City Break in Wheelchair Accessible Dublin

Dublin Sightseeing Tours

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:

Free and Accessible Things to do in Dublin

Ireland

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

O'Connell Street GPO in 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

Dublin Airport

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:

The People

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!

Dublin City

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.

Wheelchair Accessible Dublin

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.

Bachelors Walk, Dublin.

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.

Pedestrian Crossing

I don’t usually get excited about traffic lights, but this attention to detail makes all the difference and adds to the accessibility.

Visit Dublin?

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.

Location

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.

Irish History

Visit Dublin has a list of the top 10 visitor attractions for your convenience. We didn’t visit them all, so you’ll need to research accessibility-specific to your needs.

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.

Dublin Tours

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.

Literary Dublin

If Dublin is the hub, Temple Bar is the centre of the universe!

Temple Bar Dublin

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.

Main Shopping Street in Dublin
John Gibson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Shopping Centre in Dublin

The whole area is fully accessible in a wheelchair and a must for any shopaholic visit to Dublin.

Public Transport

Accessible Travel in 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.

Overall Experience

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.

Fancy a weekend away? Check out our growing Weekend Breaks section

About The Bimblers 125 Articles
We are Rob and Bridget. We are disabled bloggers based in the UK and share wheelchair-friendly holidays, wheelchair-accessible days out and accessible holiday accommodation. We also talk about mobility aids and living with multiple chronic illnesses and disabilities.

6 Comments

  1. Hi.
    I am hoping to visit Dublin later this year for a short break after a disasterous trip to Australia at Christmas. As a powerchair user I understand the sense in researching everything before booking and then triple checking!!!
    I’m just fed up with repair bills for wheelchairs broken by airline companies, that’s aside from the inconvenience!!!
    So, a trip to Ireland might, just might be a good idea, so with trepidation my partner has been looking at options…….after reading this blog, MIGHT has changed to MUST and I will be showing my partner this article….
    thank you so much for taking the time to write about your travels, it really does help…
    Best regards,
    Rose in Essex

    • Thanks Rose, I think the secret to any successful trip is research before you go. Things can go wrong so preparation is the key, enjoy your trip to Ireland.

  2. Which hotel did you stay in? My sister-in-law is in a wheelchair and we’ve tried several here, but none, not even the Radisson is truly satisfactory, so I am very curious to know. Thanks

  3. I’m currently in Dublin & would disagree with every word of your review. A total nightmare for wheelchair users, ridiculously expensive, & rather hostile. Blooming awful place & only besteyby Brussels for it’s inaccessibility. I have no idea where you went but I think it wasn’t Dublin Ireland.

    • Wow Mik, I’m sorry to hear that because that wasn’t our experience at all.

      We used numerous buses in Dublin, wandered around the city centre and visited numerous cafes. For us, with an attendant wheelchair, it was fine. Granted, we did encounter a few problems like the Ha’Penny Bridge and the cobbles in Temple Bar but overall we enjoyed our visit.

      I think the most shocking is “rather hostile”, everyone we encountered was friendly and accommodating, it just shows how people’s experiences can differ.

      I have edited the post and removed my naive statement that Dublin is possibly the most wheelchair friendly city in Europe. In my defence, we found it okay and it was probably one of the first blog posts I wrote, and the wording could’ve been better.

      I have been following your trip on Twitter, I sincerely hope your trip improves.

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