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Getting around London like a pro
Published: 18 Sep 20
So you're coming to study in London! The British capital is a wonderfully diverse and cosmopolitan city... plus it's pretty large, with various distinct neighbourhoods that each possess their own delightful character. Fortunately for new-comers, many of the most popular attractions are all located in central London, making getting around the city a little bit easier on students who may be studying in London for the first time.
London is broken down into a number of separate zones. The zones are numbered 1 to 6, with extended zones 7 to 9. The key thing to know is the lower the number the more central the location. All Chapters are conveniently located in zones 1 and 2 so you’ll have a central base to explore London from.
Here are some of the best ways to travel around London:
The London Underground, also known as "The Tube", is probably the most popular method of transport in the city. This is due to its speed, the number of stations and their convenient locations. There are multiple ways to get to most locations and the station staff are all trained to help travellers navigate around the tube, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you’re not sure which tube to get. You can pay by Oyster, contactless debit/credit card or buy a paper ticket at the station.
Since 2016, London has enjoyed a 24-hour tube service on the Central, Victoria, Northern and Piccadilly lines every Friday and Saturday – great news for those who like to party hard.
You are currently required to wear a face covering on the London Underground.
Travelling above ground is also a good way to get your bearings in your new city.
There are several overground stations in London such as Waterloo, Victoria, Euston and Charing Cross. Use these for connections out of town to other major cities in the UK. It’s a great way for international students in London to see more of the country. King’s Cross St Pancras even has links to Paris and other cities in Europe. Just make sure you book your train tickets in advance to get the best price.
This serves south London and runs from Wimbledon through Croydon to Beckenham and New Addington, covering seven National Rail stations and more than 50 bus routes. Should you ever need to travel in those directions, it’s a great option to have.
The DLR (Docklands Light Railway)
This is a rail line that reaches north to Stratford, south to Lewisham, west to Bank in the City of London and east to London City Airport. This will be your go to if you live at Chapter Lewisham as it's the easiest way to get into the City.
You are currently required to wear a face covering on the London Overground, Tramlink and DLR.
The bright red London Bus is one of the city’s most famous icons. The original Routemaster buses are no longer on the roads (except for tourist purposes) but many of London’s double decker buses are still bright red keeping the tradition and adding to the experience of choosing bus travel.
Bus fares are also cheaper than most other modes of public transport, at a fixed price of £1.50 for a single journey for Oyster users, regardless of distance. You can also take advantage of the "hopper" fare with Oyster and contactless cards, which means every bus journey that you take within the first hour of touching in is included in the £1.50 price. So you can change buses and not have to pay any more – although you must still touch in to the new bus in order to have a valid ticket.
There are also many bus services that operate 24/7, around the clock, meaning you can still get home after a night out.
You are currently required to wear a face covering on London buses.
There is no reason your own two feet can’t be your main form of transport in the city. It’s by far the cheapest travel option and with a classic London A-Z map in your pocket or a couple of good apps you’re ready to go.
We've all been walking a lot more since lockdown, whether that's around your local park, along the River Thames, or just to pick up a frappuccino from your local coffee shop... and what would be better than being able to walk to uni from your accommodation? Check out our blog for the uni’s that are within walking distance from our Chapter properties.
If you want to get fit and see the city on two wheels, the Santander cycle hire scheme offers bike points across London.
It works by picking up a bike from a station and riding it to another stopping point. After paying an initial £2 bike access fee for the day, the first 30 minutes of each journey are free. Then if you want to take a longer journey on the same bike, it will cost £2 for every additional 30 minutes.
Or if you have your own bike, all Chapter properties have secure bike storage available for you to make the most of.
Taxis are probably the most expensive way to travel around London. However, there will be times where a taxi is your best option so knowing how and where to get one is important. You will recognise the classic London black cab but this is only one type of taxi available in the city and you may find it is more expensive than alternatives available.
Classic Hackney Black Cabs
Dating back to 1621, you will still see these all over the city. If you need to get one, look for one with the orange “Taxi” sign on the top lit up and hail it down – normally a simple wave does the job.
All taxis in London which are not classic black cabs are known as mini cabs and they are often a slightly cheaper option. You must always ensure you only get into a pre-booked, licensed mini-cab for your own personal safety and one easy way to do this is with the Cabwise app. Cabwise has been developed by TFL (Transport for London) to ensure travellers have instant access to licensed mini cabs.
Wherever you’re from, you have probably heard of and may have already used Uber. 30,000 people in London download Uber and order a car for the first time every single week so it is a growing taxi option in the city.
You are currently required to wear a face covering in London Taxis and Ubers.
Did you know that London has a cable car service? It’s the only urban cable car in the UK, and it’s there to get you across the River Thames, from Greenwich to the Royal Victoria Dock.
As well as being a handy way to get to the ExCeL exhibition centre and the O2 Arena from the south side of the river, it also offers panoramic views of this part of the city as you cross.
You are currently required to wear a face covering on the Emirates Air Line Cable Carts.
Introducing the Thames Clippers. These are speedy hop on, hop of boats that run on the River Thames and act like buses on water - perfect for days where you want to be out in the fresh air. With a range of routes, you can get to and from many places in the capital, making these a great way to get around if you fancy a change. You can pay by Oyster, contactless debit/credit card or use their very own ticketing app to pay online.
You are currently required to wear a face covering on the Thames Clippers.
chapter's tOP TIPS FOR london travel
- Get yourself an to pay for your train, tube and bus journeys, and save yourself 30% on adult-rate travel cards. You can sign up for one before you arrive in London and set up auto top-up to make sure you’ve always got travel credit.
Download the app to find out the best routes and real-time journey updates for getting around the capital. It’s always worth having a quick check before setting off for the day to avoid any unwanted hold ups.
If you have a little more time on your hands, getting the bus is a great way to get to know the city. The tube may be convenient, but you can miss out on many of the sights and hidden gems of London whilst making your journey underground.
Black cabs might be an iconic London fixture, but the taxis are actually a pretty expensive mode of transport. Try for a slightly cheaper option, where you can split the cost with friends and share your journey with loved ones for extra security.
Whatever method or methods of transport you choose to use to travel around London, you will soon come to love the excitement the city offers. Within a few short weeks of your arrival you’ll be a pro at navigating the tube, hopping on and off buses and taking a gentle stroll around your favourite local hotspots.
Looking to see everything that's re-opening in London? Check out our blog for the details.