London, United Kingdom
Latitude: 51.15, Longitude: -0.19
Gatwick Airport, formerly known as (and still commonly referred to as) London Gatwick Airport is located north of the centre of Crawley, West Sussex, and south of Central London ...
London, United Kingdom
Latitude: 51.48, Longitude: -0.46
London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow, located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, is the largest airport in the United Kingdom. It is the fifth busiest airport in the world (in 2010, due to reduced traffic blamed on Eyjafjallajökull volcano) in terms of total passenger traffic and it handles more international passengers than any other airport in the world ...
London, United Kingdom
Latitude: 51.87, Longitude: -0.37
London Luton Airport (previously called Luton International Airport) is an international airport located east of the town centre in the Borough of Luton in Bedfordshire, England and is north of Central London ...
London, United Kingdom
Latitude: 51.89, Longitude: 0.24
London Stansted Airport is a passenger airport located at Stansted Mountfitchet in the local government district of Uttlesford in Essex, northeast of Central London.
Stansted is a hub for a number of major European low-cost carriers, being largest base for low-cost giant Ryanair with over 100 destinations served by the airline ...
Biggin Hill, United Kingdom
Latitude: 51.33, Longitude: 0.03
London Biggin Hill Airport is an airport at Biggin Hill in the London Borough of Bromley, located south southeast of London, United Kingdom. The airport was formerly the Royal Air Force station RAF Biggin Hill, and a small enclave on the airport still retains that designation ...
London, United Kingdom
Latitude: 51.51, Longitude: 0.06
London City Airport is a single-runway STOLport, an airport for use by STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) airliners. It principally serves the financial district of London and is located on a former Docklands site, east of the City of London, opposite the London Regatta Centre, in the London Borough of Newham in east London ...
Most international and domestic long distance bus (UK English: coach) services arrive at and depart from a complex of coach stations off Buckingham Palace Road in Westminster close to London Victoria rail station. All services operated by National Express or Eurolines (see below) serve Victoria Coach Station, which actually has separate arrival and departure buildings. Services by other operators may use this station, or the Green Line Coach Station across Buckingham Palace Road. The following are amongst the main coach operators:
London is the hub of the UK's road network and is easy to reach by road, even if driving into the centre of the city is definitely not recommended. Greater London is encircled by the M25 orbital motorway, on which nearly all the major trunk routes to the rest of England and Wales radiate from. The most important are listed below.
Due to London's huge global city status it is the most served destination in the world when it comes to flights.
London (all airports code: LON) is served by a total of five airports. Travelling between the city and the airports is made relatively easy by the large number of public transport links that have been put in place over recent years. However, if transiting through London, be sure to check the arrival and departure airports carefully as transfers across the city may be quite time consuming. In addition to London's five official airports (of which only two are located within Greater London), there are a number of other regional UK airports conveniently accessible from London. Since they offer a growing number of budget flights, choosing those airports can be cheaper (or even faster, depending on where in London your destination is).
For transfers directly between London's airports, the fastest way (short of a taxi) is the direct inter-airport bus service by National Express. Buses between Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton run at least hourly, with Heathrow-Gatwick services taking 65 min (£18) and Heathrow-Stansted services 90 min (£20.50) (note that services between Stansted and Luton run only every two hours). However, it's essential to allow leeway, as London's expressways, especially the orbital M25 and the M1 motorway, are often congested to the point of gridlock. Some buses have toilets on board.
London is the hub of the British rail network - every major city in mainland Britain has a frequent train service to the capital, and most of the smaller, provincial cities and large towns also have a direct rail connection to London of some sort - although the frequency and quality of service can vary considerably from place to place.
London has one international high speed rail route (operated by Eurostar 08705 186 186 ) from Paris (2h 15min) and Brussels (1h 50 min) diving under the sea for 35 km (22 mi) via the Channel Tunnel to come out in England. It terminates at St. Pancras International Station. For domestic train services, there are no fewer than 12 main line National Rail terminals (although in conversation you may hear the brand National Rail infrequently if ever it differentiates main line and London Underground services; journey planner online or phone 08457 48 49 50). With the exception of Fenchurch St (tube: Tower Hill) these are on the London Underground. Most are on the circle line. Clockwise starting at Paddington, major National Rail stations are:
The city has one of the most comprehensive public transport systems in the world. Despite residents' constant, and sometimes justified, grumbling about unreliability, public transport is often the best option for getting anywhere for visitors and residents alike and is far more reliable than locals would have you believe. Indeed, nearly a third of households do not feel the need to own a car.
In central London use a combination of the transport options listed below - and check your map! In many cases you can easily walk from one place to another or use the busses. Be a Londoner and only use the tube as a way of travelling longer distances - you're here to see London - you can't see it underground!
Transport for London (TfL) is a government organisation responsible for all public transport. Their website contains maps plus an excellent journey planner. They also offer a 24-hour travel information line, charged at local rate: tel +44-20-72221234 (or text 60835) for suggestions on getting from A to B, and for up to the minute information on how services are running. Fortunately for visitors (and indeed residents) there is a single ticketing system, Oyster, which enables travellers to switch between modes of transport on one ticket.
The main travel options in summary are:
By tube / underground 11 colour-coded lines cover the central area and suburbs mostly north of the River Thames, run by TfL.
By Docklands Light Railway Runs only in the east of the city, privately run but part of TfL's network.
By boat Commuter boats and pleasure cruises along the River Thames, privately run but part of TfL's network.
Airport Express Express rail services run to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports (tickets are generally sold at a premium), privately run and not part of the TfL network.
By tram A tram service that operates only in southern suburbs around Wimbledon and Croydon.
By Overground 3 orange-coloured lines circling the northern suburbs, part of TfL's network. The Underground's East London Line is now closed until 2010 when it will become part of London Overground.
By National Rail A complex network of suburban rail services, mostly running in the southern suburbs, privately run and not part of the TfL network, although many do accept Oyster payments.
London is now starting to follow the example of cities such as Sydney and Bangkok by promoting a network of river bus and pleasure cruise services along the River Thames. London River Services (part of Transport for London) manages regular commuter boats and a network of piers all along the river and publishes timetables and river maps similar to the famous tube map. While boat travel may be slower and a little more expensive than tube travel, it offers an extremely pleasant way to cross the city with unrivalled views of the London skyline - Big Ben, St Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, etc. Sailing under Tower Bridge is an unforgettable experience.
Boats are operated by private companies and they have a separate ticketing system from the rest of London transport; however if you have a Travelcard you get a 33% discount on most boat tickets. Many boat operators offer their own one-day ticket - ask at the pier kiosks. Generally, tickets from one boat comapny are not valid on other operators' services. Oyster cards can be used as payment for the 'Clipper'-styled commuter services but not for tour boats.
Boats run on the following routes:
London's iconic red buses are recognized the world over, even if the traditional Routemaster buses, with an open rear platform and on-board conductor to collect fares, have been phased out. These still run on Heritage Route 9 and 15 daily between about 9:30AM and 6:30PM, every 15 minutes. Buses are generally quicker than taking the Tube for short (less than a couple of stops on the Tube) trips, and out of central London you're likely to be closer to a bus stop than a tube station. On some busy routes, extra-long buses known as "bendy buses" are used. Routes served by these buses always carry a yellow route sign as detailed below. Care should be taken as it is possible for those unfamiliar with them to get on then have no way of paying. This could be related to the relative ease of hopping on and off without paying (doors open along the length of the bus and there is no on-board conductor). This is, however, illegal and can be very risky - large teams of inspectors frequently descend on these buses accompanied by police, and it's possible to be arrested and prosecuted. Normally, however, those who get on the bus via the doors in the middle will be asked (or rather yelled) to come to the front and pay.
Over 5 million bus trips are made each weekday; with over 700 different bus routes you are never far from a bus. Each bus stop has a sign listing routes that stop there. Bus routes are identified by numbers and sometimes letters, for example the 73 runs between Victoria and Seven Sisters. Yellow signs indicate you must purchase your ticket before you board. You must either have a Pay-as-you-go Oyster card, travelcard season ticket, bus saver ticket, bus pass, or have bought a one way ticket from a machine at the bus stop. These machines don't provide change (all the more reason to use one of the other options). From age 11 and up you must show an Oyster card on buses, yet journeys are free. Student Oysters (only available to students studying in London) go up to age 18 and journeys are still free, failure to show an Oyster means a £2 fare.
Buses display their route number in large digits at the front, side and rear.All bus stops have their location and the direction of travel on them.
The iBus system has now been rolled out the iBus on every bus and garage in London. This new system provides bus times and destination information on a audio-visual display.
Unlike The Tube one way tickets do not allow you to transfer to different buses.
can be obtained from your local tube stations, bike shop, or ordered online.
London now offers a city-wide is an advocacy group for London cyclists and organizes regular group rides and events.
London is a surprisingly compact city, making it a walker's delight and often being the quickest method of transport.
Because Britain drives on the left hand side of the road, for most foreign visitors it can be all too easy to forget that traffic will come at you from the opposite direction than you are used to when crossing a street - for this reason remember to look right when you cross the road.
Particularly on Central London's busiest streets, it is easy to spot native Londoners as they are able to weave in and out of the large crowds at fast speed. Refrain from walking slowly in tight spaces to avoid annoying any fast walking people that may be trying to pass.
Londoners who drive will normally take public transport in the centre; follow their example. There is no good reason whatsoever to drive a car in central London.
Car drivers should be aware that driving into central London on weekdays during daylight hours incurs a hefty charge, with very few exemptions (note that rental cars also attract the charge). Cameras and mobile units record and identify the number plates and registration details of all vehicles entering the charging zone with high accuracy. The Central London Congestion Charge M-F 7AM-6PM (excluding public holidays) attracts a fee of £8 if paid the same day, or £10 if paid on the next charging day. Numerous payment options exist: by phone, online, at convenience stores displaying the red 'C' logo in the window and by voucher. Failure to pay the charge by midnight the next charging day (take note!) incurs a hefty automatic fine of £80 (£40 if paid within 2 weeks).
Despite the Congestion Charge, London - like most major cities - continues to experience traffic snarls. These are, of course, worse on weekdays during peak commuting hours, i.e. between 7:30AM-9:30AM and 4PM-7PM At these times public transport (and especially the Tube) usually offers the best alternative for speed and reduced hassle. Driving in Central London is a slow, frustrating, expensive and often unnecessary activity. Traffic is slow and heavy, there are many sorts of automatic enforcement cameras, and it is difficult and expensive to park. A good tip is, that outside advertised restriction hours, parking on a single yellow line is permissible. Parking on a red line or a double yellow line is never permissible and heavily enforced. Find and read the parking restrictions carefully! Parking during weekdays and on Saturday can also mean considerable expense in parking fees - fees and restrictions are ignored at your extreme financial peril - issuing fines, clamping and towing vehicles (without warning!) has become a veritable new industry for borough councils staffed by armies of traffic wardens.
For the disabled driving can be much more convenient than using public transport. If disabled and a resident of a member state of the EU then two cars can be permanently registered, for free, for the congestion charge.
Motorcycles and scooters are fairly common in London as they can pass stationary cars, can usually be parked for free and are exempt from congestion-charging. Scooters and bikes with automatic transmission are much more preferable - a manually-geared racing bike is completely impractical unless you have excellent clutch-control! Likewise to bicycles, car-drivers have a disregard to anyone on two wheels and larger vehicles have an unwritten priority so take care when crossing junctions. A fully-enclosed crash-helmet is mandatory. Parking for bikes is usually free - there are designated motorcycle-parking areas on some side-streets and some multi-level parking lots will have bike parking on the ground level.
Inline skating on roads and sidewalks (pavements) is completely legal, except in the City of London (a district). Roads are not the greatest but easily skatable. In the centre drivers are more used to skaters than in the outskirts.
London has two types of taxis: the famous black cab, and so-called minicabs. Black cabs are the only ones licensed to 'ply for hire' (ie pick people up off the street), while minicabs are more accurately described as 'private hire vehicles' and need to be pre-booked.
The famous black cab of London (not always black!) can be hailed from the curb or found at one of the many designated taxi ranks. It is possible to book black cabs by phone, for a fee, but if you are in central London it will usually be quicker to hail one from the street. Their amber TAXI light will be on if they are available. Drivers must take an extensive exam in central London's streets to be licensed for a black cab, meaning they can supposedly navigate you to almost any London street without reference to a map. They are a cheap transport option if there are five passengers as they do not charge extras, and many view them as an essential experience for any visitor to London. Black cabs charge by distance and by the minute, are non-smoking, and have a minimum charge of £2.20. Tipping is not mandatory in either taxis or minicabs, despite some drivers' expectations..... Use your discretion, if you like the service you may tip otherwise don't. Londoners will often just round up to the nearest pound.
Taxis are required by law to take you wherever you choose (within Greater London) if their TAXI light is on when you hail them. However some, especially older drivers, dislike leaving the centre of town, or going south of the River Thames. A good way to combat being left at the side of the curb is to open the back door, or even get into the cab, before stating your destination.
Minicabs are normal cars which are licenced hire vehicles that you need to book by phone or at a minicab office. They generally charge a fixed fare for a journey, best agreed before you get in the car. Minicabs are usually cheaper than black cabs, although this is not necessarily the case for short journeys. Licensed minicabs display a Transport For London (TFL) License Plate - usually in the front window. One of the features of the license plate is a blue version of the famous London Underground "roundel". A list of licenced minicab operators can be found at TfL Findaride:. Note that some areas in London are poorly serviced by black cabs, particularly late at night. This has led to a large number of illegal minicabs operating - just opportunistic people, with a car, looking to make some fast money. Some of these operators can be fairly aggressive in their attempts to find customers, and it's now barely possible to walk late at night through any part of London with a modicum of nightlife without being approached. You should avoid mini-cabs touting for business off the street and either take a black cab, book a licensed minicab by telephone, or take a night bus. These illegal drivers are unlicensed and sadly they are often unsafe: a number of women are assaulted every week by illegal minicab operators (11 per month).
The London Underground - also known popularly as The Tube - has trains that criss-cross London in the largest underground rail network anywhere in the world (it was also the first, the first section of the Metropolitan Line dates back to 1863). The Tube is an easy method of transport even for new visitors to London.
Tube maps are freely available from any station, most tourist offices and are prominently displayed throughout stations and in the back of most diaries. The Tube is made up of 11 lines each bearing a traditional name and a standard colour on the Tube map. To plan your trip on The Tube work out first which station is closest to your starting point and which closest to your destination. You are able to change freely between lines at interchange stations (providing you stay within the zones shown on your ticket). Use the Tube Map to determine which line(s) you will take. Since the Tube Map is well designed it is very easy to work out how to get between any two stations, and since each station is clearly signed and announced it is easy to work out when to get off your train. Visitors should be aware, however, that the Tube map is actually a diagram and not a scaled map, making it misleading for determining the relative distance between stations as it makes central stations appear further apart and somewhat out of place - the most distant reaches of the Metropolitan Line for example are almost 40 miles from the centre of the city. In central London, taking The Tube for just one stop can be a waste of time; Londoners joke about the tourists who use the Tube to travel between Leicester Square and Covent Garden stations. This is especially true since the walk from a tube station entrance to the platform at some central stations can be extensive. The Tube map also gives no information on London's extensive overground bus network and its orbital rail network.
Trains run from around 5:30AM to about 1AM. This mode of transport is usually the fastest way to get from one part of London to the another, the only problem being the relative expense, and the fact that it can get extremely crowded during rush hours (7:30AM-10:00AM and 4:30PM-7PM). On warm days take a bottle of water with you. Also note that engineering works usually take place during weekends or in the evening. Contact TfL or visit their web site especially if you plan to travel on a Saturday or a Sunday when entire lines may be shut down.
All lines are identified by their name (e.g. Circle Line, Central Line, Piccadilly Line). Some line names are misnomers that originated from when the Tube was originally operated by multiple private railways e.g. the Northern Line does not serve the most northern parts of the network, although it is one of the main routes serving South London. Also, many lines have multiple branches rather than running point-to-point so it's always advisable to check the train's destination (which will be shown on the front of the train, the platform indicator screens and will be broadcast on the train's PA). Some branch lines (such as the Chesham branch of the Metropolitan Line or the Kensington Olympia branch of the District Line) run as shuttles and require a transfer onto the 'main line'. Note that the Northern Line has two separate routes through the city centre which split at Euston and rejoin at Kennington - one (officially called the Charing Cross Branch but known by locals as the West End branch) runs through the West End serving Leicester Square, Charing Cross and Waterloo, while the other route runs via the City of London (officially called the Bank branch but also referred to as the City branch) with major stops at Kings Cross and Bank. Despite the confusing layout of the line, it's fairly easy to work out which way your train is going - for example a northbound Northern Line train to Edgware along the Charing Cross branch will be displayed on the indicator as 'Edgware via ChX' and the on-board PA will announce 'This train terminates at Edgware via Charing Cross'. Finally, note that direction signs for the platforms indicate the geographical direction of the line, NOT the last stop of the line e.g. 'Central Line Westbound Platform 1, Central Line Eastbound Platform 2'. It's always advisable to carry a pocket Tube map (available for free at most stations) to help you with this.
Almost all stations have automatic ticket barriers. If paying by Oyster Card, just tap your card against the yellow pad to open the barriers (both upon entrance and exit). If you have a paper ticket, insert it face-up into the slot on the front of the machine, and remove it from the top to enter the station. If you have a single-ticket it will be retained at the exit gate. If you have luggage or if your ticket is rejected there is normally a staffed gate as well. Paper tickets can be purchased from vending machines in the station lobby. There are two types of machine - the older machines have buttons for different fare levels and only accept coins, while the new touch-screen machines have instructions in multiple languages, offer a greater choice of ticket and accept bills and credit/debit cards (note that if your card doesn't have an embedded microchip you cannot use these machines - instead you should pay at the ticket counter). Single tickets are charged at a premium (often costing only a little less than a 1-day travelcard) of £4.00 flat fare for journeys within or beyond Zone 1 or £3.00 for journeys outside of Zone 1. Single Oyster fares are charged by the number of zones crossed, starting at £1.60 for 1 zone up to £3.60 for 6 zones. Paper travel cards valid for 1-, 3- or 7 days are also available and can also be used on buses, National Rail trains, the DLR and Croydon Tramlink. They are priced by zones - a 1-day travelcard for Zones 1-2 costs £5.50.
Oyster is a contactless electronic smartcard run by Transport for London. In general, Oyster is the more cost effective option than paper tickets if you plan to be in London for any more than a couple of days, or if you intend to make return visits to the city - the savings quickly recover the inital purchase cost. You can buy an Oyster Card from any Tube station for a deposit of £3. You can also get a Visitor Oyster card for a deposit of £2, although these cards can be used only to pay as you go and cannot be loaded with 7 Day Travelcards. You can "charge up" an Oyster card with electronic funds. This cash is then deducted according to where you travel. The cost of a single trip using the Oyster card is considerably less than buying a single paper ticket with cash. Prices vary depending on distance travelled, whether by bus or tube, and on the time of day. You can also add various electronic 1 week, 1 month and longer-period tickets onto the card, and the card is simply validated each time you use it. The deposit is fully refundable if you hand it in at the end of the trip. However, there is no expiry date on the Oyster Card or any pay-as-you-go credit on the card. If you have any pay-as-you-go credit left this will also be refunded. You will get refunds in cash only if you paid in cash. Be prepared to give your signature on receipts or even show ID for refunds over a few pounds.