London Hotels Articles

July 10, 2010

Underground or Overground? How to Get Around London

London: a vast city famed for is ancient history, buzzing nightlife, rich mix of international culture, its food, the fog and its great big London Eye. Visitors wanting to make the most of their stay in Britain’s banging capital are going to have to find a way to get around, but there’s plenty of transport choices for the travelling tourist.

Unfortunately, walking won’t get you very far in London. The city stretches over 609 square miles and, unless you plan on visiting only a very small area, using your two legs alone just won’t suffice.

For fitness freaks, using a bike to get round can be an option. It’s clean, cheap and good for you, but you’ll have to contend with London drivers, heavily traffic and, quite possibly, heavy rain. There are certain areas of the city which are ideal for exploring by bike, such as the paths along the Thames river, the Canals, Lee Valley and of course London’s many parks, but as an overall transport solution for the causal tourist, only the fit and brave need apply.

If you don’t mind the rush hour crush and you can read a simple colour coded map, then London’s aptly named underground train system, ‘The Tube’, will take you to many of London landmarks. The system has recently been improved with the introduction of the ‘oyster card’ – a credit card like device to which you can add money and then use to travel throughout the underground system, simply swiping as you go. This system is not only convenient, but also offers significant savings compared to buying single journey and return paper tickets.

For those places that the tube doesn’t yet reach, (the tube network is far less extensive south of the river compared to north), the bus routes reach deep into almost every part of the sprawling city. The much loved traditional “route master” buses, which could be boarded or exited by jumping on or off from the ever-open rear door, have now been retired from service, but London’s buses live on in the form of a modern fleet that still celebrates the red Double Decker bus, which is a trademark of the city.

If you prefer your transport non-public, then the classic London black cab can be hailed at all hours and will whisk you away to anywhere you want to go. They’re convenient and cool, and you’ll get to talk to a real life London Cabbie – but it will cost you more than the bus or the tube. If you need a car for more than just a quick journey, then you can always get your own motor. Car rental in London isn’t as expensive as you might expect and cars can be booked in all London airports, as well as in dozens of rental outlets across the city.

Perhaps the best way to navigate around London is to use a combination of transport methods. London’s fleet of buses, cars, taxis and the tube will allow you access to everywhere in the city, bringing all the delights of the capital within reach of the travelling tourist.

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