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  • Writer's pictureCarrie-Ann Lightley

10 Reasons to Visit Accessible Edinburgh

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Edinburgh is Scotland's capital city, and is a fantastic place for a short break. It’s easily accessible, steeped in history and royal traditions, and you can even find some tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle. Here are the 10 reasons I think it’s the ideal place to visit for anyone with a disability.

1. An Historic Fortress

There is good access around a number of major sights within Edinburgh Castle, and although the abundance of cobbles makes things uncomfortable, it’s worth it. Things like large print, audio guides, and tactile replicas of the Crown Jewels make the castle inclusive for everyone. The cafe also has accessible picnic benches outside, which have half of the bench missing, enabling a wheelchair user to get right up to the table. The staff are extremely helpful, and will go out of their way to offer assistance. A mobility vehicle is available to transfer those who find steep slopes difficult. Carers accompanying visitors with disabilities are admitted free of charge.

Edinburgh Castle

2. Whisky Tours

The Scotch Whisky Experience honours Scotland's national drink, and visitors with disabilities benefit from lifts and level access throughout. The Whisky Tour is fun and interesting, and includes a tutored tasting of Scotch whisky at the end. During the tour visitors sit in Barrel cars, and there is one which has been specifically designed for wheelchair users. The nosing and tasting elements of the tour will be especially helpful to visitors with hearing or visual impairments.

3. … And Whisky-Inspired Cuisine

Amber Restaurant at The Scotch Whisky Experience offers traditional Scottish produce paired with whisky flavours and sauces, and a whisky bar which stocks over 300 different single malts, blends and liqueurs — what could be better? The restaurant is accessed via a lift from the Scotch Whiskey Experience, and offers plenty of space for wheelchair users. Considering its prime location, the restaurant offers great value for money, and is popular with locals and tourists alike. The staff here are knowledgeable and happy to help customers match whiskies to their meals. Bottoms up!

4. Fascinating Museums

Want to see a million pounds in Bank of Scotland £20 notes? Museum on the Mound has all that and more. Fun exhibits and stories from the world of money and banking, all on one level and at a wheelchair friendly height. Plus, staff here are helpful and informative. Admission is free for all visitors. The museum is situated on a hill with a steep gradual approach.

Edinburgh Sykline

5. Historic Old Town

The Royal Mile isn't easy for people with mobility requirements to visit, with steep slopes and cobbled streets, but it is worth the effort to be at the heart of Scotland's history. Some may find a downhill slope easier, so start from Edinburgh Castle, running down the Royal Mile to Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament. A number of walking tours are available for visitors to see the Royal Mile with the expertise of a local guide. The Royal Mile is great for people watching — see buskers, street performers, bagpipers, and of course, fellow tourists.

6. Quiet Hideaways

Princes Street Gardens is a quiet hideaway, and a great place to relax while enjoying views of the city. Flat access for wheelchair users and people with walking difficulties is from the far side of the gardens via King's Stables Road, while the paths in the gardens themselves are smooth and mostly level. Accessible toilets are available at the East and West ends of the gardens, and require a RADAR key for access.

7. Traditional Local Produce

Howies restaurant is set within a 200-year-old gorgeous Georgian building, and serves excellent local produce at an affordable price. The restaurant is spacious and airy, with plenty of space to manoeuvre a wheelchair, in order to tuck into their great food. Try classics such as Haggis, Neeps and Tatties or Cullen Skink for a real taste of Scotland! A spacious accessible toilet is available.

Edinburgh Sykline

8. … As Well As American Classics

Lettering on the front of the Hard Rock Café building states 'Love All, Feed All' and the access here means that they really can! The menu features the usual indulgent American-style comfort food that Hard Rock is famous for, along with extravagant cocktails. Access is step-free from street level, and low tables are available, as well as an accessible toilet. If your access requirements mean waiting for a table is difficult, do call ahead of time. The super-helpful staff can make a priority booking for you.

9. Peace And Tranquillity

Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden, and enjoy peace and tranquillity amongst 72 acres of stunning scenery. There are tarmac paths around the Garden, most of which are flat and accessible, and any steep paths which are not wheelchair accessible are clearly signposted. Carers of visitors with disabilities are entitled to free admission into the glasshouses. Mobility scooters and wheelchairs are available to borrow.

10. Floating Royal Residence

Follow in the footsteps of Royalty and explore the Royal Yacht Britannia with a fascinating audio tour of its five decks. Every effort has been made to accommodate disabled visitors, and access for wheelchair users is excellent — with ramps, lifts, and handrails all in place. For visitors with hearing impairments, tablets are available with the Britannia Tour in British Sign Language. There are some restrictions on wheelchair widths because of narrow passageways, but suitable wheelchairs are available to borrow if required.

Where are your favourite accessible places to visit in Edinburgh? Let me know in the comments.



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