London is a brilliant place to visit whatever your mobility, and those who uses a manual wheelchair to get around will find plenty of suitable options in the british capital.
Wheelchair folks will appreciate the fact that most of the tourist areas are accessible and with very few cobblestones. The whole city is flat, it has a very few hills and curb ramps are on street level. London wheelchair accessibility is overall pretty good.
When travelling to London with a manual wheelchair, an accessible and centrally located neighbourhood is essential.
No room for me, no fun for you
There are plenty of reasonable options out there, but I personally suggest staying at the Double Tree Hilton located in Hyde Park. The location is perfect to use as a base to explore London and it's close to almost everything.
So, now you are all set and ready, it's time to get out rolling, its time to
Take a South Bank Stroll
I created a flat accessible itinerary with a handful of London attractions, Icons, Art and Culture that you can follow around.
The whole route is about 10km long and you can do it in one or two days. Or even take the whole weekend, It's all up to you. Starting off from the Hotel (Hyde Park) keep on rolling through the park towards South Bank and you will roll through attractions such as: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and London Eye. All in one stretch. I know, a bit too touristy right? No worries, it will get better.
After crossing the Westminster Bridge, you will arrive at South Bank, and that's where you wanna be.
South Bank is lined with treasures for art lovers such as Southbank Centre (Europe’s largest single-run art centre), BFI SouthBank (world-renowned, four-cinema film centre with a film archive), National Theatre and the Tate Modern (one of world’s most-visited modern art gallery) and many more. Its a place where ‘good time’ is guaranteed. The range of accessible restaurants, bars, theatres, pop-ups, performance art and gallery spaces is impressive, simply keep rolling by the river and choose where to stop.
One of many places to stop along this fascinating stroll is BFI Southbank. The complex has three cinema theatres, an exhibition area and a shop filled with rare films and books.
If you don't feel like catching a film, you can spend a couple of hours looking at old programmes on the media-teque. There is also a restaurant indoors and the very pleasant Riverside Bar & Kitchen at the front, a great spot to watch the world go by.
If you feel like Mexican street food and tequila (I always feel like it), Wahaca is just beside BFI, on the right side, excellent tacos, great view and good vibe. If you fancy a pint and British pub food, head to a pub called the Founder’s Arms, it's a lovely accessible local boozer with decent craft beers on tap. It also has a pretty good outside sitting area to contemplate a view of the River Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Talking about good views, from there, head to Tate Modern. It's only a ‘few steps' away. This imposing building is a work of art in itself and the view you get from the 6th floor is amazing. Tate Modern is a wheelchair-friendly contemporary Art Museum filled with seven floors worth of exceptional art pieces. Including Dali and Warhol. It is a great place to spend a few lovely hours. Also, there is a drawing bar, located on the first floor that has comfy sofas if you need to have a quick stretch.
If there is some time left, you can keep rolling by the river until you reach Tower Bridge. It's indeed a lovely stroll and relatively easy if you are in a manual wheelchair. There are plenty of wheelchair friendly toilets and places to hang out and rest along the way.
I did all the way and you can check the accessible options out in this video below:
Now assuming that you had a full on day out in South Bank and today you want to take it a bit easier, why not see something relaxing and cultural?
Enjoying great art is good for the soul and a great gallery is good for a stroll.
London’s art culture is second to none and whether you love Old Masters or Modern art, contemporary sculpture or Impressionist paintings, you most certainly will find an accessible art gallery that suits you. The city is filled with brilliant museums and art galleries. I encourage you to take advantage of it. They are equipped with elevators, stair lifts and ramps to access rooms and exhibitions, some of them offer free entrance and they usually have a cafe/restaurant that's also wheelchair-friendly.
I recommend researching about the exhibitions first. Some museums are difficult to be fully seen in just a day while others can get really crowded on certain busy days, which can make it difficult to fully appreciate what you are seeing. So, google them out first.
Do a market
The Portobello Road Market is a famous flea market in London. From the hotel, (assuming you are staying there) you can roll your way through beautiful and charming Notting Hill passing by plenty of antique shops, vinyl records stores, vintage clothes and food stalls that are generally lined up on both sides of the street among street musicians. You can find everything from vintage cameras to fresh flowers and if you feel like having a pint or a coffee, there are wheelchair friendly places to do so. Just try to do it in the morning as it gets pretty busy down there, specially on Saturdays. It will take you about 2 hours to visit the whole market.
Another interesting and eclectic market to explore is the Old Spitalfields Market, in east London. It's a nice place to wander. Like the Portobello Market, it also has plenty of vintage clothes, old maps, books, and random stuff for you to browse. Great atmosphere. If you make it there, make sure to roll to Brick Lane too, famous for their street art displays and their food. It's very nearby and actually, Brick Lane Market is a paradise for wheelchair foodies, packed with food-trucks and stalls selling all different kinds of food from all over the world. Here you can buy 3 different types of cheese or go Ethiopian Vegan for less than €10. So much great food to pick from.
With a bit of planning you could easily roll yourself down through Portobello Road then Uber yourself up to Brick Lane, so you can experience a bit of west and east London vibe in one go. There you have a full day of great shopping and great food.
Lazing on a sunny afternoon
London is one of the greenest cities in the world, with numerous parks where you can take a stroll and get some fresh air.
One of the most central is Hyde Park, which during the sunny British summer months (being sarcastic here) also holds live music concerts and festivals. It's has wheelchair friendly toilets, coffee shops and all that. Perfect spot to get some exercise done or just hang out, take it easy and read a book. If you like sunsets, Greenwich Park in south-east London and Hyde Park down by the lake have the best of them.
Getting There & Around
If you are travelling to and from London’s busiest airports (Heathrow and Gatwick), the best way to reach town and by train. Heathrow Express and Gatwick Express will take you to London in last than an hour. Just ask for assistance once you buy the ticket and there will be someone to help you out with the ramps and your baggage. The British are very helpful folks.
Once in London, black cabs and double-deckers buses are also wheelchair-friendly and London underground has a few wheelchair friendly stations. Not many, but it has.
The best and most convenient way to get around is by Uber, it has (WAV) Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle option and if you can transfer yourself to a normal seat and take your wheels off, you can actually ask for any Uber, they can fit your wheelchair in the trunk.
London is huge so avoid spending a lot to time travelling, try to make a list of the places, restaurants, bars and exhibitions you want to see and put all of these activities into Google Maps. Once you have done that, just group the activities together and Uber your way around town. This will make you spend less time and money getting yourself from A to B.
London is an amazing city.
Go explore – you can make it work