How to Get Around London for Tourists?

As a solo traveller and newbie visitor in London, getting around London city is one of the key things you need to know. After all, the capital is a vast metropolitan area spanning more than 1,500 sq km.

Although most London attractions and landmarks are within the City of London and nearby boroughs, interlinked via the London Underground, getting around them can be tricky for newcomers.

This article is your ultimate guide to navigating to different areas of the innermost part of the capital. Learn how to use the London Underground for frequent travelling, the concept of hop-on hop-off, and the modes of private transport around the city.

Public Transportation

London has a vast public transit network, connecting every bit of Central London and with the major outskirts of the Greater London area. These include the famous London Underground (London Tube) and double-decker buses. 

London Underground

London Underground
London Underground

The Tube (London’s subway metro system) is the best way to get around the city. It’s the most frequently used transit mode by Londoners and tourists. The Tube connects Central London with its various outskirts in an extensive network of lines that count up to 11 with 272 stations over 402km.

If you’d stay in the capital for a while, buy a “Visitor Oyster Card”. It works on all Tube lines, double-decker buses, and trams. Buy a card, fill it with credit, and swipe it every time you enter and exit an Underground Station. You will be charged according to the trip length every time you swipe the card on exit. You can buy the card online via the TfL website and refill it at any Underground station.

Buses

London Buses
London Buses

London’s famous double-decker buses are still operational on some routes, especially after the vintage Routemaster bus was overhauled in 2012. New buses entered service in 2012. These “New Routemaster” buses serve various areas in Central London and work on the typical hop-on, hop-off concept.

You can use your Tube Oyster Card to travel on double-decker buses. If you’ve got time and want to peek into the city’s hustle and bustle as you get around, buses could be a more fun way to travel. Only avoid using a bus when you’re in a rush. 

Trams

London Trams
London Trams

London has a relatively small Light Rail Transit network based on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and Tram line system called “Tramlink.” The Tramlink serves some parts of southern London, connecting Corydon with its neighbouring areas. You can travel on a tram using a ticket, contactless payment, or Tube Oyster Card as a pass.

Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
Docklands Light Railway DLR

DLR is the second of the two Light Rail Transit systems in Greater London, serving the Docklands area. DLR is a significant part of London’s mass transit system as it connects the Docklands area with Canary Wharf and the Square Mile, the two financial hubs of London. It’s easily the best way to get to Docklands and Canary Wharf from Central London or the Square Mile.

Other Transit Options to Get Around London

Apart from public transit, you can use the more private modes of transport to get around different areas of London. These include executive transport like a private taxi or a ride, cycling, and walking.

Taxis and Ride-sharing

Taxis and Ride-sharing
Taxis and Ride sharing

Have they ever spotted those famous black taxis in London, as if they were carrying royalty of the Victorian Era? Well, riding these iconic taxis is an experience no less than that of royalty. A black taxi can be pre-booked via TfL or other relevant website. It can also be hailed on the streets. But riding a luxurious black cab can be fairly expensive.

If you’re on a budget, ride-sharing is the best alternative. Use different ride-sharing apps to call for a private ride. These could be Uber, Taxiapp UK, Bolt, and Ola. The fares are charged against the distance travelled, the time is taken, and the day or traffic conditions.

Cycling

Cycling
Cycling London

For a true adventurer, London is best explored on two wheels. Enjoy a nice sunny day in London on a bike and find your way down to the various attractions at your own pace. London’s streets have dedicated bike lanes for cycling, so you’ll also get to interact with other bikers on your way.

Rent a bike from private operators for a day. Roam around the city on the two wheels and explore the capital just as you like.

Walking

Walking London
Walking London

Finally, we’re down to the old-school, simplest way to get around the capital. Beyond walking at your own pace with your preferred stops, London has plenty of “Walking Tours” themed around different attractions. These include the Haunted Walking Tours, Historial Walking Tours, Family Walking Tours, and Harry Potter Walking Tours of Filming Locations.

Have the Thames walk from Millennium Bridge to Westminster Bridge in the afternoon for a self-guided walking tour. This incredible covers the most-loved attractions of London, including the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, London Eye, South Bank Centre, London Dungeon, Tate Modern, Borough Market, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Popular London Tours for the Tourists

All these modes of transport in London make it fairly easy to get around the city. Before we conclude, we’ll leave you with the best tours in the capital that you, as a newcomer, must take.

Hop on Hop off London

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours in London
Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours in London

The hop-on hop-off bus isn’t a mode of transport only. Some dedicated tour operators offer sightseeing tours via open-top buses in London on the hop-on hop-off concept. Buy a pass for a day and find a double-decker bus of your tour operator roaming around the city. Here’s how it works:

  • Board the bus
  • Get to the top
  • Have the incredible sights of the city
  • Leave the bus wherever you want
  • Get back whenever you want.

It’s an ultimate sightseeing package coupled with flexibility and convenience.

Thames River Cruise

Thames River Cruise Tours
Thames River Cruise Tours

For a nice, cosy afternoon on one of the most majestic rivers in the world, the Thames River Cruise offers a riveting experience. These tours feature a cruise or a speedboat that sails along the Thames from Greenwich to Westminster. These tours come with special upgrades like a luxurious cruise or afternoon tea on the cruise with other delicacies from British cuisine.

Haunted London Tour

Haunted London Tours
Haunted London Tours

London’s nights are explored best when you take a haunted tour through the actual “murder sites” in the city. The haunted London tours are based on the real-life stories of heinous crimes like Jack the Ripper and include the authentic locations where the killer committed these gruesome murders.

Other haunted London bus tours feature the city’s historical attractions with some haunted pasts. You will board a refurbished vintage Routemaster bus with a dark, spooky theme and visit landmarks like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament.

Afternoon Tea

Best Afternoon Teas in London
Best Afternoon Teas in London

Afternoon Tea in London goes back hundreds of years to the concept of Hi-tea and is still loved by every tourist in London. You can find countless restaurants and cafes in London actively serving afternoon teas. Enjoy freshly brewed coffee or traditional English tea with homemade scones, pastries, and bread with clotted cream or jam.

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter Studio Tour
Harry Potter Studio Tour

Located a few miles from Central London in Leavesden, the Harry Potter Studio features different movie locations, props, costumes, and animatronics from the Wizarding World.

You can take the transport-only Harry Potter Studio Tours from London, and a ticket can be bought on the way or once you reach Warner Bros Studios. You can also book an entire package, including transport, entry ticket, and professional guides who will take you to every location inside the studio.

Conclusion

Getting around London is convenient and flexible, and many options are available. Use the Visitor Oyster Card on the London Underground for quick and smooth travel. If you prefer slow-paced travel combined with sightseeing, take the famous double-decker bus, which gives your trip a vintage vibe.

Want to calm your adventurous nerves? Hire a bike or follow a walking trail along the lively streets of the capital and experience the city’s buz as you hop from one destination to the other.

FAQs

How do I get an Oyster card, and where can I use it?

You can book your Visitor Oyster Card online at the TfL Website, which will be delivered to your preferred location. You can use an Oyster Card to travel across the city on the London Underground, bus, tram, and DLR. Swipe the card during your entry and exit, and you’ll be charged only for the distance travelled instead of a flat fare.

Are London buses a good option for sightseeing?

London’s hop-on, hop-off buses are the best option for sightseeing. You can explore the city at your own pace, take panoramic sightseeing tours, and get around London easily.

How do I find the bus routes and schedules in London?

Transport for London (TfL) has made it super-convenient for every tourist to check the routes, estimated travel time, or modes of transport using its Journey Planner. Mention your departure and arrival points and select the bus option, and the planner will give you the best route with a preferred schedule.

Is it safe to walk around London at night?

Walking around London’s famous areas like West End, Westminster, the Square Mile, Camden, Southwark, and Canary Wharf at night is safe. However, take necessary precautions from your end, especially if you’re with kids. Don’t let kids go out of sight.

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