Cosmopolitan London is known for many things – its fascinating history, heaps of attractions to visit, impressive architecture and must-see theatre are just a few – but with over 250 languages spoken in the capital, and tons of accessible transport and attractions, it’s also one of the most diverse and inclusive cities in the world.
Join Rosie Jones and Big Zuu as they embark on a new Mission: Accessible adventure to discover all the best things to do in London for Ryan – a visually impaired 31-year-old who wants to have a classy trip to the capital – and find out more about the locations featured (as well as a few extras) with our handy guide.
Follow in the footsteps of royalty at Kensington Palace, an iconic London attraction where you can learn all about former residents like Queen Victoria and Princess Diana. From its entrance in Kensington Gardens, you can reach all the floors by lift and wheelchairs are available to hire if you need them. If you want to delve deeper into the Palace’s history, join a British Sign Language tour or a Describer tour, which are available for the King’s State Apartments and Victoria: A Royal Childhood exhibition. Afterwards, head outdoors and take a nose around the gardens before settling down for afternoon tea at the Kensington Palace Pavilion.
Further down the road, you’ll find the Science Museum, another spectacular accessible place to visit in London’s classy Kensington area that’s full of wacky sensory experiments and amazing human inventions and discoveries. Explore the displays through fully wheelchair-accessible galleries and experience the exhibitions with the help of subtitles, Braille labels and hearing loops. Touch objects are located in three galleries and the museum hosts multiple British Sign Language and object-handling sessions throughout the year.
If you prefer to visit during quieter hours, grab a ticket to an Early Bird or Night Owls event, where autistic visitors can enjoy the museum before it opens its doors to the public, or after it’s shut for the day. The Science Museum also hosts SENsory Astronights – after-dark sleepovers and science shows for kiddies with additional needs.
Want to tick off all of London’s top places to visit, but also want to try some of London’s best food? Bustronome has got it covered. This sensory sightseeing experience takes place on a glass-roofed bus, giving you panoramic views across the city as you’re chauffeured around in style. As well as tucking into a mouth-watering four-course meal, you’ll get to learn about London’s historic landmarks with an audio commentary through your own interactive pen. For diners with hearing loss, a transcript is provided instead.
Uncover the secrets behind one of London’s greatest engineering marvels, before soaking up views of London from the walkways suspended 45 metres above the River Thames, connected at either end by a lift. For visitors with hearing loss, induction loops are available at multiple locations throughout the attraction and BSL guided tours are offered on the last Saturday of every month. For visually impaired guests, Braille and high-contrast booklets can be borrowed for the visit. Tower Bridge also opens early once a month for visitors with autism and other needs who would like to explore the bridge in a calm, tranquil atmosphere. And, if you need something to help with anxiety or overstimulation, access toolkits containing sensory items are also available.
You can find out more about accessibility at Tower Bridge with their comprehensive Access Able guide.
Catching one of the Bard’s timeless plays at the faithful reconstruction of the 1599 open-air playhouse on London’s Southbank is hands down one of the top things to do in London for theatre fans. As well as regular performances in its two theatres, The Globe has permanent exhibitions and tours to join too – all fully accessible by wheelchair. Audio-described, BSL and captioned performances take place throughout the year and induction loops are installed in both theatres and on the guided tours. Recorded commentaries and Braille panels are placed around the exhibition and guide and hearing dogs are welcome on tours too. The Globe also hosts relaxed performances (ear defenders available!), which include an open-door policy to allow guests to come and go as they please.
Take it down a notch with a multi-sensory luxury experience at the AIRE Ancient Baths in Covent Garden. This beautiful venue is a world away from the hustle and bustle of London’s city streets, with its candlelit chambers filled with the scent of orange blossom. Inspired by ancient civilisation’s bathing traditions, you’ll embark on a journey through different baths at different temperatures, from the hot Caldarium to the cold Frigidarium to the Vaporium to the Floatarium salt bath. You can even book exclusive treatments, including being immersed in a bath filled with wine! All areas of the baths can be accessed by lift, and there’s a wheelchair lift in the baths to help guests get in and out of the waters. Locker attendants can help with changing and there are staff dotted around the venue to help guests make their way through the experience.
End your day on a high with a sunset trip down the river on a Thames Rocket boat. This adult-only river cruise sails from the London Eye to the Tower of London before the expert skipper opens the throttle and rockets down towards Greenwich, twisting and turning as you feel the wind rip through your hair. While not fully wheelchair accessible, if you can access the boat (down a short flight of steps) with minimal assistance and can sit unaided on-board, this trip is a must-do.
Please note: While the attractions listed in this article have achieved good levels of accessibility, please be sure to make your own checks and inquiries directly with the attractions before travelling to ensure your individual accessibility requirements can be met. You can also find independently assessed accessible accommodation across the country and further ideas and inspiration in the Access for All section.