Getting Around London

London is a sprawling city, with one of the largest public transport networks in the world. Here’s everything you need to know about travelling around London, with some top tips to help you explore the capital cheaply and easily!

2019 June 12

The capital is an exciting place to visit, which is why it attracts millions of tourists each year. However, it’s so big that you can’t explore the whole city by foot. But luckily, London is also home to one of the most extensive urban transport networks in the world, including the world-famous London Underground. Keep reading to discover the best ways to get around London – even if you’re on a budget!

 

Public Transport in London

The London Underground

London has 11 tube lines, giving you access to some of the most popular areas in the capital. The tube map is a design classic, and it’s easy to understand once you get used to it.

Remember that the fare structure divides the Underground into nine travel zones (central London being Zone 1). The cost depends on how far you go, at what time, and the payment method you use. You can pay for the tube using an Oyster card or a contactless debit or credit card; Travelcards are also available to buy, and these offer unlimited travel on the tube for a set number of days.

For late evening travel, the London Underground runs a night tube service on Fridays and Saturdays across selected lines (Victoria, Jubilee, Central, Piccadilly and Northern). Fares are normally off-peak and all participating stations will remain staffed for your safety. To review the latest fares and plan your journey, visit the official TFL website.

 

Getting around London on London buses

London’s cheerful red buses provide access to every corner of the city. Best of all, there’s a flat fare of £1.50 per journey, regardless of how long it is. Buses don’t take cash, so you’ll need a contactless card or an Oyster card to travel. You can enjoy unlimited bus journeys for free within an hour of tapping in – just remember to ring the bell to let the driver know when you want to get off!

 

London Trams

In South London, there’s a tram service called the London Tramlink, with four routes and 17 miles of track. This runs from Wimbledon through to Croydon and Beckenham, and there’s a line that takes you all the way to the town of New Addington, too. Part of the Hopper fare system, the Tramlink charges a fixed fee for each journey, and you pay with an Oyster card or contactless card when you board. There’s no need to touch out with your card when you get off.

 

London Riverboats Services

The Thames Clippers provides frequent services to destinations between Putney and Royal Woolwich Arsenal. You can pay using your Oyster card, and the fares depend on the river zone and any discounts available at the time. Children under five travel for free, and it costs a maximum of £19 for an Adult River Roamer ticket. Catch a boat from any River Thames pier, except for the Cadogan, London Bridge City and Wandsworth Riverside Quarter piers.

The view from the river boats is extraordinary; it’s a fantastic way to enjoy uninterrupted views of the capital, and see some of its major attractions along the way.

 

Hiring a Bike in London

Santander cycles are available at docking stations all around London. There’s generally less traffic in central locations, thanks to the congestion charge, so cycling in London can be a real pleasure. For £2, you have access to the bikes for a full 24 hours; during this time, you can make as many journeys as you wish, providing they’re 30 minutes or less. Longer rides cost £2 for each extra 30 minutes, so the bikes are more cost-effective for shorter journeys.



Walking Routes Between Stations

Though London as a whole is very big, it’s actually pretty easy to explore the central area on foot. Here’s an example: it only takes 10 minutes to walk from Harrods in Knightsbridge to Sloane Square, which is easier than hopping on the tube, because you’ll need to change lines at South Kensington. Similarly, it makes more sense to walk between Covent Garden and Leicester Square (which takes no more than 10 minutes). If you take the Piccadilly Line, you’ll need to make your way up some steep steps at Covent Garden, or queue to get a lift to the ground level.

And, if you’re shopping in central London, it’s often easier to walk between the main retail districts in the West End – like Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street – instead of getting public transport. Traffic can become congested along Bond Street, for example, so it’s usually faster to travel on foot than take a bus down to Oxford Circus from here.

By taking these walking routes between tube stations, you’ll find it much cheaper and easier to travel in London. It’s how the locals do it, after all!

 

Popular Train Stations in London

You can travel to London via train from almost anywhere in the UK. So, whether you’re arriving from the North, Scotland, the Midlands, or the South, you’ll find that there are regular trains to London in your area.

Here are some of the most well-connected train stations in London:

  • Paddington station connects London to the South West of England and Wales; it also provides the best rail route into the city from Heathrow Airport. Our Paddington hotel is close to the station, and is ideal if you want to explore the city on foot.
  • Victoria station welcomes 74 million passengers every year, making it one of the busiest London terminals. It’s home to the super-speedy Gatwick Express service, and provides trains to Kent, Surrey and Sussex. It also has excellent bus and tube links, and is within walking distance of top tourist attractions like Buckingham Palace and Green Park.
  • London Waterloo is the busiest train station in London and the UK, with over 90 million passengers passing through each year! This links the capital with towns and cities across the South and South West. The station is also close to some of London’s most visited attractions such as The London Eye and South Bank, which is known for being the city’s cultural hub for its world-class arts venues, including the BFI film theatre.
  • Kings Cross St Pancras is home to 2 major rail terminals – Kings Cross and St Pancras (which provides Eurostar services to Paris, Brussels, Lille, and Amsterdam). Kings Cross links London to major cities in the North and Scotland, including Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Durham, Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Glasgow; it also links Cambridge, Nottingham, and Birmingham. Please also remind users that another major transport hub, Euston, is just a 10-minute walk away.
  • East Croydon station provides fast train services to and from Gatwick Airport, with limited stops from London Victoria. Trains run regularly from East Croydon station to central London locations, too; it takes approximately 15 minutes to reach London Bridge station, and around 20 minutes to get to London Victoria from here.

 

How to Pay For Travel in London

From travelcards to contactless payment, travel in London can be simple and efficient once you start getting out and about. With plenty of options for everyone, getting around London has never been easier.

An Oyster card is simply an electronic ticket that can be used on public transport in London; it’s about the size of a credit card, and can be topped up at stations or even some shops in the city. You add your journey to the card before you leave, either online or at a ticket machine in the station.

For unlimited travel across a set period of time, travelcards are your best bet for getting around London in a cost-effective way.

  • Day Travelcard – If you’re only in the capital for a day, you can pay for an Anytime Day Travel card which will cover transportation across bus and London Underground for journeys starting before 04:30. Off-peak day travelcards are also available.
  • Group Day Travelcard – Groups of 10 or more can opt to travel on a group travelcard across bus and London Underground.
  • Season tickets – 7 Day, monthly or annual season tickets are available and valid for travel on buses and on selected zones on the London Underground. This option often works out cheaper than topping up your Oyster card on a pay as you go basis.

 

If your credit or debit card includes a contactless symbol, you can use this to pay for travel in London. It’s a good option if you’re only planning a short visit if you don’t have a contactless debit or credit card that works in UK pounds, it may be easier to use an Oyster card.

Hopper fares allow passengers to make unlimited bus and tram journeys within an hour for a one-off price of just £1.50. To find out more about travel fares in London, check out the TFL website.

 

Airports Near London

London is served by five international airports: Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick, Stansted, and London City Airport.

Heathrow Airport is situated just 14 miles west of London. It’s used by 75 million passengers every year, making it the capital’s biggest airport. Heathrow is very well connected to London and beyond, with great public transport links. easyHotel London Heathrow is conveniently located close to the airport, so it’s ideal if you’ve got an early flight scheduled!

Gatwick Airport is located 30 miles south of London; it’s the UK’s second largest airport and just half an hour away from the city centre. Gatwick has just two terminals and its own railway station, with the Gatwick Express service running to and from Victoria.

Stansted Airport is the capital’s third busiest, and a more recent addition to the city. Located in Essex, you can take the Stansted Express train to and from Liverpool Street station, which takes around 50 minutes in total, easyHotel London City Shoreditch isn’t far from Liverpool Street Station, so it’s a great base if you’re flying from Stansted.

London City Airport is a smaller airport, but it offers flights to many destinations in Europe. Located in the Royal Docks, it’s one of the most centrally located airports in the city.

Luton Airport lies 25 miles north of London, and are regular, reliable shuttle buses running from the main station. If you’re staying at easyHotel Luton, the airport is a mere 10-minute drive away.

As highlighted, London has many ways to travel cheaply with its efficient public transportation system. All of our hotels in London are also located conveniently to these transport hubs, giving you more time to explore the capital.

London

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