the complete guide to getting around London

First thing's first: download City Mapper app on your phone for FREE! This is going to make finding your destination easier, saving you time and frustration. I use this app in just about every city I travel to. 

Next, get an Oyster Card. For £5, you can purchase a card that you can use on buses, trains, and the underground to get around the city. You can load your Oyster Card at any train or tube station with cash, coins, or your bank card. An Oyster Card makes public transit in London even more of a breeze. 


Airport //

London is serviced by 6 different airports, as listed below:

  • Luton: 40/60-minutes Northwest of the city center
  • Stansted: 50-minutes Northeast of the city center
  • City: 20-minutes East of the city center
  • Gatwick: 30-minutes Southwest of the city center
  • Southend: 1-hour East of the city center
  • Heathrow: 15-minutes West of the city center

Taxi //

Pros: You can call a taxi ahead of time, which comes in handy when you have an early morning flight and don't feel like catching the night bus. There are an abundance of taxi cabs around the city, so you can snag one on almost any street corner at any time of day or night. If you don't travel light, taxis make transporting baggage a bit easier than lugging a suitcase from tube station to tube station. 

Cons: A taxi can be extremely expensive and some are cash only {does anyone carry cash on them anymore?!}. 

Uber //

Unfortunately, Lyft is not available in London yet. However, Uber is. I don't feel like the politics of Uber align with my own values, so I don't wish to personally promote the app. All I will say is this for the sake of being well-rounded: UberPool allows people to ride share, making it more affordable and also more eco-friendly than a taxi.

Walk //

Pros: This is my favourite way to get around London. It's an incredibly easy city to walk. You will see more of the city, have more photo opportunities, and find more hidden treasures by walking than any other form of transportation in London. 

Cons: It obviously will take you longer to get from one place to another if you're doing it on foot. Unless you have a map, use City Mapper, or have an excellent sense of direction, your chances of getting lost may increase {which could be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your life philosophy I suppose}. 

Bus //

Pros: I love the bus, guys! It's £0.90 cheaper per ride than the tube and you actually get to see the sights. 

Cons: It typically {read: often} takes longer than the underground because it makes more stops. This is something to consider if you are in a time crunch. 

Train //

Pros: It's environmentally friendly and, like riding the bus, you get to see all the sights! Riding the train offers a quiet and comfortable trip wherever you're headed. The trains makes it super simple to get to hotspots like the lavender fields and the domino telephone booth. 

Cons: Traveling by train is not always the fastest and during times when railways are under construction, a lot of routes have major delays and sometimes require you to get off the train and take a bus. These buses are put into place to take care of gaps that construction leaves and are still covered by your train ticket but they can be a bit inconveinent.  

Bike //

Pros: It's an environmentally-conscious option for getting from point A to point B! It's also a great way to see the city. You have the freedom to go off-route that you don't when riding the bus or the tube. It's also a bit of a workout, which I always appreciate. 

Cons: If you aren't used to biking in a big city, particularly on the left side of the road, biking could be a bit stressful. 

The Underground //

Pros: It's fast and it's super easy to navigate. Every line is clearly labelled. The world could learn a lot from the London Underground system. 

Cons: Zone and peak-time fare is expensive. A tube ride can cost you £2.40 {nearly $3 a ride}. In the summer, the tube smells pretty terrible and the heat can be almost unbearable underground. Also, it's dirty and grimy {I wash my face right away when I get out of the tube}. 


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