London has one of the best public transport systems in the world, making it easy to travel to where you need to get to. If you have a smart phone it is worth looking at our mostly free and recommended useful smart phone apps page that will make trekking around London even easier.
The Transport for London website provides you all the information you need to know about getting around London and includes an excellent journey planner tool that advises you on the best way to get to where you want to go. (Including an estimated time the journey should take).
A UK post code should have between 6-7 numbers and letters in it. The first two letters and 1-2 numbers indicate the general area whilst the last 3 numbers/letters indicate a specific area. e.g. The post code SW6 1BW is that of Fulham Broadway shopping centre. SW6 is the general Fulham area post code. 1BW indicates the specific location. If you have a full post code you can pin point that location on an online map such as google maps.
A-Z provide pocket maps for the London and the UK. They can be purchased at any bookshop or newsagent. Although with GPS mapping on your phone this is unlikely to be needed.
The Underground (Tube)
The Underground (Tube) starts operating between 5.00am – 6.00am and ceases operation between 12.00am – 1.00am daily. A night tube operates on Friday's and Saturday's along the Victoria, Jubilee lines and most of the Piccadilly, Central and Northern lines. Tube maps are present at all underground stations and are easy to use. The map is colour coded for each tube service which makes it easy to follow.
Overland trains starts operating between 5.00am – 6.00am and ceases operation between 12.00am – 1.00am daily. Like the Underground, this service is pretty self explanatory and easy to use. Trains run 24 hours a day to Gatwick Airport from Victoria, to Stansted from Liverpool Street and to Luton from Kings Cross.
London Buses are easy to use and cover most of London. It can sometimes be quicker to use the bus to get to your location rather then using the tube. It is also likely your area will have a 24 hour night bus service from Piccadilly or Trafalgar square. Night buses are marked with an N in front of the bus number. It is advisable to check on the Transport for London website to see if there is a night bus service available for your journey home and where to catch it.
There are now three ways to pay for journeys on London transport these being Oyster Card (see below), Paper Tickets and Contactless Card Payments.
Oyster Card can be used on all London buses, tubes and overland train services within the London zone system. This is the cheapest way to travel around London. It is worth purchasing a weekly, 14 day travel card or monthly pass with the zones you are likely to most travel in frequently. If you have not purchased a daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly pass it is still worth using the ‘pay as you go’ option whereby you can top up money onto the Oyster card as required.
Travel Cards can be used on the tube, overland trains and buses for the zones which you have purchased for as many trips as you like. While getting an Oyster card is very easy and should always try to be your first option, the next best thing to do to save money using the public transport system is to purchase either a daily, weekly or monthly travel card. If you only need to purchase a daily travel card, it is best to purchase it after 9.30am on the day (during off peak travel) as it will be much cheaper. (Note not valid for any Airport express services.
Another type of ticket to look into is the Commuter club which will give you the 12th month free.
Contactless payments can now be made with Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Maestro cards on the London Underground, Overground, DLR, Trams and Buses with the fares charged in a similar way to pay as you go Oyster. Note overseas cards may be subject to bank charges which while making it more convenient actually more expensive than an Oyster Card. If you are using an overseas contactless card it may not work.
There are three types of taxis that operate in London: Black Cabs, Mini Cabs and Uber.
Black Cabs are the uniformed black bubble looking taxis with the sign on top and separated seating from the driver. Black cabs can be expensive, so if an alternative mode of transport can be used that is cheaper it can be worth considering. The drivers are very knowledgeable in terms of roads and places of interest and should know most locations in London. If you are unfamiliar with the area you are travelling to, it sometimes may be worth using a black cab to get you to your final destination.
Mini Cabs are often but not always a cheaper alternative to black cabs and provide a similar level of service as the black cabs. Mini cabs, in most cases, are unmarked cars without any signage but are marked with a mini cab licensed sticker on the back or front window of the vehicle. They can either be booked via phone or at a mini cab shop (these shops can be found in most areas along high streets). Mini cabs are all privately operated so you will need to find the mini cab service for your area. They should be able to tell you the exact price before your journey so ensure this is agreed upon before travelling. Be weary of the cost and the area you are travelling to or from as you may be ripped-off without even knowing.
Uber is an App that operates in a similar way to mini cabs and is a popular service in London as users can negotiate the fare and choose type of car they will be riding in. Uber is likely to be the cheapest of the three cab options at your disposal.
If you can help it we suggest not driving around London because the government use owning a car as some sort of legalized money rort. There is car tax, paying the council for street parking, parking fines, cost of parking if you can find a space, congestion charges for driving through central London, car insurance and the expensive price of heavily taxed fuel........and lets not mention the traffic jams!
To transfer your drivers licence to a UK or International drivers licence go to Driver Vehicles Licensing Agency.
To find the best way to get somewhere and be notified of roadworks or traffic delays always use The AA.
Join a car rental club: If you feel you would like the use of a car without the ongoing expenses it can be well worth joining a car rental club such as ZipCar.
Cycling can be a great way to get around London and can actually be a faster way of getting around than driving! There are some great bike routes and paths that run through London’s many picturesque parks and along the Thames.
Santander cycles are a cheap, simple and easy way to get around London. You will find docking stations all across the capital.
To find information on cycling routes go to the Transport For London website link here.