First of all, if you’ve decided to go to London, let me congratulate you on your excellent taste. While there are a million things to do in this amazing city, I want to be sure you know how to get around London before you go.
London is a city with an absolutely fantastic public transport network, but the plethora of choice can be a bit overwhelming for first-time visitors. London is, however, a notoriously difficult city to drive in – parking and traffic are challenging, not to mention adjusting to the whole “driving on the other side of the road” for American tourists. That said, there are plenty of other simpler ways to get around London that don’t require getting behind the wheel of a rental. Opt for public transit as your first choice, with multiple options well explained as follows.
Want to know how to get around in London?…… read on
Underground (The Tube)
The main source of public transport in London revolves around the Underground (or the Tube as it is known to Londoners). Despite its name, only about 45% of the system is actually underground in tunnels, with much of the network in the outer environs of London being on the surface. It is the oldest underground transportation network in the world, first opening in 1863, and carries over one billion passengers a year. The system is vast, with over 250 miles of track and over 200 stations. The London Underground is the best way to get around London if you want to move quickly across a large area. And thanks to its efficiency, trains are usually on time.
The stations are easily recognizable with the big red circle with “UNDERGROUND” written across it. Trains generally run at least every 10 minutes between 5 am and midnight, some lines offering 24-hour lines. To ride the London Underground, you’ll need a ticket or an Oyster Card. Oyster cards are plastic credit cards like passes that you can “top-up” (add money to) at any time. They work on the underground, bus systems, and some National Rail. Children 10 and under ride the bus and tube for FREE! To buy your Oyster card, find a machine in any Tube station or ask an attendant. To ride the Tube, hold your Oyster Card over the indicated area on the barriers on your way in and out. The barriers will automatically deduct your fare from your card.
Although expensive, taxis can be a very useful way to get about town. Black-cab drivers can be hailed on the street and are both generally very honest and extremely knowledgable: they know precisely where they are going, though they can talk the hind leg off a donkey.
The black cab is as much a feature of the London cityscape as the red double-decker bus. Licensed black cab drivers have the ‘Knowledge’, acquired after rigorous training and a series of exams. They are supposed to know 25,000 streets within a 6-mile radius of Charing Cross/Trafalgar Sq and the 100 most-visited spots of the moment, including clubs and restaurants. They can get quite expensive so we try to save them for a rainy day (literally). Some cabs take credit cards, but most of them receive cash only. Fares are metered and paid upon completion of the journey.
As a common courtesy, it’s always a good idea to go to the passenger window of the cab before getting in and telling them where you’re going to be sure they are willing to go there, especially if it’s far. When the Taxi sign is lit, the cab is empty. To hail a cab, stand on the curb and hold your hand up. Also, look for designated Taxi pick up spots and be sure not to stand on a “zebra crossing” because they are not allowed to stop there. Apps such as mytaxi (https://uk.mytaxi.com) use your smartphone’s GPS to locate the nearest black cab. You only pay the metered fare. ComCab operates one of the largest fleets of black cabs in town.
Minicabs, which are licensed, are (usually) cheaper competitors of black cabs.
Unlike black cabs, minicabs cannot legally be hailed on the street; they must be hired by phone or directly from one of the minicab offices (every high street has at least one and most clubs work with a minicab firm to send revelers home safely). Minicabs don’t have meters; there’s usually a fare set by the dispatcher. Make sure you ask before setting off.
if you are only in the capital for a short amount of time, the best way to get around London is on an open-top tour bus.
Don’t miss a single sight by being stuck underground or getting lost on the streets. Here are a few reasons why I think the bus is the best way to get around London:
- Cheap: There is a set fare per journey, so even if you’re going from one end of the city to the other, your fare is still only 1.50 pounds! Also, kids 10 and under ride free!
- Convenient: There are literally bus stops on almost every corner of London and the buses run continuously throughout the day and night, even stopping where there may not be an Underground station.
- Accessibility: If you’re getting around London in a wheelchair or with kids in strollers, the bus is the most easily accessible mode of transportation, lacking the necessity of stairs. If you have a stroller you can just wheel it right on to the bus.
- Oyster Card: You can pay for the bus using your Oyster Card by simply touching it to the yellow reader. You only need to use it at the beginning of your journey.
- The View: Riding the bus in London provides you with incredible views of the city and allows you to see more of London while in transit. Yes, it’s slower than the Underground due to being restricted by traffic, but I think the trade-off is worth it.
Wow congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of this post. You’re probably wondering … “only 3 means of public transport!” well not to worry I got you covered on the …………article for more expo on other means of public transport such as DLR and TramLinks.