London Transportation

We are 1st timers planning a trip to London. Will be taking the First Great Western Train from Paddington Station to Bodmin Parkway first for a few days and then returning to London for 5 days of sightseeing. Trying to figure out if should get a Travel Card, an Oyster Card or London pass or...any advice greatly appreciated.
Thanks

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1328 posts

hi, im a solo traveler so i used the Oyster card. however, if you are not solo, there are other options that others in the know will chime in. also, you may want to say how many in your party so they can give better info. happy trails.

Posted by Peter
DELTONA, FL - Flori, USA
8 posts

Hi Ray, There are 2 of us. Thanks for the info.

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
149 posts

Hello Peter, Generally speaking, the London Pass is not the best value. As I recall, the London pass and the Travel card are the same thing. As far as transportation is concerned you have two choices for tube/bus - you can do individual tickets or get an Oyster card which is basically a "pay as you go" card. You put however much you think you will need on it and then swipe it each time you enter the tube. If you will be using the tube a lot (and I haven't done the math to figure out what the break even is on this) then the Oyster might be the best value for you since the daily rate is capped (see the Oyster card website for details on this). If you will just be using the tube to get to and from your first/last sightseeing destination then individual tickets may be more cost effective for you - it really depends upon how much you are planning to use the tube. The Oyster card costs about 5 pounds - which is refundable when you turn in the card at the end of your stay. We tend to just use the Oyster card - it's easy and we don't have to bother with buying individual tickets (which BTW isn't a problem, we are just lazy!). Since we travel to London fairly often, we just keep our Oysters and top them up when we get to London.
Good luck and enjoy your trip!

Posted by Peter
DELTONA, FL - Flori, USA
8 posts

Hi Nancy,
Thanks so much for the info. Would you or anyone else know how to get from Paddington Station to County Hall. Enjoy your return visits! Thanks Again!

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1328 posts

hi again, i forgot to add... "Mind The Gap" happy trails.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2888 posts

Would you or anyone else know how to get from Paddington Station to County Hall. Take the Bakerloo line to Waterloo station.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2888 posts

As far as transit goes, For two people and five days, I'd suggest that you each buy a zone 1-2 one week travelcard at Paddington station from the National Rail ticket office. You will need a photo (there are photo booths at Paddington). With the travelcard, you can take advantage of the 2 for 1 offers. See here: 2 for 1. The weekly zone 1-2 card will cost 30.40 GBP. For five days, you only need to take 3 trips a day to "break even" over an Oyster pay-as-you-go. You can also get an Oyster card and load a one week travelcard on it ... however, a travelcard on Oyster is not eligible for the 2 for 1 offers.

Posted by Peter
DELTONA, FL - Flori, USA
8 posts

Hello Laura, Thanks so much for the info. Is there a Westminster stop after Waterloo? I heard that Westminster is closest to our destination. Thanks Again!

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2888 posts

Where are you staying? I used to live in a flat a block from County Hall. Westminster is on the other side of the river from County Hall and it is on a different line. You'd have to change tube lines to get there from Paddington. Waterloo is a direct ride. Either Westminster or Waterloo are equally close to County Hall. If you are at the Premier Inn or the Marriott County Hall, then Waterloo is just as close and it is a direct ride from Paddington. You want to take the exit that comes out on York Road (can't remember if it is labeled "South Bank" or "York Road".

Posted by Peter
DELTONA, FL - Flori, USA
8 posts

Laura,
Thanks for all of the info. We are staying at the Marriott County Hall. We are thinking of buying our rail tickets online for our side trip to Bodmin Parkway while in the States and then just go to Paddington to pick them up at the ticket office. Seems like cheaper rates to buy in advance. Since the credit cards in the states are chip and signature vs chip and pin, FGW said that we have to pick tickets up at the window vs kiosk. Someone else said that the Waterloo stop was farther than Westminster for our hotel? Since our hotel seems like it's in a central tourist area, not sure if we'd travel 3 trips a day but then, we can use it for a bus also and the discounts would be great. Is there a special line for tourist sites if using a travel card...would help reduce waiting in lines. Again, appreciated the info...if you have any other trips for the first time London Travelers, send them on!

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1328 posts

@ Peter, Again, appreciated the info...if you have any other trips for the first time London Travelers, send them on! Yes, HAVE FUN! Once you get there there are pocket size tube maps in the stations. I p/u one to use and it came in handy. They also have them plastered in the cars and stations. i just found it more handy to have it in my pocket. you can skip using the tube if you want, but i used it alot since my purpose was to see all that i had planned on for that day. I didnt want to start missing the things i wanted to do or see. If i saw all that i wanted that day, then i did the walking. but thats how i did it. happy trails.

Posted by Peter
DELTONA, FL - Flori, USA
8 posts

Hello Ray, Thanks for the info. We will travel with a map in our pocket now that we know!
Thanks Again

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8724 posts

Peter, The advice you got from Laura is spot on; including that about County Hall which is right on. So is the advice about the 2 for 1 Days Out promotion. Do be sure that your Travelcard (must be valid on the day of the visit to the attraction) is issued by a National Rail station and NOT issued by the Underground. For any train ticket - and that's what a National Rail issued Travelcard boils down to - to be valid for the promotion it MUST have the "Crows Feet" logo on it. If it has the London Underground Roundel logo it won't be accepted. The promotion is underwritten by the National Rail companies. All the information is on the website given just above. BTW - The London Pass is a completely different animal from the Travelcard - they aren't even issued by the same organization. I have never seen anybody on this Helpline say they were worth the money.

Posted by Peter
DELTONA, FL - Flori, USA
8 posts

Nigel, Thanks to you and Laura's advice, having lived near by, seems like we are ready to go! Thanks Again,
Peter

Posted by Thomas
Hermosa Beach, CA, USA
74 posts

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think the London Pass is for museums and other attractions (e.g. the London Eye) and the Travel Pass is for buses and subway travel. You can get the Travel Card with the London Pass but they're separate things. We were there in 2010 and used the London Pass extensively and feel like we got our money's worth. We also used the Tube and buses a lot so probably got our money's worth with that, too. This year we'll probably get Oysters because we'll do more walking and just hit a few museums. For a 1st timer it's nice to have it all covered up front and not have to worry about topping off.

Posted by Suz
Denver, USA
223 posts

I bought a London Pass a few years ago. Didn't get my money's worth from it, but some people do. The London Pass people also sell a travelcard. That's totally not necessary to buy from them. Just get an Oystercard or paper Travelcard when you arrive.