Most tickets for theatre productions or concerts require booking in advance so if you are a wheelchair user, let the organisers know. The vast majority of venues are now accessible, so there is no need to miss out on that show or gig you’ve been desperate to see. Once you’ve secured your tickets, then you can plan the rest of your day or weekend around your designated show. Most galleries, museums (normally free) and attractions don’t require advance bookings and many are grouped together, some even offer disabled parking, so remember to check.
South of the river
The South Bank benefits from the Tate Modern, The London Aquarium, The London Eye, Haywood Gallery and numerous funky restaurants. It is a great spot to base yourself. A five minute taxi ride will drop you off at The Imperial War Museum or a short stroll across the Millennium Bridge will take you to St Pauls Cathedral. Alternatively you could take one of the bus tours and see all the sites of the city chauffeur driven or take advantage of the boat tours available whisking you down the river Thames to the formidable Tower of London and its iconic bridge. Stay on the boat a little longer and Canary Wharf’s modern day skyline will astound you. Set against the old cranes of a bygone age its a great example of a changing city before the magnificence of Greenwich and its historic National Maritime Museum open up before you. There is even a cable car link which will take you across the river, offering spectacular views, to the Excel Centre if there’s an exhibition you want to catch.
North of the river
The V&A Museum, Natural History Museum and Science Museum are all based round Exhibition Way in busy Knightsbridge. A short walk takes you to the Victorian opulence of the Royal Albert Hall or you can while a way a few hours in the adjoining Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park taking in an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery or just relax having a coffee by the lake. Inevitably people are drawn to the West End and the theatre district, but there is so much more to see. Treat yourself to some dim sum in China Town or cast an eye over some famous faces in the National Portrait Gallery on nearby Trafalgar Square. From there you can take a wander down Whitehall to Parliament Square before cutting through Green Park with its Black Swans and coming out at Buckingham Palace where you might catch the changing of the guard. Other attractions and places to see include London Zoo in Regents Park and of course a trip to London is never complete with out a visit to some of its eclectic markets which include Camden Town and Notting Hill, which is especially vibrant on a Saturday.
Plan your route carefully. If you are staying over night in a hotel try and book a parking space. If you are just visiting for the day then do check parking restrictions. Cars generally registered to disabled drivers are exempt from the congestion charges. There are blue badge bays all around central London but make sure you have a smart phone so you can track them down via the website. Driving in the Capital is so much easier with sat navs which map your route for you. I’d recommend them if you’re not confident about where you are going and want some piece of mind
By public transport
If you are using a mobility scooter or wheelchair and travelling by train then it is advisable to book your ticket in advance to avoid disappointment as space on main line services is limited. Always check what tube stations are accessible, the majority of the network is not. All London Buses have wheelchair ramps and they offer a good alternative to the Tube but again space can be a problem. Always look to buy an Oyster card if you looking to traverse the city. It is cost effective and gives unlimited access to TFL services. All of London’s black cabs are all accessible with ramps. If there are a few of you then they too can offer reasonable value.
Where to stay
Accordingly London has over 70,000 hotel rooms however it is estimated that less than 2,000 of these are fully accessible. There is then the issue of some astronomical prices which put people off. However from my experience both Premier Inns and Travelodge have an abundance of hotels dotted across the capital, which generally offer great value. Many have central locations, parking facilities and act as a great launch pad. If money is not an option then of course there is always The Ritz or The Dorchester to massage your ego and wallet but for most of us the closest we’ll get to there is afternoon tea which is a great treat.
London offers something for everyone, whatever your ability. It is the most diverse and historical city on the planet, dishing up gastronomic delights, culture and buildings like The Shard which will truly take your breath away and will prove hard to beat. It certainly is not the cheapest city in the world, but if you plan your trip in advance with a degree of pragmatism, you will be surprised how cost effective it can work out. Enjoy!
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