By Expedia Team, on April 1, 2023
When you’re traveling anywhere as a person with a disability, every trip requires added research and planning. And Lomdon is no exception: Finding wheelchair-accessible things to do in the capital can often be a tricky task, due to the fact that information about accessibility is limited. It takes a lot of detective work, looking at Google images of buildings or searching venues on social media to figure out if a place is doable. That’s where an app like Sociability can help; travelers with disabilities can use it to find accessible places, so you can enjoy your trip stress-free! Sociability tags the accessibility of venues such as bars and restaurants so you can decide the best places to suit you.
Are you planning a trip to London and don’t know where to start with finding wheelchair accessible things to do? Don’t worry—we’ve got you! Accessibility can look different for everyone. In this article, we’re talking about wheelchair access in particular from the view of our two teammates at Sociability—Gem and Jennie who are wheelchair users. We’ll be highlighting places that are either step-free or provide lift or ramp access to venues.
Here are 5 suggestions of wheelchair-accessible things to do in London!
- The London Eye
When you think of London tourist activities, this is always at the top of the list! Why not head over to the South Bank of the River Thames and get a whole view of London while you’re here? The London Eye is fully wheelchair accessible, and they provide a free companion/carer ticket, which is why it is top of our list for wheelchair friendly things to do in London!
The London Eye has access for two wheelchair users per capsule and eight in total at any one time. In order to get to the Eye, this route is fully ramped throughout. A fun fact: The London Eye is always in motion. However, if you’re a wheelchair user they will stop the eye for 1 minute and load a ramp for you to arrive on. Just let them know in advance that you plan to visit by emailing Customer.Services@londoneye.com. Want to see what it’s like in action first-hand as a wheelchair user? Our teammate Jennie has a reel that does just that!
Other accessible features of the London Eye experience include:
- One carer can enter the London Eye for free when accompanying a disabled guest
- Fasttrack accessible queuing entrance
- Hearing induction loops available at the registers
- Breastfeeding friendly with quiet spaces available
- Assistance dogs including guide dogs, seeing eye dogs and hearing dogs are permitted on the London Eye
- Two accessible toilets onsite, which require the use of a RADAR key
Why not log onto the Sociability app and find somewhere for a lunch pit stop?
There are plenty of choices on our app but we can recommend in particular:
- Tower Bridge
Visit one of the most famous landmarks in London. There are two main parts to it that are wheelchair accessible: The Bridge and The Victorian Engine Rooms (including the glass floor as shown in the image below!). This was a place Jennie always wanted to go and it did not disappoint! She was super impressed with the accessible facilities available at Tower Bridge.
As well as free companion tickets, Tower Bridge offers:
- Relaxed opening times once a month
- BSL-interpreted tours once a month
- Braille, high-contrast and large print guidebooks available both online and in-person.
- If you don’t own a wheelchair but know you’ll need one for longer walks, you can also rent a wheelchair at Tower Bridge.
- Foldable lightweight stools that can be taken along the route of Tower Bridge, should you need to sit down throughout
For more details on their access information and how to get in touch, visit their website.
While you’re there…
Use the Sociability app to find a bite to eat. We’d recommend…
- Abba Voyage
If you like ABBA, this has to be on your bucket list! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience which pushes the boundaries of the latest technology and will have you mesmerized from start to finish! We were completely in awe of not just the show but the access, too. This has to be one of the most impressive shows we’ve both been to as wheelchair users, which is why we rate it as one of our top accessible things to do in London!
You can tell accessibility is something they have thought about and planned for in each step of the show. There are 10 parking spaces available if you’re driving there, or the tube stop to Pudding Mill Lane station on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) is step-free to depart. As soon as you arrive in the step-free entrance you’re welcomed by friendly staff who guide you from start to finish. There is also an impressive range of access facilities as you enter which includes changing places, a closed-loop hearing system and a full balcony of wheelchair-accessible spaces. In particular, we were impressed that we could attend as two wheelchair users with little fuss and a quick removal of a chair as we entered. So if you’re an ABBA fan, you have until November 2023 to book your ticket!
Other accessible features of Abba Voyage include:
- Companion ticket free of charge
- Direct booking service online for wheelchair accessible tickets
- Dedicated assistance staff at every performance
- London Zoo
Located in Regent’s Park, London Zoo is a fun wheelchair-friendly activity for all of the family. You’ll be able to see penguins in England’s biggest penguin pools. There’s a seating area to watch these, as well as designated wheelchair spaces, too. Animals such as gorillas, giraffes and tigers may also be there! We loved seeing those up close.
If you’re driving, there are 5 parking spaces opposite the zoo or there is a disabled parking bay outside of the zoo, too. Most of the London Zoo is wheelchair accessible with the exception of a few parts which has listed buildings. London Zoo also offers an impressive range of accessibility features such as audio-described tours, BSL tours and relaxed opening tours. Visit the zoo’s website for more information.
Other accessible features include:
- A written accessibility guide available to download ahead of your visit
- Concessionary rate for disabled visitors
- Complimentary ticket policy for personal assistants
- Changing places bathroom available onsite
- 4 other accessible toilets onsite at various points throughout
- Wheelchair and mobility scooter hire available
- Battersea Power Station
The Battersea Power Station has recently been converted into a lively shopping and leisure destination that includes shops, bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, parks and historical spaces. It’s also another great wheelchair-accessible activity and day out. The accessibility of the routes is smooth and step-free throughout and feels well integrated into the whole design. The Battersea Power Station is easily accessible from Central London on the Northern Line and takes you right outside of the entrance. There are also disabled parking spaces available in the Circus West Village and Electric Boulevard car parks. These spaces are available specifically for Blue Badge holders and are charged at standard rates. And if you need to visit a bathroom there’s also a number of accessible toilets as well as an impressive changing room.
When you arrive you’ll find a mixture of high-end and high-street shops as well as a range of restaurants. There is a range of events held throughout the year so keep an eye out for what’s to come – including a cinema opening soon!
Oh and bonus, if you love dogs, you’re in luck. Home of the Battersea Dogs Trust you probably will find lots of dogs roaming around the shopping center too!
Other accessible features include:
- Sensory packs available
- Sunflower lanyards available (free of charge)
- Quiet room on site
- Mobility scooter loan
While you’re there…
Want to find a place to grab a bite to eat before the show? Head over to our app to help you decide where! Here are a few suggestions…
Finding wheelchair-accessible places in London
So that is a whistle-stop tour of our favorite accessible things to do in London as wheelchair users. Although it can be a lot of energy and effort to do these things, when they go well, it’s so worth it for the good times and memories! Don’t forget to download Sociabilityas you’re traveling to find the best places to check out. Let us know in the comments if you would add anything to the list!
Follow Sociability on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more about accessible venues across the UK!