Explore London

Your guide to handle London’s public transportation

When visiting a new place, it can be daunting trying to figure out how their local transport works. To help make your journey nice and smooth, we have put together the bet tips and tricks for London transportation, so you make the most out of your visit. London Transportation scan give tourists headaches, and this guide will help you understand all the available options!

Getting to London from the Airport

A picture of a woman walking on a platform

There are a few different airports in the city, you have Heathrow, Stanstead, Gatwick and City. So, when you plan your trip be sure to check which one is closest to you accommodation. While transport from the airport will vary depending on where you land, there are several ways to shuttle between the city and the airport itself. Most airports operate a successful shuttle bus to and from locations around the city or to carparks, where you can look to hire a car! There is also the option to pre book one of the many coach services available. Check out National Express or Greenline.

All the airports are very well-connected to the city via a train so be sure to check online using the National Rail and Trainline apps, where you can purchase tickets and check your connections. You only need to add the departing point and the destination to check the train you need to take, the price of your journey, time of departure and arrival.

Oyster Card

A hand holding an Oyster Card

London's public transportation system has a user-friendly payment method via the Oyster Card. What's that? All public transport within London will accept the card and it makes life much easier when tracking your spent on travel. You can buy them online and the process is simple, you pay a £5 fee, and the card is delivered to you first class! Those cards can never expire, so why wouldn't you ease your travel with Oyster?

How can I use it? You only need to touch the card to the yellow pads at the entrance of stations at the start and end of your journey. This is important to remember otherwise you will get charged a maximum fare. On buses or trams, you will need to touch in but don't to worry about touching out at the end of your journey.

If you don't fancy getting an Oyster Card, you can also use contactless payment methods like Apple Pay or Google pay on your smartphones.

Buses

A london bus on a street

Why buses? London is famous for its big red buses! You can't walk around a corner without seeing one, which makes them the ideal form of transportation around London.

You can use your contactless cards to tap onto any London Bus and with the Hopper fare scheme you can have unlimited journeys for £1.55, made within one hour of touching in. A bonus of bus transport is, you can see views of London while you travel to a destination. Do try sitting on the top deck, as there you will have the best view!

Buses do not accept cash for fare so consider getting an Oyster card to make payments easier or use a contactless payment. Children under 11 and elderly or disabled passengers travels free. Make sure to press the red button on the bus when you are nearly at your stop, so the driver knows to open the doors!

Bus Map

National Rail

Trains aren't always the fastest option, but they are often the easiest to navigate. Download apps like CitymapperandTrainline so that you can get the fastest most direct routes with the touch of a button. Make sure you pre plan your journey as sometimes the stations can be busy, and it can often make your journey faster if you know where you are going!

Some trains have a first-class section, so make sure you are travelling in the correct part of the train to avoid additional fines!

Underground

An underground train at a platform

Travelling via tube is a very efficient transportation method, especially if your destination is central London. The Underground consists of 11 lines that encompass 9 zones with zones 1 and 2 being the heart of the city. The most popular attractions are in zone 1 -- Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, or British Museum. It is cheaper to use your contactless card and gives you more freedom in case you get on the wrong train!

Keep in mind that the tube does not run 24 hours per day, they are only available until midnight daily. So, if you want to explore the nightlife, an alternative is the London bus.

Tube map

Cycling

A few rentable bicycles

Cycling is an active and efficient way to get around. Santander Cycles features more than 11,500 bikes at 750 docking stations. The implementation of the cycle hire scheme was a great initiative as the number of cyclists has more than doubled in the last 10 years. This is a great way to explore London in an eco-friendly manner. However, be sure you are wearing all the safety equipment and travel with care during the rush hours.

You can pay using contactless or the official app. It costs only £2 to access a bike for 24 hours, moreover the first 30 minutes of your ride is free.

Find a docking station

River Boat

A boat making it's way past the O2 arena

The River Thames runs through the heart of London and the city's River Boats are part of its public transport system. Apart from getting to your destination with convenience, you'll be delighted by the beautiful sights. The Thames Clippers River Bus encompasses 6 routes running form 22 piers along the Thames from the West to the East, between Putney and Woolwich. The departures are every 20 minutes so it's good to plan your journey in advance, so you won't miss it. If you would like a tour guide, InFlow is the ideal app that provides guides for the attractions on the way.

You can buy a ticket from a ticket office on the pier or use the Oyster cards. The fees depend on the route and distance, beginning from £19 for an adult.

Taxi & Uber

A black cab on a London Street

Taxis are often preferred by tourists as they provide a little more comfort and ease. The well-renowned black cabs are constantly available on the roads; they can be easily reserved by waving at a driver who has their taxi light on. However, central London traffic can be unpredictable, so leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. An alternative is using an app like Uber or Bolt, these can be great for finding a slightly cheaper fare.

Tips & trick from Londoners to handle public transportation

  • Download Citymapper - it tells you about the most efficient transport for your journey.

  • Standing on the right of the escalator is considered a sign of politeness.

  • Take your backpack off on the tube. This allows for more space on the tube

  • Don't forget to move down the carriage, so that more people can get on the tube. You often find there is more space and makes for a comfortable journey.

  • Some stations are closer to each other than you think so, sometimes it's better to walk if it's short distance.

  • Travelling during off-peak hours is the most sensible thing to do as a tourist. Not only because it's cheaper, but your journey is more pleasant as you are not stuck on overcrowded transport.

  • Avoid the Bank Station; it is always very busy and it has way to many exits -- it can be confusing for tourists

  • Buses may take longer, but at least you get to see the sights so might be worth it for smaller trips.