There are many ways to get around London, from using the extensive public transport system to walking or cycling. Most Londoners choose not to drive in the capital due to traffic and congestion, and using the tube or bus services can be faster and cheaper.
Many students use apps, such as Google Maps and Citymapper, to help them navigate the city. Alternatively, you can view Transport for London (TfL) maps to work out your route.
Paying for transport
Oyster is London's travel smartcard which saves you money when travelling around the city. You can put your travelcard or bus pass season ticket on an Oyster card, add money to top up 'pay as you go', or have a combination of both.
You can also use a contactless payment card to travel around London. This works exactly the same as an Oyster ‘pay as you go’ card.
Alternatively, you can use Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Barclays bPay or to 'pay as you go' on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line, River Bus and most National Rail services in London.
Different types of transport
The London Underground, otherwise known as ‘the Tube’, is probably the fastest way to travel around London. The Tube runs on all lines from around 5am to midnight, and with the introduction of the Night Tube, some lines now run a reduced service all night on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s worth checking the times of the first and last Tube trains as they may vary. If you are buying a ticket, it must cover all the zones you will be travelling through, although most people use an oyster card or a contactless payment card.
Buses are very frequent in London, however heavy traffic can slow them down during rush hour. There is a network of bus routes that run throughout the night, starting from Trafalgar Square in central London.
You can get details of bus routes at any Tube station, bus stop or online. You cannot pay in cash for tickets on buses – you must either use an Oyster card, a day Travelcard, a contactless payment card, or Apple Pay.
Cycling can be an affordable and efficient way to travel around the city, but please be aware that London’s roads can be very busy. For more information on safety for cyclists, visit the TfL cycling safety page. Also, make sure to take a look at this useful information on cycle skills.
You can also use London’s bike share scheme. For as little as £2, you can hire one of the many Santander Cycles (sometimes called ‘Boris Bikes’) stationed at docking stations throughout the city. All QMUL campuses have one or more docking stations located nearby – visit the Santander Cycles website for more information.
We also have some useful information on bike security and safety.
To avoid rush hour congestion on the roads and public transport, many Londoners prefer to walk. It’s free, reliable, healthy and a great way to get to know the city!
Please be aware of busy roads and bike lanes when walking around, and make sure to use pedestrian crossings as much as possible.
The Overground is a train network which services large parts of Greater London and a small part of Hertfordshire. The Whitechapel campus is served by the Overground from Whitechapel station.
The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is an automated train service which is based in the Docklands area of London. It is often used by students who live towards Stratford, Canary Wharf and Greenwich.
London's black cabs can be booked in advance, hailed on the street or picked up from taxi ranks. Minicabs (ordinary cars licensed as taxis) can be booked using the information on TfL’s website or via an app such as Addison Lee, Uber or Kabbee. You should never use an unbooked minicab.
There are other ways to travel around London, including trams, boats and even a cable car! Visit the TfL website for more information and any updates on disruptions to transport services.
It is important to be aware of your surroundings when travelling in London. Be sure to plan your journey, avoid isolated areas, travel with others late at night, try to hide laptop bags and be careful when using your mobile phone. Be aware of moving vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists when out and about, and take a look at the TfL driving and cycling safety information if you're planning to use the roads.
London travel for students
Transport for London has has put together this useful Student Guide for Travel in London with everything you need to know if you're not familiar with the city's transport system.
To find out more about making transport choices that are healthy and good for the environment, visit the QMUL Sustainability website.