London does not need an introduction, as the world-famous capital and largest city of the United Kingdom. We have carefully assembled a full guide to get you to, from & around the city as efficiently as possible.

Jump to:

  • Airport to City
  • Public transport guide
    • Popular excursions
  • Plan a layover

Airport to City Centre

At a glance, you may see our summary of cheapest, fastest & best options to get between both Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW) Airports and London city centre, the two main airports serving the city.

Arriving at a different airport? Full list of airport guides:

The cheapest way is the Tube, costing as little as £3.10 and takes 50-60 minutes. Read more.

The fastest way is Heathrow Express taking as little as 15 minutes but comes at a steep cost of £37 round-trip. Read more.

The best way taking into account the cost, convenience and speed is the Tfl Rail service, taking around half an hour. You can read more about it here but with the plethora of options available, it’s worthwhile to evaluate each one.

The cheapest way is the 1hr15m bus journey operated by easyBus & National Express, with fares starting at £5. Read more.

The fastest way is the Gatwick Express getting you into the centre of town in 30 minutes but costs a steep £19.90 one-way. Read more.

The best way taking into account the cost, convenience and speed is either the Thameslink or Southern train service, depending on where you are heading in London, costing as little as £8.30. Read more.

Public Transport Guide

From the iconic Tube, black cabs to double decker buses as well as lesser known methods like the Riverboats and DLR, London has an extensive and functional public transport system that will get you around everywhere you will want to visit.

Jump to:

  • Method overview
    • Metro/subway & rail
    • Buses, taxis & ride-sharing
    • Other methods
  • Ticketing & stored value card
  • Getting around
  • Popular excursions

Transport methods

Metro/subway & rail

Covering famous tourist areas and beyond and for many a novelty in itself, the Tube is a traveller’s favourite method of transport while in London. While one of the more expensive in the world and crowded at peak times, it is expansive and efficient.

While station signs are plentiful making transfers from line to line simple, sections of the Tube can be confusing. The Circle line isn’t exactly a circle and some the Northern line has two branches going through the centre.

Apart from the Tube, the DLR operates in the Docklands area of East London. You will most likely use it if you are flying into City Airport and if you manage to snap the front seat in the first carriage, you can pretend to be a driver. Otherwise, Overground and other more commuter-oriented trains operate throughout London and the surrounding area.

London has great rail connections to other major UK cities, including Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. You can read more about intercity journeys in our numerous documented popular excursions.

Buses, taxis & ride-sharing

Buses in London are a value-oriented option for travellers, with a flat-fare of £1.50. Although it may not be the fastest available method, you can get everywhere within the central area on a bus. It is a great way to see the city and the everyday life, especially on the upper deck front seat.

The iconic black cabs can be found all over London with ease. They are clean, spacious and the drivers are knowledgeable. Black cabs are typically faster as they can also drive in dedicated bus lanes, closed off to normal cars. Cards are accepted but cash payment is preferred, and it is customary to round-up to the nearest £1.

Uber is London’s most popular ride-sharing app. You are unlikely to wait more than a few minutes for a car and it is most often cheaper than a London Taxi

Other methods

There are both tourist and regular ferry services operating on the Thames within the Central London area called the Riverboat service. A cable car service operates in the Docklands area between North Greenwich and Royal Victoria, currently branded as Emirates.

Ticketing & stored value card

The Oyster card is London’s public transport stored value card. Along with the convenience, it comes with significant savings over single tickets.

How to get it & adding credit

You can purchase an Oyster card at ticket machines and kiosks at Tube stations as well as many newsagents advertising “Oyster” services at a minimum price of £10. £5 of which is refundable deposit and £5 is the minimum credit required, but selecting a higher amount is advisable.

A Visitor Oyster for the same price plus postage to your place of residence. However, since buying an Oyster card is extremely easy, there are few benefits to doing so.

The most popular way to top-up your Oyster card is to do so at a ticket machine at a Tube station. You can use cash to add a specific amount or get rid of change. Alternatively, you can use a manned ticket office at stations or a newsagent. The last can be particularly useful if you need to get on a bus but ran out of credit.

How to use it

Using the Oyster card couldn’t be simpler. Always look out for bright yellow spots with the Oyster symbol. At Tube stations after tapping in, the barriers will open for a short, provided you have enough credit. There are of course no barriers on buses, you just tap in the pad next to the driver and a green light will appear (again, provided you have enough credit). If ever in doubt, look at what everyone else is doing.

In a small number of Tube stations and some on the DLR & Overground, there are no barriers but only pads near a wall. Regardless, you need to tap in before entering the platform. Make sure you always tap in and out to make sure you are charged the correct fare and won’t encounter a penalty.

Fares & passes

Pricing of using London’s public transport is complex and fast-changing. It works on a zone system and fares are higher during peak times. You can use the excellent Tfl single journey

Read more about the Oyster  card, including how to return it to recover the credits and validity for future travels.

Getting around

A few things to remember when travelling around London. Always stand on the right of the escalator as the left side is for walking.

London’s plethora of available methods of transport can lead to dilemmas at times. One companion app that can help is Citymapper. Available for free on both iOS and Android, type where you want to go and it will give you an overview of all available methods of getting there, from walking to taxis and buses as well as all public transport methods. It will prevent you from being the tourist that takes the Tube to make the distance walkable in 10 minutes.

As a backup, it is always great to have a paper Tube map handy, available for free at every station. It can also make a great souvenir.

Popular excursions

London is very well connected to other cities in the UK and over the English Channel in mainland Europe. Read about some of the popular excursions we have covered so far:

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Plan a layover

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Related blog posts

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