Accessible day out on London's South Bank

Follow our suggestions for a fabulous day out on the South Bank, home to some of London's top attractions.

Access along the South Bank was improved in the run-up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, through the addition of smoother walkways, ramps, benches and other features. Many of the area's attractions offer great facilities and services for disabled visitors. 


Waterloo station is well connected by London Underground, train and bus. Waterloo is a partially step-free station (see step-free guides on Transport for London. If you prefer to travel by bus, check Transport for London's bus accessibility information.

There are several car parks on the South Bank, including under the Southbank Centre and under the Royal National Theatre. Both offer free parking for blue badge holders. More about parking on the South Bank

Morning: London Eye and river cruise

Tate Modern. Photo: Jon Reid

Start the day with a trip on the famous Coca-Cola London Eye for spectacular views of London. The 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. Find out more on the London Eye website.

If you have time, 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 London's history to life through gruesome stories and scary characters and rides. The majority of the attraction is accessible to guests with disabilities, although there are some restrictions. Find out more on the London Dungeon website.

See London from the water on a boat trip along the river Thames. City CruisesThames Clippers and the London Eye River Cruise all depart from London Eye Pier and have wheelchair accessible boats. City Cruises offers discounts for disabled travellers – for more details see the City Cruises website.

After a busy morning you are sure to be hungry! Stop off for lunch at Skylon Restaurant in the Southbank Centre, which has beautiful views of the Thames and is fully accessible through the Royal Festival Hall entrance. Alternatively, try one of the Southbank Centre's many other eateries – all are accessible to diners with disabilities.

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. The Hayward Gallery hosts exciting contemporary art exhibitions and is accessible to wheelchair users via a lift from the car park below. You'll find more access information on the Hayward Gallery's web pages.

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 and BSL tours to spacious Changing Places toilets. For more information see AccessAble's Tate Modern accessibility guide.

Just next door to 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 afternoon performance or visit the Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition and Tour to find out more about this unique building. The Globe has a dedicated access information line and email address – more information on AccessAble's accessibility guide to Shakespeare's Globe.

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 250ft (76m) 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.

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 here. Both offer a range of features for disabled visitors, including captioned and audio-described performances. You'll find more access information on AccessAble's accessibility guide to the National Theatre and Old Vic websites.

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. For access details, visit the Royal Festival Hall's access page.

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. For more details on accessibility at BFI Southbank and take a look at AccessAble's guide to accessibility at BFI Imax.