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Travelcard vs Oyster card for 2 day trip

I think like everyone else, Im a wee bit confused about which option works best when! Im arriving at Heathrow around 12noon, planning to go to Victoria Station for my hotel. The following day we're planning to see several of the 2for1 sites listed on the Travelcard option. The next day we will be staying in West London to see more sites. What is my best option for getting from Heathrow to Victoria Station? Should we buy the Travelcard to get the discounts? And where the heck do I buy the Travelcards?? Im guessing the Tube stations aren't the same as the National Rail Stations?? Any help/tips would be much appreciated!!

Posted by
2753 posts

We use an Oyster Card no matter how long we are staying. We have had ours for years now. I believe it gives you the lowest rate for the day, but beside that and without that the card is so convenient for bus and tube transportation. We don't have to think, just enjoy.

Posted by
8294 posts

Laura, this doesn't address your question but I'm just curious. Why are you staying in a hotel near Victoria Station, then moving to another hotel in West London? Why not just stay at one hotel?

Posted by
1068 posts

To get to Victoria Station, just take the tube! Heathrow is on the regular Piccadilly line - no need to spend lots extra. It's quick too. Just change at South Kensington for a Circle or District Line train. ( and

My one "don't leave town without doing this! - queue the scary music!" tip is: know which terminal your plane is leaving from when tubing back to Heathrow. There are signs in stations as you get closer to the airport, but they aren't signs you can read easily when the train pulls into a stop. And there's not signage on the trains that I could see. If you know the terminal you need to get out at, life is good and the trip will be a doddle.

And you are correct - the tube is not the National Rail. Although these days, with things getting better and better organized and better knit together, it can seem seamless on many common tourist journeys.

Which sites are you seeing that are 2-for-1? If you give a list, the RS community of helpers can weigh in on the "worth it" question.

As for getting around, my husband and I always just take the tube and buses, and use the Oyster card. We now have Oyster cards that we spend down when we leave London and top up when we get back into town. Here is everything you will ever need to know about the Oyster card:

The machines are extremely easy to use - and if you want human assistance the first time, just go to a ticket window and they'll be happy to help you.

Buy your card from a ticket window and put your initial few pounds on - the Oyster card calculates your travel each day and will stop charging you after you've reached the daily maximum. (Don't worry about the "five pound deposit." It's just five pounds on your card - you can spend it all the way down when you leave, taking the tube back to Heathrow!)

And a final note on the Oyster card. It is NOT always obvious where to "tap off" when exiting a station. Most stations have not-to-be-missed gates and turnstiles where you must tap your card to exit. Others have a wider open exit, with short Oyster card readers that don't instantly grab your eye. If you don't tap off, you'll get an error message and have to go talk to a ticket agent next time you want to enter the system. Just say you're a tourist, and be apologetic and smile. :-)

Posted by
8700 posts

Buy Oyster cards at a Tube station at Heathrow and load some pay-as-you-go pounds on them. Use them to get from the airport to your hotel and back to the airport. Redeem any unused pounds when you get back to the airport. Buy one-day, zone 1-2 National Rail travelcards at Victoria station and use them on the day you will be visiting sights that offer the 2-for-1 discount. Do not use your Oyster cards that day.

The simplest way to get from Heathrow to Victoria station on the Tube is to take the Piccadilly Line to Hammersmith and connect there to the District Line to Victoria station. All you'll have to do is walk a few feet from one side of the platform to the other.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ Larua,


I can only speak for me and my use of two (2) oyster cards. I took one back with me this past Sept and added more funds so i wont have to worry about how much is on there when i return in Sept 2014.

if/when i fly into LHR i always used the Heathrow Express that puts you into Paddington. from there i work my way to the Circle or District lines into Victoria.

Now you could take the Picicadilly line into town and transfer later on. It all depends what floats your boat. I will state that i havent done this yet, but maybe next year if time permits.

if you have any more questions, you may want to specifically so that we arent guessing.

their underground is really sweet and i wish we had one in PDX. But you have to keep you eyes peeled on where you want to go since the tunnels will have offshoots and you have know where you want to go. Some of the tunnels arent large either and many people will have luggage in tow.

if you go online, you can download color tube maps that will show you the layout of the tube system. I keep one on me and have spares at home for planning of future places to stay. once you get there they are all over the place so you really dont need one, but i keep it handy so i know where im at in relation to the stop im in.

happy trails.

Posted by
861 posts

I will also vote for Oyster cards purely for convenience. My family used them last time in London and my wife says it was the best decision I made the whole trip (no lines, no worrying about mistakes in getting the right ticket)! Typically it is pretty difficult to make a the site entry savings worth with a Travelcard your while. Your will typically only save 10£ per day in exchange for limiting your sight-seeing options. Its best to plan your itinerary as if you never plan to get a Travelcard then go back and see if the card would actually save you money on entry fees.

Also, according to the Transport for London website they are phasing out separate Travelcards:


Posted by
4536 posts

National Rail though are not discontinuing paper one day travelcards.

In many cases a single use of the two4one discount can be enough to pay for a ODTC, but if you aren't travelling enough or only visiting low cost attractions there could be insufficient savings.

Posted by
332 posts

Assuming you are traveling light and can manage toting your luggage, I would take the tube from Heathrow to Victoria Station. Assuming you will use other public transport on arrival day, but a one day zone 1-6 travelcard at Heathrow. This will not be eligible for the Days Out 2 for 1 offers.

If you want to take advantage of the 2 for 1 offers at you will need one day paper travel cards purchased at a National Rail station for the following days. Victoria rail station would be just the place for you to make the purchase. Oyster cards are not eligible for the Days Out 2 for 1 offers.

Posted by
8700 posts

You don't need to buy one-day, zone 1-6 travelcards for your first day. There is an automatic price cap on Oyster cards. Take as many rides as you want all day. You will never pay more than the equivalent of a one-day travelcard for the zones in which you travel that day.