Getting around in London is, thanks to the myriad of transport options, extremely easy. Many Londoners don’t have a car,simply because of this. In fact, it can actually be more of a hindrance to own a car in London than not.
For options to get to and from the capital, including information about the London Airports, see our Travel page for more details.
The London Underground
This is the underground train system that covers the whole of London and the suburbs. More commonly referred to as ‘The Tube,’ this is one of the easiest and most comprehensive ways of getting around the city.
www.tfl.gov.uk is the official website of all transport in London, and here you can see real time travel information, take a look at the map of the Tube system and discover everything you need to know about using public transport.
The Tube carries more than a billion passengers per year, and consists of 11 separate lines that service 270 stations. These lines are known as the following:
- Hammersmith & City
- Waterloo & City
And although it doesn’t travel underground, the Docklands Light Railway (or DLR) also links in with the London Underground system.
As a guideline, the trains run from 05:30 to 00:30 Monday to Saturday, with slightly shorter hours on a Sunday. Details of each individual line can be downloaded from Transport for London.
The whole of the system is broken down into nine separate zones, with number nine being the furthest reaches of the London area, and zones one and two being central London.
Prices for using the system vary, depending on how far you travel and what zones you enter into. If you live in London, or even if you’re just visiting for a few days, the most cost-effective method of travel is to take out an Oyster Card. This card allows you to top it up with credit, and then pass it over scanners when you enter and leave the stations. It then tots up your day’s travel, and charges you the lowest price possible.
These cards can be acquired online or at a station. They are free, and you only pay when you charge them up with credit. Re-charges can be made online or at any tube station. They can also be used on London Buses.
If you don’t want to get an Oyster card, then you can either pay for single journeys on the tube, or take out what is called an All Day Travelcard (or you can get one that lasts for 7 days if need be). You choose what zones you’ll travel in, and whether you need it for off peak hours or peak hours as well. These start from £7 per day for zones 1&2 off-peak. They can be bought from any London Underground station. They also cover you for using London Buses.
London’s iconic red double decker buses travel throughout the city and suburbs. You can use an Oyster card for travel, an all day travelcard or simply pay the driver for an individual journey when you get on. A single journey on a bus costs £1.40 using an Oyster card, or £2.40 if paying by cash.
Be aware that bus drivers don’t take too kindly to passengers who try to pay using a large denomination note (£10 upwards). If you want to pay on boarding, do your best to have the correct coins for the fare.
Buses are a great way to see the sights as you travel, but of course do get caught up in traffic, especially during peak hours.
As New York has its famous yellow taxicabs, so London has the Black Cab. There are hundreds of thousands of these driving around the city and further, each driven by a driver who has to pass a detailed exam showing he knows the area of London like the back of his hand. This test is informally known as ‘The Knowledge.’
Each cab driver, or ‘cabbie,’ is registered to drive his cab, and to pick up passengers from the side of the street. You can tell if a black cab is available for hire as it will have an orange sign on the roof lit up, as well as an illuminated ‘for hire’ sign in the front window. To hail one, simply wave, whistle or shout to attract attention. And don’t worry if the cab is going in the wrong direction, as the driver will soon swing around to come across to you. British cabbies are some of the most ingenious in the world…
They have a metre on board, so you can always see how much your journey has cost so far. And a top tip is that if you get stuck in traffic, then tell the cabbie you’ll get out and walk a way, so saving yourself the extra cost of the metre clocking up whilst you’re not moving.
Be aware that ONLY black taxis are licensed to pick up passengers from the side of the road. Mini cabs (private hire vehicles) are not allowed to do this, and have to be pre-booked. If a mini cab tries to offer you a lift in this fashion, then the driver is not insured. So don’t take any cab such as these. However, it is perfectly okay to book a minicab in advance, and there are thousands of reputable firms in London. A good place to find these is on Yell, or in the phone book known as The Yellow Pages.
Other travel options
Another way to get around is to use one of the Barclays Bicycles (also known as Boris Bikes, after the Mayor of London who introduced them). This is a reasonably new option, and consists of banks of bikes located around the city. You can use them by paying with a credit or debit card when you take the bike, use if for as long as you like and then return it to any other bike bank throughout the city.
There are more than 8,000 bikes throughout the city, at 570 locations. The cost is free for up to 30 minutes, ranging up to £50 per day, which is the longest time you can have a bike before returning it.
More information can be found on the TFL website.
And don’t forget that you have one of the easiest and cheapest options available to you at all times, and that’s to walk. Central London is a compact place, and most places can be reached within a 15 or 20 minute walk. This is a great way to explore and discover all those little known places, as well as stumbling across some hidden gems that might not be listed in the tourist guides.
Need more information?
We have lots of current information available on the various pages of this website. From the Cost of Living in London to House Hunting, Shopping to Food, you can trust MovingtoLondon.net to provide you with the most up to date information available, because we constantly review and update our pages.
The more you discover about the city of London before you arrive, the smoother you’re transition will be. So browse our pages and enjoy, and we wish you the very best on your up coming trip, whatever the reason for your visit.