Thrifty travel tactics: What is the cheapest way to get around London?

Want to know the cheapest way to get around London? Well, we can show you all of them!

The cheapest ways to get around London include walking, getting an Oyster card, avoiding travel at peak hours, cycling, taking the bus for long-distance, cruising the Thames Clipper, and taking the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

That’s just the start! Tighten your shoelaces and we’ll share more tips on how you can get around our city without breaking the bank.

Get an Oyster card

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This nifty pre-pay travel companion is your golden ticket to conquering the city’s transportation maze including the Tube, buses, DLR, Overground, Tramlink, and River Boat services. 

Oyster cards are a great way to save money on public transport in London since fares are cheaper with it than cash. They even give you daily and weekly capping, meaning you won’t pay more than a certain amount for your travel, even if you make multiple journeys in a day or week.

The cost of an Oyster card depends on the type of card you purchase.

  • Standard Oyster card – £7
  • Visitor Oyster card – £5 (plus postage)
  • Zip Oyster card –  £3 (for children aged 11-15)

Avoid travelling during peak hours

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Avoid travelling during peak hours in London, typically Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm. During these busy times, fares tend to be higher and public transport can be packed. 

There are a few reasons why avoiding peak hours can save you money. First, during peak hours, there is higher travel demand, which drives up prices. 

Second, during peak hours, the public transportation system is more crowded, which can make it difficult to find a seat. This can lead to delays, which can also add to the cost of your trip.

Cycle through the city

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Pedal power to the rescue! If you’re looking for a pocket-friendly adventure through London’s vibrant streets, cycling is your secret weapon. 

Take, for instance, the ever-popular Santander Cycles scheme, where you can conquer the city for a mere £2, unlocking unlimited rides of up to 30 minutes within a glorious 24-hour window. 

Plus, pedalling your way through the bustling streets provides an invigorating workout, breathing life into those leg muscles.

Take the bus for long-distance travel

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With a single fare priced at a wallet-friendly £1.65 or a day’s unlimited travel for just £4.95, buses steal the show in terms of cost-effectiveness. And when compared to the Tube’s £2.40 for a single fare or £7.70 for a day pass, the price difference is enough to make your wallet smile.

But why are buses cheaper, you may wonder? First, they enjoy a fierce rivalry among bus companies, leading to competitive pricing. 

And unlike the Tube, buses skip the hefty expenses of tunnels and stations, allowing for more affordable fares. Plus, they don’t require as much fuel, thanks to their leisurely pace.

Cruise the Thames Clipper

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With fares starting at just £2.40 for a single trip and day passes available from £12.50, Thames Clippers are a savvy choice that won’t leave your bank account in distress. 

Compare that a single fare on a black cab can cost anywhere from £5 to £20, depending on the distance travelled.

But it doesn’t end there – Thames Clippers offer more than just affordable fares. With a network of 24 piers strategically placed throughout London, these floating wonders ensure easy access to your desired destinations, regardless of your location in the city. 

Take the Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

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Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is a modern marvel of a light rail system that will whisk you away to the city’s iconic hotspots, all while keeping your wallet happy. 

There are several reasons why the DLR is a cheap way to travel in London. First, the fares are very reasonable. 

A single journey costs £2.40, or £1.90 if you use a contactless payment card. Second, the DLR is often cheaper than other forms of public transport, such as the Underground or buses. 

For example, a single journey on the Underground from Bank to Canary Wharf costs £3.20, while a single journey on the DLR costs £2.40.

Take advantage of the Hopper fare

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This cost-cutting gem allows you to take two bus or tram journeys within one hour for the price of one. It’s perfect if you’re looking to maximize your savings while getting around the city.

To enjoy the benefits of the Hopper fare, simply use a pay-as-you-go Oyster card or contactless payment card. Just tap in and out on each journey, and the Hopper fare will be automatically applied.

Remember, the Hopper fare is only valid for buses and trams, and the one-hour time limit applies. If you take a break between journeys, you’ll need to tap in again and pay the full fare.

Ride the trams

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With a single tram journey priced at just £1.50 (or a wallet-friendly £1.25 with a contactless payment card), it’s a steal compared to other modes of transportation in London.

What makes tram fares so enticingly low? Well, for starters, the tram network covers a smaller area compared to other bus systems. 

But that’s not all! Trams often offer a more spacious and comfortable travel experience since they have dedicated tracks, meaning they don’t have to navigate through bustling traffic. 

Catch an Overground train

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With a mere £2.40 for a single journey (or a wallet-savvy £1.90 with a contactless payment card), an Overground train is a cost-effective option compared to other modes of public transport like the Underground.

Wondering why catching an Overground train won’t burn a hole in your pocket? 

Firstly, the Overground network covers a smaller area, which means lower operating costs. And Thanks to their limited number of stops, Overground trains are often less crowded, offering you a more comfortable ride. 

Share rides with others

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Ride-sharing services like Uber offer a cost-effective solution for your transportation needs in London. 

For instance, a typical Uber ride from Heathrow Airport to Central London can cost around £25, but when you opt for ride-sharing, the fare can be as low as £12.50 per person.

With the convenience of ride-sharing, you can split the cost and enjoy substantial savings without compromising on comfort and reliability. 

By leveraging these services, you not only get to your destination efficiently but also make your travel budget go further.

Take the River Bus

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With fares starting at just £5.80 (or £4.80 with a contactless payment card), taking the river bus is a wallet-friendly alternative to the Underground or buses.

And here, you can effortlessly explore London’s top attractions without the need to switch transportation modes. Not bad, eh?

Consider using group travelcards

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A group travel card is a nifty ticket that allows you and up to three other adventurers to hop on board public transportation and explore the city together. 

Whether you’re embarking on a day-long adventure or planning an extended stay, group travel offers unbeatable savings compared to individual tickets.

Imagine this: a one-day group travel card for Zones 1-2 costs just £28, while purchasing four individual day travelcards for the same zones adds up to £32. By opting for the group travel card, you’ll be pocketing a delightful £4 in savings!

Walk wherever possible

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Walking wherever possible is not only a thrifty choice but also a delightful way to navigate the vibrant streets of London. First and foremost, walking comes with an unbeatable price tag of zero pounds!

Seriously, though – with countless attractions and landmarks within proximity in central London, walking from one place to another can be a joyous experience, allowing you to save money while immersing yourself in the city’s unique ambience.

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