London is probably the most visited city on earth, a Mecca for tourists from around the world so why are we scared of visiting?
London’s been on our bucket list for some time, but we’re reluctant to go. It sounds ridiculous, but we really are worried about traveling around London in a wheelchair because we’ve heard so many horror stories about inaccessibility.
At the end of the day, we started the blog to share our travel stories and overcome our fears. A trip to London is one of those times when we just have to get on with it and face our fears.
To be fair London works very hard at welcoming people with mobility problems. You can see how accessible London is in the resources section of this post.
With that in mind we’ve put together a loose itinerary, a list of accessible and free things to do in London, we hope you find it useful.
Top 10 Free and Accessible Things to do in London
1. Go for a Walk
London’s a traffic magnet so the best way to explore it is on foot. There are loads of wheelchair friendly routes in and around the city, you’ll be spoilt for choice if you fancy a walk, here are three we’ll be doing:
- Take a stroll along the South Bank of the Thames. Access was vastly improved in the run-up to the Paralympic games in 2012.
- A day out in Greenwich. At first, we thought Greenwich was all about time but it’s a full day out and very accessible.
- Our third walk is a bit predictable, but it’s got to be The Mall. Hopefully, the Queen will spot us out of the window and invite us in!
2. Visit a Park
London is home to some of the world’s most famous parks. For us we want to visit:
- Hyde Park, hopefully, we’ll be there on a Sunday so we can go to speakers corner. Whilst you are in Hyde Park, why not take advantage of Liberty Drives which is a charity supported by The Hyde Park Appeal.
- LIBERTY DRIVES is a seasonal initiative providing free tours and transportation in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens for individuals with a disability or limited mobility (along with caregivers, friends and family) otherwise unable to enjoy a visit to the park’s 760 acres.
- Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, we’ll try and get up the hill to get the best panoramic views of London.
- Kensington Gardens and Royal Park, OK if the Queen doesn’t let us in one of the other royals might #justsaying
3. Visit an Art Gallery
If you appreciate the beauty of a painting, marvel at the skill of a sculptor or are bemused by what people see in art then do the right thing and visit a gallery. We fall into the last category so we’re making an effort to learn to appreciate art:
- The National Portrait Gallery, see the world’s largest collection of portraits.
- The National Gallery, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Turner, Renoir and Van Gogh need we say more!
- The Saatchi Gallery, for something a bit more modern and possibly confusing the Saatchi, is the place to go.
4. Visit a Museum
This is a hunch, but we’d bet London has more museums per square inch than any other city in the world. What that means for you is whatever you’re interested in there’ll be a museum for it. We have picked out the obvious ones and why not:
- The British Museum, home to some of the world’s most important relics the museum has a collection spanning over two million years.
- The Imperial War Museum, our world as we know it has been shaped by war. The IWM tells the story and shares personal accounts of what life is like living in a conflict. We want to visit to give thanks and appreciate those who suffered for our freedom.
- The Natural History Museum, we’ve never been to the Natural History Museum and we’re both nearly dinosaurs so we better pay it a visit.
5. Visit a Market
OK visiting a market usually involves spending money but we’re wanderers and people watchers so a bustling marketplace is a must.
Unfortunately, we’re not able to make any claims about accessibility because markets notoriously cram stuff in which can hinder wheelchair access.
That said if the market is on when we’re in London we will be trying our luck at:
- Covent Garden Market, this is as close to Aladdin’s cave as we’re going to get, it’ll be hard not spending money.
- Notting Hill and Portobello Road, we love the film so we’ll love the market.
- Camden Lock Market, no visit to London would be complete without a visit to Camden.
6. Go Window Shopping
London is renowned for its top end shops and boutiques so why not go on a window-shopping tour and see how the other half live:
- Oxford Street, over one and a half miles of shops, restaurants and bars this is the world in one place.
- Bond Street and Mayfair, this will definitely be a window shopping experience and hopefully a bit of celebrity spotting too!
- Regent Street billed as the best shopping and lifestyle destination in the west end. We’ll be downloading the walking tour app to make the most of our visit.
7. Visit Free Events
London is a 24-hour city and there’s always events going on. The great news is many of these events are free to attend. We particularly like pomp and ceremony so hopefully we’ll see some.
The itinerary of events changes daily so you’re never far away from a free event. The best resources to find out what’s happening when you’re in London are:
TimeOut is probably the first place you should look for up to date events in London
Search Visit London for free attractions and events
8. Self-Guided Sightseeing Tour
It costs nothing to look at iconic sights and London has its fair share. Rather than spending money on a guided tour why not create your own.
You can get free travel maps here, build your list of places to see and explore at your own pace.
We’re typical sightseers so these three need no introduction and must be on our list of places to visit:
- Buckingham Palace
- Houses of Parliament
- Tower of London
9. Street Art, Statues, and Monuments
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we like looking at statues and monuments! You’re guaranteed to see loads of them if you’re walking around London and who knows when you’ll stumble across some famous street art?
- We really want to see a Banksy, fortunately, there’s a map for that on the Visit London website.
- Trafalgar Square is an obvious choice, check out Visit London’s Statues and Monuments for a complete list.
- It’s debatable whether street performers are art, but they are a central part of London’s vibe so we look forward to seeing them.
10. Churches and Cathedrals
When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city there’s no better place for a bit of peace and quiet than a church. We’re not particularly religious, but you don’t need to be to visit these iconic buildings:
- St Paul’s Cathedral, the cathedral isn’t free to enter, but it doesn’t stop us going to take a look at it!
- Westminster Abbey, Another one which isn’t free but still a must see just to say we’ve been there.
- St Martin-in-the-Feilds, we have two reasons for visiting this church in Trafalgar Square. One is it looks nice which isn’t very scientific and the other is their charity helps many people in need so it would be rude not to visit and make a small donation.
Bonus Thing to do – Visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
2012 was a momentous year, it’s the year London hosted the Olympic and Paralympic games. The legacy for us is the Olympic Park and Village so it would be rude not to pay it a visit. To see what’s on visit: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
You can find access details for all of the places, buildings and things to do on Accessible London. For a specific search or smaller venue check out Inclusive London. Two other useful resources we always use are DisabledGo and Euan’s Guide, both are excellent if you love to travel.
Details of Public Transport and Accessible Travel in London
Images Courtesy of Visit London Images special thanks to Britain on View and Pawel Libera
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We hope you found our list of top 10 things to do in London useful; if you did please do us a favour and share it!
If you’d like to add your own things to do in London do so in the comments section and we’ll check them out for accessibility.
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You might also enjoy Free and Accessible Things to do in Dublin Accessible Destinations Wheelchair Walks. If you want to save money on London Transport, consider using an Uber WAV taxi, here’s our review: We Used Uber WAV in London and Saved Money
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