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11 Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a city steeped in history and culture. From its stunning architecture to its vibrant arts scene, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in this beautiful city.

I feel fortunate to live relatively close to Edinburgh. It’s a city that my family and I often visit for a day out, to catch a show, shop, explore museums, or meet up with friends. Edinburgh is also a popular destination for tourists planning a city break or a stop on their extended tour of Scotland.

So, if you are planning an accessible trip of your own, read on to discover some of the best wheelchair accessible things to do in Edinburgh that you should add to your list.

Getting to Edinburgh | Wheelchair Accessible Edinburgh Trams

Since I live a short distance from Edinburgh, I often opt to travel by car. However, parking in Edinburgh can be challenging at times. Depending on the circumstances and what we will be doing, we’ll use Edinburgh Trams instead. We’ll drive to Ingliston Park and Ride, park the car, and take a tram into the city. There are multiple stops along the route, but we usually stop at Princes Street.

A shot of an Edinburgh Tram riding down Princes Street.

Read my review linked below to find out what it is like to travel as a wheelchair user on the Edinburgh Trams!

Read more: Edinburgh Trams Wheelchair Accessibility

Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Edinburgh

There’s something for everyone in Edinburgh. Check out my guide to some of the top wheelchair accessible things to do in Edinburgh to make the most of your trip.

1. Visit Edinburgh Castle

A trip to Edinburgh is not complete without a visit to its iconic castle. Situated on a hilltop, Edinburgh Castle provides panoramic views of the city. Over the centuries, it has served as a royal residence, military stronghold, and prison, possessing a varied and rich history. Today, it is a famous tourist destination that you should add to your list of wheelchair accessible things to do in Edinburgh.

Guided tours and exhibits are available for visitors to explore the various buildings and learn about the castle’s history. The Crown Jewels of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny are also housed in Edinburgh Castle. If possible, plan your visit to coincide with the daily firing of the One O’Clock Gun (except on Sundays), a tradition that dates back to 1861.

Emma, a power wheelchair user driving across the cobblestones in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle has made efforts to ensure accessibility for wheelchair users. Despite the slopes and cobblestones, the castle is wheelchair accessible with accessible routes, ramps, lifts, and toilets. Additionally, a mobility car service is available to transport visitors from the entrance to the top of the castle, making it easier to navigate the slopes and cobblestones.

For a detailed accessibility review, read more about my visit to Edinburgh Castle as a wheelchair user or accessibility when attending an Edinburgh Castle Concert.

2. Go on an Edinburgh Bus Tour

If you want to explore Edinburgh but have limited time, then the Edinburgh Hop-on-Hop-off bus tours are perfect for you. These tours take you to all the main attractions of Edinburgh, and you can get off at any stop you like and hop on again when you’re ready. 

The tour covers all the major attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Scottish Parliament, and many more. With audio commentary available in multiple languages, you can learn about the history and culture of the city as you ride around on the bus. 

The buses are wheelchair accessible, equipped with ramps and two designated spaces for wheelchair users. Each space has a display screen that shows live footage of the surrounding area, ensuring that wheelchair users don’t miss out on anything during the tour. This feature enables you to share the same experience as others on the bus.

Moreover, the display screens also have subtitled commentary that runs throughout the tour. This feature is particularly helpful for people who have difficulty wearing earphones or have hearing loss or deafness. I found it useful when one of my earbuds kept falling out of my ear, allowing me to follow along with the subtitles.

For a detailed accessibility review, read more about my experience on the Edinburgh Bus Tour as a wheelchair user.

3. Roll aboard The Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia is a former royal yacht that was used by the British monarch. It is now permanently docked in Leith, Edinburgh and serves as a popular tourist attraction. This luxurious vessel has sailed over 1,000,000 nautical miles in service of the royal family.

Visitors can explore the five decks of the ship, which include the state apartments, the crew’s quarters, and the Royal Deck Tearoom, while learning about the fascinating history of the yacht and its royal passengers via an audio tour.

Emma, a power wheelchair user on The Royal Yacht Britannia

Since I was unable to hold the audio handset to my ear, I was given headphones, and the handset was attached to a lanyard and placed around my neck. There are also audio handsets for people with visual impairments, tour scripts in Braille, and tablets with the tour in British Sign Language.

Emma, a power wheelchair user on The Royal Yacht Britannia veranda deck via a wheelchair accessible ramp.

The Royal Yacht Britannia is accessible for wheelchair users with access to the ship’s decks via lifts and ramps. However, it’s worth noting that the Royal Deck Tearoom is only accessible to wheelchairs no wider than 670mm, as it can only be accessed via the original on-board lift.

The Royal Yacht Britannia state drawing room

Overall, we had a great day exploring the Queen’s former floating home. The accessibility exceeded our expectations, and we highly recommend it to everyone, including families with kids. My nephew loved it.

For a detailed accessibility review, read more about my visit to The Royal Yacht Britannia as a wheelchair user.

4. Explore the National Museum of Scotland 

The National Museum of Scotland is a wheelchair accessible museum home to over 20,000 artefacts from Scotland’s past. Its world-class collections have something for everyone to enjoy while learning about the history of Scotland, the wonders of nature, and the diverse cultures from around the world.

The museum has various galleries, including the iconic Grand Gallery, the Natural World galleries with its dinosaur exhibits (guarded by a Tyrannosaurus rex), and the Scottish galleries featuring the country’s art, design, and culture.

The Natural World galleries at the National Museum of Scotland with animals and dinosaur exhibits

The National Museum of Scotland has a level access entrance and once inside there are lifts to all floors. Accessible toilets can be found on most floors and there is a Changing Places (U) toilet in the Entrance Hall (Level 0).

Find out more about accessibility at the National Museum of Scotland.

5. Relax in the Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens is a beautiful public park situated in the heart of Edinburgh. The park features wheelchair accessible paths, making it easy for wheelchair users to enjoy the peaceful surroundings and stunning views of Edinburgh Castle.

Emma, a wheelchair user and her partner are enjoying a walk through Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.
Photo credit: VisitScotland
Emma, a wheelchair user and her partner are sat at a table at an outdoor cafe in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.
Photo credit: VisitScotland

Throughout the year, there are lots of fun events and festivals that take place in the gardens, making it a great spot to spend time with friends and family. There is also a cafe with outdoor seating in the West Garden close to the Ross Fountain.

6. Visit the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden is a beautiful oasis located just one mile away from the city centre of Edinburgh. It is my favourite place to visit during the spring and summer months. The garden spans over 70 acres, offering a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Emma, a wheelchair user in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh surrounded by lush green shrubs and foliage. She is smiling at the camera. It's a sunny day.

The garden is home to over 13,000 plant species from around the world, including rare and endangered species. There are plenty of picturesque areas to explore, such as the Rock Garden, Woodland Garden, Chinese Hillside, and the Rhododendron Collection.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has accessible paths and ramps, making it easy for wheelchair users to explore and enjoy the natural beauty. There are several accessible toilets available, including one in the gardens and another in the visitor centre. Mobility scooters and wheelchairs are also available for hire, and there’s a gift shop and restaurant on site.

The Botanics are vast, and it’s easy to lose track of time while exploring its beauty. I’d recommend setting aside more than two hours to fully appreciate everything it offers.

Emma, a wheelchair user in the tulip garden at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. She is sat on the path lined with thousands of purple and peach tulips. She is smiling at the camera. It's a sunny day.

During the festive season, the Garden transforms into a magical wonderland with its enchanting trail Christmas at the Botanics. Check out my post on Christmas at the Botanics for more information. Additionally, have a look at my guide to Edinburgh at Christmas.

For a detailed accessibility review, read more about my visit to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh as a wheelchair user.

7. Enjoy a performance at Edinburgh Playhouse

Edinburgh is known for its performing arts scene and is famous for hosting the Fringe Festival. However, if you’re not visiting the city during the festival season, you can still enjoy a great performance at various venues, including the Edinburgh Playhouse.

Exterior shot of Edinburgh Playhouse lit up green with the Wicked signage.

The Edinburgh Playhouse is the largest theatre in Scotland and offers wheelchair access via a level access entrance into the foyer, which leads to accessible seating options and facilities.

Emma sat in the wheelchair accessible seating area at Edinburgh Playhouse.

Recently, I attended a performance of Wicked at the Edinburgh Playhouse and thoroughly enjoyed it. The staff was friendly, and access from the entrance to my accessible seat was quick and easy. Our view of the stage was also excellent, as you can see in the photo above.

8. Take a stroll along the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is a historic street in Edinburgh that stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The street is lined with various shops, restaurants, and attractions, but unfortunately, not all of them are wheelchair accessible.

Due to its popularity, the Royal Mile can get quite crowded, particularly during the summer months and in August, when the Fringe Festival takes place. Despite its name, the Royal Mile is just a little over one mile long, but it is situated on a steep hill with cobbled streets.

Street view of Royal Mile, Edinburgh

9. Sample the taste of Scotland at The Scotch Whisky Experience

While you’re around the Royal Mile, make sure to visit The Scotch Whisky Experience, a must-see attraction for anyone who loves whisky or is interested in learning more about Scotland’s national drink. The interactive whisky tour takes you on a journey through the history and production of Scotch whisky.

An exterior shot of The Scotch Whisky Experience Edinburgh

The tour begins with a whisky barrel ride that is wheelchair accessible. You’ll learn about the different stages of whisky production during the ride. After the ride, you’ll have a sensory experience where you can smell and taste various whiskies from different regions of Scotland.

Emma inside The Diageo Claive Vidiz Scotch whisky collection at The Scotch Whisky Experience Edinburgh

Following the sensory experience, you can explore the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky, which has over 3,000 bottles on display. Of course, no whisky tour would be complete without a taste of your whisky of choice. But if you don’t like whisky or don’t drink alcohol, you can have “Scotland’s other national drink, Irn Bru.”

The Scotch Whisky Experience tour guide standing at a round table giving a talk on whiskys.

The Scotch Whisky Experience has made great efforts to ensure accessibility for wheelchair users, with a step-free entrance with automatic doors, lifts, and an accessible toilet.

For a detailed accessibility review, read more about my visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience as a wheelchair user.

10. Explore the creative world of Jupiter Artland

If you’re looking for a unique outdoor activity, Jupiter Artland is worth a visit. This contemporary sculpture park and art gallery is situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh, in a small village called Wilkieston.

Spread across 100 acres of beautiful woodland and meadows, the park features walking trails and paths that wind through the landscape, leading visitors to various sculptures and installations from artists around the world.

Emma is sitting in her powered wheelchair on a strip of grass with water on each side of her. Behind her is giant swirly mounds of grass shaped like pyramids.

One of the most impressive features of the park is the swirly grassy mounds known as ‘The Cells of Life’. During my visit, I even climbed up one of the giant mounds. I was feeling adventurous that day.

However, it is worth noting that the mounds are not very wheelchair accessible. Unless you are certain that your wheelchair can manage it, I would advise against attempting to climb them. Additionally, some areas have narrow grass paths, so extra care is necessary while walking or rolling up and down the paths.

Emma in the woodland surrounded by giant concrete structures of the Quarry art installation at Jupiter Artland Edinburgh.

Jupiter Artland also has a cafe and shop, selling locally sourced food and drink as well as artwork and souvenirs. It offers discounted entry for disabled visitors and blue badge holders, plus free entry for one carer.

For a detailed accessibility review, read more about my visit to Jupiter Artland as a wheelchair user.

11. Travel through space & time at Dynamic Earth

Dynamic Earth is a great attraction for anyone interested in science and the natural world. It is located near the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace, making it a great addition to your Edinburgh itinerary of wheelchair accessible things to do.

The attraction features a series of interactive exhibits that explore the Earth’s history, from the Big Bang to the present day. Visitors can experience earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions and learn about the science behind these natural phenomena. The exhibits are designed to be both educational and entertaining, making them a great activity for families with kids.

Exterior shot of Dynamic Earth

One of the highlights of Dynamic Earth is the 360-degree dome-shaped screen that shows immersive films about the Earth’s natural wonders, such as the Northern Lights and the Great Barrier Reef. The films are accompanied by stunning visuals and surround sound, making for a truly immersive experience.

In terms of accessibility, Dynamic Earth is wheelchair accessible with lifts and ramps throughout the attraction. There are also accessible toilets available. Additionally, the attraction offers audio guides and large print guides for visitors with visual impairments.

Wheelchair accessible Things to Do in Edinburgh

There are many more wheelchair accessible things to do in Edinburgh. I look forward to sharing more with you in future blog posts, so be sure to subscribe to join the Simply Emma community and be updated with new posts. You can also follow me on social media at the links below.

I hope this guide helps you plan your accessible trip to Edinburgh. If you have visited any of these attractions or plan to add them to your list, do let me know in the comments below.

Where Next: You Might Also Enjoy

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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.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you again, Emma for your nice posts! I would like to ask you what kind of wheelchair do you use on your trip to Edinburgh? It seems so comfortable yet very elegant! I need a new wheelchair and would like to have your advice, If you are allowed to share with me this information. Thank you in advance.
    Sophia from Greece

    1. Thank you so much, Sophia. My wheelchair is a Quickie Salsa, I’ve had it for 13 years. It’s very comfortable and reliable. I hope you find a wheelchair that works for you soon. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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