Packed pavements, inaccessible historic monuments, and challenging hotel access points do not have to spoil your trip to the capital. Some careful planning and researching the sites and attractions that you intend to visit, as well as some open discussions with hotel staff can help ensure that you still enjoy a great day out or week away. In fact, a number of companies including some tour organisers, hotels, and even theatre companies have excelled themselves in offering wheelchair accessibility.
Transport is a challenge for all London visitors, but especially for those looking for wheelchair access public transport. Only around a quarter of Tube stations offer stair-free access, and buses as well as black cabs may provide your best option for getting around the capital. The number 15 bus runs from East to West, stops at some of the most popular sites in London, and provides easy wheelchair access. The numbers 11 and 168 also offer easy access and take in a number of other destinations. If you’re taking your own vehicle, then you may need to find dedicated parking spots that allow adequate access room at the back.
Many buses will kneel for even better access, while wheelchair ramps and lifts are available on some vehicles. Most boat tours offer unrestricted views for wheelchair users, and are a relaxing means of seeing the city, while black cabs prevent the need to queue or wait and most drivers will help ensure that you get in safely.
Events like the Changing of the Guard attract massive crowds, and because the crowds gather on pavements and roads, it means that there are no dedicated wheelchair spaces and access can be very difficult. Alternatively, you can watch the Inspection of the Guard at nearby Wellington Barracks. Crowds are rare, the spectacle almost as impressive, and you should be able to get right up to the fence for the best possible view.
Sites like the British Museum, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Houses of Parliament offer dedicated wheelchair access. These access points are typically found round the side or the rear of the building, and either provide ramp or lift access to users. London has a huge collection of museums and tourist sites, and many of the larger ones do offer some form of disabled access. Even the Millennium Bridge has lifts at either end to provide access to wheelchair users.
The key to enjoying any trip to London is to plan in advance. Call hotels to find out about access and lifts. Check with venues, rather than ticket booking offices, to determine whether wheelchair spaces are available for shows and other events, and plan your transport before you head out for the day to enjoy