If you’re moving to London, you’ll probably already be familiar with the most famous method of transport, the Underground/Tube. But there are lots of ways to get around London. We’ve put together a handy starter guide to get you up to speed with London travel…
The Tube (Underground/Overground/DLR)
We’ve grouped these together as the underground and overground tube lines are usually used interchangeably by London travellers and commuters! Top tip: Get an Oyster card or use a valid UK Contactless card for major savings and daily/weekly transport cost caps. Add a discount card to your Oyster if you have one (such as a 16-25 railcard). Look at weekly, monthly and annual passes if you’ll be using TFL regularly, e.g. for a daily commute.
The night tube is being rolled out in 2016 as well, so check which London underground lines have night service already running.
Best for: Long distance journeys across London, speed, frequent services
Cons: Avoid the tube during rush hour if possible, as it’s well-known that some lines can get quite overcrowded!
The iconic red London bus can be a great option for seeing more of the city instead of being stuck underground! There’s a new “Hopper Fare” that means you’ll only pay once if you switch to a different bus within an hour of tapping in on the first bus. Don’t forget you can’t pay in cash on London buses now – you will need a contactless card, Oyster card, travel pass or ticket in advance. The trusty night bus is the cheapest way to get around London after hours.
Best for: Price, seeing more of London, night travel
Cons: The TFL bus network covers a lot of areas, but you definitely need to check your route in advance!
Often overlooked as an option, walking is a good travel option in London if you’re willing to put in the effort. See more of the sights, get to know new areas and learn the ins and outs of where you live. Plan your route to go through parks and along the canals instead of along main roads if you can – it’ll be a much more pleasant experience. Check out how long it would take to walk to work or your place of study versus public transport (particularly if you are often delayed) – you might be surprised!
Best for: price (free travel!), getting some exercise, seeing the sights. Can be quicker than public transport if your bus goes the long way home, or if you’re already walking to/from a tube station! Planet-friendly transport.
Cons: Walking is of course more of an effort in terms of pre-planning. Check your route ahead of setting off as there may be faster paths through parks or along the canal. Although once you’ve done it once, you’ll know how long it will take; unlike public transport walking isn’t usually subject to delays!
There are varied views about cycling in London. Although more cycle lanes are being introduced, there are still dangerous areas and you’ll regularly read about accidents in the local papers. If you’re a confident cyclist, don’t let this put you off. Research your route in advance, and check if your workplace or place of study has cycle storage.
Best for: Good exercise, seeing the sights, low cost London transport
Cons: Safety, finding somewhere to store your bike, traffic
Driving in London can be a very different experience depending on where you live and work. In the outer zones, parking can be more readily affordable and available, and you can avoid the daily Congestion Charges. With the costs of running a car in London, you’ll usually find public transport to be a better option. Unless you regularly need to travel long distances, consider using a car-share scheme for occasional trips.
Best for: Convenience, weekend trips out of London
Cons: Cost of owning and running a car, the congestion charge, parking costs in London, finding a parking space
London has long been known for its black cabs, but the emergence of companies such as Uber means there are many options for those needing a lift. Top tip for London taxis: use an app that gives your fare in advance, and you can usually pay by card as well. So no problem if you’re miles from the nearest cash point!
Best for: Convenience, one-off journeys, being in the middle of nowhere!, shared journeys