London is a big city, so you might be surprised at how close everything truly is. Remember not to rely on the tube or tube map for accurate distances between destinations and there are so many other ways to explore this amazing city!
Helpful Apps to help you get around
Citymapper – it will get you from A to B using various modes of transport. It also includes detours for planned engineering works and “in case of rain” routes.
Tube Exits – this app helps you work out which carriage to board to arrive adjacent to your platform exit for the quickest get away.
Hailo – this app shows you where the black cabs are in your area, and you can book them in only two taps! You can also automatically pay with credit or debit card.
Don’t be scared to explore London by foot as it is flat and very easy to navigate above ground. When walking, don’t refer to the Tube map which can be deceiving when it comes to distances between stops. It is an easy walk between Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus tube stations.
It would only take you about an hour to walk from Buckingham Palace to London Bridge via Westminster, Southbank, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Borough Markets (a good tourist walk on a sunny day!). It is also a short walk from Liverpool Street to Spitalfields Markets, Brick Lane, Columbia Road Flower Markets and the nightlife in Shoreditch.
Santander Cycle Hire is an easy, cheap and quick way of getting around central London. The scheme is intended for short journeys and will cost you an Access Fee + a Usage Charge each time you use it. There is an Access Fee for 24 hours and you receive up to 30 minutes is free.
Hint – if all your journeys are under 30 minutes all you pay is your access fee. Pay the Access Fee, complete your ride in less than 30 minutes, dock your bike, collect another bike and ride again for another 30 minutes.
More information on fees here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles
Public transport in London is easy, and relatively cheap for Zones 1-2. The London Underground (called the Tube) and the red buses go everywhere in zones 1 and 2 that you could want to go. Other train services, the London Overground and the DLR (Docklands Light Rail) are easily accessible from many central points in London and can get you to some destinations faster than the Tube.
You can download maps for each of the six different modes of transport from Transport For London (TFL).
Once you work out the bus system, you can get almost anywhere in London. The big red buses might be a little slower than the tube, but they are usually less crowded and you can see so much more above ground. My favourite route is the 15, as the Old Routemaster will take you from Tower Hill to Trafalgar Square.
Ensure you get a Tube map, or download one of the many London travel apps for your stay.
(Zones 1 to 2 – Oyster £2.80 peak, £2.10 off-peak, Cash fare £4.50, Daily Travelcard: £7.30 OR Zones 1 to 6 – Oyster £5.00 peak, £3.00 off-peak, Cash fare £5.50)*
Get an Oyster card (a plastic smart card) that can be used for discounted travel (compared to paper tickets) all over London on the Tube (Underground), the Overground, the Docklands Light Rail (DLR) and the buses. You can top up your card as you go (at any station) and multiple journeys within the same zone(s) are capped at the equivalent Day Travelcard rate.
Add the Travelcard feature to your Oyster for weekly or monthly passes. A weekly or monthly Travelcard on your Oyster is better value for money only if you use any means of public transport more than 11 times each week during peak hour, or 15 times per week outside of peak hour.