The metropolis of Greater London, the dynamic capital of the United Kingdom located in England, is divided into 33 boroughs. These smaller districts each have distinct characteristics and histories.

  • Capital of the United Kingdom
  • Currency — Pound Sterling
  • City of London is the financial center of the 33 boroughs that make up Greater London
  • Heathrow Express — best transportation from the airport, taking just 15 minutes to travel between the London Heathrow Airport and Paddington Station in London
  • London Underground, aka “the Tube,” the local under- and over-ground rail system makes the whole city very accessible
  • Central London is very walkable with major sites in relatively close proximity
  • River Thames — hop-on, hop-off river cruises are a relaxing and scenic way to travel through the center of the city

The London Underground

In our visit to Northwestern Europe, we utilized the Tube while in London to transport us to key points of interest. We planned to walk as much as possible, focusing exploration on the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, the City of Westminster, and the City of London; we would visit parts of Camden and Islington, as well as the northwestern portion of Southwark (pronounced “suth-ak”) and the western-most portion of Greenwich (pronounced “gren-ich”), along the south bank of the Thames River (pronounced “tems”).

The London Underground, aka. the Tube, is the subway rail system that is very accessible throughout the city. Although we planned to primarily explore zone 1 and parts of zone 2, we wanted an unrestricted option. We purchased Oyster cards from a machine (located in any Tube station) for £5 each to be used in all zones, and which deduct a fare upon each journey.

Usage fees are determined by the distance traveled—touching the card to the yellow reader at start and end point gates of the journey ensures the correct fare is charged. Since we planned to use the cards on at least 6 days, we loaded each card with £20. For remaining funds no longer needed, “If your remaining credit is £10 or less, you can get a refund for the credit, and any deposit, from a Tube station ticket machine.”

We also asked the attendant (present in each station) to apply the “Young Visitor’s discount” onto the cards of our two teenage boys for 1/2 price fare (which had to be re-applied upon our return to London, since the feature only lasts 2 weeks). There is a maximum daily debit charge of £6.40 for adult cards, £3.20 for young visitors (ages 11-15).

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