road so that could mean some traffic noise.
Citizen M Amsterdam South is located close to the nice and leafy Amsterdam South neighbourhood and close to the business district at Zuidas. It's a great choice if you want to escape the city centre at night but still have easy public transport access to everywhere.
In their global accessibility statement, Citizen M ensure that all hotels have accessible entrance and routes. Their accessible guest rooms have doorways that provide 32” of clear width. However, these rooms are not available to book direct online – you must contact the hotel directly to book.
There is also a Citizen M hotel at Schiphol in case you need an airport hotel at the beginning or end of your stay.
The Marriott has an extensive list of accessibility features on its website. They ask guests looking for further details to contact the hotel with questions. It's also in a very central location with great access to Vondelpark, Museum Square and the city centre, as well as public transport within a short distance.
(Frankie's Note: One additional note, if you stay here be aware it is on a busy road with many tram lines running on it as well as a road and bike path. It's one of only a few roads in Amsterdam that is likely to still have a steady flow of traffic at all hours so if you would like a quiet room be sure to request one.)
Ibis Amsterdam Center - The Ibis is a great lower cost option that couldn't be more central - it is opposite Amsterdam Centraal Station. According to their website, they offer accessible rooms and facilities. (Please note there are a few Ibis hotels in Amsterdam so please ensure you make a reservation at this one as others are not as accessible!)
Hyatt Regency Amsterdam - Located in a modern, purpose-built building on the eastern side of Amsterdam's city centre, the Hyatt Regency Amsterdam advises that they have accessible rooms and facilities.
Hotel Pulitzer - The Pulitzer is a luxury hotel in the heart of the canal belt, close to the famous Nine Street (Negen Straatjes) and Jordaan neighbourhood. They only have one accessible guest room, and you must contact them to book it (and to learn exactly what that means).
(Frankie's Note: While one of the best and most famous hotels in Amsterdam (thanks to Ocean's 12) the hotel is effectively a number of canal houses knocked through together so most of the hotel will be inaccessible for wheelchair users, likewise, the corridors and rooms may feel "small" or "pokey" so I would strongly recommend talking with the hotel about your requirements before making a reservation.)
Radisson Blu - The Radisson Blu in Amsterdam says their hotel is “fully accessible” and it is in a great location with close proximity to the Red Light District and the centre of Amsterdam.
Best Airbnbs in Amsterdam for Accessibility
It can be hard to find short stay apartments in Amsterdam that don’t require walking up a ton of narrow staircases (I know this from personal experience!). These two ground floor apartments in the wonderful de Pijp neighborhood fit the bill - here and here.
They offer a good amount of information about measurements and accessibility features and I’ve always found Airbnb hosts helpful when asking very specific questions about accessibility.
When searching on Airbnb make sure you tick all the accessibility filters that apply to you. This is an example of some results I got when ticking options for wheelchair users.
(Frankie's Note: The older houses in Amsterdam can have very narrow doorways and entrance halls, so please do check in advance if you find a ground-floor apartment that the entrance-way measurements will accommodate your wheelchair or scooter.)
Accessibility Information for Amsterdam's Most Popular Museums & Attractions
Amsterdam has some of the best cultural and entertainment attractions in the world, and most of them have a diverse array of accessibility offerings. Here’s a list of just some of them.
There are many more places to see and things to do – it would just take many more articles to get to them all!
Most of the museums and attractions listed below offer free tickets for companions or carers of people who cannot visit without assistance. If you find one that does not have such an offering listed, contact them to inquire. In most cases, service dogs are allowed and I’ve noted where there are exceptions.
The Rijksmuseum is the Dutch national art museum. It is the largest and most visited museum in the country. The Rijksmuseum provides very detailed information about accessibility from arriving at to touring the museum on its website. Some highlights are listed below.
All exhibits are wheelchair accessible, all floors accessible by lift. However, when it’s very busy, it can be difficult to find an empty lift (I can personally attest to this as someone who uses them).
Wheelchairs and rollators are available to borrow, but it’s advised you make a reservation to do so. Scooters are allowed most of the time, but it can be at the discretion of security during very busy times). There are wheelchair accessible toilets noted on the floor plans.
As mentioned, the museum is quite popular, so there is often a line to enter. If you are unable to wait in line, you can complete a “Fast Lane Declaration.” No questions will be asked about your condition, but you may need to show some official document or doctor’s note at some point.
Information is also available for people with other, non-physical, disabilities. Guided tours are available for people with visual impairments and guided tours offered in international sign.
The Rijksmuseum is huge and has the potential to feel overwhelming - you should give yourself plenty of time to explore it should you wish to see it all (even then, it could take more than one visit!). You can plan your visit in advance by downloading their app and planning your route according to your taste. Or just plan to spend a leisurely day (or a few hours at least) touring the museum at your own pace.
Either way, I highly recommend you book tickets in advance to avoid standing in a queue at the entrance or at a ticket desk.
Anne Frank House
There are two parts of the Anne Frank House – the historical building where the so-called Secret Annex is accessed as it was by the Frank family - and a modern-built addition. Only the modern part of the Anne Frank House is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair users cannot enter the old part of the museum and the Secret Annex. People who have trouble climbing many (narrow, old) stairs may have difficulty as well, and likewise if you are adverse to narrow and small spaces.
There are audio guides for blind or visually impaired visitors, although the historical building is not suitable for guide dogs. There is a written version of the audio tour available for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
There is a virtually reality tour of the secret annex so people who cannot visit in person can still immerse themselves in the experience a bit. There are more virtual tours of Amsterdam listed in this post here.
You can read more about the accessibility of the museum on the website. You always need to buy tickets online and in advance prior to your visit.
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum website has comprehensive information about accessibility, and here you can find information about how wheelchairs, walkers, and mobility scooters up to 500kg allowed. Measurements of the museum’s lifts are available on the website.
The museum is a bit dark. The lighting is meant to protect the paintings. There is more information about this on their website in a specific section for people with visual impairments.
The museum offers hearing loops and guided tours in international sign language. There is a specific section on their website with more information for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. There is also a specific section for visitors with sensory sensitivity.
The Van Gogh Museum is quite popular and can get extremely busy, so I recommend going as early as possible on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Please note, you must always book your tickets in advance for the Van Gogh Museum and you will be given a specific time slot to go.
Stedelijk, Amsterdam's most famous modern art and design museum, states they are “accessible to anyone who is curious.” They offer comprehensive information about their facilities and services on the accessibility page on their website. And they encourage visitors with questions or needs not mentioned on the website to contact them directly.
People who use wheelchairs and scooters will find accessible lifts and toilets.
One portion of the museum, called STEDELIJK BASE, is not accessible to people who use electric scooters. However, manual wheelchairs available (as well as other mobility aids) are available to borrow.
The museum has offerings for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. However, their sign language tour is in Dutch Sign Language.
Stedelijk also has a unique program for people with dementia and their family members. Once a month they offer a tour led by specially trained museum guides to help initiate meaningful conversations through art. More information and tour dates are listed on their website.
The city’s history museum is only accessible to people who use manual wheelchairs: scooters and electric wheelchairs are not permitted. They do have manual wheelchairs available to loan.
Read about the Amsterdam Museum’s accessibility offerings here.
National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum)
The National Maritime Museum does not have a dedicated accessibility page on their website, but if you look hard enough you’ll find some information here and here.
The museum can accommodate manual wheelchair users, but not mobility scooters.
Everything in the museum is accessible by lift. The VOC ship Amsterdam is also partially accessible by a special lift, however, I would suggest you contact the museum in advance to ensure that this is still the case.
(Frankie's Note: I would also add that the VOC ship isn't a great place to take kids and adults who are uncomfortable in enclosed spaces as it can feel quite claustrophobic on the lower decks.)
NEMO Science Museum
The NEMO science museum does not have a dedicated accessibility page on their website, however, they say they are “wheelchair and pram friendly” (except for their rooftop exhibit), and that they are “accessible for people with disabilities or visual impairments.”
I recommend contacting the museum directly if you have specific questions or concerns (firstname.lastname@example.org). They do indicate they have disabled toilets on all floors, except the third.
(Frankie's Note: NEMO is a great place to go in Amsterdam with children of all ages and abilities, but please note that it can get a very noisy and busy place so is not great for children and adults who are uncomfortable with loud noise and crowds.)
ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo
Most of the zoo is wheelchair accessible and they have rentals available. There are accessible toilets in many of the houses/areas. You can find all of the information about accessibility at ARTIS here.
It's important to note that, assistance dogs (as well as pets) are NOT allowed throughout the entire zoo. However, vaccinated service dogs are allowed only on a specified, specially created route that protects your dog and the zoo animals.
All toilets are equipped with baby changing stations. It is possible to warm up baby food at the Twee Cheetahs restaurant and the Planetarium café. The little house behind the Camel Field, beside the playground, has a breastfeeding room. You can pick up the key for this room at the ticket office.
You can see some more photos of ARTIS Royal Zoo here.
The Portuguese Synagogue is part of the Jewish Cultural Corner in Amsterdam and it is possible to visit with a wheelchair. A basic checklist providing information about accessibility of all facilities is provided on their website.
The synagogue is wheelchair accessible, but you may want to contact them directly with specific questions or about other accessibility requirements.
The museum dedicated to the Dutch mega-brewer advises visitors with questions to contact them directly with inquiries.
The popular tour of this Dutch icon is available to wheelchair users accessible, but since the brewery is located in an historical building, it sounds like the entire tour may not be accessible. However, it does say that wheelchair users are welcome but they must check a box when buying a ticket online so that the attraction can plan appropriately. They also recommend wheelchair users visit during less busy times (weekdays before 1pm). Service dogs are allowed.
You can book tickets to the Heineken Experience in advance here and we highly recommend you do as this is a popular and busy attraction with tourists.
If you need more spevcific information, it is advised to contact them directly by email at email@example.com.
The building, including the lookout, is wheelchair accessible and there are wheelchair accessible toilets. People who can walk a few steps independently or who have the assistance of a personal companion to get to the swing can use the swing. Assistance dogs are allowed. You must book tickets in advance.
There is also a special elevator without “fierce” lights for people with epilepsy – the staff can take visitors there so be sure to let them know upon arrival if you require this. You can read more about A’DAM Lookout accessibility here.
Johan Cruijff ArenA
Visit the Jordan Cruijff ArenA to attend Ajax Amsterdam of the Dutch football league matches, concerts, and other large events. Detailed accessibility information is available on their website.
Wheelchair seats are available to book in advance. At matches, there are also special seats with radio channel access for blind or visually impaired fans to get play by play. Furthermore, service dogs are allowed with advanced notice.
You can visit the Johan Cruijff ArenA for a tour too but sadly most of them state that they are not wheelchair accessible.
Accessible Amsterdam Canal Cruises
Blue Boat Company offers wheelchair-accessible canal cruises, including this evening boat tour should you want to see Amsterdam at night, which is highly recommended.
For the day tours, only select time slots are available for wheelchair users. You must reserve one of these time slots in advance. The information is quite clear on their website.
For an evening cruise, you only have to reserve in advance and they’ll make sure you are on a wheelchair-accessible boat.
For both cruises, you must arrive at least 15 minutes early since they will board wheelchair users first.
Accessible Amsterdam City Tours
If you’re interested in booking tours specifically designed for wheelchair users and people who are blind or visually impaired check out these options:
Accessible Travel NL runs this English-language guided tour for visually-impaired and blind travellers.
Disabled Accessible Travel have a wheelchair accessible walking tour that takes in many of Amsterdam's most famous sites in the Red Light District and central Amsterdam area.
(Frankie's Note: I recently did the Black Heritage Tour of Amsterdam (which I highly recommend!) and while we covered a lot of ground - my fitness tracker clocked up over 5km of walking in total in a few hours - I would say the tour is wheelchair accessible, but it's worth knowing most of the terrain is cobbled streets and narrow pathways.)
Other Resources for Accessibility in Amsterdam
While I’ve praised the city and the national tourist boards for their informative offerings, there are always ways to improve and enhance. Some resources that do a great job filling in the few blanks that remain are listed below.
Accessible Travel Netherlands
You will have noticed a few links from Accessible Travel Netherlands throughout this post. They are local experts in accessible travel in the Netherlands and of course Amsterdam. They offer everything from accessible tours to mobility equipment rentals.
Able Amsterdam is a blog written by an Amsterdam resident who uses mobility aids, including a wheelchair, to get around. She writes about accessible places in the city including restaurants, bars, and attractions.
About the Author, Sarah Poitras, Accessible Travel Specialist
Thanks for reading my guide to accessible travel in Amsterdam. In case you're wondering why I am writing this guide, I wanted to take a moment to explain why.
I'm a travel blogger, world traveler (currently on sabbatical) and Netherlands resident, I have explored Europe extensively with mobility limitations and medical needs. In addition to my own personal experience, I have professional expertise in accessible travel; I run a business helping people with disabilities and other access needs travel and have advised tourism boards on how to improve the accessibility of their offerings. I aim to take a holistic approach, but I do acknowledge that I come to this with my own personal set of experiences.
As an additional note, I use a combination of identity-first and person-first language when speaking about disability. This is a frequently discussed topic and is most often a personal choice. I personally do not prefer one or another, so take a writer’s approach to use what makes the most sense in a sentence. Please take this into consideration when reading this guide.
You can follow Sarah's travels on Instagram and Facebook.
That's our round-up of accessible travel tips for Amsterdam, but if you'd like to save or share this post, here are some pin images:
Frances M. Thompson
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.