Category Travel

Getting around (and to) London

Being the size that it is, London has numerous means of getting from A to B. For a visitor a city this size can be quite confusing. However, it is partitioned off into a number of concentric travel ‘Zones’ from 1 to 6. Zone 1 basically covers Central London, and is bordered by the Circle Line (see Tube Map ). It is in this area that most of the major sights and attractions are located. Maps of London are essential whichever part of the city you intend to get to.

The fastest way around for medium or long distances is on rails: either the frequent, easy-to-understand Tube (in central and northern London) or the less cooperative surface rail (the predominant mode in south London, and bits of the east), or, in parts, the Docklands Light Railway and Croydon's [Tramlink]?.

Buses cover the whole of London, and are cheaper, but they're slower, harder to find information for, it's easier to miss your stop, and they're not as nice.

For those with the cash, taxis are a winner - the easiest and most comfortable option, even if not necessarily the fastest. If you're prepared to fork out a lot for a slow journey to somewhere you could try the recent innovation (to London) of pedicabs. You can also drive yourself around London (and probably drive yourself mad in the process), but it's a bad idea, really. Motorcycling is common, but it's even riskier than it is in other cities.

Cycling is popular, and although there aren't as many cycle paths as there could be (and a lot of the ones there are are unhelpful), if you can swallow your fear, it's the fastest way to get around (at least for trips of a few miles). Cycling is becoming an increasingly popular means of transport and the cycle network is improving. Similarly, Walking, whilst occasionally unpleasant, is excellent for shorter distances, sometimes, in the centre, beating even the buses and tubes. Whichever mode of self-propelled travel you choose, your journeys will help you map the (notoriously complicated) London geography (Iain Sinclair even applied this to the M25 ...).

Journey Planning

Transport for London's Journey Planner website will give several recommendations on how to get from A to B using the best combination of Tube, Buses, Walking, Rail, DLR, trams, coaches and even river services. It provides maps of how to walk between connections and integrates with the online timetables to estimate your journey time. You can even set your walking speed to optimise transport choices!

If you want a portable journey planner, Metro comes highly recommended and often contains information about engineering works on the Tube.

Last edited 2007-02-19 23:28:53 (version 15; diff). List all versions.