Travelling Around in London: Everything You Need to Know
- August 1, 2017
London is a fantastic city for tourists. It is a relatively compact place, so you can easily walk to many of the sights.
For those attractions that are a bit further afield, there is a good transport network for you to take advantage of. If you are planning a trip to London, use the tips below to find your way around quickly without having to pay too much to do so.
Opt for Oyster card instead of a Travelcard
A visitor Oyster card is far cheaper to buy than a Travelcard. Typically, they are 50% cheaper. Holders of visitor Oyster cards can also qualify for discounts on meals, theatre tickets, attraction entrance fees and much more.
This card can be used for journeys you take on London buses, trams, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), most over ground trains in the city and many National Rail services. If you run out of credit it is easy to top up at one of the over 4,000 shops.
It is best to order your Oyster visitor card online. In fact, it is best that you do so. That way, when you arrive in London, you will be able to use it to get to your accommodation.
When a Travelcard is a better option
For visitors who are planning to stay in London for 7 days or more, Travelcards become the cheapest option. However, be careful to buy the right one. In London, there are travel zones.
Most of the sights are located in travel zones 1 and 2, but Heathrow is in Zone 6. So if you want to use your Travelcard for your journey back to the airport you will need one that covers travel zones 1 to 6.
Travelling during rush hour
Rush hour in London is a bit of a nightmare. If you do not want to be crushed up against fellow travellers, it is best to avoid using all public transport during rush hour. On a weekday, rush hour is between 7.30am and 9.30 am as well as 5pm and about 6.30pm. There is no rush hour on Bank Holidays or at weekends.
Using the bus service
During the day, buses run every few minutes in the centre but are less frequent elsewhere in the city. There are buses at night, but it is a very limited service.
Using The Tube
The same is true of The Tube service. During the day, the trains run very regularly. At night, the service is far less frequent and is not yet available on all lines.
London is famous for its black cabs, which offer an exceptionally good service. Every cab is owned by a professional, highly trained driver, who will always use the best route to get you to your destination. However, they are not cheap, so a lot of people use mini-cabs or Uber instead.
How to hail a black cab in London
You can hail a cab that has its orange for hire sign lit, in the street. At stations, airports, and other busy parts of the city, there are taxi ranks you can use instead. Most hotels and some restaurants will call a cab for you or tell you the best place to flag one down.
Uber cabs in London
There are a lot of mini cabs in the city and it is relatively easy to book yourself an Uber cab. These tend to be cheaper than black cabs. But, you will be relying on driver background checks that are not always though, so you can never be sure what type of person is going to be driving you.
Getting a cab late at night
Getting a cab late at night can be tricky, especially on a Friday or Saturday. This includes mini cabs and Uber cabs.
At these times, the best approach is to pre book. Just be sure not to arrive late at the meeting point, because they will not be able to wait for you.
Alternative ways to get around
In some areas of London, alternative forms of transport, are available.
The River Service
The River Service only runs during the day. It is a great way to get around and see some of the sights at the same time.
Walking tours are an interesting way to see the sights, and learn more. They are a good way to get your bearings and meet other people.
The city has several tourist bus services, which naturally focus on taking visitors between the main sights. They are not particularly cheap, but the fact that they offer discounts on entrance tickets means that they can still be a good option.
There are quite a few rickshaws operating in the city. They are not particularly cheap but can be fun. Just be careful to ask the price before you get in.
If you are in a rush, or like motorbikes you can hire a bike cab. The traffic in London can be horrific, so this mode of transport is not for everyone, but they can be fun. The fact they can potentially nip around congestion.
Where to find out more
If you need more in-depth information the TFL and TripAdvisor websites are the best places to go.