The London travelcard is a transport pass which entitles you to unlimited travel on London’s public transport. You can use a travelcard to travel on the London Underground, overground, public buses, DLR (docklands light rail), TFL rail and other trains, as long as you travel within London’s travel zones.
It is designed for people who are planning on using London’s public transport a lot when visiting London or for people who commute into London on a daily basis, but a London Travelcard may sometimes not be the cheapest option even if does entitle you to unlimited travel.
London Travelcard: What do I need to know before I buy one?
When buying a travelcard there are three things that you need to know:
1. The duration of the card:
You can buy a travelcard for one day, 7 days, one month or annual.
2. The transport zones of London:
When you buy a travelcard you need to choose what travel zones you want use. If you are going to travel between zones 1 and 2, you will need a travelcard that is valid for these two zones, but if you are going to travel between zones 1 and 5 every day, you will need a travelcard that covers zones 1 to 5. This does not apply to travelling by bus, as any travelcard will allow you to travel on buses to and from any zone within London’s travel zones. So for example, if you have a travelcar for zones 1 and 2, you can still use a bus to get to zone 3 or zone 5 with that travelcard at no extra cost.
Most of London’s tourist attractions are located in zone 1, and only a few of the most popular attractions can be found outside zone 1, such as Camden Town Market which is in zone 2. Make sure you know what zone your hotel is in before you buy a travelcard.
3. Off-peak or Anytime
If you are buying a 1 day travelcard (which we don’t normally recommend as an oyster card has a daily cap that is cheaper than a one day travelcard) you will have to choose if you want it to travel anytime of the day, or just during off-peak times (Monday – Friday from 9.30 am; all day Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays).
This does not affect 1 day travelcards for zones 1 to 4, so if you are visiting London you probably don’t need to worry about this at all as you are unlikely to be travelling to zone 5, 6 or beyond.
Which Travelcard to buy if you are planning a trip to London
1 day Travelcard
The price of the 1 day London travelcard (2018) for zones 1, 1-2, 1-3 and 1-4 is £12.70. We don’t normally recommend using the 1 day travelcard, as it is actually cheaper to you use an oyster card or contactless card (if you are a UK resident as you won’t get charged extras) as this methods of payment have a daily cap, There is a daily cap of £6.80 for travel within zones 1-2; a daily cap of £8.00 for zones 1-3 and a daily cap of £9.80 for zones 1-4 when you use oyster or contactless. Once you have reached this daily cap you will be able to travel within the same travel zones free.
7 day Travelcard
The 7 day travelcard for London travel zones 1-2 costs £34.10 (2018) . When comparing oyster card (or contactless) prices to a 7 day travelcard, I would probably say that it is convenient to get a 7 day travelcard if you are going to be travelling around London for more than 5 days. If you are going to be in London less than 5 days then I would recommend using an oyster card (or contactless if you are a UK resident).
Where to buy a London travelcard
> Buying a London Travelcard at an underground station
It is possible to buy a London travelcard at any underground station in London, by either using a ticket machine at the ticket office or a manned desk in a the ticket office (if available). When you buy a 7 day, monthly or annual London travelcard at an underground station you will normally get an oyster card with the travelcard incorporated in it. So your oyster card will be pre-loaded with the travelcard you have chosen. This way you can also use this oyster card with pay as you go for any trips that are not included in the travelcard.
So, as an example, if you have a 7 day travelcard for zones 1 – 4 in your oyster card, you will be entitles to unlimited journeys within these travel zones for 7 days, and you can use your oyster as you normally would, by touching in and touching out. But, if one day you need to go to zone 6, you will be able to use the same oyster with pay as you go balance. One example when this might happen, is if you arrive at Heathrow airport (zone 6) but you want to buy a 7 day travelcard for zones 1 – 4. It will be much cheaper to use they oyster card with pay as you go for the journey from Heathrow to central London and the journey from central London to Heathrow Airport on your last day and adding a 7 travelcard for zones 1 – 4, than using a 7 day travelcard for zones 1 – 6.
> Buying a London Travelcard at a train station
It is possible to buy a London travelcard at any train station located inside London’s Travel Zones. When you buy a travelcard at a train station, you will normally get a paper travelcard and not an oyster card.
Stansted, Luton or Gatwick airports are all outside London’s Travel Zones so these stations won’t normally sell travelcards.
> Buy a London Travelcard online
One of the easiest ways to buy a London travelcard is by buying it online. The price is exactly the same as what it would cost you to buy it in London but you will pay a little extra for delivery.
> Buy a London travelcard at Heathrow airport
London Travelcard: Fares 2018
|Travel Zones||1 day Travelcard||7 Day Travelcard|
|1 – 2||£12.70||£34.10|
|1 – 3||£12.70||£40.00|
|1 – 4||£12.70||£49.00|
|1 – 5||£18.10 peak / £12.70 off peak||£58.20|
|1 – 6||£18.10 peak / £12.70 off peak||£62.30|
Travelcard for children
Children under the age of 11 travel free within London travel zones. Children over 11 can also benefit from reduced fares, you can find out more about this in our article: Travelling in London with kids.
Find out more
For more information visit London’s official transport website: Transport For London
Hello! We moved to London (Yes, the best city in the world) in 2010, and since then we have been discovering everything that this fantastic city has to offer. We regularly plan our friends’ trips to London, so we thought we would create PlanTripLondon.com and share our suggestions with the world for everyone to be able to plan the perfect trip to London!