Travel

Airports

The main airports for London are Heathrow and Gatwick, with Stanstead, Luton and City also servicing the city. Each airport has different travel options and times into London, so it is best to check flight details carefully.

Heathrow is the closest major airport to London, but due to traffic congestion travel times by car can take over an hour. The quickest way into central London is by the Heathrow Express, which takes 15 minutes and runs every 15 minutes to and from Paddington railway station.

A number of airlines operate domestic flights between cities such as London, Manchester, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Plymouth, Bristol, Cardiff and Southampton. These airports also link into the international flight network.

Ground transport

Train

London has the oldest underground rail system known as the ‘tube’ in the world. Other local rail services such as the London Overground, DLR and National Rail also service London and extend beyond the Tube network.

Fares are divided into travel zones and a variety of passes are available. In London, you can purchase paper tickets or an Oyster smartcard, which holds pay as you go credit and can be used to travel on bus, Tube, Tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services. You can purchase an Oyster card from most stations, London Information Centres and Oyster ticket shops.

Journeys by train and other modes of public transport can be planned online using the TFL Journey Planner.

For travel around the UK the train network is a viable option and timetable and fare information can be found at National Rail. Advanced purchase tickets can offer significant savings from tickets purchased on the day.

Bus

London buses are a quick, convenient and cheap way to travel around the city. Cash is no longer accepted for London buses and you must use an Oyster card or a travel card.

National Express runs a nation-wide coach service connecting the main cities and towns.

Taxi

London black cabs are instantly recognisable and can be booked in advance, hailed on the street or picked up from designated taxi ranks. The drivers undertake a lengthy training period and will know how to get to any location in London. It can however be useful to know the postcode of your destination when visiting businesses. Fares are metered and many black cabs do not take credit cards.

In London, only black cabs can be hailed on the street and Mini cabs (ordinary cars) must be pre-booked, any non-black cab stopping for your hail will be unregulated. Outside of London local authorities regulate mini cabs and they can be found at stations, on cab ranks or the Yellow Pages or by asking your hotel.

Car

A range of car hire companies operate from Britain’s airports and ports and most have a representative in every city and large town. If you plan to drive in the UK the following points may be of assistance:

  • The UK drive on the left, the same as Australia.
  • The UK has an extensive road network, with motorways (prefixed ‘M’) and ‘A’ roads being the major routes.
  • Road signs show distances in miles, not kilometres.
  • Parking can be very difficult in major cities, e.g. the maximum waiting time on a London parking meter is 20 minutes.
  • There are no road tolls, except on some bridges.

London was the world's first major city to introduce a Congestion Charge to reduce the flow of traffic into and around the city centre. Most vehicles entering Central London will need to prepay a per day fee online.

Ferry

The UK has ferry links to France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Hotels

There is a wide range of accommodation for all budgets.

Dining

There is a wide range of dining options for all budgets.

Tipping

Some restaurants will add an optional service charge of 12.5 per cent to the bill. Where this is the case no additional tip is required and if the service has not been sufficient you may request to have the charge removed.

In other cases, tips for waiters and cab drivers should be no more than 10 per cent where the service was excellent; in the case of average service you should not feel compelled to tip all.

No tipping is required where drinks are bought across a bar.

Tourist attractions

The UK is a major tourist destination and sources of information include: