Planning your journey

You can find journey planners on the National Rail Enquiries and TfL websites. TfL’s journey planner allows you to compare different modes of transport and now includes fares information for each mode.

Oyster and contactless payment cards

Oyster card at readerFor most people travelling around London, the cheapest way to get around is by using an Oyster or contactless payment card. An Oyster card is a smart card you can use instead of paper tickets, available on buses, Tubes, trams, rail, DLR and some river services. Oyster cards and contactless can also be used on the IFS Cloud Cable Car in East London but has higher fares than other modes like the Tube or buses.

An Oyster card costs £7 to buy.

If you are visiting London from other parts of the country or from abroad and don’t have a contactless payment card, it will probably work out much cheaper to use an Oyster card.

Another advantage of using an Oyster card or contactless bank card to travel around London is that it allows you to also take advantage of capping. Capping is effectively a limit of how much you pay to travel either in a single day or over one week. Once you’ve reached the daily or weekly limit, any additional journeys that you make after that will be free. You can find out more about capping on our page.

Below you can find some examples of the savings you can make when an Oyster card or a contactless payment card over a paper ticket:

 

Tube (Zone 1)

Oyster/Contactless card single peak fare – £2.80.

Oyster/Contactless card single off-peak fare – £2.70

Cash single fare – £6.70

Daily cap – £8.10

Weekly cap – £40.70

 

Rail Peak Fare (Zone 1 – 5)

Oyster/Contactless card single fare – £6.00

Cash single fare – £7.70

Daily cap – £13.90

Weekly cap – £69.60

 

Rail Off-Peak Fare (Zone 1 – 5)

Oyster/Contactless card single fare – £4.00

Cash single fare – £7.70

Daily cap – £13.90

Weekly cap – £69.60

 

Bus*

Oyster/Contactless card single fare – £1.75

Cash single fare – N/A

Daily cap – £5.25

Weekly cap – £24.70

 

Tram*

Oyster/Contactless card single fare – £1.75

Cash single fare – N/A

Daily cap – £5.25

Weekly cap – £24.70

*The Hopper Fare allows unlimited travel on Buses and Trams within 1 hour for £1.75

Prices: 5 March 2023

Contactless payment cards

You can use a contactless payment card to pay for travel on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London.

You will be charged an adult-rate Pay As You Go fare each time you make a journey. You benefit from all the features of Oyster Pay As You Go (although you can’t add railcard discounts to a contactless card) as well as being able to take advantage of monthly, daily and Monday to Sunday capping. This gives you with another option if you have run out of credit on your Oyster card or have lost or forgotten your Oyster card. Contactless is a useful way for tourists and visitors to London from other parts of the UK to get the same benefits as people using Oyster Pay As You Go.

Further information on contactless payments can be found on TfL’s website.

Walking and cycling

TfL and Walk London offer free guided walks led by experienced guides. These can be booked on the Walk London website. The TfL website also has information about walking in London, including their Walking Tube maps.

You can hire a Santander Cycle from as little as £1.65. Just go to any docking station with your bank card and touch the screen to get started. If you hire a bicycle regularly you can save money by registering for Santander Cycle membership.

The TfL website also contains information for cyclists including free route maps and cycle guides.

You can also read about some excellent safety tips for locking your bike on the Best Bike Lock blog written by cycling enthusiast Henry Clark.

Travelcard

Alternatively, you can buy a Travelcard which allows unlimited travel within specified zones. These tickets range in price according to zone. The cheapest is a day off-peak (after 9.30am Monday to Friday, all weekend), which costs £15.20 for zones 1-6 and £21.50 peak.

If you use Oyster Pay As You Go, the price charged is capped so you should never pay more than the Travelcard price and will often pay less. Be aware that Travelcards are not available for every combination of zones. You can compare caps and Travelcard prices on TfL’s website.

If you have a Zone 1-3 Travelcard and are making a peak journey outside this area, it is often advisable to break your journey in Zone 1 to avoid being charged the maximum peak Oyster fare for the extension part of your journey. For example if you travelled to Farringdon from Harrow on the Hill (Zone 5) between 4-7pm you would be charged the off peak Oyster fare but if you went from Harrow on the Hill to Herne Hill via Farringdon you would be charged the peak Oyster fare.

train station ticket officeTravelling outside the area covered by your Travelcard

If you want to travel outside the area covered by your Travelcard make sure you either purchase an extension ticket from the ticket office or ticket machine if there is no ticket office available. This will be cheaper than buying an individual ticket between the last station covered by your Travelcard and your destination. If your destination is still within the Oyster area, make sure you put sufficient Pay As You Go credit on your Oyster card before you travel. Also make sure that you touch in at the start of your journey, and touch out at the end even though these parts of your journey might be covered by your Travelcard, to avoid a maximum fare, a penalty fare or prosecution.

Ticket buying tips

Please remember, when putting credit on your Oyster you must touch your card twice – once to show what type of card you have before you select how much money you want to add to it, and once again when you have paid. If you don’t touch the card for a second time you could end up losing the cash you paid or having money taken from your credit/debit card but not have this added to you card.

Pink Readers

If you’re travelling across London but not through Zone 1 and you see a pink card reader when changing trains, touch your card on it to pay the right fare. There are pink card readers at some Tube and London Overground stations. Using a pink reader rather than the standard yellow Oyster/Contactless card reader will ensure that you pay a cheaper fare as the system will know you didn’t travel through Zone 1.

Driving in London

Congestion charge

Congestion chargeThe Congestion Charge is a £15.00 daily charge for driving a vehicle within the charging zone. It applies between 07:00 and 18:00 Monday to Friday and between 12:00 and 18:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. It is in operation every day of the year apart from between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day bank Holiday (inclusive). The easiest way to pay is by setting up Auto Pay. Exemptions and discounts are available too.

Remember the Congestion Charge and the ULEZ charge are not the same charge. Many drivers have to pay both charges to drive into London.

Ultra Low Emission Zone

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) now operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year except Christmas Day. The zone now covers all areas inside the North and South Circular Roads. The North Circular (A406) and South Circular (A205) roads are not in the zone. Most vehicles, including cars and vans, need to meet the ULEZ emissions standards or their drivers must pay a daily charge to drive within the zone.

Charges:

  • £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes)
  • £100 for heavier vehicles, including lorries (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses/coaches (over 5 tonnes)

Check your vehicle and its charge.