• London - Essential Information

    The guide was updated: 2014-11-17

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Airport - London Heathrow

Airport - London Heathrow

London Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, with five terminals (Terminal 2 is currently closed for renovations). There are various ways to travel from Heathrow Airport to your destination. Hotel Hoppa and Hotel By Bus are shared ride services, transporting travellers to (and from) local and Central London hotels by coach. The quickest journey is by train on the Heathrow ExpressB, which runs every 15 minutes (from approximately 5am to 11.45pm) and gets you into Central London in 15 minutes for £20. You can also travel into Central London via Heathrow Connect (£9.50), the Piccadilly line on London Underground, a coach to Victoria Coach Station (£6), bus (£1.40 Oyster/£2.40 cash) or taxi (£50 to £80 in a metred black cab).
Airport - London Gatwick

Airport - London Gatwick

London Gatwick Airport is the second largest airport in the UK (Heathrow Airport is the largest), with two terminals: North and South. The fastest route form the airport into Central London is via the Gatwick Express, with trains departing every 15 minutes. The non-stop journey to Victoria Station takes 30 minutes and costs £19.90. Alternative travel options include going by First Capital Connect train to London Bridge, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, Farringdon or St Pancras International (£10 to St Pancras); Southern train services (£19.90 to Victoria Station), coach (£8), easyBus (£2 – online price) or taxi.
Airport - London Stansted

Airport - London Stansted

London Stansted Airport is the third busiest airport in the UK, and where many low-cost airlines serving Europe and the Mediterranean operate from. On the Stansted Express you can reach Liverpool Street station in 47 minutes. Trains run every 15 minutes and the journey costs £23.40. You can also travel between Stansted Airport and Central London by coach with easyBus (£2 – online price), National Express (from £5) or Terravision (from £6). Alternatively book a minicab with 24x7 Stansted – note: black cabs do no operate from Stansted (though you can take one to the airport).
Airport - London Luton

Airport - London Luton

London Luton Airport is located just 56km north-west of Central London, and is a popular base for low-cost airlines. A regular shuttle bus transports passengers from the airport to the nearest station, Luton Airport Parkway, which takes about 10 minutes. From the station you can catch an East Midlands Trains or First Capital Connect service to Central London in between 21 and 25 minutes (£13.50). Other options include the easyBusB express bus service (from £2 – online price), the Green Line 757 coach service to Victoria Coach Station (£17) and Terravision coaches to Victoria Coach Station (£15), each service stopping at different destinations en route. A metred taxi ride to or from Central London costs around £80.
Airport - London City

Airport - London City

London City Airport is a single runway airport located 9.5km east of Central London, and serving mainly short-haul and business flights. The airport is on the Docklands Light Railway, which connects to London's Tube network at Canning Town, Stratford and Bank and uses the same price structure. Buses serve the airport too, with the numbers 473 and 474 providing a connection to other East London destinations. You can also pick up a taxi from the cab rank outside the airport.
Public Transport - Bus

Public Transport - Bus

London's bus network stretches right across the capital, and provides a frequent and accessible service. If you're using an Oyster card, a single trip costs £1.40 – you simply 'tap in' when you get on the bus – and there is a daily cap of £4.40 if you're using only bus and tram services. A single bus fare is £2.40 is you're paying with cash. Seven-day, one-month and annual bus passes are also available. To navigate your way around the network, pick up a Central London Bus Guide from travel information centres at larger Tube stations or use Transport for London's online Journey Planner. A reduced service of night buses operates throughout the night, with most routes passing through Trafalgar Square. All children under 16 travel for free (with a photo card, though 5-15 year olds need to show a proof-of-age photo card. Freedom Passes allow disabled and older passengers to travel for free.
Public Transport - Tube

Public Transport - Tube

There are 12 Underground or 'Tube' lines serving Greater London, which connect at various points to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and local rail network. The Tube usually operates from 5am to midnight from Monday to Saturday, with a reduced service on Sunday. Plan your route by picking up a free Tube map from any Underground station, or using Transport for London's online Journey Planner. Fares vary depending on which of London's six travel 'zones' you travel through, though they are considerably cheaper with an Oyster card than buying paper tickets. Various concessions are available for children, students, the elderly and disabled travellers.
Public Transport - Docklands Light Railway

Public Transport - Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) serves East London and connects with the Tube network at Bank, Tower Gateway (Tower Hill), Shadwell, Stratford, Bow, Heron Quays, Canning Town and Canary Wharf. It also connects to the Emirates Air Line cable car at Royal Victoria. Fares are the same as on the Tube, and the DLR runs from 5.30am to 12.30am Monday to Saturday and from 7am to 11.30pm on Sunday. Fares are the same as those on the Tube, and Oyster and Travelcard holders can use the DLR.
Public Transport - Thames River Bus

Public Transport - Thames River Bus

Travel from A to B with ease along the Thames on board a river bus. There are six different routes, which slight at destinations along the riverbank – between Putney and Woolwich Arsenal. Popular services include Thames Clippers route between Hilton London Docklands Riverside and Canary Wharf, the Tate to Tate boat between Tate Britain and Tate Modern, and the journey between London Eye and historic Greenwich. Buy your ticket before boarding or on board (depending on the service) – discounts are available with Travelcards and Oyster cards.
Public Transport - Local Trains

Public Transport - Local Trains

As well as the Underground, London has its own local train network, which connects to the Tube at many points. The main train operators serving London are Silverlink, First Capital Connect, SouthEastern Railway, Southern Railway, London Overground and Greater Anglia, with these local lines in turn linking to the national rail network and the Eurostar. You can use your Oyster card on all suburban trains stopping in Zones 1-9 – except Heathrow Express and a few other select services. Several different railcards are available too, providing discounted fares to their holders.
Public Transport - Trams

Public Transport - Trams

London's tram network, Tramlink, was introduced in 2000 and runs in selected parts of South London – between Wimbledon, Croydon, Beckenham and New Addington. Trams run about every seven minutes to New Addington and every 10 minutes to Wimbledon, Elmers End and Beckenham Junction during the day from Monday to Saturday. Fares work the same as on buses, with a flat-rate cost of £1.40 with an Oyster card and £2.40 when paying by cash. Travelcards are also valid on trams, and bus passes include use of the tram network. Travelling via Tramlink is free for London students aged 16-17, under 16s and older and disabled residents carrying a relevant photo card.
Public Transport - Cycle Hire Scheme

Public Transport - Cycle Hire Scheme

Hop on a "Boris bike" and zip around London using the city's public bike-sharing scheme. Named after London's Mayor Boris Johnson, the popular blue bikes can be found in more than 550 bike docking stations across London – so you're never far away from one. After you've paid your registration fee (from £2), you can hire a bike for a day, week or even a year. The bikes are free to use for the first 30 minutes, with prices increasing according to how long you use the bike for then afterwards. When you've finished your journey, simply return the bike to your nearest docking station – you can find out where that is using the Barclays Bikes app.
Public Transport - Emirates Air Line

Public Transport - Emirates Air Line

Cross the Thames in style on board the Emirates Air Line, London's cable car connecting Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. As well as taking you across the river in less than 10 minutes, it provides an amazing bird's eye view over London and the Thames. The fare is £3.20 using Oyster pay-as-you-go, or you can buy a return journey (known as a '360° tour') for £6.40 from the terminals at either end of the line. Multi-journey boarding passes (£10 for 10 single trips) and private cabin packages are also available.
Taxi

Taxi

Riding in one of London's iconic black cabs is a must – and makes for a very comfortable and spacious ride. Hail a cab in the street or pick one up at a taxi rank. Your journey is calculated using a meter, with a minimum charge of £2.40. London also has many private hire vehicles and minicabs – these are unmetered so check the fare when booking. To find a local, reputable firm download Transport for London's free CabWise app or text CAB to 60835 to receive three numbers (two minicab and one black cab) by text. The Hailo smartphone app is another great way to find a black cab near you.
Post

Post

Postage stamps are available across London from post offices, newsagents and supermarkets. To post a package or souvenirs, drop into any post-office – you can find your nearest branch on the Post Office website. Post offices are generally open Monday-Friday from 9.00am to 5.30pm and Saturday from 9.00am to 12.30pm.
Pharmacy

Pharmacy

When you need to buy medication over the counter or collect a prescription, simply head to one of London's many pharmacies. As well as private chemists, pharmacy services can be found at certain branches of Boots and Superdrug as well as some larger supermarkets. If you need urgent medical care, call NHS Direct on 111 (open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) – only call London Ambulances Service on 999 if it's an emergency. NHS Direct can give you free medical advice and direct you to the nearest walk-in health centre or hospital accident and emergency departments.
Telephone

Telephone

The international dialling code for the UK is +44 or 0044, which replaces the first 'zero' of the phone number. So, for example, to call the number 020 7946 0000 from abroad you would dial +44 20 7946 0000. The area codes for London are (020) 7, (020) 8 and (020) 3. If you're dialling a London number from another fixed phone line within Greater London you don't need to dial the '020' before the number, just the rest of the number starting with 7, 8 or 3.
Electricity

Electricity

Electrical appliances are connected to the UK mains supply using a three-pin plug, which slots into a wall socket. This socket can be turned on and off, unlike in many other countries. The average voltage of a UK power socket is 230v or slightly higher, so check the voltage of your device before plugging it in. Voltage adaptors and convertors are available from London airports and high-street electrical chains such as Argos or Curry's. Power sockets are available at many coffee shops with WiFi and on some overland trains. Need to charge your mobile? Download the 'find-a-chargebox' iPhone app to find your nearest ChargeBox.
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