If you visit Dublin, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how compact and accessible it is.
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 would let tired eyes and a sprinkling of frost spoil our trip.
Dublin is an old capital city, and I expected it to be a nightmare. Most capital cities are, and they are usually too busy and inaccessible, not Dublin.
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.
Dublin should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for a relaxing city break in an infectious city. If you are visiting Dublin on a budget, then you might find this post helpful:
Pop bands and ageing crooners aside, Ireland has an unexplainable magnetism. It’s an itch that must be scratched, and 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; and it creates a new one. You’ll miss it when you’re not there but don’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, and 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 Guinness, all of which are in abundance, but we don’t usually think about accessibility!
Wheelchair Friendly Dublin
Accessibility to a destination starts with desire.
Dublin 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 at 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 genuine, 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.
This trait hooks you. I can’t imagine anywhere else where such a diverse range of people sign up for 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 seamlessly combined the two.
The city centre is split in two by the River Liffey, and it’s a dividing line between north and south. Nevertheless, instead of being a barrier, it’s the glue that holds it together.
Numerous accessible bridges cross the Liffey, and 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 from heading over to Temple Bar.
Even in the side streets, every pavement we encountered had lowered kerbs, making the crossing with a wheelchair accessible. 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 usually 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 any other major European city.
Dublin is a coastal city, which means 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. You are only a short, accessible trip away wherever you want to go. 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 in writing 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 Ireland. 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 want the Irish experience.
The pavements on the side streets are a bit iffy in parts but stay on the main roads, 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 to taste old Dublin.
Grafton Street and St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre are south of the river.
Very few cities worldwide have a famous street, but you might have heard of Grafton Street? If you haven’t, you won’t forget it when you’ve been.
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 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, 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 pleasant.
Dublin also has a tram system named Luas. We didn’t use the tram, but here is their accessibility statement.
Your access and enjoyment are essential in Dublin, and it shows the amount of effort they’ve put into making it an accessible city.
We’ll be returning to Dublin soon and getting a bit more involved with the attractions.
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.
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