How Tourists Can Do London With An Oyster Visitor Card

Navigating the busy maze of the big smog is a stressful experience. For those who have been born and raised around London, it has somehow become second nature. But for visitors and tourists, attempting to brave the overground transport system – buses, trams, boats – or, even worse, the underground tube network, is a Herculean challenge. And the best weapon you can have in your arsenal to tackle it is an Oyster travel card.

With a busy road network, not to mention a congestion charge imposed on drivers to lower carbon emissions, the public transport system is the preferred mode of transport for almost everyone in London, whether they are locals or tourists (don’t even think of using a taxi!). Oyster cards allow for easy, cheaper and quicker access to all of the overground and underground systems. For visitors, they allow you to hop on and off and see all the hot London spots in no time at all. And there is a specific type of card made exactly for tourists: the Oyster Visitor Card. Can’t afford it? Find possible solutions at

So, How Does The London Oyster Visitor Card Work?

Visitor cards work in the same way as all other Oyster cards; they are travel passes that can be used on almost all forms of public transport around London. You simply top the card up with money and enter the station or access the transport by scanning it on the appropriate machine. When you reach your destination, the card will be used again to exit (unless on buses and trams where you only have to touch it once). A small amount of money (less than a normal single ticket) will be taken off the card at this point.

The difference between Visitor cards and standard Oyster cards are that the latter are perfect if you are in London for a whole week and you don’t really plan on exiting the central area of the city. They come in either single day or seven day options so that locals and people working in the city pay the same fixed fare. However, a Visitor Card may be more appropriate for those only in London for a short time and planning to see a lot of the city because, unlike the Travelcard, you simply pay as you go. In short: it ensures you are paying only when you want to travel rather than just paying for a full day’s (or week’s) use of public transport that you might not make the most of.

Furthermore, Visitor Oyster cards come with additional perks aside from travel. You can show it around the city and get 25% discount on some museum entrances, two-for-one on certain West End shows, and complimentary drinks at select bars and restaurants. These apply to places such as Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, Somerset House and more. You can contact the Oyster Card number for more information about this.

What Is The Price To Buy An Oyster Visitor Card?

The Oyster card costs £3 including the amount of money you choose to add on top of it for your pay-as-you-go credit whilst traveling around London. So, for instance, these are the price options available for your Visitor Oyster Card:

  • £10 credit + £3 card – £13.00
  • £15 credit + £3 card – £18.00
  • £20 credit + £3 card – £23.00
  • £30 credit + £3 card – £33.00
  • £40 credit + £3 card – £43.00
  • £50 credit + £3 card – £53.00

Which Option Should I Choose?

This depends entirely on how much you think you are going to be using public transport when you are in London. To give you a good idea, here are the sample Oyster card fares:

  • Tube journeys between zones 1 to 2 – £2.90 peak, £2.30 off-peak
  • Tube journeys between zones 1 to 6 – £5.10 peak, £3.10 off-peak 
  • Single bus journey – £1.50 
  • Unlimited journeys between zones 1 and 2 in one day – £6.40

Can I Top Up My Oyster Visitor Card If I Need More?

You certainly can. Just visit any of the many tube stations, ticket machines and Oyster outlets around London and you can add more to your card. You simply need to scan it on a machine and use cash or card to top it up.

Where Can I Use The Oyster Card?

If you see a bus with the iconic red roundel and tram logo, the Oyster travel card can be used on them. Similarly, they work on all underground tubes between zones one and nine (covering most of London and its surrounding areas). They allow discounted fees, furthermore, on the riverboats around London. They can also be used on National Rail train journeys between zones one and nine, as well as to the following stations:

  • Broxbourne
  • Chafford Hundred
  • Grays
  • Ockendon
  • Purfleet
  • Watford Junction

How Do I Get An Oyster Visitor Card?

This can be purchased from the Transport For London website or a number of international travel agents. This will be delivered to you before you make your trip to London.