The World is Your Oyster
There are a variety of ticketing options for travelling around London, the worst of which (for both price and convenience) is the purchase of single tickets per journey. The Oyster Card, a top-up card which costs an initial but refundable deposit of £5, stores credit that you add; every time you tap in / out at a ticket terminal, you’re debited the ticket price: less than half the cost of a standard single ticket. Oyster cards work on almost all of London’s mass transit and, happily, have a daily cap (i.e. you can travel in Central London as much as you want, but you’ll only get charged a maximum of £6.60 per day).
Going Round in Circles
London’s Underground system is probably the worldwide leader in mass transit, and is user-friendly in almost every way. The yellow Circle Line, which loops the circumference of Central London, doesn’t circle as harmoniously as it used to: trains used to chug along ad infitum around London’s ring railroad, but now re-routing of lines means that most Circle Line trains now terminate at Edgware Road. Upon arrival there, one must alight and board a fresh Circle Line train in order to continue around the loop. If one is aware of this quirk, the journey shouldn’t be too confusing.
In comparing cost with distance, the snazzy Heathrow Express shuttle trains, connecting both of the stations at Heathrow Airport with London Paddington, are among the most expensive in the world, starting at £22 for a single journey. The Express does have the bonus of free onboard WiFi, and takes only 15 minutes. However, the Heathrow Connect train, over 50% cheaper, takes literally only a few minutes longer to reach Paddington, and departs with good frequency. The Heathrow Connect trains are just as comfortable with regard to seating, and even more comfortable when considering your wallet.
Fly from Dubai
The London Eye, smothered by selfie-driven tourists, is among the most iconic attractions in Central London, and rightly so: the views are spectacular in every direction. However, head along the Docklands light railway to North Greenwich, walk a few minutes, and arrive at the Emirates Air Line, free from mass tourism. This is a cable car, and of rather more intense proportions. In contrast to the London Eye, it’s a tiny cabin, taking you on a ten minute cable-car voyage across the Thames to Royal Victoria station. There’s not much sign of Big Ben here in East London; instead, it’s views of emphatic riverscapes, the O2 Arena, glitzy dockland development and flights aplenty from London City Airport.
London, as you’ll know, is a huge metropolis, and a tourist paradise; the chances of running into any serious criminal trouble is infinitesimally low. However, terrorism does pose a remote but significant risk, implemented mostly through spontaneous attacks inspired by contemporary Islamic jihadists. These have included, but are not limited to, car rammings, random stabbings and explosive devices. It’s worth being aware of anything suspicious or potentially risky: unattended bags, large crowds of people, concourses, suspicious driving etc. Enjoy London, know that risks are totally remote, but do stay switched on about your security.