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Child Fares on London Transport

Last updated: 23 February 2024 Discounts for children on London transport are straightforward for children aged 10 and under. For children aged 11-15 it’s slightly more complicated.

Children under 5

Children under-5 travel free on all types of transport in London when travelling with an adult.

  • up to 4 children are allowed per adult on London buses, the underground (tube), DLR and London Overground.
  • up to 2 children under-5 travel free per adult on National Rail (trains)

Children aged 5-10

All children aged 5-10 travel for free on:

  • the underground (tube), DLR, London Overground and some National Rail services within London as long as an adult accompanies them. Up to 4 children can travel per adult
  • London’s buses with or without an adult

Children aged 11-15

Children aged 11-15 travel for free on London’s buses and at child-rate Pay as you go Oyster fares on the underground (tube), DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services if they have an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard.

The child-rate single fare with an 11-15 Zip Oyster is 95p (peak) or 85p (off-peak) for zones 1-6.

Like the ordinary adult Oyster card, there’s a daily cap – the maximum amount deducted from the card in one day. It’s £4.25 peak and £1.80 off-peak for zones 1-2.

This is the cheapest deal for 11-15 year olds. The card is not available from underground stations, although you can apply online . It is available to non-UK residents but you’ll need to apply at least 3-4 weeks in advance. There’s also a non-refundable £15 administrative charge.

Travel in London without an 11-15 Zip Oyster

Applying for a 11-15 Zip Oyster is not worth the trouble unless you’re a resident or frequent visitor.

There are a few other options for young visitors that will save money:

  • Young Visitor Discount on an Oyster card
  • Child-rate One Day Travelcard (from an underground or train station)
  • Pay the child full-fare (underground only, not bus)

Bus-only travel for 11-15 year olds

If an 11-15 year old does not have an 11-15 Zip Oyster, Visitor Oyster Discount or child-rate Travelcard the best option is to let them use your contactless debit/credit card and pay the adult-rate bus fare of  £1.75. (NB only one card can be charged per passenger) or buy a £5.90 adult-rate one day bus pass . See London bus tickets & passes for details.

Young visitor Oyster discount

If you don’t want to apply for an 11-15 Zip Oyster, the cheapest way for 11-15 year old visitors to travel is the Young Visitor Oyster Discount. This is a special discount added to an ordinary Oyster card. It’s valid for 14 days. After 14 days, the discount automatically expires and the card can be used as a ordinary adult Oyster card.

There’s a £7 fee for the Oyster card (non-refundable). Single fares and the daily cap for the underground and buses-only are 50% cheaper than adult fares.

For example:

  • Unlimited travel by underground in zone 1-2 is  £4.25 per day
  • Unlimited travel by bus is  £2.65 per day, for the whole of London

It’s available from:

  • Underground station ticket machines: you need to buy an Oyster card (£7) or use a Visitor Oyster Card. Ask a member of staff to apply the discount to the card via the ticket machine.
  • Transport for London Visitor Centres
  • Victoria train station ticket office

Children aged 16-17

Children aged 16-17 can apply for the 16+ Zip Oyster Photocard . With this they:

  • pay Oyster Pay as you go fares at half the adult rate on the bus, tube and most National Rail services in London. (Children resident in London with a 16+ Zip travel free on the buses)
  • can buy a child-rate weekly or monthly Travelcard.

You must apply online. There’s a non-refundable £20 administrative charge for the 16+ Zip Oyster. If you live outside the UK, you must apply for your card at least 4 weeks before arrival in London.

Without a 16+ Zip Oyster, a 16 or 17 year old is classed as an adult and must either:

  • pay the adult fare
  • buy an adult-priced Travelcard, bus pass
  • use an ordinary Pay as you go Oyster card with an Oyster or Contactless payment.

18+ Students

Students aged 18+ resident in London during term-time can apply for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard. It might also be possible to apply for a 16+ Zip Oyster .

There are no other discounts for students not studying and living in London.

Child ticket prices (11-15 years)

11-15 zip oyster pay as you go single fares (payg) 2024, 11-15 zip oyster daily cap prices from 3 march 2024, child one day travelcard from 3 march 2024.

These are the prices for the Child One Day Travelcard.

Off Peak : Valid for travel after 09:30 Monday–Friday and all day Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays. Anytime : Valid for travel before 09:30 Monday–Friday.

See London’s Transport Zones if you’re not familiar with the zones and the areas they cover.

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Child fares on London’s Underground, buses & transport 2024

Identifying child fare concessions available to your child with previously asked questions.

London Underground Train

Child fares on London's Underground and buses are very complicated and fragmented.

Every year on January 2, ticket regulations and prices are reviewed and regularly child fare rules and options are tinkered around with as well as the adjustments to prices.

This page tries to explain as simply as possible the situation for your child, together with some workarounds to get around some of the restrictions. At the bottom of this page we also have some commonly asked questions on the subject of child fares in London.

At one extreme your child may travel free everywhere, at the other end of the spectrum if unprepared you may end up paying adult fares – so it's worthwhile making sure you understand the subject.

Child fare entitlement   Young visitor discount   Child Oyster cards   Other options   Previously asked questions

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Free and reduced child fare entitlement by age band

Children under five can travel free at any time on all public transport without a ticket as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket.

Children 5-10 years old

Under-11s can travel free at any time on London's buses and trams without a ticket.

They can also travel free at any time on the Tube, London Overground and DLR (Docklands Light Railway) when they are travelling with an adult who has a valid ticket. Up to 4 children under 11 years old accompanied by a paying adult travel free on the London Underground.

Unaccompanied children between 5 and 10 must have a valid 5-10 Zip Oyster Photocard for free travel. (Ah yes, the Photocard we'll come back to these further down the page).

On trains in the London area run by the national railways children between 5 and 15 need a child ticket. Most visitors do not use train services run by the national rail companies as they are essentially commuter services from the suburbs.

Which trains within London are are run by national rail companies

To the visitor it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain which surface rail lines within London are run by the national rail companies and which offer free travel to 5-10 year olds.

Very crudely speaking, if your surface train (not Underground train) runs from Paddington, Marylebone, Fenchurch Street, London Bridge, Blackfriars, Charing Cross, Waterloo or Victoria it will almost certainly be a national railways train.

For visitors the most popular trains used within London that are national rail run are Waterloo to Hampton Court and Waterloo or Paddington to Windsor.

Children 11-15 years old

Unaccompanied children aged 11 to 15 years must get an 11-15 Zip Oyster Photo card to travel free on buses and trams and at child rate on Tube, DLR and London Overground services using an Oyster card (see Oyster Photocard section below).

You can buy child rate Travelcards and single one-way child tickets on the Underground, railways and DLR, but not the buses.

For most visitors staying in London for 2 weeks or less with children between 11 and 15 the ticket of choice is an adult Oyster card loaded with a Young Persons Discount.

The Young Persons Discount has its own section further down the page.

Children 16-17 years old

In the UK you become an adult when you are 16. However in London it is possible to get child fares by getting a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard.

It is very similar to 11-15 Oyster Photocards, but you cannot use it to buy 1 Day Travelcards.

For short-term visitors, for most it is not a realistic option because of the expense and time required to obtain an Oyster ID Card - you'll just have to accept your child is an adult while in the UK.

Student 18+ years

If you are studying at a recognised educational establishment in London that is registered for the scheme and you are residing in London you can apply for a Student 18+ Oyster ID card.

This enables you to get 30% discount off bus and Travelcards of 7 days or longer.

The Young Visitor Discount - for children between 11 & 15 in London less than 15 days

The Oyster ID Card required by children between 11 and 15 to get child rate fares on Oyster is for most short-term visitors not a realistic proposition.

The cost, hassle and time to process the ID card is just not worth the effort. The Young Visitor Discount scheme has been created as the answer for short-term visitors who have children between 11 and 15.

The Young Visitor discount gives half adult rate pay as you go fares on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services for up to 14 days and gives your child a daily cap half that of an adult.

After 14 days the discount will expire and the Oyster card will charge full adult rate fares.

The discount can be set on both regular Oyster Cards and Visitor Oyster cards.

Oyster Cards - more details

The Young Visitor Discount can only be set onto Oyster Cards and Visitor Oyster Cards at:

  • Any Underground station (including Heathrow Airport). Although there are no longer manned ticket offices at Underground Stations members of staff will be available in the ticket hall with the ticket machines. Just make contact with a member of staff to have the Young Visitor Discount loaded onto the Oyster.
  • Visitor or Travel Information Centres (Gatwick & Heathrow Airports, Liverpool Street, Euston, Paddington and King's Cross Railway Stations and Piccadilly Circus Underground Station)
  • Victoria Station National Railways Ticket office
  • TFL Rail station ticket offices

To get the Young Visitor Discount:

  • You and your child must be together at the ticket office when asking for it to be set
  • One adult can get the Young Visitor Discount set for up to four children

Child Rate Oyster Cards & Oyster Photo ID Cards

The Oyster ID Card is no real problem if you are a London resident with a young child. Take a little time for the initial registration process to get your Oyster Photocard and that's your passport to free and half price public transport until you are an adult. When you want a child travel product, just produce your Oyster Photocard.

For visitors it's a lot of hassle and expense to procure an Oyster ID Card and often it's too late when you do find out the hoops you have to jump through to get child fares via the Oyster Photocard.

If you are a short-term visitor the probable solution is the Young Visitor Discount detailed in the section above or one of the work around solutions detailed in the section below.

First of all, the recurrent question from visitors – my child has got a passport with his/her age on it, isn’t that good enough as ID? I’m afraid the answer is no, you need London’s unique Oyster Photocard, nothing else.

How do I get an Oyster Photocard?

If you are a resident of London, it's quite straightforward. Get a form from your local Post Office and fill it in, then return to the Post Office with the fee, a passport size photo, plus birth certificate or passport and you should get it in 2 weeks.

If you are resident in the UK then you have to do the process online, you'll get the Photocard within 4 weeks.

If you live outside the UK you must apply at least four weeks before the date you want to collect the Zip Oyster Photocard and select which London Visitor Centre you want to collect it from (it's not sent to your home address). You can apply up to three months in advance of your chosen collection date.

Oyster ID Cards cost between £10 and £20 depending on the ID card required.

Oyster ID Card application page & full details

Other child rate work around options

Other ways of obtaining child fares other than Oyster ID Cards and the Young Visitor Discount are:

  • You can buy child single journey tickets for journeys on the Underground, DLR and trains but not the buses. But note these are the most expensive child rate fares available.
  • You can buy child 7 day Travelcards from national railway station ticket offices without Oyster ID Cards. As a rough guide if you travelling in London 5 or more days in any 7 then a 7 Day Travelcard works out cheaper than Oyster Pay As You Go.
  • If you do not have a railways ID card you will need to provide a passport size photo and this is made up on the spot free of charge. Railway stations in the centre of London with railway ticket offices (that are manned) include: Paddington, Marylebone, Euston, King's Cross, St Pancras, Liverpool Street, Fenchurch Street, London Bridge, Charing Cross, Waterloo and Victoria. You cannot buy 7 day Travelcards from the railways at any airport station.

Travelcards - more details

  • You can buy 7 Day Child Travelcards without any photo ID online from the TfL / Visit Britain online shop and have them delivered to your home, including overseas. There is a delivery charge.

TfL/Visit Britain online shop

Previously asked questions on child fares in London

At present we are unable to maintain the discuss service but you can contact us using the Contact Us link at the bottom of each page. We have decided to leave the answers here as they are useful for many of the questions we receive. If you cannot find an answer to your question, we'll be happy to hear from you.

Child fares in London transport explained. Ask Bob if still confused.

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Travelling in London with kids: Fares, Tickets and Advice

by Ren Nair Last Update: 19 Oct 2023

london travel card child age

When planning a family trip to London…

…one of the things you’ll be thinking about is how are we going to get around London, and, how travelling in London with kids works. You’re probably asking yourself what fares children need to pay on London´s public transport and you may even want to know how to use London´s public transport with a buggy.

Choose your attraction combination and save

A great day out without compromise.

london travel card child age

• Children´s fares when travelling in London • Travelling from the airport to central London • Travelling in London with a buggy

Travelling in London with kids: Fares and transport passes

When travelling in London with kids it is important to know that children will pay different fares on London´s transport depending on their age. There are transport passes for children, and these transport passes will be valid for London´s underground network, buses, DLR, overground and trains within London travel zones.

Children under 11 years of age

Children under the age of 11 travel free on London´s buses and trams, with or without an adult, at any time, and don’t need a ticket. Children under the age of 11 also travel free on London Underground, DLR (Docklands Light Railway), overground and TFL rail without a ticket if they’re accompanied by a paying adult. Up to 4 children can travel for free with an adult that has a valid ticket. When entering the London underground with children under the age of 11, it’s advisable to use the larger access doors. These doors are wider and don´t close as fast as the single doors and are designed for people travelling in London with kids, those with luggage or disabled passengers.

Visiting attractions with kids?

Keetoo stands out as one of the top choices for families seeking days out in London, offering substantial savings on gate prices while providing seamless access through the convenience of your phone. With everything stored digitally and total flexibility, Keetoo ensures hassle-free and enjoyable days out with the kids. Simply choose the places you wish to visit, who’s going with you and up pops the saving and you’re on your way!

london travel card child age

Children from 11 to 16 years of age

Children between the ages of 11 and 16 can travel at a reduced rate on London´s public transport. There are several options and to make it simple, we’re going to summarise these below. Children from 11 to 16 years old can also travel with an adult Oyster card or travel card if necessary. But bear in mind, they’ll not benefit from reduced rates on travel.

Option 1: Oyster card with Young Visitor Discount

This is a great option if you’re planning on travelling in London with kids. An Oyster card with young visitor discount will apply half adult rates for 14 days. After 14 days this discount will expire, and the Oyster card will charge full adult rates again. The Oyster card can also be returned at the end of your trip, just like a normal Oyster card.

All you need to do is buy an Oyster card or a Visitor Oyster card, either online or at an underground station, and then ask a member of staff to set the Young Visitor Discount. This discount can be applied at any underground station in London, including the underground station at Heathrow Airport. An adult will need to give their personal details to register the Oyster card before the discount can be applied, and you might be asked to confirm the child´s age. You and your child will need to be together when asking for the Young Visitor Discount to be set onto an Oyster card, and an adult can request the young visitor discount to be set for up to 4 children (on separate Oyster cards).

Option 2: Zip Oyster Photocard

The Zip Oyster photocard will entitle children of up to 16 years of age to reduced fares on the underground and overground and other TFL services, as well as free travel on trams and buses. The Zip Oyster photocard is normally the best option for children that live in London, as the process to get an Oyster photocard for a child can take some time and there’s an initial registration fee of up to £20 – so this is normally not the best option for visitors.

You can get a Zip Oyster photocard if you live in London, all you need to do is fill in a form that you will find at your local Post Office and return it to the Post Office. You will also need to include a passport sized photo and a copy of the birth certificate or passport and pay the fee. You should get the Zip Oyster photocard in 2 weeks.

If you’re a UK resident, you’ll need to do the process online on TFL’s website and you should get the Zip Oyster photocard within 4 weeks.

If you live outside the UK you will need to do the process online on TFL’s website. When applying, you’ll need to choose which London Visitor Centre (Liverpool Street Station, Victoria Station, Euston, Gatwick, King’s Cross station) you want to collect the Zip Oyster photocard from, as it will not be sent to your home address. You’ll need to apply at least 3 weeks in advance but can also apply up to three months in advance.

Option 3: 1 Day Child Travelcard

A one-day child travelcard will allow unlimited travel at any time of the day on any form of public transport in London for the chosen London travel zones. No ID is needed to purchase this one-day child travelcard, but fares using an Oyster card with young visitor discount are normally cheaper. If you’re visiting London for several days and choose this option you’ll have to buy a one-day child travelcard for each day, and this will work out a lot more expensive than using an Oyster card with young visitor discount.

london travel card child age

Option 4: 7 Day Child Travelcard

To buy a 7-day child travelcard in London there are 3 options: 1 – By adding a weekly travelcard into a Zip Oyster photocard. This is undoubtedly the most complicated option, as you need to request a Zip Card Oyster photocard first and then add the 7-day travelcard onto it. 2 – Buy a 7-day child travelcard online. This is probably the easiest way of getting one, as you do not need a Zip Oyster photocard and they will send it to your home address before you travel. 3 – Buy a 7-day child travelcard at a national railway ticket office (not an underground station).

People 16 to 18 years old

People aged 16 to 18 can also apply for a 16 – 18 Zip Oyster photocard, which will apply half adult rates on any form of public transport in London. Travelcards at a reduced price can also be added onto Zip Oyster photocards. For more information about travelling in London with kids visit: Transport for London.

Travelling in London with kids: Travelling to Central London from the airport Stansted, Luton and Gatwick airports are all located outside London’s Travel Zones, so fares when travelling with kids to and from these airports are different to fares when travelling in London with kids, so under 11-year old children will need a ticket.

An Oyster card is valid for travel into Central London from Gatwick Airport, but children under 11 will also need a train ticket to get to central London from Gatwick Airport, even if they are accompanied by an adult.

Heathrow and London City Airports are both inside London Travel Zones, so fares are as explained above. Children under 11 travel free and Children under 16 can travel with an Oyster card with young visitor discount.

Travelling in London with a buggy

If you are planning a trip with a baby or toddler, it may be that you wish to bring your buggy or stroller to London, especially if you’re planning on spending the whole day walking around London.

Travelling in London with a buggy can be quite easy if you know which route is best, or it can be a complete nightmare if you have to go up or down 300 steps when there are no lifts.

Don’t stress, we’re going to explain how to travel on London´s public transport with a buggy.

Travelling on London´s buses with a buggy

Public buses in London have a dedicated wheelchair and buggy space as well as easy street-level access. Travelling by bus with a buggy normally is the easiest option to get around London. You can enter the bus via the back door, which makes it a bit easier too. Up to two pushchairs are allowed in the dedicated buggy space on a bus but do bear in mind that during busy periods you may be asked to wait for the next bus or collapse your pushchair.

Travelling on the London Underground with a buggy

The trick to travelling in London with kids using a pushchair is to check London´s accessible underground map in advance and choose your route carefully. Being able to plan your route choosing accessible stations makes life much easier, and it may just mean that you need to get off at the next stop and walk 5 minutes, rather than having to take a buggy and a baby up 100 steps.

Unfortunately, not all underground stations in London are accessible. Most underground stations in London will have escalators, and many stations will also have some stairs at some point before reaching the platform. Many other stations have lifts to some of the platforms, and some stations are completely accessible, with lifts from the ticket office to the platform.

If you need help going up or down the stairs and you ask a member of staff for help, for health and safety reasons they will ask you to carry the baby and they will take the buggy for you.

London Underground Accessibility Maps

On the London Underground map, you will see that accessible underground stations are marked with the symbol of a wheelchair, in either a blue circle or a white circle.

• Blue circle: the underground station is fully accessible, which means that it is possible to go from street-level onto the underground carriage without any steps at all. In these cases, the platform will have an area that is slightly elevated to avoid any steps when getting onto the train.

• White circle: this means that there are no steps from street-level to platform, but there is some unevenness when getting onto the train. This is important for someone using a wheelchair, but it normally isn´t a problem when taking a buggy onto the train.

In addition to this map, there’s a Step Free Tube Map that is a lot more detailed and the one we’d recommend you check when travelling on the London Underground with a buggy. This map highlights the degree of accessibility at each station in detail and it also explains how accessible it is to change between underground lines at different stations.

london travel card child age

Welcome to our Blog!

Hi, I’m Ren, a travel lover a mum of 2 and founder of Keetoo, a  leading website and app for tickets for days out. On this blog, I share our family travel experiences with practical information, pictures and useful tips!

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18 comments.

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We are a family og 6 and looking for a decent hotel that won’t break the budget (as there are six of us) what is the best value 4 star (or even 5) hotel and we are they located?

The thing to be aware of is the star system only reflects the facilities offered by each hotel, not necessarily how good it is. It is only when you get to five-star level hotels that things like ambiance are taken into account. There are a variety of great hotels all over London. The best thing to do is to go through one of the main aggregators like booking.com – pick a budget, have a look at the area you would like to be in then have a look at reviews from guests that have been to the hotel most recently. This will give you the best insight as to the hotel that best fits your budget and then allow you to see the most recent guest reviews.

We have very young kids and are coming to London for the first time this summer. Is London and travelling in London easy with strollers and prams. It’s giving me nightmares thinking about getting around the city with them…any thoughts?

Overall, London is a fantastic city to explore with young children, and with some preparation and consideration, you can have a wonderful experience getting around with strollers and prams. Remember to plan your routes, check for accessible facilities, and be prepared for any weather changes, as London’s climate can be unpredictable.

We are London based but just don’t do touristy things and have friends coming over in the next few weeks. Any help on the best advice we can give then on getting out and about doing things. This will be their first trip in London but. they will be staying with us for around 3 weeks. Thinking of the major London attractions including the Tower of London, London Eye etc and perhaps a little further out??

London has so many touristy attractions to offer. Here are some quick ideas on what to do with your friends visiting for the first time: Visit the iconic landmarks: Take them so see must visit landmarks such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace (watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony), St Paul’s, Sightseeing Bus, and the London Eye for breath-taking views of the city from above and perhaps a relaxing river cruise to get a different perspective of the city. A great way to visit some of London’s best sights is with Keetoo which is super flexible and saves you every time if you’re looking to visit multiple venues. London is home to world-class museums and galleries. The British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, and Natural History Museum are a few top choices that offer a diverse range of exhibits. Stroll through parks: Enjoy a leisurely walk-through beautiful parks like Hyde Park, Regents Park, and St. James’s Park. You can even have a picnic or rent rowboats in some of these parks. Take a Thames River Cruise: Experience London from a different perspective by taking a relaxing cruise along the river Thames. This provides excellent views of the city’s landmarks from the water. Shop at famous markets: Head to popular markets like Borough Market for delicious food, Covent Garden for shopping and street performers, and Camden Market for unique and alternative finds. Enjoy West End Theatre: Treat your friends to a memorable evening by watching a world-class musical or play in London’s West End theatre district. Discover historical neighbourhoods: Wander through charming neighbourhoods like Covent Garden, Notting Hill, and Greenwich, each with its own distinct character and attractions. Remember to check the opening hours and availability of tickets in advance for certain attractions. London has so much to offer, and your friends will surely have a fantastic time exploring the city’s rich history, culture, and entertainment options.

My daughter is in a wheelcgair and we are looking to go to the London eye – I have been told it doesn’t stop – Do you know if its easy to get wheelchair access and if so, how if its moving?

Yes it’s very easy – it has been designed very much so that people of all abilities have easy access. So there is no need to worry. Staff are very attentive too.

Do you know what is the minimum age for children at most London attraction some times it says 5-15 others 3-15. Why don’t they all just agree on one age range!!!!

Where is the best place to be located in London if we are looking to visit all the major sites?

The best place to be located in London for easy access to all the major sites would be in central London, particularly areas that are well-connected to public transportation. Here are some recommended neighbourhoods:

Westminster: This area is right in the heart of London and is home to many iconic landmarks such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. Staying here means you can easily walk to several major attractions.

Covent Garden: Located in the West End, Covent Garden is known for its vibrant atmosphere, theatres, shops, and restaurants. It’s within walking distance of attractions like the British Museum, Trafalgar Square, and Leicester Square.

South Bank: This area along the southern bank of the river Thames offers stunning views of the city skyline and is close to attractions like the London Eye, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and the Shard.

Soho: Known for its lively nightlife, Soho is centrally located and provides easy access to Oxford Street for shopping, as well as theatres, restaurants, and Chinatown. It’s also close to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

Kensington: A more upscale neighbourhood, Kensington offers proximity to major museums like the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Science Museum. It’s also near Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. Marylebone: This elegant area is close to Regent’s Park, Madame Tussauds, and Sherlock Holmes Museum. It’s well-connected by public transport, making it convenient for exploring other parts of the city.

When choosing accommodation, consider hotels near major Tube stations or bus stops to make getting around easier. London’s public transportation system is extensive, and you’ll be able to reach most of the city’s attractions quickly from central locations.Additionally, being centrally located allows you to make the most of your time and explore multiple sites without spending too much time on commuting.

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If i want to just use my credit card to tap in and out on the London underground is that more expensive than buying and Oyster card?

Using your contactless credit or debit card to tap in and out on the London Underground is generally not more expensive than using an Oyster card. In fact, the fares for using contactless payment cards and Oyster cards are the same. Transport for London (TfL) introduced fare capping on contactless payments, which ensures that you won’t pay more than the cost of a daily or weekly Travelcard, depending on the number of journeys you make in a day or week. This is not the same for children however as you will be charged the adult amount. The benefits of using contactless payment cards include: No need to top up: With contactless, you don’t need to worry about topping up your card. The fare is automatically deducted from your credit or debit card account. Daily and weekly capping: If you make several journeys in a day or week, your total fare will be capped, providing cost savings compared to purchasing individual tickets. Same fares as Oyster: The fare structure is the same for both Oyster and contactless payment methods. Flexibility: You can use the same contactless card for public transportation throughout London, including buses, the Tube, DLR, London Overground, and TfL Rail services. However, before using your contactless card, ensure that your card is enabled for contactless payments and check with your bank or credit card provider for any additional fees or foreign transaction charges that may apply if you are visiting from abroad. Ultimately, using contactless payment for travel on the London Underground is a convenient and cost-effective option for most visitors and residents.

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If you use the same credit card for the whole day it will be capped and no more than an all day travel card so will not work out more expensive than an Oyster Card. This is not the case though for children as you will get charged an adult amount.

We are coming into London for half term and don’t come in much so all a bit confused with what’s the best way to travel when in London. Also the best way to buy tickets to theatre attractions etc. We are a a family of four, what’s the best way to travel around on a budget for 4 days? Kids are 6 and 13. can you give any help or pointers to sites that can help would be gratefully received.

Visiting London for half term with your family can be an exciting experience! To make the most of your trip and travel around on a budget, consider the following tips: Oyster Card or Contactless Payment: For convenient and cost-effective travel, get Oyster cards for each member of your family. These can be used on London’s public transportation, including the Tube, buses, DLR, London Overground, and some National Rail services. Alternatively, you can use contactless payment cards (credit/debit cards) for the same fare capping benefits. Travelcards: If you plan to use public transportation frequently, consider buying a 7-day Travelcard or a Visitor Oyster card with a 7-day Travelcard loaded on it. This option allows unlimited travel within certain zones and can be more economical if you make multiple journeys daily. Kids Travel for Free: Children under the age of 11 can travel for free on the London Underground and buses when accompanied by an adult with a valid Oyster card or Travelcard. Children aged 11 to 15 can also travel for free on buses with an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard. Keetoo: If you plan to visit attractions like the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, or the Tower of London, check Keetoo.com. An easy and affordable way to buy tickets meaning you’ll never pay full price and it offers a much more flexible way of booking – important when you’ve with the kids. Theatre Tickets: To get the best deals on theatre tickets, consider purchasing them in advance online from official websites or reputable ticket agents. You can also check for last-minute deals on the day of the show at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. Family-friendly attractions: London offers many family-friendly attractions like the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. Half-term events: Check online for special events and activities taking place during the half term. Many museums, parks, and attractions offer seasonal programs for families. Visit London’s Parks: Take advantage of London’s beautiful parks like Hyde Park and Regent’s Park for picnics and outdoor activities. To plan your trip and find more information, you can visit the official TfL website (Transport for London) for travel details and attractions, and VisitLondon for ideas on things to do and upcoming events. Additionally, consider downloading apps like Citymapper or the TfL Oyster app to help navigate the city and check transport updates on the go. Enjoy your trip to London with your family!

We are visiting to London with our kids (aged 11 & 14 ) in half term and we are there for five days, what is the best tickets for us to purchase to get around? Whats the best place to be looking for advance attraction tickets with flexibility – happy to pay a little more for flexibility

For your five-day trip to London during half term with your kids aged 11 and 14, the best tickets to purchase for getting around would be Visitor Oyster cards with a 7-day Travelcard loaded on them. This option allows unlimited travel within certain zones and offers flexibility for using various modes of public transportation during your stay. If you’re looking for advance attraction tickets with flexibility, Keetoo is one of the best options to consider. It offers a flexible and convenient way to purchase attraction tickets in advance while providing both savings and flexibility. You can access multiple attractions across London with a single app, which can save you both time and money compared to buying individual tickets for each attraction. Benefits of using Keetoo for attraction tickets: Savings: Keetoo always provides discounted prices compared to buying separate tickets for each attraction [as long as you are looking to visit more than one attraction]. Flexibility: The app allows you to visit attractions on different days, giving you the freedom to plan your itinerary based on your interests and your schedule. Ease of Use: Keetoo’s tickets are stored on your phone, making it convenient to access and use at various attractions without the need for physical tickets. Wide Range of Attractions: Keetoo offers access to a variety of popular attractions, ensuring there’s something for everyone in your family to enjoy. To get the most out of your visit, make sure to check the list of attractions included on the Keetoo website and plan your days accordingly. Enjoy your trip to London with your family and have a fantastic time exploring the city’s attractions!

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London Child Bus Fares: Free Travel, Kids Passes & Oyster Cards

  • Child fares
  • Can children travel for free?
  • Young Visitor Dicsount
  • Zip Oyster photocards
  • Where to buy Zip Oyster photocards
  • How to top-up Zip Oyster photocards
  • How to use Zip Oyster photocards

Do children pay on a London bus?

Children aged under-11 – Children under the age of 11 can travel for free on London buses. There are no time restrictions, they don’t require a photocard, and they don’t need to be accompanied by an adult either. But bear in mind that a member of staff might still ask for proof of age if your child looks over 11.

Note: If your child wants to travel unaccompanied on the train for free then they will need a 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard – see our child train fares page for details.

Do children get cheap fares on a bus?

Children aged between 11-15 – Children between 11-years-old and 15-years-old can travel for free on the bus if they have an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard . They can also benefit from a cheaper child rate if the Young Visitor Discount has been applied to their Oyster card .

We always recommend sticking with the Young Visitor Discount over a Zip photocard if you’re only here on holiday. That’s because the photocard costs money, which will wipe out the savings you’d make during your stay.

Children aged between 16-17 – Children aged 16 or 17-years-old who live in London can get free travel on a London bus with a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard . If they live outside London then they can get a discounted rate on single fares and weekly, monthly and annual travelcards (but not one day travelcards).

What is the Young Visitor Discount?

The Young Visitor Discount gives children aged 11-15 50% off adult Oyster fares for a maximum of 14 days. (Note: This only applies to Oyster fares, not London travelcards .)

Oyster card and Visitor Oyster card

All you have to do is buy your child a regular London Oyster card or Visitor Oyster card (but not a travelcard), load some credit on to it (the Visitor Oyster cards already come with some credit loaded on), and then ask a member of TFL staff to apply the Young Visitor Discount to it.

You can do this at a London Underground station, a National Rail station (within London) or one of the Visitor Centres at Heathrow airport, Euston station , King’s Cross , Liverpool Street , Paddington , Piccadilly Circus or Victoria .

Note: It’s not possible do this on a bus, so don’t try asking the driver. And you can’t do it online in advance either – it can only be done once you arrive in London.

All you have to do is go up to a member of TFL staff in a train station ticket hall (you can usually find them standing behind the ticket barriers), or at a desk in a Visitor Centre, and hand over the Oyster card. Each adult can only do it for a maximum of four children, and the children need to be present so the member of staff can check their age (they might ask for proof of age if they look older than 15).

Once they’ve applied the Young Visitor Discount to the Oyster card then your kid can carry on using it like normal, touching it against the yellow Oyster readers on the bus, and the computer will know to deduct the child price.

As soon as the fourteen days are over any remaining credit will still be on the card, but the computer will revert back to charging adult fares again.

Can children use cash on a London bus?

No. It’s not possible to use cash on a London bus.

Can a child use a contactless card on a London bus?

A child can use a contactless card on a London bus, but they won’t get a child price. That’s because there are no contactless bus fares for children.

The chips on bank cards don’t carry any details about your age so if a child tries to use one then it will just charge an adult bus fare instead.

What is a Zip Oyster photocard?

Zip Oyster photocards

A Zip Oyster photocard gives children free or discounted travel on London’s buses and trains.

11-15 Zip Oyster photocard – 11-15 Zip Oyster photocards cost £15 and give children aged over 10 years 11 months and under 16 on the 31st August free bus travel on the bus.

If your child is aged 16 now, but was 15 on the 31st August just gone, then they can still apply for a child photocard because it doesn’t actually expire until the 30th September in the year following your kid’s 16th birthday.

16+ Zip Oyster photocard – 16-17 year-olds who live in London can get free bus travel with a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard . If they live outside London then they can get cheaper singles fares and cheaper weekly, monthly and annual travelcards.

16+ Zip Oyster photocards cost £20 and expire on the 30th September in the year following your child’s 18th birthday.

Where can you get a Zip Oyster photocard?

The only way to get a Zip Oyster photocard is for the child’s parent or guardian to order it online through the TFL website . The adult will have to set up an account in their own name first, and have a digital photo of their child ready to upload.

They will also have to verify the child’s age using the details printed on a machine-readable passport. It also gives you the option of printing off a verification letter and doing it in person at a Post Office.

The photocard can then either be picked up from a Visitor Centre when you arrive in London, or posted to a UK address. It’s not possible to post it overseas. You should allow for at least four weeks delivery time (although it usually arrives in one).

How do you top-up a Zip Oyster photocard?

To top-up a Zip Oyster photocard the parent or guardian must log in to their own online account (which they would have set up when they ordered it).

After you’ve linked your child’s photocard to the adult account you can take advantage of the ‘auto top-up’ feature. Just select ‘Add an existing card’ and enter the 12-digit number that’s printed on the back of the kid’s photocard. You can then select an amount of money between £20 or £40, which will automatically be drawn from your bank account every time the child’s credit drops below £20.

Note: If your child is less than 11-years-old then there’s no need to load any credit onto it, because they can already travel for free on London transport.

Are Zip Oyster photocards worth it?

We don’t recommend child photocards for tourists because the cost of buying it will probably wipe out all the savings you’ll make on child fares. You’re much better off just getting your kid a regular Oyster card and applying the Young Visitor Discount to it.

Can children use a passport as proof-of-age?

Faced with the extra expense of buying a photocard, lots of tourists wonder whether they can just show their child’s passport as proof of age instead. Unfortunately this doesn’t work. The only way for children to get cheaper fares is by using an official Zip Oyster photocard.

How do you use Zip Oyster photocards on the bus?

Oyster card reader on a London bus

Zip Oyster photocards work in exactly the same way as regular Oyster cards . All your child has to do is touch them against the yellow reader at the front of the bus.

They have to do this every time they board the bus, regardless of whether they’re travelling for free or paying a discounted child rate.

There’s no need to touch it down again when they leave the bus (you only have to do that for trains).

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Your comments and questions

Mook Need a single bus journey from Piccadilly to Charing Cross travelling with two 15 year old girls - I have a contactless bank card and I don't have enough time to get them a photocard so how can I do it?

Staff Hi Mook. If you want to pay the discounted fare for a 15-year old then you can't really, because they need a photocard. You can't pay by cash these days, and you can't pay three fares by tapping down three times with just one contactless card either. You'll have to buy them a travelcard or an Oyster card before you get on the bus from an Oyster Ticket Stop (ie. a newsagent). Personally I would just walk it, because it's not very far. You can just cut through Leicester Square and go across Trafalgar Square to Charing Cross

Keith Martin If the 11 to 15 year old is accompanied by an adult do they need the ZIp Oyster card

Staff Hi Keith, they do. Otherwise they’ll have to pay a normal adult fare

Brooklyn I’ve got a 16+ zip card that says half rates so how much is it for one tap in on a London red bus ?

Staff Hi Brooklyn. It’s 75p at the moment (the fares are shown in the table above, under ‘Aged 16-17 with a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard’

Mich Is it free travel for a 16 year old on the red bus with a 16+ oyster zip card?

Staff Hi Mich. They can travel for free if they live in a London borough. If they live outside London then they’ll get a discounted fare instead.

Sue from Norfolk We are travelling to London on Monday with our two grandchildren 12years old and 15 years old. Can we use our debit contactless card for ourselves and our credit contactless card for the grandchildren?

Staff Hi Sue. If you want to pay a contactless fare then each individual needs their own card. So if you only have two cards you can only pay two contactless fares (but you can still use them to buy paper tickets at the machine - but then you'll be paying a cash fare)

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PlanTripLondon – Things to do in London

London Travelcard

LONDON TRAVEL CARD

The London Travelcard is a transport pass which entitles you to unlimited travel on London’s public transport. You can use a travelcard to travel on the London Underground, overground, public buses, DLR (docklands light rail), TFL rail and other trains, as long as you travel within London’s travel zones.

It is designed for people who are planning on using London’s public transport a lot when visiting London or for people who commute into London on a daily basis. Still, a London Travelcard may sometimes not be the cheapest option even if does entitle you to unlimited travel.

London Travelcard: What do I need to know before I buy one?

When buying a London Travelcard there are three things that you need to know:

1. The duration of the card:

You can buy a travelcard for one day, 7 days, one month or annual.

2. The travel zones of London that will be using:

When you buy a travelcard you need to choose what travel zones you want use. If you are going to travel between zones 1 and 2, you will need a travelcard that is valid for these two zones, but if you are going to travel between zones 1 and 5 every day, you will need a travelcard that covers zones 1 to 5. This does not apply to travelling by bus, as any travelcard will allow you to travel on buses to and from any zone within London’s travel zones. So for example, if you have a travelcar for zones 1 and 2, you can still use a bus to get to zone 3 or zone 5 with that travelcard at no extra cost.

Most of London’s tourist attractions are located in zone 1, and only a few of the most popular attractions can be found outside zone 1, such as Camden Town Market which is in zone 2. Make sure you know what zone your hotel is in before you buy a travelcard.

3. Off-peak or Anytime

If you are buying a 1 day travelcard  (which we don’t normally recommend as an oyster card has a daily cap that is cheaper than a one day travelcard – see below) you will have to choose if you want it to travel anytime of the day, or just during off-peak times (Monday – Friday from 9.30 am; all day Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays).

This does not affect 1 day travelcards for zones 1 to 4, so if you are visiting London you probably don’t need to worry about this at all as you are unlikely to be travelling to zone 5, 6 or beyond.

Which Travelcard to buy if you are planning a trip to London

1 day travelcard.

The price of the 1 day London travelcard for zones 1, 1-2, 1-3 and 1-4 costs £15.20. We don’t normally recommend using the 1 day travelcard, as it is actually cheaper to use an oyster card, a visitor oyster card, or a contactless card as these payment methods have a daily cap. The daily cap applied to these zones are: £8.10 for travel within zones 1-2; £9.60 for zones 1-3 and £11.70 for zones 1-4. Once you have reached this daily cap you will be able to travel within the same travel zones for free. It is still necessary to tap in and tap out on the yellow reader with your oyster card, visitor oyster card or contactless card when using public transport.

Find out more about choosing between an oyster card, a travelcard or using contactless on London Transport here: Oyster card, Travelcard or Contactless .

7 day Travelcard

The 7 day travelcard for London travel zones 1-2 costs £40.70. When comparing oyster card/visitor oyster card/contactless fares to a 7 day travelcard, I would probably say that it is convenient to get a 7 day travelcard if you are going to be travelling around London for more than 6 days. If you are going to be in London less than 6 days then I would recommend using an oyster card (vistor oyster card or contactless if you are a UK resident).

Where to buy a London travelcard

london travel card child age

Buying a London Travelcard at an underground station

It is possible to buy a London travelcard at any underground station in London, by either using a ticket machine at the ticket office or a manned desk in a the ticket office (if available). When you buy a 7 day, monthly or annual London travelcard at an underground station you will normally get an oyster card with the travelcard incorporated in it. So your oyster card will be pre-loaded with the travelcard you have chosen. This way you can also use this oyster card with pay as you go for any trips that are not included in the travelcard.

So, as an example, if you have a 7 day travelcard for zones 1 – 4 in your oyster card, you will be entitles to unlimited journeys within these  travel zones for 7 days, and you can use your oyster as you normally would, by touching in and touching out. But, if one day you need to go to zone 6, you will be able to use the same oyster with pay as you go balance. One example when this might happen, is if you arrive at Heathrow airport (zone 6) but you want to buy a 7 day travelcard for zones 1 – 4. It will be much cheaper to use they oyster card with pay as you go for the journey from Heathrow to central London and the journey from central London to Heathrow Airport on your last day and adding a 7 travelcard for zones 1 – 4, than using a 7 day travelcard for zones 1 – 6.

Buying a London Travelcard at a train station

It is possible to buy a London travelcard at any train station located inside London’s Travel Zones . When you buy a travelcard at a train station, you will normally get a paper travelcard and not an oyster card.

Stansted, Luton or Gatwick airports are all outside London’s Travel Zones so these stations won’t normally sell London travelcards.

Buy a London Travelcard online

One of the easiest ways to buy a London travelcard is by buying it online. The price is exactly the same as what it would cost you to buy it in London but you will pay a little extra for delivery.

Buy a London travelcard at Heathrow airport

London travelcard fares from 5th march 2023, travelcard for children.

Children under the age of 11 travel free within London travel zones. Children over 11 can also benefit from reduced fares; you can learn more about this in our article: Travelling in London with kids .

Find out more

For more information, visit London’s official transport website: Transport For London

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A Guide to Free Transport in London for Children

Depending on your child's age they can travel free or enjoy reduced rate travel on public transport throughout London. This can really help keep costs down when visiting London as a family. 

Children over 5 can travel unaccompanied on London transport but it would be unusual to see young children traveling alone. Most primary school children in London (under 11s) are escorted to and from school by an adult (parent/carer).

Check TfL's useful guide and route maps to learn more about traveling with children.

Children Under 5

Children under 5 travel free at any time on London buses, the tube , trams, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and London Overground trains when accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket.

Children 5 to 10 Years

Children under 11 can travel free on the tube, DLR, Overground and TfL rail services when accompanied by an adult using pay as you go or with a valid ticket (up to four children can travel per adult). If children are traveling alone they'll need a 5-10 Zip Oyster Photocard in order to travel for free.

If children do not have a valid Oyster photocard, they must pay the full adult fare on National Rail services.

In order to apply for a 5-10 Oyster Photocard , a parent or guardian must create a web account and complete a form on behalf of the child. You'll need a color digital photo of the child and you'll need to pay a £10 admin fee.

Children 11 to 15 Years

All 11-to-15-year-olds need an Oyster Photocard to travel free on buses and trams. They must also touch in/out (place their Oyster photocard on a reader to document the journey) as they board a bus or at the tram stop before boarding to avoid a penalty fare. 11-15-year-olds can travel off-peak on the tube, DLR, and London Overground for a maximum of £1.30 a day with an Oyster photocard.

In order to apply for an  11-15   Oyster Photocard , a parent or guardian must create a web account and complete a form on behalf of the child. You'll need a color digital photo of the child and you'll need to pay a £15 admin fee.

Children 16 to 18 Years

16 to 18-year-olds who are in qualifying full-time education and live in a London borough can travel free on buses and trams with a 16+ Oyster Photocard. Other 16-17-year-olds can get a 16+ Oyster Photocard to travel at half the adult rate.

In order to apply for a 16+ Oyster Photocard, a parent or guardian must create a web account and complete a form on behalf of the child. You'll need a color digital photo of the child and you'll need to pay a £20 admin fee.

Visitors to London

Applications can be made in advance for a 5-10, 11-15 and 16+ photocards for collection on arrival in London . Visitors can apply online or ask for an application form to be sent to you. You need to apply at least 3 weeks in advance or you can simply sort it out when you arrive at any London Underground station. Be sure to bring some passport size photos.

Students aged 18 and over attending a full-time course at a university, college, or school should contact their education provider to see if they are registered with the 18+ Student Oyster photocard scheme. This allows the purchase of Travelcards and Bus Pass season tickets at 30% off the adult rate.

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Love and London

How to Pay for Kids on Public Transport When Visiting London

We often get asked about how to pay for kids on London’s public transport, and although it’s actually pretty straightforward, it differs depending on the child’s age. So, we’ve broken down some of the most commonly asked questions so that your next trip with the kids in the city is as seamless as possible. Please note that this article is relevant to London transport only and not trains outside the city.

how to pay for kids to travel in london on the underground

Do kids have to pay to use public transport in London?

It depends on how old they are.

Under the age of five

If your child is under the age of 5, they can travel for free at all times on London’s transport system. This covers buses, the London Overground, the Tube, DLR, Uber Boats and the IFS Cloud Cable Car (formerly Emirates Air Line Cable Car), which offers aerial views of the city’s skyline. But, they can only travel for free if they’re travelling alongside a fare-paying adult.

Aged between five and ten

Again, children aged 6 and 10 can travel at no cost on London’s Tube, DLR and London Overground, as long as they travel with a fare-paying adult. They do not need an Oyster card, and up to four children can travel at any time with one paying adult. However, if you want to see London from up high on the IFS Cloud Cable Car, children between 5 and 15 will only need to pay child rates.

If you plan to travel by Uber Boat at least a couple of times in a day, you’re best off purchasing a Family River Roamer ticket , where you can hop on and off an unlimited amount of times; it’s valid for two adults and three children aged 5 to 15 years.

Aged between 11 and 15

Kids 11 to 15 do have to pay for transport, but they can get 50% off their fares for up to 14 days with the Young Visitor Discount. To get this, you’ll need to buy an Oyster card , a transport card that costs £7 (non-refundable), and can be topped up at stations with credit which allows you to travel. Once you have your card, ask a member of staff at any tube or train station to add the Young Visitor Discount to it. Just be sure to have your kid with you when you ask for this.

This works in the same way as any regular paying adult. However, if they don’t have a contactless card or Apple Pay/Google Pay, then it’s best to purchase them an Oyster card that they can then top up.

how to pay for kids on london's public transport when visiting london

Does every kid need a payment card?

Kids under 11 do not need a payment card. But aged 11 and above do, and as mentioned above, Oyster is usually best.

how to pay for kids on londons public transport

How do you take kids under 11 onto the tube without their own card?

At all stations, there will be a row of narrow ticket barriers where you can enter in and out using your contactless card, Oyster card or paper ticket. Alongside these narrow barriers, there will always be wide barriers (usually two) at the end of the rows designed for people travelling with suitcases, kids, dogs and larger items, so use those (see the picture above). These are made so that people can go through the barriers without getting accidentally trapped on the way through.

For the bus, just take the kids on, pay your own fare and find a seat.

How to pay for kids on London's public transport when visiting London how to pay for kids on london buses

Do adults need Oyster cards to travel in London?

There are three main ways that adults can pay for public transport in London: Oyster card, debit or credit card and Apple or Google Pay. Oyster cards are not required when using the city’s transport system, but there are some things that you’ll need to familiarise yourself with before visiting. Take a look at our recent guide on how to pay for public transport in London to get an in-depth understanding of the best ways you can pay for transportation in the city.

Hope we helped you figure out how to pay for kids on London’s public transport. Have a great time!

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Jessica Dellow is an East Londoner who loves to travel the world and eat her way around the city. When she's not eating, cooking or hanging out in the local pub, you’ll probably find her walking one of her BorrowMyDoggy dogs in Victoria Park with a coffee in hand.

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London Underground with kids: tips for using the tube

If you’re visiting London, whether on a day trip or a longer break, you’ll find yourself on public transport at some point – and chances are that means the Tube. So after travelling on it as a child myself and navigating the lines with a buggy, toddler and child, here are my tips on using the London Underground with kids. 

London underground sign against a blue sky - tips for taking the London Underground with kids

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Because if you’re baffled by the thought of using the world’s oldest underground system, it’s not as overwhelming as it might appear – although there are some quirks to the system, especially when you’re travelling with children on London Underground.

So whether that’s planning in advance to get the best tickets, or knowing when it’s a good idea NOT to take the train, here’s everything you need to know about the London Underground with kids.

Contents - click to jump to a section

What ticket do I need for the London Underground?

With new technology bringing new ways to pay for travel, there’s now a surprising number of choices when it comes to tube tickets.

At its simplest, the options are the old paper travelcards (being phased out from January 2024), Tfl’s Oyster card or using contactless payment, with different variations for teens, and for anyone who needs 7-day travelcards or longer (mostly aimed at London residents rather than visitors).

Don’t count on using cash if you’re hopping onto a bus either: since 2014, you can only use contactless or an Oyster card to pay (unless you already have a travelcard).

Adult fares on the tube

Using paper tickets and old-fashioned travelcards is almost never the cheapest way to get around – and you’ll find yourself queueing a lot more if you play to buy one every day (or every journey). They’re also due to be phased out from January 2024 so will cease to be an option before long.

The only exceptions when they may be worth buying are if you’re spending a week or more in London, or if you’re planning to travel a lot in the outer travel zones – you can compare prices for pay as you go fares and travelcards here.

Instead there are two main options for adults which will work out cheaper (and easier).

Contactless payment

If you can pay using contactless – either a contactless bank card (credit or debit) or Apple/Google Pay on your phone – the simplest way to pay for travel is to use this.

Simply tap your card or device on the yellow readers, and the system will register each journey and automatically cap it at a maximum daily cost, the same rate as an Oyster card. Always tap in and out on the tube, or when you get on a bus.

You must use the same card or device each time though, to ensure it’s capped correctly, and each adult needs a separate card (although they can be linked to the same bank account).

Check out the current fare caps here

A blue and white Oyster card, the public transport card used on London's Tfl network for both adults and children - my tips for using the tube with kids

Oyster card

Alternatively, a visitor plastic Oyster card costs £7 and you can order it online beforehand or buy one at an underground station when you arrive, as well as from a Tfl London Visitor Centre .

These have to be set up with a minimum of £10 pay-as-you-go credit, which you can top up in tube stations and some shops; then just like like contactless, you use the card to tap in and out, and the system automatically caps the amount you spend per day.

The fares vary depending on the time of day and how many zones you’re travelling through but the daily cap for zones 1-2 is currently £8.10 for adults. You can get a refund on any money you’ve loaded on but haven’t spent, but the cost of the Oyster card is non-refundable.

Child fares on the tube

Tfl child fares depend on the age of your kids, with free travel on the Tfl network (tube, bus, DLR, Elizabeth Line and London Overground) for all children under 11 years old. This is only for the Tfl network – if you’re travelling on National Rail services, kids aged 5-15 pay half-price but only under fives are free.

Otherwise children aged11-15 travelling on the tube can get discounted travel using paper travelcards (being phased out from January 2024) and Oyster cards. Read on for more details.

Teens aged 16+ can only get discounted travel if you have a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard , which you need to apply for in advance, and costs £20.

Bus & tube travel with children under 11

Children under 11 travel free with an adult with any valid ticket, including a contactless card or Oyster card, up to a maximum of four kids per adult.

You’ll need to use the wide luggage/accessible gates to get through, as the main gates close speedily to stop fare evaders – fine if you’re carrying a baby, but not otherwise, and certainly not with a buggy.

You have longer to get through the wider gates though, and you’ll find these at the end of the bank of entry gates into the tube. In larger stations, there is usually one at each end so look for the one with the green light.

In smaller stations there may only be one, so if it’s showing a red cross, stand near it and it should automatically switch to green as you go to swipe your ticket.

It’s worth knowing that Zip Oyster cards for age 5-10 are aimed at London residents who might be using public transport alone, and aren’t needed for child visitors travelling with an adult.

Image showing a graphic of the London Eye on the Essential Guide to London with kids ebook cover, and the words 'click to buy my 33-page guide to London. Itineraries, tips and all you need to know before a visit to London with kids' linking to my the London with kids shop page

Bus & tube travel with children aged 11-15

Children aged 11-15 have to pay for tube travel, but they get 50% off the standard adult fare. In order to do that, they’ll need to have a child ticket of their own to get the discounted fare.

For visitors to London and non UK-residents, Tfl suggests ordering a Visitor Oyster card before you leave home, then when you arrive in London, Underground staff can add the Young Visitor discount to your card.

This can only be done at tube stations, not National Rail stations, and can also be added to a standard Oyster card if you already own one or if you buy one on arrival.

You then top up credit as normal but are charged half the adult rate on pay-as-you-go tickets for up to 14 days.

Zip Oyster Photocards for age 11-15 are aimed at those based in the city (or frequent visitors) as they cost more and are more complicated to apply for – you’ll need a passport photo, and to allow extra time for it to arrive. It’s worth considering if you visit London frequently though, and includes free travel on buses.

As the Oyster cards cost £7 to buy, if you’re only visiting for a day or are travelling outside zones 1-2, it can be worth getting a paper child travelcard .

However, these are being phased out from January 2024. The day child travelcard also costs more than the maximum daily capped fare using an Oyster card, so if there’s a chance you’ll return, having an Oyster card with the young visitor discount quickly saves money.

There’s no way to get child fares on the tube using contactless payment, so it’ll charge full adult rate if you use this.

For more ideas on how to save money on days out in London with kids , check out my top tips

Download the apps

If you’re struggling to plan out your journeys, there are some helpful apps to take the stress out of working out a route.

Citymapper is my favourite, with information on different routes, real-time train times, and even suggestions on which carriage to get on at for the easiest exit.

Tiled sign saying Way Out in the London Underground

Or the Tfl Go app is Tfl’s own route planner, with status updates and bus information as well as helping to plan tube journeys.

Google maps is also particularly useful for bus travel, but you can use it for route planning on the tube network as well.

Avoid rush hour

London at rush hour isn’t fun, even if you’ve had practice. Cramming yourself into a carriage of surly commuters with a pushchair, toddler or suitcase is even less fun.

It’s not always possible to avoid peak times entirely, but bear in mind the crush will usually be worst from 8am to 9am, and 5.30pm to 6.30pm, then allow at least half an hour either side when it’ll be busy too.

If you’re coming from outside Zone 1, it’s can also be cheaper if you avoid peak morning times (fares drop after 9.30am) – and in summer, some tube lines are horribly hot (especially the Central Line) so the emptier the better.

The end carriages are often the emptiest if you do find yourself on a busy platform. For more ideas on how to avoid some of the busiest stations, check out Tfl’s advice

If you want to avoid being laden down with heavy bags as you travel, check out Luggage Hero and Radical Storage which have dozens of places around London to store baggage securely while you explore

Electronic gates at the entrance to a tube station in London showing the yellow card reader for contactless and Oyster cards - my tips for using the London Underground with kids

Always touch in and out

It’s not such a strangely coded message as it sounds – simply that if you don’t touch your card on the yellow readers as you go in and out of stations (or when you get on to buses), you’ll find yourself getting a penalty fare as a result.

Don’t forget to do this, even if barriers are open. The same applies whether you’re using Oyster cards or contactless.

With the bus, only tap your card when you get on though.

If you are using a paper travelcard, there’s a slot to feed the card into, not far from the round yellow card readers.

Do consider the bus

Depending on your journey, it can be easier taking one bus than lots of line changes underground, especially with a buggy – if you’re using the London Underground with toddlers and preschoolers, check out my separate tips.

Bus journeys also give you a chance to see more of the city – a couple of routes will take you past some of London’s top sights too for a bargain tour, including routes 9, 15 and 26 (the old number 11 has changed route so isn’t as good any more)

Unless you’re doing a short straightforward journey, it’s unlikely to be faster than the tube though. Apps like Citymapper are really useful if you want to compare different options to get you from A to B, while Google Maps gives real-time bus information and shows the closest stops.

Close-up of the front of a red London doubledecker bus showing the details Route 9 Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park Corner and Royal Albert Hall - don't forget about travelling by bus as well the tube with kids

Don’t forget trains on the Tfl network

As well as buses and the underground, overground services, the Elizabeth Line and DLR (Docklands Light Railway) trains are also part of the Tfl network, and count towards the daily cap for fares.

You can also use Oyster cards/contactless for airport trains including the Heathrow Express, as well as the Gatwick Express, although the airport journeys aren’t covered in the daily limit.

For the best ways to get from London airports to central London , check out this post

If you’re heading to Watford Junction to visit the Harry Potter studios , you can use Oyster/contactless cards for this as well and kids under 11 travel free on the fast trains from Euston to Watford Junction.

However, if you’re planning to use other rail services – including local suburban rail routes, such as Waterloo to Hampton Court Palace – kids aged 5-15 get 50% off ticket prices but do not travel free.

Image showing a graphic of London's iconic sights and the words 'click to read my quick start guide to London, all the essentials you need to know before a visit to London with kids' linking to my blog post guide to London with kids

Travel by boat & cable car

If you fancy travelling by river, you can use contactless and Oyster cards on the Uber Boat by Thames Clipper services (or buy tickets directly using the app).

Only kids under five travel free, otherwise it’s 50% of the adult fare – it’s also not included in the daily cap

If you have a paper travelcard, you can also get a discount on these river boat services

It’s not the fastest way to travel, but it’s a lot more scenic than a dark tunnel.

Or the IFS Cloud Cable Car whisks you 90m above the Thames, crossing between the north Greenwich peninsula and the Docklands.

You can also use Oyster cards and contactless payment to travel on London’s cable car, but again, only kids under five travel free and it’s not included in the daily cap.

For more ideas of the best boat tours in London with kids check out my top picks

Walk when you can

London’s sheer size means that if you want to explore, you really can’t do it all on foot. But the tube map, iconic design though it is, does not accurately reflect the geography of London so there are a few spots where it’s simply not worth taking the tube.

Part of the tube map showing stations in central London - my tips for using the London Underground with kids

All Londoners know it’s faster to walk from Embankment to Charing Cross, for example, or from Leicester Square to Covent Garden, instead of venturing up and down the escalators for a single stop.

There’s a helpful map showing walking distances between stations or simply check Google Maps and Citymapper to compare how long it’ll take on foot, versus the fastest option on public transport.

Check out my walking tour of London’s landmarks if you want to explore the capital on foot with kids

Be prepared for stairs

There are more than 250 stations on the Tfl network, and only a limited number have step-free access – Tfl’s Journey Planner can rule out stairs though it’ll be limiting, while the Citymapper app also gives an option to search for step-free journeys only.

Either way, you’ll probably encounter steps at some point, especially outside the centre. Stations in the centre will usually have an escalator, including the 60m whopper at Angel, while the deepest stations have lifts – when they say not to take the stairs except in an emergency, these ones really mean it.

Consider a baby carrier or sling, or at least bring the lightest pushchair you can get away with.

Some bigger stations have long walks between lines as well: changing from the Victoria line to the Piccadilly line at Green Park seems to involve a never-ending walk, while switching lines between Bank and Monument (though officially connected) is another long trek.

If you’re switching to the Elizabeth Line, you may need to head outside and walk (for example at Canary Wharf), even when the stations share the same name or are officially connected

If you’re feeling entirely overwhelmed, footsore and fed up, it’s worth knowing that black cabs can take pushchairs so you needn’t worry about not having a car seat – simply pop the brake on, and settle yourself back.

Slightly blurred tube train leaving a station with the warning 'Mind the Gap' written on the platform edge behind the yellow line - my tips for using the London tube with kids

Stand behind the yellow line

A serious piece of advice. At most stations, there’s nothing between the platform and the train (except occasionally a gap, mind that too), so keep kids behind the yellow line to be safe. If you’re travelling with a buggy, reversing in is often easiest.

If you need to stop to check a map once you’ve got off (there are plenty around the stations as well), or simply to get your bearings, head over towards the wall to do it.

Stopping right in the middle of the platform will make you very unpopular when there’s a train’s worth of people walking behind you.

Keep kids entertained

If you’re spending a while with bored kids on the tube, the novelty can quickly wear off – if you’ve got a long journey, it’s worth having something up your sleeve to entertain.

For short trips, where you don’t want to be forever taking things out of bags and putting them back two stations later, encourage them to turn the trip into a challenge with a pocket-sized  I-Spy London Transport  book.

Or there’s masses of tube trivia to keep you amused – you won’t be striking up conversation with your neighbours, I promise.

Check out these 150 facts celebrating the underground’s 150 years , including the two station names containing all five vowels, and the one station which doesn’t have any letters of the word ‘mackerel’ in it.

Otherwise, keep the usual entertainment – stickers, books, magazines – to hand. Counting the stations is always a good failsafe as well.

A pile of mackerel with one looking straight to the camera - one of the clues to a piece of London Underground trivia

Don’t talk but do stand on the left

Some things are simply not done on the tube – and if you want to avoid too many scowls from Londoners it’s best to know the etiquette in advance (although we’re not all unfriendly).

Those unspoken rules include not chatting with fellow passengers, while the official rules include not standing on the left on escalators.

The left hand side is intended for people walking rather than standing: the same often goes for the corridors between platforms or if you’re changing line too, so those who are walking more slowly with small children, keep an eye out for the little blue signs as you go to avoid the speedwalkers.

The Tfl website is packed with surprisingly helpful information – there are FAQs for visitors and more details on fares for children  who get either free travel or reduced prices on different transport, even suggestions on the best buggies to use on the tube .

It also has maps with toilets at tube stations – click here – although it’s definitely best not to rely on these, or be aware some have a small charge if you do need them.

And there’s also a status update for all the lines, which is worth checking before you go, in case of delays or to see if any lines are temporarily closed. You can also find advance details of weekend engineering works and any strike action.

For more ideas on things to do in London with kids , check out my guide to London with kids , as well as suggestions for free things to do in London , unusual things to do in London and things to do in London in the rain with kids

* First published 2014, last updated 2023*

PIN FOR LATER: LONDON UNDERGROUND WITH KIDS

Tips for taking the London Underground with kids - understanding tickets including child fares, navigating the tube with a buggy and other advice on getting around the UK capital with children

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission. All opinions on using the London Underground with kids are my own.

Images courtesy Depositphotos

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Award-winning family travel blogger and mum to the mini traveller, aka Minnie. Together we've visited Europe, America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, tried a cruise and a road trip, and survived countless long-haul trips. London (UK) based. Serious beach habit.

This is very helpful, like all your blog posts! Thanks

Thank you! Glad it’s useful – and one extra tip given the weather at the moment… take a fan.

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How to get around London: Oyster card, Travel card or Contactless?

London is a huge city, divided into six zones, with a wide and well-structured transport network. When you visit London, getting  around the city can be expensive. I get around London daily with the contactless, and in this post we will see whether it is worth buying a prepaid card or not.

I confess I had to spend some night to prepare this post, as the information aren’t often updated and there are many options to evaluate. However, I hope this post can help you to find the best value on how to get around London with kids.

If you are traveling to London for the first time, you might be interested also in First time in London what to do .

Subway map

London Tube map

Table of contents

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY THE OYSTER CARD OT THE TRAVEL CARD 

Travelcards and Oyster Cards, can be used on all London public transport: buses, metro, trains and Docklands Light Railway, including “Night Buses”.

  • Save time, avoid buying individual tickets each time.
  • Also avoid the usually long queues for tickets.
  • You do not run the risk of buying a wrong rate or an incorrect ticket.
  • Save a lot compared to buying ordinary tickets.
  • Indispensable for those visiting London, if you think that the cost of a ticket for a single journey starts at £ 4.90!
  • Arrive in London with your Travelcard / Oyster Card in your pocket, ready to be used.

FARES FOR CHILDREN AND KIDS

  • From 0 to 4 years : travel for free, no ticket needed.
  • From 5 to 10 years : they travel for free, if accompanied by an adult (max 4 children for each adult) you do not need a ticket.
  • From 11 to 15 years : boys rate. (Oyster Card is not able to manage child rates, we recommend that you buy a 7-day Travelcard for kids which is less expensive).
  • From 16 years up on normal adult rate.

HOW TO GET AROUND LONDON WITH KIDS: THE OYSTER CARD

The Oyster Card is a prepaid card that allow you to pay every means of transport in London, including ferries and the transfer from Gatwick Airport. Please note that you CANNOT use the Oyster card on the Heathrow Express or the Stansted Express. Children under 11 years old travel for free on Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail, when accompanied by an adult who owns an Oyster card. Children between 11 and 15 years old travel for free on tube, DLR and London overground at a reduced rate, provided they have a badge with Oyster Zip 11-15 photo. You can find all the information on the Oyster ZIP Oyster card on th e Transport for London websit e.

The Oyster card can be purchased in all the tube stations with a deposit of £5 which will be refunded if the card is returned at the end of the trip.

With the Oyster Card you have a maximum daily cap  for zones 1 and 2 that, at the time of this post is £6.40 (consider this amount for 3/4 trips), if you use only the tube and £4.50 if you use only the buses.

The card can be recharged, and if there is some credit on it, you can collect it when you return it.

London tube escalators

London tube escalators

NEW RATES FROM JANUARY 2020

From 1 January 2020, the daily and weekly spending limits will change slightly, as well as weekly, monthly and annual passes.

Travelcard rates

Travelcard fares will increase by 2.8% from January 2020:

Day Travelcard: increases from £ 13.10 to £ 13.50 7 Day Travelcard: increases from £ 35.10 to £ 36.10

Pay as you go cups (maximum daily spending in zones 1 and 2):

Daily: £ 7.20

* rates updated in January 2020

HOW TO GET AROUND LONDON WITH KIDS: THE VISITOR OYSTER CARD

london travel card child age

Unlike the Oyster, the Visitor oyster Card costs £5 not refundable , but it entitles you to some benefits and discounts that you can consult at this link, but I honestly do not see this great advantage. I don’t see any major benefits included, especially since most of the museums are free, and some of the most expensive attractions such as the London Eye are not included.

Children aged 5 to 10 years can travel free of charge anywhere and anytime without a ticket if they are with a paying adult. If you are traveling with children aged between 11 and 15, purchase a Visitor Oyster card online before the departure, and when you arrive in London, you can ask for the young discount, and your child will travel with a discount of 50% for up to 14 days.

You can load the 7-day-Travelcard only on standard Oyster cards (but not on the Visitor Oyster card). If you are in London for more than 5 days the Travelcard is the most convenient choice.

HOW TO GET AROUND LONDON WITH KIDS: THE TRAVEL CARD

The Travelcard is a prepaid card, daily or weekly, that allows you to travel without limits on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and buses in London in areas 1-2 (central London).

london travel card child age

  • OFF-PEAK ONE DAY : £12.70 (Adults 16 +) It means that you can not use it at peak times, but only after 9.30 in the morning from Monday to Friday. It is valid for all zones 1-6.
  • DAY ANYTIME : £12.70 only for 1-4 zones; £18.10 including ZONE 1-6. It can be used at any time on the day of validity and for any trip that starts before 04:30 the next day.
  • 7 DAYS: for zones 1-2 costs £34.10 (Adults 16 +) can be used for 7 days during the period of validity and for any trip that begins before 04:30 the day after the expiration date.

So if you plan to stay in London for more than 5 days, the 7-day formula is definitely convenient.

The tube station in Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus

TRAVELCARD VS OYSTER CARD: FIND THE DIFFERENCES

Validita’.

The Travelcard is valid for 1 or 7 consecutive days . For example: if you have purchased a 7-day card, and you are using it, for the first time, on a Thursday, at any time, the card will expire at 03.00 am on the following Wednesday and Thursday.

The Oyster Card does not have a specific deadline : you can start using it whenever you want and the days when you use it can also be non-consecutive. For example: if you have purchased a card to travel 3 days in zones 1/2 (credit charged 20 £) and you use it for the first time on a Thursday, you can travel all day, unlimited (always in zones 1/2). You could then decide not to use it at all on Friday and resume using it on Saturdays and so on. After 3 days of use, always with unlimited travel, the card will have exhausted its credit.

The Travelcard must be inserted in the special readers to access the metro and trains. Operation to be repeated even at the exit, so keep it always at hand. For buses, you have to go up front and show it to the driver.

The Oyster Card must be “swiped” on the special yellow readers to access the metro and trains. Operation to be repeated even at the exit, so keep it always at hand. For buses , you have to go up front and “crawl” it on the yellow reader. Pay close attention when you approach your Oyster to readers entering the metro. NEVER repeat the entry swipe twice. If you have any doubts: the gate cannot be opened, you cannot pass in time or anything, immediately contact the station staff, always present at the turnstiles, they will be happy to help you and you will avoid incorrect charges

HOW TO GET AROUND LONDON:  THE CONTACTLESS

All the tube stations in London are covered with some manifestos advertising that the contactless can be used to pay at the same rates as the Oyster. The advantage is clearly that you do not have to charge money and reload an Oyster card and if you do not use the entire credit, you won’t need to recollect it. The possible disadvantage is that you might feel not to have the idea of how much you are spending with the contactless. You should check your online account that however we all have today.

As the Oyster works, also the contactless recognize a daily cup, but the two technologies do it in a different way. You can understand better with the video made by two journalist of the Londonist: the contactless applies the discount from the second trip in zone 1, thus saving on subsequent journeys. The Oyster, on the other hand, calculates the three single journeys in zone 1 at full price, and then reduces the cost only on the last trip from Zone 1 to Zone 6.

HOW TO GET AROUND LONDON: IS THE TRAVEL CARD WORTH PAYING?

By purchasing the Travelcard, you are entitled to have a series of offers 2 per 1.  Be aware that you need to buy a “paper” Travelcard (not the electronic one) in any London railway or tube stations.

Travelcards loaded on Oyster cards are therefore not valid for offer 2 for 1. You can’t go wrong: If you don’t see the National Rail logo on your ticket, you’re not entitled to discounts.

Many attractions are included and the formula 2 x 1 let you spare lot of money: for example, the London Zoo, the London Eye, Madame Tussaud, the Tower of London, the ship Cutty Sark, the Tower Bridge. At this link   an interactive map shows all the attractions affiliated with the offer 2 x 1.

ADVANTAGE :

  • A nice saving for a family of 4 people with children older than 5 years

DISADVANTAGES :

  • Procedure not exactly simple, having to print all the vouchers before departure and buy the attractions early from abroad.
  • All the attractions can be purchased online, and generally saving 10%. Also, you can choose the time slot and this means that for many attractions you can skip the queue.

LONDON PASS: IS IT WORTH TO BUY?

London pass is a credits package allowing you access to more than 80 top attractions, tours and museums. You don’t need to buy a ticket. Attractions included are Tower of London, London Zoo, Windsor Castle and many more. Some attractions include the option to skip-the-queue, enabling you to jump the line and walk right in. It’s also included a 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tour,  to see London’s top landmarks with over 60 stops across London including Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and Piccadilly Circus.

A 4-day pass for an adult (+16) and a child (5-15) costs 241£ . It is worth to buy for 4 days as there are some expensive attractions included with this pass such as London Zoo (a single ticket costs 26£), London Eye (a single ticket costs 23£). You can have more information here.

YOUR LOCAL GUIDE IN LONDON: PLANNING SERVICES FOR YOUR TRIP

Do you want to experience London as a local and discover itineraries outside the usual tourist spots? Do you want us to create a personalized itinerary based on your specific interests (shopping, nature, culture … )? Living in London I can organize your trip with particular attention to family activities. You can request the service for a whole weekend or the itinerary for just one day. For more information click here or on the image below.

If you find this post helpful, share it and pin it for later

how to get around london with kids

I hope this post has been exhaustive and helpful, let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.

Disclaimer – Please note that this post contains affiliate links and any purchase made through such links will result in a small commission for myself with no charge for you. 

Why do you need to buy a prepaid Oyster card and Travel cards?

Travelcards and Oyster Cards, can be used on all public transport in London: buses, underground, trains and Docklands Light Railway, including

What is the Oyster Card?

The Oyster Card is a prepaid card used to pay for all means of transport in London, including ferries and transfers from Gatwick Airport.

What is the Visitor Oyster card?

The Visitor Oyster Card is reserved for tourists only, can be purchased online before leaving and will be delivered directly to your home.

What are the differences between Travel card and Oyster card?

The Travelcard is valid for 1 or 7 consecutive days. For example: if you purchased a 7-day card, and use it, for the first time, on a Thursday, at any time, the card will expire at 03.00 of the night between Wednesday and following Thursday.

How to get around London: Oyster card, Travel card or Contactless?

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expat-a-londra

Francesca Sparaco

Hi, my name is Francesca, I am from Italy and I am the mum of two boys. I love London, where I lived for 7 years and where I come back everytime I can. You can also find tips to travel with kids and how to raise bilingual kids.

Why start a blog? My personal experience

Meet santa at london transport museum.

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Utilissimo in vista della mia organizzazione viaggio weekend nella città londinese . Spero di realizzarlo .. intanto vado a leggere tutti i tuoi suggerimenti …. volo

Grazie mille Barbara 🙂

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We are planning a trip to London in the future, therefore your information are useful to us. 2×1 offers are very interesting but, as far as I understand, it seems to me that the procedure is not enough flexible to be practical: it is not easy to buy ticket in advance whan you travel with small kids since the travel plan needs to be adapted every day according to the child needs.

I think that if you organise to do one ‘big’ visit per day, you can arrange the other things around this, and at least get the booking for 1 each day. Of course it’s not easy to arrange completely a trip before the departure especially with young children. Sometimes it’s also good to take as it is, and enjoy the city and the travel without too much organisation

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Interesting and good. Thank for all the informations you give in this article. It’s important for families with children to know what they can do in the city.

Thank you Sofia 🙂

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I’ve got two young kids and was wondering if they can travel for free while I use my contactless card? I’ve been reading mixed answers, some saying yes and others saying that option is only available if I use an Oyster card.

Yes, because when you pass through the tube entry, you as parent pay and the kids don’t, they go with you while you put the card to pay

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Youth Gender Medications Limited in England, Part of Big Shift in Europe

Five European countries have recently restricted hormone treatments for adolescents with gender distress. They have not banned the care, unlike many U.S. states.

An exterior view of the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service in London on a spring day, with its name, "The Tavistock Center," written at the entrance overhead with two cars parked in front.

By Azeen Ghorayshi

Azeen Ghorayshi reports on transgender health and visited the world’s first youth gender clinic in Amsterdam this fall.

The National Health Service in England started restricting gender treatments for children this month, making it the fifth European country to limit the medications because of a lack of evidence of their benefits and concern about long-term harms.

England’s change resulted from a four-year review released Tuesday evening by Dr. Hilary Cass, an independent pediatrician. “For most young people, a medical pathway will not be the best way to manage their gender-related distress,” the report concluded. In a related editorial published in a medical journal, Dr. Cass said the evidence that youth gender treatments were beneficial was “built on shaky foundations.”

The N.H.S. will no longer offer drugs that block puberty , except for patients enrolled in clinical research. And the report recommended that hormones like testosterone and estrogen, which spur permanent physical changes, be prescribed to minors with “extreme caution.” (The guidelines do not apply to doctors in private practice, who serve a small fraction of the population.)

England’s move is part of a broader shift in northern Europe, where health officials have been concerned by soaring demand for adolescent gender treatments in recent years. Many patients also have mental health conditions that make it difficult to pinpoint the root cause of their distress, known as dysphoria.

In 2020, Finland’s health agency restricted the care by recommending psychotherapy as the primary treatment for adolescents with gender dysphoria. Two years later, Sweden restricted hormone treatments to “exceptional cases.”

In December, regional health authorities in Norway designated youth gender medicine as a “treatment under trial,” meaning hormones will be prescribed only to adolescents in clinical trials. And in Denmark, new guidelines being finalized this year will limit hormone treatments to transgender adolescents who have experienced dysphoria since early childhood.

Several transgender advocacy groups in Europe have condemned the changes , saying that they infringe on civil rights and exacerbate the problems of overstretched health systems. In England, around 5,800 children were on the waiting list for gender services at the end of 2023, according to the N.H.S.

“The waiting list is known to be hell,” said N., a 17-year-old transgender boy in southern England who requested to withhold his full name for privacy. He has been on the waiting list for five years, during which time he was diagnosed with autism and depression. “On top of the trans panic our own government is pushing, we feel forgotten and left behind,” he said.

In the United States, Republican politicians have cited the pullback in Europe to justify laws against youth gender medicine. But the European policies are notably different from the outright bans for adolescents passed in 22 U.S. states, some of which threaten doctors with prison time or investigate parents for child abuse. The European countries will still allow gender treatments for certain adolescents and are requiring new clinical trials to study and better understand their effects.

“We haven’t banned the treatment,” said Dr. Mette Ewers Haahr, a psychiatrist who leads Denmark’s sole youth gender clinic, in Copenhagen. Effective treatments must consider human rights and patient safety, she said. “You have to weigh both.”

In February, the European Academy of Paediatrics acknowledged the concerns about youth gender medicine. “The fundamental question of whether biomedical treatments (including hormone therapy) for gender dysphoria are effective remains contested,” the group wrote. In contrast, the American Academy of Pediatrics last summer reaffirmed its endorsement of the care, stating that hormonal treatments are essential and should be covered by health insurers, while also commissioning a systematic review of evidence.

Europeans pioneered the use of gender treatments for young people. In the 1990s, a clinic in Amsterdam began giving puberty-suppressing drugs to adolescents who had felt they were a different gender since early childhood.

The Dutch doctors reasoned that puberty blockers could give young patients with gender dysphoria time to explore their identity and decide whether to proceed with hormones to ultimately transition. For patients facing male puberty, the drugs would stave off the physical changes — such as a deeper voice and facial hair — that could make it more difficult for them to live as women in adulthood. The Dutch team’s research, which was first published in 2011 and tracked a carefully selected group of 70 adolescents, found that puberty blockers, in conjunction with therapy, improved psychological functioning.

That study was hugely influential, inspiring clinics around the world to follow the Dutch protocol. Referrals to these clinics began to surge around 2014, though the numbers remain small. At Sweden’s clinic, for example, referrals grew to 350 adolescents in 2022 from around 50 in 2014. In England, those numbers grew to 3,600 referrals in 2022 from 470 in 2014.

Clinics worldwide reported that the increase was largely driven by patients raised as girls. And unlike the participants in the original Dutch study, many of the new patients did not experience gender distress until puberty and had other mental health conditions, including depression and autism.

Given these changes, some clinicians are questioning the relevance of the original Dutch findings for today’s patients.

“The whole world is giving the treatment, to thousands, tens of thousands of young people, based on one study,” said Dr. Riittakerttu Kaltiala, a psychiatrist who has led the youth gender program in Finland since 2011 and has become a vocal critic of the care.

Dr. Kaltiala’s own research found that about 80 percent of patients at the Finnish clinic were born female and began experiencing gender distress later in adolescence. Many patients also had psychological issues and were not helped by hormonal treatments, she found. In 2020, Finland severely limited use of the drugs.

Around the same time, the Swedish government commissioned a rigorous research review that found “insufficient” evidence for hormone therapies for youth. In 2022, Sweden recommended hormones only for “exceptional cases,” citing in part the uncertainty around how many young people may choose to stop or reverse their medical transitions down the line, known as detransitioning.

Even the original Dutch clinic is facing pressure to limit patients receiving the care. In December, a public documentary series in the Netherlands questioned the basis of the treatments. And in February, months after a far-right political party swept an election in a country long known as socially liberal , the Dutch Parliament passed a resolution to conduct research comparing the current Dutch approach with that of other European countries.

“I would have liked that the Netherlands was an island,” said Dr. Annelou de Vries, a psychiatrist who led the original Dutch research and still heads the Amsterdam clinic. “But of course, we are not — we are also part of the global world. So in a way, if everybody is starting to be concerned, of course, these concerns come also to our country.”

In England, brewing concerns about the surge of new patients reached a boiling point in 2018, when 10 clinicians at the N.H.S.’s sole youth gender clinic, known as the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service, formally complained that they felt pressure to quickly approve children, including those with serious mental health problems, for puberty blockers.

In 2021, Tavistock clinicians published a study of 44 children who took puberty blockers that showed a different result from the Dutch: The patients given the drugs, on average, saw no impact on psychological function.

Although the drugs did not lessen thoughts of self-harm or the severity of dysphoria, the adolescents were “resoundingly thrilled to be on the blocker,” Dr. Polly Carmichael, the head of the clinic, said at a 2016 conference . And 43 of the 44 study participants later chose to start testosterone or estrogen, raising questions about whether the drug was serving its intended purpose of giving adolescents time to consider whether a medical transition was right for them.

In 2020, the N.H.S. commissioned Dr. Cass to carry out an independent review of the treatments. She commissioned scientific reviews and considered international guidelines of the care. She also met with young people and their families, trans adults, people who had detransitioned, advocacy groups and clinicians.

The review concluded that the N.H.S.’s standard of care was inadequate, with long waiting lists for access to drug treatments and few routes to address the mental health concerns that may be contributing to gender distress. The N.H.S. shuttered the Tavistock center last month and opened two new youth gender clinics, which Dr. Cass said should have a “holistic” approach, with more support for those with autism, depression and eating disorders, as well as psychotherapy to help adolescents explore their identities.

“Children and young people have just been really poorly served,” Dr. Cass said in an interview with the editor of The British Medical Journal, released Tuesday. She added, “I can’t think of another area of pediatric care where we give young people potentially irreversible treatments and have no idea what happens to them in adulthood.”

The changes enacted by the N.H.S. this month are “an acknowledgment that our concerns were, in fact, valid,” said Anna Hutchinson, a clinical psychologist in London who was one of the Tavistock staff members who raised concerns in 2018. “It’s reassuring that we’re going to return to a more robust, evidence-based pathway for decisions relating to these children.”

Some critics said that Europe, like the United States, had also been influenced by a growing backlash against transgender people.

In Britain, for example, a yearslong fight over a proposed law that would have made it easier for transgender people to change the gender on their identification documents galvanized a political movement to try to exclude transgender women from women’s sports, prisons and domestic violence shelters.

“The intention with the Cass review is to be neutral, but I think that neutral has maybe moved,” said Laurence Webb, a representative from Mermaids, a trans youth advocacy organization in Britain. “Extremist views have become much more normalized.”

Other countries have seen more overt attacks on transgender rights and health care. In 2020, Hungary’s Parliament passed a law banning gender identity changes on legal documents. Last year, Russia banned legal gender changes as well as gender-related medical care, with one lawmaker describing gender surgeries as the “path to the degeneration of the nation.”

In France this year, a group of conservative legislators introduced a bill to ban doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and hormones, with punishments of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros, or about $32,600. And on Monday, the Vatican condemned gender transitions as threats to human dignity.

Azeen Ghorayshi covers the intersection of sex, gender and science for The Times. More about Azeen Ghorayshi

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COMMENTS

  1. 11-15 Zip Oyster photocards

    Expiry. 11-15 Zip Oyster photocards expire on 30 September in the year after your child's 16th birthday. A parent or guardian can then apply for a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard. Any remaining pay as you go credit from a 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard will not be transferred to a new 16+ Zip Oyster photocard. You will need to contact us to arrange a refund.

  2. London Child Fares and Tickets

    Children aged 11-15. Children aged 11-15 travel for free on London's buses and at child-rate Pay as you go Oyster fares on the underground (tube), DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services if they have an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard. The child-rate single fare with an 11-15 Zip Oyster is 95p (peak) or 85p (off-peak) for zones 1-6.

  3. Free and discounted travel

    Children under 5 travel free. Children under 5 travel free with a fare paying adult - check your fare ... London schools can register for groups to travel free off-peak to various venues. ... Discounts off your travel when you buy an Annual Travelcard. Bus & Tram Discount. Discounted travel on our buses and trams.

  4. Do kids need an Oyster card? Using the Zip Oyster card for children

    If you're visiting London from outside the UK, ask for the Young Visitor discount to be set up on an Oyster card at any Tube, London Overground or Elizabeth line station. This allows a child aged 11 to 15 to travel at 50% off the adult fare for 14 days. The child must be with you when you ask for the Young Visitor discount. Children aged 16 and 17

  5. Child Fares on London's Underground, Buses & Transport 2024

    For the days in London (for the kids) with YPD it's £0.75 each bus journey and £1.20 train. So assuming 6 days at the fare cap that's £21.60 per child and with the airport transfers £24.70 for the week, so maybe load £25 on the Oysters when purchasing.

  6. Travelling in London with kids: Fares, Tickets and Advice

    Kids Travel for Free: Children under the age of 11 can travel for free on the London Underground and buses when accompanied by an adult with a valid Oyster card or Travelcard. Children aged 11 to 15 can also travel for free on buses with an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard.

  7. Child Tube Fares 2024

    5-10 Zip Oyster photocard - Kids under the age of 11 already get free tube travel if they're accompanied by a fare-paying adult, but if they need to travel alone then they'll have to get hold of a 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard beforehand. 5-10 Zip Oyster photocards cost £10 each, and expire the day before your child's 11th birthday.

  8. Travelling in London with kids

    Children under 11 years of age. Children aged under 11 travel free on London´s buses and trams, at any time, and do not need a ticket. ... Children from 11 to 16 years old can also travel with an adult oyster card or travel card if necessary. In this case, they will not benefit from reduced rates on travel. ... To buy a 7-day child travelcard ...

  9. London Day Travelcard

    See the different types of Travelcard available for your visit to London and buy online from the TfL Visitor ... Travelcard prices start at £15.20 for a central London 1 day Travelcard (zones 1-4). Child Travelcards prices start at £7.60 (zonnes 1-4). ... Children under 11 years of age may travel for free without their own Travelcard on ...

  10. PDF 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard scheme 2022-2023 ...

    Section 6 - Applications for non-London residents 1. All conditions outlined in Section 3 apply. 2. If we have been able to verify your child's age online, and you live in the UK, we will post the photocard to you. 3. If we are unable to verify your child's age online, or you live overseas, the photocard must be collected from a Visitor Centre.

  11. Child Bus Fares London 2024

    A Zip Oyster photocard gives children free or discounted travel on London's buses and trains. 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard - 11-15 Zip Oyster photocards cost £15 and give children aged over 10 years 11 months and under 16 on the 31st August free bus travel on the bus. If your child is aged 16 now, but was 15 on the 31st August just gone ...

  12. London Travelcard: How does it work, fares, when do you need one

    Travelcard for children. Children under the age of 11 travel free within London travel zones. Children over 11 can also benefit from reduced fares; you can learn more about this in our article: Travelling in London with kids. Find out more. For more information, visit London's official transport website: Transport For London

  13. Free Transport in London for Children

    Children 11 to 15 Years . All 11-to-15-year-olds need an Oyster Photocard to travel free on buses and trams. They must also touch in/out (place their Oyster photocard on a reader to document the journey) as they board a bus or at the tram stop before boarding to avoid a penalty fare. 11-15-year-olds can travel off-peak on the tube, DLR, and London Overground for a maximum of £1.30 a day with ...

  14. How to Pay for Kids on London's Public Transport

    Under the age of five. If your child is under the age of 5, they can travel for free at all times on London's transport system. This covers buses, the London Overground, the Tube, DLR, Uber Boats and the IFS Cloud Cable Car (formerly Emirates Air Line Cable Car), which offers aerial views of the city's skyline.

  15. Tips for using London underground with kids

    It's worth knowing that Zip Oyster cards for age 5-10 are aimed at London residents who might be using public transport alone, and aren't needed for child visitors travelling with an adult. Bus & tube travel with children aged 11-15. Children aged 11-15 have to pay for tube travel, but they get 50% off the standard adult fare.

  16. How to get around London: Oyster card, Travel card or Contactless?

    If you are traveling with children aged between 11 and 15, purchase a Visitor Oyster card online before the departure, and when you arrive in London, you can ask for the young discount, and your child will travel with a discount of 50% for up to 14 days.

  17. At what age does my child need a Travelcard to London?

    Each Adult Travelcard holder who is using Oyster can take up to four children under 11 for free - and up to four 11 to 15-year-olds for a £1 flat fare All Zones Off-Peak Day Travelcard. No photocards are required by any accompanied children. If you are travelling using a paper ticket, you will need to purchase a children's ticket. You may ...

  18. Travelcards and group tickets

    A Travelcard (in the zones it's valid for) gives you unlimited travel at any time on bus, Tube, Tram, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth line and National Rail services in London. You can use it on all buses, and if valid in zones 3, 4, 5 or 6, on all trams. Travelcards can start on any day.

  19. What age is a child London Travelcard?

    The age at which a child can qualify for a discounted London Travelcard is 11 years old or younger. Children aged 11 and under can travel for free on public transportation in London when accompanied by a fare-paying adult. The child must also have a valid 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard or a 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard to qualify for free travel.

  20. WhatsApp lowers minimum age in Europe to 13

    London (CNN) — Social media giant Meta has lowered the minimum age required to use WhatsApp in Europe to 13 from 16, sparking criticism from children's rights advocates.

  21. Youth Gender Medications Limited in England, Part of Big Shift in

    Five European countries have recently restricted hormone treatments for adolescents with gender distress. They have not banned the care, unlike many U.S. states.