Been to London to see The Queen
Have you been to London to see The Queen?
Let the world be your oyster!
London is one of the most inviting gateways for disabled visitors to Europe due to its flat terrain, modern buildings, and UK accessibility standards. There are numerous attractions to visit in London making it a worthwhile destination by itself. Most of the buses also have wheelchair ramps, however few of the metro stations have elevators. UK disabled access building codes have resulted in most tourist attraction being accessible to wheelchair users.
Disabled Access — Best Aspects
Accessible buses — Nearly all of the bus lines have buses with wheelchair ramps. The ramps aren’t operational 100% of the time but they work more often than in other European cities. They do a fair job of connecting the tourist attractions and are a great way to save some money on your trip to London.
Accessible black cabs — The best aspect of London wheelchair access is that every taxi has a wheelchair ramp that the driver can extend to the curb. The ramp leads to a large flat area in between the front seats and the rear seats. The older cabs have a little lower head room than the new cabs, so electric wheelchair users may want to concentrate on hailing the newer cabs
Major sights are wheelchair friendly — Tourist attractions generally have good disabled access relative to other European destinations. Almost all of the museums have a wheelchair accessible entrance (although it might not be the main entrance), and the same can be said for popular churches like St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. The gravel at Buckingham Palace and the steep ramp at Parliament cause some challenges but there is step-free access. Even the London Eye is accessible to wheelchair users and other disabled tourists by stopping the rotation and putting out a wheelchair ramp.
Flat London — Wheelchair users will appreciate the fact that almost all of the tourist areas of London are flat including Trafalgar Square, the theatre district, the area near the British Museum, and the south side of the Thames River near the Tate Modern and Imperial War Museum. The main exception is in the City of London near the Thames River and the Tower of London.
Very few cobblestones — The Battle of Britain during World War II resulted in a large number of bombs landing in London. Consequently, the city had to pretty much be rebuilt, and they did it with lots of pavement. Wheelchair tourists will enjoy the fact that there are very few cobblestones.
UK Accessibility Standards — UK building accessibility standards are quite good compared to many other countries in Europe. You will generally have a much easier time finding truly accessible hotels and most tourist attractions are wheelchair friendly. Many of the historical buildings have wheelchair ramps or wheelchair lifts installed.
Curb cuts and sidewalks — Accessibility on London sidewalks is generally very good. The sidewalks are well-maintained and wheelchair users will not encounter much broken concrete. Most street intersections have curb cuts for wheelchair users.
No language barrier — Disabled travelers need to communicate their needs more frequently than normal travelers which can be a problem in non-English speaking countries in continental Europe.
Plenty to see — London has a wealth of museums, historical buildings, churches, and other attractions. There are easily two weeks worth of attractions to see inside London and by day trips to Bath, Stonehenge, and Windsor. Disabled visitors can spend an entire vacation here without having to move between cities and switch hotels.
Accessible London Tourist Attractions
Most London tourist attractions are accessible, however there are some that are not wheelchair friendly. I have provided detailed accessibility reviews of the main London attractions below. Overall disabled access at London tourist sights is excellent
The accessible London Eye is the best view in town and is step-free. It barely moves and takes 30 minutes to rotate so don’t worry about motion sickness. The path from the Westminster Bridge has steps, so approach from the east or from Waterloo Bridge. I have only given it a 3 Star Sage Accessibility Rating because the closest drop-off point is 150 m from the entrance.
The wheelchair accessible London Eye is located on the Thames River opposite Big Ben as shown in the picture on the right. The picture on the left shows the passenger capsules which give great views of the city below.
The London Eye provides some of the best views in London, and disabled visitors will be happy to know that it is accessible. Although it almost continually rotates, London Eye handicapped access is possible because the staff members will stop the London Eye from moving and put out a wheelchair ramp to get onto it. Disabled tourists going to the London Eye need to avoid the stairs near the Westminster Bridge and choose the step-free route along York Road.
I give the London Accessible Boat Cruise on the Thames River a 4 Star accessibility Rating because it has step-free access and an accessible bathroom.
The London Accessible Boat Cruise on the Thames River has flat access onto the boat with a VERY small gap The biggest accessibility challenge that wheelchair users will encounter is the semi-steep up and down ramp to reach the interior of the boat
The interior of the modern boats is smooth and spacious. The chairs are fixed to the ground, so wheelchair users will need to pull up to the end of the table.
The London accessible boat tour is equipped with a stair-lift for wheelchair users to reach the upper deck. Although you can see fine from the lower deck, the upper deck has a few extra benefits: you have good views in virtually every direction, you won’t have to worry about window glare present on the lower level, and you can enjoy the weather (if it’s good).
The modern boats have an accessible toilet. The older boats do not have accessible toilets.
From the lower level, you can easily see the sights such as the HMS Belfast and the Tower Bridge.The London Accessible Boat Cruise on the Thames River includes:
– Wheelchair accessible ramped access to get on the boat
– Accessible restrooms onboard
– 75 minute round-trip boat journey on the Thames River
– Upper deck un-obstructed accessible viewing
– Live commentary about the sights
Wheelchair accessible transit routes connect all the essential London sights. You’ll see Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, and much more!
During the Highlights of London Accessible Driving Tour you will see the sights in the City of Westminster and the sights in the City of London. If you schedule this tour on a day when the Changing of the Guard is occurring, your tour guide will work to get wheelchair users a front row viewpoint.
On this London accessible driving tour, you’ll hear about the fascinating history behind the monuments…how Big Ben got its name and what The Monument memorializes!
The tour route is entirely curb-free and covers about 1.5 miles going from Westminster to Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square. The tour guide can assist with pushing manual wheelchair users.
From the lower level, you can easily see the sights such as the HMS Belfast and the Tower Bridge
Trafalgar Square — completely flat, accessible and beautiful withe exception of one important thing — no wheelchair accessible washrooms!