9 Accessible Places to Visit in Scotland
Scotland is a stunning country, with a wealth of natural beauty and cultural attractions to explore. With the COVID-19 crisis having cast an unfavourable shadow over travelling overseas, the northern nation is also the ideal choice for a low-cost, hassle-free holiday.
The best news? Scotland is filled to the brim with accessible adventures for the mobility impaired, making it one of the most disabled-friendly destinations in the UK. Here, we take a look at some of the best wheelchair accessible attractions in Scotland, along with some essential travel information. If you need to hire mobility equipment when you get there, Strive Mobility has everything you need for a stress-free stay.
How to Get There
There are plenty of direct flights to Scotland from major southern cities such as London, Birmingham, and Cardiff. Domestic flights to Scotland usually take around an hour.
We know flying with a disability can be difficult, so you’ll be happy to hear there is also a range of high-speed, wheelchair-accessible trains to Scotland from most major cities in Britain. The fastest services run up the East Coast, with the high-speed link from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverly taking just four to six hours. There are also slower sleeper trains that travel overnight, allowing you to wake up at your destination without wasting a moment. The Caledonian Sleeper features dedicated passenger assistance and onboard hosts for disabled guests.
Driving to Scotland is also possible from any location in Britain, with the M1 and A1 motorways offering the most direct route from London. This can get you to Edinburgh in as little as seven hours, depending on traffic and stopping time. You could also take the M6 up the west coast which runs from Birmingham via Manchester and Liverpool.
1. Balmoral Castle
- All facilities suitable for disabled access
- Wheelchairs and mobility scooters permitted
- Priority parking and accessible toilets are available
Balmoral Castle is a beautiful building that serves as the Scottish home of the Royal family. Completed in 1856 under the rule of Queen Victoria, the site has served as a much-loved family home for generations. The sprawling grounds, formal gardens, and breathtaking ballroom are all open to the public, along with regular exhibitions, a gift shop, and a cafe serving afternoon tea.
Located in the charming countryside of Aberdeenshire, it can be reached by car within 90 minutes from Aberdeen, or up to three hours from Edinburgh or Glasgow. The nearest airport and railway station are both located in Aberdeen.
2. Riverside Museum
- Wheelchair access to all areas via lifts
- Priority parking and accessible toilets
- Displays and exhibits at an accessible height
Located on the junction of the Kelvin and Clyde in Glasgow, the Riverside Museum tells a tale of transport and technology through the years. It details the city’s history as a maritime powerhouse, with a range of interesting exhibits from vintage cars, skateboards and prams to the tall ship moored up outside.
With a fantastic location in a recently regenerated part of the city, the Riverside Museum is easy to get to. It has dedicated parking, while disabled visitors can be dropped off outside the front door. The nearest train station is the Patrick Interchange, located 0.6 miles from the museum, and there is also a bus stop 150m away, with line 100 taking you direct to the city centre.
3. The Scotch Whisky Experience
- Wheelchair access to all areas, including the Barrel Ride.
- Accessible toilets
- Non-raised front entrance and lifts to all floors
The perfect tour for those who love a tipple, The Scotch Whisky Experience takes visitors on an immersive journey through a replica distillery. Tour guides and tasting experts are on hand to teach you all about aroma and, in the true spirit of Scotch, help you enjoy a wee dram or two.
The experience can be found in central Edinburgh, and while on-site parking is not available, disabled guests can be dropped at the front entrance. Waverly Station is located a short 0.6 miles away, with nearby trams and a bus stop connecting multiple routes on North Bridge, 0.4 miles away.
4. Scottish Football Museum
- Designated parking and accessible toilets
- Ramps to main entrance and lifts to the stands
- Level access throughout the museum and stadium tour
- Wheelchairs and mobility scooters are permitted throughout
One for the football fans, this unique attraction is located inside the national stadium in Hampden Park, on the outskirts of Glasgow. Visitors can take part in a stadium tour to follow in the footsteps of their favourite players, or check out the regularly refreshed exhibitions in the museum. It includes significant kit, photographs, and memorabilia through the ages, telling the story of football in Scotland from the beginning.
The Scottish Football Museum can easily be reached by car, with a large stadium car park, and four accessible parking bays by the entrance. It is also well served by public transport, with Mount Florida train station a 10-minute walk away (which has step-free access), and buses to central Glasgow less than half a mile away.
5. The Helix
- Priority parking spaces with dropped curbs
- Smooth, level pathways throughout and ramp to the visitor centre
- Accessible play area in the Adventure Zone
- Wheelchair friendly cafe and gift shop, and disabled toilets
One of the most unusual wheelchair accessible places to visit in Scotland, The Helix is a vibrant sculpture park and activity centre sprawling over 350 hectares between Falkirk and Grangemouth. Home to two gargantuan horse sculptures called The Kelpies, designed by artist Andy Scott, the eco-park also contains an accessible play area in the adventure zone, complete with a wheelchair friendly roundabout and see-saw. Visitors can take a guided tour inside The Kelpies, explore 26km of smooth, accessible trails, or check out exhibitions in the visitor centre.
The Helix is located just outside Falkirk, and is around a 45-minute drive from Edinburgh, just off the main motorway routes. The nearest train station is Falkirk Grahamston, which is two miles away, while there is a bus stop right outside the park with routes into central Falkirk.
6. Royal Yacht Britannia
- Fully accessible for wheelchair users
- Dedicated parking spaces with lifts to the entrance
- Accessible toilets, lifts and ramps throughout
You’ll be glad to hear one of Scotland’s most famous tourist attractions is also wheelchair friendly and can be found moored in the harbour just 20 minutes from Edinburgh city centre. The Royal Yacht Britannia was once the Queen’s floating palace, transporting her around the World on important state business and serving as a symbol of the Commonwealth. Now, you can explore the ship to find out what life was like on board, with five fascinating decks to discover, and an elegant tea room fit for a queen.
Free parking is available for visitors at Ocean Terminal. Buses 11, 22, and 35 stop right outside the attraction and take you to the city, while the nearest train station is Waverly, four miles away.
7. Abbotsford House and Gardens
- Dedicated parking with a paved path to the entrance
- Disabled toilets and parking
- Accessible pathways throughout the house and gardens (some with gravel)
This sensational estate is located just north of the English border and is known for being the former home of the famous novelist Sir Walter Scott. The whimsical building is a vision of turrets, nestled among rolling countryside, and offers an authentic look into life in 19th century Scotland. Visitors can tour the beautifully preserved rooms, designed by prominent architects and craftsmen of the time, including the library, drawing room, and armoury. There are also vast landscaped gardens to enjoy, which are sensational on a summer’s day.
The estate can be reached within an hour from Edinburgh by car, and is close to the town of Melrose. There is also a direct train from Edinburgh to the local station Tweedbank, which is about a mile from Abbotsford with a special link path. There are also local buses to take you closer to the attraction from the train station. Free parking is available on-site.
8. Edinburgh Castle
- Largely accessible for wheelchair users with a ramp to the entrance
- Disabled toilets and parking (must be booked in advance)
- Lifts and step-free access to most exhibits
The imposing structure that is Edinburgh Castle may not look too accessible from below, but thankfully, it is. Once a stronghold for the military forces, the castle has also served as a Royal residence and war prison, with walls that would have a lot to say. Visitors can take a peek at the Crown jewels, check out the war museum, or simply bask in the brilliance of the medieval grand hall.
Dominating the skyline in the heart of the capital, Edinburgh Castle isn’t too hard to find. Limited parking is available for blue badge holders, which are booked on a first-come, first-serve basis. Waverly Station is a short (uphill) stroll away, while buses stopping at the Mound or George IV Bridge are closer still.
9. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
- Fully accessible for wheelchairs and mobility scooters
- Free parking for blue badge holders with a ramp to the entrance
- Level access throughout exhibits with lifts
- Disabled toilets throughout
Housed in a historic brick-red building of 18th-century origin, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one for the culture vultures. It offers 22 galleries of art and artefacts, from Ancient Egyptian creations to natural history curiosities and original works from famous names such as Monet, Van Gogh, and Vecellio.
The gallery is found close to the historic centre of Glasgow, next to Kelvingrove Park. There is free parking for blue badge holders, and a bus stop right outside the entrance, on Argyle Street. Services 2, 3, 77 and 17 can all be caught to reach various other areas of the city. The closest train stations are Patrick, Charing Cross, and Exhibition Centre, which are all about a mile away.
How to Hire Mobility Aids for Accessible Holidays, Scotland
Want to visit one of these wheelchair accessible attractions in Scotland? Strive Mobility makes UK travel easy for the mobility impaired, with a range of wheelchairs, scooters, hoists and hospital beds for hire.
All you need to do is order your equipment online, and it will be delivered to your destination of choice. This leaves you free to enjoy all accessible attractions, without the hassle of travelling with a heavy load. It also means you won’t have to worry about wheelchair availability when you get there.
Please note, this information was gathered through online research, including blogger reviews and the attraction’s websites, but we haven’t physically visited each venue.
Written on behalf of Strive Mobility