For London locals, navigating the intricacies of the city’s public transport networks, from the underground to the buses, overground and ferries, becomes second nature after a while. But for those who are new to London, whether you’ve recently moved, or you’re here for a holiday, it can seem like navigating your way to the moon!
The London transport network is one of the best in the world, so although it can feel a little daunting, we’re here to help you make the most of it so you can rest your feet after a long day of exploring, and save those crucial pennies on taxis.
The different transport options available
As mentioned above, the first thing to note is that there are a million different ways to get around in London, so here’s a simple rundown of the options available to you, and their advantages.
London is famous for its bright red buses that fill each street in the city.
Travelling by bus is the cheapest way to get around, as Sadiq Khan – the city’s mayor – introduced a price cap of £1.50 for multiple journeys; simply ‘tap’ in with the same card on as many journeys as you like within one hour, and only pay one single fare of £1.50 (no need to tap out). Another great advantage to travelling by bus is that lots of independent companies offer ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tours of the city, with stops to jump on near the Park Grand Paddington Court London.
Another iconic way to get around in London is by underground, or ‘tube’.
This is one of the most popular ways to travel, as all of the city’s major landmarks can be found near one of the stops. It’s also the main choice for commuters, meaning that the tube network is very busy during ‘rush hour’ with commuters moving around the city. You can expect the trains and stations to be overcrowded between 07:30 and 09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evening, so avoid these times if possible.
Docklands Light Railway
Otherwise known as the DLR (after all, Londoners don’t have much time to spare!), this line serves east London and the redeveloped Docklands area, so expect to see a lot of people in suits as they flock to Canary Wharf each day.
However, this line also has a surprising appeal for little ones, as these trains are the closest you’ll get to a rollercoaster ride in the city centre. They’re also ‘driverless’, meaning that if you can nab a seat at the front, your little ones will feel like they’re driving!
London’s overground network serves the major stations in the city, as well as locations further afield, so it’ll most likely be your go-to if you’re planning day trips just outside of London. Likewise, there is a national rail service in London that helps those get to the capital from other UK cities.
The most widely used train stations for these two lines are Victoria, Waterloo, Liverpool Street, King’s Cross, St. Pancras, Euston, Paddington (with lots of great hotels near Paddington station), Blackfriars, Clapham Junction and London Bridge.
For those who prefer the power of two wheels, you’ll be pleased to know that in recent decades, London has become a much easier city to explore by bike. This is thanks to increased cycle lanes running along lots of the major tourist/commuter routes, and thanks to increased and improved bikes for hire.
Hiring a bike can cost as little as £2, with docking stations at various points throughout the city.
Thames River Boat
Certainly one of the most unique ways to travel, the Thames Clippers riverboats offer services from Putney in west London to Woolwich in east London. Whilst you might not immediately associate London with river buses, it’s estimated that three million people use them each year!
Another very unique way to experience London is by air – or the Emirates Airline, to be precise.
The Emirates Air Line cable car connects the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks in east London. Going straight over the River Thames, the cable car offers passengers incredible views of Canary Wharf and beyond, so it’s not to be missed if you find yourself in this part of the city.
If you do want to avoid the crowds for a bit and just get from A to B as swiftly and painlessly as possible, you can’t go wrong with London’s black cab service. With taxi ranks everywhere from train stations to hotels – with lots available near great accommodation Paddington London – this is a must-experience for those new to London as it’s such an iconic way to get around. London black cab drivers have an incredible knowledge of the city too, so are sure to give you some great tips.
Paying for your travel
Paying to get around London has also got a lot simpler in recent years. Taxi drivers still accept cash, but a lot of the black cab drivers now accept card payment, too (it’s best to check with the driver before you set off).
You can also pick up an Oyster card from each station, which you can ‘top up’ with credit, and use that to tap in and out at each station or on the bus. Alternatively, you can skip both of these altogether and pay as you go with your contactless bank card, which has become a tourist saviour.
A bit of extra help
The great thing about London is that no matter where you are, where you’re from or where you’re going, if you find yourself stuck, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find someone who will help you.
The majority of the stations have someone there to assist those who are a bit lost, and even taxi drivers generally won’t mind being flagged over just to answer a quick question. It’s also recommended that you pick up a tube map, available at all major stations, to help you get to grips