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Traveling in London

The main parts in this section:

Getting from the airport to town and exploring the city
Getting Around - Different sorts of Public Transport


Great detailed maps are available on the website: You can search on street name or zip code and zoom the maps as well.

Getting from the airport to town

The city of London is served by five airports:

Heathrow Airport, London is 16 miles (26 kilometres) west of central London. From each of Heathrow's terminals the easiest and cheapest way to get into London is to catch the Underground also known as the 'Tube'. Trains run frequently, with a journey time of roughly 50 to 60 minutes with a cost that is less than five GBP. There is also the new "Heathrow Express" train which runs to Paddington station in just 15 minutes, every 15 minutes. The cost is ten GBP and Paddington station is centrally located in London with good rail connections to the rest of the country as well as other parts of London. For the major airlines there are now check-in facilities for flights leaving London Heathrow. Taxis into London will cost anywhere between 25 GBP to 40 GBP, available from ranks in front of the terminal buildings. You need to be aware of the morning and evening rush hours which can slow down any taxi considerably and thus increase the cost. If you have any trouble with transportation, ask at one of the help desks signposted throughout the airport, they have all the information you will need at their finger tips.

Gatwick Airport, London is 35 miles (56 kilometres) south of central London. There is an express train service from Gatwick airport to Victoria station that runs every 15 minutes, and costs 9.50 GBP standard single, or 15 GBP first class single. This service takes approximately 30 minutes. There are also non-express trains that take marginally longer, but cost slightly less at 7.50GBP standard fare and 11.30 GBP first class. Depending upon the time of day this service can take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes. There are a large number of different bus services that run into central London, which leave Gatwick's central coach station in the south terminal. It is not advisable to catch taxis from Gatwick as the distance is too great.

A shuttle bus connects Luton Airport to Luton train station. It leaves the airport every ten minutes and takes approximately twelve minutes to reach the station. The fare is only 1.60 pounds. From the station there are two direct lines to central London: the Thameslink line and the St Pancras line. The fare is approximately 9.60 pounds for a single journey, which takes 25 minutes. It is also possible to hire a taxi from the airport to central London. The fare is usually between 40 and 45 pounds.

Stansted Airport is 30 miles north-east of London. The airport has its own train station under the main terminal building. Trains to central London run every 30 minutes to Liverpool Street Station and take approximately 45 minutes. The fare is 12 GBP for a standard single ticket. There is a coach service leaving from the airport every hour which takes approximately 100 minutes. There are many forms of reliable public transport in and around central London. Tube trains travel to all parts of the city as do the traditional London buses, easy to identify as they are painted red. Open-top buses provide a way of sightseeing whilst travelling and boats along the Thames are also a more unusual way to make a journey. Day tickets provide the cheapest way to get around using buses and trains. They are available from train stations and can be used after 9:30 am for unlimited travel.

London City Airport, voted the 'Best City Airport' in 2000, the business-orientated London City Airport is the most central of the capital's airports, located just ten kilometres (six miles) east of the centre. The airport is relatively small, yet served its record number of passengers in 2000, with over 1,500,000 travellers passing through the airport.

Transport to the city: The Airport Shuttle (tel: (020) 7646 0088) runs to Canary Wharf (3) and Liverpool Street station (6), Monday to Friday 0650-2200, Saturday 0650-1315 and Sunday 1100-2200 (journey times are approximately ten and 25 minutes respectively). Shuttle buses also run every ten minutes to Canning Town station (2), which is served by the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway, taking approximately five minutes. Silvertown & London City Airport train station is a ten-minute walk from the terminal building for Silverlink Metro services to Richmond via Willesden Junction. Computacab (tel: (020) 7646 0850) taxi services into central London charge from 30. The Travel Line (tel: (0870) 608 2608) provides further information on all transport to and from London.

Getting Around

London is an easy city to get around. The integrated public transport network covers every corner of the city. You can hail a taxi, travel by boat, or let your feet do the walking.

Different sorts of Public Transport

The London Underground, commonly referred to as the 'Tube', is the oldest and most extensive underground system in the world and pervades both the life and layout of London. An on-going programme is replacing decrepit rolling stock, modernising stations and improving efficiency, however, escalator and station closures are still a regular problem.

Twelve underground lines, each with a different name and colour, are supplemented by the privately operated Docklands Light Railway (tel: (020) 7363 9700) connecting the City of London and the Docklands. The entire network is divided into six concentric zones, which determine the price of tickets. In the city centre (zone one) a single ticket costs 1.50, otherwise single fares are 0.90 (one zone) up to 2.20 (four zones). Carnets of ten zone-one tickets cost 11. Tickets must be passed through the barrier ticket gates in order for the passenger to enter and leave the system (and avoid a 10 penalty fare). The London Underground runs 0530-2430 but should be avoided (where possible) during rush hour - 0800-0930 and 1700-1830 Monday to Friday. If you are making several trips, its cheaper to buy a Travelcard. Travelcards are available on an annual, monthly, weekly or daily (after 09:30 for day passes) basis and can be used on buses and
local trains as well as the tube. For example, a one-day travelcard for zones 1&2 costs GBP 4.10 for adults and GBP 2 for children. A Weekend card, valid on saturday and sunday, is GBP 6.10 for adults and GBP 3 for children. There are also family travelcards, carnets and weekly travelcards. Just enquire at the tube ticket office. Tickets for the underground can be bought from the ticket offices or machines at any underground station as well as Click for large tube map
click for large map
travel information centres and some newsagents.
More information at:

London's famous red 'Routemaster' double-decker buses are slowly being superseded by more modern single and double deckers. There are now only two fare zones. Any journey that includes the city centre zone is 1 and any journey outside this zone is 70p. Tickets are bought from the driver or bus conductor upon boarding and there is a 5 fine for travelling without a valid ticket. Carnets of six tickets (for any zone) can be purchased for 3.90. Night buses, prefixed by the letter 'N', replace the standard services after midnight and are included on one-day travel cards. Regional and commuter rail services run between numerous stations in the capital and often cover routes not served by the underground system.

There are a number of services operating on the Thames. Commuter ferries between the Savoy Pier (Embankment) and Greenland Pier (Greenwich) are run by Collins River Enterprises (tel: (020) 7977 6892; website: Fares cost between 1.50 and 2.70 for a single and 2.50 and 4.70 return. Riverside Launches (tel: 020 7352 5888) operate a commuter service between Chelsea/Cadogan and Embankment for 4 (single) or 8 (return). These commuter services operate between Monday and Friday 0635-1944. Full details of all river ferries (operators, timetables, routes and prices) can be obtained from London Transport (website: Tickets for the various services available can be bought on board.

Once in London, there are a number of passes available, including the One-day Travelcard for 4 (valid after 0930 Monday to Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday), the LT Card at 5.10 (offering unrestricted travel within 24 hours) and the 6 Weekend Travelcard, which is valid on Saturday and Sunday (or public holidays). Prices quoted are for zones one and two only. The all-zone One-day Bus Pass costs 2. Weekly, monthly and annual passes must be accompanied by a photocard. Tickets can be purchased at the station - carnets and some passes can be bought at participating newsagents and supermarkets.

London's distinctive black cabs are a pleasant - if pricey - way of getting around the city, as well as meeting the legendary 'cabbies'. Fares start at 1.40 and increase by 20p per minute up to 8.60, then by 20p every 30 seconds. A tip of 10-15% to 'round up' the bill is customary. Each taxi has a licence number and badged drivers must comply with official regulations. London cabbies have undergone intensive training - known as the 'Knowledge' - which involves riding around London on a moped learning all the street names, followed by a gruelling examination. Black cabs can be booked through Dial-a-Cab (tel: (020) 7251 0581; website: and Radio Taxis (tel: (020) 7272 0272; website: London taxi drivers' unsurpassed understanding of the city has been tapped by a tour company, who offer black cab tours (tel: (020) 7289 4371, website: Any complaints about black cabs should be directed to the Public Carriage Office, 15 Penton Street, London N1 9PU (tel: (020) 7941 7800).

Chauffeur-driven luxury cars can be hired from several companies, including Carey Camelot Chauffeur Drive (tel: (020) 7235 0234) and London Chauffeur Drive (tel: (020) 7633 9410). On average, limousines cost about 50 (plus VAT) per hour.

Driving in the City
New London mayor Ken Livingstone has vowed to ease traffic congestion with the introduction of toll charges for entry to the city centre. Nevertheless, for now, congestion still makes driving one of the city's least appealing pastimes. The M25 ring motorway and major routes into the city are often at a standstill, particularly on Friday and Sunday evenings. Heavy traffic within the city has made many drivers bullish, with aggressive driving techniques increasingly common.

Off-road parking is available 24 hours at NCP garages (tel: (020) 7404 3777, website: around the city. The tariffs vary, however, the cheapest NCP garage in London can be found in Russel Square, Woburn Place WC1, with prices starting at 2.80 for one to two hours and rising to 14 for 12 to 24 hours. Opening hours are Monday 0700 to Friday 1200. Street parking in London is limited, expensive and illegal within any area marked with a zigzag or double yellow line. On a red line even stopping is forbidden. The minimum penalty for illegal parking is a 30 fine - wheel-clamping and impounding vehicles, both of which incur additional fines, are not uncommon. For further information, visitors can contact the 24-hour clamping hotline (tel: (020) 7747 4747). Many residential areas require residents' permits to park.

Car Hire
Regulations vary from company to company but companies usually require drivers to be around 25 years or older. A foreign national driving licence is valid in Britain for one year, although an International Driving Permit may be preferred if the licence is not in English. A credit card is essential and it is important to check what level of insurance is included in the price of car hire. All major car firms have locations all over the city, such as Avis (tel: (0870) 606 0100; website:; Budget (tel: (0800) 626 063; website: and Hertz (tel: (0870) 599 6699; website: There has been a recent growth in budget/Internet car hire companies, spearheaded by easyRentacar (website:, the first Internet-only car hire company with prices starting from just 9 per day. With some of the major car hire companies, prices can rise to as much as 40.

Bicycle & Scooter Hire
The London Bicycle Tour Company, 1A Gabriel's Wharf, 56 Upper Ground SE1 (tel: (020) 7928 6838; website:, hires out bicycles for 12 per day and 36 per week. Scooters are becoming increasingly popular in London and can be hired from Scootabout, 1-3 Leek Street WC1 (tel: (020) 7833 4607). Drivers must be at least 21 years old and hold an International Driving Permit. Rates for a day's hire range between 20 and 85 (depending on model, style and engine size) and there is a minimum two-day hire period.


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