Get Around London Like a Local

get around london

I want to share my tips to get around London with the least amount of fuss! The last time we flew into Heathrow we took the Heathrow Express, but there are other options to get into central London and I think better than the Express service depending on where you’re going in London. Once you’re in the city you’ll also want to know the best way to get around London and beyond.

First let’s talk about how to get from Heathrow to central London.


1. Heathrow Express is a dedicated overground train you pick up at the airport terminal which takes you to Paddington station in north London. We paid £28.60 for two one way tickets using the 30 Day Advance Express Saver rate. You can book a ticket online at Heathrow Express.
  • At Paddington you can connect to the Central, District Hammersmith/City or Bakerloo Underground line.
  • At Paddington, you can also grab a taxi or Uber to your final stop. We paid about £20. for a taxi from Paddington to Westminster area.
  • Keep in mind if you have a lot of heavy luggage, you may need to navigate stairs and many turnstiles if you choose to use the Underground/Tube routes, so a taxi may be easier, especially if you are sleep deprived after an over night flight!
2. Underground. Heathrow Airport is also served directly by the Piccadilly line (Underground/Tube) which connects to South Kensington, Green Park and Kings Cross-St. Pancras stations directly and you can change Tube stops to get to your final destination. Same rules apply. If you have to change to a different line, keep in mind your luggage may be tricky to maneuver through turnstiles and up stairs. This is cheaper than Heathrow Express, as you just need an Oyster card to pay for your tube ride. (see below)
3. Taxi or Uber. If you prefer to be picked up at Heathrow, ask your hotel or a local friend to book a taxi or car service. Expect to pay about £80.-100. to the center of London (one way). Uber is an alternative and may or may not be cheaper.
Give your airline and flight arrival departure when you book your ride. The driver of our car service waited for us to come out of customs and as they have to pay to park in the garage if your flight is delayed etc., this is included in the flat rate.

4. National Express also runs a very reliable bus/coach service from Heathrow to London and beyond. I recently took the coach from Brighton to Heathrow. There were about 6-7 stops and the journey took about 2 hours and cost £26. one way. This coach also stops at Gatwick Airport.

5. Rental Car. Last but not least, if you’re hiring a rental car at Heathrow, you’ll only need to be armed with a good GPS or Satnav and a willingness to learn to drive on the left side pronto! I would highly recommend you consider the timing of your arrival and departure as well. It will be a lot easier to navigate the M4 and the M25 in your rental car if it’s not rush hour.

Transport recommendations and tips to get around London.
  • Get an Oyster card (like a travel debit card). If you want to keep it simple, and your visit isn’t a long one, the Oyster is the easiest way to use the Underground (Tube), which will get you to just about any where you need to go in the greater London area.  You walk into any underground (or overground) station and there will be a bank of what look like ATM’s. This is where you buy an Oyster card with your debit or credit card. You can buy the card in any amount and then continually “top it up” as needed. For example if you’re going to be in London for a week or more, start with £20. You can also use these machines to check your balance. Just swipe your card against the magnetic disc.
  • Each time you go through a turnstile you swipe the card against the card reader disc to open the gate. You’ll go down into the tube, travel to your destination, then swipe again as you leave the station. Make sure to swipe to close out your journey otherwise you’ll be charged for a full day.  The Oyster card is valid on the tube and on London buses.
  • Make sure you get a little map of the Tube when you first get to London (you should find them in the stations, just ask)
  • I also recommend carrying a small street map which shows the Tube stations as well as streets so you can plan your route. I used the map from my Frommer’s London Day by Day guide.
  • Trainline. Get the app or use the online site. This is the easiest way to buy any overground train to anywhere in the UK. You search and buy your ticket on the app, purchase it with a CC (which can be stored) and then pick up your physical ticket at any station. There will be bank of ticket machines clearly marked for ticket pickup. Have the same CC you used to purchase handy to swipe (it won’t be charged again it’s just an identifier) as well as the reservation number on your ticket. You can also buy National Express coach bus tickets with the Trainline app.
  • If you time it right, you’ll get the best deals a few months in advance on Trainline. Routes typically aren’t offered up more than six months in advance so keep an eye on any you’re interested in. For example, in January I booked a one way ticket for £5. from London to Brighton for travel in March. If I’d booked it as close as a week ahead that same ticket would have been £20+. In the UK, tickets are released 12 weeks in advance, so don’t be surprised if you can’t book a ticket further ahead.
  • Before you book a hotel or Airbnb, look at how close the nearest tube station will be. Yes, you can get around on buses or taxis, but the closer a mainline station is the better. You’ll be walking a lot and after a heavy day of sight seeing, you’ll be glad you don’t have to go through hoops to get “home”.  I was very happy the hotel we chose was just a 10 minute walk from the Pimlico station on the Victoria line and only 10 minutes drive from the Victoria main station.

Enjoy your time in London and if you want the details on how I planned our trip to London-Paris-Edinburgh, you can grab it here!







After a long career in advertising and technology, I started an interior design business at the height of the crash. I’m passionate about being creative and helping others reinvent their life. I restarted mine at 50+ and have never been happier. How can I help you?

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