Noisy, vibrant and truly multicultural, London is a megalopolis of people, ideas and frenetic energy. The capital and largest city of England, and of the wider United Kingdom, it is also the largest city in Western Europe and the European Union. Situated on the River Thames in South-East England, Greater London has an official population of a little over 8 million, but the estimate of between 12 and 14 million people in the greater metropolitan area better reflects its size and importance. Considered one of the world's leading "global cities", London remains an international capital of culture, music, education, fashion, politics, finance and trade. Among international tourists, London is the most-visited city in the world.
London has one of the most comprehensive public transport systems in the world. Despite residents' perpetual (and sometimes justified) grumbling about unreliability, public transport is often the best option for getting anywhere for visitors and residents alike. In central London use a combination of the transport options listed below - and check your map: in many cases you can easily walk from one place to another or use the buses. Be a Londoner and only use the Tube as a way of travelling longer distances.
You can buy single journey tickets at all tube stations which for “Zone 1” (which is the inner city) is £4.90 each. However instead of buying a ticket, you can use your contactless credit or debit card to swipe you through the gates, doing this reduces the cost of each journey to £2.40 (with a daily cap of £6.80. This elevates the need for worrying about buying tickets at tube stations.
Also there are easy to understand maps at all tube stations, but we would advise to look for an app on your phone that has the maps to download. These often let you search your to and from locations and the route is planned for you.
London's iconic red buses are recognised the world over, even if the traditional Routemaster buses, with an open rear platform and on-board conductor to collect fares, have mostly been phased out. These still run on the central section of route 15 daily between about 09:30 and 18:30, every 15 minutes. Buses are generally quicker than taking the Tube for shorter (less than a couple of stops on the Tube) trips, and out of central London you're likely to be closer to a bus stop than a Tube station. Most buses in London are very frequent (at least every ten minutes.) Buses are usually accessible for buggies and wheelchairs. Buses also have a flat rate fare which stays the same no matter how far you travel (you will need to pay the fare again if you board a different bus, although the Hopper fare allows you to take as many buses as you like in one hour and only pay for the first one). Over 5 million bus trips are made each weekday; with over 700 different bus routes you are never far from a bus. Each bus stop has a sign listing the routes that stop there. Bus routes are identified by numbers and sometimes letters. Buses have very clear blinds on the front, with their route number and their destination.
London is a surprisingly compact city, making it a walker's delight. In many instances, walking is the quickest method of transport between two points. Because Britain drives on the left hand side of the road, for most foreign visitors it can be all too easy to forget that traffic will come at you from the opposite direction than you are used to when crossing a street - for this reason remember to look right when you cross the road. If you are using a pedestrian crossing, don't think it's safe to risk it, even if you can't see any traffic coming: Wait for the green man to appear and then cross quickly and carefully. Some pedestrian crossings now have countdown timers to indicate how long it will be safe to cross for.
Due to the expense of other forms of transport and the compactness of central London, cycling is a tempting option. Free cycle maps can usually be obtained from your local Tube station or bike shop. Most major roads in London will have a bus lane which is restricted to buses, taxis and bicycles. Many improvements have been made for cyclists in the city over the last few years, Noticeably, there are many new signposted cycle routes and new cycle lanes as well as a review of junctions considered dangerous for cycling. Despite ongoing improvements, however, London remains a relatively hostile environment for cyclists. The kind of contiguous cycle lane network found in many other European cities does not exist. The safest option is to stick to minor residential roads where traffic can be surprisingly calm outside rush hours.
Despite having a perhaps fair reputation for being unsettled, London enjoys a mild climate on average. As much as one in three days on average will bring rain, though sometimes for only a short period. In some years, 2012 being an example, there was no rain for several weeks. The fact that Londoners would find this remarkable should be an indication to visitors from drier climates of what they may be in for!
Extreme weather is rare. Occasionally there may be heavy rain that can bring localised flooding or strong winds that may down trees and damage roofs, but overall you are unlikely to encounter anything too lively.
The currency used in London is the British Pound.
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