Getting Around London

Read The Fine Manuscript, aka the local website

The host shire of Thamesreach maintains a Visitors Section, because we get a regular stream of SCA visitors year round.

We've tried to highlight the most important bits about getting to London, getting around, eating and drinking, and enjoying your holy shrines and favourite museums and galleries.

SO: take a look through the pages, try some links, and then feel free to ask questions about your visit.

Really important planning tools

Transport for London is the organization that runs the buses, Tube and most (but not all!) local train services within London.

The TfL journey planner allows you to enter a site name, address or post code as your destination and it will offer you options about how to get there. Very very useful.

National Rail Journey Planner for planning and pricing trips out of the city by train. The key is that you need to know the name of the destination (preferably the station name) to plan your trip, though you can simply enter 'London' as your departure site. The planner will pick the most reasonable route.

London Accessibility

London is a medieval and Victorian city, with 20th and 21st century structure retrofitted around it.

The benefit is that the centre of the city is very compact, and many famous sights are close together.

The easiest, cheapest and most convenient way around the centre of the city is on foot.

Streets are narrow, sidewalks (called pavements here) sometimes disappear around tight corners, and surfaces range from cobbled to paved (that means 'covered with paving stones') to concrete to asphalt roads. Curb heights vary from high to carefully graded.

If you have any problems with walking more than 10 minutes at a time, you need to plan carefully to get around the city, to enjoy your visit.

Transport for London Accessibility webpages for details about getting around on the Tube, bus, and other public transport routes

Important travel tips for visitors to London

Must-haves, to bring with you, or pick up at the airport:

Comfy walking shoes

In fact, bring two pair. You'll walk more in London than at home, I can almost guarantee it!

Oyster card

This is the electronic pass for travelling on the Tube, overground train and buses, that you 'top up' with cash.
Cost: £3 reclaim-able deposit for the card, plus the money you 'top up' with at any Tube station (and some corner stores).

An Oyster card will save you a bundle on fares, compared to paying with cash.

Try to pick this up at your very first Tube, train or DLR stop, then you don't have to worry about paper tickets or cash for public transport

Wheelie luggage

If you haven't flown lately, you might not realise that the newest luggage comes with wheels - some very swishy! but available on the cheap end too.

Heathrow is a big airport, and you'll be towing your luggage through it some distance, as well as on some London streets before or after the event. If you aren't a backpacker, rolling luggage is a great investment.

If you don't have one, beg, borrow or steal from your family or friends. It'll make a world of difference at the London end of the trip!

US to UK power adapter

Already mentioned on the discussion list.

Items that are strongly recommended, from experienced travellers and Londoners…

London 'AtoZ'

The gold-standard mapbook for London. Available in a pocket-sized 'mini' edition for £6 at the airport, OR get downloads to your PDA.

Free tourist maps do not show all the streets - if you're going to do any walking around London, you need a decent map. You can always pass it on to the next London visitor from your home group.

A cellphone

…called a 'mobile' here. This is invaluable for connecting with people on the move. Very popular in the UK and Europe, near 100% coverage in most cities.

If you have a US tri-/quad-band phone, you can probably use it here. Check with your service provider AND check what they'll charge you for 'roaming' calls.
You could also buy a local SIM card, if your phone is compatible.

If you don't have a mobile already, you can buy a very cheap pay-as-you-go one here for £10, plus £10 calling credit. Again, worth passing on to the next traveller from your group.

And at the risk of sounding like your mother…

Pickpockets and purse snatchers can see tourists and non-natives a mile away. Happy, relaxed adults wandering around town during the day are an easy mark.
So keep a firm hold on your wallets, cameras and PDAs in crowded places.

One American guest told me: he was in a line to the bank machine, when a man 'stumbled' into him, and our guest's wallet and passport fell out of his (own) jacket pocket. So the thief didn't quite pull it off, but it was a near miss.

Please don't underestimate thieves' creativity and speed. We'd hate to see your trip spoiled by a theft.

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