Travel options in Estonia for disabled people

Source: Visit Estonia

Travel options in Estonia for disabled people

Source: Visit Estonia

Estonia offers a lot of recreation and leisure options, including activities for people with special needs. Great travel experiences are guaranteed by sufficient preparations – be sure to research the offers and opportunities at your destination and let them know of your special needs and wishes in advance!

Estonia offers a lot of recreation and leisure options, including activities for people with special needs. Great travel experiences are guaranteed by sufficient preparations – be sure to research the offers and opportunities at your destination and let them know of your special needs and wishes in advance!

How to get to Estonia?

Air travel – airports

To ensure that everything goes smoothly as you arrive in Tallinn, notify the airline of your needs. Be it help with luggage, assistance with boarding the plane or getting to the terminal, travelling with a guide dog, etc. After arriving to the Tallinn Airport, contact the airline check-in desk and make sure that the company has registered all your wishes. When arriving at the airport, you can notify them of your arrival over the phone and, if necessary, ask for help from the airport personnel.

Before your travels, it would be beneficial to go over the information concerning travellers with special needs, which is accessible on the website of the Tallinn Airport and includes all necessary information and contacts for planning a flight. Professional help is ensured to travellers with special needs in other larger airports in Estonia as well: in Tartu, Pärnu, Kuressaare and Kärdla.

Tallinn Airport

Photo: Tallinn Airport / Visit Estonia

Estonia's biggest airport, the Tallinn Airport, is situated near the city centre and has great public transport connection – cabs have easy access, there are plenty of parking spots for cars, incl. parking places for disabled people.

One convenient way to get to the town centre is to take the tram no. 4, which is serviced only by low-floor vehicles. The trams have voice announcements and information screens, which notify passengers of the exact route and the next stops.

Travel by sea – ships, ferries and ports

To guarantee a great trip, be sure to submit information about your mobility disability or other special needs when booking a trip through a ship company, travel agency or tour operator.

The passenger decks of larger ferries operating in Estonian waters are equipped with elevators. Most ships also have platform lifts for the disabled. Every ship has a wheelchair on the passenger deck and the crew will help you with it.

Port Noblessner in Tallinn

Photo: Visit Estonia

The personnel of larger ports, e.g. the Port of Tallinn, is trained to provide service and assistance to people with mobility disabilities and other special needs. Information displays at the port provide instructions on boarding ships. The ports of larger domestic ferry lines (Saaremaa and Hiiumaa lines) have information displays concerning ferries as well. Smaller ports do not have such notification and assistance.

Trains and train stations

There are several train lines in Estonia: the western line (Paldiski, Riisipere, Kloogaranna, Keila, Pääsküla), the southwestern line (Viljandi, Pärnu, Türi, Rapla), the eastern line (Tartu, Narva, Aegviidu, Jõgeva) and the southeastern line (Valga, Piusa).

The waiting platforms of passenger trains and modern Elron trains are suitable for people with mobility, vision and hearing disabilities.

The trains have priority seating (marked with international symbols) for people with limited mobility and there is a wheelchair spot in the C-area that is equipped with a safety belt and an SOS-button. Passengers in wheelchairs can board the train using the "C-area" doors (marked with a big C). C-area doors have a fully automated adjustable step and a button to open the door that is designed for use by a passenger in a wheelchair. A wheelchair-accessible restroom is near-by as well. It may happen that the train does not stop at the designated C-area. In that case, you should book the wheelchair spot in advance by notifying the train company of your travels in advance (at least 48 hours).

In order to inform visually impaired passengers, Elron trains have voice notifications of the train's route, the next stop and the one after that, as well as of special situations. A warning signal sounds when train doors open or close. Any guide dogs accompanying passengers on their travels are not required to wear a muzzle.

People with hearing impairments can keep track of travel information with the help of screens, which display information about the train's route, the next stop and the one after that, and about special situations.

Travel by land – long-distances buses and bus stations

People with mobility disabilities have a right to get specific aid on buses and at bus stations free of charge. If necessary, free transport should be provided for the person accompanying the disabled person.

Passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility should notify relevant personnel of their special needs at least 36 hours before the need of such aid arises and come to the bus station at the agreed upon time (no earlier than 60 minutes) before the departure of the bus.

Larger bus stations of long-distances buses (e.g. the Tallinn Bus Station and bus stations at other larger towns) have ensured that disabled people and people with reduced mobility have access to all services of the bus station, incl. the departure and arrival platforms. Information about the departures of buses is displayed on screens at the stops and waiting areas of the bus station. Smaller bus stations and stops do not have the option of assistance, there might not be any bus traffic notification displays either. Regional buses do not have wheelchair access.

City buses

The numbers of city buses are visible at the front and back end of buses, the number displays are electronic and have bright-coloured numbers on a dark background. Most buses are equipped with information screens that display the route and next stop of the bus. Guide dogs can enter public transport without a muzzle and drive in the passenger salon.

Not all city buses can be accessed with wheelchairs, however, all buses in Tartu are low-floor vehicles.

Low-floor buses are underlined in bus schedules. However, you might need help with boarding the bus as the bus might not stop exactly at the edge of the pavement. If necessary, you can ask for assistance from the bus driver. Buses have designated spots for people in wheelchairs and designated seats for disabled people.

The City of Tallinn

Photo: Rasmus Jurkatam / Visit Estonia

Trams and trolleybuses in Tallinn

There are several low-floor trams (e.g. tram no. 4) and trolleybuses driving in Tallinn. Low-floor vehicles are underlined in bus schedules. However, you might need help with boarding the vehicles as they might not stop exactly at the edge of the pavement. If necessary, the driver of the vehicle shall provide assistance.

The numbers of trams are visible on the front-end of trams, the number displays are electronic and have bright-coloured numbers on a dark background.

The stops are announced through a loudspeaker system on the trams in Tallinn (and other public transport vehicles across Estonia). Newer trams also have voice notifications about the next stop or the direction of the tram and passenger salons are equipped with information screens with the names of stops.

Cabs

When ordering a cab, make sure that the company offers cabs that are accessible for disabled people; very few companies offer this service. Special cabs for the disabled should be ordered in advance, i.e. at least 12 hours before the journey. In Tallinn, the companies that service people with special needs include Tulika Takso AS and Termaki Autopargi AS.

Car rental

Some car rental companies (e.g. Sixt car rental) have cars that are equipped with hand controls. This enables drivers who could not drive using their feet to drive the car by using their hands for gas and break controls. If you wish to rent a car with hand controls, you should let the rental company know in advance.

Let's get in the car and drive!

Photo: Jaanus Ree / Visit Estonia

Accommodation

The hotels and newer accommodation establishments in larger towns have a high service level and, as a rule, are equipped with services and suitable rooms for people with mobility disabilities. However, very few places have special options for people with hearing disabilities (for wake-up calls or emergencies), one of such places is the Hilton Hotel in Tallinn.

Make sure you let the personnel know of your requests when booking the accommodation, that way they can make preparations, if necessary. It is wise to book a room with adjustments for disabled people with plenty of time before the trip and most hotels only have 1–2 of such rooms. Smaller accommodation establishments rarely have special rooms for disabled people.

Restaurants and stores

Larger shopping centres and food stores have features that are necessary for people with mobility disabilities, incl. restrooms for disabled people. Smaller stores and cafes can lack wheelchair access and special restrooms. Therefore, it is recommended to call them in advance and ask about access options. Catering establishments, stores and other public institutions are required to allow people with visual disabilities move indoors with their guide dogs.

When visiting a restaurant or cafe, if necessary, notify the personnel of you special needs, incl. allergies or other issues related to food.

You can dine in comfort virtually everywhere in Estonia!

Lime Lounge

Photo: Danel Rinaldo / Visit Estonia

Entertainment establishments (museums, cinemas, theatres, etc.)

The most popular museums in Estonia are wheelchair accessible; these include KUMU and the Seaplane Harbour in Tallinn and the Estonian National Museum in Tartu. Smaller museums, incl. historic buildings, do not always have wheelchair access ensured; they might not have special adaptions for people with hearing or visual disabilities at exhibit items either.

Access to cinemas for disabled people varies. Some cinemas have removed middle seats in the first row. These create space for wheelchairs, so that you can sit next to your companion. In most cases, guide dogs for the blind are also allowed in cinemas. More detailed information should be enquired from specific cinemas.

Theatre-goers with special needs should contact the main administrator or a serviced manager during the business day prior to the performance, so that all necessary conditions for a pleasant theatre experience could be ensured for them.

Some theatres are equipped with an audio induction loop system, which is meant to help people with hearing disabilities; these theatres include Vanemuine, the Hell Theatre of the Tallinn City Theatre, the big and small hall of the Estonian Drama Theatre, Ugala. The Estonian Drama Theatre has individual induction loops. In order to use them, turn to the theatre personnel. The Estonian National Opera has a screen above the stage from which one can read the Estonian translation of a performance in another language.

Estonian National Opera

Photo: Jürgen Voolaid / Visit Estonia

A comprehensive overview of discounts and access options at cultural institutions can be found on the website of the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People.

Nature tourism

There are several exciting hiking trails in Estonia that can be explored by people with mobility disabilities as well. You can get an overview of hiking trails and campsites that are accessible for disabled people from the website of the State Forest Management Centre.

Where can one find assistance with planning their travels?

Estonia is small, but accessibility can vary a lot across various regions. When planning your trip, we recommend that you contact the regional tourism information centre, where you will find information on accessible tourist attractions, accommodation facilities, public restrooms, transportation, contacts, etc.

Last updated : 13.11.2017

In category: Trip Type

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