Travelling around London is something of a competitive sport and you’ll often come across city-dwellers discussing the best way to go from central to Stratford without changing at the tin of sardines that they call Bank Station on a Friday afternoon. Some discussions go on for so long that they sound like the Mornington Crescent game from I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. With that in mind, here are six ways to get around the city like a Londoner.
Way 1 – Brush up on your Tube etiquette
If there’s one thing guaranteed to upset a Londoner on their morning commute, it’s incorrect Tube etiquette. It’s important to follow the rules for a safe trip or else incur a wrath of tutting from the people around you. In particular, it’s important to stand on the right when on the escalator so that people can walk past you if they’re in a hurry. Don’t stop when you get to the top and don’t obstruct the barriers. That’s very important. If your Oyster or ticket refuses to work, don’t continue trying to get through the same way – find a member of staff.
While the map of coloured lines might look intimidating at first, it’s not difficult to use the Tube. Oyster Cards can be obtained at the ticket windows and at some machines, or if you have a contactless debit card, this can be used in a similar fashion to cut out the middle man – and at no extra cost.
Way 2 – Take to the buses
The Tube is all very well and has a certain charm, but during peak hours it can be immensely busy and you may be better off staying above ground. Hopping on a bus is just as simple as using the Underground – again, a contactless debit card is the most convenient way, followed closely by the ever-present Oyster. The card, we mean. You will have difficulty getting the driver to accept payment in actual oysters.
London buses have plenty of announcements throughout the journey and stops have plenty of information allowing you to get the right service.
Way 3 – The almighty Boris Bike
Ah, the almighty Boris Bike. Whether you’re skimming along the Strand with the wind in your hair or taking it easy with a casual ride through Hyde Park, you’re undoubtedly going to want to thank tousle-haired mayor Boris Johnson – whom the system is named after – for London’s communal bike system. Once again, it’s remarkably easy to get yourself sorted and, unlike some cities (*cough* Barcelona) the bikes are open for tourist use as well. In fact, the first half an hour is completely free! You can even participate in one of Transport for London’s prepared cycle routes that allow you to enjoy a fantastic journey throughout the city, enjoying a spot of sightseeing.
Way 4 – Get on your own two feet
Don’t moan. Walking through London is the best way to experience this incredible city, particularly in the evenings. It’s less hassle than hopping on the Tube and you never know what you might discover – an intimate little market, a previously unnoticed restaurant, a shop selling interesting trinkets or even an entire market. Meandering along the city’s intricate streets is an adventure in itself and not an experience to be missed. Walking fanatics – one version of the Tube map offers travellers information on how long it takes to walk between stations. This allows you to spend more time above ground in the fresh air.
Way 5 – Touch the clouds with Emirates Air Line
London’s only cable car extends over the River Thames, offering fantastic views across the skyline. It’s an exhilarating ride that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. And Transport for London understands that it’s a pretty big thing – they’ve even extended the journey time for Valentine’s Day so loved up couples can spend a little longer in the air. Which is lovely of them. Emirates Air Line is located in Greenwich which makes a marvellous day out in itself, with the Cutty Sark, Greenwich Market and the Royal Maritime Museum to explore.