Last month I visited Barcelona for the very first time. Although I knew I was going to love it, I didn’t expect to fall completely in love with the city as much as I did. Worthy of its title as one of the best European cities as well as being one of the most wheelchair accessible. This is my ultimate accessible city guide to Barcelona, including the best place to stay, what to see and do, where to eat, how to get around as well as my faves bits from the trip.
If you have already been to Barcelona then you’ll understand my love for this city and if you haven’t been before, then you’ll understand by the end of this post. You’ll be rushing off to book your flights and accommodation.
Where to Stay in Barcelona
If you’re looking for a modern, stylish place to stay that has the best accessible facilities all under one roof then check out MICs Sant Jordi (click the link for the full review and photos). Each of the 32 apartments within this fully adapted and purpose-built accommodation offers fantastic comfort and accessibility for wheelchair users.
I loved the location of MICS Sant Jordi as it was in the beautiful neighbourhood of Sarrià with excellent public transport links, restaurants and shops. Our one bedroom apartment was the perfect place to relax and offered excellent access for my power wheelchair.
Address: Via Augusta, 269-273, 08017 Barcelona, Spain
Amenities/facilities: Free WiFi, breakfast, pets welcome, restaurant, garden, hydrotherapy pool, pool hoist, adapted gym, physiotherapist, 24-hour care service, equipment, parking.
What to See and Do in Barcelona
Gothic Quarter Tour
The Gothic Quarter also known as Barri Gotic and the Old City is a magical neighbourhood you must visit. I’d recommend you kick-start your first day in Barcelona with an accessible walking tour of the Gothic Quarter. Our fantastic and lovely tour guide, Maria José, gave us a fun and interesting overview of the highlights, history and stunning architecture. Despite being the oldest part of the city, the Gothic Quarter is very accessible and I didn’t have any trouble with the paths. The one-hour walking tour is also completely wheelchair accessible and its gentle pace would make it suitable for people with walking difficulties. I loved how captivating Maria José was and her warm, friendly nature made the walking tour even more enjoyable.
This was without a doubt one of my favourite areas to explore. Bursting with culture, Roman architecture, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes made the Gothic Quarter the perfect place to stroll through day or night.
Simply Emma Tips: Bring a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated in the beautiful Barcelona sunshine. Maybe even an umbrella in case there is a rain shower. Take lots of photos, but most of all…enjoy this great tour!
L’Aquàrium de Barcelona
After your accessible walking tour of the Gothic Quarter, why not stop for some lunch in the neighbourhood (I’d recommend The Green Spot) before heading to Barcelona Aquarium. The aquarium is only a short walk from the Gothic Quarter and you’ll get 20% discount with the Barcelona Pass. We spent several hours wandering around the aquarium and it was a big hit with my nephew especially the shark tunnel and watching the penguins getting fed.
There is wheelchair access throughout the exhibits as well as accessible toilets and ramps into the different displays – even the kid’s submarine which my nephew and I played in together since my wheelchair could fit in.
Simply Emma Tips: Set aside a few hours to wander around all the displays and make sure you catch the penguins getting fed.
Address: Moll d’Espanya del Port Vell, s/n, 08039 Barcelona, Spain
Amenities/facilities: Cafeteria and restaurant, gift shop, accessible toilets
Sagrada Familia is probably the most iconic and well-known building in Barcelona. A Gaudi masterpiece that is still under construction despite commencing in 1882. Pretty incredible right? Well, don’t let the fact it’s not complete put you off visiting because it really is a must-see when in Barcelona. I recommend going inside to really see and appreciate this masterpiece up close. Also, check out the museum to find out more about Gaudi and the construction. We were lucky to have a guided tour with the lovely Maria José again and it felt like we were hearing all the insider information. Amazing!
Simply Emma Tips: Free admission for people with disabilities and a companion. Child under 10 also go free.
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Casa De Les Punxes
Once you’ve toured inside Sagrada Familia and admired it from the outside then I suggest you either walk or take a bus to Casa de les Punxes. Also known as House of Spikes due to its spiky conical roofs. This stunning large Gothic-like castle located on Barcelona’s widest avenue, the Avinguda Diagonal was home to the Terradas sisters in 1905 and is now open for guided visits.
There are fun interactive displays throughout the Casa de les Punxes which makes it fun for kids as well as adults. The interactive floor was a big hit with my nephew. You’ll find an accessible toilet and access throughout. However, the lift is a little on the small side so I had to reverse in order to fit (measurements of the lift are 1.28m wide and 0.89m depth).
Simply Emma Tips: 20% off with the Barcelona Card
Address: Avinguda Diagonal, 420, 08037 Barcelona, Spain
Amenities/facilities: Interactive tour, roof terrace, kid-friendly, gift shop, accessible toilet
Nova Icària Beach
I haven’t had much experience of beaches mainly due to poor or lack of wheelchair accessibility. Wheelchairs and sand don’t usually go together so this usually makes beaches a no-go area for wheelchair users. However, Barcelona has created a barrier-free solution to enable people with disabilities to enjoy a beach day just like everyone else.
Yup, that means you get to roll across the beach without getting your wheelchair stuck in the sand and enjoy a dip in the ocean. This is all possible thanks to the brilliant beach wheelchairs (a.k.a amphibious wheelchairs) and lifeguards available at Nova Icaria Beach. The lifeguards offer swimmer assistance to people with disabilities to enter and exit the water. They can also stay in the water with you, like they did with me and provide support if needed.
I’ll never forget that day at the beach as I got to bathe in the ocean and spend time with my family on the beach while my nephew played in the sand. Simple things to most people, but something I’ve never been able to do before. A magical moment I’ll never forget.
I was incredibly impressed with the accessibility features and services at Nova Icària beach. Not only did it provide amphibious wheelchairs, it also had the following:
- a lifting hoist
- a resting area with a sunshade
- wooden boardwalks leading to the water
- reserved parking bays
- visual and tactile signage
- accessible restrooms/changing room
- accessible showers on the sand
Simply Emma Tips: Remember your sun protection and wear a hat. After a dip in the sea, take a stroll along the promenade and have some delicious food.
Address: Passeig Marítim de la Nova Icària, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
Other Things of Interest
Born Cultural Centre – Formerly a market in 1876 and now an event and cultural centre with interesting excavated ruins on display. It’s a nice place to walk around, have something to eat and drink in the restaurant and there is a nice accessible toilet too.
Barcelona BusTuristic – Bus tours where you can hop-on and hop-off whenever you want are a great way of seeing all the main sights and attractions around the city. Barcelona BusTuristic has three routes with 45 stops and is wheelchair accessible as well as adapted for hearing impairments.
Casa Batlló – One of Gaudi’s most famous and popular houses. I love everything about the look of this building from the colours, balconies, and windows.
Casa Milá – Another famous Gaudi house and also known as La Pedrera, which means open quarry. It’s a short walk from Casa Batlló.
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar – 14th-century Gothic church located in the La Ribera/El Born neighbourhood. It has wheelchair access via a ramp through a side door. It is beautiful inside so I’d recommend you take a look inside.
Las Ramblas – This street is touristy and can be busy, but I found it manageable in my wheelchair. It’s full of restaurants, shops, and the famous food market La Boqueria.
Where to Eat in Barcelona
There are so many cafes and restaurants that suit all tastes and budgets in Barcelona. You will be spoiled for choice. These are some of our favourite places to dine.
The Green Spot
Located in the Barceloneta neighbourhood down a lovely quiet side street. I loved absolutely everything about The Green Spot and I mean EVERYTHING. The food is vegetarian/vegan and is completely out of this world delicious. The staff were so amazing and were extra lovely to my nephew. The décor and atrium filled with plants were beautiful and my idea of heaven. I highly recommend you visit because you will not be disappointed. It’s a real gem!
With five locations you’re bound to come across at least one or two of Bacoa’s Barcelona restaurants. We choose to eat at their Bacoa Barceloneta on our beach day which is located right on the beachfront surrounded by palm trees and fantastic sea views. We opted to sit outside in the terrace and were served by a lovely waiter. There is a range of burgers to choose from, but the Gran Vegano (vegan) burger was to die for.
Gelaaati Di Marco
Located in the Gothic Quarter with a great selection of gelato including many vegan options. Yay! Although there is a step into the shop the server made sure I got to sample as many flavours as I wanted before settling on watermelon and fig. Gelaaati Di Marco has the best vegan gelato I’ve ever had.
More on these fantastic eateries in a future post because I can’t stop thinking about how good the food tasted. They are definitely on the top of my list for future trips to Barcelona.
How to Get Around in Barcelona
Taxi Amic picked us up from Barcelona–El Prat Airport and took us to our apartment at MICs Sant Jordi. The wheelchair accessible taxi meant I could remain in my wheelchair due to the pull-down ramp at the back. Our taxi driver was very friendly and efficient by ensuring I was safely secured with belts and that my wheelchair was tied down. There were three passenger seats in front of me as well as one in the front next to the driver.
As I’ve mentioned before, cobblestones are not my friend as they make for a very bumpy ride in my wheelchair. However, Barcelona was different and I saw very little cobblestones and even when I did, they were either not bumpy or there was a tarmacked path created through the cobblestones for wheelchairs, pushchairs etc. Fantastic, right?
I found the streets around Barcelona to be incredibly accessible and easy to navigate. There was always drop curbs to allow me to cross the road and although I had to have my shoulders held back to stop me from leaning forward due to the height of the drop, I honestly didn’t have any major problems crossing the roads. Exploring Barcelona on foot/wheels was very pleasant and enjoyable.
The metro was easy to use and very accessible. It was our preferred method of getting around Barcelona especially as there was a metro station directly outside our accommodation. It would take us to Plaça de Catalunya station within 12 minutes and this placed us in a great spot for Las Ramblas and more.
All stations we used were wheelchair accessible via lifts and the metro itself was very easy to board. Once onboard, the dedicated wheelchair area is spacious and provides seating for companions. I never had any problems accessing this area. There is a wheelchair button you can press to alert the driver that you wish to exit at the next stop.
We didn’t use the public bus during our time in Barcelona. Although we will probably use it the next time we visit, especially when we go to see the Magic Foundation.
An Accessible City Guide To Barcelona
Barcelona is a wonderful city with lots to offer its visitors. Turisme de Barcelona ensures sustainable and accessible tourism for everyone is a top priority all year round. My experience visiting Barcelona as a wheelchair user has been incredible and one that I’ll never forgot. From start to finish, transport, accommodation, attractions, services and the beaches were accessible. With 100% of buses and 95% of the underground stations being wheelchair accessible I don’t think you’ll struggle to get around this fantastic city. You can find out more information about accessibility on Barcelona Access. I can honestly say I loved Barcelona and can’t wait to visit again, which I hope is in the not too distant future.
Have you been to Barcelona? Are you planning a trip to Barcelona? Let me know in the comments below!
A special thank you to Turisme de Barcelona for organising this trip to Barcelona. As always, all views and opinions expressed here are my own and have not been influenced or approved.