By Deborah Davis
The author had no trouble finding stunning scenic views wherever she rolled in Stockholm.
As the co-owner of inclusive stock photo and travel websites, and with free travel provided through my husband’s work, I have been fortunate to experience many of the world’s most and least accessible destinations. Of all the places I have visited, Sweden remains my favorite, thanks to its forward-thinking approach to inclusivity for all, its respectful and friendly citizens, its beauty and its many unique attractions.
The best place to start a tour of Sweden is the capital, Stockholm. I stayed at The Rica Hotel, as it was centrally located and had a free breakfast buffet to fuel a day of sightseeing. With a beautiful open air market a few pushes away, and restaurants, shopping and great public artwork all around, there is plenty to keep you busy. Before you do anything I recommend you get your bearings by taking a sightseeing boat ride. Under the Bridges Boat Tour has an accessible boat and the tour is a great way to learn about the layout of the land and the history of Sweden.
Cap a long day of sightseeing with some cocktails at the Absolut Icebar in the lobby of the Nordic Sea Hotel.
A must-see is Gamla Stan, a 13th century original town with much to explore, including medieval alleyways and archaic architecture. As you might expect, the old town is filled with cobblestone streets and steps. With a strong husband, a young daughter and a Freewheel attachment, I managed, but most businesses and many areas would not be accessible
without portable ramps or much assistance.
The Nobel Museum, quaint town squares, great shopping, restaurants, the Stockholm Cathedral and the Royal Palace make this section of Stockholm worth the effort for any tourist who can manage it. An electric wheelchair would be useful here — the only issue would be then getting into the facilities, as there are no ramps. On the flip side, many of the city’s treasured museums are accessible, including the National Museum, The Royal Coin Cabinet at the base of the Royal Palace, the Vasa and the Moderna Museet.
This famous sculpture of St. George and the Dragon is one of many historic sculptures to be found in Gamla Stan, the well-preserved medieval city center of 13th century Stockholm (bottom right).
A wheelchair is a ticket to the front of the line at the Vasa Museum, a 17th Century warship that sank on its maiden voyage. They found it and raised it 333 years later. Now you can view how it was preserved and restored with all its intricate carvings.
There is no better way to cap a long day of being a tourist than the Absolut Icebar. At -5 degrees all year round, the bar and surroundings are made of ice. It was fully accessible and even with my lack of temperature control, I was able spend enough time to taste two of the famous flavored ice-cold vodkas. The bar is in the lobby of the Nordic Sea Hotel by Stockholm Central Station.
The food, while expensive, is one of the most pleasurable things about Sweden. Fresh, no hormones, no chemicals, farm raised food is an expectation of these savvy Europeans who have regulated the industry intelligently. Ethnic restaurants abound, as do vegan and vegetarian ones, thanks to the high percentage of the population who follow those diets. For a fun, fancy night out, try Sturehof. The food, service and atmosphere are hip, and the bathroom is perfectly accessible.
Getting around is easy thanks to the accessible, clean subways. Many are adorned with beautiful public art on walls and ceilings. They are easy to navigate with no drama and no broken elevators or lifts. Hop a ride to Södermalm, a large island south of the main city. It was once considered working class, but is now a Bohemian part of town that has hip restaurants and boutiques.
Whether you have kids or not, Gröna Lund Amusement Park and Skansen, the first open air museum and zoo in Sweden, are both worth checking out. At Gröna Lund you can ride accessible rollercoasters or simply relax over beers at the beer garden and learn the value of a shot of Jägermeister. Skansen offers the opportunity to stroll through five centuries of Swedish history, from north to south, with a real sense of the past all around in the historical buildings and dwellings, peopled by characters in period dress. Some 75 different species and breeds of Scandinavian animals are represented at Skansen — more than anywhere else. There are traditional breeds of cows, pigs, horses, sheep and goats, geese, hens and ducks. And there are wild animals such as brown bears, wolves, seals, lynx, wolverines and elk.
The Grand Hotel, next to the Royal Place on the Harbor is a must-see. If nothing else just to have the fancy porters help you use the lift (bottom left) and visit the elegant bar where you can sit and have tea or a drink overlooking the harbor.
All photos: PhotoAbility.net