We are four older (66-85) adults with three days in London. We've all been before and will not visit the really high volume sites (Tower, Westminster Abbey, Eye,etc.). We are not on a shoestring budget but want want to find the right balance between economy and efficient use of our energy and time. Considering that there are 4 of us should we be thinking taxi or one of the travel card options (which one)? Thanks for your suggestions.
Use the url at the bottom of this post to get ideas of taxi fares. With four senior adults, IMHO you should take a taxi everywhere that you can't walk. I doubt if it would cost you much more than public transport - it might even be cheaper. Plus most of the London cab drivers are very helpful at supplying information and travel hints.....If you get the Rough Guide London map, it has the taxi stands marked on it. You could buy this map at Foyle's London book store if you can't find it at Amazon. I can't imagine that anyone who is 85 would want to negotiate the subway system in a strange city, even if they are so fit they are still running marathons! http://www.taxifarefinder.com/main.php?city=London
While taxis might not be too expensive for 4 adults, I don't think I'd want to sit in London traffic. We enjoy using the tube. If you are not interested in any of the 2-for-1 deals (http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/2for1-london) that are available with PAPER Travel Cards purchased at NATIONAL RAIL STATIONS, then get Oyster cards and load a single day travel card each day (along with a base of "pay as you go" (PAYGO) cash of about 10GBP to cover any travel outside your selected zones. The deposit for the Oyster and any left over PAYGO cash will be refunded when you return your cards at the end of your stay.
Forget about using the Tube. There are stairs, crowds, etc. London taxis are an excellent value, especially when used by more than one person. The taxi drivers know how to get around and avoid congestion. And...some of them are very chatty. I've started using taxis more now that my legs don't function well with lots of stairs. If you have a modest amount of luggage, four people with luggage MAY fit in a single taxi.
I agree with Swan. You don't mention that any of you have trouble getting around, and so I am assuming that you don't... but I still agree with Swan! Four people sharing a cab can be pretty cost effective. Yes, London traffic can be awful, but you are tourists - you won't be traveling at rush hour. And with only three days in town, taxis will save you time. That being said, I am a big fan of the Tube. It is definitely easy and fast, and the Oyster card works great. Especially great is that you can "spend it down" to the last penny, with no money left over on it. Still... taxis. Or frankly, even the bus. I love getting around big cities on their bus system rather than underground in the subway because while you are on the bus, you are actually SEEING stuff. Much better to maximize your time that way if you only have three days.
I went to London with my 70 year old mother (in 2000), and two of her older friends. They were ambulatory, if not as energetic as they once were. Initially they were reluctant to ride the tube. They were worried they would get lost (because they had no idea how to use the system) but followed my direction and found it was easier than they expected and enjoyable - everyone always offered to give them their seat. We also took taxis to get back to the hotel when their energy ran out. After a couple of days I was surprised how much they preferred, given the choice, the tube.
We are in London right now and are pushing 50...the tube, although amazing and efficient, is exhausting. Lots of stairs and walking from station to station and sometimes finding an entrance takes a while. We have started riding buses which is incredibly fantastic! They are plentiful, frequent, and easy to navigate. We still use the tube for cross-town but it we're just going around in a smaller area, say from St. Paul's to Trafalgar, we ride the bus - just a thought!
My 72 year old mother and I only used the tube twice in five days in London, and one of those was from Heathrow. Most of the rest of the time, we took the bus. Since they have instituted the congestion fee in the city, the roads are actually quite open, so buses and taxis are a good choice, especially since I liked the view. The only taxis we took was when getting from location to another would have involved transferring buses. Loved our cabbie from the Tower to the British Museum! He gave us a minitour of the sights we passed. ETA: The Transit for London (public transport) website has a great map of central London with the main tourist stops, the Tube lines, and the bus route numbers all on the same page, in pdf form. I downloaded it to my tablet and used it to plan our day. I studied that map so much that I was able to give two Brits on bikes directions, and that was my first trip in London!
Taxis can be hard to find during rush hour, and the Tube can be packed and SRO. Buses, used wisely, might be reasonable and involve less walking than the Tube.