We spent a weekend in Cardiff. This is how we found the accessibility of the Welsh Capital:
We spent a weekend in Cardiff. This is how we found the accessibility of the Welsh Capital:
Cardiff has good road connections and is located just off the M4 motorway. Driving was the easiest way for us to get to Cardiff as we didn't have to worry about wheelchair access or how much stuff we took. Be prepared for some traffic in the city centre but it's not as bad as it can be in some other UK cities. We found that plenty of car parks in the city centre but the daily parking rates were not cheap! Some hotels have free parking for guests - ours had free parking for blue badge holders. We also found cheaper or free parking further out from the city centre.
Cardiff Queen Street and Cardiff Central stations serve the city centre. There are also a number of other stations across other parts of the city. We didn't use the train ourselves so we can't comment on the accessibility of the stations but you can find accessibility information on the national rail website.
If you are travelling internationally, Cardiff airport is about 15 miles away. It takes about 30 minutes to travel from the airport to the city centre.
We found Cardiff City Centre itself very accessible. The centre is quite modern, flat and compact with plenty of pedestrianised areas making it easy to get around in a wheelchair. Most pavements were wide and smooth with dropped curbs at crossings. Accessibility gets worse as you leave the city centre - pavements become narrower, more uneven and more cambered.
Since everything is so close together, we found no need to use any public transport to get around but there is a bus network if do you want to use it. Information about Cardiff buses can be found here.
Roll/Walk in Shower
Toilet With Grab Rails
There was a level entrance with wide automatic doors that lead straight into the reception area. The reception area was quite spacious and there was plenty of room for manoeuvering a wheelchair around. All floors were accessible from the reception area by lift. The accessible room we stayed in was directly opposite the lift to save manoeuvering down corridors.
The doorway for our accessible hotel room was extra wide with a key card lock. We thought it was nice that the door had peepholes at both a standard level and at a lower level for wheelchair users.
The room had a double bed at a convenient height to transfer to and from the wheelchair. There was plenty of open space on one side of the bed but the other side was a bit close to the wall. We had to push the bed across a little so that it was possible to fit down either side of the bed in a wheelchair.
There was a desk in the room that was high enough to roll right under in a wheelchair. There was also a low-level wardrobe with hanging space and shelves and all were reachable from wheelchair level.
The accessible bathroom in this hotel was pretty good, it was a wet room with a roll/walk in shower. The toilet had a grab rail although it was only on one side. The sink was at a good level to roll under. There was a shower chair and a grab rail in the shower. The arms didn't come out of the shower chair making the transfer a little tricky. They did make it much easier to balance while showering though! Towel hooks were set at different heights on the wall. The lower ones were reachable from the shower chair but the higher ones allowed more space for towels to hang without dragging on the floor. This was the first hotel bathroom we've had that has not had a foot pedal bin - good news for paraplegics!
Parking is not normally available for hotel guests but blue badge holders can park free of charge in the staff car park. We just had to give number plate details to reception. For non-blue badge holders, there is plenty of parking nearby including a large car park directly opposite the hotel but it is quite expensive.
Check out our guide to booking accessible accomodation for advice on how to find accessible places to stay.
Cardiff is well known for hosting international rugby matches (and other sporting events) in the Millennium (Principality) stadium but there are plenty more things to get up to in the capital of Wales. Here are some of the wheelchair accessible attractions we enjoyed:
Take a break from the hustle and bustle in Bute Park and take in some views of the castle which adjoins the park. Wander alongside the River Taff which cuts through the middle of the park. You can catch the water bus from Bute Park to Cardiff Bay, we didn't try it but it's supposed to have step-free wheelchair access. More details can be found on the website.
Cardiff Castle is hard to miss. We looked at going inside the castle but the main castle had steep steps we wouldn't be able to get up. There was a disability concession on ticket price. We didn't think the discount was enough to make it worthwhile if we wouldn't be able to go inside the main castle. We were satisfied to just look at the castle from next to the ticket booth just inside the walls free of charge. If you do want to go inside, you can find more information on ticket prices, opening times and accessibility here.
Cardiff has a large network of Victorian and Edwardian shopping arcades filled with independent shops and eateries. They're worth a browse even if you don't stop but we highly recommend grabbing a bite to eat at New York Deli (see below).
If the weather isn't drawing you outside, you can find shelter inside St David's shopping centre. You can find many big brand stores as well as a variety of cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues.
We played mini-golf at Treetop Adventure Golf which is inside the shopping centre. The mini-golf is on an upper floor of the shopping centre. There was lift access, however, the same lift also leads to many floors of car parking. We went on a weekend and it was so busy we had to queue for over 15 minutes to get on the lift. This was one of the most frustrating moments we've ever had with wheelchair access. There were two mini-golf courses available. If you arrive before midday you can play two courses for the price of one so we did both. On-site disabled toilets were available and by mini-golf standards both courses were accessible. Due to the nature of the game, there were some occasions where the ball was tricky to reach from a wheelchair. You can find prices and opening times on the website.
Cardiff Bay has undergone regeneration from coal exporting docklands into a very modern, open area, making it perfect for wheelchair exploration. Check out the modern architecture such as the impressive-looking Wales Millennium Centre or the National Assembly for Wales building.
We saw a film at the Odeon cinema in Cardiff Bay. This ended up being the most wheelchair-friendly cinema experience we've ever had. The standard wheelchair seating was on the neck ache inducing bottom row. We noticed gallery seating at the back which was accessible by lift. We asked the staff if it would be possible to sit there instead and they were happy to open it up for us. They did this at no extra cost which made the extra-large spaces and lack of sore necks even better. You can find prices, opening times and film listings on the website.
Most restaurants in Cardiff were accessible. We didn't encounter anywhere that we couldn't enter at all but there were places we could only partially access due to steps. A few places might have entrances at the back or side if the front isn't accessible.
We decided to try out Cardiff's Wahaca Mexican restaurant. It had a level entrance and the restaurant was set over three floors - all had lift access. The tables were fairly accessible; they were high enough to get under in a wheelchair but the table leg had a large foot which got in the way of rolling right underneath. There were a couple of table football tables and a bar on the top floor. There was a bit of a wait for a table but it flew by with a few rounds of table football. They have an app you can use to pay - this saved the hassle of alerting a waiter or fighting your way through all the tables to pay at the bar. There was plenty of choice on the menu including many vegetarian options. All in all, we thought the food was pretty good! They did get one of our orders wrong but they gave it to us complimentary to make up for it. Prices were pretty average with most dishes costing between £8 and £13. You can find the menu or book a table on their website.
New York Deli serves sandwiches of all kinds with very generous fillings! It's a great lunch stop. We recommend the bagels - they taste great and are massive! There is a steep ramp at the entrance and a small amount of seating on the ground floor. However, that was the extent of wheelchair access. There were steps up to the counter, upper floor and toilet. You're supposed to order at the counter so Claire went up to the counter to do it. But the staff were very accommodating so if you're not with anyone who can get to the counter to order we expect they'd come down and take your order. Although it's not the most accessible place to eat we still recommend it because the food makes up for it!
We met up with some friends at sticky fingers street food. It's essentially a collection of street food style stalls but inside a food hall. There was lift access and a level entrance. Tables were bench style - not ideal but you could sit on the end of the bench in a wheelchair. There was a variety of different vendors from pizza to Malaysian food from meat to vegan. You were supposed to order and collect your food from the stall but the staff brought the food to our table when Craig went to order.
Anyone who's been to Canada will know about Tim Hortons. They're new to the UK and there aren't many so we jumped on the opportunity in Cardiff. It brought back good memories of a Canadian road trip during which we'd lived on their iced lemonade! They also had great accessibility. There was level access from 2 different floors, a lift between the floors and a low counter which made ordering and collecting food from a wheelchair easy. The tables were easy to roll under and they had disabled toilets. Tim Hortons is a great coffee (or iced lemonade) stop. It's not bad for a cheap lunch either. You can find the menu of their website.
We didn't have any problems finding disabled toilets. There were public toilets in the city centre but we mainly used restaurants, the shopping centre and entertainment venues. As with everywhere in the UK, you may need a Radar key to access some disabled toilets.
Almost all shops, restaurants and entertainment venues were accessible, there were few steps and lifts in most places. We only encountered one place we couldn't enter at all and one that had limited wheelchair access. A lot of Cardiff city centre is very modern which tends to go hand in hand with wheelchair accessibility.