If you are a first time visitor to London, navigating between the transport systems can be incredibly daunting. London’s population is absolutely staggering, and it can be easy to underestimate the sheer size of the city when you visit, or for that matter, make transport arrangements. Fortunately, it’s easy to know your way around with a little practice. Here’s a quick overview for new Londoners.
When you arrive from the airport, chances are you will need to travel further central to reach your accommodation. Each of the London airports (City, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, and Heathrow) has their own train service to get you to a more central tube and train station, from which you can make your journey onwards, and this is by far the cheapest way to get to your accommodation. These can be booked as train tickets, so you don’t have to worry about an oyster card yet.
London Buses are incredibly comprehensive and cover every corner of London – these are a great way of seeing the city if you don’t have to be anywhere in a rush, too. As of 2014, London buses no longer sell tickets, so you’ll have to get yourself an Oyster card or travelcard from a tube/train station or a verified retailer.
The first underground train network in the world, the London Underground offers many options for getting from A to B quickly. Reading the tube map is easy once you know the lines, and the staff are very helpful if you are not sure whether to get a visitors’ Oyster card (which you top up) or a travelcard (which you hold onto for a day or a week). Bear in mind that there is a substantial price difference at peak times.
Unique to London, every black cab driver has to undergo two years of training to learn their way all over London, a qualification equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree called ‘The Knowledge’. If you are totally lost, a black cab will get you to wherever you need to go via the best route. Be sure to ask them for recommendations for things to do during your stay.
Exclusive to East London, the DLR is a series of overground trains serving the City and east end districts of London. These driverless carriages offer beautiful views of the financial district’s amazing skyline.