Saturday, 16 April 2011

Getting around in London - Top Five Tips

The River Thames in Teddington, South West London
As much as we love London here at Boutique London Lets, we know the transport system can sometimes make even the most well-executed holiday plans go pear-shaped. So here's a quick guide to getting around in London.

1. Walk as much as possible - this way you get to see much more of the city. Just get your AtoZ or Google Maps if you have a smartphone, and go. I lived in London for a year before I walked around anywhere other than Covent Garden and I couldn't believe what I'd been missing. My favourite areas to walk through are Bloomsbury (for the British Museum, the squares and the quaint white buildings) and Spitalfields (for the market, the graffiti, the cafes and Brick Lane). The walk from Victoria up to Bond Street is only about half an hour and you'll bump into Buckingham Palace and Green Park on the way.

2.If you are planning to cross the city the only way to do this quickly is on the tube. But make sure you check the TFL website before you travel - like a real Londoner. On weekends a lot of tube lines have maintenance work done. So if you know which ones are down, you can walk to the second closest station and hop on a line that's running. In tourist hotspots, tube stations are rarely more than 10 minutes walk apart. The Piccadilly line (for Covent Garden, Harrods, and eventually Heathrow airport) is particularly busy on weekends so avoid it if you can.

Royal Wedding Oyster Card

3. If you're staying for more than 2 or 3 days (or you plan to come back to London again) it's worth getting an Oyster card. Pick one up from any tube station and once you've filled in the details and paid the £5 fee you are good to go. You still have to top them up but the fares are around half the price for the tube and the bus. Look out for the special Royal Wedding Oyster cards going on sale next week.

4. If you don't want to sign up for a card, get a Zone 1 and 2 day pass. Buses are cheaper than the tube and if you plan to visit attractions in central London only it can be much more pleasant. I love sitting on the top deck of buses to cross the river - Waterloo Bridge at night is especially magical.

You can't see the boat but it is there...

5. Try the River Thames by boat. It's really interesting to see the different aspects of the city - from the political playgrounds of Westminster to the pubs, shops and galleries of the South Bank and even the village type atmosphere further down past Chelsea and into South West London. If you visit the O2 in Greenwich, the ferry across from there is a quick and unusual way of getting back into town.

Here's me - BLL's resident blogger Sophie - passing under Tower Bridge on a night tour of the Thames. And the first picture is of the boats in Tedddington, South West London - where you forget how close you are to the hustle and bustle of the city.

Click here for a handy interactive map of our London locations so you can choose how best to zip around the city. 


  1. Sound advice! I always prefer travelling by bus, and if you want to really get to know the city it's the best way.

  2. Thanks Aisling, exactly - how else would you find out how quick it is to walk/ catch the bus from Waterloo to Covent Garden rather than faffing about changing tube lines?