It won’t take you long when you travel around London to realise that you can’t walk anywhere. The public transport in London is expensive but you do have a lot of options. There’s the underground, buses, taxis, bikes and even boats, it’s easier than you think to travel around London. This guide will show you the transport ropes – invaluable if it’s your first time in the city.
Make sure you get an oyster card as soon as you arrive – this form of ticket gives you close to a 50% saving compared to buying single tickets. You can get them at the airport, train stations or many kiosks around the city. When you pick your oyster card up, you pay a £5 deposit, which you get back after you return the card. Then, before you travel, you have to top up your oyster card with some money to fund your journeys.
When you get to the station, simply touch the yellow reader with your card and walk through the gate to the train. Touch the yellow reader again when you complete your journey. When you change trains you have to touch the pink reader inside the station. This way the correct amount of money is deducted from your balance for your journey. If you have a contactless card, you can use this the same way.
Planning to travel around London a lot during your trip? Pick up a travel card, which you can get for a day, week, month or a year. Day travel cards are available either for use anytime or only for off peak hours. You can keep your travel card on your oyster card.
The Tube, Overground and Docklands Light Railway
The London Underground is the fastest, oldest and one of the most developed subway systems in the world. With 11 lines, it’s also the most popular transport option in London. The city is divided into six main zones and the toll depends on how many of them your journey passes through. You’ll find London public transport prices here and find a London public transport map here. The Overground is an extension of the Underground, but over land. And then there’s the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). This is an automated light railway, serving the Docklands harbour area in east London
The bus and tram
The bus costs £1.50 per ride BUT you can’t pay with cash on buses or trams. That makes it essential that you have your oyster card with you and keep it topped up, or you risk finding yourself in a situation where there isn’t anywhere nearby where you can add funds to your oyster card. You touch your card only once when you get on the bus, near to the driver. Want more information on London buses and fares? Find it here.
Taxis and UBER
You will find taxis easily – just look out for the characteristic black cabs you see in films. The cheaper option to travel around London is an UBER, as long as you have an internet connection. Book an UBER and it will pick you up from your location, taking you wherever you ask. You pay through your phone, which is connected with your credit card, for the trip.
You will see many Santander Bikes available to rent around London. You have to pay through your credit card to get the bike, but it’s only £2 to access a bike for 24 hours. The first 30 minutes of each journey is then free, and after that it costs £2 per 30 minutes. Besides Santander Bikes, there are many other companies around the city that offer more professional bikes for hire.
Boat or ferry
There are many ferries available on the river Thames. The most popular is the cruise that takes you from Westminster to Greenwich, and you can even pay with your oyster card! There is one stop at the Tower of London, where you can choose to get off or continue your journey. On the cruise, you will see London’s biggest landmarks like the London Eye, Oxo Tower, Tate Museum, Tower Bridge and sailing boat, the Cutty Sark