Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time in Amsterdam and did not get to see much but I definitely enjoyed my time there!
Two primarily national rail services in the Netherlands, the Intercity and Sprinter trains, offered by NS. The trains connect the Amsterdam Airport to the city in roughly 15 minutes. They also provide service between the city’s Zuid and Central, and to surrounding areas such as Zaandam. among others. In order to board the train, wheelchair users will need a station employee to set-up the accessible ramp, and passengers using a wheelchair are required to make a reservation in advance. Reservations can be made by calling the NS Disabled Assistance Office at +31 (0)30-2357822. If you don’t make a reservation in advance, they will NOT allow you to use the ramp.
Most Sprinter trains, however, allow you to board level with the platform. There is a small gap, which depends on the station so you may be able to board Sprinter trains without assistance. My accommodations were in Zaandam, so I took the Sprinter trains back and forth frequently. I purchased a pass to travel on this train.
Outside of Amsterdam’s Central station, you can board the local trams. Most stops have a raised platform that allows level boarding. You can board at the middle of the train, where the conductor is and there is also a ramp if needed.
I could not easily find an accessible taxi, so I do not have any knowledge to share about this for others.
While I was visiting Amsterdam, I decided to stay outside of the city in Zaandam. I will be completely honest, the only reason I chose the Inntel Hotel Zaandam, was because it looked cool. Location-wise, this hotel gets an A+, being directly across from the train station, across from many shops and about 15 minutes outside of Amsterdam. Getting to the hotel itself was a breeze in a wheelchair. However, as unique as this hotel is both inside and out, it is not very accessible for someone with limited mobility and has no accessible rooms.
The door to enter the hotel itself is heavy to open and the reception desk is tall for someone in a wheelchair. There are elevators to every floor in the hotel. My non-accessible room was on the 5th floor, which was lovely and did have enough space to turn my powerchair around but that was the extent of the accessibility. I did appreciate the lack of carpet as someone who suffers from allergies as well. The bathroom was the most difficult for me, as the tub was so high that it reached my mid thigh, making it very difficult to bathe and shower. Otherwise this interesting and unique hotel has much to offer.
As I mentioned, I didn’t have much time in Amsterdam but I did get to do some amazing things. Each December, Amsterdam transforms into a real-life fairy tale, sparkling and glowing with around 30 pieces of illuminated artwork along the iconic canals. Both Dutch and international artists submitted creations inspired by the theme, which are sure to wow visitors and locals alike at the Amsterdam Light Festival. I took a canal cruise through AirBnB Experiences, which was awesome. Although not wheelchair accessible, it was perfectly suitable for someone with limited mobility. With a boat cover and large windows between warm blankets and comfy pillows, and inclusive snacks and drinks, you have nothing to worry about.
Next, I went to visit the Anne Frank House. Warning, this is the original Secret Annex thus there are many STEEP stairs in the Anne Frank House. If you have difficulty walking or have limited mobility, you may not be able to climb these stairs. Once in the Anne Frank House museum lobby, an assistant will show you a booklet of photos of items that may be of some difficulty to someone with limited mobility which was VERY helpful. There is also a special entrance for people using wheelchairs which provides access to the modern part of the museum, where the museum cafe, museum shop and temporary exhibit is located. There is a free audio tour, which is helpful for those who are blind or low vision, and a written version is available to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Next, I visited the Red Light Secrets Museum of prostitution. It is a pretty cool museum housed in an old brothel where you can learn all about the profession and rules or regulations in Amsterdam. However, Red Light Secrets is located in a typical canal house, which leaves very little room for adaptations to the building. So, there are some small hallways and stairs and the museum is not wheelchair accessible. Still, pretty fun if you can get there!
I am a huge fan of Van Gogh, so of course I went to the Van Gogh Museum while in Amsterdam. As far as museums go, this one does pretty good when it comes to accessibility needs. The museum and shop is fully wheelchair accessible on all floors. The paintings of the museum are sensitive to light, thus much of the museum is darkened and lighting is arranged so that the artworks are damaged as little as possible. Thus, lighting makes this museum difficult for those who are low or vision impaired.
One of the interesting things they do have is a tactile floor plan of the museum and information included on it in Dutch Braille. There is also a Feeling Van Gogh tour available upon request for those who are blind or low vision. On permanent display is a 3D reproduction of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers where visitors can feel the brushstrokes of the painting and a sensory area where visitors can smell sunflowers. This was 100% my favorite thing I did while I was in the Amsterdam area.