famous London double deckers

Sightseeing in London? Use public transportation

If you’re visiting London on a budget, skip the expensive hop-on hop-off tours and just buy yourself a London Travelcard which you can use not only on the Underground but also on the famous London double-decker buses, and you can see quite a bit of the city that way, especially if you manage to get seats right in front on the upper level.

London seems to have two options to buy tickets for public transportation – Oyster Cards and Travelcards, and the very well-designed London Transport site has a very handy page explaining the differences between the Oyster cards and the Travelcard.

London Tube map

Since the fee to buy an Oyster card is £3.00, we thought getting Travelcards on the couple of days we were sightseeing would a better option for the four of us, since we’d have to pay £12.00 just for the cards.

And, since we rarely left the apartment before “peak time” – 9:30am, we usually got the cheaper off-peak cards for £7.30 (the “anytime” card costs  £9.00).

adult and child Travelcards for London "Tube" bought at a London Underground booth
adult and child Travelcards for London “Tube” bought at a London Underground booth

By the way you can get both tickets for beyond London at Underground ticket booths, and regular London Travelcards at National Rail ticket booths. Adult and child Travelcards bought through the National Rail agent look a bit different than those bought at the Underground booth, but they cost the same, and both work just fine in the turnstiles and on the buses.

adult and child Travelcards for London Underground bought at the National Rail booth
adult and child Travelcards for London Underground bought at the National Rail booth

If you’re traveling between the Heathrow Airport and London, if you don’t have too much luggage, your cheapest bet is to buy a Travelcard for zones 1-6 for £8.90, take the Picadilly (Navy Blue) line, and then switch to another line, if you need to. The Heathrow Express will be a significant times saver only if you’re close to the Paddington Rail Station (that’s where it stops).

The “Plan a Journey” feature makes it really easy to figure out how to get to where you are going from your current location. But don’t worry, even if you don’t have Internet access in London, and can’t plan your journey, the attendants at the stations are very helpful and will even give you advice on a cheaper or an easier way to get somewhere if you’re going beyond London.

By the way, if you’re a London native or know the system well, I’d appreciate a comment whether I got it right, because I’d love to know what the best way to travel around London is before we go there next time.

Where to Stay in London?

There truly are PLENTY of options to stay in London, year round. The only limit is the price, of course. But even then, you can take your pick from a long list of London hostels, hotels, apartments, guesthouses, and the like.

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It’s a wonderful community of travel bloggers who write about every corner of the world! This post was linked up through Justin & Lauren’s “When Plans Spontaneously Change.”


5 thoughts on “Sightseeing in London? Use public transportation”

    1. I think if you still have Oystercards, you are all set, because they’ve changed the system to stop charging Oyster cards when the daily charges reach the Travelcard price. We were in London only a couple of days, so we decided not to pay the extra few pounds just to have on Oystercard.

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