Belgium’s progressive tourism management bodies have produced a wealth of information to help those with disabilities plan and enjoy a stay. Naturally, all those cobblestones are a literal pain in the derriere for wheelchair users, but the country is well endowed with kerb cuts, tactile paving, audible signals at pedestrian crossings and wheelchair-accessible taxis. Most major museums are accessible, particularly in Flanders, but the caves and castle ruins of rural Wallonia are never likely to be.

Useful Resources

Brussels https://handy.brussels/en is a valuable online 'guidebook' for Brussels' disabled visitors, with icon coding to show help for those with hearing, sight, mobility and mental challenges.

Flanders Visit www.visitflanders.com/en/accessibility for downloadable brochures on day-trip planning for vision-impaired visitors, accessible holiday accommodation etc. For Ghent there's a specific app for Android or iPhone, On Wheels (www.onwheelsapp.com), with a searchable database of user-reviewed wheelchair-accessible venues including toilets, restaurants and cafes. A great feature lets you set your chair width and the step height you are able to negotiate. Visit Ghent has used this information to create a map for wheelchair users.

Wallonia Invaluable French-language site www.access-i.be has an extensive database of buildings, events and activities that have been professionally access-audited. Narrow your search according to impairment. Results are colour-coded by accessibility: green = independent, orange = with assistance, white = click for more detailed explanation.

General Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Accommodation for Reduced-Mobility Guests

In cities and many big towns, larger hotels can usually accommodate travellers in wheelchairs, as can many official HI hostels. Eupen's new Gite d'Etape hostel has been entirely designed with accessibility in mind. Relatively few rural places are specially designed for reduced mobility travellers, but one fine example is Hotel L'O de Vie, a mini-castle south of Sint-Truiden.

Transport for the Less Able

Progress is being made with making public transport accessible, but pre-booking assistance is a good idea. Call 02-528 28 28 at least 24 hours ahead to reserve a wheelchair space on a train. In Brussels, STIB carries guide dogs for free and has very deep discounts for blind passengers. Metro stations have lifts, and between 7am and 10pm, there should be staff available to help, but again, you should phone ahead (02-515 23 65) or potentially face waiting up to an hour. So far 15 of the capital's bus lines use Accessibus vehicles, but only the blue-signed stops necessarily allow autonomous wheelchair access. There's also the special Taxibus (taxibus.stib-mivb.be), but using that requires an official sign-up procedure.