Traveller Essentials

  • Getting around London: Transportation Options

    The capital city is large, but with a convenient range of transportation options, you can get from A to Z in no time.

    While one might hear Londoners frequently complain of delays, long commutes and acts of God preventing them from getting home, the fact remains that the capital city is blessed with a large array of transportation options, including bus, cab, Tube, tram, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, TfL Rail, River Bus and National Rail. As a visitor, you won’t need all of these – but this is what you should know.

  • The Tube

    The most convenient way around London

    The fastest and most convenient way to get around the centre of the city is the London Underground (also known as the “Tube”), which with a dash of colour, a few moments of madness along the way, and plenty of character, will take the visitor to London from anywhere between Heathrow Airport to the East End and beyond.

    There are a total of 12 Tube lines, along with a connected Docklands Light Railway (DLR) that is over-the-ground and services the east of the city. Trains generally run from around 5am to midnight, with limited 24 hour services for weekend warriors on Central, Piccadilly, Victoria, Northern and Jubliee lines (subject to change). Take these lines on the weekend, and you will see the capital’s party animals in full flow, and perhaps worse for wear depending on what time you are there.

    The Tube is priced and separated into six zones, which get progressively more expensive depending on how far is travelled. While visitors can buy single journey tickets or a one or seven day Travelcards, by far the best and most convenient choice for the visitor is to buy a Visitor Oyster card.

    London: Tube Underground Station

    London: Tube Station

  • The Bus

    Experience a ride on an iconic red bus in London!

    The capital’s bus network is fairly robust, but visitors need to be familiar with the routes and times of day where there is more traffic – sometimes a London truism is that Tube is the best option for the visitor. If your accommodation is not covered on the Night Tube, the city also has Night Buses, which while somewhat entertaining on the weekends, tend to feature a high level of inebriation – perhaps a taxi will suffice (by all means avoid unlicensed minicabs, which have known safety concerns with assault).

    London: Red Bus

    London: Red Bus

  • Taxis

    Ride in comfort!

    London’s licensed taxis are notoriously expensive (1 mile can cost between £5.80 and £9.20 depending on times) but the cab drivers are among some of the best found globally. This is because all drivers have to pass “The Knowledge”, a test that allows cab drivers to memorise every possible route through the city and a range of landmarks as well. Most London cab drivers are blessed with the gift of the gab as well and are generous with their unique knowledge. A ride can be a cultural experience akin to having a free tour guide and friendly hand through the capital.

    Two other worthy options to consider are the River Bus and Thames Clipper Services that run all the way from Central London to the O2 (Millennium Dome) in the east of the city. And if you feel very brave indeed (you are more courageous than us no doubt), hire a bike with your bank card for as little as £2, there are over 11,500 bikes at more than 750 docking stations all over London. Just check your travel insurance covers accidents!

     If you’re one for strolls, many of London’s attractions are situated within walking distances of each other. So don’t miss out on some of the best walks in London!

    London: Taxi Cabs

    London: Taxis

  • Paying for Transport

    Your next attraction is just a tap away!

    The Visitor Oyster card is used for bus, Tube, tram, Overground, TfL Rail, River Bus, Gatwick Express, and the majority of National Rail services in London. Visitors can buy this card from the Transport for London website, travel agents globally, and the Visit Britain Shop.

    Be warned that you cannot buy the Visitor Oyster card once you arrive in London. Credit lasts as long as you have the card and it can be easily topped up in stations and local shops. If you would like a refund go to Visitor Centres across the city, or get a refund of up to £10 at Tube station ticket machines.

    A sample of fares using the Visitor Oyster card is as follows:

    • Tube Zones 1 to 2 – Oyster £2.90 peak, £2.40 off-peak
    • Tube Zones 1 to 6 – Oyster £5.10 peak, £3.10 off-peak
    • Single bus journey – £1.50
    • Unlimited journeys in one day in zones 1 and 2 – £6.60 (this is a capped fee)

    For those who do not wish to keep the Visitor Oyster Card as a souvenir, a regular, refundable Oyster card is also available for purchase in Tube Stations and Oyster Ticket Shops.

    You may also use a contactless card issued in the UK or some other contactless cards issued elsewhere, although it might be more trouble than it’s worth, and the Visitor Oyster Card is best (in our view, as charges are transparent). Accepted cards include almost all American Express contactless payment cards, and nearly all Mastercard and Maestro cards issued outside the UK. Some Visa and V PAY cards issued outside the UK might be rejected. Overseas charges may also apply.

    London: Oyster Travel Card for Transport in London

    London: Oyster Travel Card