Your Guide to London’s Public transport system

London is known for its many different forms of transport, from its extensive underground rail network (called ‘the underground’ or ‘the tube’) to iconic Red Routemaster buses. For first time travellers, the transport network can be a little daunting but rest assured, London Tailored Tours is here to put your mind at ease with our comprehensive guide to travel cards in London.

Tour Guide Fact: The London underground network is the oldest in the world. It was opened in 1863 and now measures 402km in total.

Old Underground Tunnels

Transport in London has been cashless since 2014! There are many ways to pay for your travel – the easiest way is with one of our famous Oyster Cards. All of the zones in London can be reached with these cards, this includes Underground (metro) and Overground rail services and of course our red buses.

Tour Guide Fact: Oyster cards are so named after the phrase ‘The world is your oyster’ as they give you travel across all 6 transport zones of London!

London Transport rail map
London Underground and Overground map.
Photo credit: JarkkoS on / CC BY-SA

The Cards

There are two types of Oyster card, the Visitor Oyster card and the Regular Oyster card. Which one to buy depends on how long you’re in London and how much you want to use it. Remember, you cannot share an Oyster card. Each person in your group will need their own individual one.

London Transport, Oyster card travel symbol.
Oyster card symbol

Visitor Oyster Card

Visitor oyster cards are useful for travellers who are only here in London for a short amount of time and don’t visit very often. They cost £5, can be ordered before you travel and delivered internationally. They work on a pay as you go basis and can be topped up at any rail station, or at London’s local newsagent shops (convenience stores) which display the Oyster card sign.

Once you have finished your time in London the money left on the card can be refunded before you leave.

These cards are not linked to a specific person and you do not need ID to purchase one. This means they can be lent to family and friends who may want to travel to London. Lastly, visitor oyster cards include special offers for many restaurants, museums, shops etc.

Regular Oyster Card

This is the perfect card if you are here for long vacation or sabbatical. It gives you the opportunity to register the card online, for ease of top-up and also add discount cards(senior,disabled, student cards) or monthly and annual travel cards. Similarly to the Visitor oyster card, these cards cost £5 and are refundable at the end of your visit. Purchase your regular Oyster card online or at newsagents and rail stations.

Tour Guide Tip: The daily price cap on Oyster cards is £11.60. So don’t worry, you’ll never spend more than this in a day, however much you travel!

The Day Travelcard

Only here for a day? Then why not buy a day travelcard. These work on all the same forms of transport as an Oyster Card and prices start from £12 per person

Routemaster Bus on Westminster Bridge
Photo credit: Leonard Bentley on VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

All of our guides will help you with your transport needs so do feel free to ask us on tour!

We can’t wait to ride the red bus with you on our Best of London Tour!