Public transport in London is not cheap, and if you’re on a budget it’s worth spending time to make sure you buy the cheapest ticket or pass for your visit.
You should never pay the full cash fare for tickets on any form of transport in London. The full cash fare means buying a single paper ticket from an underground station ticket machine, either with cash or coins or with a debit/credit card.
It’s always cheaper to Pay as you go with a contactless debit/credit card or Oyster card or to buy a Travelcard or bus pass.
London Transport ticket/payment options
There are four main options to choose from and they all save you money compared to paying the full fare:
Pay as you go Oyster card
This is a card that you ‘top up’ with money to pay for cheaper single tickets and discounted rates for unlimited travel for the whole day (the ‘daily cap’). The Oyster card costs £7.
Contactless debit or credit card
Instead of an Oyster card, you can use a contactless debit or credit card. Fares are the same as the Pay as you go Oyster. You do not need to register your card to use it.
One day or weekly bus pass
Bus passes are available for 1 day or 7 days for unlimited travel for the whole of London.
One day, weekly or monthly Travelcards
Travelcards, Pay as you go Oyster cards and contactless debit/credit cards are valid on all types of transport in London:
- Underground (the tube)
- Local suburban trains
- London Overground
- Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
Please note: The ticket prices listed below are for visitors staying in zone 1 (central London) and zone 2. The information is still relevant if you stay outside zone 1-2, but the prices will be higher (apart from bus fares). Full prices for all zones are on the ticket type pages.
Best transport ticket or pass for 1,2,3, 4 or 5 day visits to London
For short trips to London paying with a contactless debit/credit card/device is the cheapest ways to pay for transport. The fares are the same with an Oyster card, but the card cost £7.
Single tickets cost much less than paying the full fare and if you use the underground for 3 or more journeys during the day, there’s a ‘daily cap’ — the maximum amount deducted from your card.
For travel in zone 1-2:
- Single tickets on the underground cost £2.50 with an Oyster card/contactless card. The full cash fare is £6.30.
- If you use your card to pay for transport in central London for the whole day, the ‘daily cap’ – the maximum amount deducted is £7.70.
The next best option, if you don’t have an Oyster or a contactless card, is a One Day Travelcard. It’s £14.40 for zones 1-4, but you still save money if you use it for 3 or more trips on the underground.
Is there anything cheaper?
Yes, don’t use the underground or trains and only use the buses. The ‘daily bus cap’ with a Pay as you go Oyster card or contactless card is the cheapest way to travel around London for the day.
For all zones:
- A bus fare is £1.65 for as many bus journeys as you want within one hour if you use an Oyster/contactless card. (Cash is not accepted on London buses)
- If you use an Oyster/contactless card to pay for bus travel for the whole day, the maximum amount deducted from your card is £4.95
If you don’t have an Oyster or a contactless card, a paper One Day Bus pass costs £5.50
- Read more about the Pay as you go Oyster card
- Read more about contactless cards
- Read more about bus tickets and passes
- Read more about One Day Travelcards
Best transport ticket or pass for 6 or 7 day visits to London
A 7 day weekly Travelcard is cheaper than paying for 6 ‘daily caps’ with a Pay as you go Oyster/contactless card.
- Zone 1-2 weekly Travelcard costs £38.40
If you think there will be a few days when you won’t be using public transport, use a Pay as you go Oyster card or contactless card instead.
Read more about Weekly Travelcards
Is there anything cheaper?
Again, if want to save money, make sure you only travel by bus; a Weekly Bus Pass (starts any day) or the Oyster/contactless weekly bus cap (Monday-Sunday) is £23.30
- London transport zones
- Oyster cards
- Contactless cards
- Bus tickets & passes
- Child tickets & passes
Last updated: 4 September 2022