you need a valid ticket to use the Underground and bus. There are several options for this, which we will list below.
It is important to know that there are peak hours in which a higher rate applies. These peak hours are from Monday to Friday between 06:30 and 09:30 and between 16:00 and 19:00. The Underground also uses zones. If the journey goes through multiple zones, you pay a higher rate. The zones are shown on this map.
Children up to the age of 11 travel for free in London, but must be accompanied by an adult. If you are traveling with a child, you must take the special entrance at the entrance to the Underground, this is clearly indicated.
Staff are present at every Underground station to assist where necessary.
There are several cards available: Day cards, the Oyster Card and the Travelcard. Below is all the information.
with a day ticket you can use the Underground and bus all day. The day ticket can be purchased from the ticket machines at the entrance of the Underground stations. Keep in mind that there are 2 variants, all-day and off-peak (see above).
There are no day tickets for sale on the bus, these can be purchased from the vending machines in the Underground station or in the Visitor Centres.
It is therefore not possible to buy a ticket on the bus!
To gain access, scan the day ticket at the Underground gates and show it to the bus driver.
The travelcard is a card that is valid for several days in the Underground and bus. When purchasing, you indicate in which zones you want to use it, how many days it should be valid and whether you also want to use it during rush hours (anytime) or only outside rush hours (off-peak).
The 7-day Travelcard can only be purchased at the Visitor Centres, but it is most convenient to purchase it via Visit Britain prior to your stay. You will then receive it at home, keep in mind that this takes about a week.
To gain access, scan the travel card at the Underground gates and show it to the bus driver.
the Oyster Card
An Oyster card is a smart card that you add money to, so you can pay as you go. The card can be purchased in advance through Visit Britain but can also be purchased from the ticket machines at the Underground stations. During the purchase you immediately indicate how much credit should be added to the card.
The card can also be loaded at the ticket machines at all Underground stations, Visitor Centers or at one of the 4000 Oyster Ticket Stops. Here is a link to find the nearest one.
Below is a handy video that shows you how to purchase an Oyster Card and how to put extra money on it
To gain access, hold the Oyster Card against the yellow button at the Underground and bus gates. Please note: you only need to hold the Oyster Card against the yellow button when entering the bus, this is not necessary when leaving the bus.
my own experience
in the summer of 2022 we went to London for 8 days. I had purchased a 7-day Travelcard for the 4 family members in advance, which was valid all day in zones 1-3.
After arriving at St Pancras we were able to go straight into the Underground, super easy.
Because our card was only valid for 7 days, a day ticket had to be bought for the last day. This was done via the ticket machine.