Travel Cheat Sheet: How to Get Around in London

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Image Credit: Colleen Casey

Image Credit: Colleen Casey

Taking a trip across the pond to visit the Queen, Big Ben, and all the other sites of foggy London town? In addition to knowing that when the Brits say “biscuit” they really mean “cookie,” you should probably be aware of the ins and outs of the city’s transportation options. From black cabs to the underground, follow this guide and you’ll be zipping around London like a local.

1. Trains

The London Underground, or Tube, is the city’s version of the subway. Its eleven lines carry more than 1 billion passengers each year, and the various routes spread out from the nucleus of central London into the city’s extensive surrounding suburbs. How long you plan on staying in London and how far you travel will determine the most economical way to travel on the tube (this comparison sheet may be useful.)

For longer vacations that rely heavily on this mode of transportation, a 7 day pass Oyster card is probably the best bet. The travel card is split into various tiers, depending on which “zone” you travel in. The zones are clearly marked on tube maps, making it easy to determine where your traveling will take place. Most of the main attractions are in zones one and two, but you may find yourself staying further away from the city center to save money.

The Oyster card is reusable, and if you end up doing a pay-as-you-go method, they are a must. If you’ll only be purchasing day passes, you will buy a paper ticket in London. Travel cards can be purchased online and shipped. To use a travel card in a station, touch the card to the electronic reader before the gate; paper tickets are fed into a slot in gate, and appear on the other side.

The London Overground is a suburban rail network. If you are staying on the outskirts of the city where lodging is less costly, this may be your ticket into London. There are currently four routes, journeying through 21 of the 33 London boroughs.

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