There are so many things that makes Britain great and London is one of them with its offerings of iconic landmarks, museums, fine selection of hotels and an eclectic mix of shops and markets. It stretches an impressive 1,572 km², an impressive size and a lot of travelling if you’re looking to explore the entire city; this is why there are an array of options to choose from when it comes to travelling around London. Your options will include a cable car, a boat trip across the Thames, a famous black cab or even a delightful horse and cart ride through one of the famous Royal parks. This guide takes a look at all of the most popular ways to travel around London to help you decide which mode of transport is best for you.
The London Underground
The London Underground, or the Tube as it is affectionately known as, is possibly the most popular and the quickest way to travel around the city. It took over 1.23 billion passengers in 2012/13 alone and it is known famous for its efficiency which is why rush hour is incredibly busy due to it being how most Londoners commute to and from work. The transport system has 270 stations in total and 250 miles of track which also transports to Greater London and parts of Hertfordshire, Essex and Buckinghamshire. There are 11 lines in operation all over the city; these are the Central line, which runs directly outside the Marble Arch London Hotel, the Circle line, the District line, the Bakerloo line, the Jubilee line, the Northern line, Waterloo and City line, the Victoria line, Piccadilly line, the Metropolitan line and the Hammersmith and City line. The trains run every few minutes at a time and during certain times it can get very crowded, so if the one train is completely full, just wait for the next one which will arrive under 10 minutes later.
The Iconic Double Decker
One of the most iconic symbols of Britishness is undoubtedly the red double decker bus. This world famous vehicle is the epitome of patriotism and it can constantly be seen on the roads right in the heart of the city. The Routemaster bus is linked with the Swingin’ Sixties era and they frequented the roads from 1956 until 2005 when it parked for the last time. The double decker buses cover the entire city and many offer sightseeing tours around all the major sights and, with over 23 tours to choose from such as ghost tours, party buses or simply the classic sightseeing tour, you are spoilt for choice. If you want to create your own tour, do a little research and see what number buses take the routes alongside the places and monuments you want to explore; with over 8,500 red buses driving around London, it wouldn’t be hard to do.
The Hackney Cab
Wherever a red double decker is, a black hackney carriage won’t be far behind. Another famous staple of London, the black Hackney cab has an interesting history with the term ‘hackney carriage’ having been around since the late 17th century when horses and carriages were used as the form of public transport which, astonishingly, continued until just after World War II. The cabs we hail today were brought in in the 1900’s and over 20,000 travel on London’s roads every day with each driver having had to past The Knowledge test to gain his licence so, more often than not, they won’t get you lost.
The Crazy Rickshaws
Taking a rickshaw is…well…an interesting experience to say the least. Riding in one of these is fantastic as it allows you to appreciate what you have and, after a few near death experiences you will have, it’s hardly surprising. There isn’t much to love about sitting in a fabric hut that’s being pulled along Piccadilly Circus by a bicycle whose rider gets you sandwiched between two huge double decker buses but it is a once in a lifetime experience. Just remember to haggle as the price can vary dramatically with drivers charging £20 for a less than 5 minute trip.
Take a Ride
Just around the corner from the hotels near Oxford Street London lies a “Boris Bikes” docking station. You may not think to take this mode of transport but it is a really useful way of seeing the sights and it is readily available throughout London with a staggering 10,000 bikes and 700 bike docking stations all over the city. The starting price for borrowing the bikes is very reasonable and it allows you to get to where you need to be through the parks and other more natural parts of London, such Kensington Gardens and Kyoto Gardens. If the sun is shining and the birds are singing, why not hire a bike and explore parts of London that you wouldn’t see on the tube, in a cab or on top of a double decker bus.
To travel on the buses, trains, underground and river boats, you need to invest in a travelcard and these can be bought for one day’s travel or for 365 day’s worth of travel, it is completely up to you. There is a paper ticket, which is usually used for one day or a week’s travel, or a legendary Oyster Card which can be topped up, reused and tapped on top of the barriers at your starting point and your destination; this reduces the amount of waiting time that you would usually have clocked up by standing in a queue.