Travelling in Germany with visual impairment
Germany is there to be tasted – just think of succulent roast meat or the salty sea air ... Breathe in the scents of Germany – the heathland in full bloom, or the aroma of gingerbread wafting around the Christmas markets ... Germany resonates with glorious sounds, from the strains of Bach and Beethoven to cowbells on mountain pastures ... And how does Germany feel to you?
Accessibility for visitors with visual impairment
A feast for the senses awaits you in Germany! Delight your tastebuds with everything from traditional dishes to modern, Michelin-star cuisine. Marvel at the sounds of top-class musicians or the stillness of nature. Discover Germany the hands-on way.
Lots of providers cater to the specific needs of visually impaired guests. Some cities already have city models and tactile maps to help you feel your way. A number of places offer touchable models of historic buildings and of the main sights in the local area. Special city tours may incorporate these kinds of touchable models, along with sound or taste experiences. Museums offer tactile tours, while theatres put on audio described performances. Reading glasses may be provided at some hotel receptions or in restaurants. Be sure to ask what’s on offer for visually impaired visitors. It will pay off!
Guidance systems and walking indicators to help people find their way around are becoming more prevalent in Germany, especially in the cities, but they’re not yet available everywhere. Local public transport between and within towns and cities is great, and lots of rural destinations can also be accessed by public transport, with sufficient planning. On top of that, many accommodation providers are very keen to help. Be upfront about your needs!
Holiday suggestions for visually impaired visitors
Visually impaired visitors can enjoy unique and outstanding experiences all over Germany.
With an array of dishes and drinks particular to each region, you can look forward to a smorgasbord of taste experiences. From freshly caught fish from local seas or lakes or traditional meat dishes like schnitzel, currywurst and pot roasts, all the way through to modern cuisine, the variety is immense. As if that's not enough, every region has its own speciality beers, while 13 German grape-growing regions produce wine. Tours of production facilities and leisurely tasting tours often come with background information about the produce.
Listen to the sounds of the country, complete with unique acoustics in churches and concert halls. Carillons ring out in historic cities, while audio tours take you on walkabouts in the great outdoors or through museums. Many theatres offer audio-described performances on certain days. You can follow what’s happening in the football stadiums of the Bundesliga teams with the help of the live commentary.
If you want to get active yourself, why not book a tandem tour and breathe in the sea air? Or go for a hike through one of the national parks, following clearly marked paths. Visually impaired visitors can even enjoy unusual experiences like rides in a horse-drawn carriage (and have a go at driving it yourself, too) or archery.
You might also want to combine your trip with a visit to a trade fair. Large trade fairs focusing on rehabilitation/assistive technology often take place in German, such as SIGHT CITY in Frankfurt am Main.
Our partners in the cities and regions will also be happy to provide you with specific options for your perfect holiday. Read more at Accessible travel destinations.
Tourism options for visually impaired visitors in the “Databus” database
For a number of years, the German Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired has been gathering information about tourist options that are specifically geared towards blind and visually impaired visitors. These options are set out in list form in the Databus database. You can filter it according to location, category or features. Tactile tours in cities and museums, guidance services, restaurants with menus in Braille and much more are all presented here.
Go to the database Databus
Practical information for visually impaired visitors
We have put together a special section containing practical information for you, so that you know what to expect in Germany before you decide to travel and can plan your stay and everything you need while here with ease.
Here’s an extract from this section, with the top entries for visually impaired visitors:
In most cases, assistance is available for using public transport in Germany. You can find more details at Getting there and around accessibly.
On-site assistance is also available. Volunteer guides can be booked for some city or museum tours. In some cities, you can arrange a guide not only for journeys by public transport, but also for your entire trips.
Providers of special assistance services can provide your with guides and carers for your entire trip. Doing a bit of research can really pay off!
More and more towns and cities now have three-dimensional city models or tactile maps for key sites. Tourist sights and museums often have such tactile items ready and waiting. It’s always worth asking!
Regardless of which tour operator you opt for, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for at the German Centre for Accessible Reading (Deutsches Zentrum für barrierefreies Lesen, dzb lesen). This lends out and sells books in formats such as Braille writing, German and foreign-language audio books and tactile relief images. Ask what’s on offer at your holiday destination!
People with disabilities and/or their carers are granted free or reduced admission to many places, including museums, theatres, famous sights or parks. Lots of places also offer discounts for city tours and public transport. In most cases, you will just need to show proof of disability. German citizens with disabilities have a special pass for this purpose. If you have a similar document issued by the authorities in your country, you’re advised to bring it with you. Do enquire about discounts if they're not specifically mentioned in the list of prices!
Visually impaired people in Germany
According to the official figures, there are around 350,000 visually impaired people in Germany. These figures are based on the number of people who have applied for a severe disabilities pass. When applying, they are required to state the type and degree of disability. However, there is estimated to be a much higher number of unreported cases, one of the reasons being that far from everyone who would be eligible for the pass actually applies, and because the pass only records the disability with the greatest degree of severity. Overall, almost 8 million German citizens hold a severe disabilities pass. This equates to around 10 % of the German population.
Participation and inclusion have been heavily promoted in Germany over recent years, especially in schools. There are still special schools for blind and visually impaired children, but they also have the option of attending their local regular school. When it comes to choice of career, blind and visually impaired people in Germany generally experience few restrictions. To give one example, the proportion of academics blind and visually impaired adults is roughly the same as that in the general population.
Several large associations of blind and visually impaired people in Germany stand up for the interests of their members, with notable successes such as the enshrinement of guidance systems for the blind in construction law. Due to the growing prevalence of indicators on the ground and the like, awareness of the needs of this group is increasing among the general population. Braille came under the spotlight when it was added to the German UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list in early 2020. The tourism industry is also coming up with more and more options for blind and visually impaired visitors.