The very best way to explore London is on foot. Look up at the buildings, wander through parks, along canals, pretty much anywhere you like where there’s a crowd – trust your instincts. I have never felt safer in any city – I think it’s all the people, at all hours. And the CCTV.
Tubes are the obvious choice, and the tube map can be understood by anyone with half a brain. But in Central London there’s often no need – it’s all so close together by the time you descend into the bowels of the tube and then emerge blinking into daylight 20 minutes later you could have walked to where you need to go and saved yourself the oxygen deprivation.
Plan your journey here: Transport for London
Buses are cheaper, not always that much slower, and often more direct than tubes. Sitting up the top, if you are able, is a great way to see the city. Some of the buses that wind through Central London are as good as a tour bus for seeing all the main sights.
And then there are overland trains, which often hook into the Tube. The rail network is split up and run by different companies in different regions, so you can buy ticket with the actual company (Virgin, Chiltern Railways, South West trains etc) or use a central booking company to buy tickets. The best site to check ticket prices and times is the official National Rail Enquiries. Your Oyster card can be used on most London services – check at the station.
Cycle paths abound in London, but so do cars. The most important thing is to be visible – don’t hide from cars, make sure drivers know you are on the road with them. Stay where they can see you and you’ll be OK – even if you cop a bit of abuse or slow things down. Keeping to the side (especially on roads where the corners are fenced) is deadly. Don’t be afraid to draw attention to yourself.
Here’s a link to some cycle paths and information
If travelling in a group or with a family then car hire can be the most cost effective option. Petrol prices are high which can be the one expense that tips the balance. However, car hire is generally cheap and weekend deals are available. With some cities so close to each other you can base yourself in one location and then go on day trips. Costs can be reduced by looking for deals such as Enterprise’s weekend car hire special or extend the hiring period for weekly rates rather than the more expensive daily rates.