We know you’ll want to be making the most of your time in this city. So, we’ve compiled a list of what we’ve found to be some of the best travel apps London has to offer – whether that’s for finding out about events or fun things to do, or simply for getting from A to B. And, they’re all downloadable for free. All of the below apps are available to download on iOS or Android.
10 best travel apps London
This really is your must-have app for arriving in London. A bit like Google Maps, it allows you to choose which mode of transport you want to take before directing you – but unlike Google Maps, it includes specific transport options like the e-scooters, Santander bikes, Zipcar, Uber and Black Cabs. It also offers maps offline which is pretty essential if you’re on the Underground and need to check a route on your map.
Citymapper gives you helpful tips like which carriage of the tube you should head to on the Underground to be able to exit quickly at the other end. It even has a ‘rain-safe’ option for rainy days. It also tells you which means of transport is the cheapest option available at that time (very handy for students on a budget), or, the fastest option available – perfect if you’re in a rush to get somewhere.
The Santander Cycles (also known as ‘Borris bikes’) are the city’s rent-a-bike network and they’re run by TFL (Transport For London). It’s a self-service bike-sharing scheme and you’ll need this app to be able to use one of the bikes. When you register and log in, it will show you where the closest available bike is and where you can drop yours off when you’re finished with it. It works by the app giving you a code to release a bike close to you, and your payments are made through the app too.
If you feel like exploring the city on two wheels, this is the easiest and cheapest way to do it if you don’t already have a bike of your own.
If you have a full or provisional driving licence, you can now rent an e-scooter in London. In June 2021, electric scooters became available to rent in certain areas of the city. This is the only way to legally ride an e-scooter on public roads or in other public places of the city. They’re a great alternative to the Santander bikes if you’re not a confident cyclist, but it’s worth noting they can be a little more expensive.
There are 3 main providers of e-scooters in London. Each operator has its own app on the iOS or Android app stores. Just search for either Lime, Tier or Dott.
Most of the major taxi services that you’ll already be aware of, like Bolt or Uber, operate in London. The Cabwise app is for hailing one of London’s many black cabs you’ll see around the city, or minicabs (the licensed taxis that aren’t black cabs). It’s worth having this app on your phone as the black cabs are sometimes more readily available than services like Uber.
The Cabwise app will tell you where your nearest cab office is. Like any town or city, just remember that whichever taxi app you use, be sure to stay safe and only hop in a taxi that you’ve pre-booked.
London Bus Live Countdown
The buses in London can be a little more unpredictable than the Underground service – but sometimes getting the bus can be a much easier, quicker or cheaper option for getting from A to B.
If you’re at a bus stop without a screen and you’re wondering when the next bus service is due to arrive, this London Bus Live Countdown app has a live feed which is directly linked to live TFL data. This means that you can see exactly when your bus is due to arrive and you’ll get live updates on any delays. It also shows you if your bus is due to be a couple of minutes early. The app also offers live status updates on the London Underground lines.
This app offers an alternative to a tour guide. When you first arrive in the city, this is a great way to get your bearings and also learn a little history about London. VoiceMap allows you to select and download audio tours of certain areas of London, so you can even access them when you have a poor internet connection.
You can choose a photography focussed tour of Camden for example, or a tour voiced by Sir Ian McKellan on the best theatres of the West End.
Wherever you are in the city, you won’t need to travel far for something to do. The Timeout app is a wonderful source of information on everything you could possibly think of that’s happening in and around London. It is comprehensive and easy to use and lists the latest events, gigs, shows, shopping opportunities etc week-by-week. It even breaks down recommendations into specific categories like Free or Cheap, top 10 in a particular month or even broken down by each borough.
Lists and individual items can be downloaded from the app and accessed offline which lets you put together your very own itinerary for whenever you have some time off from your studies and want to explore the city.
A bit like Time Out, the Visit London app gives you a wealth of information on what’s going on in the city so it’s perfect for planning a day out with friends. It tells you where to find certain landmarks, eateries and hidden gems and it hand picks long lists of things to do which are suited for you and are put together by London touring experts. There’s a handy GPS feature which allows you to have a fun day out without planning too much ahead of time as you can find things to do wherever you end up – so it’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t know their way around the city yet.
Like Time Out, you can use the app offline too by saving the information before you head out and about. Unlike Time Out, you can use Visit London to book some of the attractions or deals directly that can be found on the app.
Met Office Weather
Weather in the UK is infamous for being a little unpredictable, and at all times of the year. You might leave the house in the morning amidst a heatwave in your shorts, then be caught in heavy rain a couple of hours later and find yourself needing shelter. The weather can change in a matter of minutes, so avoid it ruining your days out by regularly checking your weather app.
The most reliable weather app is the one offered by the Met Office. It offers weather predictions hourly and is directly linked in real-time to the UK’s official meteorology service. So, you can be sure you are reading the most accurate weather information.
We can all get caught short when we’re out and about exploring and need to find some toilet facilities. This can be hard to do when you’re new to a town or city, and popping into a coffee shop or café to use the toilet means you sometimes feel pressure to purchase something so as not to be rude.
There are a few bathroom-finder apps out there, but Flush has approximately 200,000 individual public toilets listed on the app currently – and many of which are in London. Unlike many of the other loo locater apps available, this one allows you to filter by those public toilets that are completely free, compared to those you need to pay for.