London is one of the many destinations I’m really looking forward to visiting next summer. And, as I’ve started to do a bit of research about traveling in the UK, I’ve found myself reading a lot about getting to, from, and around the major cities in the UK.

So I figured I’d share a bit of what I’ve been learning with you about London.

Way Out sign at Warren Street station

Photo by R/DV/RS, on Flickr

Getting to London

By Air

London has a ridiculous number of airports that serve it. From Heathrow to Gatwick to Luton to Stansted… there are plenty of entry points via air to reach London from anywhere in the world. The majority of international flights pass through Heathrow, though, which is probably why I hadn’t even heard of some of the other airports nearby until I started doing some more research.

Heathrow Terminal 5 tube station sign

Photo by James Cridland, on Flickr

The only downside of flying into London is that all of the airports are quite some distance from downtown London. Meaning you’ll need to figure out transport from whatever airport you arrive at. If you manage to convince a friend to come pick you up (which I may try to do myself), it’s worth noting that Heathrow car parking is notorious for being tricky. In fact, even airport parking at Gatwick and Luton parking often have to be booked ahead of time.

Unless you’re going to brave driving on the “wrong” side of the road in a rental car, it seems like catching a bus or train into the city is the best way to go.

By Land

There are also plenty of land routes that lead to London – both from the rest of the UK and from mainland Europe.

Eurostar stalled

Photo by austinevan, on Flickr

You can catch a Eurostar train from Paris or Brussels that will zip you to London via the Channel Tunnel (or “Chunnel”) within about 2 hours. You can catch a coach like Megabus from elsewhere in the UK for affordable prices. Or, of course, you could drive to London from just about anywhere. You can legally drive in London for 12 months as long as you have a valid driver’s license from elsewhere in the world, and you can transport a vehicle to London from mainland Europe via ferry or Eurotunnel services.

By Water

Speaking of ferries, another way to get to London is by water. There are ferry connections throughout the UK, as well as routes between London and Ireland, London and France, and even London and the Netherlands. Ferry rides will obviously take longer than a plane or even fast rail ride, but the experience itself could be cool.

Open Bridge

Photo by Bruno Girin, on Flickr

Getting Around London

Once you’re in London, getting around effectively is important so you can make the most of your time there.

By Car

As mentioned in regards to airport parking, driving in London can be tricky – and perhaps even nerve-wracking if you’re like me. Even though I’ve driven abroad before, I don’t think I’ll be getting behind a British wheel during my time in London. From what I’ve seen/heard, the traffic is bad and some streets are narrow. I think I’ll use other options whenever possible. It’ll be better not only for unsuspecting pedestrians this way, but also the environment!

British Traffic

Photo by brosner, on Flickr

By Bus

Just as you can arrive in London by bus, you can also use buses to get around the city.

Even though they’re super touristy, I have a feeling I’ll find myself on a big red double-decker at some point during my trip… It’s just so quintessentially “London.”

Merton Bus Garage

Photo by Ewan-M, on Flickr

By Rail

The most popular way to get around London, however, is of course by using “The Tube,” or the city’s metro system. You can get to all the major sites in London by hopping on the Underground, and purchasing an Oyster card for all your public transport travel should make it all really easy.

the tube

Photo by Matthias Rhomberg, on Flickr

Yes, London is a world capital, so a variety of transport options are to be expected. But, after doing a bit of research on it all, it seems to me that traveling in London probably couldn’t be much easier. With the oldest metro system in the world, tons of airports to choose from, and connections to all of the UK, Europe, and beyond, London really does seem like the definition of a traveler’s city. I can’t wait to explore it for myself.

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This post was written by me, sponsored by Park BCP.

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5 Responses to London Transportation: Getting to and From England’s Capital

  1. Nicole says:

    Nice round up Amanda!

    Didn’t know that there were ferries to France (…kinda of logical really!)
    I took a ferry from Holyhead (Wales) to Dublin and they weren’t the dinkey toy ferries like they have in Hong Kong or Sydney they were what I deem a ship. Then again I haven’t been on many boats. They come complete with cinemas, dining halls, pokies, cabins to sleep in and tons of other things I don’t remember because I was a good girl and went to sleep for the 6hour journey. Wish I’d have stayed up though!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Nicole!

      I’ve been on a ferry like the one you mentioned in New Zealand. They have huge ferries there that make a 3-hour journey between the North and South island, complete with dining rooms, a movie theater, and tons of other stuff like the one you were on. I imagine the ones that go to and from London are similar!

  2. evelin marin says:

    Hi i can see you have researched very well on this topic :-) I can assure you that the distance from/to the airport will soon flare away once you set your feet in London town. It is certainly a city that treasure some of my memories, and good ones!! If it can help you i do work on this blog http://vacanzealondra.blogspot.com/ every now and then and it has good hints for new comers in town, eventhough it is written in italian, might want to use the translator tool :-) . If you need any specific information about London , not the usual one, happy to help if i can.
    Regards and remember: Keep up the good work !
    evelin marin recently posted..Londra: Case-Museo l’Arte dove Nasce un altro mio contributo sempre su "http://blog-it.hostelbookers.com"

  3. What looks to be really cool are the new Routemaster double-deckers which are supposed to go into full service in 2012.

    http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/transport/new-bus-london

    Thanks for your post about transport into and around London, Amanda!

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