How to get around London: A guide to Public Transportation

Getting a ticket for transportation in London, can be quite tricky for first-time visitors. People can easily get the wrong type of ticket for them and end up paying way more. Transportation in London is already quite expensive, so hopefully, this guide will help you save money.

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Cash

Cash is the worst option for travelling in London since cash fares are way higher than the payment or Oyster ones. It is only a good option if you only need one ticket, in case you do not have a contactless payment card.

Contactless Payment Card

A Contactless Payment Card is a very good option for those who own American Express, Master Card and Visa cards that have been enabled for contactless transactions. You can easily use it by touching in and out on the yellow reader at the beginning and end of every travel.

A big advantage of using this type of payment method is its convenience. You can use a card you already own, without having to charge it. However, keep in mind that there are also some disadvantages, such as not being able to apply various discounts for children or the elderly when paying for a ticket. Also, you must always check if you have been charged a foreign fee for your transaction.

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Oyster Card

The most popular payment way in London is by far the Oyster card. Most London visitors buy an Oyster card no matter how many days their visit is because they want to keep the card as a souvenir. Why keep a card as a souvenir?

Only because it represents the rhythm and life in London. There is no Londoner that does not use the Oyster card. In case you buy one and do not need it afterwards, you can always return it and take your money back. But how does it work?

You can buy your Oyster from most TfL Visitor Centres, which you will find in most Tube stations. The price is  £5.00 and you need to add £5.00 more, which will not be taken away from your balance. It is better if you put around £15.00 in total since you will spend all of them.

After purchasing the Oyster, you can go anywhere you want without worrying about tickets. Don’t forget to touch in and out on the yellow reader at the beginning and end of every Tube, DLR and London Overground journey to make sure you get the cheapest fare.

Children under 11 travel free on most public transport services when accompanied by a fare-paying adult, or with a 5-10 Zip Oyster Photocard.

Each time you use your Oyster on the way in or out, you can always see how much you were charged and how much money you have left.  Recharge your card by placing it on the charging cubic machines and once you select the amount of money you want to add, pay and place the card again so that the transaction can be completed.

The most important thing you need to know about the Oyster is the daily price capping. After using the card for about 2 days, on the third day, the card will cap at some point. Based on your average use of the card, when you reach the average of the 2 previous days, you do not get charged anymore.

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TIPS ON SAVING MONEY

Get an Oyster card

  • A single fare in central London costs £4.90 when you pay in cash. Use an Oyster or contactless card and pay just £2.40.
  • Use the same card all day long to make the most savings when making multiple journeys. Contactless users benefit from both a daily and weekly cap.

Travel with buses instead of the Tube

  • A single bus fare costs just £1.50, while unlimited bus travel on a contactless card costs £4.50.
  • Make the most of it, by having a second bus journey for free within the same hour of travel.

Travel Off-Peak

  • Αvoid travelling between Monday and Friday from 06:30 to 09:30, and 16:00 to 19:00 in Zone 1. During these times you will be charged way more for any travel.
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