Cities in England have so much to offer for accessible holidays. Places such as Bath, Chester and York are often the cultural hub of the surrounding regions, making them the ideal place to delve into art, history, music and food. With this handy guide from Monarch Mobility, discover England’s most accessible cities.
In no particular order Englands most accessible cities
The vibrant city of Exeter has long been praised for its accessibility. As well as its spectacular high street and imposing cathedral, the relatively new development, Princesshay, was designed with wheelchair and mobility scooter users in mind. With big name brands such as Hotel Chocolat and Zara, as well as stylish restaurants, Princesshay is a hub for shopping and dining in the city centre. The shopping centre is part of the Shopmobility scheme, so if you need to you can hire a wheelchair or mobility scooter to explore the area.
At the opposite end of the high street, Exeter’s Guildhall shopping centre is also worth a visit. The centre has a growing number of modern eateries including the West Country pizza and cider restaurant, The Stable, and Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay. Guildhall shopping centre is undercover and on two levels. The upper level and car park are accessible via a lift. There are also accessible public toilets on the ground level.
When visiting Exeter High Street, it’s worth keeping in mind these tips from Visit Exeter: “Exeter’s High Street is reasonably level with only a slight incline as you go up in the direction of Princesshay. Public toilets for people with disabilities are located just behind the High Street (near St Stephen’s Church) on the ground floor of St Stephen’s House at 9 Catherine Street.” The website also notes that there are accessible toilets in Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser in the high street.
If you’d like to explore the city’s quayside, there is a steep incline, according to Visit Exeter, but the quayside area is level. On The Waterfront is a spectacular restaurant on the quay, famous for its delicious pizzas. The restaurant is accessible and there are toilets just past the restaurant.
Exeter is an exciting city home to art, music and culture. The Exeter Phoenix is a venue hosting a range of exhibitions and live acts. Disabled visitors can bring a companion free of charge to all events and the venue has been adapted for maximum accessibility. Nearby, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum also hosts fascinating historic exhibits as well as photography, film and other events. Mike Ellis, manager of Shopmobility Exeter, took a tour of the museum on a large mobility scooter. He said: “I can’t tell you what a treat it is to be able to get around a building without obstacles. It’s been well thought out and will be a treat for disabled visitors.”
With its famous Roman baths, Royal Crescent and boutique shops, Bath is a unique city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also mostly accessible to disabled visitors. Visit Bath encourages wheelchair and mobility scooter users to stop by at the Bath Visitor Information Centre to plan a day out: “If you’re looking for ideas of what to see and do both in the city of Bath and the surrounding area, we can help you with reliable and inspirational ideas.” There is also a Shopmobility scheme, so you can hire equipment to explore the historic city.
In a blog post for Visit Bath, Ben Rushgrove, a British sprint runner with cerebral palsy, explored Bath with a friend in a large wheelchair to see how accessible the city really is. The pair ventured through Abbey graveyard, Royal Victoria Park and Royal Crescent. Inside Number 1 Royal Crescent, the heavy-duty wheelchair manoeuvred easily through the historic grade two listed building. So, if you’re visiting Bath’s top attractions in a mobility scooter or motability scooter, you should have no problems.
The Roman Baths are one of the city’s most iconic attractions. The thermal springs below the city rise within the baths and still flow with natural hot water. Over one million visitors flock from all over the world to see this famous landmark. Although it is a well-preserved historic site, the visitor experience for the Roman Baths has been adapted to make the site 90% accessible using lifts and ramps.
One of the city’s more unique attractions is the Fashion Museum. Leading you through contemporary and historic fashion, the museum is full of fascinating displays. The museum is accessible to wheelchair and mobility scooter users via lifts and ramps and has an accessible toilet. To continue your journey through art and culture, visit the Victoria Art Gallery, which hosts a varied programme of exhibitions and is accessible for disabled visitors.
With its leaning, Tudor buildings, quaint shopping streets and historic monuments, Chester is a captivating city to explore. Despite its ancient appearance, the city centre is mostly accessible for wheelchair and mobility scooter users.
One of the city’s most popular features is The Rows, a series of half-timbered galleries forming shops above the street. Unique to Chester, the Rows date back to the 13th century. According to a guide by Cheshire West & Chester Council, the Rows are accessible to disabled visitors. The guide includes detailed information on how to access each section of the site.
As well the Rows, Chester’s famous city walls are also accessible. The impressive boundaries were built to keep Chester safe and were patrolled by soldiers for hundreds of years. According to Explore The Walls, the site is accessible for those with limited mobility: “The Walls have varying degrees of accessibility for disabled people, with many access points via either stepped, ramped or level access.” For full details on disabled access at Chester’s City Walls, visit Disabled Go.
No visit to Chester would be complete without a trip to Chester Zoo. Featured in Channel 4’s The Secret Life of the Zoo, this exciting attraction is home to over 15,000 animals and 125 acres of zoological gardens. Welcoming over 1.9 million visitors every year, Chester Zoo is a wonderful place to spend a sunny day and learn about some of the world’s most remarkable animals. The zoo prides itself on being accessible for wheelchair and mobility scooter users and offers free entry to carers, disabled parking, accessible pathways and toilets.
As one of England’s most spectacular historic cities, the streets of Norwich are lined with beautiful architecture, independent shops, quaint pubs and picturesque scenery. In the heart of Norfolk, it’s hard not to fall in love with this pretty city. Despite its historic charm, Norwich is also accessible to disabled visitors.
Due to the layout of this old city, there are a few steep inclines and cobbled streets, but there are alternative routes. For detailed information about these areas, pop into Norwich Tourist Information Centre and chat to the staff about exploring the city with a mobility or motability scooter. If you’re venturing into the city for some retail therapy, Norwich also runs a Shopmobility scheme at Chapelfield Mall shopping centre.
Many of Norwich’s iconic buildings, museums and attractions are accessible. The imposing Norwich Cathedral is well worth a visit. As you can see this beautiful building from most parts of the city centre, discovering what’s inside is fascinating. The cathedral offers accessible toilets though there is limited parking for blue badge holders. There is ramped, level or lift access to every part of the cathedral, so you won’t miss out on anything.
To discover the history of this majestic city, head to the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Exploring Norwich’s unique history from medieval times to the modern age, you’re sure to learn everything you need to know about the city, including its textile trade and the production of chocolate. City of Stories recommends the museum to disabled visitors: “The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell has made a real effort to make their beautiful medieval building accessible for everyone. They’ve installed a platform lift from the main entrance and another lift within the museum.”
For a taste of arts and culture, head to Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. With permanent collections of art, pottery and historic artefacts, there’s always plenty to see. Keep an eye on the centre’s upcoming exhibitions and events before your visit.
As the only city in Cornwall, visitors flock to Truro as a hub of art and culture. Its imposing cathedral juts out of the centre, surrounded by independent shops, restaurants and cafes. According to Visit Truro, much of the city centre is accessible to disabled visitors, despite the occasional cobbled street.
With a mostly flat city centre, Truro is a fairly easy city to navigate in a motability scooter. It’s not overwhelming like many other cities in the UK and retains the tranquillity of the countryside which surrounds it. Every public toilet in Truro has accessible facilities which are marked out on a city map you can pick up from the Tourist Information Centre. You’ll also need a RADAR key to access the bathrooms, so make sure you pick one up before a day exploring the city. If you need to hire mobility equipment, Truro runs a Shopmobility scheme in the city centre.
Once you set eyes on Truro Cathedral, you’ll be eager to find out what’s behind its magnificently ornate walls. Soaring high above shops and houses, the cathedral is open to the public and accessible to wheelchair and mobility scooter users. There is ramped access at the front of the cathedral in High Cross and other ramps inside to allow access to most of the building, as well as disabled toilets near the restaurant.
To browse Cornish food and wares, head to Lemon Street Market. This pretty little market offers three delightful cafes, perfect for a break during your visit to Truro. Pop into Baker Tom’s for delicious artisan breads and cakes or browse artwork from the region in the Lander Gallery. Just 30 minutes outside Truro, explore the mysterious grounds of The Lost Gardens of Heligan. These awe-inspiring gardens have a unique history. Around 25 years ago, the gardens were unknown and unseen, lots under weeds and bracken. After a great restoration, these historic gardens were uncovered and are now open to the public. Most of the 13-acre northern gardens are accessible and there are toilets and disabled parking bays available.
As one of England’s oldest cities, you’d be forgiven for thinking York wasn’t the best place for an accessible holiday. However, despite the city’s many historical features, many of its beautiful buildings and services are accessible to wheelchair and mobility scooter users.
To help people get around the city centre easily, York is part of the Shopmobility scheme, lending visitors powered scooters, electric wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs. Aside from the occasional cobbled street, access throughout the city centre is fairly easy, even for motability scooter users. The city also uses the RADAR scheme, so you’ll need a key to use the city’s disabled toilet facilities. Pop into the Visit York Information Centre before you start exploring.
When it comes to attractions, most of York’s fascinating heritage sites, museums and galleries are accessible. York Minster is the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and is truly a sight to behold. This towering, intricate building is well worth a visit on your city trip. The cathedral has been adapted and continues to be improved for disabled visitors. Access to York Minster is via a ramp and inside, more ramps offer additional access to wheelchair and mobility scooter users.
Chocolate-making is a huge part of York’s heritage, and there’s even an attraction to celebrate it. York’s Chocolate Story leads you through the history of chocolate making in the UK’s home of chocolate. With a tour and workshops available, this is a must-see for anyone with a sweet tooth. York’s Chocolate Story is accessible throughout via lifts and the gift shop is the ideal place to pick up a souvenir, or a treat to remember your trip.
For train enthusiasts, or those seeking an alternative day out, the National Railway Museum is an excellent choice. Browse over 1,000,000 objects from over 300 years of railway history, including gleaming locomotives, artwork and a captivating journey through the history of Britain’s railways. The museum welcomes mobility scooters and even has some available to hire if necessary.