An Insider's Guide to the Most Essential London Apps

Experience London like a local with these apps – you'll feel like an insider in no time

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A phone with a map displayed on the screen

Just landed in the UK capital and want to make the most out of your time in the city? Before you do anything else, you need to download these essential London apps. From Citymapper to Santander Cycles, these handy tools are loved by locals and super efficient travellers (aka you) alike, and make getting around the city feel like a breeze. From us here at Plum Guide, you're welcome.

Visit London app

The Visit London app is the official guide app for the city of London. The app features offline maps that you can download ahead of time to save your phone data, lists of attractions and things to do, area guides, and special offers. You’re even able to book tickets and deals on the app itself from the comfort of your wonderful Plum home.

A Piece of Heaven, Plum Guide home in London

TfL Oyster app

The Oyster card is the best way to pay for public transportation in London, so you’re going to want an app that helps you manage it. With the app, you can check your available balance as well as top up. You’ll be able to load your card without having to stand in line at the machines in the station, which comes in handy as it can get busy and be time consuming.

Citymapper London

Plan your transit route with Citymapper – simply select the city you’re in and it’ll load all the methods of public transportation available. Once you pick London, it’ll show the Tube, bus, rail, tram, bicycles, and cars. It will provide suggested routes, live information, traffic, offline maps, and taxi fares. This is definitely one of the best London apps to download for your trip.

Tube Map

Only planning to use the Tube while you’re in London? No problem. Download the Tube Map app. Once you open it, it’ll show you a complete map of the Tube and you’ll be able to zoom in and out as you please. Select a station nearest to your amazing home-from-home and you’ll be able to see if it’s open, the first and last Tube times, and line status. You can also select the ‘night’ option that will allow you the Night Tube options available. Other features include route planning and TfL updates.

Camden Gem, Plum Guide home in London

Bus Times

Most bus stops in London have a countdown clock that’ll show you how long until the bus is due. But sometimes technology fails us or you’re not near a bus stop and just want to decide whether or not you’ll take the bus. Well, the famous red buses have their own app too. Download Bus Times, which is directly connected to TfL data and provides accurate live information when you select a bus station or specific bus number. Another London transport app to add to your list.

Santander Cycles

Want to cycle around London? Try the Santander Cycles app. It shows bike availability, docking stations, and routes to the nearest ones. Arrange and pay for your bicycle ride on your phone without ever having to use the terminal at the docking station. Thanks to the plentiful docking stations along the river, this London app might be especially useful if you're planning on staying on a London houseboat.

National Rail and National Express apps

If you fancy taking a train out of London for a day trip, use the National Rail app to plan your journey. You can see live train times and ticket prices. But if trains aren’t your thing or to save a few pounds, there’s the National Express bus app which performs the exact same functions. If you are planning on travelling outside of London during your stay in the city, our homes in and around Victoria like Bijou make for the perfect base.

Bijou, Plum Guide home in London

Regent Street

Fear not, transport companies don't have a monopoly on London apps – shopping also gets a look in. The famous shopping street can be overwhelming and hard to navigate. You may not want to walk along the 1.3 km road, look into every shop, and try to find something you might want to buy. For that, you have the Regent Street app. It’ll personalise your shopping experience by asking what your interests are and give you information on sales.

Stratford London app

Stratford is a major shopping hub in London and the Westfield Stratford City mall is one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe. To navigate the waters, download the Stratford London app that serves as an area guide to help you discover restaurants, shops, and events. If you fancy staying in this part of town, choose from our wonderful collection of homes like this light-filled space.

Portway Gem, Plum Guide home in London

Natural History Museum app

Save paper by using the Natural History Museum app, where all the museum information will be at your fingertips. It has a map of the museum, lists of galleries that can be organized alphabetically or by location, online ticket booking, and audio guides so you can hear the details of what you’re seeing on your own phone. As the Natural History Museum is such a big hit with kids, this useful London app is an essential download when staying in London as a family.

Riverside London app

The River Thames, Southbank, Bankside, and London Bridge are all places you’ll want to explore. Granted, they cover an expansive area but the Riverside London app will make it easy for you. It’ll tell you what’s on event wise, suggest things to do with lists of attractions and restaurants, and allow you to create an itinerary right in the app. Stay near to London Bridge in this serene Bermondsey space.

The Stonemason, Plum Guide home in London

Plume Air Report London

Pollution and air quality are big problems in major urban cities like London but Plume Labs is here to help. Because pollution is so variable, the Plume API tracks air quality from street to street and minute to minute. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s a good time to go for a several mile long run, check the app and it’ll tell you the pollution levels for that exact time. It also has a feature where you can set notifications. Beyond air quality, if safety is a priority for your trip, check out our guide to the safest areas to stay in London.

So there we have it, our guide to the most essential London apps to download ahead of your trip to the city. If you're looking for a place to stay in the city, browse our carefully curated collection of homes in London. Our team of home critics meticulously vet every award-winning home on our site – checking everything from WiFi speed to water pressure – to ensure you're met with the quality you deserve.

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