Transports in England

Getting around the United Kingdom
Updated 2023-09-07 13:11

The United Kingdom has a very developed and diverse transportation network, which connects different regions and supports population exchange. The country has a long transportation history. The first steam locomotive was invented in Great Britain in the early 19th century, and there have been significant improvements since then. In 1952, there was a massive increase in the use of cars in Great Britain. The demand for buses and trains correspondingly reduced. However, the ongoing investment in the transportation industry, especially in big cities, has led to modern developments such as Manchester's tram network. In the early 1980s, most available public transport was privatised and transportation costs began to vary greatly.

Travel by plane

The UK has around 40 regional and international airports. Each major city (London, Briston, Cardiff, Birmingham, Norwich, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen) has its airport, easing travel from one place to another. Heathrow International Airport, less than 25 kilometres from West London, is the busiest airport in Europe regarding passenger traffic. Since travelling by plane is the fastest means of transportation, many prefer it, especially for business trips and weekend getaways. During festive periods, many airlines offer discounts on their tickets and special deals.

Data from Statista indicates that the UK transported 106 million passengers in 2022. Additionally, the past six years have also demonstrated an increase of 23% in passenger volume (not considering COVID-19). Even though most UK cities connect with London by air, they don't necessarily connect directly. For example, no direct flights exist between Newcastle in the northeast and Manchester in the northwest.


Advanced booking is recommended for domestic and international flights for the best deals.

Good to know:

Heathrow International Airport is the UK's busiest airport. On the other hand, Gatwick International Airport, located in the south of Central London, is convenient if you are looking to catch one of Easy Jet's cheap flights.

Useful links:

Heathrow International Airport

Gatwick Airport



British Airways

Atlantic Airways

Eastern Airway

Virgin Atlantic

Wizz Air

The National Rail

The National Rail is one of the most developed transportation networks in the UK, connecting different cities. The national rail comprises 28 train operating companies, including the Eurostar, London Overground, and London Underground. Each company offers different ticketing and fare options. To get cheaper tickets, advanced booking is required. You can always get tickets on the travel date, but prices may vary depending on regions and companies.

The National Rail supports cycling as a convenient and environmentally friendly means of transport. Hence, taking your bike on board and parking your bike at stations is possible. PlusBike is a free resource for cyclists who travel by train and need access to information about bike parking areas, bike hire, bikes on trains, and bike-on-board reservations. For personal luggage on board, the standard free allowance is three items. Excess baggage and bulky items such as sports equipment are subject to available space and additional costs. Last but not least, if you want to take your pet on board, you can do so at no cost, as long as it is in a pet carrier or on a lead during the whole journey, including at stations.

Good to know:

Passengers requiring assistance can download the Transreport app, which helps them book assistance without contacting the personnel. The assistance will be delivered on time by rail staff members throughout the journey. Train strikes are quite common in London; check for updates when planning your travels.

Good to know:

Eurostar connects these European cities: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Lille, Brussels, and Lyon.

Useful links:

Transreport app




Nine light rail systems (aka trams) across the UK are in Edinburgh, London, Sheffield, Manchester, the Docklands area of London, Newcastle, Glasgow, Lancashire County, and Nottingham. Some, such as the Blackpool Tramway in Lancashire, are first-generation trams, and others, such as the Docklands Light Railway, are fully automated. Trams aren't the fastest means of transport. However, they are a great middle-ground between trains and buses, stopping as often as buses and carrying as many people as trains.


Buses in the UK are one of the cheapest means of transportation, even though not the fastest. Several private bus companies serve different cities nationwide. A good thing about British buses is that they are regular and comfortable, and their rates depend on the city and distance covered. Tickets can be bought online, on board, and at the bus station. If you are going on a long journey, checking the bus schedules is essential, and so is booking your seat ahead of time.

Useful links:

National Express

City Link


Good to know:

There are over 8000 buses that form part of the London fleet.

Boats and ferries in the UK

Travelling to England from most European cities is possible by ferries and vice versa. The most regular service links France to southern England. You can also travel from Northern Ireland to northern Scotland via ferry. Travelling by boat in the UK is primarily a form of leisure, and it is not recommended for urgent or short trips. The rates vary, but ferries and boats are usually more expensive than other means of transportation. Besides, you can ship your car or motorcycle when travelling via ferries and boats.

Useful links:

P&O Ferries

Condor Ferries

LD Lines


Canal River


There are several taxi companies across different UK cities. Keep in mind that it is best to hire a registered taxi. If you come across a taxi on the street, ensure they have a tax registration number in the passenger's area. It is always best to inquire about the price to prevent the driver from increasing it later. Uber in the UK operates with about 85,000 drivers. In London only, the company employs approximately 45,000 drivers. You must download the app on your phone to use the Uber service. Uber is relatively cheaper and easier to book than other traditional taxi companies. The taxi drivers have ratings, and more importantly, you receive a price estimate before accepting the journey. London's famous (and costly) black cabs can be booked in advance, hailed on the street, or picked up from designated taxi ranks, whereas minicabs can only be booked in advance.

Useful links:

Find a taxi or minicab

Cambridge Cab

Radio taxis

Renting a car in the UK

If you prefer travelling alone or with family, renting a car might be the most convenient form of travel. However, you must own a valid driving license to be able to hire a car. Most UK cities and airports are full of car rental companies. Remember that you will be requested to subscribe to damage insurance before getting the car on the road. Some car-renting companies provide emergency assistance as well.

Good to know:

You must be 23 years old to rent a car in the United Kingdom.

Useful links:






Bike hire in the UK

There are bike lanes in many cities in the UK. This makes cycling safer and more enjoyable. The well-established cycling system encourages people to ditch their cars whenever possible and cycle around their city, even from home to work. Several companies offer bike hire in the UK for hire at affordable prices. London is leading the way in the eco-friendly public transportation system, and like other European capitals, public bike rental services are available across the city. Santander Cycles, affectionately referred to as Boris Bikes as they have been named after the mayor (and current Prime Minister) who launched this bike scheme, are made of a fleet of over 12,000 bikes.

Good to know:

The cost of a Santander Cycle for up to 30-minute journeys is £1.65, and then you pay £1.65 for every extra 30 minutes of travel. Bikes must be returned to a Santander bike spot within 24 hours; otherwise, you could be charged a £300 fine. Download the Santander app on your phone to ease your rides!

Good to know:

The top five UK cities for cycling are London, Cambridge, Bristol, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Useful links:

Santander Cycles

Travel discounts and passes

If you are under 26, you can apply for the 16-25 Railcard, allowing you to travel across the country at a discounted price. Pensioners also enjoy free transportation when within their region and discounted prices when travelling elsewhere. If you are commuting daily to the same location, it is recommended that you get a monthly or yearly travel pass to help you save some money. The price of travel passes usually depends on the area and the company you are using. For instance, in London, the Oyster card includes all forms of public transport. Other cities and towns also have their monthly cards for a unique form of transportation.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.