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Little Known Ways to Getting Around London

London Bridge at Night

London Bridge at Night


Despite London being a small part of the UK, London itself is quite a large city, with many places to go and many sights to see. London is known for its ‘Underground’, the subway system that many Brits complain about, and many foreigners cannot wait to experience on their trips to London. London has many different forms of transportation that can be utilized to get in, around, and out of the city. Here they are:

Getting from the Airport to the City Center:

There are three main airports in London-Gatwick, Stansted, and the most popular, Heathrow, as well as a few other airports. To get from Heathrow Airport, you can take some different modes of public transportation, many of which connect to the other airports as well. Transport from Heathrow into the city can be pricey, but the numerous options available will help visitors choose what fits their budget best.

Heathrow Express

Where: Terminals 1, 3 and 5, and you can connect from Terminal 4.
Cost: 18 pounds at the station (about $28 USD).
Where it Goes: To Paddington and surrounding areas, including Central London, Clapham Junction and Waterloo Station.
Time/Distance: About 15 -20 minutes to Paddington.
Tips: Terminals 1 & 3 have a faster route, and if you purchase tickets online beforehand, it will be a bit cheaper. No need to buy First Class because you will be plenty comfortable for the short ride in the Express Class.

Heathrow Connect

Where: Terminals 1,3, and 4, and you can connect from Terminal 5
Cost: 8.50 pounds (about $13 USD). Open return ticket for 16.50 pounds.
Where it Goes: Paddington Station and makes a stop in West London.
Time/Distance: About 30 minutes.
Tips: It might seem at times that the Heathrow Connect does not exist because the government wants to encourage people to pay for the more expensive Heathrow Express. Although it does take a bit longer (10 minutes), it is half the price and just as comfortable. If you are in no rush, take this train instead. You can also take the Tube (Piccadilly Line) or the South West Trains to stop at neighborhoods a bit outside of London along the way. (See below for more details).

Coach Bus

Where: London Heathrow Airport Central Bus Station.
Cost: 4 pounds (online).
Where it goes: London Victoria Coach Station.
Time/Distance: About 45 minutes.
Tips: The National Express coach does make stops at Terminals 4 & 5, however, it is best just to head to the bus station. There are several other city buses you can take into the city, but they can be a little more complicated to navigate if you are unfamiliar.

Taxi

Where: Outside each terminal, or you can hire a private ride inside the terminal.
What: A black cab, or a private taxi service.
Cost: Usually costs 55 pounds to Central London.
Where it goes: Anywhere you want!
Time/Distance: Anywhere from 40 minutes to 20 hours.
Tips: A taxi to the center is very expensive, so it is best to go with one of the other options to at least take you closer to the city, and then take a taxi to your destination. Once you are in the London, it is easy to get to the sights you want to see as well as neighborhoods out of the center. Expect to pay a lot more than what you would pay in other cities, but at the same time, expect a comfortable and cozy ride.

The Tube, or the London Underground, is by far the most reliable way to get around the city.

The Tube, or the London Underground, is by far the most reliable way to get around the city.


From Here to There (in the City):

The Tube, or the London Underground, is by far the most reliable way to get around the city. The Tube has 11 lines that cover most of the city, as well as a little bit out. If you get an Oyster Card, you can load it and use it to ride the Underground hassle free, as well as other modes of transportation. Alternatively, you can buy a one trip ticket at 3 pounds as well as a weekly pass for a few pounds more. The Underground extends quite far out, so you should have no problem finding and getting to where you need to go.

If you are looking to go to the eastern part of the city, then you can take the Docklands Light Railway or the DLR. This line goes to the London City Airport, as well as of course Canary Wharf/Docklands, Stratford, and Greenwich. The train operates somewhat like a tram, is easy to navigate, and there are many ways to purchase tickets.

The infamous London buses are also a great way to get around, and they are utilized just as much as the Tube. There are tons of routes during the day, and even a few more at night when the Night Bus comes out to serve people trying to get home after a long day.

Moreover, if you are feeling adventurous (and perhaps a bit romantic), you can try one of the new commuter boats that are taking over London. The boats work kind of like taxis and can bring you to a variety of destinations around the city. You can use your Oyster Card on the boats as well.

Lastly, you can always, of course, take a taxi, ride a bike, or walk to where you want to go.

City to the Outskirts

To get to parts of southern London, near Wimbledon and Croydon, you can take the tram, called Tramlink. The tram is excellent if you are trying to get anywhere in South West London or South East London, in addition to Wimbledon and Croydon, Beckenham and New Addington.

The National Rail, or more simply, the train, is a chain of lines that run to South London and suburbs that are not usually where many tourists go. The ‘British Rail’, is used to serve the rest of the United Kingdom, too. It is relatively easy to navigate around London if you know where you are going. There is no central station, just 12 mainline stations surrounding the center.

To get to where you are going (specifically in London), most people end up taking a combination of Tube and train routes together. Alternatively, to travel across North London, take the Orange Line, also known as ‘The Overground.’ It runs just like Tube, except it is an actual train.

What ways have you traveled around London? Comment below and let us know so we can Go! See! Learn!

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Michelle Rae

Michelle Rae

Michelle Rae is the creator of The Traveling Vixen, which captures her adventures around the world. Her passion is to inspire others to grow by experiencing and learning new things in the world.

4 Comments

  • Marion

    I am ready to board the “Red Eye” flight tonight to ride a bus or subway in and around
    London, so exciting to see all the sights we read about.
    a commuter boat would be fun also, and prices are reasonable.
    thanks Traveling Vixen for all the good information

    July 1, 2016 at 1:36 am
    • Michelle Rae
      Michelle Rae

      Let’s go!
      My pleasure to be able to provide fun travel information. 🙂
      Enjoy!

      July 1, 2016 at 2:10 pm
  • Leo Gussler

    It is a fast and safe way to travel, and the College is conveniently located near South Kensington tube station, on the Piccadilly, Circle and District lines.

    August 4, 2016 at 7:36 am
    • Michelle Rae
      Michelle Rae

      Thank you , Leo!

      It’s a great system and easy to use! I wish in Southern California we had a robust system like this to get around.

      August 6, 2016 at 2:36 pm

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