How to get around London

Master London's transport with help from our top tips

How to get around London

There’s a variety of different transport options in London, such as: train, tube, boat, bus, DLR and taxis, which can take you to a whole range of sights and places of interest.

Once you master London’s transport you’ll become a natural, but at first it may seem a little daunting. So we’ve compiled a useful guide on how to use London’s transport and how to get around the capital city.

How do you choose the right mode of transport?

Choosing the right mode of transport is very important; the best way to do this is by downloading an app on your phone, such as Citymapper. (Or if you prefer the old school route, pick up a tube map and some maps of London.)

Citymapper allows you to plan your journeys and provides you with the fastest route, the cost, how long it will take to get there, and a timetable. The app also has a tube map and a rail map and includes updates on the lines, detailing whether there are any delays.

Top tip: Take time to calculate your journeys before you set off and make sure you know which stop to get off at; Citymapper also tells you how many stops until your destination.

 Finding your way in London Underground

Once you are underground on the tube, it can be very easy to get lost. There are a lot of passages and tunnels leading to and from the platforms; however as a rule of thumb, if you follow the signs, you should find your way.

It might also be useful for you to look up the stations that you are going to on the TfL website, because they have different facilities, for example some stations have step free access such as Tottenham Court Road and King’s Cross St Pancras, whereas some only have escalators such as Camden and Hyde Park Corner.

Top tip: Always follow the marked exit signs to find the way out and the marked signs to find the other lines.

How to pay for transport in London

There are numerous ways to pay for your travel whilst you are in London, for example a visitor oyster card, an oyster card, your contactless card, or a Travelcard.

A visitor oyster card can be bought online before you come to London and can be posted to your home address; it costs £5 to buy a card (non-refundable) plus postage and then you can put a certain amount of credit on top of the £5 (e.g. if you wanted a card with £20 credit on, it would cost you £25 to purchase this). The visitor oyster card allows visitors to enjoy special travel discounts and offers at leading London restaurants, shops and entertainment venues.

An oyster card can be bought when you arrive in London and costs £5 for a refundable card. Both the visitor oyster and the oyster cards can be topped up as you need to with the ‘pay-as-you-go’ system in all tube stations.

Your contactless card can be used to pay for your transport around London. This works the same way as an oyster card does, you tap in and out at the yellow card reader points and only pay for the journeys you make. All American Express cards are accepted and most Mastercards are accepted.

A Travelcard can permit you to travel in between certain zones throughout a day, or a week, depending on which type of Travelcard you purchase. You can also purchase a group Travelcard if you are travelling in a group of 10 or more.

Top tip: Make sure you tap in and out with your oyster or contactless card, so you aren’t charged an incorrect fare.

When is the best time to travel around?

Wherever you are going to, it is advisable to avoid travelling at rush hour, because it can be very busy on the trains and the stations.

Rush hour in the morning is between 07:30 and 09:30 and in the evening rush hour is between 17:00 and 19:00.

Top tip: If you are travelling during rush hour, and the carriage looks very cramped, wait for the next train. There is always another train/tube a minute or two behind, which will probably be less busy.

Avoid eye contact

And finally, the people of London don’t like eye contact on any mode of transport, especially on the tube. You may want to take it all in and even practise your English whilst you are travelling around London; however it is advisable to only politely ask for directions, if you are lost, and avoid making small talk.

Top tip: To avoid eye contact with other people on public transport you can look at the floor, your phone, read a book or rest your eyes!