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Getting Around London

The Best Ways to Get Around

Pro Tip

Here's a list of best London Transportation apps:

CityMapper (My favorite)




Need to get a ride to from and to the airport or to Southampton for your cruise? Reach out to London Black Taxi Transfers. Tell him Send Me to London referred you and Glen will take good care of you! Contact him HERE

If you are seeing other parts of the UK, check car rental prices here.

London is a vast and sprawling city, with a population of over 8 million people. It can be daunting to try to get around, especially if you're visiting for the first time. But don't worry, there are plenty of ways to get around London, and it's not as complicated as it may seem. In fact, once you use the public transportation, you will be nearly an expert after the first time.  

Here are a few of the most popular ways to get around London:

The Tube: The London Underground, also known as "the Tube," is the city's rapid transit system. It's the fastest and most efficient way to get around London, and it covers a vast area. The Tube is divided into nine zones, and fares vary depending on how many zones you travel through. Almost all of central London will be in Zone 1 or 2.  That will take you clear out to Greenwich.  Hampton Court Palace is in Zone 6.  Windsor Castle is out of the zones and you'll have to buy a train ticket. But, 90% of what most tourists want to see will be in zone 1 and 2.  You can travel all these zones with either your contactless credit card, your phone pay app or an Oyster card at a ticket machine in nearly all tube stations. In Zone 1 and 2, you can ride the tube as many times in a 24-hour period from 4:30 am to 4:29 am for a capped daily rate of £8.10.  Read more about caps HERE. It amounts to about 3 tube rides.  After that, you won't pay anymore.  Going outside zone 1 or 2 will alter that so don't freak out if the amount you see is wrong.  You probably went outside the zone.  TFL will get it correct according to what you actually did and it's complicated.  They will also only charge your contactless card once daily so any foreign transaction fees will only get added once a day and not for every transaction. 


*PRO TIP* Everyone over 11 and older must have their OWN payment method.  You can't tap an Oyster or contactless card 4 times and get your whole family through the gates.  You and your partner can have the same card on your phone pay app because each app assigns an anonymous number to the card.  But, you can't both use the same plastic contactless card.  

Buses: London buses are a great way to get around if you're on a budget. They're slower than the Tube, but they're also much cheaper and you get great views of the city as you're riding around.  Top deck is always better for that.  Some new buses have USB charging ports at the seats, too!  There are no zones for the buses so you can ride all over the zones for the same cost.  The daily cap for the bus right now is £5.25 which amounts to less than 3 rides so after your 3rd ride, you can ride the bus without additional costs.  You can also get on and off a bus limitless numbers of times within 60 minutes of tapping in on the first bus.  You'll still tap in but the system won't charge you again if it's within 60 minutes of the first time.  However, you can't tap into the tube anytime during that or it ends.  The bus is easy - get on at the front doors and tap in, get off through the middle doors - no need to tap out.  FYI- The Hop On Hop Off buses are not part of the Transport for London (TFL) system so don't try to use your Oyster card for them.  If you want to get a similar effect without paying the extra cost - check out THIS ARTICLE on best London bus routes for sightseeing. 


Riverboats: London has a number of riverboats that offer sightseeing tours and transportation. They're a great way to see the city from a different perspective. The Uber Boats by Thames Clipper will accept your Oyster card or contactless card for payment.  You'll just need to have enough on your Oyster card for the journey.  It will be more than the tube.  Make sure you tap out at the other end as there is usually just a pad somewhere along the dock as you disembark.  I see lots of people not tapping out and there are maximum charges if you forget.  

*PRO TIP* Walk to Millbank Pier just a few blocks past the Palace of Westminster and get on the Uber boat there. You'll get to go past Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) and the Palace on the river.  Most tourists make the mistake of getting on at Westminster Pier and then totally miss seeing the Houses of Parliament from the river.  Take the boat to Tower Pier or the one after you go under Tower Bridge.  Or, ride it clear to Greenwich.  Once you get past central London, the boat picks up speed and doesn't stop as often.  

Taxis: Taxis are a convenient way to get around London, but they can be expensive. You can hail a taxi on the street or book one in advance from one of the apps I included at the top of the page.  I don't take taxis very often, but I'm usually glad I did.  London taxi drivers are great conversationalists.  They will talk tourist site, restaurants, politics, or whatever you strike up a conversation about.  My favorite was the 70-year-old woman who had been one of the first female drivers and had driven her whole life.  She spoke like Eliza Doolittle before she met Henry Higgins and I could have ridden around all day with her.  

Uber: London government has a love-hate relationship with Uber.  They alternate between having the right to operate and getting their permission revoked.  I am not a huge Uber fan because my husband always seems to get the tiny car and then expects me to dive into it in the middle of the street. There have been times when my sore knees didn't want to bend that much to get in.  We've had awesome drivers and sketchy drivers.  It's an option, though.  The drivers don't know their way around like taxi drivers do so you sometimes get stuck in very bad traffic that a taxi driver could probably get out of better.  

Bicycles: You can hire bikes from a number of places around the city but honestly, I would stick to riding in the parks where it's permissible.  There are bike lines in places, but not everywhere and you are fighting with buses, cars and the ever-present and very aggressive delivery motorbikes.  


Walking: London is a very walkable city, and many of the top tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other. Walking is a great way to see the city and get some exercise.  You will very easily walk 7-10 miles day without even trying.  It's honestly something you should prepare for unless you are already a walker/runner.  We have a walking prep program at our Simply London Facebook page you can access HERE.  London is generally a safe city to walk around in.  DO be aware of your surroundings.  If you are using your phone to navigate, hold it close to you and turn away from the street or move over to a wall to set the route.  Phone thefts are increasing and when that bicyclist snatches it out of your hand, you aren't getting it back and the police won't do anything.  Some are starting to use a neck lanyard.  Not that a small lanyard would stop them, but they are looking for easy marks and that may deter them.  

Secure your bags and nothing in easily accessible pockets is also highly advisable.  Check out the travel gear page for our favorite crossbody purses and bags.  

We even have our own adorable London walking shoes that look like the Elizabeth Line seats that you can purchase.  Check them out HERE.  Use Simplylondon10 and get 10% off! Be sure to print out the sizing guide to make sure these custom shoes are the right fit.  But, they are pretty true to size.  

No matter how you choose to get around London, be sure to plan ahead and allow plenty of time for your journey. London is a busy city, and traffic can be heavy, especially during rush hour. Try to plan your journeys around the rush hour times for more pleasant travel.  

This great video by Joolz Guides is literally how I learned to get around London on public transportation. A couple of things are outdated but it's pretty accurate.  All his videos are great!


Two things I would never attempt in London and highly suggest you also avoid them.

First, DO NOT RENT A CAR!  London traffic is insane and slow.  Parking is difficult and the ULEZ charges are hefty to drive in the city.  If you must have a car to go outside the city, go back to the airport and rent from there. Once you have been to London, you will understand. It is not like a very large American city that you may have driven in. Don't pretend it's no big deal.  

Second, London is not very bicycle friendly as many European cities are. Rent a bike in the park and stay off the streets. I have seen situations where bikes nearly got taken out by buses and cars. 


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