So your new to London, here for the Olympics and wonder how to get around this megacitytropolis. Well here’s it’s not necessarily as hard as it may seem.
Don’t hire a car! Most of the Olympic events do not have any parking, and frankly you will spend most of your time just stuck waiting for the traffic to go somewhere.
Saying that though, London is a busy city. There’s over 12 million people in Greater London. Every day (pre Olympics) 4 million people take the tube, and about 8 million people use the buses. So there’s a lot of people on public transport normally, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it copes.
Here’s some options – Tube / Train / Cycle / Walk / Everything else
Personally the tube is great, when it’s working. As parts of it are the oldest underground system in the world (but not all of it, despite what Boris Johnston wants to tell you) it’s a bit prone to breaking down regularly.
To work out where you can go get an underground map from your Local Underground station or online tube maps
But one important thing to remember, is this is NOT a too scale map. Often you will find within Central London it’s a lot quicker and easier just to walk somewhere rather than tube. For example Covent Garden to Leicester Square is only a 200 metre journey!
So once you know where you want to go, if you have any changes between the different tube lines it can be better to do it at some stations instead of others. For example going from Bank to Monument is actually a good 10 minute walk to so, yet at Baker Street to change from the Jubilee line to the Bakerloo line you just have to cross across a platform, no up and down stairs required.
But watch out for travel “hotspots”. Some stations will be a lot busier than normal during the games, check out the full details on the Get Ahead of the Games site
Find out if your journey will have problems, by
– Signing up for email alerts
– “Following” on Twitter the tube lines you are interested in – http://www.tfl.gov.uk/socialmedia/
– If you have a smartphone then get an app for it – Tube Status for iphone / Tube Status (different app) for Android
And follow my Top Tips for the Underground – link to Top 10
If your really slick and want to work out which carriage to get out of for which exit, then check out the “Tube Exits” iphone app
Often depending on where your travelling from and to it can be a lot quicker (and sometimes nicer) to travel by Train. Remember as well this includes the Overground (Orange Line), which shows up on the Underground map. Also with the Olympics there is going to be a special “speed” train from Kings Cross to Stratford which will only take 10 minutes! It’s called the “Javelin”, though it might be a bit overwhelmed
The main way that many millions of Londoners get around is via the Buses. Over the last year or two they have improved a lot, well especially on telling you when the damn things will turn up!
You can check out Live Departure Boards, to see where all the buses currently are.
If your at a bus stop there should be a code on it that you can text and find out when the next bus is actually coming along.
Just remember that the buses can get very squeezy, and you’ll have people getting on and off the bus every few hundred metres, especially in Central London, so often it can be easier to..
Cycling journeys have increased greatly in London in the last few years. More and more cyclists on the road. However it is still a bit of a dangerous thing depending on where you going. We here have been doing it for several years and all the parts are still in the right place! Now you don’t even need to have your own bike, you can just hire one for a few minutes/hours from any of the Barclay Bike stations located around London. (Though they aren’t close to the Olympic Stadium due to the whole sponsor clash thing)
If you have a smartphone there a number of great apps that you can get for use with the bikes. They will show you the nearest cycle stations near you that have bikes, and then once you get one you can find where the nearest places are that have slots for you to drop one back.
Iphone wise – The Barclay’s Cycle Hire App is good
Android Wise – Try the Cycle Hire widget – (this one even covers other bike schemes around the world!)
If you want you can even join in with another group of people and cycle to the games
As mentioned earlier, a lot of the time you can find it quicker and easier just to walk where you want to go. Well especially in Central London. According to the helpful walking website, there are 47 tube journeys that can be walked in under 10 minutes!
If you want to walk to the games, you can join in with a number of other people who will be as well
While these are the main ways of getting around London, there are always lots of other random ways of travelling around, depending on where you live and where you want to get to. River boats are quite quick and a nice way to get a different view of London too
There’s the new Gondola, apparently the most expensive Cable Car system ever built! –
While if you just want to go round and round in a circle there’s always The London Eye 😉