Most of the centre of Munich is well suited to the needs of disabled people
Following on from my recent blog on Accessible Lisbon, I also visited Munich earlier this year and thought it would be worth mentioning a few of my experiences. As a wheelchair user, my views of cities can be quite different to those of other people. For a start, I see most of the sights in any city from a lower position! There are also some sights which are completely inaccessible for those in wheelchairs. Munich rates pretty highly on my list of accessible cities for a number of reasons.
Munich city centre has relatively few cobbled streets (the bane of a wheelchair user’s life). The Marienplatz, the city’s main central square, and the surrounding shopping streets are covered in larger paving stones which are relatively easy to negotiate. An exception is the Viktualenmarkt, a farmers’ market with stalls and shops selling all types of fresh and dried food from fish to fruit, poultry, cheeses and herbs and spices. There are also very good beer and wine shops. It is well worth braving the cobbles to visit this market which lies only a stone’s throw from the Marienplatz.
Another sight on Munich’s “must-see” list is the Hofgarten, formerly the court garden of the Residenz Palace, home to the Wittelsbachs who ruled Bavaria from the 12th Century right through to the First World War. Elegant and simply designed, the garden is flat and very accessible and is a little haven of peace in the middle of the city. Here you can sit and enjoy a coffee at an outdoor café while planning the rest of your day.
On the same visit to Munich we spent a day outside the city, visiting the delightful little resort of Schliersee, to the south of the city. Schliersee can easily be reached by train from Munich Hauptbahnhof (main station) in just under an hour. This beautiful spot is popular with residents of Munich and can get quite crowded at weekends but on a weekday in early summer the visitors were easily soaked up, as some people headed off to walk further around the lake and others made a bee-line for their favourite restaurant. It’s possible to follow a path along the lakeshore for some distance, and we found a very nice, traditional wood panelled “stube” for lunch close to the lake.
On a previous visit to Munich we had also taken a train from the Hauptbahnhof, but this time to Tegernsee, another lovely little lakeside resort to the south of the city. This journey also took about an hour , during which you can enjoy views of the very pretty Bavarian countryside and the Alps in the distance. As at Schliersee, we were able to walk along the lake taking a path which is user-friendly for wheelchairs. Afterwards, we sat outside in a very pleasant café, drinking coffee and eating some of the excellent array of cakes on offer.
No article on accessible Munich would be complete without mentioning disabled toilets. On our first visit we purchased a type of Radar key from the Tourist Office, which can be used all over Germany and also in some other European countries. This key permits entry to toilets at various stations on the U-Bahn (underground) in Munich. We also found that some cafés had disabled toilets. Both Schliersee and Tegernsee were suitably equipped. I would always recommend doing a bit of advance research online, as in Germany local city or town websites are usually very informative and we picked up a very useful guide for handicapped people at the Tourist Office in Munich.
To sum up, I found both the centre of Munich and the two day-trip destinations to be very well geared up for disabled people and would thoroughly recommend Munich as a city break destination for anyone in my situation.