Transport in London: All you need to know in 2023

londýn doprava

London, the most popular city in Europe. Almost all of us want to visit it, but transporting tay can sometimes be quite difficult for visitors. Today we’ll show you where to find flights, how to get from the airport to central London, how public transport works in London and how to travel around London with kids.

Transport to London

Flights to London

Return tickets to London can be found from as little as €25 – from Nuremberg, Dresden, Leipzig, Wroclaw, Prague or Frankfurt. You’ll find the lowest prices from November to early spring (except at Christmas or around Valentine’s Day).

London has good and frequent connections to most major European cities, including Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Bucharest and Budapest.

Hand luggage vs. checked baggage

Before buying a ticket, check what baggage is included. For many airlines such as Ryanair, easyJet or Smartwings, it is in most cases just hand luggage. Dimensions and weights vary by airline – you can usually find the information directly on the flight.

A larger rucksack of around 50 litres or a smaller suitcase generally suits the limits. Both up to 8-10 kg. Ryanair only allows a small backpack and you have to pay extra for hand luggage. Still, the tickets often work out very well.

If you don’t have enough hand luggage for your trip to London, you can pay extra for a proper suitcase up to 20-23 kg. Surcharges vary. British Airways tickets are good because they have checked baggage up to 23 kg already included in the price.

London Airport

You’ve booked your flights and now you need to book transport from the airport to the centre of London.

Most of the airports are outside of London and cannot be reached by London public transport. This is especially true for low-cost airlines, where you get less comfort for a low price – less space on the plane and more time getting from the airport to city centres (not just London).

If you’re flying into London, you’ll probably arrive at one of these airports:

  • London Stansted
  • London Luton
  • London Gatwick
  • London Heathrow

Map of London

A map of London that makes it easy to plan your journey from the airport, from the station to your accommodation and from there to the city’s sights and best markets.

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map for London. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places I mention in the London guide (transport, accommodation, sights, places to eat). If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.

How do I get from Stansted Airport to central London?

We start with Stansted Airport, which is mainly operated by the low-cost airline Ryanair. Stansted Airport is 40 miles north-east of London. It is the fourth largest airport in London and the third busiest.

Central London is accessible by bus and train:

  • with GreaterAnglia trains you’re in London at Liverpool Street in 50 minutes. A one-way ticket will cost you £21,90.
  • Buses are a cheaper but longer alternative to trains. The Stansted Airport to London route is served by white National Express buses. A one-way ticket costs £16.

I recommend buying tickets through Terravision, which is where we buy our tickets (Terravision is also a common carrier in other countries; in London, National Express does it for them). Tickets here go for £ 14.

After purchasing your ticket, you print it out and board the National Express buses (you’ll see them just as you exit the arrivals hall, separated by where you’re going). If your flight is delayed, your ticket will automatically be valid for the next bus connection.

Buses most often stop at Liverpool Street Station or Baker Street or Victoria Station.

Stansted Airport - Central London
National Express buses

The journey takes about an hour and a half, but in rush hour (even at midnight) it can go up to 2 hours (we drove even 2.5 hours).

Buses run throughout the day and night on regular and frequent services (every 15-20 minutes during the day).

TIP: Due to the distance of Stansted Airport from London, I recommend allowing extra time. This also applies to other airports outside London.

How do I get from Luton Airport to central London?

Like Stansted Airport, Luton Airport is mainly used by low-cost airlines (e.g. easyJet).

Luton is 35 miles north-west of London. It takes an hour and a half by bus to the centre. They usually build on several sites, the most famous of which are Baker Street and Victoria Station in the centre.

You can download a map of London Luton Airport at this link.

London Victoria Station / Transport in London
London Central Station – London Victoria Station

Luton Airport to Central London is operated by National Express and Green Line.

On National Express, a ticket will set you back £ 10 in one direction. Buses run every 15-20 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night.

With Green Line you pay £ 11.50, but buses run less frequently – about once every 30 minutes during the day and once an hour at night. When you buy online, you will see the current times and schedules.

If you arrive later, you can use your tickets for the next connection.

As far as trains are concerned, a one-way ticket costs about £ 21 (on sale and cheaper). The advantage of the train is speed – you can be in the centre of St Pancras International Station in 35 minutes. You can buy tickets online here.

How do I get from Gatwick Airport to central London?

Another airport is Gatwick Airport. It has two terminals – North and South. To get a better idea, you can take a look at the Gatwick Airport map.

Gawick Airport is located 29 miles south of London. It is the second busiest airport in London.

Victoria Station is a 30-minute train journey to central London. Connections are frequent and regular (15-30 minutes throughout the day). A one-way ticket costs from £ 16. You can buy your ticket online or on the spot using an Oyster card or contactless card.

If you prefer buses, you can use National Express from Gatwick Airport (stops at both terminals). Buses run approximately once an hour and it takes 2 hours to get to central London. The advantage is the price – for a one-way trip you pay between £ 10.

How do I get from Heathrow Airport to central London?

Heathrow is the closest of these airports. It is also the largest airport in Europe with 5 terminals. I have attached a map for easy orientation.

London Heathrow Airport is easily accessible by London public transport and the ticket price will cost the same as for transport around London (see below).

Heathrow Airport Train Connection Map

The other option is the Heathrow Express, which takes you to Paddington Station in 15 minutes. Tickets outside the event cost from £ 20.

Transport and public transport in London

Transport in London is great. You can get almost anywhere. It may seem complicated at first, but once you’ve taken a few rides, you’ll know how to do it.

For better orientation I attach a map of transport in London:

London bus map and major attractions nearby

You can check out the London Public Transport website for more maps, but as a visitor you will probably primarily use the tube and buses.

London Station

London’s main stations include:

  • Waterloo – on the south bank of the Thames near the London Eye and Westminster Palace
  • Paddington – at Marble Arch near Hyde Park and Oxford Street
  • King’s Cross, where the train leaves for Hogwarts in Harry Potter. The station is close to the British Library and Regent’s Park.
  • Victoria – historic central station near Buckingham Palace, with buses to Stansted, Luton and Gatwick airports
  • Liverpool Street near Shoreditch and the City of London, where buses from Stansted Airport stop.
  transport in London/ Paddington Station
Paddington Station

How do I pay for transport in London?

London’s public transport is of a high quality and the price goes hand in hand with it. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid spending more than you have to on transport in London.

The most expensive option is classic paper tickets (£6.70 in 2023). In this day and age of credit cards, paper tickets are a relic and I personally would avoid them.

This filters out two options for paying for public transport in London:

  • Get an Oyster card
  • Pay with your own contactless payment card
Designation for the London Underground

Transport in London: OYSTER CARD

The Oyster card is a smart smart chip card that allows you to quickly and easily pay for bus, tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, River Bus and national rail services in London and some outside London.

By using an Oyster card, you only pay the fare you actually travelled (as opposed to paper tickets).

How does the Oyster card work?

  • You put money on the card, which you then use to pay for individual rides.
  • When boarding and alighting, you attach your card to the yellow machine. If you forget to attach your card when you get off the train, you will be charged the full fare (as with paper tickets). On buses and trams, you only need to swipe your card when you board – here, a fixed amount is always deducted.

What is the price of the London Underground and buses on the Oyster card?

The fare is based on the time of day, day of the week and direction of travel. You can calculate the cost of your journey in advance directly on the London Public Transport website. For short rides in the centre you will pay about £2.80.

You only pay fares up to a certain amount, above which you travel for free that day. This limit varies depending on how many zones you are travelling through and whether you are travelling at peak times – here are the limits for tube and train travel in London. Limits apply to both Oyster card and contactless card payments.

For buses and trams, the ride will always cost the same – 1.75 £ per ride. The maximum daily limit is for buses and trams £ 5.25, i.e. 3 rides. Once this limit is exceeded, you ride buses and trams for free on that day.

London Underground or bus?

It would seem that buses and trams are the most cost-effective option, based on the fares. In terms of price, yes, but in terms of time they will take a lot more than a fast and affordable subway.

Example: from Paddington Station to Victoria Station you pay £2,80 on the tube and travel for 14 minutes. By bus, you only pay £1.75, but it’s a half-hour ride. For longer distances, we are talking about much bigger differences.

Often the differences are far more marked. But the bus ride is an experience in itself, so if you’re not in a hurry, feel free to hop aboard the Double Decker :).

transport in London / Double Decker in London

How much does an Oyster Card cost?

You will pay a one-off fee of £5 for the Oyster Card. It is irreversible, but if you use public transport, it will soon pay you back.

Multiple people cannot travel on one Oyster Card at the same time, i.e. If you are travelling with a partner, for example, you will each need your own card.

However, you can subsequently lend the card to someone else as it is not in your name. You come back from London and your friend goes on a different date. In this case, your friend can use your card without any problems.

If you do not use the total amount you have pre-charged, you can withdraw the remaining money at the visitor centre. The amount to £ 10 can also be withdrawn from machines on the metro.

If you are still planning a visit to London in the future, or someone in your area is, keep it. The card is unlimited and you will not forfeit the amount on the card.

How much money to deposit on the Oyster Card?

It is recommended £ 15 for 2 days and £ 30 for 4 days. It’s better to put less in, because you can always top up your card at a machine in the metro.

Where to buy an Oyster Card?

The card can be bought as commonly as paper tickets at newsstands, metro machines or directly at airports.

  transport in London
vending machine in the subway

Transport in London: PAY BY CARD

The other way to pay for public transport in London is with your contactless payment card.

How does contactless card payment work?

The payment principle is the same as for the Oyster Card. The card is attached to the yellow machine when you board and alight (for buses and trams, only when you board).

Public transport in London accepts all known types of cards – Maestro, MasterCard, Visa, AMEX.

The second option is to pay using a mobile app that you download to your phone.

Only one person can travel on one contactless card.

Please also observe the payment method so that you are paired correctly and the correct amount is deducted. To give you an example: you scan the code from the Apple Pay app on your phone when you board the metro, and you have to use the Apple Pay app from your phone (not Apple Watch) when you exit.

What is the cost of London Underground and buses with a contactless card?

The fare will cost the same amount as with the Oyster Card, i.e. you’ll save significantly on paper tickets. Tickets for the London Double Decker or tram will set you back £ 1,75, max. at £ 5.25/day . On the London Underground and other public transport, the price depends on how many zones you travel in – again, there is a cap above which you ride for free.

  transport in London
London bus stop

Mobile applications

How to get around London easily and keep your public transport bill under control? Download one of the apps:

  • TfL Oyster and contactless app – use the app to find out how much money you have left on your Oyster card or how much you’ve been charged when you pay with a contactless card.
  • London Bus & TfL Journey Planner – Probus – this app helps you find all the bus routes, stops and times. You can plan your route around London.
  • London Tube Map – an app to help you plan your journey around London. It includes the Tube, DLR, suburban rail, TfL Rail and trams.

Transport in London with children

If you have your Oyster card as an adult, pay with a contactless card or have a paper ticket, up to 4 children under 11 can travel with you for free. Free travel includes all major modes of transport – metro, buses, trams and trains.

For children aged 11-15, a discount can be set up on the Oyster card so they can travel for half price for the next 14 days. You buy a regular Oyster card and ask staff to apply the child discount to your card.

Read more in our guide to London with kids.

Transport in London: TRAVELCARD

Travelcard is a special card for tourists. It gives you unlimited travel in London in as many zones as you choose when you buy your Travelcard. The downside is the price – it usually works out worse than if you pay with your contactless card. You can see the comparison here.

Rent a bike in London

London by bike is a great way to see more in less time. We cycled the whole of Hyde Park and it was great.

cycling London

How does bike hire work in London?

It’s simple. You download the app, select your bike and enter the code from the app into the dock where the bike is parked.

If you don’t have the app, you enter the bike rental in the machine, pay with your credit card and get a code to unlock the bike. You can rent up to 4 bikes at a time, but you always need to generate a new code.

You can return the bike to any station – as soon as the green light comes on when you return it, everything is fine.

If it’s fully booked, you can enter on the app or terminal that the docks are full and get an extra 15 minutes to get to another station.

How much does it cost to rent a bike in London?

In 30 minutes of cycling in London, she turned on £1.65 . For electric bikes, the rate is £ 3.30 per 30 minutes.

More information about London

LONDON ITINERARY: Check out our article with tips on places to visit in London (entrance fees, opening times, map). To help you plan, we’ve created an itinerary for 3 days in London.

LONDON GUIDE: Read about accommodation, prices, food and safety in the London Guide. Our tips for the best hotels in London will help you make your accommodation choices easier.

HOW TO SAVE IN LONDON: Read our 7 tips on how to save on transport and entrance fees in London. The London Pass is another way to save money on admission to the sights – find out more about the London Pass.

LONDON WITH KIDS: We’ve created a detailed guide to enjoying London with kids.

ENGLAND: Find tips on what to see and do in England in our list of the most beautiful places in England.

London Transport FAQs

How to get from the airport to central London?

There are several airports around London. Each is operated by a different airline. In this article, we’ll take each airport in turn, including the easiest way to get from the airport to central London.

How to get around London?

Pay as you go. It’s a payment system where you only pay for what you actually drive. With your Oyster card or your contactless card. See the article for full details, including how to rent a bike in London.

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