One of the great attractions of London is that you don’t need to hire a car to get around – in fact it may be easier to see the sights and sounds of the capital using public transport.
The UK city boasts a great public transport network that makes it reasonably straightforward to get from A to B, especially if you have sensibly opted for a central hotel.
The London Underground
London’s underground network system is world-famous and boasts a total of 12 lines that provide regular services from 5am to midnight, in fact in recent months 24-hour services operate on the most popular lines – Jubilee, Victoria, Piccadilly, Central and Northern lines.
Note: Night Tube is to start from 19th August 2016.
If you plan to travel on the tube then make sure you purchase a Visitor Oyster Card as it the cheapest way and the easiest to get around on the network. Each area of London is divide into zones and fare prices depend which zone you are travelling in.
The tube network can get very bus during rush hour and commuting times (usually 7am to 9am and 5.30pm to 7pm) so try to avoid if you can taking a tube then. There is the added benefit of cheaper fares in off-peak times as well as the chance of getting a seat!
Anyone travelling on the London Underground should be aware that there is an unwritten rule that when using an escalator you should always keep to the right. This gives anyone wanting to rush for their train a clear path and means you aren’t going to get in anyone’s way. You may find that Londoners do it automatically on other escalators, for instance in shopping malls, as it has virtually become second nature for them.
It is also commonsense to allow people to get off the train before getting on board. There is no point trying to get on the carriage if fellow passengers want to leave – it will just cause a traffic jam, so step aside and make sure things keep moving.
You also need to make sure that you move right along the tube platform to avoid creating bottlenecks at the main entrance points. If you make the effort to work towards the rear or front carriages, you may also be in with a greater chance of getting a seat onboard.
Catch a bus
London is well-known for its iconic red double decker buses and they are a perfect way to see the sights of the city.
Recent times have seen an increase in the amount of money spend on the city’s services and this means the majority of the buses are state-of-the-art, there are also more frequent services and improved accessibility.
Be aware that buses no longer handle cash payments, so ensure you get an Oyster card or travelcard, or you can use a contactless payment card.
A single bus fare is great value as the buses cover a large area of Greater London and fab for a day out. There is something so exciting for children taking a tour on a bus.
Opt for the train
While buses and the London Underground to tend to cover most of the top London attractions, another option is to get on a train.
London is obviously well connected to the rest of the UK so you can catch a train to elsewhere if you fancy a day trip. There are regular services to coastal areas such as Brighton – ideal if the weather is nice.
It is important to note that you cannot usually make use of Oyster cards on the network so check with the ticket office before beginning your journey to ensure you have the correct ticket.
Yes, many Londoners do their daily commute by boat. There are a number of so-called river bus services along the River Thames, Regent’s Canal and the London Docklands.
It is a fab way to see London no matter what the weather as all bus boats are covered and many even have a small outside deck area.
There are also special sightseeing boats that travel along the Thames and offer a great view some of the city’s most famous landmarks. As well as commentary, some of the boats also the chance to enjoy some food and even dancing.
Don’t panic if you end up somewhere you were not expecting. The London transport network can be very confusing at first and it can be quite easy to miss your stop – especially on the tube lines as the trains do not stay in each station for very long.
However, the great thing is that services are really frequent so it doesn’t take too long to retrace your steps. There are also plenty of London travel apps available so you can easily search for an alternative route or review the transport maps.
If you are totally lost, there are plenty Transport of London staff who will be happy to help you get to your destination.
Check for travel updates
It is often common for regular maintenance work to take place, especially on the London Underground network. Work is usually restricted to weekend and night times but can sometimes overrun. Therefore, it is advisable to double-check for updates and if needs be, you can search for an alternative route. Again, the various smartphone apps available are ideal to keep in up-to-date with the latest events across the capital.
Remember it can get a little hot when travelling across London, especially during the summer months.
In particular, the tube network can get very stuffy as it lacks complete air-conditioning. Therefore, it is wise to remember a bottle of water in your bag before setting off on a long journey, especially if temperatures are expected to be high.
Also be aware that drinking alcohol has been banned on the tube since June 2008, while smoking has not been permitted on trains since 1987 and is now banned from all public spaces on the network.
Like any major city, pickpockets tend to operate in busy areas, especially if there are tourists. Therefore, it pays to make sure you protect your belongings. Opt for a bag with a secure closure and don’t carry your wallet or purse in your back pocket. It is also worth keeping valuable items or important documents, such as your passport, back at your hotel or in your room safe rather than risk taking them out.