How you decide to get around the capital depends on 3 main things; the distance you have to travel, how much time you have to get there and how much you want to spend. With famously exorbitant travel costs in London compared to many other cities in the world, I have listed 10 ways to get around the city, in my personal order of preference.
Perfect for short trips and completely free. It is my favourite way to get around the city because London is largely flat and the smoggy air aside, you do get to see a lot more of the city on foot than when you are underground.
It’s Uber. It’s ideal. And in London it is a lot cheaper than our trademark black taxis. Plus you can always meet an interesting stranger in the back of a Prius on your way home from the other side of the city if you decide to Uber Pool it.
This is a great way to cover distance and is often cooler than the Tube trains on summer days. Buses are a lot cheaper too with each journey only costing £1.50 no matter how far you travel. You can also switch buses as many times as you need within one hour of tapping in* on your first journey and it won’t cost you any more. The daily cap for the buses in London is £4.50. There are also night buses every day, which run across the city which are extremely useful.
*Tapping in is when you touch your Oyster Card or contactless payment card onto the reader when you board the bus or tap to get through the barriers at train/tube stations etc.
Convenient and practical when it is running properly, the Tube is ideal for longer journeys but can get very hot in summer and extremely crowded on a daily basis. It is also quite expensive with an anytime, one day, travel card between zones 1-6 costing the average adult almost £20!
The Overground and Network Railway
Similar to the Tube but a little less crowded (on some routes), these rail networks are ideal for getting around suburban London if you are venturing out of the capital or for visiting towns across the south and south east of the UK.
Getting around London in your own car can be frustrating to say the least. I do not drive so it isn’t an option for me, but if you do, you must consider insanely high parking fees and a daily congestion charge of £11.50 to take your vehicle into the congestion zone between 7am and 6pm on weekdays plus the Ultra Low Emission charge applicable to most vehicles in the city, all day, every day; an additional £12.50.
Good to say you have been in one, but I would generally avoid them. They often take the longest route to places and charge way more than necessary for the journey. Uber all the way.
Avoid. Do not be tempted in with their pretty lights and upbeat music. They are not regulated by the Department of Transport so they are allowed to charge what they like. There are often stories in the news about how someone has tried to charge a tourist £600 for a trundle around or £150 for a five minute journey around Soho. Avoid.
London does have a tram network in the south of the city, running from Wimbledon to Beckenham via Croydon, which provides another way to commute. The services run pretty regularly and all access is step free. I do not live in this area of London so do not use the trams on a regular basis, but I have taken them before and from my experiences they have usually been pretty reliable.
One of the best ways to get around the city. The Santander bikes, once branded ‘Boris Bikes’ (or Sadiq Cycles now maybe) are all over the city and offer a cheap way to get around. You can hire a bike for £2 for 24 hours, and don’t even have to be using it the whole time. You can doc it and pick up another bike later and not pay more than the £2. We also have Obike and Mobike schemes running in the city, but I can’t ride a bike which is why cycling is not higher on my list!
Honorable mention here too for the river boat services in London. They are often a lot quieter than the tube, roads, trains and buses, but obviously not always as convenient as they follow the course of the River Thames.
Have you ever been to London? Which of these transports did you use to get around the city? Or maybe you have a favourite way to get around your own town? Let me know in the comments below.