London rent a car, taxi and getting around

Getting around London

Getting around London is easy. A perfectly walkable city, it has an excellent transportation system that can take you anywhere with comfort. Tour the magnificent city by land, by underground, by water, and even by air. Transport For London, or TfL as the locals know it, is responsible for most transport systems in the city. It is your go-to platform if you need to plan your journey or have questions about the maps, fares, rules and regulations.

Walking in London

The 2000-year-old city was built for walking. Did you know that London has over 40 different kinds of streets? Its leafy groves and cobblestone lanes, its grand arcades and dreamy alleys, its narrow mewses and breezy river banks are better explored by foot. 

Walking is the best option when the landmarks you aim to visit are near to one another. It will allow you to spot tiny details that spice up the city: plaques on the houses with the names of their notable residents, architectural delights you have to look twice to see, the hidden gems of cafes tucked away from the crowds while serving the best coffee in town, occasional wonders of flora and fauna and many more.

Bicycling in London  

Cycling is a fun, eco-friendly and efficient way to explore the British capital. The recent expansion of the public cycle hire scheme, multiple new bike lanes and safe cycleways made London one of the European capitals of cycling. With the city’s mostly flat landscape, there is no need to worry about your level of fitness. Cycling in London is really for everyone! 

The major bike hire operators include Santander with over 12 000 two-wheeled vehicles and around 800 docking stations, Lime and Freebike with their electric bike focus. The hiring process is easy: download the app, find the nearest station and start your sightseeing route filled with iconic London attractions. 

Bicycling in London traffic can be a little confusing if you are new to it or are on a family cycling outing. Every park offers bike rentals and cycle roads and is a safer option for the little ones. Wearing a helmet is recommended but is a personal choice. 

The bike hire price starts at £2.

E-Scooters 

E-Scooter hire is definitely a thing in London. A new environmentally-conscious and a little controversial way to get around is currently being tested by the TfL. According to the authorities, while they explore new “green” means of transport to fight London’s world-famous traffic jam, they want to make sure “that any alternatives are safe for both users and non-users alike”. Hence, the strict rules apply. Privately owned e-scooters are not allowed on the road, and this type of vehicle is not welcome in all London boroughs. Renting an e-scooter is the only way to legally ride it on public roads within the city.

You can hire an e-scooter from three different operators Dott, Lime and TIER. You will need to download one of the apps, register and complete the mandatory in-app training before your first ride. 

E-scooter hire price starts at £1 to unlock the vehicle plus a fee of 14p-20p per minute.

The Tube and London Overground trains

London Underground, or simply Tube, is an efficient way to get around London. Its network has 11 lines and is divided into nine zones that define the fare. Central London is covered by zone 1. The colourful map of the London Underground can often be found in British souvenir shops. It was created in 1933 by Harry Beck and is a 20th-century design classic.

The Fast London Tube is a great way to reach the key landmarks within the city’s downtown. It is also the best option to explore London’s iconic train stations. Paddington station with its cute Paddington Bear bench and a plaque, King’s Cross station with its legendary platform 3/4, historic Waterloo station, elegant Victoria station and others. 

Unlike the mostly subterranean Tube, London Overground runs above ground. This suburban rail network is essential for providing easy access to many of London’s outer areas, including Richmond in the west, Camden in the north, Stratford in the east and Croydon in south London. Though the Tube would cover most of your needs, London Overground is still necessary to reach some attractions and landmarks. 

Elizabeth Line, a new addition to the colourful Tube map, was opened on the eve of Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee. It connects Heathrow airport and Reading to Shenfield and Abbey Wood via major central London Underground and rail stations, including Paddington, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf.

Avoid the Tube and London Overground during the rush hour. It does get crowded.

A single train ticket cost £2.50 using a contactless card or £6.30 with the full cash fare.

London buses 

Though it might not be the fastest way to get around, a picture-perfect red double-decker bus is one of those classics you cannot imagine London without. Climb the top deck any time of the day or night and enjoy fabulous views! 

Buses are a family-friendly and cheap way to travel. Regular bus routes do not offer commentary, but you can jump on one of the equally handsome sightseeing buses. Some of them have an open top deck and come with exciting stories about London’s history and architecture. 

It is better to avoid travelling by bus during the worst traffic congestion times. 

London buses are all cashless and can be paid by tapping a card upon entering. Bus fares start at £1.65. 

London taxis and minicabs

London taxis, iconic black cabs, are one of the symbols of British culture. Though they aren’t exclusively black anymore for the advertisement livery, they preserve elegance and class. Comfortable 6-seaters are spacious enough to fit in a baby stroller and are a top choice for families.   

Drivers of black cabs, most of them the owners of the vehicles, pass a professional exam known as The Knowledge of London to gain the licence. Naturally, they know the city like the palm of their hand. 

Black cabs charge by the metre and are safe to get into at night. There is a minimum fare of £3.80 at all times. A perfect option for downtown London, they can be a little pricey for long-distance trips.

Minicabs are another type of licensed taxi. Unlike the black cabs, they look like private vehicles but carry a distinctive TfL licence disc in the front and rear windscreen. They don’t charge by the metre, offering a fixed price paid in advance. A minicab is a reasonable alternative to a black cab when you plan a long journey. 

Minicabs can be booked online, by phone or in an office. 

Uber is extremely popular in London and has local alternatives such as Bolt, Addison Lee, and Ola, bookable online and in the apps.

London by water

You cannot get stuck in a traffic jam travelling by boat in London! Opt for this friendly and exciting way to move around, save precious time and enjoy world-class views of historic landmarks. 

River Thames water bus is your go-to service. It is frequent and quick. Operated by Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, it has convenient links to key London locations along the river, with routes running from 23 piers between Putney and Woolwich.

The water bus doesn’t offer guided commentary like river tours

If the river tour or a cruise is what you want, you're spoilt for choices. Thames Cruises offer day and private hire, disco cruises and other holiday-themed options. Thames Limo is London’s top private luxury charter. City Cruises are known for their afternoon tea experience with a view of the bridges. 

Riverboat ticket prices start at £5.20.

London’s only cable car 

Emirates Air Line cable car is a unique opportunity to take a flight over London. The breathtaking journey runs across the River Thames between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. Cabins arrive every 30 seconds, with the return trip taking 20 minutes during the day and 25 minutes after 7pm, so you can enjoy the night skyline a little longer.

Tickets cost £5 one way and £10 if purchased online and more on the spot. 

London limo 

Celebrating a special occasion and ready to splash on a bit of extravaganza? Rent a limo! From a classy convertible to a beautiful white 10-metre stretch limo, neither is unusual to see on an odd night in London.

Prices vary.

How do I buy the tickets?

Paying TfL fares is easy. Anyone with a contactless debit or credit card can use it to pay for travel in London. Simply tap on the way in and out on the Tube, and on the way in on the buses, trams, and riverboats. The trick is that you need one contactless debit or credit card per person. You can’t pay for two or more people with one card.

Another way to pay your fares is Oyster, a reusable electronic card suitable for all types of public transport in London: buses, underground, trams and local trains. The Oyster card costs £5, and you top it up depending on your travel needs. Contactless payment method costs the same as Oyster, with Oyster being a better option for the locals who get around a lot and travel outside the central zones.  

Most London transport is cashless. You can still buy tickets using cash on the spot in some stations and terminals, though the cost is always significantly higher.

Luckily for families, children under 11 travel free of charge on the Tube and buses when accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket, contactless and Oyster included. A paying passenger can take up to four children. Those aged 11 to 15 get free or discounted travel with a Young Visitor discount.

You can plan the cost of your journey ahead using TfL’s single fare finder tool.

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