London in United Kingdom
London is a perfect binding of the past and the present, a city with so many places to visit that one couldn't find the time to view them all. Samuel Johnson was right when he said that when someone is tired of London he is tired of life. Read more...
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London is a perfect binding of the past and the present, a city with so many places to visit that one couldn't find the time to view them all. Samuel Johnson was right when he said that when someone is tired of London he is tired of life.
London is served by a total of six airports. Traveling 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 six 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 http://www.nationalexpress.com/. Buses between Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton run at least hourly, with Heathrow-Gatwick services taking 65min (£18) and Heathrow-Stansted services 90min (£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. Buses have toilets on board.
Heathrow Airport Heathrow, http://www.baa.co.uk/main/airports/heathrow/ is London and Europe's largest airport and the world's busiest airport in terms of international passenger movement, with services from most available major airports world-wide. There are five terminals, with a fifth one opened in March 2008. Flights landing at Heathrow are often delayed by up to an hour as a simple result of air traffic congestion and waiting for parking slots. A quick summary of transport options:
Fastest: by Heathrow Express rail 0845 600 1515 http://www.heathrowexpress.com/ Every 15 minutes, journey time 15 minutes One way £15.50, return trip £29. To London Paddington. Travelcard not valid.
Second fastest: by Heathrow Connect rail 0845 678 6975 http://www.heathrowconnect.com. One way £6.90, round trip £12.90. Follows same route as Heathrow Express but stops at several intermediate stations to London Paddington so journey is 25 minutes and trains less frequent.
Cheapest: by London Underground (Piccadilly line), 0845 330 9880. Every few minutes, journey time approximately 1 hour With Oyster one way £3.50-£4.80. For the cheapest fare ask for an Oyster card (£3 refundable deposit). Zone 1-6 Travelcard valid.
Taxi A taxi from Heathrow to central London will cost £45-60, you can check the price to your exact destination using a taxi fare calculator http://www.worldtaximeter.com/london. You may wish to consider taking a taxi if you have a lot of baggage or small children. Alternatively catch public transport into the city centre and then catch a taxi. There are two types of taxis: Black cabs (usually slightly more expensive-can be hailed on a street) or licensed mini cabs (cheaper-must be booked over the phone or on the web). There are over 1000 minicab companies in London, the largest one is Addison Lee (0207 387 8888) http://www.addisonlee.com/, other companies offering airport transfers can be found in the Yellow Pages [http://www.yell.com/ucs/UcsSearchAction.do?keywords=airport+transfers&companyName#&locationLONDON&search.x=11&search.y#11&searchSEARCH&searchType#advance&M0&lastKeyword#minicab&lastClarifyIndex&lastClarifyOptions#&lastSearchall&ssm=0].
Door to door: National Express Dot2Dot 0845 368 2368 http://www.dot2.com/ starting at £17.50 Door to door airport transfer service operating between central London and Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
London Gatwick, http://www.baa.co.uk/main/airports/gatwick/ London's second airport, also serving a large spectrum of places world-wide.
By rail: Gatwick Express 0845 850 1530 http://www.gatwickexpress.com/ Every 15 minutes, journey time 30-35 minutes One way £16.90, round trip £28.80, for the cheapest fare visit their website To London Victoria. Travelcard not valid.
By rail: Southern Railway 0845 127 2920 http://www.southernrailway.com/ Every 15 minutes, journey time 35-40 minutes Cheaper than Gatwick Express To London Victoria via Clapham Junction./listing
By rail: First Capital Connect 0871 200 2233 http://www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk/ Cheaper than Gatwick Express to London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St Pancras International, Luton Airport and further north.
By cycle http://www.sustrans.org/. There is a long-distance cycle path into Central London, but as it involves going through the North Downs and South London and over, it will likely be quite a ride. For adventerous people.
By Licenced Minicab: West End Car Services +44 (0)20 7734 8970 email@example.com http://www.westendcarservices.com/home.php?action=getaquote A Licenced Cab from the airport to Central London (£60) would take about an hour(depending on traffic) WestEndCarServices.com.
A large number of budget flights depart from Stansted as early as 6AM (when the lowest fares are available). However, this presents travellers with a problem, as the airport's location is a long way outside London, and transport to the airport does not operate before 5:30AM. Due to the high price of accommodation in the city and near the airport, and the fact that many budget airlines don't pay for accommodation in the event of cancellation, an increasing number of travellers choose to spend the night in the airport prior to their flight. A crowd of around 100 travellers (up to 400 in summer) camp in the main departure/arrivals hall every night, effectively turning it into a giant dormitory. Tips for sleeping at Stansted Airport:
Arrive early, preferably around 10PM, and stake your territory immediately. Benches without armrests are in limited supply and fill up quickly.
If you arrive later take a floor mat and sleeping bag. Sleeping on the floor is tolerated by the staff, but avoid pitching your bed in front of shops and counters. A sleeping bag is generally recommended as the automatic doors constantly open and close as passengers arrive, and it can get chilly in winter. Safety is not a problem. The airport is miles away from any settlement and security guards overlook the open-plan building 24/7. Ear plugs and eye covers are a must, as the cleaning staff are noisy and shop assistants start arriving at 4AM to open shutters.
At least one cafe is open all night, offering snacks and hot drinks. Toilets remain open and are normally in good condition. There are no drinking fountains.
Stansted Airport, http://www.stanstedairport.com Currently London's third airport, the base for a large number of budget carriers (for example EasyJet http://www.easyjet.com and RyanAir http://www.ryanair.com) and flights within Europe and a few inter-continental flights. There are several commercial wi-fi hotspots covering most of the airport, but they charge extortionate rates. A free wi-fi hotspot is located in the arrivals gate area, next to the phone booths offering fixed internet. Transport options into central London:
By rail: Stansted Express to London Liverpool Street 0845 600 7245 http://www.stanstedexpress.com/ Every 15 minutes, journey time 45-60 minutes One way £15, round trip £24. Travelcard not valid.
By rail then London Underground: Stansted Express to Tottenham Hale then London Underground (Victoria line) 0845 600 7245 http://www.stanstedexpress.com/ Every 15 minutes If you are going to South London, the West End or West London then take Stansted Express to Tottenham Hale then the London Underground (Victoria line). At Tottenham Hale ask for an Oyster card.
By coach: National Express 0870 580 8080 http://www.nationalexpress.com/ Every 15-30 minutes. Journey time to Stratford: 1 hour. To Victoria: 90 minutes To Stratford: £8 one way, £14 round trip. To Victoria: £10, £16. Travelcard not valid To Stratford (tube: Stratford) or Victoria (tube: Victoria). Folding bicycles only.
By coach: Terravision +44 (0)1279 68 0028 http://www.terravision.it/ Hourly, journey time 75 minutes To Bishopgate: £6.70 one way, £11.80 round trip. To Victoria: £8, £14. Travelcard not valid To Bishopsgate (tube: Liverpool Street) or Victoria (tube: Victoria).
By minibus: EasyBus http://www.easybus.co.uk/ From £2 (advance web purchase) to £8 one way. Travelcard not valid. To Baker Street (tube: Baker Street).
By taxi Journey time 90-120 minutes approximately £70 Not the most efficient option. The airport is actually quite a long way from London. It's normally a better idea to take a train to London Liverpool Street and continue by taxi from there.
By Licenced Minicab: West End Car Services +44 (0)20 7734 8970 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.westendcarservices.com/home.php?action=getaquote A Licenced Cab from the airport to Central London (£65) would take about an hour(depending on traffic).
London Luton, http://www.london-luton.co.uk/ Has traditionally been a holiday charter airport, but is now also served by some budget scheduled carriers. As per Stansted, and for the same reasons, many choose to spend the night here before flying, although First Capital Connect trains run 24 hours. To get to central London the following options exist:
By rail http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ Journey time: 30-60 minutes £11 one way. Travelcard not valid. The rail station is not actually in the airport, but the there is a shuttle bus from the airport to Luton Airport Parkway station which runs every few minutes and takes five minutes. It costs £1 single, or £2 return, if you are buying a rail ticket, Otherwise it costs £1.5 single or £3 return. From there, Thameslink trains run by First Capital Connect run four or more times an hour to London St Pancras International.
By coach: Green Line number 757 0844 801 7261 http://www.greenline.co.uk/ Every 20 minutes, journey time 90 minutes. Travelcard not valid To Victoria (tube: Victoria) via Brent Cross, Finchley Road tube station, Baker Street, Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner.
By coach: National Express 0870 580 8080 http://www.nationalexpress.com Every 20 minutes, journey time 90 minutes. From £1 (advance web purchase) one way. Travelcard not valid To Victoria (tube: Victoria) via Golders Green and Marble Arch.
By minibus: EasyBus number EB2 http://www.easybus.co.uk/ From £1 (advance web purchase) to £8 one way To Baker Street (tube: Baker Street) via Hastingwood Motorway Services and South Woodford. They now run from the city center (Victoria), but terminate in Baker St on the way back from the airport.
London City Airport
London City airport, http://www.londoncityairport.com/ A commuter airport close to the city's financial district, and specializing in short-haul business flights to other major European cities. To get to the city center the following options exist:
By Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Travelcard valid.
By taxi Journey time approximately 30 minutes £20-35.
By car 6 miles (10 km)
By bus http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/maps/buses/pdf/londoncityairportandsilvertown-12121.pdf Travelcard valid Take the 474 bus to Canning Town station and then the 115 or N15 into central London.
By Licenced Minicab: West End Car Services + 44 (0)20 7734 8970 email@example.com http://www.westendcarservices.com/home.php?action=getaquote A Licenced Cab from the airport to Central London (£30) would take about 30 minutes upto 45 Minutes at peak times(depending on traffic).
Other airports near London
London Southend Airport +44 (0) 1702 608100 http://www.southendairport.com/ (IATA: SEN, ICAO: EGMC) Currently undergoing redevelopment and is set to become London's sixth international airport once the new rail link is completed. At present it serves destinations in the British isles only.
Southampton Airport +44 (0)870 040 0009 http://www.baa.co.uk/main/airports/southampton Every 30 minutes, journey time 1 hour £30-35 round trip (IATA: SOU, ICAO: EGHI) is not officially a London airport, though accessible enough to conveniently serve the capital, especially South West London. A couple of budget carriers serving an increasing number of European destinations are based here. Direct trains connect Southampton airport to London Waterloo station.
Birmingham International Airport +44 (0)8707 335511 http://www.bhx.co.uk Every 30 minutes, journey time 75 minutes From £10 (advance web purchase) one way. £35-100 round trip. (IATA: BHX, ICAO: EGBB) is another non-London airport worth considering as a less congested and hectic alternative to Heathrow, being just over an hour away from London. As a major airport serving the UK's second largest city, there is a good choice of long distance and European destinations. Direct trains connect Birmingham International to London Euston and Watford.
London has one international rail route (operated by Eurostar http://www.eurostar.com 08705 186 186 ) from Paris (2h15) and Brussels (1h50) diving under the sea for 22 high speed miles (35km) via the Channel Tunnel to come out in England. It terminates at St Pancras International. There are no less than 12 main line National Rail http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ 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 Street (nearest tube: Tower Hill) these are on the London Underground. Most are on the circle line. Clockwise starting at Paddington, major National Rail stations are:
London Paddington, serves South West England and Wales including Slough, Maidenhead, Reading (England) Reading, Oxford, Bath (England) Bath, Bristol, Taunton (England) Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth (England) Plymouth and Cardiff and Swansea. Also the downtown terminus of the Heathrow Airport Express (see above) and serves some suburban stations such as Acton Main Line and Ealing Broadway.
London Marylebone, serves some north western suburban stations such as Amersham, Harrow on the Hill and Wembley Stadium. Also serves Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Banbury, Stratford-upon-Avon and the city of Birmingham (England) Birmingham. It is much cheaper but slightly slower to take a train from Marylebone to Birmingham instead of a train from London Euston.
London Euston, serves the Midlands, north-west England and west Scotland : Birmingham (England) Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Oxenholme Lake District, Carlisle, Glasgow, and Holyhead for connecting ferries to/from both the Ireland Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Sleeper trains to Scotland leave from Euston.
St Pancras International, serves Paris, Brussels, Luton Airport and the East Midlands: Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffiel.
London King's Cross, serves East Anglia, north-east England and east Scotland: Cambridge (England) Cambridge, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Kingston Upon Hull Kingston upon Hull, Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter books is marked with a special sign, although platform 9 itself is actually in the fairly unpleasant metallic extension used by Cambridge trains.
London Moorgate, serves some northern suburbs.
London Liverpool Street, serves East Anglia : Ipswich (England) Ipswich and Norwich. Also the downtown terminus of the Stansted Airport Express.
London Fenchurch Street, serves commuter towns north of the Thames estuary to Southend.
London Bridge, London Cannon Street, London Waterloo East and London Charing Cross, serve south and south east London and England: Brighton (England) Brighton, Dover (England) Dover, Eastbourne, Hastings (England) Hastings and Ramsgate.
London Blackfriars, serves Luton Airport and Brighton (England) Brighton.
London Waterloo, serves south west London and England: Portsmouth, Winchester (England) Winchester, Southampton, Bournemouth, Weymouth, Salisbury (England) Salisbury and Exeter.
London Victoria, serves south east London and England: Brighton (England) Brighton, Dover (England) Dover, Eastbourne, Hastings (England) Hastings and Ramsgate. Also the downtown terminus of the Gatwick Airport Express.
In South London many areas only have National Rail services (no London Underground services but there are buses). London Bridge, Victoria, Cannon Street and Charing Cross serve the South East. London Waterloo serves the South West. First Capital Connect (frequently referred to as Thameslink) is a cross London route between Bedford and Brighton (England) Brighton via Luton Airport (Parkway), St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, London Bridge and Gatwick Airport.
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 London/St James's St James's 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:
National Express 0870 580 8080 http://www.nationalexpress.com is by far the largest domestic coach operator and operates services to / from London from throughout England, Wales and Scotland. Advance ticketing is usually required and recommended practice in any case.
Eurolines +44 08705 143219 http://www.eurolines.com is an associate company of National Express, and runs coach services to / from London with various cities in Northern Ireland, the Ireland Republic of Ireland and continental Europe. Advance ticketing is required.
Megabus 0900 160 0900 http://www.megabus.com/uk/index.php operates budget coach services from/to London (Victoria Coach Station) to/from several major regional cities, it is even possible to get to Inverness in the Scotland Scottish Highlands. Fares are demand responsive but can be very cheap (£1.50 if you book far enough in advance).
There is also the option of a central London Park and Ride site located at Park Lane and Marble Arch, see National Park and Ride Directory
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. The city has recently been awarded as having the best public transport in the world.
Transport for London (TfL) http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ is a government organisation responsible for all public transport. Visit their website. It contains maps plus an excellent journey planner http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk/user/XSLTTRIPREQUEST2. 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-but even this has a few limitations (see the guide below) and it is not yet universally accepted by many of the private rail operators.
The main travel options in summary are:
By tube / underground. 12 colour-coded lines cover the central area and suburbs mostly north of the River Thames, run by TfL.
By Docklands Light Railway (DLR). /Only runs 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 (Tramlink). A tram service that only operates 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.
http://www.oystercard.com is a contact-less electronic smartcard run by Transport for London. You can get an Oyster Card from any Tube station for a deposit of £3. 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 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 desposit 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. Getting a refund for unused credit is, frankly, a hassle.
You can charge up your Oyster card with electronic cash at any tube station ticket machine or ticket desk (you can even use a credit card to do this if your credit card has a PIN number) with Oyster pay-as-you-go, also known as PrePay. This money is then deducted from your card each time you get on a service. The fare is calculated based on your start and end points. Pay-as-you-go is much cheaper than paying in cash for each journey. For instance, a cash tube one way in Zone 1 is £4, while with an Oyster Card it costs £1.50. Furthermore, a cash bus fare is £2 while with Oyster it is £0.90.
The amount of PrePay deducted from your Oyster card in one day is capped at the cost of the appropriate paper day ticket (day Travelcard) for the zones you have travelled through, less 50 pence. For zone 1-2 (central London including everywhere inside the Circle line and some places outside) this is £4.80 (£6.30 M-F before 9:30AM).
On the tube, be sure to touch in and touch out again at the end of your journey. If you forget to touch your Oyster card at the start and finish you will be charged extra! Oyster also saves time getting onto buses. In the central area, tickets have to be bought at a machine by the bus stop if you don't have an Oyster and outside the zone from the driver.
Travelcard season tickets
Weekly, monthly and longer-period Travelcard season tickets can be purchased at all tube station ticket offices. These can be used on any tube, DLR, bus, London Overground, National Rail or tram service. You have to select a range of zones when you buy it, numbered 1-9. If you happen to travel outside the zone, you can use PrePay (see above) to make up the difference. Note that they can not be used on any Airport Express trains (Heathrow Express, Gatwick Express and Stansted Express). However, a Zone 1-6 Travelcard can be used on the London Underground (Piccadilly line) to/from Heathrow Airport.
Touch the card against a yellow disc, prominently displayed on the entry and exit gates for the Tube (do not try to insert it into the slot!) and on buses and trams.
For the tube, be sure to touch the card on the yellow disc both when you enter the tube AND when you exit at your final destination; otherwise you will be charged £4.
Theoretically you don't need to remove your Oystercard from your wallet or bag to do touch in/out-the card reader can work through a bag, but in reality you may need to take the card out to get it to work.
Be careful standing near the readers on some bendy buses, they are often quite sensitive and may read your card from several centimetres away, even if you did not intend this.
If you keep your Oystercard in your wallet try not to sit on it as sometimes they will crack and stop working.
The following table summarises the validity of the different tickets you can use on Oyster. For most tourists, tubes and buses are the only transport you will use, but be aware of the limitations if you travel on National Rail or on Airport Express trains.
Travelcards are only valid within the zones you buy. Piccadilly line to Heathrow is a London Underground train, so PrePay and Travelcards are valid. Airport Express trains are Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Express, and Thameslink to Luton
London is a surprising compact city, making it a walker's delight and often being the quickest method of transport. London walking directions can be planned online with the walkit.com walking route planner http://www.walkit.com/london/.
By tube / underground
The London Underground http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tube/-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 http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/tube_map.shtml are freely available from any station, most tourist offices and are prominently displayed throughout stations and, for some obscure reason, in the back of most diaries. The Tube is made up of 12 lines each bearing a traditional name and a standard color 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 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-9:30AM and 4:30PM-7PM). On warm days take a bottle of water with you.
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. Many of the most popular buses tend to be of the articulated double-length variety, known as bendy buses. 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.
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). Under 14s travel free without identification, 14-16s travel free on production of a Child Oyster photocard.
Buses display their route number in large digits at the front, side and rear.
The difficulty with buses over the tube is knowing when to get off; while tube stations are clearly marked it is sometimes more difficult to work out where to get off a bus. All bus stops have their location and the direction of travel on them, although by the time you've seen this it can be too late! Bus drivers are usually too busy to be able to tell you. Your best bet is to ask fellow passengers or trace your route on a map wnloads/centralbusmap.pdf.
Unlike The Tube one way tickets do not allow you to transfer to different buses.
Standard bus services run from around 6AM to 12:30AM. Around midnight the network changes to the night bus network, a reliable and often interesting way to get home. Bus numbers, routes and timetable change with most radiating from the Trafalgar Square area to most outlying parts of Greater London. Night buses are identified by an 'N' at the start of the route number, for example the N73 runs between Victoria and Walthamstow Central. Be careful though, not all night buses are prefixed with an N, some are a 24 hour service, such as the 214 from Liverpool Street-Highgate Hill. Fares are the same as for regular services.
Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is a dedicated light rail network operating in London/East East London, connecting with the tube network at Bank and Tower Gateway. As the trains often operate without a driver, it can be quite exciting-especially for children-to sit in front and look at through the window, whilst feeling as though one is driving the train oneself. Apart from the trains looking slightly different and running slightly less frequently than the Tube, visitors may as well treat the two systems as the same.
The British railway system is known as National Rail. London's suburban rail services are operated by a large number of independent private companies and mostly run in the south of the city, away from the main tourist sights. Only one line (Thameslink) runs through the city centre. There is no one central station-instead, there are many mainline stations dotted around the edge of the city, connected by the Circle line. Most visitors will not need to use National Rail services except for a few specific destinations such as Hampton Court, Windsor Castle, Greenwich or the airports.
Airport Express Rail services run to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports-tickets are generally sold at a premium. Visitors should take care as Oystercards are generally not accepted.
In common parlance, Londoners may refer to travelling by overground, meaning going by National Rail (as opposed to going by Underground). However, only one service is officially called this-London Overground is a Transport for London rail service. It is operated and promoted just like the Underground, with the Tube logo on stations and full acceptance of Oystercards. London Overground appears on the Tube map as an orange line, and services run across North London suburbs from east to west. Overground services can be a useful shortcut for crossing the city, bypassing the centre, for example from Kew Gardens to Camden.
By tram (Tramlink)
Tramlink, opened in 2000, is the first modern tram system to operate in London. South London is poorly served by the Tube and lacks east-west National Rail services so the network connects Wimbledon in South West London to Beckenham in South East London and New Addington, a large housing estate in South Croydon. The network is centred on London/Croydon Croydon, where it runs on street-level tracks around the Croydon Loop.
Route 3 (Wimbledon to New Addington-green on the Tramlink map) is the most frequent service, running every 7 1/2 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime and every 15 minutes at all other times. Beckenham is served by Routes 1 and 2 (yellow and red on the Tramlink map), which terminate at Elmers End and Beckenham Junction respectively. Both services travel around the Loop via West Croydon and run every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime and every 30 minutes at all other times. Between Arena and Sandilands, these two services serve the same stops.
Due to the expense of other forms of transport and the compactness of central London, cycling is a tempting option. Excellent free cycle maps https://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/roadusers/cycling/cycleroutes/default.asp can be obtained from your local tube stations, bike shop, or ordered online.
Despite recent improvements, London remains a relatively hostile environment for cyclists. London motorists seem reluctant to acknowledge the existence of cyclists, especially at busy junctions. The kind of contiguous cycle lane network found in many other European cities does not exist. The safest option is to stick to minor residential roads where traffic can be surprisingly calm outside rush hours.
The towpaths in North London along the Grand Union Canal and Regent's Canal are the closest thing to a truly traffic-free cycle path in the capital. The Grand Union canal connects Paddington to Camden and the Regent's Canal connects Camden to Islington, Mile End and Limehouse in East London. It takes about 30-40min to cycle from Paddington station to Islington along the towpaths. In summer they are crowded with pedestrians and not suitable for cycling, but in winter or late in the evening they offer a very fast and safe way to travel from east to west in North London. Care should be taken as to where you choose to park your bike. Many areas, some surprisingly busy, attract cycle thieves, while chaining a bicycle to a railing which appears to be private property can occasionally lead to said bike being removed. Cycling on the sidewalk (pavement) is illegal.
Non-folding bikes can only be taken on limited sections of The Tube network, mostly only on the above-ground sections outside peak hours. For this reason, folding bicycles are becoming increasingly popular. There is a map showing this on the Transport for London website. Most National Rail operators allow bicycles outside peak hours also.
Critical Mass London http://come.to/londoncm meets for regular rides through central London at 6PM on the last Friday of each month. Rides start from the southern end of Waterloo Bridge. The London Cycle Campaign http://www.lcc.org.uk is an advocacy group for London cyclists and organizes regular group rides and events. Many improvements have been made for cyclists in the city over the last few years, even if they remain no more than gestures in most places. Noticeably, there are many new signposted cycle routes and some new cycle lanes, not to mention more cyclists since the 2005 public transport attacks.
In the United Kingdom helmets are not compulsory for cyclists, and opinions differ on their value. In London, many cyclists, especially those seen in rush hour, also wear filter masks, but their efficacy is even more disputed.
You must have working front and rear lights during hours of darkness. Flashing LED lights are legal. Reflective clothing is always a good idea even during the day.
London has two types of taxis: the famous black cab, and so-called minicabs. Black cabs are the only ones licensed to 'tout for business' (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 in these days of heavy advertising!) 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 yellow TAXI light will be on if they are available. Drivers must take an extensive exam in 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.
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 many, 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 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. 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.
Cabwise 60835 http://www.london.gov.uk/cabwise/ Costs the price of a text message A free service provided by TFL which texts you local licensed minicab numbers. Text HOME to 60835.
West End Car Services 47 Rupert Street, W1D 7PD 020 7734 8970 Info@westendcarservices.com http://www.westendcarservices.com/home.php?action=getaquote Lowest priced available if booked online at WestEndCarServices.com Licenced minicabs for the whole of London. Open 24 Hours a day. Can supply 6 and 8 seaters Minicabs and Luxury cars.
Londoners who drive will normally take public transport in the centre; follow their example. 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 http://www.cclondon.com/ 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 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.
Motorbike is arguably the fastest way around London, but also the most dangerous. The congestion zone does not apply, and thus for anyone commuting it's usually the cheapest option (possibly excluding bus rides). Parking for motorbikes and scooters is free at many of the reserved areas.
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 and 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.
Some key tourist attractions that are easily accessible by boat include: Hampton Court Palace, Greenwich, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Galleries, London Dungeon, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Katharine Docks, Millennium Dome, Ham House, Kew Gardens and HMS Belfast.
As well as the Thames, consider a trip along an old Victorian canal through the leafy suburbs of North London. The London Waterbus Company runs scheduled services (more in summer, less in winter) from Little Venice to Camden Lock with a stop at the London Zoo. The 45-minute trip along Regent's Canal is a delightful way to travel.
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 center drivers are more used to skaters than in the outskirts.
When to go
The name London originally referred only to the once-walled Square Mile of the original Roman (and later medieval) city (now confusingly called the London/City of London City of London or just The City ). Today, London has taken on a much larger meaning to include all of the vast central part of the modern metropolis, with the city having absorbed numerous surrounding towns and villages over the centuries. The term Greater London embraces London/Central central London together with all the outlying suburbs that lie in one continuous urban sprawl within the lower Thames valley. Though densely populated by New World standards, London retains large swathes of green parkland and open space, even within the city center.
Greater London consists of 32 London boroughs and the City of London that, together with the relatively new Mayor of London, form the basis for London's local government. The names of several boroughs, such as Westminster or Camden, are well-known andself-explanatory, others less so, such as Hackney or Tower Hamlets. A traveler's London is better defined by recognized cultural, functional and social districts of varying type and size:Covers Greenwich, Bromley, Croydon, Deptford, Dulwich, Lewisham and Penge
In an emergency, telephone 999 (or 112). This number connects to Police, Ambulance and Fire/Rescue services. You will be asked which of these three services your require before being connected to the relevant operator.
Like many big cities, London has a variety of social problems, especially begging, drug abuse, theft (mobile phones are a favourite). London has one of the oldest police forces in the world, The Metropolitan Police Service http://www.met.police.uk/, and as such, makes London an extremely safe place to visit and walk around. Alongside the regular Police, the are over 4000 Police Community Support Officers (PCSO's) that provide a highly visible presence on the streets and are able to deal with low-level crime. Normal precautions for the safe keeping of your personal possessions, as you would do in any other city, are suggested.
Don't take illegal minicabs. Travelling on lower deck of a night bus is generally safer, as there are more passengers around, and you are visible by the bus driver. If you have been the victim of crime on the railways or the London Underground, you should report the crime as soon as possible to the British Transport Police, who have an office in most major train and tube stations. Elsewhere, you should report your crime as normal to the Metropolitan Police.
If you're planning to go out late at night and are worried about safety, frequent crowded areas such as the West End. There are always plenty of people on the street, even at 4am. Generally, outside central London, South and East suburban areas are considered more dangerous, notably Brixton and Hackney, although some parts of North-West London such as Harlesden and Northern Camden are also known trouble spots. The main problem which is present right throughout London to various degrees is drunken behaviour, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights and after soccer matches. Loud and rowdy behaviour is to be expected and fights and acts of aggression do occur. If harrassed, it is best to simply ignore and walk away from those concerned. Trouble spots can be expected around popular drinking locations such as Soho and in various suburban centres.
Even busy night time Soho presents a particular danger; the clip joint. The usual targets of these establishments are male tourists. Usually, an attractive woman will casually befriend the victim and recommend a local bar. The establishment will be near-desolate, and even if the victim has only a drink or two, the bill will run to hundreds of pounds. If payment is not immediately provided, the bouncers will lock the patrons inside and take it by force. If it appears you are being lured into a clip joint, the easiest way out is to recommend a different bar to the new friend trying to get you into her favourite local place-and if she staunchly refuses, be very suspicious.
The Metropolitan Police have placed significant resources in combating street level crime. Working in conjunction with borough councils they have been able to significantly cut and bring the level of theft and pickpocketing in major retail areas in London. Whilst gun crime, by United States standards is extremely low, deaths from gunshot wounds are increasing, however these usually occur within gang disputes particularly in South and East London. Knife crime is however much higher and as such, conflicts should be avoided as tragic deaths caused as a result of seemingly petty incidents do occur from concealed weapons.
Street gang culture is a growing problem in London as with many other cities in England. Distinctive dress codes can be noticed which include excessive amounts of sports and/or hip-hop clothing, loose fitting baseball caps and most notoriously, hooded tops which are usually worn with the hood up all throughout the day and night and during hot and cold weather. If you notice crowds of youths dressed in this distinctive style, avoid them. Do not escalate situations as such individuals are often extremely violent and can suddenly demonstrate extreme aggression and often carry concealed knives and even guns. You are unlikely to encounter such problems within predominantly touristy central London, but various outer suburbs require greater vigilance. Avoid large areas of social housing estates unless you know people there, they can be very dangerous places. London is also home to some notorious organised gangs, but they wont pose any danger unless you are involved in that scene.
London is a fairly safe city for its size, and most visits should be trouble-free. The police are generally very helpful when problems do occur.
Settlement has existed on the site of London since well before Roman times, with evidence of Bronze Age and Celtic settlement. The Roman city of Londinium, established just after the Roman conquest of Britannia in the year 43, formed the basis for the modern city (some isolated Roman period remains are still to be seen within the City). After the end of Roman rule in 410 and a short-lived decline, London experienced a gradual revival under the Anglo-Saxons, as well as the Norsemen, and emerged as a great medieval trading city, and eventually replaced Winchester (England) Winchester as the royal capital of England. This paramount status for London was confirmed when William the Conqueror, a Norman, built the Tower of London after the conquest in 1066 and was crowned King of England in Westminster.
London went from strength to strength and with the rise of England to first European then global prominence, the city became a great center of culture, government and industry. London's long association with the theater, for example, can be traced back to the English renaissance (witness the Rose Theatre http://www.rosetheatre.org.uk and great playwrights like Shakespeare who made London their home). With the rise of Britain to supreme maritime power in the 18th and 19th centuries and the possessor of the largest global empire, London became an imperial capital and drew people and influences from around the world to become, for many years, the largest city in the world.
England's royal family has, over the centuries, added much to the London scene for today's traveller: the Albert Memorial, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Royal Albert Hall, Tower of London being prominent examples.
Despite the inevitable decline of the British Empire, and considerable suffering during World War II (when London was heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe in the Blitz), the city is still a top-ranked world city: a global center of culture, finance, and learning. Today London is easily the largest city in the United Kingdom, eight times larger than the second largest city, Birmingham (England), and ten times larger than the third, Glasgow, and dominates the economic, political and social life of the nation (much to the annoyance of people in the provinces i.e. everywhere except London). It is full of excellent bars, galleries, museums, parks and theatres. It is also the most culturally and ethnically diverse part of the country, making it a great multi cultural city to visit. Samuel Johnson famously said, when one is tired of London, one is tired of life. Whether you are interested in ancient history, modern art, opera or underground raves, London has it all.
London possesses one of the best collections of museums and galleries anywhere in the world. World cultures throughout history are well represented, for example, at the British Museum. The Museum of London (admission free) makes an ideal destination for the traveller who wants to understand the history and ongoing legacy of this great city.