With an excellent public transport system, exploring London is easier than you think. You just need to know how to navigate your way through and around the city.
Make sure you get an Oyster card, an electronic ticket that will get you in around London, regardless of which mode of transport you choose, whether bus or train. Whenever you see a yellow oyster sensor, you just need to touch the card over it to pass through a ticket barrier and get on a bus or rain.
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There are 9 zones that make up the traffic system in London, with Zone 1 being the most central. It includes the city of London, Westminster, and various areas of some inner-city boroughs. Zones 2 to 6 form a concentric ring around Zone 1, while Zone 7 to 9 follows the same pattern but in the northwest area in London.
By understanding the zones and the areas linked to them, you will find your way in and around various locations. Now all you need to do is familiarise your transportation options.
London underground – The Tube
There are 11 different colour-coded lines that make up the Tube. Each one is appropriately named based on the areas that they serve – Bakerloo, Circle, Central, District, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Jubilee, Northern, Victoria, Piccadilly, and Waterloo & City.
Apart from the Oyster card, you can buy a ticket for the Tube from an underground station or from a self-service machine. There are also touchscreen machines where you can top up your Oyster card.
In using the tube, you can download a TFL app onto your smartphone to help you familiarise the London tube train. This will save you time and spare you from hitting the wrong station.
Find out which departure and destination stations you should go to and the lines where they are both on. From your departure tube station, find which line you should go to and the correct platform. Make sure you know which direction you are going so you will know if you should be standing on the eastbound, westbound, south-bound, or north-bound platform.
Be mindful of split lines that go to different branches and different destinations. You should also pay attention to the announcements to avoid delays and getting lost.
The bus network is a bit more complex than the Tube network. So make sure you look up the London transport bus route maps from the Transport for London website to get a full list of routes.
Buses are marked by their route number and final destination, which is clearly displayed on the front of the bus. Bus timetables are found on bus stops along the routes, sometimes complete with a map. You can use the information to help you find your way.
If you travel at night, there are many Nightbuses that service different locations, many of which pass through Trafalgar Square. They are marked with a letter N and a route number.
To hail a bus, hold out your arm to indicate to the driver that you wish to board.
Just like the Tube, you can use your Oyster card to pay for your bus ticket. But you can also purchase a single journey in cash that is available on certain bus routes or use a roadside ticket machine.
Other public transport options are the London Overground, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and the National Rail Services.
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