If you’re arriving or departing from London you are most likely
flying into Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or Stansted, but which one is the
best for you?
There are five terminals at Heathrow,
and where you land or depart from depends on the airline and the
destination. On the Underground, Heathrow is at the end of the
Piccadilly line. Catching the Tube to Heathrow is cheaper but slower
than the Heathrow Express, which leaves Paddington station every 15
minutes. National Express coaches (08717-818 181) also run direct from
London’s Victoria station.
trains run every 15 minutes and take about 30 minutes from London’s
Victoria station. A cheaper option is Southern trains, or use the Thameslink service linking Gatwick to King’s Cross, Farringdon, City, Blackfriars and London Bridge stations.
Situated 56km from central London, you can reach Stansted via a 45-minute train ride from Liverpool Street station on the Stansted Express. Trains depart every 15-30 minutes. National Express runs coach services to and from Victoria coach station every 15-30 minutes.
Thameslink trains cover the 51km trip from central London in about 35 minutes, departing from King’s Cross station for Luton Airport. Otherwise, board a Greenline coach. They stop at Brent Cross, Finchley Road Station, Baker Street, Marble Arch and Victoria.
London has endless train, plane, bus, car and Tube transport
options, but they can often cost you and arm and a leg unless you know
how to dodge the most expensive fares.
The Tube is divided into six zones, and the price of your ticket depends on which zones your journey covers. You can buy single tickets or daily, weekly or monthly travelcards.
For the cheapest travel in London get an Oyster card, an electronic smartcard-type ticket that can be used on the Underground, the bus network and some Overland services. A Zone 1 tube journey costs £1.50 when paid with an Oyster card, but £4 if paid in cash.
The Underground has 275 stations, 253 miles of track and is the world’s oldest (1863) subterranean transport system? It runs from roughly 5.30am until just after midnight.
The red bus network is cheaper, but often slower, than the tube or train, although it’s handy because night buses — with the letter ‘N’ before the route number — run all night. Again, use an Oyster card to pay the cheapest fares (90p per journey instead of £2 if you’re paying cash).
Travelling to some parts of suburban London is best accomplished on overland rail services. See Transport For London for maps, ticket prices and an online journey planner.
Taxis and minicabs
Black cabs are as famous as London’s red buses. They’re pricey, but can seat up to five people. To book, call 020-7286 0286 or see London Black Cabs.
Minicabs are ordinary, unmetered cars which operate as taxis. There are loads of local companies in each borough. Fares should be agreed in advance and are usually cheaper than black cabs.
There are many unlicensed — and illegal — taxis operating in London. Use them at your own risk. There is a high rate of women sexually assaulted by illegal minicab drivers, so it’s best to be careful.
Cycling in London
Don’t forget that the cheapest, easiest and, sometimes, quickest way to get around London might be to buy a bike and get cycling. Log on to the London Cycling Campaign for a recycled bike or go to Brick Lane flea market where you hand buy a second-hand pushie.