Nine million people live in London. It's not the most intuitive city to navigate due to its mix of Roman walls, Victorian development, post- WW II rebuilding and pockets of ongoing regeneration.

It is possible to visit most of the city via public transport. Everything you need to know about each mode of transportation and the ticketing system can be found here.

Ready to start planning? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get 20% off your next guidebook.
A woman exiting the London Tube holding her phone
The Underground (the Tube) is often the best way to get around London © David Prado Perucha / Shutterstock

The Tube (the London Underground) is the quickest and easiest

Less than 45% of the Underground network actually operate underground, as the London Underground is the city's subway that runs across 11 different lines. The Tube is the fastest and easiest way to get around the city. Most of the time, it is the warmest place to wait for your transport, except on those underground stations.

If you want to go underground between the stations, be aware that they are much closer to reality than they appear on the map.

Most of the Piccadilly, Central and Northern lines run all night on Friday and Saturday to get people home after partying. The fares are not always at their peak.

Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge are some of the key sights that the Piccadilly Line stops at.

A black cab stopped next to a red double-decker heritage bus
Heritage Routemaster buses have been replaced by accessible hybrid double-deckers © Chris Jenner / Shutterstock

London's red buses (and the best bus route)

London's ubiquitous red double-decker buses have great views of the city, but they can be slow due to traffic jams and many commuters getting on and off at every stop. There are excellent bus maps at every stop detailing all routes and destinations served from that particular area.

The bus services are open from 5am to 11:30pm. If you want to know when your next bus is due, you can download an app such as Citymapper to your phone.

Bus Route 15 connects the Tower of London, St Paul's, the Strand and Trafalgar Square, but is no longer served by heritage Routemaster buses.

Getting around London by foot

London is too large to cover on foot, but once you're in an area that interests you, walking is the way to go. London's winding streets can quickly disorientate if you use a good map or gps device. There are two pedestrian tunnels beneath the river and there are bridges that cross the river.

Wrap up in a warm hat, gloves and scarf when you're in London in winter. An umbrella is not a good idea on narrow footpaths in central London. In the depths of winter, ice and snow can be found so watch for slippery streets in the morning.

Cyclists are one of the main dangers for walkers in London. In London there are many streets where cyclists can ride against a one-way driving system on "contra-flow" lanes. You can't hear a bike coming so you need to look both ways before crossing the road.

Young woman renting bicycle on street in London
London is surprisingly suited for cycling, and the city's bike-hire scheme Santander Cycles is one of the cheaper ways to get around town © Oscar Wong / Getty Images

Cycling is a surprisingly quick way to cross London

It is important to keep your wits about you because city traffic can be intimidating for less confident cyclists. New "cycle superhighways" for commuters and "quietways" for leisure cyclists have been opened by the city. Visitors to the city can take advantage of the public bike-hire scheme. It costs two dollars for each additional 30 minutes. You can use the app to find the nearest bikes and where you can drop them off. You can explore parks along the canal towpaths on a bike.

Better on a boat on the Thames

There are several companies that operate along the river, but only one that offers a commuter service. You're almost always guaranteed a seat and a view on the boats. Oyster or Contactless cards can be used to pay for tickets at the piers, or alternatively you can buy them at the ticket booth.

London's iconic black cabs wait at lights in front of a double-decker red bus
Note: not all of London's iconic black cabs are actually black! © Tupungato / Shutterstock

London's black-cabs and other taxi options

Over three-to-five years of rigorous training and a series of exams are required to be a licensed black-cab driver. They are supposed to know 25,000 streets within a six mile circle of Charing Cross and the 100 most visited spots of the moment.

If you stick your arm out, the cab will be available for hire. The initial charge is metered and rises by 20p per mile over distance travel or time taken, depending on the tariffs being used. It is possible to pay for your journey with cash or a credit card.

Minicabs are cheaper than a black cab but they can't be hailed on the street and must be booked in advance through a cab office or an app. The fares are set before the event.

The introduction and impact on the city from undercutting traditional black-cabs to accusations of increased car congestion is still debated by locals.

Not all of London's black cabs are black. They all have the same shape and will have a yellow sign above the window.

Driving a car in London

It is not likely that you will need to drive in London. The Congestion Charge (CC) and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) fees, as well as extortionate parking costs, should keep you off the road if you want to get out of your cars and onto public transport.

A cable car with two passengers travels through a developed area.
The cable car links Royal Victoria with the O2 © Phil Maddocks / Shutterstock

Riding above the Thames on a cable car

The Royal Docks in East London have a cable car that goes up and down over the water. The journey is short and expensive, but the views are amazing. Wheelchairs can be accommodated by the cable cars on the Air Line.

The DLR (Docklands Light Rail)

There is a train network in the east of the city. It's likely that you'll take a ride on it if you go to the cable car or the airport.

London Overground and suburban train network

Transport for London runs the Overground train network beyond the center of London. Private train companies run to the suburbs as well. Any day trip out of London can be done on the train.

The Elizabeth Line

The "purple" line connecting towns as far west as Reading and as far east as Shenfield is now open for business. There is a quicker route from the airport to central London.

Even in stations where there is step-free access to the platforms, there can still be a gap between the platform and the Tube train © alexsl / Getty Images

Accessible transportation in London

Most piers in London have step-free access, but Cadogan Pier is the only one with step-free access. Half of Overground stations have step-free access. If you need to go through an interchange on the Tube network, you could face an unexpected flight of stairs. There's a gap between the train and the platform. Before boarding a train, it is advisable to plan and notify a staff member.

All buses can be lowered to street level when they stop. Wheelchair users enter through the middle doors and have priority use of the wheelchair space

The guide dogs are accepted on public transportation. The pavement is in good repair, the pedestrian crossing is frequent, and the curb cuts are adequate to keep you out of harms way. It is more likely that you will have a missing curb cut if you are further from the center of London.

Why I love London on two wheels

Nothing beats pedaling along a quiet London canal towpath, listening to birds and seeing wildlife, right in the heart of the city, or rounding an ancient wall to find a victorian cobblestoned pathway closed to traffic and all to yourself, as you near the end of your search for that historic pub where You can't get intimate with London on a bus or train.

It is only a bicycle that can take you through Covent Garden, where you can find a secret garden run and love by locals, and on the corner of an otherwise insignificant building near Brick Lane, where you can see a graffiti artist. Two wheels are the only way to explore the new cycleways, quietways, and cycle lanes that London has to offer.

Female hand holding a blue Oyster card, touching yellow pad on automatic ticket barriers
Fares are automatically deducted from a pre-paid Oyster card © xmocb / Getty Images

Transport passes, tickets and fares

The best source for up-to-date travel information is Transport for London. Children, strollers, wheelchairs or luggage can be passed through the larger automatic gates.

How to pay

You can buy tickets for single journeys at ticket offices and self-service machines, but it's cheaper and more convenient to use Contactless, an Oyster card, or a mobile payment with a phone.

Contactless is a credit or debit card that can be used to make payments. The start and end of your journey can be marked by holding it near the yellow card readers. This is referred to as touch in and touch out. You will be deducted the cost of the journey from your account.

Oyster cards can be topped up with money. The same "touch in, touch out" system is used to sell them at most stations and newsagents.

You have to have a ticket in advance or pay with an Oyster card on the bus. At the beginning of your journey, you only need to touch in. You won't pay a fee if you're on board for a while.

Travel Zones for Tube and rail

Zone 1 is the center of the city's tube and rail system and Zone 9 is the north of Greater London. You'll pay a reduced Travelcard rate if you use the same card through your day and travel within the zone system. You will need to purchase a train ticket if you are taking a train beyond the zones.

This text was updated by a destination expert. Some of the content in the print edition has been changed.

The article was first published about four hours ago.