London is renowned for its public transport system, and you’ll find that far fewer people own cars in London than you’ll be used to back home; once you get to know the busy streets of London you’ll realize why it’s far easier to travel by public transport! Use the following section to help introduce you to public transport in London – it’s a way of life that will be very much a part of your time here as well as a method of getting from place to place!
This little blue card will be your key to the city (the clue’s in the name!). Oyster Cards are included in the cost of most of our programs. The card is valid on the London Underground on zones 1-2 and on the whole London bus network for the duration of your program. To use your Oyster card, touch it on the yellow discs you see at barriers at tube stations and as you board buses. On the tubes, trains & DLR, touch in when you enter the station AND touch out to leave (even if the barriers are open). On the buses you just need to touch in once when you board.
Travelling by bus is a great way to explore London above ground and help you learn your surroundings. Be aware that busy traffic throughout the capital may mean that your journey isn’t as speedy as by tube. Unlike the underground, many London buses run all night and most can be identified by the letter ‘N’ in front of the number. Some routes may change at night so if you’re planning to be out late, check your return route before you travel.
Coaches are a very affordable way to travel around the UK. National Express and Megabus coaches operate from Victoria Coach station and offer multiple intercity routes. These may be longer than train journeys but are often a lot cheaper.
The iconic London Black Cabs run on a meter and can be flagged down if the orange ‘Taxi’ light is on. Black Cabs do not run as frequently late at night. You can also order a minicab by phone, or at a minicab office. It is illegal for licensed minicabs to pick up passing trade, so they cannot be hailed down like Black Cabs. All licensed minicabs have documentation displayed in the window and have the London Transport sticker in their windows. Minicabs can be cheaper than Black Cabs, but they may not be as familiar with the route. You should get a quote on your journey and verify this quote with the driver before setting off.
There are many mainline rail stations over London providing rail services throughout London and the UK. These are known as ‘National Rail’ services. If you are traveling around the UK via train, check which station you depart from when you purchase your ticket. For information and to book tickets online, visit National Rail or The Trainline. It is worth noting that if you are planning travel by rail you can often get cheaper tickets by booking in advance. The Man in Seat 61 website is also incredibly helpful to help you plan rail journeys in the UK and Europe.
The Tube (or London Underground) is the rail network that runs underground reaching all corners of the city. It can be a bit tricky at first working out the route to your destination, so we recommend planning your route on Transport for London or Citymapper before you travel. These journey planers will tell you the routes to your destination and the length of time they will take, along with any possible maintenance work that may affect your journey. Tube lines close around midnight except on Friday and Saturdays when there is a night tube service on select lines.