Getting around The quickest way of getting around London is by using public transport. Information on public transport in London, including the Tube, DLR, Overground and buses, can be found on Transport for London's website: www.tfl.gov.uk.
Oyster card It is recommended that you purchase an Oyster card at a tube station or newsagent with an Oyster Ticket Stop. It costs £5 to purchase an Oyster card and this is refundable if you buy your Oyster card in London. If you buy an Oyster card outside of London (including airport trains and National Express coaches) this will be a Visitors Oyster card and the £5 activation fee is non-refundable. You can either purchase a travelcard on your Oyster card or top up your balance to pay as you go. You can check TfL's single fare finder to check the fare for your journey which can vary during peak and off-peak hours. When travelling by tube, you will need to tap your card on the Oyster card readers when entering and exiting a station. Remember, if you fail to tap in or out you will be charged the maximum fare for a journey which can be up to £12. If travelling by bus, you are required to tap in but you do not need to tap out. Contactless cards/devices can be used for pay as you go travel in London, but please bear in mind that overseas transaction fees may apply for non-UK cards.
Taxis You can pick up a black cab at a designated taxi rank (usually outside mainline bus and rail stations) or hail one anywhere in London if the taxi's yellow 'Taxi' sign is lit up. Black cabs are metered and charge a minimum of £3.00 at all times. Customers can pay in cash or by credit, debit or contactless. By law, only black cabs can be stopped and pick up customers off the street. You can also book a minicab in advance (you can use TfL's website to find a local, licensed minicab office). It is illegal for unbooked minicabs to carry passengers and you should never accept a ride from a minicab that has not been booked with a licensed mincab company. Useful Apps and websites www.tfl.gov.uk - Transport for London website. You can use this to plan a journey and check status updates for the Tube and buses. City Mapper - a useful App that provides a number of different transport options to your destination from your current location. Uber - minicab hailing service. Includes options to split the trip fare with other passengers. Google maps
Weather In March, the UK will be moving into the spring season but it can still be very cold. At this time of year the average temperature is 9°C/48°F. It is recommended that you wear layers and carry an umbrella. The weather forecast during your stay can be found through the Met Office website.
Currency The official currency in the UK is pound sterling (£/GBP). The common denomination of pound notes is £5, £10, £20 and £50 and coins that are currently in circulation are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. Most major credit cards are widely accepted and contactless payments of up to £30 can be made in most shops. Tax Refund Tourists may be able to reclaim value-added tax (VAT) paid on purchases through the Retail Export Scheme (or tax-free shopping). VAT is 20% of the purchase price. Please note that not all shops participate in the scheme, and shops can have different minimum-purchase conditions. For more information, visit www.gov.uk/tax-on-shopping/taxfree-shopping.
No Smoking It is illegal to smoke indoors in the UK. Most bars, pubs and restaurants will have a dedicated outside smoking area. Imperial College's campuses are smoke free and you are not permitted to smoke on or within 20 metres of College land.
Useful Telephone Numbers Emergency services: 999 or 112 Police non-emergency number: 101 NHS 111 (for urgent medical advice): 111