A notoriously expensive city in every aspect of the word, public transport in London is no exception to the rule. Whilst getting around London is never going to be exactly cheap, there are some simple tips to note on your next visit that could help you to save a small fortune.
The easiest thing to do when it comes to travelling in London is to buy an Oyster card. The £5 cards can be purchased from manned ticket booths in many London train stations as well as newsagents. Load a pay as you go balance onto the card and use it at ticket barriers around the city for all public transport. If you decide that you never want to return to London, you can take your card to a ticket office in a train station and be refunded the outstanding balance.
Oyster cards can also be purchased online, in advance of your visit. Make sure you use the same card for the whole day as the ticketing system will implement a daily cap, depending on how far you are travelling. If you have a contactless bank card, you can also use this, although do not switch between that and your Oyster card on the same day.
If coming from overseas, it is also worth noting that your bank card provider may charge hefty fees for using your card abroad, so do watch out as these can all add up very quickly.
Undoubtedly the most inexpensive way to get around London (other than on foot) is by bus. London buses crisscross the whole city, linking the north with the south, the east with the west and everything in between. Each bus journey costs only £1.50 regardless of the time of day you travel. You can even switch buses as many times as you like within one hour of first boarding and it will be completely free.
The daily cap is £4.50 no matter how far you travel by bus, which is considerably less than the travelcard daily cap of £19.10 and even beats the pay-as-you-go daily cap of £13.20 on six zones worth of train travel. Buses service all corners of the capital; from the serviced offices in central London and the biggest tourist attractions to the trendiest restaurants and the swankiest, private office space in London – a trusty red bus will get you there.
An ultimate free way to explore a city, many people don’t walk around London because they don’t know how close things are to each other. Instead of jumping on a train, bus or the London Underground ‘tube’, try investing in a good quality map. Be it a paper one or one on an app, having a map will show you how close things are in London. For example, you can get the train from Covent Garden to Leicester Square, but please don’t. The journey is a matter of metres away and takes only seconds by train, but once you have done all the walking below ground, it takes about 10 minutes. On foot, the journey takes about 7 minutes. Think about it; you get to see so much more on foot anyway.