London is a wonderful metropolis with an incredible number of places to visit and to discover. The largest urban area in the European Union offers a dense and extensive public and private transport network for everyone.
Public transport provision is, in most cases, managed by the local public body responsible for transport in the city. It is not always easy to understand how transit works in a foreign country and it can be a stressful experience at the best of times. We designed this post to help you understand London’s transport system a little better, to provide information and advice on how it works, and hopefully to prepare you for the exciting experience.
If you fly to London, there are few options for transportation from the airport(s) to the city center. The major five airports in London are: London Gatwick Airport, London Heathrow Airport, London Stansted Airport, London City Airport, and London Luton Airport. Depending on which airport you arrive, here is a quick guide to public transportation that can get you fast in town:
|Public Transport||Airport||Destination||Travel Time||Ticket Price (adult)|
|National Express||Gatwick Airport||Victoria Station||80mins||£10|
|Heathrow Express||Heathrow Airport||London Paddington||15-20mins||£21- £26|
|National Express||Heathrow Airport||Victoria Station||40-90mins||£6|
|Stansted Express||Stansted Airport||Central Station||50mins||£23|
|National Express||Stansted Airport||Victoria Station||50-70mins||£8|
|National Express||Luton Airport||Victoria Station||60-120mins||£10- £12|
|National Express||London City Airport||Victoria Station||90-140mins||£5-£7|
EasyBus offers bus rides from all airports to city center for low costs between 2- 8£. It takes longer time and there are not many buses in a day so it is better to check it online before arrival. Terravision is a similar local bus company, a little bit faster and more expensive than EasyBus, with price range 10-20£, depending on the airport and destination.
Taxis are to be found at an expensive price, going up to 100£ journey. Travel time can’t be estimated because of possible rush hours, destination and other circumstances.
Once in the city
Discount Cards. The London Pass usually has discounts for tourists. It is best to ask when purchase at the desk or check online for deals.
Contactless Payment Cards, OysterCards & TravelCards. Where can you purchase the cards? Underground Stations, Airports, Visitor Centers and outlets like newsagents and convenience stores.
Contactless payment cards are your normal personal credit/debit cards. If your card supports the contactless payment technology then you don’t have to do anything. More information about which card works for this relatively new technology can be found here . For short term visitors, contactless payment cards and TravelCards are the only travel passes where you do not incur the admin charges of Oyster. Otherwise 3£ is charged, with a 5£ deposit that can be claimed back when returning the card.
For short visits in London, TravelCard is the best choice as it is cheaper and easier to use. Most locals and people who are staying longer than few days choose OysterCard for convenience and deals they can benefit from.
Cycling is another way to discover the city by getting fit and saving money at the same time! You can find the Barclays Cycle Hire of London in 400 different locations in the city, with more than 6000 bikes. It’s really easy to use; just swipe your credit card or membership key, grab a bike and go to explore the huge city. You can sign up online to get a membership key in advance, for only £3. If you plan to rent a bike for a full day or more, go to one of the several bicycle hire companies; it will be cheaper. There are many places where you can rent a bike so that won’t be a problem. Recently prices have changed and the deals are now as following:
London’s famous red buses are a quick, convenient and cheap way to travel around the city, with plenty of sightseeing opportunities along the way. CAREFUL: You cannot pay for this London bus fare with cash but by using a Visitor OysterCard, an OysterCard, a TravelCard or with a contactless payment card. If you only use buses and trams to travel around London, you will pay a maximum of £ 5 per day, as long as you pay with the same ticket or contactless payment card every time.
Public Transport To/From London to the rest of the country
Rail Services. London lines can be used to get to the airports and some sights like Windsor, Hampton Court and Greenwich. Longer services cover major cities and towns in United Kingdom.
Coach Services. The main long distance coach station is at Victoria Station. The largest operator National Express runs daily to all major cities in the country. Megabus is also available if you search for a cheaper way of transportation outside the city. More about Megabus can be found here. Advised to check the website at least a day before since schedule can change.
TIP: Buy your travel card of choice before arriving in London. You can find plenty of deals online and could be a life saver. Enjoy London!