Best UK Holiday Destinations for Wheelchair Users Revealed (2023)

Choosing a UK holiday destination as a wheelchair user can be a difficult task. We’re here to help that task become a little less stressful.

As a leading installer of high-quality stairlifts across the North of England, we recognised the need to identify comfortable and enjoyable destinations for our customers to visit.

So, we conducted a study to find the best and worst places to stay for an accessible UK holiday – with some seriously surprising results. 

The findings came at the height of the summer holiday season in 2023, at a time when staycation bookings are more common than ever. For over 14.6 million people in the UK with a disability, however, choosing a location that can cater to their mobility needs will be top of their list.

We’ve broken down the main destinations to see which staycation spots are doing the most for those with accessibility needs, as well as which ones aren’t.

It’s never been more important to think about the impact of accessibility, as it affects all of us. 

Not only does it make our country a more usable place for 22% of the population who depend on wheelchairs, but it also contributes to the local economy of some of our most beloved spots – so we can enjoy these places for many years to come.

Where are the Best UK Holiday Destinations for Wheelchair Users?

From the Scottish Highlands down to London, we pulled figures from ten of the busiest cities and holiday destinations, ranking them based on several variables. 

Kieran Harris, founder of Senior Stairlifts commented on the findings:

“We felt it was important to shed light on the accessibility challenges faced by millions during their UK staycations and the results are eye-opening for both the travel industry and holidaymakers. Accessibility is not just a matter of convenience, but about adopting inclusivity and equality for all.”

“We are proud to highlight the best accessible staycation spots, such as Edinburgh and Wales, where everyone can enjoy their time without limitations. However, our findings also emphasize the need for continuous efforts to improve accessibility across the UK’s top tourist attractions, in particular Cornwall and the Isle of Wight, to ensure holiday experiences are truly memorable for all.”

Here’s an overview of our findings:

  • Edinburgh – the city famed for its steep hills and The Scotsman Steps – comes top as the UK’s most accessible location.
  • Cornwall comes bottom of the list as the least accessible staycation hotspot. 
  • Norfolk is in the top place for the most accessible overall attractions and things to do (93.5%). 
  • Leicester has the highest number of Blue Badge holders, coming in at 3,888 per capita. 

Disabled father and able child use binoculars' at the coast.

To work out the findings, our dataset considered 26 locations from England, Wales, and Scotland, splitting them into staycation locations and the top 10 cities by population.

It also looks at where accessibility factors have been included, from restaurants and hotels to visitor attractions and Blue Badge parking, to determine which location considers mobility and autonomy for all its visitors. 

Scroll left to view more of the table.

The most accessible UK staycations overall

For the final results, percentages from each section were collated into the overall rankings. Here’s what we found:

Edinburgh – BEST – followed by: 

  • Wales
  • Norfolk
  • Cumbria
  • Somerset

Second is Wales, with an excellent selection of scenic resort spots, such as Llandudno, and notable attractions, such as Newcastle Emlyn Castle. 

With more people looking to explore scenic hills and country parks, Cumbria is up next, with the county of Somerset coming in as the fifth most accessible place to spend a weekend break for wheelchair users.

Edinburgh leads the way

Ranked on contributing factors such as overall accessibility – including access to various things to do, places to eat, and stay – Edinburgh took the top spot. Here, you can enjoy the historic sights without worrying about getting around.

When it comes to finding the perfect base for you and your family, Edinburgh comes up trumps for the biggest selection of accessible hotels – with 135 out of 1,898 fitting the bill (7.1%). 

The Scottish city is the second most visited place after London, with its iconic historic Old Town Hotel boasting four types of accessible rooms and accommodations for guests, blending into the Royal Mile.

On the other hand, Cornwall comes bottom in terms of accessible accommodation, with just 154 out of 8,029 fit for wheelchairs (1.9%).  

If you fancy a trip to the museum, you don’t have to worry about accessing the route around the Museum of Mound. The Royal Botanic Gardens enable access to all, enabling everybody to enjoy the gorgeous views, peace, and tranquillity without hassle. With clear signposting for wheelchair users, free entry for carers, and mobility scooters and wheelchairs available to rent, your visit will be both convenient and enjoyable.

Aside from the accessible attractions and sights, you’ll find multiple accessible toilets and choices of transport around the city.

Scotland scoops leading spot for accessible dining

Once again, Edinburgh comes top trumps for accessible dining locations, with a whopping 391 restaurants out of 783 (49.9%) suited for wheelchair owners.

In stark contrast, London – with a bustling population of 8,796,628 people and 17,990 dining spots to choose from – only has 4,928 available. 

With 2,940 Blue Badge holders per capita, the nation’s capital appears vastly underserved.

Norfolk is the go-to for accessible activities and attractions

When it comes to activities and things to do on your staycation, Norfolk is top of our rankings. 

With a whopping 29 out of 31 attractions being accessible, everyone can enjoy the county’s stunning coastline, Norfolk Broads, or attractions such as zoos, railways, and culture spots. 

Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery all have excellent accessibility features for culture vultures, while outdoorsy types will love Holkham Beach, Cromer Pier, and Sculthorpe Moor National Park. 

The not-so-wheelchair-friendly cities in the UK

While accessibility is a legal requirement for both private and public sector organisations in the UK, some cities are falling behind. Below are some locations that our study identified as requiring additional considerations for wheelchair users before visiting:

Cornwall – WORST – followed by: 

  • Isle of Wight
  • Yorkshire/Yorkshire Dales
  • Blackpool
  • Lake District

At the top of the list comes the Isle of Wight. Of its 16 available attractions, such as The Needles and its beautiful beaches, just nine are accessible – although it’s nothing to be sniffed at compared to larger contenders in the running. 

Using the same factors as above, families looking for an accessible holiday should steer clear of Cornwall, or at least ensure there’s a plan of action ready in advance of their stay to avoid disappointment. 

The peninsula might offer wild moorland and sandy beaches, but those towering cliffs have little in the way of accessible routes for its many attractions and places to stay.

The Isle of Wight and the dramatic landscape of the Yorkshire Dales are second and third worst, respectively, with the seaside resort coming fourth in the rankings. 

Finally, the Lake District comes in fifth, rounding up the top five worst places to plan an accessible holiday in the UK.

Enhance Your Lifestyle with Senior Stairlifts for Improved Accessibility

We know that as a wheelchair user, moving around comfortably for improved mobility is important to you. Not only on holiday, but in the home, too. Our mission is to provide customers in the North West with a range of reconditioned stairlifts and bespoke curved and straight stairlifts for various property layouts.

From the initial consultation through installation and the ongoing years, our team stands with you to ensure your requirements are met and your stairlifts operate smoothly.

Ready to transform your home and enjoy comfortable living? Request a callback now.