Anyone planning a trip to the bustling English capital will be aware of the famous London Underground service, but what they might not know is that travel via this iconic public transport network can be something of a hectic experience.
It is not just the Tube that ferries millions of visitors around the city every year though, as buses, trams and overground rail can also be heaving with travellers eager to reach their destination as quickly as they can.
It can therefore be a daunting prospect to traverse this big and busy city. However, by planning journeys in advance and by getting hold of a Visitor Oyster Card, the stresses surrounding getting from one part of London to another can be greatly reduced.
How to use the Visitor Oyster Card
A pre-paid travel card that enables visitors to make use of public transport throughout the city without the need to purchase individual tickets/fares, the Visitor Oyster Card can be purchased in advance (at a cost of £3 plus postage) of any visit to London.
It can be used on the Tube, the Docklands Light Rail (DLR), London Overground services, Transport for London Rail and most National Rail services in the capital.
A simple way to pay for travel, the system works via a small RFID chip embedded in the card that is linked to an individual’s account. The card can be loaded with credit worth up to £50 and every time a payment is required, the user simply swipes their card at the many yellow card readers at key station access when beginning and ending their journey.
- Travellers should be aware that failure to both touch-in and touch-out at the start and end of a journey can result in them being charged an incorrect fare.
What do fares cost?
Visitors travelling via public transport services in London should understand that the price of fares for individual journeys will depend upon the distance travelled, as well as the mode of transport they are using.
Individuals planning to travel extensively using public transport networks during their stay should therefore consider the benefits of a Visitor Oyster Card, as pay-as-you-go fares are often cheaper than purchasing a single paper ticket for many services, while daily expenditure can be capped for frequent users.
For full up-to-date information on fares and Visitor Oyster Card details individuals should head to the Transport for London website. Travellers should also be aware that cash payments on bus services have now been phased out across the capital, meaning the use of a pre-paid card can be much easier for visitors planning to use this service.
Individuals travelling with children aged between 11 and 15 can also ensure a Young Visitor discount is added to their card. This can be done prior to arrival and ensures young travellers will pay half adult rates during their time in the capital.
Should a card need topping up during a visitor’s stay, this can easily be achieved by visiting a London Visitor Centre, at one of any of the more than 4,000 local shops in the capital (Oyster Ticket Shops), or at any Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail or National Rail station.
At the end of a stay in the capital, any unused credit on a Visitor Oyster Card can be redeemed in one of three easy ways:
- Credit up to £10 can be redeemed at any Tube station ticket machine.
- London Visitor Centres will pay a full refund on unused credit.
- By posting the card to Transport for London and requesting a full refund.
Travel advice for London visitors
The Visitor Oyster Card is accepted on myriad forms of public transport, but that does not mean visitors will enjoy a wholly stress-free time when getting from A to B on the busy streets of London.
To reduce their chances of excessive stress, visitors should follow some simple steps that can make all the difference when it comes to exploring the English capital and its many attractions:
- Avoid the temptation to rush
There is lots to see and do in one of the most bustling and cosmopolitan cities on the planet, but trying to fit every attraction into a single trip can leave people with their head spinning. Visitors should therefore take their time when travelling and remember to soak up some of the local atmosphere.
Visitors might be surprised by the fantastic experiences they could be missing out on by giving in to the urge to get from one major London landmark to another as swiftly as they can. Indeed, the true charm of the English capital often lies in the sights and sounds to be seen along the way.
- Get away from the crowds
One thing that London is not in short supply of is people, especially given the fact more than eight million live in the Greater London area and it is the most-visited city on Earth (as measured by international arrivals).
Visitors keen to get away from the crowds and to enjoy some of the more lesser-known attractions of London could therefore be in for a treat and a welcome breather, with many of the city’s back streets arguably containing more interesting and diverse attractions than the best-known popular tourist traps – while also being far less crowded and stressful to experience.
- Explore the capital’s green spaces
Getting away from the concrete jungle and heading back to nature can also be the perfect refresher for individuals fatigued by the constant crowds and busy streets of what is one of the most populous cities on the planet.
London offers hundreds of acres of wide open green spaces though, and with eight royal parks and countless other gardens, terraces and heaths, travellers can always recharge their batteries with a visit to one of these many natural attractions during their stay.
- Learn about London’s rich history
Dating back to the times of ancient Rome, London has been at the heart of European trade and commerce for more than 2,000 years, ensuring the city has a rich and diverse history that visitors will want to explore during their time here.
From a small collection of rag-tag villages located on the River Thames to the bustling metropolis that is London today, there really is an interesting story to learn about around every corner – something that many of the locals will keenly explain to visitors if they take the time to ask.
So there you have it, when it comes to enjoying a fantastic getaway with a wealth of options in every aspect of culture and entertainment, then London really is second to none in terms of its depth of attractions on offer.
Taking the time to invest in a Visitor Oyster Card and making use of the many local public transport options on offer can therefore be a perfect way for travellers to explore this diverse city with as little stress as they can.