London is one of the great cities of the world. It’s a blend of both historic and modern, a truly unique place to visit. But if you’re visiting London and want to escape the busy city for a day, there are plenty of affordable day trips from London that will take you outside the city to interesting spots in the surrounding areas.
One large concern for those who are disabled is if there are day trips that are wheelchair accessible. After all, many of the best day trips are to historic places that were built in the days before people gave much thought to how someone in a wheelchair will get around. A quick search of the most popular spots to visit outside of London shows that most are very accommodating for those in a wheelchair. Taking a London charter service is also a great option for you to have a more accessible and enjoyable trip.
Stonehenge is perhaps one of Europe’s most well-known prehistoric monuments and a very popular site to visit. Located about two hours from London, Stonehenge dates back to about 3000-2000 BC. Not a lot is known about the culture that built Stonehenge because they left no written records. The exact way in which the monument was built is also debated among historians and archaeologists alike.
For those who use a wheelchair, Stonehenge is accessible with ramps and smooth paths to ease movement around the site. However, there are a few caveats as new construction has changed the ramps and paths. When visitors first arrive at the parking area, there is a paved tarmac, ramps, and a grass path. The latter is fine in dry weather, but if the ground is wet it can make using a wheelchair much more difficult.
After purchasing tickets, there is a turnstile that visitors must pass through. However, there is a gate that opens for wheelchair users. Visitors then proceed down a paved path that goes into a tunnel under a major highway. The path in and out of the tunnel has some steepness to it, so those in wheelchairs should take appropriate caution.
The path to the monument itself after exiting the tunnel is paved. However, at one side of the stone circle, the paved path does come to an end and the grass path begins. This is where the weather determines how easy it is to get around in a wheelchair. If the grass is dry, moving around will be relatively easy. If the grass is wet, though, it might be better to stay on the paved pathways.
It’s also worth noting that Stonehenge can get very crowded. Get there as early in the day as possible or during a day when crowds are at a minimum. Visitors are not allowed to touch or go near the monuments themselves. The path around the monument is set back. If you want to get good pictures, then try to get there when it’s not as busy.
No trip to England would be complete without a trip to Windsor Castle, the royal residence in the county of Berkshire. The castle dates back to William the Conqueror and was originally built in the decade after the Norman Conquest in 1066 AD.
Traveling to Windsor Castle from London is relatively easy and usually takes less than an hour. You can even take the London Waterloo train directly to Windsor and the castle is within walking distance from the train station.
If visiting by car, there are no disabled parking spots close to the castle. This is one of the bigger issues people in wheelchairs have faced when visiting Windsor Castle. Parking is limited and visitors will often have to park further away from the castle grounds.
For the most part, Windsor Castle is very wheelchair accessible. However, it should be noted that the castle is on a hill and the area is very spread out, so long distances need to be covered while visiting. Wheelchairs are available for visitors to borrow free of charge, but it is on a first come first serve basis. Mobility scooters are also allowed inside the castle for any of the Windsor castle tours.
There are lifts that allow wheelchairs and mobility scooters to access areas on upper levels. The lifts are not that big so it’s important to ensure that your chair will fit. Right after entering through the main gates there is a white rectangle that’s the same size of the lifts. If your chair fits in the rectangle, then the lifts will be no problem. However, it’s important to note that some rooms inside the castle may have steps to access. This might be the biggest limitation for those in wheelchairs and scooters.
Windsor Castle does offer a discounted rate to visitors with a disability. Additionally, if you have a carer accompanying you, they will be admitted free of charge.
Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world. And believe it or not, Paris is an easy day trip from London. The best way to get to Paris is via the Eurostar train, which takes a little over two hours. The Eurostar is notable because it travels directly under the English Channel from southern England to northern France. The “chunnel,” as it’s called, is 31.5 miles long. For your day trip logistics planning, you may need to find places to store your luggage in Paris, or wheelchair accessible transportation throughout the city.
The Eurostar train is modern and comfortable. Those using a wheelchair will find plenty of accessibility on the train. They offer wheelchair spaces in Standard Premier and Business Premier, but will only charge you the standard rate. If you have a companion with you, your companion will receive a discounted ticket.
Once in Paris, there’s so much to do it can be overwhelming. One of the most popular spots is the Eiffel Tower. Visitors to the Eiffel Tower are treated to amazing views of Paris. For those in a wheelchair, there is good and bad news. First, there are two separate elevators that will take you up to the second landing where you’ll have unobstructed access to the entire floor. However, the top of the Eiffel Tower is not accessible for those in a wheelchair because there are 18 steps to get to the elevator that goes to the top. Is it still worth it? The views from the second landing are still spectacular and definitely worth the trip. Additionally, those who are disabled pay a discounted rate.
Another place to visit in Paris is the Louvre Museum, one of the most famous museums in the world. It’s where DaVinci’s original Mona Lisa is housed, among many other famous works of art.
The Louvre is enormous. You could easily spend your entire day trip to Paris just exploring this museum and still not see everything. So it’s a good idea to plan your visit in advance to see all the exhibits that interest you.
For those in a wheelchair, use the main entrance by the pyramid. You’ll be escorted by a staff member directly to the front of the line. Once inside the Louvre, a vast majority of the museum is accessible. There are a few exhibits that might not be accessible to visitors in a wheelchair, but they’re definitely in the minority. Museum staff is always available to assist throughout the museum.
Finally, if you just want to experience Paris with a tour of the city, then you can take a bus tour with Paris Pass. The entire tour lasts two hours and runs the full day, but passengers are able to get off and on the bus at different points throughout Paris. Here’s the caveat: not all buses are handicap accessible and you’ll need to arrange with the company in advance where you’re going to meet the accessible bus. While not optimal, you’ll still get a great tour of Paris in only two hours, giving you time to spare to see many of the other sights in this magnificent city.
Leeds Castle is another very popular attraction to see and is less than two hours away from London, giving you ample time to explore this historical landmark.
The castle dates back to 1086. In the thirteenth century, King Edward 1 used it as a residence, followed by Henry VIII. The castle has been renovated numerous times and what you see today is mostly from the nineteenth century. In 1976 the castle opened its doors to the public.
For those in a wheelchair, Leeds Castle has gone to great lengths to make it as accessible as possible. Like other day trips, disabled visitors do get a reduced rate when buying tickets. If you have an accompanying carer, they get in for free. The parking lot has disabled parking spots available. After buying your tickets, a vehicle for disabled visitors will take you to the main house, as the land train is not wheelchair accessible. Inside the castle are lifts to take visitors from the entrance down to the main floor. If your wheelchair does not fit in the lift, they do offer wheelchairs that do. However, availability of those wheelchairs might be limited, especially on a busy day. Staff is available throughout the castle for assistance. The rooms on the upper floors are not wheelchair accessible. There is a film available to watch that gives a tour of the upper rooms.
For fans of Shakespeare, visiting Stratford-Upon-Avon is a must. This small town is old, dating back to 1196. Here you can take tours and see Shakespeare’s birthplace, the former home of his wife Anne Hathaway, and even Shakespeare’s grave at the Church of the Holy Trinity. While you’re there you can also catch a play at the famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This unique and historical town is a little less than three hours from London.
The town itself is very wheelchair friendly, with modern transportation available and easy-to-navigate sidewalks. If you’re visiting houses associated with Shakespeare, however, you will find some limitations. Remember that these houses are old and weren’t built with wheelchairs in mind. In Shakespeare’s birth house, for example, there is no access to the upper floor and some of the door entrances are too narrow for wheelchairs. That said, there is still a lot to see.
Stratford-Upon-Avon also offers plenty of other activities that are wheelchair friendly. There are famous walking tours, all of which can be enjoyed by anyone. Restaurants, theatres, and other public areas are also easily accessible with a wheelchair.
This historic town is quaint, full of charm, and is guaranteed to be a memorable day trip from London.
England has made it a priority to make the country as inclusive as possible for those with disabilities. While some of the historic sites might have limitations, the day trips listed here are perfect for any disabled person. The best advice is to plan out your day trips carefully and do your research beforehand. This will eliminate any surprises once you get to your destination. All of these day trips from London are easy to do by yourself, but there are also plenty of tour companies that will make the entire experience effortless.