From global cities full of culture to quaint market towns and rolling green hillsides, the U.K. is full of desirable travel destinations. But those with limited mobility may have a hard time maneuvering stair-filled cities or cobblestone streets—not to mention public transit.
Rather than battling through these tough spots, consider how wheelchair accessible vehicles can make a difference in your travels. Once you’ve secured a vehicle, plan a trip to one (or more!) of these six cities that offer some great accessible travel options across the U.K.
Manchester is one of the largest cities in Northern England. As it experiences a good deal of tourism, it’s no wonder they’ve worked toward better accessibility. The city has plenty of smooth, stair-free walkways as well as flat entrances into local restaurants and retail shops. Two museums—the Old Trafford Stadium Tour and Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry—allows visitors to learn all about beloved Manchester United’s team history or the industrial heritage of Manchester. Both venues have smooth paths for accessible travel throughout, accessible toilets and wheelchair rentals. A somewhat unexpected yet fully accessibly place in Manchester is Airkix Indoor Skydiving, where even those with disabilities can “fly” in a vertical wind tunnel.
Not far from the English border in the county of Powys, Welshpool lies next to the River Severn. The town is a great place for outdoor activities, with three lakes at Bluebell Park Fishery easily accessible in good weather. Wheelchair users can reach the lakeside for fishing or simply to admire the views. Just outside of Welshpool, two accessible canal boats run from the Montgomery Canal, offering a chance for those with disabilities to get out on the water. Welshpool is also home to the Flash Leisure Center, where there are accessible changing rooms with easy transfer to wheeled pool chairs, ramp access to the pool and wheelchair accessible exercise machines and bowling.
As the birthplace of Shakespeare, the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon draws a good number of visitors. While the town maintains its old-fashioned charm, it has modern amenities for those with limited mobility, including flat sidewalks, dropped curbs and even level cobblestones. Many of the town’s attractions were built centuries ago but have been updated to accommodate visitors of all types. The famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre offers fantastic shows and is incredibly accessible, with a parking bay, a lift and special seating for wheelchairs or those with visual or hearing disabilities. Five Shakespeare-related houses like his birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s cottage are accessible as well as are the Holy Trinity Church, the local butterfly farm and the MAD Museum, a museum of mechanical art and design.
A religious center during the Middle Ages, Exeter has evolved into a center of business and tourism—and an accessible one at that. The popular Exeter Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, is one of the most spectacular in Europe. With a unique vaulted ceiling, stained glass and an astronomical clock, it’s a great stop. With on-site parking, Braille and audio guides, wheelchair rentals and RADAR key toilets, the cathedral is extremely accessible. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and the craft shops and cafes along the quayside are accessible as well. About 15 minutes outside the city, Haldon Forest Park is home to multiple wheelchair-friendly trails as well as wheelchair bicycle tandems for rent.
Easily one of the most popular spots to visit in the U.K., it is surprising just how accessible travel in Edinburgh is. Though it’s a big city, there are a lot of hills and cobblestone streets throughout. Dynamic Earth, an interactive museum that details the history of science over time, is incredibly accessible, allowing those with limited mobility to stay with their party and enjoy everything in exactly the same way as those without disabilities. The Scottish National Gallery and Portrait Gallery also offers accessibility, complete with voice-activated lifts. There are also a variety of wheelchair-friendly tours in Edinburgh, including those at the historic Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Yacht Britannia.
One of the largest cities for tourism and business both in the U.K. and across the globe, it makes sense that London would have great accessibility. The city is now filled with accessible buses, taxis and even tube stations. Many of the city’s biggest tourist spots welcome those with disabilities, including the London Eye, the Tate Modern, the zoo, the Royal Opera House, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. Even Winston Churchill’s underground WWII lair, the Churchill War Rooms, is accessible. Some of these major attractions offer discounts to those with limited mobility and their caretakers. In addition, many hotels in London offer amenities like handicapped parking, roll-in showers, hoists, visual alarms, lifts and mobility equipment rentals.
These obviously aren’t the only accessible towns, but it gives you an idea of some places to start your adventures. Here are even more ideas for accessible attractions throughout the U.K.
Have you experienced any other accessible spots in the U.K.? We’d love to hear about it! This post was created in partnership with Mobility Nationwide as part of the #TravelforAll campaign though all opinions are our own.