How to get around London
London has one of the most well-known and well-used public transport systems in the UK. Millions of commuters, travellers and tourists use various methods to get in, out and across the city on a daily basis.
There are so many different ways to get around, it took us a few moments to remember them all! You might be surprised about which method of transport is actually the most popular (spoiler: it’s not the Tube), and how to get across the river without using one of the bridges.
London uses either contactless cards (supported by most credit or debit cards) or the official TFL Oyster card for much of its public transport payments, which makes it really easy to get around. For the Oyster card, you can pick one up at any TFL station within London.
We recommend travelling outside of the busy commuter times if you can help it and remember to stand on the right on escalators!
This section includes the Underground (The Tube), the overground and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).
The Tube (Underground)
Tube stations are all over London and are easily recognisable for their red circle with a blue line running horizontally through it. A lot of tube stations are actually walkable, so it often saves time to walk between them until you need to change line for your final destination.
The nearest ones to The Belgrave are Pimlico which is a 6-minute walk away from the hotel or Victoria which is an 11-minute walk away from us. If you have mobile data, then we really recommend you to get the Citymapper app which tells you the quickest or cheapest way to get to your destination. If you don’t have mobile data, then free tube maps are available here, or by downloading the app ‘Tube Map’ from Google Play or the Apple App Store. It’s a really handy map to have as you’re travelling around London as you’ll be able to find your way to pretty much anywhere in London by looking for your nearest tube station.
The Tube also has various step-free stations where they are more wheelchair accessible and disability friendly. The tube map has these noted so you can plan journeys accordingly.
A much smaller network than the tube, with only 6 routes, but still worthy of a mention as it connects some larger stations like Liverpool Street and Euston. The Overground goes above ground and is marked orange on your Tube map.
The Overground is ideal for those who need to get to one of the outer areas of London without having to cross multiple lines on the Underground, or those wishing to see a better view of the city during their journeys.
The DLR (Docklands Light Railway)
The DLR is a driverless train, (we don’t understand how it works either) and connects to various stations on the London Tube network. It is mainly around east London and the Docklands and is fun for those wanting to pretend to be train drivers.
On the Tube map, the DLR is in dark green. It’s also a good way of getting around at night as the last DLR train is around 12.30am Monday to Saturday.
All DLR stations are wheelchair accessible with ramps or lift access to make it even easier to get around.
Emirates Air Line
Also known as the Dangleway, this cable car crosses the River Thames. It’s exactly the same as any other public transport method in the city, with the ability to use your Oyster or Contactless card to tap in and out of.
The ride lasts around ten minutes and offers some truly breathtaking views of London and the river. The Emirates Air Line runs from the Greenwich Peninsula (near the O2) and the Royal Docks.
The cable cars are fully wheelchair and pushchair accessible, just ask the customer service desk to help you.
Hop on the bus
If you guessed that the bright red iconic buses you see around London were the most popular mode of transport, give yourselves a pat on the back as you’d be right.
The bus sees millions of passengers per week as it is the cheapest way to travel and one of the ways to see London in all its glory. It is worth remembering that London’s public transport system is pretty much cashless now, so make sure you have your Oyster or Contactless card with you to be able to tap in when you hop on.
The buses are very easy to use and will take you all over London. They will take longer, but you’ll see the interesting architecture of London that you wouldn’t see if you were underground.
Cross the river in style
Riverboats (also known as Uber Boats) are not everyone’s cup of tea, but they are an experience that you should try if you can. Most riverboats have comfortable seats and bars, for hot and cold drinks and snacks and you get to see some of London’s most famous landmarks whilst taking a relaxing trip on the water.
Hire a bike
The ‘Boris Bikes’ became the ‘Santander Cycles’ a few years ago, but the function is the same. There are lots of bikes for hire across the city, just pay for it using the card machine at the docking station and off you go. Make sure you take it to another hire docking station and remember to lock it in. Once the bike stops, it calculates your time and as it’s £2 per 24 hours, these are the more adventurous and cheapest ways to get across the city.
As a tip – every first half an hour is free on these bikes, and Santander will give you another code to unlock another bike for free if you keep your journeys under 30 minutes. Otherwise it’s £2 per 30 minutes outside each free period.
Walking around the city
It sounds pretty obvious, but walking is free! Hit your daily step goal by shunning the public transport and taking a walk. This is not for everyone, but if it’s a nice day and you’re up for an adventure, get a map (or check the maps that are dotted on many street corners) and hit the streets.
You’ll get your exercise in and probably find little cafés and shops that you may have missed if you’d taken public transport. It’s also nice to stop in those cafés for rest stops to ensure you keep hydrated.
Travelling around London doesn’t need to be stressful, there are plenty of ways to get around that are cheap and easy and give you a great tour of London. When you’re done trekking across the city, we’ll welcome you back at The Belgrave to relax, grab a drink or bite to eat and enjoy the peace and quiet.