London is a beautiful city to visit, but getting around this compact city with 8.63 million people can be a little tricky at times. To help you travel wisely while visiting all the hot spots, here are our top five tips to help you get around.
London Transport Tips
We Love the Tube!
The London Underground, or Tube, is London’s subway system. It’s the most popular and easiest way to get around the city. Twelve lines start at the center of the city and sprawl out to surrounding suburbs. We pick our London vacation rentals with nearby stations in mind, which makes it easy to use the Tube on a daily basis to get around town. Plus, the Tube just started offering 24-hour service, so you can catch a late ride back to your place.
To get the best bang for your buck, purchase an Oyster Card, that way you can prepay and just tap the card at the gate to hop on. You can buy a paper ticket for each route, but it’s cheaper to buy the Oyster Card.
Travel prices depend on how far you travel. The city is broken into nine zones. Depending on which zones you travel to and from determines the price you pay. A single journey trip within London, for example, is about £4.80 ($8).
You can plan your journey and check arrival times through the Transport For London website, and download this free Tube map to help you get around as well. You can buy your Oyster Card before you go, or pick it up at the nearest Oyster Ticket Stop.
London Buses are Fun
If you’re looking to save some money, the bus is a more economical way to travel. The city’s iconic double-decker red buses allow you to see the sights as you travel, but the multitude of stops means your trip will take longer. Yet if you have the time, it’s a fabulous way to enjoy some sightseeing along your journey, especially from the upper level of the buses.
To travel, you’ll need an Oyster Card. You can’t pay for your fare with cash since London’s buses went cash free last year. On average, you’ll pay about £4.40 ($7) for the day if you travel by bus.
Rent a Bike
If you have some pedal power, you can rent a bike in tons of different locations across London. Santander Cycles is London’s self-service bike-sharing company. You can rent a bike for as little as £2 ($1) and return it to any docking station in the city. Just bring your bankcard, swipe it and off you go.
Here’s a link to the Santander Cycles app, which gives you docking locations, maps and trip advice.
Hail a Cab
You’ll see London’s classic black cabs zipping through the streets and they’re a convenient although more expensive option to get around. A one-mile trip could cost you around £9 ($14), so unless you’re in a pinch you’ll likely use the Tube or the bus. Cabs can be hailed in the street or find them at a designated rank, often near Tub stations. How to know if the cab is free? Look for the yellow TAXI sign in the front. If it’s illuminated then the cab is available.
Download Apps for Ease
Since you won’t leave home without your smartphone, consider downloading a few travel apps before you go such as the London Official City Guide. Created by VisitLondon.com, this free app is a must-download. The app offers step-by-step travel instructions to any location using public transportation. Worried about roaming charges? Don’t be. The app offers offline maps and GPS that won’t rack up your bill.
You can also access restaurant reviews, travel suggestions based on the weather and a full list of hot spots to visit while touring the city. Download the app at the Apple Store.
Have you visited London before? How did you get around? Share your tips in the comment section below.