In the previous post we talked about Travelcards and Oystercards and the zones in London (pdf map), but we only touched on Zones 1 and 2. We mentioned that Zone 1 is primarily Central London, and Zone 2 is the surrounding area. Getting a 7-day Travelcard for just Zones 1 and 2 is about $45 cheaper than getting one for Zones 1-6 ($55 instead of $99). So, the question is, how much travel do you plan to do outside of Zones 1 or 2?
When we were there, we wanted to visit a number of museums, to see Abbey Road Studios (and the zebra crossing, of course), and Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Globe Theatre, the London Eye, and whatever else we could cram into our four full days there. Here’s a list of some of the sights in London, and the zones they’re in. You can see that most of the typical tourist sites are in Zones 1 and 2.
Inside Zones 1 and 2:
Covent Garden – Zone 1
Big Ben – Zone 1
British Museum – Zone 1
Buckingham Palace – Zone 1
Harrods – Zone 1
Hyde Park – Zone 1
Kensington Gardens – Zone 1
London Bridge – Zone 1
London Eye – Zone 1
London Zoo – Zone 1
Notting Hill – Zone 1
Parliament – Zone 1
Piccadilly Circus – Zone 1
Royal Albert Hall – Zone 1
Royal Mews – Zone 1
St. James Palace – Zone 1
St. Paul’s Cathedral – Zone 1
Tower of London – Zone 1
Trafalgar Square – Zone 1
Victoria and Albert Museum – Zone 1
Abbey Road – Zone 2
Camden Market – Zone 2
Dulwich Picture Gallery – Zone 2
Emirates Stadium – Zone 2
Greenwich – Zone 2
Outside 1 and 2:
Kew Gardens – Zone 3
Westfield Stratford – Zone 3
White Hart Lane Stadium – Zone 3
William Morris Gallery – Zone 3
Wimbledon – Zone 3
RAF Museum Hendon – Zone 4
Wembley Stadium – Zone 4
Twickenham Rugby Stadium – Zone 5
Hampton Court Palace – Zone 6
Heathrow Airport – Zone 6
These are just a fraction of what there is to see and do in London. If you have some other suggested attractions, please list them in the comments below.
If you want to visit a particular site, and don’t know what zone it’s in, try Googling the attraction. Most websites will have some information telling you how to get there. Compare the information at their web site with one of the Tube maps to find the zone. For example, the Royal Albert Hall’s site has a Getting Here page. Their map (see below) shows the concert hall on Kensington Road, halfway between the High Street Kensington and the Knightsbridge Tube stations, and about the same distance north of the Gloucester Road and the South Kensington Tube stations.
Now look at those four stations on the Tube map, and you will see that the Royal Albert is clearly within Zone 1 because all four stations are, although they are close to the western edge of Zone 1.
Transport for London has a web page that has nine different Tube maps and brochures, including some which are guides for taking bicycles on the Tube, for step-free travel and avoiding stairs (for those with impaired mobility), and which stations have toilet facilities, etc.
Speaking of bicycles, if you’re into cycling and not afraid of cycling in traffic, getting around on a bicycle in London is do-able. You can rent a bike in several locations. See London’s Cycle Hire Scheme (AmE – rental plan), and check out these biking routes and maps, and this info about a Thames Cultural Cycling Tour.
If you’re not driving in London (and I don’t recommend it), you will still probably need to get into the city (and back out again), probably from one of two airports (most of you will fly into Heathrow, and some of you into Gatwick). Some of you will land at Stansed, Luton, City, or Southend airports, but Heathrow and Gatwick handle 104 million passengers out of 134 million each year (roughly 70,000 of them at Heathrow and 34,000 at Gatwick). Heathrow is about fifteen miles west of central London. A taxi from the airport to the Victoria Station area, then back to the airport can be as little as £75 (for a sedan, BrE = saloon car), or as much as £285 (for a 16-seat minibus). I’m basing this on round-trip (BrE, return) prices at several of the taxi companies operating in the area. Just Google “taxi Heathrow to London” to see several of them. (Note: Those were the upper and lower range of vehicles and prices. You can hire anything in between sedans and huge minibuses, including station wagons and a range of vans and minibuses of various capacities).
Side Note: Throughout the blog, I’m using two adult people traveling together as a reference point for most cost calculations (because there were two of us), and I’m basing some of those calculations on arrivals and departures from Victoria Station (because we stayed very close to there).
For longer distances, take a coach. Our tickets on the National Express Coach from Windsor to Victoria Station, then from Victoria Station back to Heathrow, cost us £14 (for both of us), and Windsor is farther from London than Heathrow (outside of Zone 6, in fact), but if you do have sixteen people, choosing a minivan and splitting the £285 sixteen ways (for about £18 each) is a viable option, because you would still have to find transport from Victoria Station if you took the Coach, and a van (or other vehicle with a driver) will drive you right to your hotel. We could have taken a coach from Heathrow to Bath for a very reasonable price.
I hope this helped. There are obviously tons of ways to get into and around London. If you have any suggestions, we’d loved to hear them. Please use the comment box below.