Getting Around London
Getting Around London
London's travel network is split into zones, radiating from the centre of the city. All tickets are charged according to which zones you will travel through. Most visitors to the capital are unlikely to wander out of zone 2.
The London Underground
London's tube is frequently moaned about, but is generally quite efficient with trains appearing every 2-5 minutes. In peak times it will be packed and be very uncomfortable, so always take a drink with you to keep cool in the summer. Although the tube network is immense (13 lines), south London is not very well covered and people tend to rely more on rail and buses. The tube runs from early morning (06.00-07.00 depending on each line) to late evening (about 00.30).
Tickets can be bought from machines or from ticket booths in the station entrance hall and from newsagents. For those living in London, getting an 'Oystercard' is worthwhile, for visitors however, the card tickets are fine. A travel card is the best option for anyone taking more than two journeys in the day and can be used on buses, trains and the DLR. The Tube is generally quicker than the bus, simply because of London's legendary traffic jams.
It is worth noting that since 2006 paper tickets have become more expensive then the same journey being paid for on an Oystercard. A single fare within zone 1 is £4 with a paper ticket, but is £1.50 by Oyster (information correct from April 2007). This is being done to help encourage more people to use the new payment system. The cards themselves can be purchased for around £3 and used without a travel ID card, so for some visitors it may pay to get an oystercard upon arrival. The Oystercard can also be bought online overseas from agents.
One last thing to note, the tube map is a design classic, but it's very deceptive. Some places are a lot closer (and easier to walk) than it appears on the map, check that A-Z!
Travelling around London by Taxi
London's famous black cabs are comfortable but can be expensive. They work on a timer, so you are stuck in a jam, it can be very frustrating watching the fare go up. The alternative are the minicabs, which mushroom in busy nightspots. You either have to phone them or visit the office, you can't flag them down, but you can then agree a fare before travelling. If you'd rather drive yourself you're in for a parking nightmare - it's almost impossible to get a place to park in the city centre and the punishments for parking illegally are cruel indeed.
If time is the most important factor then motorcycle taxis are hard to beat. Journeys across London and to the airports are fun and fast. All the required kit (helmet, gloves etc) is provided and the journey times are usually at least halved compared to those by car. Although expensive compared to other forms of transport, taxi bikes are very quick and a very cool way to arrive. The website www.passengerbikes.com has costs and contact details.
This is by far and away the best way to travel round the city. The number of bicycle lanes are increasing as is the number of people who use this mode of transport to travel around the city as it is often quicker, easier and is always better for your health! Bikes can be hired at a multitude of venues - including for use in most London Parks - but also London Bridge is another place to look as bike shops rent them from anything from one day to a month or so!
If you can ride a motorcycle and will be staying in the capital for over a week it may be worth looking up one of the numerous motorcycle hire services available. It is the fastest way to get around the city, bikers do not pay the congestion charge and parking is free in designated motorcycle bays (which can be found all over the city). A word of warning: London roads can be dangerous for bikers. It is advisable to take the one day CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) course if you are at all unsure of you're abilities - indeed it is compulsory if your driving licence does not extend to the U.K.