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.
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Here is a list of the top sights in and around London (and how long it would take to see them all.) I have grouped them so that nearby sights can be visited on the same day.
I have made a basic attempt to rank the sights with the top sights being in Day 1 and the lesser sights being at Day 17 (although to be honest I haven’t visited all of these sights myself). Use your own judgment and skip the things that aren’t interesting to you. The sights in blue are the “don’t miss” sights. In parentheses, I have included the best ways to get between the sights.
Day 1 – Westminster Abbey, Walking Tour, London Eye (walking distance, bus, or taxi)
Day 2 – St. Paul’s Cathedral, British Museum (bus or taxi)
Day 3 – Parliament (if open), Cabinet War Rooms, Boat Tour at sunset (walking distance)
Day 4 – National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, shopping (bus, taxi, or walking distance)
Day 5 – Imperial War Museum, Tate Modern (taxi or bus)
Day 6 – Changing of the Guards, Buckingham Palace (if open), shopping, theatre (taxi or bus)
Day 7 – Shakespeare’s Globe, Vinopolis (walking distance or taxi)
Day 8 – Victoria & Albert Museum, National History Museum (walking distance or taxi)
Day 9 – Stonehenge
Day 10 – Somerset House, British Library (taxi or bus)
Day 11 – Windsor Castle
Day 12 – Bath
Day 13 – Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery (taxi or bus)
Day 14 – Cambridge
Day 15 – Kensington Palace, Science Museum (taxi or walking distance)
Day 16 – Tower of London, Tower Bridge (walking distance)
Day 17 – Madame Tussaud’s, bus tour
Group Walking Tour
Original London Walks – Excellent, affordable walking tours that last about 2 hours each. Varies from 3 to 1 Star Sage Accessibility depending on the route. www.walks.com
The Old Westminster tour by Original London Walks gives a great overview of the history of London while passing by Parliament and Westminster Abbey. It covers about 1.3 km (0.8 miles) and lasts about 2 hours. It’s flat with only a few cobblestones. You will have to go up and down a few curbs, and if you need assistance you should not have a problem obtaining help from other people on the tour. We really enjoyed this tour.
We also did the 3 km (1.9 miles) St. Paul’s to Tower of London tour. This tour wasn’t as good as the Westminster Tour and had some hills (4 Star and 3 Star Sage Flatness). It lasted close to 3 hours.
Private Walking Tour
Private guides can be found here: www.touristguides.org.uk
Bus tour – 3 Star Sage Accessibility
The tour routes with wheelchair accessible busses have recorded commentary rather than live commentary so they were a little dry. The commentary didn’t provide much historical background. I would recommend doing the Walking Tour instead if you are able to. Most accessible busses are on red route. Includes 50 min boat tour from Westminster Pier or Waterloo Pier. £22 adult, tickets valid for 24 hours. www.theoriginaltour.com
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)20 8877 1722 to confirm accessible busses.
Boat tour – 3 Star Sage Accessibility
A boat tour is an excellent, accessible way to see London. You can get great pictures of Parliament, the London Eye, Millennium Bridge, and Tower Bridge along the way. Both boat docks at Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge are step-free. For the most accessible route, start at Tower Bridge and get off at Westminster Bridge…..if you do the opposite, you will have to go up a 200 m hill near the Tower of London to get to busses and taxis (3 Star Sage Flatness).
We enjoyed it so much that we wished we had started at Westminster Bridge and gone all the way downriver to Greenwich (although I’m not sure about the accessibility of that pier). This longer route takes 1 hr 15 min whereas the shorter route is 30 or 40 minutes. www.citycruises.com or call +44 (0)20 77 400 400
Additional Accessible Tour Resources
Plazas / Monuments / Bridges / Scenic Views
Trafalgar Square – 5 Star Sage Accessibility
Located just in front of the National Gallery, this square is large, flat, and smooth.
Piccadilly Circus – 4 Star Sage Accessibility
You will probably be satisfied seeing this square from a taxi cab. The sidewalks have curb cuts to cross the streets.
London Eye – 5 Star Sage Accessibility
The London Eye is the best view in town and is wheelchair accessible. 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. See more on London Eye Accessibility
Tower Bridge – 3 Star Sage Accessibility
The Tower Bridge is best viewed from the outside but you can also tour the machinery on the inside that makes the drawbridge work. The entrance to the walkways is on the bridge (northwest tower). The entrance to the engine rooms is on the bank below the south end of the bridge. See more on Tower Bridge Accessibility
Palaces / Castles / Historical Buildings
Houses of Parliament – 4 Star Sage Accessibility
UK residents can visit year round but others can only visit in August and September. Visits are by 75 minute guided tour only and can be reserved through Ticketmaster. The main entrance is step free and is located west of the building. See more about Houses of Parliament Accessibility
Buckingham Palace – 3 Star Sage Accessibility
The Queen’s home is only open in August while she stays in her other palaces so take advantage of it if you’re there at the right time. The Palace provides a golf cart pulling a trailer with a ramp to get wheelchair users past the gravel driveway. The carpet is really thick otherwise this would get a 4 Star Sage Accessibility. The step-free entrance is from the front of the building (North corner), not the side of the building where the main entrance is. See more about Buckingham Palace Accessibility
The Changing of the Guards happens out front roughly every other day. The ceremony can be quite crowded so consider going to the significantly less crowded preparation of the guards before and after at the nearby Wellington Barracks.
Kensington Palace – 2 Star Sage Accessibility
This is the other royal palace and was where Princess Diana lived. Less than half of the rooms can be reached without having to go up steps. The entrance is on the east side of the building near the Kensington Gardens. See more about Kensington Palace Accessibility
Tower of London – 2 star Sage Accessibility
The majority of the Tower of London has steps but access to the Crown Jewels is step-free. Getting to the Crown Jewels will require navigating about 200 m of cobblestones (3 star smoothness) going in an out, and about 200 m going up a smooth hill when leaving (3 star slope). See more about Tower of London Accessibility
British Museum – 4 Star Sage Accessibility
Not many museums could legitimately be described as the best museum in the world….this is one of them. Greece, Egypt, the Middle East, the Far East, and the Americas….it’s all here. Plan on spending most of or then entire day here. There are 30-40 min tours of different parts of the museum going on all day. The main entrance in the front (south of the building) has a wheelchair lift and then entrance in the back (north of the building) is level access. See more about British Museum Accessibility
National Gallery – 4 Star Sage Accessibility
One of the top art galleries in Europe. The audio guide describes almost every work of art in the museum so you can run through the museum or spend most of the day. The famous Trafalgar Square is in front of it, and the TKTS booth for discount theatre tickets is behind it. Four step-free entrances can be found on almost all sides of the building. The best place for a taxi to drop you off is at the southwest corner of the building. See more about National Gallery Accessibility
Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum – 3 Star Sage Accessibility
The Cabinet War Rooms were the secret headquarters of the British Government during WWII. It’s located underground and was closed off for 40 years before being reopened to the public. It also contains a museum covering the life of Winston Churchill. The entrance is located on the west side of the Treasury building near St. James Park. See more about Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum Accessibility
Imperial War Museum – 3 Star Sage Accessibility
The numerous displays on WWI, WWII, and the Cold War were fascinating to me….and bored my girlfriend to tears (you’ve been warned!) You can make it a quick visit to see the authentic tanks, planes, and submarines in the lobby or spend most of the day looking at displays illustrating various aspects of the wars. The step-free entrance is on the west side of the building to the right of the main entrance. See more about Imperial War Museum Accessibility
British Library – 4 Star Sage Accessibility
The British Library houses famous documents ranging from the Magna Carta to handwritten Beatles lyrics. It is the northernmost of the main tourist attractions. See more about British LIbrary Accessibility
Tate Modern – 5 Star Sage Accessibility
The Tate Modern has a large collection of modern, abstract, surreal, and pop art. It’s located on the south side of the river across from St. Paul’s Cathedral. If you’re a fan of modern art you should visit, otherwise spend more time at the National Gallery. There are step-free entrances on the east and north (river) sides of the building. See more about Tate Modern Accessibility
Old Operating Theatre Museum – 1 Star Sage Accessibility
This museum shows an old medical teaching facility that requires going up a flight a stairs.
St. Paul’s Cathedral – 4 Star Sage Accessibility
An enormous Anglican (Episcopalian) church that is also the final resting place of two of Britain’s greatest national heroes, the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord Nelson. Take the guided tour or the audio guide. Don’t be too upset about not making it to the top of the dome because the view from the London Eye is better. The step-free entrance is on the South side of building towards the river. See more about St. Paul’s Cathedral Accessibility
Westminster Abbey – 3 Star Sage Accessibility
Westminster Abbey is an outstanding Gothic church and has as many famous people buried there as you will find about anywhere. In fact, the floor is uneven because it has so many people buried underneath it. Some side chapels are not accessible. Take the guided tour or the audio tour. The main entrance is wheelchair accessible and faces Westminster Square. See more about Westminster Abbey Accessibility
While most tourists buy discount tickets through the TKTS booth in Leicester Square, my experience has been that they do not sell wheelchair accessible tickets. That’s not a bad thing….in both instances that I went to the theatre, I was able to get great seats at a discounted price. I called the individual theatre the day before or the day of the performance. I sat around the 6th row in the center of the theatre and paid about half of what people around me were paying. In both cases I had to transfer to one of the theatre seats from my wheelchair. I believe this was because they do not have a space for a wheelchair that close.
Additional Theatre Resources
Accessibility information on London theatres from OfficialLondonTheatre.co.uk
Accessibility information on London theatres from OfficialLondonTheatre.co.uk (.pdf)
Accessibility information on London theatres from disabledgo.info
Vinopolis – 3 Star Sage Accessibility
Vinopolis has gotten good reviews but I just couldn’t bring myself to skip the amazing attractions in London so that I could taste wine like I could do back home.
I haven’t reviewed the accessibility of the major shopping areas but these are the most popular ones:
Harrod’s Department Store
Harvey Nichols Department Stone
Covent Garden shopping area
Bond Street shopping area
Restaurants / Going Out
Many restaurants have a step or two to get into the restaurant. Some have accessible tables on the sidewalk. Many bathrooms in restaurants are downstairs in the basement and not accessible.
Your Level Best – List of wheelchair accessible restaurants and pubs in England and Scotland
Pubs.com – can search for wheelchair accessible pubs in London
Have questions about London accessibility?
Our London accessible travel consultants have all the answers.
London Accessible Travel – main page
Pros and Cons of London Disabled Access
13 Wheelchair Accessible Travel Tips for London England
9 Keys to Success for London Handicapped Travel
Tower of London Wheelchair Access
London Eye Wheelchair Accessibility
Stonehenge Disabled Access
Travel Insurance for Disabled Travelers
London Accessible Travel Packages
Accessible Walking and Driving Tours in London
Highlights of London Accessible Driving Tour
Classic London Wheelchair Accessible Tour
Royal London Accessible Guided Tour
London Accessible Boat Cruise on the Thames River
Stonehenge & Hampton Court Accessible Driving Tour
Stonehenge & Windsor Castle Accessible Guided Tour
Stonehenge Accessible Tour by Train
Cambridge Accessible Tour from London
Oxford Accessible Tour from London
Highlights of Greenwich Accessible Tour
London Accessibility Guide by John Sage
London Trip Planning by Sage Traveling – Travel with Ease!
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