UK Based Travel & Disabled Blogger

Visiting Edinburgh Castle in a Wheelchair

Visiting Edinburgh Castle should be on your list of top tourist attractions to visit especially if you’ve never been to the city before. It’s also fun to do even if you’re a local. I’ve been to the Castle before, but it was during my school days, which sadly, was more than a few years ago. I couldn’t really remember much about it and I really wanted to take my Nephew to see his first Castle. So the week before Christmas we decided to take a trip through to Edinburgh for a tour of the Castle and visit the Christmas Markets. We ended up not making it to the Christmas Markets, but I’m happy to share my experience of visiting Edinburgh Castle in a wheelchair.

Arriving by tram

As we were planning on spending the day in Edinburgh and having previously enjoyed the accessibility of Edinburgh trams we decided to take the tram instead of driving.

We parked our car at Ingliston Park and Ride and got the tram to Princes Street. I love everything about the tram. It’s cheap, hassle-free, comfortable and most importantly wheelchair accessible.

The walk to Edinburgh Castle

We got off at Princes Street and made our way up to the Castle. We walked up The Mound past the Scottish National Gallery, then along Mound Place and Ramsay Lane before reaching The Royal Mile.

I have to be honest, this wasn’t the most accessible way to get to Edinburgh Castle. It was a combination of steep paths, high kerbs and cobblestone paths. Even though my powered wheelchair has suspension it still rattled like crazy over every bump.

On the plus side, it gave us plenty of photo ops with beautiful buildings. There is an easier and more accessible way to the castle, which I’ll speak about next.

Castle Entrance & Esplanade

Disabled visitors can drive to the Castle and park at the Esplanade, but only a limited number of spaces are available so it’s important to book in advance by calling 0131 310 5114.

edinburgh-castle-entrance-esplanade-welcome view-from-edinburgh-castle-esplanadeesplanade view from edinburgh castle

It’s easy to enjoy the beauty of Edinburgh Castle from the Esplanade. From there you can look across the city from both sides and take in the amazing view. This is also where the Military Tattoo takes place.

edinburgh-castle-esplanade-disabled-parking

Once you’ve enjoyed the views and taken that all-important selfie in front of Edinburgh Castle, it’s time to head into the Castle itself.

edinburgh-castle-entrance

As we approached the concrete bridge to enter the Castle grounds a helpful staff member asked if we’ve like to use the mobility car to take us up to the very top.

The mobility car is perfect for wheelchair users and people who are unable to manage the steep slopes and cobblestones. We didn’t want to miss anything on the way up so decided to give it a go ourselves.

Tickets

Since we already had our tickets printed we didn’t have to queue at the ticket office. We continued up the cobblestone slope until we reached another staff member who checked our tickets. We were asked again if we’d like to use the mobility vehicle, but we were still keen to try the walk up ourselves.

Tickets can either be booked online or bought from the ticket office once you arrive at the Castle. Disabled visitors will pay the standard admission fee and an accompanying carer will receive free admission.

Accessibility

When you think of a historic castle, the last thing you’re likely to think is that it’s going to be accessible. You probably expect to see very little of the Castle if at all. As with a lot of old buildings, it’s sometimes not possible to be wheelchair accessible.

However, Edinburgh Castle has made a real effort to make access for all an important feature throughout the Castle.

edinburgh-castle-main-square-cobble-slopeswheelchair-access-edinburgh-castle

The most challenging part of visiting the Castle is the slopes and cobbles, but it is possible for wheelchair users. Power wheelchair users like myself will likely find it easier, whereas manual wheelchair users will need strong arms or someone strong to push.

edinburgh-castleedinburgh-castle-main-area-cobble-paths

Our first stop was The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum and once inside we took the lift upstairs. The lift is operated by pressing and holding the button until you reach the top and vice versa. The lift isn’t very big, but there was enough space for the three of us.

mons-meg-edinburgh-castle viewpoint-from-mons-meg-edinburgh-castle

We then headed across to the Upper Ward to see Mons Meg and look across the city from the viewpoint. St Margaret’s Chapel is right beside Mons Meg, but it was very busy inside so we decided to skip going in. There is a wooden ramp allowing access for wheelchairs.

Next up was Crown Square where The Great Hall is located and to be honest I was a little surprised that I was able to access this area.

The information on Edinburgh Castle’s website states that The Great Hall is unsuitable for wheelchair access due to the width restrictions.

However, I was able to enter via the ramp and move around freely without any problems. There was a lovely big Christmas tree, which made the spacious room feel festive.

ramp-access-the-great-hall-edinburgh-castle

The Great Hall was completed in 1511 for James IV and was used for ceremonies. It was then used as a soldier barracks and nowadays for state and royal occasions.

It is one of the more spacious rooms in Edinburgh Castle as there weren’t too many other people in the room at the same time as us.

edinburgh-castle-crown-jewels

The Castle staff were very helpful and happy to offer assistance. This was especially evident when we were approached in the Crown Square and asked if we’d like to visit the Crown Jewels.

Since the entrance is accessed via stairs, we were guided to the accessible route where there was a lift. We got to see the exhibition and the Crown Jewels themselves. Make sure you go and take a look during your Castle visit.

crown-jewels-edinburgh-castle-exhibition

The Crown Room was quite small and crowded, but I managed to go in and take a look without much difficulty. We were then escorted back out and down the lift.

Before leaving this area I spotted an accessible toilet, which was a fairly good size.

The Scottish National War Memorial Visiting Edinburgh Castle in a Wheelchair

The Scottish National War Memorial also located within the Crown Square is completely wheelchair accessible. The Memorial commemorates the Scottish soldiers who fought and lost their lives in both World Wars and more recent conflicts.

The high ceilings, beautiful stain glass and mouldings create a peaceful place to reflect on all the lost lives.

The-Military-Prisons-edinburgh-castle

As the night drew in we headed to The Prison of War. This is where the prisoners of war were kept including French, American, Spanish, Dutch, Italian and more.

The-Military-Prisons-edinburgh-castle-wheelchair-access

I was able to navigate my wheelchair through the prison’s tunnels and I was pleased to see wooden thresholds were in place to help wheelchairs cross uneven surfaces and steps.

edinburgh-castle-at-night city-view-at-night-from-edinburgh-castle

Before leaving Edinburgh Castle we popped into the Gift shop for a look around where we all had fun trying on some hats and helmets.

It was dark by this point so we managed to see the Castle illuminated and enjoy the beautiful view of the city including the Christmas Market. It was magical.

Accessible Toilets

As I mentioned early there was an accessible toilet in the Crown Square, which was clean and provided enough space for wheelchair transfers. Accessible toilets can also be found at the main entrance and in the café.

Final thoughts

Edinburgh Castle exceeded my expectations and I was impressed with the level of accessibility. It’s great to see that Edinburgh Castle works with the fantastic Euan’s Guide to make the sites accessible for all.

Although the steep slopes and cobbles are a challenge (not to mention uncomfortable) for wheelchair users, it can be done and there is the mobility vehicle that will take you to the top of the main area if needed. 

I do wonder if there is some way of absorbing the impact of the cobbles not only for wheelchair users but also for prams. Is it possible some rubber matting could be placed across parts of the cobbles while still protecting the look and history of the Castles paths?

Slopes and cobbles aside, I highly recommend you stop by Edinburgh Castle during a visit to Scotland’s Capital. Unfortunately, we missed the one o’clock gun, so make sure you’re there for that and prepare yourself for the bang. I’m sure it will be worth it!

The Castle is a great attraction to visit for all the family with lots of beauty and history. Our three year old nephew enjoyed his first visit to Edinburgh Castle. Just look at the cheeky little monkey posing!

having-fun-at-edinburgh-castle

Have you been to Edinburgh Castle? How did you find the accessibility?

You might also enjoy

Visiting The Japanese Garden at Cowden In A Wheelchair
Visiting V&A Dundee In A Wheelchair
Stirling Castle Wheelchair Accessible Review

Don’t miss a thing!

Follow me on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube’ | Pinterest

*I received complimentary tickets to Edinburgh Castle, but all opinions expressed in this honest review are my own. Thank you to Edinburgh Castle for having us along for the day.

Sharing is caring!

Meet Emma

Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

19 Responses

  1. Once again a brilliant blog Emma. I use a small mobility scooter, and thought that the castle was a no go area. Not so sure now. Thanks again.

    1. Oh definitely give Edinburgh Castle a try the next time. I’m sure you’ll have a great time and I don’t think you’ll struggle too much with your mobility scooter. You can always use the mobility vehicle to take you up to the top though 🙂 Please let me know if you visit as I’d love to hear how you get on!

  2. What a brilliant review! I live in Aberdeen and had just sort of assumed that places like Edinburgh Castle were a no-go for me too. I think I’ll be suggesting this to my boyfriend for a wee summer weekend away.

    1. Hey! I think a lot of people are surprised to hear that Edinburgh Castle is accessible…I was one of them! I’m sure you’ll love it as long as you don’t mind the cobbles. I think a wee summer weekend away sounds like a great idea 🙂 Love your blog btw! It’s great. Thanks for getting in touch 🙂

  3. Yes! I’m glad you were able to enjoy the castle with your nephew! When I visited the castle back in October, I felt that it was very accessible. The steep hills at the castle and all over Edinburgh took some time to get adjusted to, but even so, my family and I loved it! Still one of the most interesting cities I’ve been to thus far.

    1. Hey Rachel! That’s great to hear you enjoyed the Castle too. The steep hills definitely take a bit of getting used to, but Edinburgh really is a beautiful city. Do you have anymore travel plans for this year?

      1. Nothing massive planned yet, trying to save money at the moment. Although, my boyfriend and I have been taking local camping trips about one weekend per month since we got back from Europe. How about you?😍

        1. That sounds like great fun! I haven’t been camping since I was a little girl. I quite fancy trying glamping though haha. You must have some beautiful camping spots 🙂 We’re heading off to Vienna next month and I can’t wait!

  4. Thank you so much for all this info. I am going up there with my other half and really want to see everything.

  5. Thank you for your report. My wife and I are planning a trip to Edinbough in October this year of our 60th. Wedding anniversary. Wilma is a wheelchair lady and uses an electric chair.Would you know of a mid quality hotel on the tram route. I thought ’tis might make movement much easier.Wilma’s great grandfather ,John Mackintosh Lawrie,lived at the castle and was the soldier who daily as the “lone piper” at the castle and we understand there is a large picture of him somewhere in the castle. We will fly out of there to Rome prior to a cruise. Have you been to Rome and have any suggestions?
    Allen &Wilma O’Donahoo. Gold Coast Australia.

  6. Hello, this is the first time I have read this blog and as it is dated last year I thought you might like to hear of our experience of our visit in April 2018.

    Firstly there is no transport to take you to the top of the castle as they do not operate a mobility transport service of any kind. It is only staff vehicles that are allowed to drive at certain times. As I had a manual wheelchair it was very difficult as it is so steep, coming down is not easy and I would not do it again.

    Lots of areas are accessible and it is a great attraction, staff are wonderful and full of knowledge.

    However, toilet facilities were not so good. We went into the cafe and ordered our meal but when I asked I was told the disabled toilets were either up near the Jewels area or back further down. I had to wait until we had eaten as we could not leave our meal or table as there was just the two of us. I contacted the castle on my return and was told they would look into this but as yet I have had no reply as to whether they had any discussion about it and as it was 3 months ago I don’t think I will hear anything so I still do not know whether there is a toilet in the cafe as was stated in the guide book given on our entry.

    Apart from this it was a wonderful visit and whilst I would not do it again, reluctantly, there is good access to most areas. People are very kind and many other tourists often asked if they could help in any way, which was lovely.

    I would definitely visit Edinburgh again as there were places we did not have time to see.

  7. Hi Simply Emma
    Love Your Blog On Accessibility @Edinburgh Castle. I’m Really Interested To Know About An Easier Accessible Route From Princess Street Up To The Edinburgh Castle Esplanade Attend A Few Gigs Next Week From The 11th To The 16th July 2019. I Also Use A PowedWheelchair. I Love The Freedom It Gives You However Some Pavements Kirbs Surfaces And Roads Are An Nightmare.

    Wishing You All The Best Emma On Your Inspiring Travel Blog Well Done.

    Kim Brownlie (Ms)

    1. Hi Kim

      Thank you so much for your comment and lovely words. I’m delighted you enjoy my blog 🙂
      In terms of a more accessible route up to the Castle, I’m no expert when it comes to Edinburgh and it’s street, but I’d probably say if you try going along N Bank St, up George IV Bridge and cut along Lawnmarket which then merges onto Castlehill and into Edinburgh Castle. I think that may be a more accessible and less bumpy route 🙂

      Thank you again for getting in touch and have a fantastic time at your gigs. Let me know how you get on 🙂

  8. Thank you Emma, I loved reading your blog. My husband and I will be at Edinburgh Castle the end of September and I am getting a bit nervous about accessibility. I have MS and my husband also has walking issues. I am able to use a cane for short walks as is he. Although we are bringing my mobility scooter to Scotland I am wondering if we should leave it back, take a cab to the top and use the Castle’s wheelchair? What is your advice?
    Thank you again Susan

    1. Hi Susan. Thank you so much for your comment. I hope you have a great time when you visit Scotland and Edinburgh Castle. Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to recommend the best option for you and your husband as I’m not sure what it would be like to visit in a mobility scooter, but if you think you can manage without taking it and borrowing one when you get to the castle. The only problem would be if they don’t have any available when you visit if others are using them at the same time. Ultimately it is what works best for you, but I can’t see any harm taking it with you. Have a great time and please let me know how you get on 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.