London is divided into travel zones which determine the price of travel on public transport across the city. Therefore, it’s good to understand the London travel zones so you know which Travelcard you need to buy, and it’s a particularly important consideration when choosing where to stay in London. The further your accommodation is from the city centre, the more expensive it will be to travel into the city daily to visit tourist attractions and places of interest.
London is divided into nine radial zones. Looking at the London Underground tube map, you can see that zone 1 is the centre of London, with zones 2-9 extending out in a circle around it.
What to bear in mind about London travel zones when planning a trip to London
Most of London’s most famous tourist attractions are located in the city centre within London’s transport zone one. Here you will find some of the most iconic places of the British capital, including Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, Big Ben, most of London´s top museums and West-End Musicals.
Some of London´s most famous neighbourhoods are also located in zone 1, such as Notting Hill, Chelsea and Kensington.
The most visited tourist attraction outside of zone 1 in London is probably Camden Market which is located in zone 2.
To travel between zones 1 and 9 on public transport, including underground, overground, DLR, buses, trams and trains and even some riverboat services, you can use one of London´s transport cards, such as the Oyster Card or a London Travelcard, or you can even use a contactless debit or credit card.
Stansted and Luton airports are located outside of the London transport zones, so it’s necessary to buy a specific train or bus ticket to get to and from these airports. You can´t use your oyster card or travelcard for these journeys.
Gatwick Airport is also located outside of London, but you can use an Oyster card or contactless payment to travel from Gatwick Airport to London and vice versa.
Heathrow and London City airports are both located within the London travel zones. Therefore, to travel to and from these two airports, you can use Contactless, Oyster Card or Travelcard.
London Travel Zones Map
The best thing to do is look at London´s Tube Map before you travel to London, to familiarise yourself with it. You can find this here: London TFL Tube Map. You will be able to see the different travel zones outlined in this map easily.
What area to stay in when visiting London
If you’re planning a trip to London, the closer you stay to the centre of London, the cheaper your transport costs will be each day, and the less time you’ll spend travelling by underground or bus. Therefore, we highly recommend looking for hotels within London travel zones 1 or 2. You can find more detailed information on where to stay in London here, as well as some recommended hotels within zones 1 or 2.
What areas to look at when deciding to live in London
If you are looking for a place to live in London, it’s often a good idea to take into account the area that you work in. The less distance and zones that you have to commute through each day, the less time and money you’ll spend on travel.
That said, it’s pretty expensive to live in zone 1 of London, so it’s normal to live outside the city centre. We recommend looking at zones 2 and 3 where accommodation is more affordable, yet you can quickly travel into the centre of London on the tube.