TIPS FOR GETTING AROUND LONDON

It is easy to feel intimidated by a city the size of London. Not just for its 607 sq. miles (double NYC) and population of 9 million people, but for the intensity of the experiences and attractions that lie within its sprawling streets and neighborhoods. How do you fit it all in? What are the options for public transport for London and getting around from A to B? Westminster Abbey, London, England Outside Westminster Abbey Don’t be concerned. The fantastic London transportation system makes it easy to get around London combined with its walkable streets. London (and Europe) stand out as a tourist destination (and for living) because of their public transport. The USA is such a big car culture that most of its cities lack in decent public transport. It means a bitter fight with traffic and plenty of parking hassles (and expense). We rarely write an individual post on how to get around cities we visit. But, with London transport it’s a little complicated (before you get to know it), yet fun and easy (once you start) and deserves an entire post. It’s a big reason I love visiting London so much! The London Eye on the River Thames London Eye on the River Thames In this post, I’ll share tips for getting around London on the train, buses, cabs, ferries and walking and then explain in detail how to use the London Transport network (Tube), which spans six different zones, covering fifty-five square miles of inner and outer London. Before we start, you’ll want to join our email community, so you don’t miss any of our upcoming London travel content (we have so many goodies to share). Plus, we’re always sharing personal updates, travel tips, destination highlights, and unique finds. AD Click here to subscribe now Table Of Contents Understanding London Zones Houses of Parliament, London London is a very BIG city that sprawls AD Before jumping in with our getting around London tips, it’s helpful to understand the London Zones. For public transport speak, or simply to aid in orientation in London, the city is divided into zones, starting from Zone 1 (in the city center) and expanding out to Zone 9 (on its very far edges). When you visit London, most people will only need to worry about Zones 1 & 2 as this is the area where most of the top London tourist attractions are! AD Visiting Buckingham Palace, London Visiting Buckingham Palace AD If you are visiting for longer than a few days, say 5 days plus, you may have time to journey across some of the other zones. And, if you’re coming in and out of Heathrow Airport on the tube, it’s handy to know you’ll be coming in from Zone 6. All of this is necessary to know how much to pay for your Tube tickets as prices are determined by the zones you travel through. AD TIP: Explore One Region a Day Trafalgar Square, London Trafalgar Square is a popular London attraction AD The best way to explore London (saving time and money) is to focus on one area of London each day. This is easier if you are visiting London for several days. If you are on a shorter trip to London, you may have to travel between areas. It depends on what you want to see and do. Again, most of the best places to visit in London will be in Zone 1, but having said that, Zone 1 in London is quite big. AD getting around london map Our London Map for planning AD Use Google Maps to plot out your London Bucket List from attractions to food, drink, and accommodation. Connect those dots to see what you can see and do in one day in areas that are easy to either walk to or involve a quick tube ride. You can make a copy our map here and change to suit your trip. The BEST way to get around London is to WALK! Walking around Kensington, London Exploring Kensington on foot AD Our number one tip for getting around London is to walk as much as you can – it can be easier to walk from one attraction or neighborhood to the next. It’s also the cheapest way to get around London! We walked from 8-12 miles a day and loved it. Not only was it fantastic for our health, but it also really helped us to see so much of London as we moved from A to B. OUR RULE: if the journey is 20 minutes walk or less, we’d walk. (sometimes I’d push that to 40 minutes). AD By the time you get down to the London underground (Tube station), change trains if needed, and then get back out, it can take 20 minutes. St James’s Park, London, England Walking through St James’s Park AD You’re sure to find a park, garden, or pub along the way if you need to stop and rest. This was a wonderful way to spend quality time with our kids, chatting as we walked, enjoying the views, and even dancing a little in front of the London Eye. (see our Reel here) There is always something to look at in London when you walk. You’ll be walking past fairly modern skyscrapers and buildings and suddenly you’ll see a 300-year-old tower, a sprawling palace, or the crumbling remains of a medieval building! AD And instead of a grid system, you’ll find this ancient city is a hodgepodge of winding streets, and cute cobblestone alleyways filled with hidden gems and stories. The Millennium Bridge, London, England Walking across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral AD Even the traffic lights can be something to look at. At Trafalgar Square you’ll find LGBTQ traffic lights that include two men and two women holding hands and forming a heart, and various gender symbols including a transgender sign. And you know what is so great about walking around London? There are very helpful maps (and street signs) everywhere that let you know where you are and what London attractions and landmarks are nearby. They even break it down into 5 minute and 15 minute radiuses. I LOVE London! AD London walking maps Maps around London make it easy AD So, when you travel to London, England don’t forget comfortable walking shoes! Caveat: Be careful of bike lanes. They can be difficult to see and Savannah was collected by a bike near Embankment. Thankfully no body was hurt. The London Underground (Tube) is the easiest way to get around London London Tube Station Entrance to a London Tube Station AD The London Underground (or Tube) as it is affectionately known, makes it easy to get around London. The Tube is a series of 11 underground rail lines that move you quickly and easily around the city. Think of it as the London subway like NYC, but way better! I just love traveling on the London Tube. It brings back great memories of me living in London and being able to access so much life so easily. I love how in 20-minutes I could be in an entirely new area of the city exploring and creating more memories. AD I love seeing London life go by on the tube and people seemed more friendly this time around than when I lived in London. I think COVID has changed that and people are happy to be out and about again!