Cabs, Ubers, Underground — what you need to know.

After the long plane journey from Austin to London, we got our bags and waited in line for a taxi. I had forgotten how far away from the city Heathrow Airport is. Because we arrived so early our taxi hit morning rush hour and it took over an hour to reach our hotel. I remember watching the price ticker going up while we sat in almost stopped traffic. This felt like a dumb way to get where we wanted to go.

This post is going to go into detailed recommendations for getting around London, Edinburgh, and Ireland. These are things we learned on our last trip and I hope they can save you time, energy, and annoyance!

Leaving Heathrow

If you are trying to get from the airport to anywhere in the city of London, I would recommend taking the tube. Go to one of the 3 Heathrow Tube Stations and purchase your Oyster Card. From here you can use the Tube to get where you need to go.

Ridesharing

  • London: ridesharing apps work the way they do in the US. If you use Uber or Lyft in your hometown you’ll be right at home with using Uber in London. It’s definitely cheaper than taking cabs. (Note, Lyft currently does not operate outside of the USA)
  • Edinburgh: Uber works more like a cab service in this city. All the vehicles are the same (roomy, grey minivans) and have signs on the outside of the vehicle. You’ll see them driving around, but you’ll still need to hail a driver through the app.
  • Dublin: cabs are substantially more affordable than ridesharing.

Public Transportation

  • London: Your Oyster Card works on the Underground, buses, and even ferries on the Thames.
  • Edinburgh: We didn’t need to use public transportation. We took an Uber from the train station to our AirBnb and then we walked everywhere. Walking in Edinburgh is great. It’s a beautiful city to see on foot. Just bring good shoes, because there are a lot of hills.
  • Dublin/Ireland: Like a lot of things in Dublin, buses are pricey. We stuck to walking and cabs for getting around the city. We did take a bus to Phoenix Park and to the Hill of Tara. Go with a rental car.

If you’re not going to be in a big city, think about renting a car or checking into what transportation options exist in the town you’re visiting. Do you have any local travel hacks? Share them in the comments.