London spans nearly 1500 square kilometres in size and has 32 boroughs. To accommodate such a staggeringly large city, London’s governors have grown the fourth largest tube system in the world, and the oldest as well. Whether you’re staying at the Montcalm Royal London House or accommodation on the outskirts of the city, the chances are that you’ll be situated near an underground station or bus stop.
It’s one of the reasons why London is such a great tourist city. The ease of finding a public transport service and the speed of commuting makes it a far better prospect than driving around London, especially during rush hour. But if you’re a guest of hotel packages in London you must first work out how to navigate and make efficient transport through the city. From dodgy tube station directions to saving money on single journeys, there are plenty of London hacks that can help you elevate your holiday.
An Introduction To The London Underground
The first London Underground line was built as the “Metropolitan Railway” in the 1860s as a way to reduce the congestion for the growing population of London. The growth of the London Underground has churned on into the present day with even 2022 seeing the introduction of the new Elizabeth Line. There are now 11 Underground lines and 272 stations, all for around 5 million passengers every day and 250 miles of tube line. That’s a lot of transport!
Invest In An Oyster Card
So the first thing to remember when visiting London is that you can pay for your single journeys via contactless payment cards or Oyster Cards. We recommend you invest in an Oyster card, a blue piece of plastic the size of a credit card. These handy cards can be bought at most stations for £5 and can be updated with travelcards and linked to your National Rail discount cards, making them much better value for money than simply tapping into the tube with your usual contactless payment card.
Use Your Discount Railcards
If you’re a guest of the Montcalm Royal London House in the City of London who is a British citizen, you’ll be able to link up your Oyster Card to Under 25, Under 30 and Senior Railcard, providing you with a third off of off-peak single journeys. This can save you a lot of money in the long run during your stay in the city.
Travelcards offer day, week and monthly unlimited access to Underground, train and bus services for your desired zones in London. This means that during the period of time, you don’t have to tap in using contactless payment or top up your Oyster Card. Make sure that when you buy your London travelcard, that you buy it for the zones you will be staying in or visiting.
When Are They Worth It?
When held under the cold light of a price comparison, a day travelcard actually comes out more expensive than the daily cap on Oyster cards. Only buy a travelcard for a week’s duration or more, and only if you’re planning on taking at least three tube journeys a day for 6 days of a week.
Peak Time Prices
Whether you’re planning on seeing a West End show or you’re making a reservation at restaurants near Finsbury Square, bear in mind that between the times of 7 am and 9.30 am and between 4 pm and 7 pm, your railcard discounts will not be applicable. Furthermore, single fare prices will be increased as well due to the higher demand for the tube service. You can expect to share your tube carriage or bus with commuters coming to and from work or school between these hours as well, so you’ll essentially be paying more for a less comfortable journey. Sometimes, you can’t help but travel at peak times but try to avoid doing so when possible.
London Zones And Saving Money
The further you’re travelling, the more your tube journey will cost. London has six zones and when you look at a map, they work as rings around the city centre’s Zone 1. If you are investing in a travelcard of any kind, keep in mind that the more zones your travelcard is linked to, the more it will cost. If you’re a guest of Central London city hotel deals and want to save money on your journeys, keep in mind that most tourist activities are situated between zones 1 and 2 and that many of the Westminster and City of London attractions are actually within walking distance of one another.
DLR - What’s The Difference?
The DLR Line is often mistaken as a part of the tube, but when you connect between a tube stop and a DLR train stop, you’ll have to count it as an extra journey. The District Light Rail is a driverless Overground service that runs between the Docklands, East London and City Airport, providing city workers in areas such as Canary Wharf with easy transport across the river.
Whilst some DLR stops will cost textra, others will be part of Station Interchanges, which means that tapping out of a station and then into a nearby one, whether it be national rail services, underground or DLR, will all count as the same journey. This is dependent on the distance between each station. Moving from an underground station and into an overground at interchanges such as that of London Bridge or KIngs Cross will also register as one journey. This means that you should not worry about spending more on the journey.
City Hopper Fares
Last but not least, in 2016, mayor Sadiq Khan introduced the city hopper fare to London buses. This means that if you take two buses within an hour of each other, you’ll get the second journey free. This is a great value way of saving money on transport in London, especially when you factor in that a bus journey is often around £1 cheaper than the tube already.