- Day trips
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- Top Tips
From the Classic Black Hackney Cabs, to The Double Decker Buses, The Internationally Renowned ‘Tube’, and the newly introduced Barclay Bikes – Learn how to manoeuvre your way through London’s iconic public transportation options.
To plan a trip, get a tube map, check departures, or tube delays. If you can, screenshot the directions, buses, or tubes you will use. Everything you need to know about your trip on London’s transportation can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk.
If you have a smartphone download Citymapper – the app will tell you the fastest way to get anywhere using tube, buses, walking and even bicycles (and also tells you how many calories you’ll burn on the way!) Also download a tube map – this allows you to avoid pulling out a big tube map and drawing unwanted attention from thieves who prey on tourists.
Always keep your oyster card topped up! A good minimum on an Oyster is £5. They don’t take cash on public transport. So, if you are out with your friends and you are not topped up, you will soon find out who your real friends are – when they leave you behind at the bus stop or on the other side of the barriers! You can top up at a tube station and local shops that display the Oyster card symbol in their window.
The tube stops at midnight so plan accordingly by heading out to catch the last train. Or if you know you are likely to be out after midnight be aware of the 24 hour and night buses that will get you home at the end of the night. Look at bus stands where you live and note the numbers that start with N (N159, N1, etc) You can also check your route on the tfl.gov.uk website before you go out. It is a lot easier to plan your trip home before you have had a couple of drinks!
Taking night buses will save you a lot of money, but if you need to take a cab follow these simple rules. Hail a classic black hackney cab. In order to be licensed to drive one of these cabs, drivers must complete years of training and pass a test called ‘The Knowledge’ to make sure they know every London road by heart. As licensed taxi drivers they will get you back safe and sound. Never get in an un-booked minicab. Sometimes they wait outside clubs and ask if you want a ride home. DO NOT get into one of these cars. It is illegal for them to be touting for your business, and it is no safer than getting into a stranger’s car!
At the weekends there are often engineering works affecting some of the tube lines. So when you are travelling at the weekends make sure you check out tube closures on www.tfl.gov.uk before you go out. There is always an alternative route and as long as you know what this is before you go out it will save a lot of hassle and frustration.
Bus routes 9 and 15 offer a fun way to see the city’s sights using Routemasters – London’s original hop-on, hop-off double decker buses. Take the route 9 from Kensington High Street to Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner, Green Park (for Buckingham Palace), Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square. Then jump on the 15. It goes all the way from Trafalgar Square, up Fleet Street, past St Paul’s and the Tower of London. These “heritage routes” provide a great day of sightseeing and easy access to explore on your own – at a fraction of the cost of the sightseeing buses like the Big Bus Tour!
SHHHH!– Londoners like to keep to themselves when they are on public transport. Feel free to talk but remember not everyone needs to hear about the wicked hottie at O’Neills who was definitely hitting on you. Also, when on the escalators stand on the right. This gives those who are in a rush the chance to rush past while you chat with your mates or are resting your legs.
Once you mastered the tube – WALK! The best way to explore the city’s hidden treasures and culture is by walking through it and you will soon find the centre of London is a lot smaller than you thought. Just remember, be careful when you are crossing the street. If you are from just about anywhere besides England, you are used to traffic coming from the other direction so you need to be extra careful. Don’t just follow the herd. Look both directions before you cross and wait for the green man. It helps you live longer!