Your Student Guide to Getting Around London

London is diverse. London is gorgeous. London is weird…in a good way. Despite the 8M+ people living in the capital of the UK, London does not feature in the top 30 largest cities in the world. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not crowded or chaotic, especially around rush hours. As a student in London, we know there’s a lot to look forward to, but queuing up for bus tickets and spending time in the crammed tube won’t be making the list.

Consequently, we’ve designed the ultimate student guide to getting around London. In the following paragraphs, you can find a comprehensive summary of London’s transport opportunities for the city’s student population. Let’s tackle transportation choices and take it one by one.

1. London’s famous tube

There are plenty of efficient underground links and the metro is generally considered to be the fastest and cheapest way to get around the city. There are 9 zones and 11 lines, with zone number 1 covering Central London and the other zones spreading out from the downtown area. Most residents quickly get accustomed to the map of the underground system and have the ability to plan alternative routes on the spot. When it comes to escalators, don’t forget to stand on the right and walk on the left, in order to blend in. 

2. London’s iconic buses 

Double-deckers feature in iconic popular media and sights and are often among the first thing that foreigners think about when mentioning London. They’re not only representative, but they’re also fun to use since they allow quite a lot of sightseeing. Buses are one of the most popular means of transport and they offer students great value. That is because they are cheaper than using the tube, with only £1.50 a ride per ride, but they can take longer and be subject to traffic delays. Finally, many bus routes have 24-hour services. 

3. London’s trains and trams 

The overground train network takes you outside the city and international students can enjoy the various benefits of a 16-25 Railcard which offers discounted fares. Early booking is always a good idea and discounts can help you save around a third of the total cost of your trip. Trams are also a good idea for certain areas of the city, such as the south, with trams working very frequently in Croydon or Wimbledon, for example. The overall tram network has 39 stops and you can expect a tram every 10 minutes or so. If you’re looking to travel to Docklands, East and South-East London, the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) is a great solution.

4. Taxis

London’s famous black taxis are comfortable, but students usually opt for cheaper alternatives. Minicabs, for instance, are especially popular among the student population, since they are not metered, but should be booked beforehand. On the other hand, you can stop Black Cabs anywhere and anytime, but the fares are metered, with a minimum charge of £3.80.

5. London’s river transport

The fantastic view and the opportunity to avoid traffic represent two of the main reasons for using riverboat transportation across the River Thames. With a total network of 23 stops, you can use “Uber boats” in three areas, namely East Zone, Central Zone and West Zone, with fares depending on the area you’re traveling to. If this means of transportation is for you, then buying a River Roamer ticket for one day is much cheaper. 

6. Bicycles

Traveling by bike is the perfect way to save money and get exercise. Central London traffic might prove to be a bit of a headache and you do need to be familiar with the laws, taking care of yourself with a helmet and protecting the bike with a good lock. If you’re also brave enough to put up with the unpredictable weather, biking around can be fun!

Final tips:

  • Rush hours are usually between 06:30 and 09:30 and between 16:00 and 19:00.
  • Getting an Oyster card is essential, as you’ll have plenty of discounts for the tube, bus, and other means of transportation. 
  • Walking is always an option, especially for trips that are not lengthy. Get to know the city by foot!
  • There’s a great travel app that helps you get around London and it’s called Citymapper