London is a very busy city with heaps to do and see. Free access to all museums, good paths with kerb and guttering and the amazing accessible bus system makes it a dream to get around.
Accommodation: I stayed at the home of one of my best friends when I was in London. It was very inaccessible as it required me to crawl up and down the stairs as my friend carried my chair up, but it was worth it as I got to spend extra time with my friend. However, the Generator Hostel London has an accessible entrance, and also an accessible bathroom in one of their 8 bed and twin share rooms.
Transport: London is super easy and very accessible to get around by taking the iconic London bus.. The main mistake everyone makes is trying to take the underground (the tube). I can’t stress this enough DONT TAKE THE TUBE!!! As its very old most stations don’t have lifts. All of the black taxis have ramps so they are super easy to get in but are incredibly expensive. The easiest way I found was the bus. 99% of buses were fitted with ramps that automatically go up and down so the driver can stay in the drivers seat and just has to push a button. To pay to use the buses just go to any convenience store and buy an oyster card and put a couple of pounds on it so that when you get on the bus you just scan your card and away you go. When you want to get off just press the button and the driver will activate the ramp. As the city is so big I used an app on my phone called City Mapper which told me exactly what bus to catch and where the bustop was, and when to get off the bus. Too Easy!
Accessibility over all: London was probably one of my most accessible cities and so a good one to start with. All of the main tourist attractions are 100% accessible and all the museums are free which is a real bonus. Some of the shops in the city do have one step to get in but there are plenty that don’t.
London day 1 – Regents Canal, Regents Park, Camden Markets, British Museum
My first day of the trip started by accompanying my friend on her morning walk to work along regents canal. While very beautiful the path is very narrow for a wheelchair user and I was constantly worried that I was going to fall into the canal while trying to let a bike through. Wouldn’t have been the greatest start. Also the ramps up out of the canal and onto the main street are very steep and difficult to manage if you’re by yourself.
Regents park was beautiful to push around and relatively flat with paved paths. Camden markets while very interesting has lots of cobblestones so makes it difficult to get around.
The British Museum like all London museums is absolutely free and houses a very large collection of archeological artefacts. The main entrance is a huge set of stairs, however either side of the entry stair well is a platform lift which you can operate yourself. I think is fantastic as I hate having to go find someone to operate the accessible lift because that said person is usually up the top of the flight of stairs.
London day 2- Victoria and Alfred Museum, Museum of Natural History, Hyde park, Buckingham Palace, Westminister Abbey, The Southbank.
Well today was a busy day. Caught two buses to get to the museum quarter. As usual the buses were super easy and accessible. The Victoria and Alfred Museum displays applied arts. It’s an old building so although its fully accessible it can be a bit difficult to navigate.
The Museum of Natural History is my favourite museum as it has dinosaurs. Again its fully accessible and free. After the museums I walked up to Hyde Park, through Hyde Park through Green Park and past Buckingham Palace. The walk/push through the park and to Buckingham Palace was relatively flat but It was fairly long. After gliding past Buckingham palace I then pushed down what they call the Birdcage with St James park to the side and past the houses of parliament, Westminister Abbey and Big Ben. As I had been to London previously I just walked past and took some iconic tourist snaps.
As I was meeting a friend on the South Bank for dinner I crossed to the South Bank using the Westminister Bridge (again fully accessible both ends with lift access). From the bridge I could see the London eye one way and the Tower bridge looking the other way. I didn’t visit The Tower of London or the London Eye this time but from last time I went (almost ten years ago) both these places were fully accessible with a companion/ career getting in half price.
And that was the end of a very long day – I think I pushed about upwards of 10km, I definitely reached 10000 steps on my fitbit. But because London is pretty flat and there is loads of curb and guttering its pretty easy to do.
London day 3 – Oxford Street, Piccadily Circus, Trafalgar Square, National Museum
The rain drove me to Oxford Street today and I spent the morning shopping, getting things I forgot to pack and buying more layers as my Australian clothes were not cutting it in this European winter (and it was only October). I then went down Oxford street and Regent street. Walking down Regent street I went into Hamleys which is a huge toy shop which was heaps of fun just to wander around in.
I finished at Piccadily Circus which was so super busy and being a wheelchair user was very hard to get through without running over someone’s toes. Any wheelchair uses knows that crowds and wheelchairs don’t go together very well so i quickly got out of there and headed over to Trafalgar Square. The National Museum sits on top of Trafalgar Square and there is a marked wheelchair access point to get in. In the bathrooms down below there is also a lift in there (as trafalgar square is a little steep). The National Gallery has one of the world’s greatest art collections and has paintings by Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Van Gough. Again totally free to get in and very easy to get around.
London day 4 – The West End
One of the best things about London is all the plays you can go to down on the West End. Therefore one of my favourite things about London is that for people with a disability all tickets are half price. They also have special seats reserved that are close to the stage. It’s easier to go directly to the front entrance to get the tickets as it was difficult to purchase them over the phone. I ended up going to see ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” as I read the book ages ago and loved it but there were also so many other things to see. You could go to one play a night for a week and still not see half of what is available.