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Wheelchair Access

People who are wheelchair-bound and persons with physical disabilities do not generally encounter Mallorca as a very disability-friendly environment. Although a legal obligation exists in Spain regulating wheelchair access into public buildings, bars, shops, cinemas and museums, how about access conditions at the sights that tourists visiting Mallorca might want to see? What about churches, monasteries, the Cathedral? What about the caves, beaches, harbours, the seafront? What about toilets for wheelchair users?

First the good news. Airlines and PMI airport generally assist the disabled traveller during flights and upon arrival and departure. It is always well worth notifying the airport and the airline on your required needs. You will normally be assisted when in need of a wheelchair, or an escort if you have a sensory impairment, or help with carrying your luggage. You can also get help disembarking from the aircraft, and boarding upon departure. There are wheelchair-adapted taxis but, normally they would have to be booked in advance. Buses and the Metro are also equipped with easy access facilities. It gets a bit more complicated where rent-a-car companies are concerned. Friends of ours made explicit reservations but, had to queue for three hours and were given a regular 5-seater for a party of six including one wheelchair bound person. Surely they would have been entitled to raise hell, but they could not face going back to the desk and queuing up again for who knows how long.

The rest of the story is one of some clumsiness and ineptitude, as far as I can tell. There is precious little information available from the Mallorcan tourist offices, the towns and pueblos, the resorts or the authorities. Churches, chapels and monasteries generally date from bygone times but, have not been modified for easy wheelchair access. This is sadly also true for the Cathedral in Palma. The famous Mallorcan caves are not suitable for wheelchairs except for the ones in Campanet where the first cave can be accessed by wheelchairs but not the subsequent ones. There is no easy access to the Palau de l’Almudaina, I am afraid. Most museums in Palma have been converted and now do provide ramps and wheelchair lifts.

Beaches are not normally accessible with wheelchairs, or pushchairs for that matter. One exception might be the beach of Sa Rapita where a planked walkway has been installed at least for the first few hundred metres. The Playa de Muro is exemplary for having given the need of the disabled some thought. A total of 8 walkways have been installed there to provide access for people with physical limitations. During the Summer, there is also an all-day amphibious chair service for disabled persons, one of only a few of its kind on the island.

Five beaches in the Palma area have wheelchair access during the Summer months: Can Pere Antoni, Platja de Palma, Cala Estància, Cala Major and Ciutat Jardí. A complete multi-lingual Guia de Platges is available as a pdf download.

A nice wooden Paseo Marítimo exists in Colònia de Sant Jordi, allowing wheelchairs to cruise along the seafront, up to the lighthouse and on and around the beachfront. Exemplary.

The seafront in Palma de Mallorca offers miles of palm tree shaded sea promenade, as do Port d’Andratx, Portocolom, Port d’Alcúdia and, to some extent, Port de Sóller. The train to Sóller is a no-go for the wheelchair-bound as, sadly, are the Jardines de Alfabia and the Jardín Botánico de Sóller. Raixa has only limited access for the impaired and the same has to be said for Els Calderers and Sa Granja.

Access to the Centre d’Interpretació de Cabrera in Colònia de Sant Jordi is impeccable. Admission is still free; there are plenty of elevators and a serpentine ramp stretches over three floors. The Palma Aquarium charges a lot for admission but, was also built with the handicapped person in mind.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of Panoramio and lor_morena.

Muchas gracias.

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