London

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What a time to be in London.

The UK’s largest city is revelling in a post-2012 Summer Olympics boom that has seen significant infrastructure improvements and unprecedented interest from foreign travellers; indeed, by most measures London has been one of the world’s two most-visited cities for the past few years (and counting). It’s easy to see why this truly global capital earns such unequivocal praise.

Few cities so effortlessly showcase and balance proud history with modern innovation and progressive outlooks. Timeless sights like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey are today joined by futuristic The Shard and 30 St Mary Axe (commonly known as the Gherkin). Young chefs have revitalized traditional British cuisine and spurred a thriving street food scene. London’s celebrated pub culture is alive and well, too, though locally brewed craft beer increasingly fills the pints.

Believe the hype—there’s never a bad moment in London.

Getting Around

Trains, taxis, buses, boats, bicycles—take your pick. Travelling in and around London is a cinch, albeit a costly one if you’re not careful.

To that end, visitors should plan to strap on a pair of comfortable shoes and discover the inimitable charms of UK’s capital city on foot as much as possible. When the weather cooperates—and that’s a big “when”—few things are more pleasant than strolling along the River Thames and exploring London’s pretty public squares, verdant gardens, and cobbled narrow roads. It’s quite possible to walk between many of the top museums and attractions, too.

When you need to get off your feet, however, a station for the well-connected London Underground, or Tube, is never far off, nor is a stop for one of the city’s roughly 8,500 red buses. Black Taxis are by far the most expensive means of transportation in London—ride sparingly.

By Metro Train

The world’s first underground railway system when it debuted in 1863 as the Metropolitan Railway, the London Underground comprises 11 lines, plus an overground line with some subterranean stretches. Trains run fast and frequent on The Tube, which operates from 5am to midnight on weekdays. In 2016, 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays was introduced to some lines, as well.

Prior to arrival London, tourists can purchase a Visitor Oyster Card preloaded with credit redeemable on trains and buses within the city. Otherwise, regular Oyster Cards are available at all Tube stations and are far more cost-effective than using single-journey tickets, which cost at least £2 (US$1.30) more than the same fare using an Oyster Card.

By Buses

London’s iconic red buses are a great way to see the city, especially if you manage to score a front-row seat on the top level of a double-decker. There are 19,500 bus stops within the greater London metropolitan area, so needless to say the route map is comprehensive and convenient for anywhere you want to go.

Cash is not accepted on London buses. Single-journey fares are £1.50 (US$2) and can be paid with a contactless credit or debit card, any Oyster Card with sufficient credit, or an unlimited travel pass. Note that passengers do not need to “tap out” when exiting the bus. 

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