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What is the most accessible attraction in the UK?

24th September 2019

 

The United Kingdom is blessed with so many wonderful attractions to visit – for both locals and visitors alike. Thanks to the nation’s fascinating history, iconic monarchy, and geographic location, there exists a great variety of things to see and do – from ancient castles to world-famous museums and exciting theme parks. But out of the UK’s highest-rated attractions, which are the most accessible? This is an important question to answer with many people who require the use of stairlifts at home just as eager to visit these wonderful attractions. This piece attempts to answer this question.

TripAdvisor’s 30 best-rated UK attractions have been entered into a unique ranking system that takes into account various different existing data points pertaining to accessibility – such as the existence of disabled toilets and whether guide dogs are welcome. Creating a scoring system, these iconic attractions have been sorted from most accessible to least accessible, giving potential visitors a helping hand in deciding which locations are right for them.

Below there is an interactive map that takes you across the UK, stopping at each of the attractions, where you can see the rankings in full and all the pertinent details of their accessibility, as well as a little info about each location.

Revealed: the most accessible top attractions in the UK

 

 

The most accessible attractions in the UK:

  • Stonehenge
  • Titanic Belfast
  • National Railway Museum
  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
  • Hyde Park
  • Royal Yacht Britannia
  • St Paul's Cathedral
  • Chester Zoo
  • V&A
  • Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
  • Tower Bridge
  • Warwick Castle
  • Alton Towers
  • Blackpool Pleasure Beach

What is most reassuring from the final rankings is that the attractions which came out on top fall around the entire UK, stretching from Wiltshire to Northern Ireland to York and then Glasgow. It’s wonderful that the most accessible attractions are not all based in London and reach far and wide across the nation. As many will know, disability and limited mobility don’t just affect those who live in areas more adapted for their needs, it exists everywhere and so it’s fantastic to see that attractions everywhere have adapted.

Something that is also quite surprising is that a lot of the attractions in the top 10 are more historic, including Stonehenge, Royal Yacht Britannia and the V&A. Many people may make the mistake of associating historic attractions with poor mobility configurations, but this is a misconception. Nowadays, there has been plenty of work put into ensuring all of the most amazing and intriguing places around the UK can be enjoyed by all.

Methodology

Looking at the 30 best-rated attractions in the UK according to TripAdvisor, we combined multiple variables and datasets in order to determine the most accessible attraction in the UK. The variables used for this were: Accessible toilets, universal access, guide dogs, mobility aids on offer, motorised scooters, onsite disabled parking, carer concessions, Euan's Guide ranking*.

To score a point in each category, the information must be easily accessible on the attraction's site. If it is not, it has been marked 'unclear'. The attractions were then ranked based on their total scores**.

All data can be found here.

Sources: TripAdvisor, Euan’s Guide, Individual Attractions’ Websites.

*Euan’s Guide rankings are out of five so a maximum of 5 points were available.

**Total scores were calculated by percentage of the attractions’ maximum possible score.

Which of the best-rated UK attractions are the most accessible?

What are the UK's most accessible attractions

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Stonehenge

Location: Wiltshire

Topping the board with a perfect score is Stonehenge. This prehistoric monument continues to stump scientists today, but a visit here certainly makes for a fascinating day out. Located in Wiltshire, just off of the A303, this attraction is certainly one of the most famous in the UK and is definitely one worth travelling to.

English Heritage, who looks after the site, explains what it is about Stonehenge that captures the imagination, as well as touching on the site’s emphasis on accessibility: “Stonehenge welcomes 1.5 million visitors from around the world each year. They come for many reasons including ticking it off their bucket list, because they feel a spiritual connection with the ancient monument and because they have studied it at school and want to see it for themselves.

“When we opened our new visitor centre in 2013, it was really important that all our visitors felt welcome. We developed a very visual and tactile exhibition to help those with visual impairments and learning difficulties but also visitors who may not have much English. The visitor centre is all on one level and the doors are wide to accommodate wheelchairs. Our shuttle buses have a lowered floor and can accommodate wheelchairs and pushchairs. We have benches around the site where visitors can rest and a wheelchair is available to borrow.”

Ellie from the travel blog The Wandering Quinn, knows full well the joys of visiting Stonehenge and spoke about why she believes it’s a must-visit: “Stonehenge holds so much mystery and is such an iconic structure that is a must-visit for those living in the UK and visiting the UK. Not only is the structure impressive but the history and theories behind it are too and I don’t think these can be appreciated without seeing it in real life. Plus, the countryside surrounding Stonehenge is beautiful and the location gives you a good look at the English countryside for those visiting from overseas.”

Ellie also offers some tips for those interested in visiting: “My biggest tip for visiting Stonehenge if you do not have access to a car is to go on a tour. Stonehenge is not located close to public transport so a tour from London for example, is much easier. Another reason is that you don’t need much time there so afterwards you can visit Bath or the Cotswolds on a joint tour.”

Accessibility at Stonehenge

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Score: 5/5

Titanic Belfast

Location: Belfast

Joint first with another perfect score is Titanic Belfast. Uncover the full story of the ill-fated Titanic in its home city. Explore the shipyard she was built-in, walk realistic decks in our interactive galleries and even discover original Titanic and White Star Line artefacts whilst here. You can even pay a visit to the SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Star vessel. 

Sarah, part of the team at Titanic Belfast, explained how they pride themselves on being an accessible attraction: “We are very proud to be consistently recognised as industry leaders on a local, national and international level for our accessibility standards. Accessibility was a very important part of our design and is always a key consideration for us. We aim to ensure that our visitors and employees access requirements are not only fully met but exceeded so everyone can enjoy the experience. Visitors can learn about the RMS Titanic from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and tragic end. It is located beside the Titanic Slipways, the Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices and Hamilton Graving Dock – the very place where Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1912.”

Accessibility at Titanic Belfast

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Score: 5/5

National Railway Museum

Location: York

Next up is a Northern classic. For those who are intrigued by everything mechanical, or for an avid railfan, a trip to the National Railway Museum in York is a must. Weave between the historic locomotives and get a real, up-close look at some of these true engineering wonders. It is even home to the only bullet train that can be found outside Japan!

Not only is it an incredibly accessible attraction, but a great day out as well. Sarah, a travel blogger celebrating her second 50 years at Life Part 2 loved her trip to the Museum, saying: “The National Railway Museum was one of our highlights when we visited York. Even for non-train enthusiasts such as myself, it’s a fascinating place to explore. Built inside a former railway depot, it’s filled with old steam locomotives to modern-day bullet trains and jam-packed with train memorabilia. We loved Queen Victoria’s ornate carriage. You can even enjoy a cream tea in the beautifully restored Countess of York carriage - mmm, delicious.”

Rachel Nicole, a blogger from Yorkshire also loves visiting the Museum: “It's a great experience for all the family and it’s also free. You can learn so much about the history of the railways and there are usually special exhibitions going on. Last year, they even had Tim Peak’s spacecraft which was an incredible thing to be able to see. You can spend the whole day there as there is so much to do and see and they have some lovely café’s too for a spot of lunch and a gift shop."

Accessibility at the National Railway Museum

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Score: 4.5/5

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Location: Glasgow

Coming in third is one of Scotland’s finest attractions. Opened in 1901, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum contains 22 galleries filled with myriad delights from amazing art pieces to Ancient Egyptian artefacts. Even before you step inside, the building itself crafted from pale red brick is intricately designed and a sight to behold. 

With a range of ever-changing exhibitions, Kelvingrove isn’t somewhere you can simply visit once in your life. Entering the main hall, you’ll be greeted by life-size models of animals from around the world and hung from the ceiling a fully restored Spitfire in pristine condition, a real sight. The rest of the exhibitions offer more that’ll unfold before your eyes.

Accessibility at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Score: 4.4/5

Hyde Park

Location: London

As the largest Royal Park in central London, Hyde Park is a wonderful visit on a sunny day and takes fourth place in our rankings. The Serpentine in the centre is perfect for a swim and all around the park, there are opportunities to try your hand at activities like boating, tennis and even horse riding. During the festive season, the park even comes alive with Winter Wonderland.

The list of things to do in Hyde Park is truly endless. For nature lovers, just a simple walk through the greenery is enough but then keep your eyes peeled for flashes of green as the local parakeets swopped around the trees. For history lovers, a range of memorials are dotted around the park which is conveniently located at the west side of Kensington Palace. On a bright day, take a boat out onto The Long Water to see the park from another angle.

Accessibility at Hyde Park

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: No
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Score: 5/5

Royal Yacht Britannia

Location: Edinburgh

In joint 4th is the Royal Yacht Britannia. Step aboard this majestic ship and experience royal luxury on the water. For over 40 years she served Her Majesty The Queen and now she is permanently docked in her home city of Edinburgh so all can come and experience her. Take a tour and visit the royal deck tea rooms for a treat!

The Royal Yacht Britannia describe why they believe their attraction is one of the UK’s very best: “The Royal Yacht Britannia has been Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction for the past 12 years, welcoming visitors from around the globe to learn about Her Majesty The Queen’s former floating palace. Nowhere else in the world can visitors see the State Apartments where Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family entertained celebrities and foreign dignitaries, from Frank Sinatra to Nelson Mandela, allowing you to truly follow in the footsteps of Royalty. Visitors then head down to the Crew’s Quarters to discover where 220 Royal Yachtsmen lived and worked and hear fascinating stories of life on board through the complimentary audio guide, available in 30 languages.”

The team also discussed how important it is to them that the yacht is accessible to all: “We are proud of the high level of accessibility on board Britannia, where lifts and ramps provide easy access to each of the five decks. Extensive information is provided online in our access statement which allows visitors to learn in advance about the accessibility of the tour, from arriving at Ocean Terminal to the facilities onboard. With the use of our complimentary audio guides, visitors can experience the tour at their own pace, with seating provided throughout. Rated category 1, the highest level of wheelchair access without assistance by VisitScotland, wheelchairs can be hired, free of charge, from our Visitor Centre. All staff aboard work hard to ensure that every visitor has a memorable tour of The Royal Yacht Britannia.”

Someone who can vouch for what a great attraction it is, including for those with limited mobility, is Emma from disability travel blog Simply Emma: “I didn’t expect to enjoy the Royal Yacht Britannia as much as I did, but it was such an enjoyable day exploring the Queen’s former floating home. You don’t have to be a fan of the Royal Family to enjoy this attraction. It was fun and interesting to tour the Yacht, see where the Royal Family spent many years on holiday and enjoy tea and cakes in the Royal Deck Tea Room with a lovely view across the water.”

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but The Royal Yacht Britannia ended up exceeding my expectations in enjoyment but most importantly, accessibility. It was built in 1953 so I assumed wheelchair accessibility would be a no-go. However, it was amazingly accessible, and I was able to enjoy the whole tour with no restrictions. Level access throughout the decks, ramps in place where a step might have been, a lift to access the levels, accessible toilets and helpful staff who appeared to have great disability awareness.”

Accessibility at Royal Yacht Britannia

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes 
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: No
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Score: 5/5

St Paul’s Cathedral

Location: London

This dome is certainly something everyone will recognise, but how many people have actually stepped inside? Explore St Paul's Cathedral to learn about a key cog in London's skyline and history, and see some of the best Anglican architecture the UK has to offer.

Kathryn, from the travel blog Travel with Kat, is just one of many who marvelled at the beauty and history of St Paul’s Cathedral. She spoke about what it is about this famous building that stands out to her: “St Paul's is a staggeringly beautiful building and iconic London landmark. The Cathedral’s most famous feature, its gigantic dome, is an engineering marvel. To fully appreciate the Cathedral's splendour, it needs to be seen in person and not merely through photos or even video.”

Kathryn also provided a top tip for those with limited mobility looking to visit themselves: “The south churchyard entrance is step-free and leads to a modern lift giving access to those with limited mobility to the crypt and ground floor. The onsite café in the crypt is a great place to stop by for coffee and cake or something more substantial but do hold on to your ticket if you want to resume your visit to the cathedral afterwards.”

Accessibility at St Paul’s Cathedral

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs Welcome: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: No
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Rating: 4.9/5

Chester Zoo

For an enjoyable family day out or a lovely date, Chester Zoo is the attraction to visit. The team here have put a lot of effort into making as much of the park accessible to all, and as such, everyone can enjoy a fun-filled day of animal watching.

From tiny tree frogs to mammoth elephants, Chester Zoo has something for all of the family and makes a wonderful day out. Come rain or shine, there is something to do here, and for those who like to get closer to nature, Chester Zoo is a fantastic option.

Accessibility at Chester Zoo

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: No
  • Guide Dogs Welcome: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Rating: 4.8/5

V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum, known more commonly as the V&A, describes itself as the 'world's leading museum of art and design' and contains a staggering amount of objects - over 2.27 million! So, whether you want to explore traditional sculpture, fine art, costume design, textiles, ironwork, jewellery or more, you'll find it here. 

It’s easy to spend a whole day (or more) here due to the vast amount on show. So, take each room slowly and pick up a map when you enter, it’s not unheard of to get turned around when walking through the exhibitions here!

Accessibility at the V&A

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs Welcome: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: No
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Rating: 4.7/5

Royal Albert Dock Liverpool

Location: Liverpool

With a large range of independent shops, restaurants, cafes and more, the Royal Albert Dock is perfect for anyone who wishes to see Liverpool's most youthful area. As well as amazing places to browse the shelves and dine on some delicious food, there are also ample other experiences here, such as prestigious art galleries and museums. Marketing Manager of the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, Clare Rawlinson, comments on the attraction’s popularity: "There are many aspects of the Dock which attract millions of tourists every year, from the fact that it's home to the largest group of Grade I listed buildings in the country, to the impressive food, drink and retail offerings, featuring some of Liverpool's finest independents. 

"The Dock is also located on Liverpool's UNESCO World Heritage waterfront, and offers visitors a variety of amazing attractions, including Tate Liverpool, Merseyside Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum".

Clare also commented on the emphasis that the Royal Albert Dock puts on accessibility: “Accessibility is extremely important to us, and we do everything in our power to ensure the Dock is accessible for all visitors, including people with limited mobility. The Dock is accessible both on the inner quay and exterior walkways, and guide dogs are welcome on-site and in venues. 

"Tate Liverpool and the Beatle Story offer free wheelchair hire, and the public toilet facilities include an accessible toilet. With so many great things to see and do at the Dock, we want to make sure everyone has the chance to visit and enjoy the world-class attractions".

Glen, a visually impaired blogger from the site Well Eye Never, has good memories of visiting the Royal Albert Dock and has spoken about why it’s such a top place to visit: “I enjoyed staying at Royal Albert Dock, because there's a lot to see and do in the area, plus it's very close to other key sights of Liverpool. Royal Albert Dock has the very interesting and immersive Beatles museum (The Beatles Story) right next door to the Premier Inn, along with the Tate Liverpool gallery, and a variety of nice restaurants and shops (from which I can particularly recommend Smugger's Cove, Miller & Carter and Roly's Fudge). You are also a short walk from sights including the River Mersey, the Museum of Liverpool, the Wheel of Liverpool and the Three Graces (including the Royal Liver Building).

“The friendly staff at the Premier Inn looked after my girlfriend and I very well and had no problems with the fact that we were visually impaired. They made sure we knew how to get to our room, assisted us in identifying and dishing up food at the breakfast buffet, and helped us to book a taxi to the station on our departure. So, I can recommend staying there. There's so much more we could have seen and done, we only scratched the surface of what the city and Royal Albert Dock have to offer. So, I would definitely like to go back for a longer stay, as we felt very comfortable there.”

Accessibility at Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
 

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs Welcome: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Rating: 3.5/5

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is one of London's (and indeed the UK's) most iconic attractions. An instantly recognisable feature of the capital's skyline, Tower Bridge was built between 1886-1894. Today, it is an incredibly popular destination for visitors. From its high-level walkways, panoramic views, and a glimpse into the engine room, there's much to look forward to.

For those who want to learn more about this country’s history, Tower Bridge is a fantastic place to start and with the tours being so accessible, you don’t need to worry on missing out on anything. Climb the tower and get a unique view over London and the River Thames, as well as a deep insight into British history.

Accessibility at Tower Bridge

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: Yes
  • Guide Dogs Welcome: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: No
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Rating: 4.5/5

Warwick Castle

Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, Warwick Castle is a medieval gem that has to be visited. Refortified during the Hundred Years War and used as a stronghold during the 17th century, today it attracts tourists in their droves. With dungeon tours, jousting shows, food, drink, and exhibits showcasing the castle's incredible history, it proves to be a wonderful day out. 

Accessibility and castles have never really gone hand in hand, however, Warwick Castle breaks the mould and offers a surprisingly accessible experience. Despite some areas not being accessible to wheelchairs, everything else has been made as open as possible and ready to explore.

Accessibility at Warwick Castle

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: No
  • Guide Dogs Welcome: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Rating: 4.5/5

Alton Towers

Location: Stoke-on-Trent

For those in search of an adrenaline-filled day out, it doesn't get much better than Alton Towers. On the wish-list of families up and down the country, this top amusement park is a theme park, water park, spa, mini-golf course, and hotel complex all rolled into one. As far as family days out go, Alton Towers ticks all the boxes. 

Rhi from Mummy of Four explains how the ride access pass allows the park to be more accessible to her children: “The ride access pass at Alton Towers is fantastic and without it, my little boy with ASD simply would not cope with the queues. The only real “queueing” that has to be done is to collect the pass itself. My advice is to check the website before you travel to ensure that you have all of the necessary documentation. When you get there, leave one member of your party in the line, then call the person who needs the ride access pass to join them when they are near the front.”

Alton Towers is a fantastic attraction or some family time. Chloe from I’m Just A Girl says: "Every year I take my little sister to a theme park for her birthday. Last year we visited Alton Towers, and we both had an amazing day there. We managed to go on as many as we could throughout the day including the then-new Wicker Man which was both terrifying and terrific! Alton Towers is a great day out for everyone, and while it's a tad expensive, I think it's worth the money in order to create those invaluable memories as a family."

Accessibility at Alton Towers

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes 
  • Universal Access: No
  • Guide Dogs: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised Scooter Friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Score: Not Available

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Another of the UK's most beloved amusement parks is Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Founded in 1896, there are a plethora of exciting things to see and do on offer. No matter if you are in the mood for a show, roller coaster ride, or want to take the kids to the UK's only Nickelodeon Land, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has you covered.

As well as a great day out in the day, there are also plenty of shows throughout the afternoon and evening which could be a great date, family night out of friendly get together opportunity.

Accessibility at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

  • Accessible Toilet: Yes
  • Universal Access: No
  • Guide Dogs: Yes
  • Mobility Aids on Offer: Yes
  • Motorised scooters friendly: Yes
  • Onsite Disabled Parking: Yes
  • Carer Tickets: Yes - Free
  • Euan’s Guide Score: Not available

How accessible are the UK’s top-rated attractions?

Hopefully the question of ‘how accessible are the UK’s top-rated attractions’ has now been answered. As you can see from our interactive map and the infographic of the top 5, there are some brilliant attractions out there to visit, many of which are very accessible for stair lift users. Creating a welcoming environment for all visitors, regardless of their mobility is vitally important and it’s great to see that more top attractions are making strides in this direction.

Discover our range of stairlifts

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