Everything you need to know to conquer this amazing city.



Despite the groans and complaints of delays, strikes, and other kinds of disruptions to service, London still has one of the best public transport systems in the world. 

General Advice:

  • Avoid the underground (subway), if possible, during rush hour: 7:30am-9am(ish) and 5-6:30pm(ish)
    • Obviously, going towards central in the morning and leaving central in the evening will be the worst. 
    • This especially goes for Holborn, Oxford Circus, and Green Park. Did I say Holborn? (I’m sure there are some other stations as well, particularly down by Westminster/Embankment. If there’s another black hole underground station that should be noted, leave a comment below!)
    • *I've also just read that construction is happening at Holborn until autumn 2017. Gross.
  • I recommend taking the bus and sitting on the top deck for the best views of the city!
    • Pro Tip: Know which stop is before yours so you can have enough time to get off the bus. Especially if you're sitting on the top deck, you may have to walk a bit/squeeze through people in order to exit the bus!

How to take advantage of London’s public transportation:

  • First, decide if you want to pay-as-you-go (PAYG) or purchase a travel card. Admittedly, the whole fare system can be quite confusing. Depending on what mode of transportation you’re taking, the time of day, and how far you’re traveling, TFL will charge a different amount. If you choose PAYG, TFL will cap your daily fare within a 24 hour period (4:30am-4:29am the next day). A travel card will get you unlimited travel for varying lengths of time within the zones you've purchased. Read more about PAYG vs. travel card HERE to determine which best fits your needs.
  • All busses are £1.50 with no transfers. I know. Kinda stupid but I still prefer the bus over the tube 90% of the time. 
  • How to purchase an Oyster Card  

    • Each card costs £5. You can then add PAYG value in £5 increments or add a travel card. 
    • They're available from self-serve machines and the rare human-operated counter at every underground and overground station. Also available from local shops, much like your east coast “bodega.” More info from the revamped but still confusing TFL website
    • At the same machine or counter, purchase credit or a travel card.
    • Go forth and make use of London’s public transportation (with the help of Citymapper)
    • Pro Tip: If you’re riding the bus, you only need to tap in. On all other modes of transport, you must tap in and tap out! 


Now, if your mobile phone is unlocked from your home network and has a removable SIM card, it can work in the UK. If your mobile isn’t unlocked and/or has a SIM card you cannot take out, that’s okay! You can purchase a mobile phone (even a smart phone!) for very cheap. EE goes the extra step, helping you purchase an affordable UK mobile phone with a UK SIM card and no contract

How is this possible?

In the UK, the Pay-As-You-Go system allows anyone to purchase a UK SIM card for free (or no more than £1). You then add credit or different “packages,” allowing you to pay as you use your phone. These SIM cards are only in service for a set amount of time (for the 3 Network it’s three months). Need more credit for you mobile? Go back to any mobile network shop of your UK carrier. You can also call the carrier or purchase credit at a local shop who will give you a receipt with a code to punch in. The two providers I’ve used and recommend are 3 and EE

* I wouldn't worry about the amount of texts. With iMessage, Facebook messaging, and WhatsApp, using your credit for texts isn’t worth it unless you’re reeeeeally uncomfortable with technology.


  • Citymapper | Navigation

    • a.k.a. God for Londoners (also available in other cities)
    • I don't know how people get around the city without this app!
    • gives real time arrivals for all modes of public transportation
    • lets you know about any station closures or disruptions to service (which happen quite frequently)
    • easy comparison of various forms of transport with cost and travel time information
  • Uber | Transportation

    • no cash needed (traditional London Black Cabs are way behind the times in this regard)
    • simple to use and there's always an uber nearby
    • Get your first Uber ride for free! Just use this code: lial7
    • Pro Tip: Make sure your location is accurate and be prepared to have your uber driver call you in case they're lost
  • WhatsApp | Messaging

    • easy to create group chats with other WhatsApp users
    • Pro Tip: Send your exact location to another user like Apple Maps "Drop Pin" function
  • Food, Culture, and Events:

    • Time Out London

    • Fever

    • Hype


My bank charges a $5 fee for each ATM withdrawal and a 3% foreign transaction fee for every debit card purchase. For things like Oyster, phone, and larger purchases (theatre tickets, shopping, Uber) I use my card. Otherwise, I try to use cash, usually withdrawing a max amount from the ATM to avoid getting hit too many times with the $5 fee. Any left over money I keep because I know I’ll be back.


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