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Top winter cities to visit in 2022

Having a disability needn’t limit your travel ambitions. There are so many wonderful cities to visit, and many of the finest and most accessible are right on our doorstep in the UK. Here are some of our favourite and most accessible cities to tick off your bucket list.

What makes a great city for disabled travel?

When considering the best winter cities to visit in 2022, we have focused on the main considerations of accessibility and services, such as disability-friendly toilets, roads, pavements and attractions. Many tourist attractions are now very well geared up for visitors with all kinds of needs, especially the newer build ones. 

With historic attractions, not all features are accessible because of the difficulties with retrofitting facilities, but there are still likely to be disability-friendly features such as accessible toilets, paths, museum spaces, cafes, shops and more.

So without further ado, here are some of our favourite destinations – all on our home turf in the UK!

1. Belfast

This Irish city is packed with history, entertainment, music and a real buzz – and it’s also extremely welcoming. Check out the Titanic Quarter which is extremely spacious, with lifts, a fixed hearing loop and level access. Enjoy shopping at Victoria Square, which is pedestrianised and has lifts and accessible toilets. The Cathedral Quarter should be your first choice for entertainment as its features include tactile paving and accessible doorways to your pub of choice!

2. Birmingham

Made trendy by Peaky Blinders, Birmingham is having a bit of a moment, and it’s a very accessible city too with wide pavements, drop kerbs, ramps, and accessible toilets in all the shopping centres and main attractions, including the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, which has a side entrance ramp for wheelchair users. Cadbury World is a must if you love chocolate, and it has guides for hearing and visually-impaired visitors. The Christmas Markets are also well worth a visit whilst in the city at winter time.

3. Chester

Chester won the European Access City Award in 2017, and it shows! This compact city has 2,000 years of history and fantastic Roman artefacts, but it’s also a wonderfully bustling centre with superb shops, restaurants, bars and independent cafes. The pavements are cobbled but there are plenty of accessible features, including toilets, and the city is small enough to get around easily if you tend to get fatigued quickly. You can choose hotels right in the heart of the centre too so that everything is on your doorstep.

4. Glasgow

Known as the ‘friendly city’, Glasgow is packed with personality, energy, and style. For wheelchair users and disabled travellers, it has plenty of wide, flat pavements and dropped kerbs. Some of its modern facilities include lifts in shopping centres and museums, accessible toilets and audio/visual features for visitors who have particular access needs for exhibitions. Key attractions include the Glasgow Science Centre, Museum of Modern Art, Kelvingrove Museum, Byres Road, and plenty of wonderful shops. 

5. London

Naturally, you’d expect Britain’s capital to offer plenty to entice visitors of all needs, and London doesn’t disappoint! You’ll find accessible attractions all over the city, such as the O2 arena, which is fully accessible throughout, the Tate Modern which offers electric scooters and wheelchairs, fully tarmacked Royal Parks such as the pretty one in Greenwich, and Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition which has fully captioned shows and exhibitions. 

Shops, buses, trains, platforms and taxis all have wheelchair-accessible features, and you’ll find rest points, fixed hearing loops, captions, braille signs, drop kerbs and all manner of helpful accessibility features across the city. London’s hotels also include lifts and bedrooms designed to enhance access for wheelchair users or with bathrooms for users who may need some extra assistance, such as ramps and supports.

Tips for travelling with a disability

  1. Make sure you have the right insurance in place. Specialist disability travel insurance will ensure any pre-existing conditions are captured and adequately covered. Click here to learn more
  2. Pack your medications and any aids you might need.
  3. Travel with a carer or aide and be sure to take advantage of benefits such as a free carer space on public transport.
  4. Remember your mobility aids, factoring in things such as walking sticks, wheelchairs, and any other assists for different terrain. You can often rent mobility aids too.
  5. Consider travelling as part of an organised group to access services and attractions that are guaranteed to be suitable. 
  6. Use specialist websites such as AccessAble to help plan trips.
  7. If you travel with a service dog, book a hotel that will accommodate your dog with sufficient space.
  8. Bring a multiway charger so you can charge your phone, tablet, and scooter all at once!
  9. Take your blue badge if you are likely to be driving.
  10. Don’t cram your itinerary full of activities! Take it easy and enjoy a relaxed pace as travelling can be incredibly tiring, even though it is exciting.

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