People walking along Fredrick st with Castle view

Accessible Edinburgh weekend itinerary

Your accessible Edinburgh weekend itinerary is the perfect introduction to Scotland’s stunning capital city. Amongst Edinburgh’s winding streets, skyline of soaring spires and the layers of history in between, a fantastic range of accessible experiences await you. In addition to the year-round attractions here, Edinburgh is home to world famous festivals and spectacular events so be sure check what’s on during your time here. You’ll find our festival schedule and event listings handy to see what you can add in to your itinerary!

Please note – we recommend booking ahead for tickets and tables. All times noted are correct at the time of writing – please confirm opening times ahead of your visit.


Accessible accommodation in Edinburgh

Before we get to your action-packed Edinburgh itinerary, let’s look at some of Edinburgh’s accessible accommodation. We’re focusing on the city centre to minimise travel once you’re here, but there are plenty of other options across the city. For a touch of luxury, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian, offers sumptuous accommodation right at the western end of Princes Street. The accessibility features here are first class – accessible parking spaces, accessible elevators with audible alerts, visual alarms, rooms accessible to wheelchairs (no steps), with bathroom doors at least 32 inches wide and hoist for swimming pool access. Couple this with excellent customer service, catering to every need.

Near the other end of Princes Street, Courtyard by Marriot Edinburgh is a stylish modern hotel. Chat to the customer service team when booking and they’ll ensure you have a room to suit your needs, whether you’re looking for a roll-in shower or a hearing-accessible room with flashing door knocker and closed-caption TV. The ibis Styles in St. Andrews Square is right next to Waverley Train Station and Edinburgh Bus Station, offering a stylish yet wallet-friendly stay, with accessible beds, wheel-in showers and audible and visual or vibrating fire alarms on request. Another stylish choice in the heart of the New Town is YOTEL Edinburgh on Queen Street, which is suitable for visitors with limited mobility with lift or staircase access and level access to all public areas.

You’ll find more accessible accommodation suggestions on our Accessible Edinburgh page, too.


Accessible transport in Edinburgh

Princes Street Trams

Now you’ve an idea of where you’ll stay, let’s check out travel options. Edinburgh is a compact city, so you can easily explore on foot – however there are plenty of accessible transport options, too. Our itinerary uses an accessible hop-on, hop-off bus tour but there are plenty of alternative options, should you prefer. Lothian Buses are accessible to all, offering a range of facilities to allow you to use their services confidently. These include access ramps and spaces for wheelchairs and adapted pushchairs, priority seating, space for assistance dogs, and audio and visual aids. The Transport for Edinburgh app offers full VoiceOver support, including next stop announcements. Their drivers and staff are all trained to recognise the Thistle Assistance and Hidden Disabilities Sunflowers cards, and all receive disability awareness training. All Edinburgh Trams are wheelchair accessible, from every tram station. Spot the wheelchair symbol on the platform to know where to wait and board. There are two dedicated wheelchair or buggy spaces on each tram, as well as priority seats, high visibility handrails and passenger alert buttons signposted in braille.

Edinburgh has two main taxi companies, City Cabs and Central Taxis. Both companies have fleets of wheelchair accessible black cabs. Edinburgh Bus Tours and Bright Bus Tours offer hop-on, hop-off tours around the city – all buses have dedicated wheelchair spaces and ramped access.


Your accessible Edinburgh weekend itinerary starts here

We’re using Edinburgh Bus Tours to get around the city for the weekend – not only are tickets great value, but it means you can enjoy guided commentary as you make your way from place to place.

There are three different tours of the city with tickets for individual or multiple tours, for 24 or 48 hours. We’re going for the Royal Edinburgh ticket which allows access on different routes, is valid all weekend and includes fast-track entry to two of the stops. You can buy your ticket online in advance.

All buses have ramped access, and the tours you’re joining have two dedicated rear-facing wheelchair spaces, with their own display screens. Class 2 mobility scooters can also use these spaces. All dogs are welcome, including assistance dogs.

The Edinburgh Tour has a live guide, and the Majestic Tour includes multi-language audio commentary through headphones provided – you’re welcome to take your own headphones, if you prefer. There’s subtitled commentary provided on screens on the lower deck, too.


Saturday daytime

Join the blue and yellow Majestic Tour bus at Waterloo Place, at the eastern end of Princes Street. Enjoy the grand, sweeping streets and classical Georgian architecture of Edinburgh’s New Town as you head north through the city, right to the historic Port of Leith.

Leave the bus at Ocean Terminal, ready to visit The Royal Yacht Britannia – your fast-track entry ticket is included with your bus tour ticket. This beautiful yacht sailed more than one million nautical miles on almost 1,000 state visits around the world. Now, you’re invited aboard to follow in the Royal Family’s footsteps as you explore the five decks, including the bridge, the plush state apartments, crew quarters, and the gleaming engine room.

The tour is highly accessible for wheelchair users and buggies, with a shore-side lift and ramps throughout. Tablets are available with tours in British and American Sign Language, and there’s an audio tour, along with a tour script in braille, too. Carers enter for free. Guide dogs and hearing dogs are welcome, and accessible toilets are available both onboard and in the visitor centre. You can find the full access statement on their website.

Head to the ship’s Royal Deck Tea Room to enjoy some lunch, made freshly in the Royal Galley while you take in the views out to the Firth of Forth and the iconic bridges. The tea room is accessible for standard wheelchairs and buggies via the original internal lift from the Royal bedrooms. Speak to a member of staff for assistance if you are using an electric wheelchair.

Next, rejoin the bus tour and enjoy the guided commentary enroute to your next stop. Just after the grand entrance to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, you’ll come to the striking Scottish Parliament buildings.

Exterior of the Scottish Parliament

This innovative award-winning building was inspired by Scottish landscapes and characteristic Scottish scenes – spot echoes of Holyrood Park’s rocky crags, or upturned fishing boat shapes in the rooflines. Join a free guided tour to explore the Parliament and learn about the award-winning architecture as well as the Parliament’s history and current work.

You can use the WelcoME App here. Tours last 45 minutes, but you can be taken on a route best suited to you, if required. Tours are wheelchair accessible, and you can borrow wheelchairs or lightweight portable seating. Hearing loops are fitted in public areas, and portable hearing loops are provided for the tour. You can also request an audio enhancement headset.

Assistance dogs are welcome. Braille is used on signage and you can also request information leaflets with braille, in large print or in an audio format. The tour is also enhanced by various tactile objects. There is a British Sign Language (BSL) map guide, and should you wish, you can book a BSL interpreter for your tour. There is a Changing Places toilet with a hoist and changing bench, in addition to several accessible toilets. You can find the Parliament’s full accessibility guide on their website.

Family coming out of Dynamic Earth on sunny day.

Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh’s science centre and planetarium is tucked next to the Parliament building – make your own way over or join the next green and orange Edinburgh Tour bus from outside the Parliament; Dynamic Earth is just one stop along. The bus stop is right beside the entrance ramp to the main entrance.

Adults and children alike will love exploring here – jump inside a time machine and travel back to the Big Bang. Then, your immersive tour takes you on a journey through the story of planet Earth, back to the present day. It’s a highly sensory experience so be sure to check out Dynamic Earth’s sensory map of the galleries before you arrive, so you can adapt or alter your tour route if required.

There’s an Accessibility Toolkit for use before and during your visit, and you can borrow wheelchairs, ear defenders, sensory maps and sensory bags from the ticket and welcome desks. The whole tour is wheelchair and buggy accessible, assistance dogs are welcome, and audio guides and tour transcripts are available on request. Carers go free. Find the comprehensive access statement here.

Hop back on to a green and orange Edinburgh Tour bus to return to Waterloo Place, enjoying the live guided commentary on the way. You’re headed to St James Quarter, Edinburgh’s newest shopping and lifestyle centre, for dinner.

St James Quarter, external shot with people sitting relaxing outside of the mall.

The centre is fully accessible, with lifts between floors. There is a Changing Places toilet in addition to accessible toilets. Take the lift at the Little King Street entrance, off Leith Walk, and head up to level four for a choice of restaurants and bars.

Within the centre, Duck and Waffle offers a trendy ‘gastro diner’ experience, with open chef counters turning dining into a theatrical experience. There’s an impressive walk-around cocktail bar, too, and a resident DJ adds to the lively atmosphere. The restaurant is accessible by wheelchair, and the accessible toilet is on the same level as the dining spaces. Assistance dogs are welcome in designated areas, away from the open kitchen stations. A member of the team will show you to your table and can assist you as required. You can book a table in a quieter area of the restaurant if preferred, too.

While The Alchemist will transport you into a world of magic and theatre, with the food menu matched only by the extensive cocktail menu. It’s Saturday night, so the resident DJ will provide an upbeat soundtrack to your meal. It’s wheelchair friendly, service dogs are welcome, and staff are friendly and happy to assist if needed. The accessible toilet is on the same level as the dining area. Just note that dining here is a real sensory experience; cocktails are created with theatrical flair, often with bubbles, smoke or fragrances.

Waitress with Tray of Drinks and Bonnie & Wild  Exterior as backdrop.

If you’d prefer good food in a more sedate atmosphere, then visit Bonnie & Wild’s Scottish Marketplace. This beautiful food hall has its own selection of independent restaurants, street food kitchens and bar, and a large area of casual seating. Staff can assist if you need table service, and you can use the QR code on your table to order drinks online and have them brought to you. It’s all wheelchair friendly, there are accessible toilets on the same level as the dining area, and assistance dogs are welcome.

Saturday evening

Festival Theatre Exterior
The Playhouse exterior
Lyceum Exterior

Stay for a few drinks and spectacular cocktails in The Alchemist or the Duck and Waffle, or why not take in a show in one of Edinburgh’s excellent theatres? Just across the road from the St James Quarter is Edinburgh Playhouse, an opulent 1920s building offering some of the world’s biggest musicals and stage shows. Or, take a short taxi ride to the Festival Theatre, which stands on Edinburgh’s longest continuous theatre site. The modern foyer leads to a beautiful auditorium dating back to 1928. Home to Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera, the theatre offers a diverse programme throughout the year. The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh is a beautiful Victorian building, home to The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company and renowned for showcasing both Scottish talent and international drama.

All offer level access from the street to wheelchair spaces, accessible toilets and regular accessible performances. These include performances which are captioned, British Sign Language interpreted, audio described with touch tours, and relaxed performances. Assistance dogs are welcomed.

If you fancy the cinema instead, Cameo Picturehouse is one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems. It’s one of the oldest cinemas in Scotland and shows a great selection of arthouse films alongside more mainstream blockbusters, in a wonderful vintage atmosphere. Enter through the bar from Lochrin Place for level access – screens one and two are both accessible to wheelchairs and there’s a fully accessible separate toilet. Guide dogs are welcome, and large print programmes are available on request. Some performances carry hard of hearing subtitles, and all three screens are fitted with the Williams Sound hearing assistance headset system. There are regular dementia-friendly and autism-friendly screenings, too. Accompanying carers receive a free ticket.

Sunday daytime

National Museum of Scotland Exterior

Start your day at National Galleries of Scotland: National – one of Scotland’s national galleries, free to visit and home to one of the greatest collections of art in the world. Immerse yourself in paintings by international artists including Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Impressionists, before visiting the Scottish galleries. Here, you’ll find spectacular historical views of Edinburgh amongst some of the best of Scottish art.

The National is very accessible, beginning with an introductory video – also available in audio-described and British Sign Language versions – so you can plan your visit to best suit you. Use the free Smartify app for a BSL video tour or audio-described tour to learn the stories behind the artwork. In-gallery videos include either subtitles or have a transcript available.

Access is step-free or ramped, and there are lifts with audio announcements to all floors. There are accessible toilets, including a partial Changing Paces toilet, and wheelchairs are available to borrow for your visit. There is seating throughout, assistance dogs are welcome, and carers can enter any paid exhibitions free of charge. ‘Help yourself’ art trolleys at the main entrance gallery include ear defenders, sensory bags, and other helpful resources for use during your visit. You can find all the National’s accessibility information on their website.

Cross Princes Street to join a green and orange Edinburgh Tour bus from Frederick Street and enjoy the live commentary as you’re whisked through the classical architecture of the New Town. Now, the tour takes you south, under the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, into the medieval Old Town – along the cobbled Grassmarket and then up Candlemaker Row.

The bus now loops round to take you right beneath craggy Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle dominating the skyline as you turn up to the Lawnmarket on the Royal Mile, before crossing George IV Bridge. Leave the bus at Chambers Street, to explore the impressive National Museum of Scotland.

Enter through the accessible tower entrance and head to the Grand Gallery, a spectacular light-filled Victorian atrium. Whether you want to learn about the stone age or space age, visit a T-Rex and explore the natural world, or you’re more interested in world cultures or art, design and fashion, we guarantee there’ll be something for you here. There are galleries designed specifically for families, and lots of interactive exhibits for adults, too.

National Museum of Scotland

There’s plenty of space for wheelchairs and small mobility scooters, lift access to all floors and a variety of seating available throughout the museum. There are accessible toilets on most floors, and a Changing Places toilet in the entrance hall. The information desk and auditorium have induction loops. Book in advance and you can arrange a tour with audio description, handling opportunities or a tour in British Sign Language. Assistance dogs are welcome.

The museum also offers resources for use in advance of, and during, your visit, with visual stories and communication picture cards. The sensory map allows you to plan a route to best suit you, and sensory backpacks are available to borrow, which include lots of sensory aids such as ear defenders fidget toys and sunglasses. In addition, if you’d prefer to visit during a quieter time, the first Sunday of each month is a Relaxed Morning at the museum. You can find the full access guide online.

Head back over George IV Bridge and up the Lawnmarket to the Scotch Whisky Experience. This 5-star attraction tells the story of whisky production in Scotland and highlights the contrasting regional flavours and aromas. During the tour you’ll enter the vault containing one of the world’s largest collections of Scotch whiskies, before enjoying a tutored nosing and tasting. We recommend the Gold Tour if you’re all over 18, or the Silver Tour if there are children in your group.

The Scotch Whisky Experience collection of Whisky
Image Credit: The Scotch Whisky Experience

The experience is one of the most accessible in Edinburgh, with level access from the street and a lift to all floors. There’s a touch screen information point at reception, and an audio-visual handset delivering the tour in 20 languages, including British and American Sign Language. Portable seating is available if required, and disability awareness trained staff are on hand to assist where needed. There’s a hearing loop at all till points, accessible toilets, and assistance dogs are welcome. Carers receive a complimentary ticket unless they will be taking part in the whisky tastings. You can find the full access guide online.

Whisky tour and tastings complete, take the lift back to the ground floor, to the Amber Restaurant & Whisky Bar. The menu is a delicious introduction to Scotland’s larder, using locally sourced produce to create seasonal dishes. Naturally, there’s a huge variety of whiskies available at the bar!

It’s a well-lit, spacious restaurant, with plenty of room for wheelchairs or pushchairs. There’s a variety of seating so you can choose the chair height that best suits you, and an A4 magnifying sheet is available on request to assist with reading the menu. The friendly staff are also happy to read and explain the menus to you. Accessible toilets are just beside the main entrance to the restaurant and assistance dogs are welcome.

Edinburgh’s historic Mercat Cross is just a short distance back down the Royal Mile from the Scotch Whisky Experience. Meet your friendly Mercat Tours storyteller here, ready for the Secrets of the Royal Mile – an accessible, relaxed walking tour exploring the upper half of the Royal Mile.

Your guide will share tales of the people who lived and worked here, from the everyday folk to historical figures including Mary Queen of Scots and Robert Burns. You’ll hear about culture, crime and politics as you explore the medieval wynds, closes and courtyards away from the bustle of the main streets.

The tour is outdoors, accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs and Mercat Tours can provide transportable stools. Your storyteller will adapt their route to allow for your accessibility needs, if required. You’ll be given headphones for the tour, and your guide will talk to you with the use of a Tourtalk device to cut out background noise. Assistance dogs are welcome, and carers receive a complimentary ticket. Find out more about tour accessibility on Mercat Tours’ website, including a full access guide.

A Mercat Tours Storyteller points to Edinburgh Castle as she shares its history with a tour group., Mercat Tours Ltd.

If you choose to skip the walking tour, then head straight to Edinburgh Castle, using your Royal Edinburgh bus ticket for fast-track admission.

If you’re arriving with your Mercat Tours guide then they will whisk you past the entrance queues to the castle, one of the oldest fortified places in Europe. Your Mercat Tours storyteller will give you an introduction to the castle before you head off to explore. Follow in the footsteps of kings and queens, soldiers, prisoners and even a pirate or two as you discover the castle and its stories. Not all of the castle is accessible by wheelchair, but there is still plenty to discover – including the Honours of Scotland, the Scottish Crown Jewels.

A mobility vehicle service is available to transport wheelchair users up the steep cobbled hill to Crown Square, and there are a range of services to facilitate accessibility. These include visual stories for use in advance of your visit and audio guides, print guides and large print guides, and ear defenders available on arrival. There are several accessible toilets, carers go free and assistance dogs are welcome.

Rejoin a green and orange Edinburgh Tour bus at the Lawnmarket and discover the lower end of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Calton Hill as you return to Waterloo Place.

Sunday Evening

Dinner this evening is at Howies, just across the road when you leave the bus. The restaurant sits at the foot of Carlton Hill, in a stunning Georgian building. It’s just as beautiful inside, with high ceilings and charming period features. Despite the rather grand surroundings, there’s a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere and staff are friendly and efficient. The menu features the best of seasonal Scottish food, sourced from local producers. Don’t miss the Cullen Skink if you’re a fan of fish!   

The restaurant is accessible, with a small portable ramp at the front door and a spacious accessible toilet on ground level. Assistance dogs are welcome.

Dive into Edinburgh’s vibrant nightlife for the evening – there’s always an great mix of events taking place, from lectures and recitals to visual arts, comedy and music.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre, in the middle of the Royal Mile, hosts theatre, Scottish ceilidh dances, exhibitions and poetry events as well as their renowned storytelling nights. Join them for a unique experience and you’ll be transported away into tales of folklore, magic and nature. The centre is fully wheelchair accessible; there is lift access to all floors and hearing loops in the reception and performance spaces.

Summerhall is an independent multi-arts hub and venue, home to a mix of local creative businesses including a micro-brewery and Pickering’s Gin distillery. There’s a packed programme of eclectic events, year-round. While not all venue spaces are fully accessible due to the nature of the historic building, great efforts have been made to create an inclusive venue. There’s step-free access from the side entrance on Summerhall Square and there are accessible toilets on several floors. Guide and hearing dogs are welcome, and carers receive a free of charge ticket. The box office has a lowered counter to assist wheelchair users and there’s a T Loop Induction microphone for those with hearing devices. You can find full accessibility details for each venue at Summerhall on their website.

Drum Major - The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Summerhall exterior
Fringe Parliament Square view of performer

Edinburgh is also famous for its festivals, which all strive to be inclusive and offer a variety of accessible performances in more accessible locations. Summer festivals include the Edinburgh International Festival, which celebrates the performing arts and runs through three weeks in August, in parallel to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the world’s largest festival of arts and culture. Summer also brings The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a dazzling immersive experience of performances all set against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. It’s an accessible event, with provision for wheelchairs, accessible seating, accessible toilets and a Changing Places toilet.

If you’re a night owl, round off your evening in the New Town’s George Street, with drinks at The Dome. A visit is an occasion in itself – from your arrival at the grand, Corinthian-columned entrance and the beautiful Georgian architecture to the elegant period interior, and of course, the spectacular domed ceiling. Sip a cocktail or make the most of your new-found whisky knowledge as you relax in style!

The Dome exterior

The Dome is fully wheelchair accessible – at the entrance there’s a self-operated lift, just to the left of the main steps. Inside, the restaurant and bar areas are on the ground floor. Service dogs are welcome, and staff are attentive your needs.


Looking for more accessible things to do in Edinburgh?

If you’re inspired to stay for more than a weekend, or you’re already planning a return trip, take a look at our guide to accessible Edinburgh. You’ll also find Euan’s Guide helpful for honest reviews from disabled travellers, and AccessAble provides accessibility information on venues across the city and beyond.


Share