To many people visiting from other places, London can seem like a huge maze. In fact, even people who visit London often still struggle to find their way around. It’s a busy and often scary place to travel through and around, but there are ways you can make your journey easier.
London provides many services to help people get around the city and avoid the congestion charge. If you’re not familiar with them, here are some of the best ways to get from A to B.
1. Hire a Bicycle
Since 2010, London has been offering a public bicycle sharing scheme to help people make shorter journeys around the city. The scheme is sponsored by Barclay’s and enables people to hire out bikes known as “Boris Bikes.” All you need to do is swipe your membership card which you can purchase online, or your Visa or MasterCard credit card or debit card, and you’ll be able to use a bike for however long you need it.
There are 570 bike locations around London, so they’re easy to find, and they provide a great way of getting around London quickly whilst keeping fit. You should note that the longer you hire the bike for, the more you will be charged, and if you return it late or damaged you could be fined.
2. Take the Tube
London’s underground system is made up of 12 Tube lines. There are locations all over London where you can simply walk down some steps and find yourself at a Tube station, so it’s a great way of getting around London quickly and easily. The Tubes are interconnected with the train stations, so they’re easy to get to once you’ve arrived in London, and the Tube map, which you’ll find at any station, is clear and simple, so you’ll know exactly where to go.
Roads are often very busy in London, so going underground rather than taking the streets can save you a lot of time on your journey. Plus, if you’ve got a London travelcard, you can use the Tubes as much as you want during the day at no extra cost.
3. Go by Bus
The Central London Bus Guide can be found online, at Tube stations or at travel information centres and is a handy map showing the bus routes all over London, allowing you to plan your journey with ease. Bus tickets will usually be required before travel, and tickets machines are located at the main bus stops, however you may be able to use the contactless credit system, which allows you to swipe your credit or debit card like an Oyster card, providing an easy way to pay for single fares.
If you’re in London to see the sights, it might be a good idea to go on a London bus tour. These tours will take you around London to the places of interest, and you’ll be told by a tour guide facts about these places and their history. If you’re travelling at night, there are night buses available, but these are less frequent and stop at request only, so if the driver’s about to pass your stop you need to let them know.
4. Hail a Cab
London’s black cabs are a great way of getting to where you need to be, and are really handy, too, as they can be hailed in the street or at train, Tube and bus stations. The black cabs are London’s official taxis, so it is safe to do this, however you should never use a minicab without making a booking first. When you book a cab, a record will be kept of your name, the name of your driver and the vehicle used, so if anything happens, your driver can be traced.
If you take a cab without booking it first, you have no way of knowing if it or the driver is licensed. Black cabs are the only cabs which can legally pick up passengers in the street. Most cabs will allow payment by card, but you should always check with the driver first.
5. Go by Foot
There are loads of ways to travel in London, but one of the easiest by far is to go by foot. There are lots of things to see which you miss out on when you travel by vehicle or underground. London’s bridges make getting around quicker, and provide some brilliant views, and most things in London are surprisingly close together, so a journey that you might take on the Tube could actually only take you a few minutes on foot.
Plus, there have been many improvements made recently to make London a more pedestrian-friendly place. It’s simple, green, doesn’t cost anything and is a great way of keeping fit!
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