London is the largest and the most visited city in the UK and visiting it is one of the major reasons why people apply for UK visa. People travel to this ancient city from all over the world for many reasons including studying, sightseeing and for business purposes. No matter what your reason to visit, knowing about the public transport in London and certain major and important landmarks will surely come in handy for a hassle free experience to travel around the city.

The ancient city of London is home to the oldest public transportation system in the world. Comprising of all modes of transport on land and water it is one of the widely spread, most reliable and safest public transportation systems in the world. Connecting the old Victorian Quarters and the new modern settlements, it won’t be wrong to say the public transport in London connects the past to the present. Opting to travel in any form of public transport in London is the best way to experience the city like a local due to its extensive and highly accessible network.

Let’s explore the options of public transportation in London that will aid you in exploring the city without burning a hole in your pocket:

London Underground (The Tube)

London Tube
London Tube
Image Credit:
Chakrit Yenti

The London Underground System, also called “The Tube” is the oldest metro train system in the world. Divided into 9 zones, it has 11 lines running across the city and is the most famous public transport in London. You can access almost every part of London using the tube. The trains operate from 5 AM in the morning till 12 AM in the midnight Monday to Saturday and ceases operations a bit early on Sundays. There are specific “Night Trains” that run after midnight from Friday to Sunday, so that you don’t miss out on enjoying your much needed break on weekends. You can pay for your ticket either by cash or use Oyster cards or contactless payment cards, keep in mind that the Oyster cards are the cheapest way to buy the tickets for the tube – a single journey ticket will cost you £ 6.30 if you choose to pay by cash and the same ticket can cost you £ 2.50 if you use the Oyster cards or the contactless payment cards.

Important Notes:
* The Tube offers several discount to senior citizens, students, young travelers and  people with disabilities, enquire about these before purchasing your ticket.
* If you are out on a sightseeing tour it is advised to acquire a London Pass, it is the best way to travel through famous tourist attractions in London without having to pay for tickets at every stop.
* You can download the official TfL Go app  that helps you with planning your journey by sharing live timing of the trains and helps you navigate through the Tube map from your location to your destination.

Important Stations:
* Baker Street Station connects you to Madame Tussauds Museum.
* Tower Hill Station connects you to the Tower of London.
* Waterloo Station connects you to London Eye.
* South Kensington Station connects you to Royal Albert Hall, Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, etc.

Bus Services

London Bus Services
London Bus Services

The iconic red double decker buses are the most prominent form of public transport in London. It is a cheap and convenient mode of transport on the streets of London. Hop on it to go around sightseeing; bus services are available everywhere in London, especially on the routes where the Tube isn’t available. Buses in London run 24 hours, and they are also available along the Tube networks from midnight to dawn. A single bus journey costs you £1.65 irrespective of the distance you travel. It operates on a cashless system, so you need to pay through Travel Card, Oyster card or contactless payment cards. It is among the cheapest way to travel, as no matter how many journeys you take; it won’t cost you more than £ 4.95 in a day!

Important Notes:
* For discounted travel fares, make use of Hopper Fare that lets you travel at only £ 1.65 unlimited number of times, given that you make the next journey within one hour of paying for your last journey using the same card.
* Night buses have an N in front of them indicating that they operate overnight and can be useful when the Tube network is closed for the day lookout for them when you are out late at night.

Important Routes:
* No 11 route: goes past St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey.
* No 9 route: goes past Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park, along Piccadilly, past St. James’s Palace and Trafalgar Square.
* No 73 route: goes past the Buckingham Palace gardens, Wellington Arch, Hyde Park, Marble Arch, along with the whole length of Oxford Street, and Islington.

London Trams

South London transport for London Tram route covering Lloyd park in tram route Addington to Wimbledon
South London transport for London Tram route covering Lloyd park in tram route Addington to Wimbledon
Image Credit:
Gulpa

Introduced to South London in the year 2000 the London Tram System, also known as Tramlink is a convenient mode of public transport in London. Operating from Wimbledon, covering a distance of 17 miles upto Beckenham and passing through Croydon through four different lines, tram services in London attracts many tourists who do not have access to it in their homeland. London Trams are similar to bus services, so the system of fare is also same. Trams run at an interval of every 10 minutes from Monday to Saturday and are closed on Sundays. Children and students below 17 years of age living and studying in London can travel for free, so do the older and disabled Londoners – after acquiring relevant passes. Note that, people on wheelchair can travel free irrespective of the pass.

London Riverboat Service

Passenger ships and service boats in front of Parliament of London
Passenger ships and service boats in front of Parliament of London

The London Riverboat services is the fastest public transport in London as it helps to avoid heavy traffic that normally haunts the roads. The service is called Uber Boats by Thames Clipper and can be booked through Uber app or their official website. You can watch all the iconic landmarks of London from the river bus that are situated along the banks of River Thames. The Uber Boat functions from 23 Piers from Putney and Woolwich. There are three zones- East, Central and West Zones and the fares vary from zone to zone. You can pay through Oyster cards and other contactless payment cards. One can load on their bikes as well on these boats and there are snacks and drinks available aboard. Mind that these river boat services are different from Riverboat Tours conducted on the River Thames.

Important Notes:
* If you are travelling from Woolwich to North Woolwich you can ditch the Uber Boats and opt to travel by the Woolwich Ferry which provides free service to all.
* Get a day long River Roamer ticket if you are thinking of making several trips using the River Boats

Important Piers:
* Millbank Pier for visiting Tate Britain.
* Westminster Pier for visiting the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.
* Tower Pier for visiting Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.
* London Eye Pier for visiting the Sea Life London Aquarium, the London Dungeon and the London Eye.

Hire Bicycles

Santander London cycle rental scheme, River Thames, Albert Embankment, Lambeth
Santander London cycle rental scheme, River Thames, Albert Embankment, Lambeth
Image Credit:
cktravels.com

What is the most cleanest, greenest and healthiest way of commuting from one place to next? Well apart from walking – it’s cycling! Santander Cycles, the cycle for hire scheme in London has been gaining a lot of attention by health freaks and nature lovers alike. It has over 12000 cycles across 800 docking stations scattered around the city for public to hire and travel. It is the cheapest mode of public transport in London as it costs just £ 2 for 24 hours of access to a cycle and the first 30 minutes of each journey are completely free. Payment can be made at the docking station using bank card or using the official Santander mobile app.

Important Notes:
* If you are planning a long trip keep in mind that you will be charged extra £2 for every 30 minutes.
* If you fail to return the bike in 24 hours or return a damaged bike you will be charged upto £300 as fine.

Important Cycling Routes:
* Greenwich to Blackheath Route.
* Dart around Hampstead.
* Tate To Tate.
* Hyde Park is renowned for several cycling tracks.

Local Trains

London Overground Local Trains
London Overground Local Train
Image Credit:
pisaphotography

Overground Local Trains services are another well-known mode of public transport in London. It not only serves the city but also goes above and beyond the outskirts. Local Trains in London currently operates on 6 routes which connects you to the Bus and Tube Stations effortlessly. This connection makes it a great choice for travelers travelling to and from London. You can use Oyster cards or contactless payment cards to pay for the journey the fare depends on your time of travel and the line that you are traveling on.

Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

Docklands Light Railway in London with Canary Wharf in the background
Docklands Light Railway in London with Canary Wharf in the background

Undoubtedly the most innovative mode of public transport in London, the Docklands Light Railway – DLR is a driverless train line. It connects to the London City Airport, London Tube network and Emirates Air Line cable car, making it quite efficient for travelers. Majorly serving the Eastern London in Docklands, Stratford and the South-Eastern London in Greenwich, these trains intersect with the Tube at Canary Wharf, Tower Hill, and several other important Tube stations. The DLR fares are similar to the Tube and operates from 5.30 AM in the morning till 12.30 AM in the midnight from Monday to Saturday and on Sundays it operates from 7 AM till 11.30 PM.

Taxis

Iconic Black Cabs of London
Iconic Black Cabs of London
Image Credit:
nui7711

One cannot imagine the streets of London without its iconic black Taxis. Taxi is one of the most optimum modes of public transport in London as it lets you avoid the confusion and hassle of travelling in a Tube or Bus. You can hail the taxis directly from roadside or the designated taxi stands and even call a taxi over the phone. The illuminated yellow board on top is a sign that the Taxi is available for hire. And the most important factor to account for is that they are available 24 hours of the day and 7 days of the week! The Taxi services in London are metered and the minimum fare is £3.20 and you can use cash or even bank cards can be used for payments.

Public transport in London is a cheap and greener alternative to travel and explore around the city. It is an economical and environmental friendly alternative to private vehicles; it is the need of the hour in today’s time where the world is struggling with woes of pollution and traffic.

No matter when you plan your London holidays or what places you wish to see while in London, the above mentioned modes of public transport in London will surely help you reach your destination on time and will also provide you with a memorable journey along the way.

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