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Your Ultimate Guide To London Zones 1-6
8 min

Your Ultimate Guide To London Zones 1-6

8 min
Uploaded on
Dec 14, 2022
Last updated on
Aug 30, 2023
Uploaded on
Dec 14, 2022
Last updated on
Aug 30, 2023
London Zone guide
Get in the zone!

London is a vast city that spans 607 square miles (or 1,572 km). Irrespective of its size, the city maintains a reliable public transportation network that connects each of the 32 London boroughs. There are several ways to get about, including the tube overground, river buses, a tram system, and even a cable car. It is expected that first-time visitors to the city could feel a little overwhelmed, but don't worry; reading the blog till the end will help you.

London Zones 

London zones are separated for transportation, with Zone 1 being the city centre and Zone 9 being the city's outskirts. Transport for London (TfL) uses the technology to determine a customer's journey distance and charge appropriately. Since most major attractions and the city centre are located in London zone 1, most visitors won't need to venture outside. For those travelling far, it's crucial to consider how many London zones you'll pass through because this will influence the ticket you need. 

What are the 6 London Zones?

Rail transportation in London is divided into 6 London zones, which are being managed by London Transport. Six fare London zones are given to each station on the London Underground zones, London Overground, National Rail, TfL Rail, and Docklands Light Railway. The central core region is covered by fare zone 1, while fare zones 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are basically concentric circles around Zone 1. To purchase tickets faster, zones were created to lower pricing. You can explore the city and visit the top restaurants, explore the city's culture by visiting the top museums, enjoy beer at the best clubs or just enjoy the beautiful city by road. 

Zone 1: London City Centre (Think Big Ben and Tower of London)

Zone 2: Notting Hill, Camden Town, London Zoo and two football stadiums

Zone 3: Kew Gardens, Wimbledon and London City Airport

Zone 4: Wembley, RAF museum, Richmond Park

Zone 5: Twickenham, England Rugby Union

Zone 6: End of the line for Central, District, Thameslink, Heathrow Express, Elizabeth, Metropolitan, Overground and Piccadilly.

Types of London Transport in London Zones

London is a massive city with various modes of transport, wherein everyone can travel on a budget and in comfort. The city provides London transport through buses, underground tubes, DLR, also known as Dockland Light Railways, Cable cars provided by Emirates, river buses, overground trains and the most efficient bicycles. With these many options, you can comfortably and conveniently travel within the London zones.

Types of London Transport

1. The Underground 

First ride: 5 am 

Last ride: 12 am

The London Underground is the oldest underground rail network and one of the best London transport zones in the world. Locals call it the "Tube" because parts of the network's tunnels resemble round tubes running through the ground. Underground stations are marked with a red and blue roundel around the city. We have a detailed blog about how to use the London underground

2. The Overground 

First ride: 5:30 am

Last ride: 12:30 am 

The overground, which should not be confused with the "Tube," runs above street level and connects the city centre to the larger metropolitan area. To improve connectivity between the London zones, it was introduced in 2007. North and West London railways had experienced serious degradation over the years. To build a complete orbital network to serve the Capital, London Overground sought to merge these older networks into new lines in east and south London, and now is one of the best London travel zones.

3. Docklands Light Railway

First ride: 5:30 am

Last ride: 12:30 am 

Unlike the rest of London's transport system, the DLR is completely driverless. The DLR connects with London's cable car, the Emirates Air Line, and serves the docklands neighbourhood of London zones, located directly east and southeast of Central London.

4. London Buses

First ride: 5 am

Last ride: 12 am

In addition to being a great way to view the city, buses in London zones have one key advantage over all other forms of London transport: they are not constrained by the "zone" system. Why does this matter? There is a set rate of £1.65 for each trip, regardless of how far or where you are going. Additionally, they benefit from the hopper fare, which allows unlimited bus rides within an hour for a fixed fee of £1.65.

5. Emirates Air Line (Cable Car)

First ride: 8 am

Last ride: 8 pm

Don't be deceived by its misleading name; the UK's only urban cable car system will only take you 90 metres above London (295 feet). Enjoy stunning panoramic vistas of London zones 1-6 as it moves from Greenwich to Royal Victoria Dock—more magnificent than helpful. You can also use an Oyster travel card contactless card to make payments through the TfL system, just like you would if you were travelling by bus or train.

6. Boris Bikes

First ride: all-day

Last ride: all-day

Santander Cycles, often known as 'Boris Bikes' locally, operates a public bicycle rental programme in London zones 1-6 with more than 12,000 bicycles and 800 docking stations. Cycling around the city is a terrific (and environmentally responsible) way to explore. In the last ten years, the number of cyclists on London's roads has more than doubled.

7. River Bus

First ride: 5:30 am 

Last ride: 11:30 pm

The imprecisely called 'River Bus' runs 6 routes along the River Thames between Putney in the west and Woolwich in the east, departing from 22 piers. Since departures only occur every 20 minutes, we advise scheduling your trip in advance to prevent delays in travelling in London zones 1-6. The river bus is an excellent way to go around the city and enjoy fantastic views of London's riverfront and witness the scenic beauty. 

London Zone Fare

While travelling in London, the fare you will pay depends on the zone you are travelling in. The fare is calculated according to the zones you pass by while reaching your destination, considers your mode of transport, and covers underground buses and trains. Here is an estimated cost for travelling through London zones 1-6, as the fare system is based on the London zones.

How to pay for London transport in London zones

Even though London's transport system is among the best in the world, a newcomer to the city could find it a little challenging to navigate. In this blog, we'll go through each of the three main methods for paying for transportation in the city: Oyster card, debit or credit card, and Apple or Google Pay. It is extremely important to keep in mind that every person requires their own means of payment; otherwise, you can be charged more than you are in general.

1. Apple Pay or Google Pay

Apple Pay or Google Pay are the most preferred options in our article about how to pay for public London transport in London zones 1-6. Except for using your phone, this payment option is much the same as the contactless. You can tap the yellow card reader with your phone just like you would for a physical card if you have your credit or debit card set up in your Apple Pay or Google Pay wallet. 

2. Oyster Cards 

These convenient tiny cards make navigating the city easy when it comes to figuring out how to pay for public transport in London zones 1-6. You can purchase them at the airport, several train stations, and many convenience stores in the city. You can top up your oyster card as many times as necessary, and they cost five pounds each. The London oyster card price is around £7, which is the price of purchasing the card. If you use a Pay as You Go Oyster card, top it up with enough cash to either pay for a single ride across the zones you travel through or add enough cash to cover the cost of the "daily cap" if you want unrestricted travel for the day. The cost of a zone 1–5 weekly Travelcard is £65.70 if you stay in zone 5. A weekly Travelcard for zones 2–5 costs £38.20, saving you £27.50 each week.

3. Contactless Payment

Contactless payment is available for those with a credit or debit card that accepts contactless payments. Check for the "contactless" icon on the card's front (shown above) or inquire with your bank or card provider if you're unclear if your card has it.

If you do have it, this is undoubtedly the simplest and most practical method for paying for London transport zones. The fare is automatically generated based on the distance you have travelled if you tap your debit/credit card on the yellow card reader at the ticket booth. To make sure that you are paying the correct fare and you are not overcharged, you should always tap it at the beginning and end of your tube ride. You simply need to tap in once on buses to begin your trip, making travelling in London zones easy for you. 

4. Foreign contactless card

You may pay for transport in London with a contactless debit or credit card if you have one. If you don't have or don't want an Oyster card, it's perfect. Or if the pay-as-you-go credit on your Oyster card runs out. You tap in and out at the ticket barriers at the tube or railway station or press the yellow card reader when you board a bus to use your card like an Oyster card. The primary distinction is that the fare is deducted from your debit card or credit card the next day; you no longer need to load money onto your Oyster card. 

How to save money on travel to central London zones 2-6

The London Travel card has the primary advantage of being accepted on buses across all of London, regardless of the zones you purchase. Purchasing a weekly or monthly Travelcard that excludes London Zone 1 but includes Zone 2 is a smart money-saving move if you live in Zones 2–6 and need to travel to Zone 1 (the centre of London). Take the bus to and around Zone 1 after taking the train or tube to the Zone 2 station closest to Zone 1. You will only save some money if you use a weekly or monthly Travelcard.

You are all set to venture around London through the London zones 1-6! We hope our London zone guide will help you navigate the city easily and comfortably as a new traveller in the country. Remember to follow all the Laws of the country, and don't forget to tap in and tap out to avoid any penalties on your travel cards. If you're a student planning to study in the UK, finding suitable accommodation might be a concern. Explore the amazing student housing options in the UK to discover your ideal student housing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many London zones are there?

Is getting an oyster card rather than a travel card affordable to travel through London zones 1-6?

Which zone lies in the London City Centre?

How much does travelling from London zones 1-6 cost?

What is the maximum daily charge on an oyster card?