I spent most of my twenties living in London when I was abroad in school, so I am very familiar with London. During that time, taking public transport like buses, the Tube (subway) and trains were the norm for most Londoners and visitors. If you are thinking about visiting London, it is very easy to find your way around as the public transport system is not difficult to navigate. I have returned to London many times over the years, but it was when I visited in 2019 that I saw a significant change in the way people were getting around. The city has implemented more creative and sustainable ways of getting around and if you visit London, these are some of the most sustainable ways to travel.
1. Public Buses
It takes a little longer to get to your destination, but you get to see so much more of the city this way. Avoid rush hour or your much anticipated relaxing bus ride will soon turn into a nightmare. This is my preferred choice to travel around London. Buses do not accept any type of cash so get yourself a travel card or purchase an Oyster card and top it up. Oyster cards can be purchased from Tube stations or corner shops. If you’re gonna catch a bus, catch a double-decker bus! Sit at the top level and at the front to get a front seat view of London. You will learn so much about your surroundings. This is how learned to navigate my way around London.
2. Cycle Hires
It was as if there were bicycles for you to rent on every corner. They were literally everywhere. Bicycles weaved in and out of traffic on the roads. From groups of teenagers, visitors taking tours to everyday Londoners, people riding bicycles were everywhere! New cycle hires are launching all the time. It’s an exciting way to get around London, but I wouldn’t suggest using one unless you have a helmet. There are quite a few bicycle tours throughout the city that can provide you with a helmet.
There are a variety of cycle hires. in London. Here are some things to bear in mind when choosing an E-bike to hire:
- Compare hire rates – For example, the Lime E-bike charges £1 to unlock it and then 15p per minute.
- Ease of riding – easy and will let you know how many calories you burn when you’re done. As an electric bike, be prepared for the forward momentum it gives when you start.
- Ease of docking your bike – although dockless, it must be docked in a certain docking zone or you incur a fee.
3. The Tube
Be prepared to go way underground! This underground subway network is fast and efficient and travels throughout central London. The transport line is divided up into 6 different zones. You can purchase travel cards for the whole day for certain zones or an all-zone day travel card. It all depends on where you intend to travel. These travel cards get you access to all public transportation including the Tube, Train line and Buses. Again, avoid travelling at rush hours. No seriously. Avoid it at all costs if you can. The entire public transportation system is electronic and no cash is accepted so purchasing passes prior to boarding is strongly advised. In addition to travel cards, Oyster cards are also used to travel throughout the city and you can purchase your journey to load onto the Oyster card. They can be purchased at Tube stations and most corner shops. Load your journey on your Oyster, tap and go.
I love this way to travel. The overground railway system is limited in Central London, but it’s still worth taking it if you can. It’s not as fast as the Tube, but if you don’t like being underground, like the bus, taking a train is a good option.
5. Electric Black Cab
These are also relatively new to London. Ask the driver if the vehicle is electric prior to boarding and they will let you know. With most of the black cabs in London being diesel, this is a refreshing option. They are also wheelchair accessible like their predecessors. New is the panoramic glass roof to view London from a different perspective. By using the Gett taxi app, you can also hail a taxi and request an electric taxi.
Although Rickshaws aka Tuk Tuks have been around for some time, numbers have increased and this seems to be the most novel way to get around in London. They are good for travelling short lengths or for tours. Non-motorised or cycle-rickshaw are legal, but motorized rickshaws are illegal and you want to avoid these. The cyclists normally know their way around London if you tell them where you are going, but they are unregulated so can pretty much charge anything. Know how much you’d be willing to spend if you choose to hire one.
Enjoy your time travelling around London – one of the most exciting and diverse cities in the world!