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 fare for tickets on any form of transport in London. The full-fare means buying a single ticket from an underground/train station ticket machine. It’s cheaper to buy a pass or use another payment method.
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 £5 but you can get this refunded after 48-hours.
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.
One day or weekly bus pass
Bus passes are available for one day or 7 days for unlimited travel for the whole of London.
One day, weekly or monthly Travelcards
Travelcards are travel passes for unlimited travel within certain zones.
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 intended 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 are higher (apart from the buses). Full prices for all zones are on the ticket type pages.
Best London transport ticket or pass for 1,2,3, 4 or 5 day visits
For short trips to London a Pay as you go Oyster card or a contactless debit/credit card are the cheapest ways to pay for transport.
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. If you don’t want to keep your Oyster card for another visit, you can get a refund on the money you don’t use.
For travel in zone 1-2:
- Single tickets on the underground cost £2.40 with an Oyster card/contactless card. The full fare is £4.90
- If you use your card to pay for transport in central London for the whole day, the ‘daily cap’ – the maximum amount deducted is £7.20.
The next best option, if you don’t have an Oyster or a contactless card, is a One Day Travelcard. It’s £13.50 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 £1.50 for as many bus journeys as you want within an hour if you use an Oyster/contactless card. (You can’t pay on a bus).
- If you use an Oyster/contactless card to pay for bus travel for the whole day, the maximum amount deducted from your card is £4.50
If you don’t have an Oyster or a contactless card, a One Day Bus pass costs £5
- 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
Top Tip: For anyone staying in central London the London Cycle Hire Scheme costs £2 per day if you use it for journeys under 30 minutes.
Best London transport ticket or pass for 6 or 7 day visits
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 £36.10
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 is £21.20.
Top Tip: If you’re visiting London with another person and plan to visit museums, galleries or tourist attractions that charge an admission fee, it’s possible to get 2 for the price of 1 vouchers if you buy a one day or weekly Travelcard from a train station. See our guide to 2 for 1 offers for full details.
Ticket costs by length of visit
The tables below show the cheapest ticket to buy for stays between 1-7 days.
|Bus-Only Travel for All Zones: 2020|
|1 Day Bus Cap||1 Day Bus Pass||7 Day Bus Pass|
|Underground, Train and Bus Travel in Zone 1–2: 2020|
|1 Day Cap||1 Day Travelcard||7 Day Travelcard|
The One Day Cap is available with an Oyster card or Contactless debit or credit card.
- London transport zones
- Oyster cards
- Contactless cards
- Bus tickets & passes
- Child tickets & passes
Last updated: 2 January 2020