advertisement

Iceland has more options and resources for travelers with disabilities than ever before, but you must call well in advance to secure your plans. Reykjavík and Akureyri are fairly accommodating, and new public buildings have to meet a strict code for wheelchair access. But, in the countryside, accessible facilities are few and far between, and tours often involve traversing long distances over rough ground or unpaved paths. (One bright spot is Iceland's top tourist attraction, The Blue Lagoon, which has good wheelchair access.)

Always make specific inquiries at hotels before booking. The website www.whenwetravel.com lists wheelchair-accessible hotels in Reykjavík. All farms in the Icelandic Farm Holidays network have been evaluated for accessibility; click the "Facilities for Disabled" link at www.farmholidays.is, or call tel. 570-2700.

Most museums and other tourist attractions offer reduced admission prices for travelers with disabilities. Air Iceland offers reduced rates, as does Smyril Line, the ferry connecting Iceland to Europe.

Transportation -- All airlines flying to and from Iceland can accommodate travelers with disabilities, and Air Iceland, the main domestic airline, generally has no trouble with wheelchairs.

Buses in Reykjavík are all wheelchair-accessible, but buses elsewhere usually don't have lifts or ramps. The largest tour operators each have a few wheelchair-accessible buses.

The car ferries Baldur (which connects Snæfellsnes Peninsula to the Westfjords), Herjólfur (which connects the Westman Islands to the mainland), and Norröna (which connects Europe to Seyðisfjörður in east Iceland) are all wheelchair accessible.

Hertz Car Rental (tel. 522-4400; www.hertz.is) offers a specially fitted car for wheelchair users, but does not have cars with hand controls.

Organized Tours -- The tour company Hópferðatþjónusta Reykjavíkur (Brunastaðir 3; tel. 587-8030; hrtravel@simnet.is) organizes trips for the travelers with disabilities in specially designed coaches.

Nordic Visitor (Laugavegur 26, Reykjavik; tel. 578-2070; www.icelandvisitor.com) is a travel agency with experience customizing tours for travelers with disabilities.

Some travel agencies outside Iceland can customize Iceland tours and itineraries for travelers with disabilities. Among them are Flying Wheels Travel (tel. 507/451-5005; www.flyingwheelstravel.com) and Accessible Journeys (tel. 800/846-4537 or 610/521-0339; www.disabilitytravel.com).

Helpful Organizations -- Sjálfsbjörg, Hátun 12, Reykjavík (tel. 550-0300; www.sjalfsbjorg.is; Mon-Fri 8am-4:15pm), which literally means "self-help," is Iceland's association for travelers with disabilities, with 17 chapters throughout the country. This organization can answer questions or offer advice on your itinerary. If you call and the recorded message comes on, press "2" to reach an agent. While several hotels have wheelchair-accessible rooms, Sjálfsbjörg also rents out two fully accessible apartments and three guest rooms in their own building.

Organizations that offer a vast range of resources and assistance to travelers with disabilities include MossRehab (tel. 800/CALL-MOSS; www.mossresourcenet.org); the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) (tel. 800/232-5463; www.afb.org); and SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality) (tel. 212/447-7284; www.sath.org). AirAmbulanceCard.com is now partnered with SATH and allows you to preselect top-notch hospitals in case of an emergency.

Access-Able Travel Source (tel. 303/232-2979; www.access-able.com) offers a worldwide database of travel agents with experience in accessible travel, plus links to resources.

British travelers should contact Holiday Care (tel. 0845-124-9971 in the U.K.; www.holidaycare.org.uk) to access a wide range of travel information and resources for travelers with disabilities and elderly people.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.