Transport around London
With a network of buses, trains, tubes (London’s underground rail system), iconic black taxi cabs, cycle hire on street corners, trams, river bus and now a cable car system, London is definitely a city with options for getting around easily. You can travel by any public transport mode with an Oyster card, which you top up with money and swipe at ticket barriers. Travelling by Oyster ensures lower fares and is more convenient – buy one for £3 from any tube or train station or purchase one online in advance via VisitBritain
London’s Underground system is one of the most favoured methods of getting around, with a network of lines spanning across the city and into the suburbs. Pick up a pocket tube map
from any tube station to help you plan your route. Stations are organised into zones, with zone 1 in the centre of London and zone 6 on the city outskirts. The cost of your journey varies depending on how many zones you travel across and the time of day you travel (travel after 9.30am if possible to avoid rush hour and peak rate fares). Tubes stop running at around midnight.
Travelling via the iconic red buses of London is cheap (£1.40 per journey on Oyster) and allows you to see your surroundings as you travel. There’s a bus for almost any journey you need to make in London – plan your route via the Transport for London website
. Bus stops are easily identifiable and outline the buses that stop there, as well as the routes they take and their frequency (typically every 5-10 minutes). There’s also a network of night buses that only run at night, identified by the ‘N’ in front on the bus number.
Train and Overground
With a number of end-of-line train terminals across London, travelling by London’s rail system is convenient for slightly longer journeys from central London towards the suburbs and beyond. Central London train stations also have connections onto the tube.
The Overground service is a fairly new system that’s an above-ground rail network serving previously under-connected parts of east and west London. Oyster is accepted on both and these maps
can help you plan your journey.
Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
is an overground rail system at the east of London, connecting the previous dock areas on the Isle of Dogs to the rest of London. It connects with the tube system and also operates on Oyster.
You’ll spot the black cabs London’s famous for everywhere - if the yellow ‘taxi’ sign on the roof is lit then it’s available for hire. Hail one by waving your arm or queue at a taxi rank. Traffic in London can be heavy, and even though London cabbies know all the back routes, travelling by taxi can be slower and much more expensive (approximately £10 for a 15-minute journey) than travelling by public transport.
London’s Cycle Hire scheme
is a convenient way to peddle from one destination to another. There are docks of bicycles
everywhere across London and the system is self-service. You just need to pay at the docking station with a debit or credit card and a bicycle will be released for use.
Ideal for casual usage, it costs £2 to access the scheme for 24 hours (or £10 for a week) and using a bike is free for the first 30 minutes. Return the bike to any bicycle dock across London when you’re finished. Remember traffic in London is busy – cycle by following a sensible code of conduct and wear a helmet.
London’s tram system
currently only operates in and around the London boroughs of Croydon and Merton. If you’re in these areas, it’s a convenient way to get around during the day and the fare is the same as a bus fare. Trams connect with major train stations at East Croydon and Wimbledon, from where train journeys into central London take around 15 minutes.
A more scenic way to travel, there are piers along the stretch of the River Thames that’s within central London – this map
shows the exact locations and timetables. River bus stops connect with major transport hubs such at London Bridge, and stop at popular locations like the London Eye. River buses also accept Oyster.
Emirates Air Line cable
The Emirates Air Line is a cable car system
enabling travel over the River Thames between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. Originally built to ease congestion on major transport routes during the London 2012 Olympics, it’s now a public transport mode in its own right. The journey takes about 10 minutes and the fare costs £3.20 on Oyster. It’s worth doing for the view even if you don’t have anywhere in particular to travel to!