Accessibility

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh welcomes all visitors and aims to provide the best possible access to everyone whatever their specific requirements.

Information on arrival

The West Gate is the main entrance to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, where the John Hope Gateway visitor centre is located.

  • The step-free entrance is wheelchair accessible. Note, there is a foot mat at the gate which protects the Garden’s plants from external plant diseases.
  • Please note that manual wheelchair users may need assistance on the 70m path leading to and from the Garden from the John Hope Gateway which has an incline of 1.12. The path can be avoided by taking the accessible lift to restaurant level and to the terrace beyond.
  • The information desk at the entrance has a lowered section to the till point and a hearing loop. The John Hope Gateway has four motorised scooters and three wheelchairs for visitors to use. If possible, please book in advance by calling 0131 248 2909.
  • A lift, large enough to accommodate a person using a standard wheelchair and at least one companion, is available to take visitors to The Gateway restaurant on the first floor and to the outdoor terrace beyond. It measures 90cms wide x 135cm depth x 190cm height.
  • There are three accessible toilets in the John Hope Gateway.

Our team of volunteer Garden Guides conduct tours around the Garden at 11.00hrs and 14.00hrs every day, from 1 April to 30 October. Tours last 90 minutes and we always try to tailor the tour to meet the specific needs of the group. If you would like to enjoy a guided tour, please call in advance to discuss your needs on 0131 248 2909.

The Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the leading botanic gardens in the world. It is largely accessible to wheelchair users, with marked routes, and its public buildings have level or ramped ground floor access. There are tarmac paths in most places. Any paths which are not wheelchair accessible are sign-posted. Beware that some of the Garden’s paths can be a little steep, due to the gradient and/or camber.

Throughout the Garden, signage is at ground or low level so that information can be readily seen by a child’s eye or when in a seated position. The Garden provides 140 benches across the Garden with arms and without.

The Glasshouse Visit

The Glasshouses are a highlight of any visit and are home to over 3,000 exotic plants from all over the world.

  • The Glasshouses are accessible to wheelchair users and assistance dogs are welcome. Most doors are push-button automatic doors (see below).
  • On occasions, the Glasshouse can be closed and you are advised to check our website or call 0131 248 2909 before your visit.
  • Visitors pay a small fee to visit the Glasshouses which is gifted back to the Garden to help with conservation projects. Carers go free.
  • Please note, there are ponds and water features in the Glasshouses which require care and assistance to navigate.
  • Manual wheelchair users should be aware of a gradient of up to 1:6 across a small bridge in the Rainforest Riches Glasshouse and the 1.15 gradients (with resting places) on route to and from the Montane Tropics Glasshouse.

Please note that due to health and safety risks, the ‘Plants & People’ Glasshouse is currently not accessible to mobility scooter and motorised wheelchair users but this is something we are working to remedy at the very earliest.

Restaurants and cafés

Gateway Restaurant

The Gateway Restaurant is on the first floor of the John Hope Gateway and can be accessed by the lift, located to the rear of the main wooden spiral staircase in the atrium (see page 10). It takes you directly to the restaurant entrance point.

  • The tables, which are accessible for wheelchair users, offer a view over-looking the bio-diversity Garden.
  • There are accessible toilets on the same floor as the restaurant.
  • The restaurant can also be accessed by scooters and wheelchairs from the Garden via the John Hope Gateway decking where there is a push button automatic door and step free access.
  • Tables and furniture can be moved as required.
  • There are large print menus available and our staff are happy to read out the menu
Terrace Café

The Terrace Café by Inverleith Lawn is accessible by wheelchair and also provides an accessible toilet. Outside on the terrace, there are two tables that have been designated as having a priority for wheelchair users. The staff in the Terrace Café, which is a self-service outlet, would be happy to assist you or serve you at your table. Please ask for assistance.

East Gate Lodge

You will find a selection of coffees, teas and snacks at the East Gate Lodge and an area where you can sit outside, which is accessible for wheelchairs. There is also an accessible toilet inside the Lodge. If you need assistance, the staff will happily help you or serve you at a table outside, so please just ask.

Shop

There is a shop in the John Hope Gateway, easily accessed directly from the entrance foyer, which offers a wide range of quality gifts, souvenirs, books and plants.

  • Step free access and spacious placement of shop fixtures to allow ease of movement for wheelchairs and motorised scooters.
  • The indoor plant area is accessed through automatic doors and there is ramp access to the outdoor plant area.
  • The shop is evenly and well lit.
  • There is a hearing loop at the till point, a magnifying glass, pen and paper.
  • Shop staff are always on hand to offer assistance.

Accessible Toilets

These are the locations of accessible toilets at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh:

  • Three in the John Hope Gateway visitor centre at the West Gate (two at the entrance and one on the first floor)
  • One in the East Gate Lodge at the East Gate
  • One located centrally in the Garden outside the Fern House
  • One in the Garden’s Terrace café
  • One in Inverleith House, accessed via lift or ramp to basement (ask member of staff for assistance (see 9.2).
  • One in the Caledonian Hall

Hearing Loops

A permanent Induction Loop is fitted at the John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre Information Desk. There are four portable loops located at the John Hope Gateway shop counter, the East Gate Visitor Welcome counter, Inverleith House reception desk and the Glasshouse Visit Information Desk in the Temperate Palmhouse.

Assistance Dogs

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh welcomes all registered assistance dogs to the Garden. Dog bowls of water are available on request at our restaurants and coffee shops. Dogs can be let off their leads in Inverleith Park which is directly opposite the Garden’s West Gate Entrance on Arboretum Place.

A final word about the weather

Please note that in severe weather conditions the Garden closes for safety reasons. You are welcome to call us to check that the Garden is open on 0131 248 2909. Visitors are recommended to take extra care outside when exposed to weather conditions such as wind and rain.