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1. Go cash-free. Using cash to pay your fare is so yesterday! In fact, from June, London buses won’t accept any cash payments at all. Travel like a true Londoner by using a pre-paid Oyster card, a Visitor Oyster Card (VOC) or a cashless debit card (UK cardholders only). Buy your VOC before you arrive in London using the following links – it comes pre-loaded with £15 credit.Visitor Oyster Cards – UK / Visitor Oyster Cards – international.
2. Take the scenic route. 2014 is the Year of the Bus in London! Make the most of it by taking one of the more scenic routes, such as Bus route 4, which goes past the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral, Bus route 11 past Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square and The Tower of London or Bus route 9 where you’ll travel on an old-style Routemaster past Royal Albert Hall. Best of all, a single trip on these routes using Oyster, VOC or cashless will only cost you the standard fare of £1.45. Here’s some more scenic bus routes in London.
3. Walk this way It can be quicker to walk between some Tube stops in Central London and this could save you money on your Oyster or VOC. Plus, this way you avoid some of the crowds and queues as well as enjoying fantastic people-watching and window shopping opportunities. Try walking between
- Covent Garden and Leicester Square
- Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus
- Leicester Square and Charing Cross
- Oxford Circus and Bond Street
- Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus
- Charing Cross and Embankment
- Embankment / Charing Cross and Waterloo (and you get to walk across the Thames!)
4. Top Up Visitor Oyster Cards (VOCs) come pre-loaded with £15 credit, which is usually more than enough to get you from Heathrow to your hotel (for example) but chances are you’ll need to top up at some point in your trip. You need to do this before you travel. To check your Oyster or VOC credit at a Tube station, find a ticket machine and hold your card on the yellow reader: the balance will be displayed on screen. You can then add credit using cash or card. Convenience stores and off-licences often provide top-up facilities too.
5. Explore More A lot of tourists stick to buses and the Tube, which is fine, but you’re missing out on some exciting and diverse ways to travel around London! Why not explore further? You can “drive” the DLR, float high above the Thames on the Emirates Air Line or, if you find yourself in South London, try the Tram.
6. Take it to the River as well as the different methods of transport outlined above, you can catch one of the splendid RiverBus services. Seeing London by boat offers a unique perspective on the city. We recommend you try a day-trip to Greenwich, the Tate to Tate boat or visit Canary Wharf. Best of all, visitors get 10% off single Thames Clipper River Bus tickets when they pay with their Visitor Oyster card (NB this does not count towards the Visitor Oyster card daily fare cap).
What’s your top tip for travelling around London like a local? Let us know in the comments below.