Accessible day out on London's South Bank

Plan a day trip to the South Bank and explore some of London's top attractions.
A view from the balcony of the Southbank Centre, with the brutalist-style National Theatre on the right and the riverside walkway on the left.
The Southbank Centre and National Theatre © Antoine Buchet. Image courtesy of South Bank BID.

Enjoy an accessible day out along the South Bank, which is home to riverside views, top-notch restaurants, theatre performances and world-famous attractions including the London Eye.

How to get to the South Bank

Waterloo station is well connected via the London Underground, train and bus routes.

Waterloo is a partially step-free station. You can find step-free access via the Jubilee line on the Tube, as well as level access across all train platforms. 

If you prefer to travel by bus, it is roughly a seven-minute walk from Waterloo station to the South Bank. Plan your route in advance with Transport for London's bus map and access guides.

If you decide to drive, there are four Blue Badge parking spaces located on the Queen Elizabeth Hall slip road off Belvedere Road (the road between the Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery). You must display your Blue Badge as you enter the site.

Alternative parking is available nearby at the National Theatre car park which is 330m (1,082ft) away or the APCOA Cornwall Road car park is 490m (1,607ft) away, both are subject to charges. 

Morning: London Eye and river cruise

Start the day with a trip on the London Eye for spectacular views of London. This world-famous attraction offers discounts and priority entrance for disabled guests. It's easy for wheelchair users and people with walking difficulties to board the London Eye, and there's always a member of staff on hand to help.

There are plenty more attractions to visit near the London Eye. The SEA LIFE London Aquarium is home to one of Europe's largest collections of global marine life, and has full disabled access with lifts to all levels and disabled toilets on every floor.

The London Dungeon brings the capital's history to life through gruesome stories and live actors. The majority of the attraction is accessible to guests with disabilities, although there are some access restrictions.

See London from the water on a boat trip along the river Thames. City CruisesUber Boat by Thames Clippers and the London Eye river cruise all depart from the London Eye Pier and have wheelchair accessible boats. City Cruises also offers discounts for disabled travellers.

Stop off for lunch at Skylon in the Southbank Centre, which has beautiful views of the Thames and is fully accessible through the Royal Festival Hall entrance.

Afternoon: Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe

After lunch, explore the Southbank Centre, which always has lots going on from free performances to art installations and pop-up gardens.

Many events are accessible to a wider audience through a range of assisted formats including British Sign Language interpretation, speech-to-text transcription, audio description, relaxed performances, sensory adapted performances and captioning. You can join the Southbank Centre's access scheme for companion tickets and discounts.

The Hayward Gallery hosts exciting contemporary art exhibitions and is accessible to wheelchair users.

Another must-see for art lovers is Tate Modern, Britain's national museum of modern and contemporary art. Entry to the permanent collections is free, and disabled visitors can enjoy concessionary rates at paid-for exhibitions. The gallery offers a range of facilities for disabled visitors, from touch tours to BSL tours.

A six-minute walk from Tate Modern is Shakespeare's Globe, a faithful reproduction of the open-air playhouse designed in 1599, where many of Shakespeare's plays were performed. You can watch an assisted performance (relaxed, BSL and captioned), or go on a Shakespeare's Globe guided tour to find out more about this unique building.

Evening: OXO Tower and the National Theatre 

For more amazing views over the river Thames, treat yourself to dinner at the OXO Restaurant on the eighth floor of the iconic OXO Tower. The restaurant serves British and pan-Asian food and has a spectacular 76m (250ft) terrace. There's step-free access via two lifts from the ground floor and accessible toilets.

Alternatively, you can find more dining options in nearby Gabriel's Wharf. Or, head to Leake Street Arches, London's largest street art gallery, where you'll find a number of accessible restaurants. 

When it comes to evening entertainment, you will be spoilt for choice on the South Bank. Two of London's best-known theatres – the National Theatre and The Old Vic – are based in the area. Both offer a range of features for visitors with disabilities, including captioned and audio-described performances.

If you're a music lover, make your way to the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, one of the world's leading performance venues. The Southbank Centre has four resident orchestras and there are a host of musical performances and festivals throughout the year.

Film fans are well catered for here too, thanks to two venues run by the British Film Institute. BFI Southbank is a world-renowned, four-cinema film centre with a film archive, library and shop, while BFI Imax boasts an impressive 26m-wide (85ft) screen. Both offer spaces for wheelchair users.

Accessible hotels near the South Bank

Make the most of your visit by staying at an accessible hotel near the South Bank. This London neighbourhood has many accommodation options with a range of facilities for visitors with disabilities.

The Park Plaza County Hall London hotel is next door to the London Eye so you’ll waste no time in getting to the key sites. It has Blue Badge parking, adapted rooms and allows service dogs.

Alternatively, try the London Marriott County Hall, situated in the same convenient riverside location. It has two accessible bedrooms with wheel-in showers and three with a bath.

Discover more about access facilities in the South Bank with AccessAble’s area guides. Plus, find inspiration with the top things to do in South Bank and Waterloo.