If you visit Dublin, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how compact and accessible it is. It’s a city designed for wheelchair users and the less mobile.
We visited on a cold and windy weekend in January. We arrived at Dublin airport after a 6 am flight and we were shattered, but it didn’t dampen our spirits, we were just glad to be there.
We stayed at the Premier Inn at Dublin Airport – read our review
We needed the distraction of Dublin, especially as we’d had such a crap time over Christmas. There was no way we were going to let tired eyes and a sprinkling of frost spoil our trip.
Dublin is an old capital city and I was expecting it to be a nightmare, most capital cities are. They are usually too busy and inaccessible but not Dublin. If anything, “Dublin is the most accessible city in Europe”.
Dublin is surprisingly compact which means we were able to see many of the tourist attractions in a couple of days without too much rushing around.
If you’re looking for a relaxing city break in an infectious city then Dublin should be at the top of your list. If you are visiting Dublin on a budget then you might find this post useful:
Pop bands and ageing crooners aside, Ireland has an unexplainable magnetism. It’s an itch that must be scratched, the only way to relieve the irritation is to visit.
The problem is, once you’ve visited you’ll be hooked, once isn’t enough. Visiting Ireland doesn’t fill the void it creates a new one. When you’re not there you’ll miss it but won’t know why?
We have family in County Mayo and have been over there many times. But, we haven’t spent any time in Dublin, we’ve passed through it but never explored it.
Wheelchair Accessible Dublin
Dublin was high on our list of city breaks and we’re happy to report it was better than we’d imagined.
Dublin is a city made for tourism with its long history, culture, art and, of course, friendly people. More importantly, it’s a city committed to accessible tourism making it the perfect destination for a European city break.
When we think of Dublin, we think about the world famous craic (humour) and, of course, Guinness, all of which are in abundance but what we don’t usually think about is accessibility!
Dublin should win an award not only for being the friendliest city but the most wheelchair friendly city in Europe.
Wheelchair Friendly Dublin
Accessibility of a destination starts with desire.
Dublin clearly has the desire by the bucket load because everything about it screams, “come in you’re very welcome”. I have no hesitation in saying this and here is why:
Stepping off the plane in Dublin Airport we felt like royalty. It was almost as if we were members of the family returning home after a long absence.
The warmness of everyone we met was obvious, a genuine desire to help, not “I’m getting paid to do this” type of help but an innate desire to make you feel welcome.
Pushing a wheelchair often attracts pity especially as Bridget is so young but not in Dublin.
All offers of kindness are real, not contrived but from the heart. People genuinely take an interest in you and are happy to help for no other reason than they are just decent people.
It’s this trait which hooks you, I can’t imagine anywhere else in the world where such a diverse range of people all sign up to this common goal – making you feel welcome.
If you’ve been to Dublin or anywhere else in Ireland for that matter you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, you’ve got it all to come!
Common in old cities is the trade-off between accessibility and maintaining character. I can only imagine the problems this causes for planners and tourism departments but Dublin has managed to seamlessly combine the two.
The city centre is split in two by the River Liffey, it’s a dividing line between north and south. Nevertheless, instead of being a barrier it’s actually the glue that holds it all together.
Numerous accessible bridges cross the Liffey, you can flit back and forth at will. Sadly, the famous Ha’penny Bridge has steps so we couldn’t cross it but it didn’t spoil the experience or prevent us heading over to Temple Bar.
Every pavement we encountered even in the side streets had lowered kerbs making the crossing with a wheelchair easy. I was also impressed with the traffic/pedestrian lights which had low-level controls, gave plenty of time to cross, and had an audible tone, which is great if you’re sight-impaired.
I don’t normally get excited about traffic lights but this attention to detail makes all the difference and adds to the accessibility.
Apart from friendly people and ease of access, I can think of a million reasons to visit Dublin, there is no way I can cover them all.
Here are the highlights…
Value for Money
Being part of the European Union Ireland’s currency is the Euro. It’s not the most expensive city to visit but it’s not the cheapest either.
You might find this post will help you save money when you visit Dubin: Free and Accessible Things to do in Dublin
If you are on a budget, Dublin will suit you. You’ll be able to experience the best of everything without breaking the bank. If you’re a luxury traveller your money will buy more extravagance than in any other major European city.
Dublin is a coastal city, which means not only do you have the city to explore you have miles of beach and stunning countryside all within easy reach.
Dublin is well connected by bus, tram and train. Wherever you want to go, you are only a short accessible trip away. You can spend a day at the seaside and be back in the thick of it in time for dinner.
Culture and History
It would be remiss to write about Dublin and not mention history and culture.
All of the main attractions are accessible to some degree but only you can decide whether it’s worth visiting if you can’t see it all.
We like to explore under our own steam, this way we can spend as much time as we need to see an attraction but if you prefer an organised tour, Dublin is the place.
Available in and from Dublin are wheelchair friendly walking tours, city sightseeing bus tours and coach trips further afield across the whole of Ireland. Obviously, you’ll struggle to get a wheelchair upstairs on a tour bus but you can still use the tour to hop on and off at the tourist sites.
Your hotel will have up to date lists of tours and can probably recommend the most accessible ones.
The Visit Dublin Website and the tourist information centres also have details of the group and individual tours.
Food, Drink and Entertainment
Irish hospitality is world famous and Dublin is the hub. You can’t walk twelve paces without bumping into a street entertainer, being serenaded with traditional Irish music or having your senses accosted by culinary heaven.
If Dublin is the hub, Temple Bar is the centre of the universe!
You might struggle on the cobbles in a wheelchair, but a few drinks will dampen the rattling. Seriously, Temple Bar is worth the effort if you really want the Irish experience.
The pavements in the side streets are a bit iffy in parts but stay on the main street and you’ll be fine.
Shopping in Dublin
O’Connell Street is probably the widest street I’ve ever seen!
The main street on the north side of the Liffey is home to the GPO building, numerous statues and the Dublin spire. It’s a little bit touristy so make your way down the side streets for a taste of old Dublin.
On the south of the river are Grafton Street and St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre.
Very few cities around the world have a famous street but you might have heard of Grafton Street, if you haven’t when you’ve been you won’t forget it.
Shopper’s paradise doesn’t do it justice. Modern shops sit next to iconic “upmarket” department stores and they’re all intertwined with boutiques for every occasion.
Along the street are buskers and performers who are good enough to grace any stage. You just have to be careful you aren’t caught up in an impromptu crowd because it’s hard to manoeuvre out of the huddle… from experience!
At the top of Grafton Street is St Stephens Green Shopping Centre, which is a trendy marketplace for the in crowd.
The whole area is fully accessible in a wheelchair and a must for any shopaholic visit to Dublin.
Getting around Dublin is easy. Whether on foot or using public transport, your difficulties are minimal.
Dublin Bus is by far the most disabled friendly bus company in Europe. They even have a sign up promoting how many disabled people they have helped during the previous year.
There’s a helpful page on their website explaining Accessibility on Dublin Bus
What makes all the difference is the bus driver? We used six or so buses and each driver went above the call of duty to make sure our experience was a pleasant one.
Dublin also has a tram system named Luas. We didn’t use the tram but here is their accessibility statement
In answer to the question “is Dublin the most wheelchair accessible city in Europe”, the answer in our opinion is a resounding yes.
Your access and enjoyment are important in Dublin and it shows the amount of effort they’ve put into making it an accessible city.
Without question, we’ll be returning to Dublin soon and getting a bit more involved with the attractions. If Ireland or Dublin tourism department would like to invite us back to become access ambassadors we’d be more than happy to oblige!
What about you, have you been to Dublin or are you planning on visiting?
Do let us know in the comments…
You might also enjoy a post I wrote about Free and Accessible Things to do in Dublin
Fancy a weekend away, check out our growing Weekend Breaks section