After securing accommodation in London, it’s time to conquer the city’s transport system. With a population of 8.7 million people, it’s imperative that Londoners can travel around with ease.
The London Underground, also known as The Tube, is one of the city’s easiest and most comprehensive forms of transport. Since opening in the 19th century, the underground has become the lifeblood of the city, ensuring its citizens travel easily throughout the city.
The London Underground has 11 separate lines and covers 270 stations. As a guideline, from Sunday to Thursday, the tube runs between 05:30 and 00:30. In recent years, a new Night Tube service is in operation on Friday and Saturday nights, with two lines (Victoria and Central) offering a 24-hour service, although previously this was also in operation on three further lines (Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly) and these services may return soon. It is best to check services ahead of time on the Transport for London website.
Go to Transport for London’s website to download a map of The Tube or top up your travel card. On arrival in London, you can set up your Oyster Card for payments on public transport in London. These handy travel cards offer Londoners discounted travel rates and allow you to add bus or tram passes to your card, meaning you can seamlessly hop from Tube to bus when needed. You can also use contactless payments if your bank and/or device (Apple Pay, Google Pay etc.) support this option.
Students can obtain even cheaper rates when they sign up for a Student Oyster Card. Sign up for a student card and get 30% off the price of a standard adult fare.
London’s iconic red double-decker buses travel throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. While travelling by bus might take a bit longer, it’s a great way to familiarise yourself with the city and its streets.
London buses are cash-free meaning you have to pay with your travel card or a contactless payment card. A single bus fare costs £1.65 with a contactless payment, however travellers can make a second bus or tram journey for free within one hour of touching in on their original bus journey. There are also weekly, monthly and annual payment options which could work out cheaper depending on your usage.
Many Londoners prefer to bypass public transport altogether and instead cycle through the city. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Boris Bikes’, after Boris Johnson, the London Mayor who launched the scheme, Santander Cycles cost as little as £2 to hire.
With hundreds of docking stations found throughout the city, sign up to Santander Cycles to save money and get easy access to bikes across London.
With five international airports, London is very well-connected. More than 50 countries are within a three-hour flight time and upwards of 300 international destinations have direct links to London.
In terms of proximity to the city, London’s airports are ranked as follows: London City, Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted.
Getting from London’s airports to the city centre is relatively easy and stress-free.
By far the closest of all the London airports, London City Airport is located in the East End of the city on the Royal Docks. From here, you can take the DLR northbound, before changing trains and connecting with either the District, Circle or Hammersmith lines. Once on the Tube, you can travel easily to your destination.
Heathrow airport is serviced by rail by both the Heathrow Express and the Piccadilly Line. The Heathrow Express is the fastest way for travellers to get the city centre, with the journey lasting 15 minutes, travelling by Tube takes 50 minutes.
Like Heathrow, travellers flying into Gatwick can take the Gatwick Express rail service, which takes 35 minutes and arrives into Victoria station. Unfortunately, no Tube connections are available between Gatwick and London city centre.
Stansted and Luton airports are also connected to the city centre via rail. The Stansted Express departs every 15 minutes and arrives in Liverpool Street Station. In Luton, travellers can avail of a number of direct trains and transport options.
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