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Best transportation pass for a 3 1/2 day stay in London.

My boyfriend and I are going to be spending 3 1/2 days in London on an upcoming backpacking trip through Europe.

I have heard of transportation passes like the oyster card, but it seems a bit expensive. Can any of you reccomend a transportation pass for two frugal students that will get us around the city? We are planning to see all the main sights, so no need for something that takes us out of city limits.

Is a transportation pass even necessary? Please give any and all opinions or options. We are planning on staying in Palmers Lodge Hostel which is located on 40 College Crescent, Swiss Cottage, London. I'm not sure what neighborhood this is in in London.

Thanks so much.

Posted by
286 posts

Think of the Oyster as a pay as you go card. First you need to purchase a card and then fill it with what you think will suit you... consider journeys to a from the airport, hostel, day trips etc.

I think central London is very walkable. If you are up for it you can definitely do it on the cheap. Oyster is the way to go if you intend on using any public transport because it will save you money.

Check out the fare page to get an idea of what the costs are.

Full price bus fare is £2 but with an Oyster it is only 90p.

Also, there is a daily price cap so if you do use the card a lot in one day you will not pay more than if you bought a day pass.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you for all your replies. They have been very helpful.

Im going to check out the travel card because of the 2for1 deals. Since my bf and I are travelling together, these could save us some money. If that doesnt seem worthwhile, I guess Ill go with the Oyster Card .. How much do you think is a good starting amount to load it with taking in consideration I have to take the tube due to my hostel location ??

And thanks for the great comments about the hostel Caitlin, its always good to hear nice things about a place we plan to stay in.

Thanks again everyone.

Posted by
291 posts

The absolute cheapest option is to purchase a bus pass each day at 3.50 GBP.
Most people will want to use an Oyster Card or Travelcard though so you can use on the Underground.

In Swiss Cottage you only need a zone 1/2 Travelcard not a zone 1/6 card that a lot of the agent will try and sell viistors on-line etc.
Oyster card has a cap of 4.80 GBP a day however much you travel.
Although Travelcards are slightly more expensive they may be best for you as you get access to loads of 2 for 1 offers geared to visitors.

There is a good comaprison explained at the url:

Posted by
525 posts

When you purchase an Oyster card, you pay a 3.00 GBP fee but when you are ready to leave London, go to the ticket window and turn the card in. You will receive the 3.00 GBP back. We bought the Oyster card since it was so easy to just swipe it going in to the tube and coming out. It was worth it. I did a lot of research before leaving for England and pondering what to do and ended up doing the Oyster Card. You can also load more on to the card if needed.

Posted by
104 posts

I would also recommend the Oyster Card, since it is so easy to use, and you can refund it, as explained above.

Palmer's Lodge is an amazing hostel - I stayed there this summer, and I thought it was great! It is very clean, and breakfast and internet are free. Swiss Cottage is a nice area of London. It is not really central, but there are two Tube stops nearby (Swiss Cottage and Finchley Road), so it is very easy to get to all the main attractions, but yo definitely cannot walk, you need to take the Tube. I know that it seems a bit expensive for the Oyster Card, but taking the Tube saves so much time. Finchley Road has lots of cheap places to eat on it, including a huge grocery store. Also, Palmer's Lodge is only one Tube stop away from Abbey Road, which is a must if you are Beatles fans! Let me know if you have any questions about the hostel, and have fun!

Posted by
525 posts

I can't remember for sure but it seems like each tube ride was 3 GBP so try to figure out how many times you will be on the tube. It is also good on the bus. You can add 5 GBP at a time if you are running out. When you scan your card leaving the tube, if the remaining balance is low, it will show the balance on the card.
Don't forget to turn it in at when you leave London to get the fee back.
Also, like I said you can do some google searches before you leave and print the 2 for 1 coupons now, especially for the Tower of London. Just don't forget you have the coupons and carry them with you all the time.

Posted by
525 posts

Nicol, go to to find two for one deals for your stay in London. I think this may be where I printed some off before leaving the USA. Tripadvisor suggests one of the passes also. Google two for one coupons, London, England and you will see many choices to look at.