If you've never been to London before then you may find the thought of getting around the city somewhat daunting. With the population of Greater London estimated at more than 7 million people, this is a bustling city on a grand scale. So what's the best way to get around the British capital? Fortunately, you do have a good number of options open to you. The London Underground, for example, is the oldest underground mass transit system in Europe and consists of some 275 stations on 12 separate lines.
Generally speaking, you'll find that the stations are very close together, with central London being particularly well covered (there are 63 stations in central London alone). You'll find Underground (or "Tube", as its known locally) maps at all stations and on platforms. Each of the Underground lines is given a different colour, making the maps easy to read so that you can find your way round. One thing that you'll also notice is that the Underground map is also divided into Zones.
This relates to the way in which journeys are priced - when you buy a ticket the price that you'll pay will be dependent upon your departure or arrival zones. If you're expecting to make a number of journeys in a day then avoid paying for numerous single tickets and opt for a One Day Travelcard - they're more cost effective. You'll need to tell the ticket office operator what zones you'll be travelling through during the day. You can pay for all tickets at ticket offices using cash or payment cards.
You'll also find that stations have automated machines where you can purchase tickets. This should also allow you to pay using the same options, although be aware that the automated payment card facilities may not always be functioning. Aside from the Underground, you'll find that a Travelcard will also cover you for journeys on the famous red London buses. The bus network in London is extensive and they provide a great way to see the city. Indeed, you can save yourself a bit of money by avoiding the ever-present tourist buses and simply taking a journey through central London on a standard bus. If you don't fancy the Underground or the buses then another option is to jump in a black cab.
These provide a great experience in themselves, although generally will work out more expensive than the two public transport options already mentioned. Driving in London is not something that would generally be recommended. Traffic can be heavy throughout the day in central locations, parking is not always easy to find and the London Congestion Charge means that you'll pay heavily for the privilege of driving in central London. Luckily, public transport options are generally good, so you should find that you won't need to resort to driving.
By: Keith Barrett