There are five London tube tickets available.
London tube tickets are based on a zone system.
As a tourist, you will mostly only need Zone 1, except for getting to/from Heathrow airport.
For taking the tube from/to the airport, go to the tube station counter and request an “extension” to any pass you have to cover you for 1 trip to the airport (zone 6).
The same applies if you have a pass for Zone 1 and want make a single trip to any other zones. If you’re staying in Zone 2, you’ll need a pass that covers Zone 1 and Zone 2, but these aren’t much more expensive than the Zone 1 passes.
1. Single rides.
You can buy a single ride via a paper ticket or by swiping your Oyster card.
An Oyster card is a plastic card you load money onto.
The fare for Zone 1:
Paper ticket: £4.50 GBP
Oyster card: £2.10 GBP (as you can see, you should get the Oyster card! It costs £3 to buy at any station.)
2. Daily Capped Rate
If you have an Oyster card, your daily spend will automagically get capped at £8.40. You don’t have to do anything. This will just happen. If you don’t travel during peak times (i.e., all your travel is after 9.30am), it will cap itself at £7 for the day instead of £8.40.
These rates apply to Zone 1 or Zone 1 and 2 travel. The cap is higher if you travel to other zones but will still happen automatically.
3. Paper 1 Day pass.
If you’re only in London for the day, you can buy a one day pass for £8.80 for Zone 1. If you need all 6 zones (e.g., you’re on a stopover from Heathrow airport), it’ll cost you £16.40 if you travel during peak times, and £8.90 if you only travel during non-peak times.
Peak is before 9.30am, off-peak is after.
You don’t need an Oyster card for this.
4. Weekly pass.
To buy a weekly pass, you need an Oyster card. For 2013, it’s £30.40 for Zone 1.
4. Monthly pass.
To buy a monthly pass, you need an Oyster card. For 2013, a monthly pass is £116.80 for Zone 1. This is valid for a month of use, not a calendar month.
Student tube tickets.
You can get a student Oyster card which will give you access to fares at 30% off normal rates but you have to be studying in London.
Tickets for Children – How much does the London tube cost for children? – 2013
Tube fares for children can be confusing. Age 10 and under, children travel free when traveling with an adult (up to 4 children per adult).
For children age 11-15 inclusive you can get a 50% discount on paper tickets (single ride or day pass).
There is an 11-15 Oyster Card and a 16+ Oyster Card that allow access to discounted weekly and monthly passes but these need to be applied for and there is a £10 administration fee.