Walking down the street, you’ll inevitably find that at least every one in two people are looking down on their smartphone most likely texting, tweeting, or emailing. However, if said smartphone users are roaming the streets of London, there’s a strong chance they’re trying to navigate around the Big Smoke. To help Londoners, and even those visiting London temporarily, we look at the best London apps. From transport information to food and drink and even dating, here is a list of the best London apps compiled through 2017, 2018 and 2019!
The Best London Transport Apps
First on our list of best London apps is Citymapper. This is the #1 must-have London app and possibly the best London tube app. No matter how good you are at reading maps, the Citymapper London app is better and will save you lots of hassle and time when you navigate the city. The Citymapper app can get you anywhere anytime, including extremely accurate estimated arrival times.
2. TfL Oyster App
Any Londoner will know how vital an Oyster card is for getting from A to B. The Transport for London App aka the TfL Oyster App lets you manage your Oyster card on the go, without relying on ticket machines at the tube station. With this app you can buy travelcards and top up your oyster card while avoiding queues, you can also access all of your journey costs.
3. Santander Cycles App
This is the official app for Santander bikes that you can find all over the city. The Santander Cycles App sends you bike release codes straight to your phone, so you can skip the docking station terminal and head to your bike straightaway. The Santander cycles app also lets you see up-to-date info on which docking stations have bikes and/or spaces available, and summarises your costs at the end of a hire, keeping a record of all journeys made.
As one of the best London travel apps, you’re bound to have heard of Uber. This is a great app to have, especially when you’re travelling to unfamiliar territories on late nights and want something more reliable than public transport. It lets you summon a taxi to wherever you’re at, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of paying the driver then and there in cash – it’s all taken from your registered credit card. Plus, it’s about 30-50% cheaper than a traditional black cab.
Tube Map is a handy app for those always on the go. This is one of the best London tube apps that also works when you’re in a tube station and offline! This can help you navigate the city and know when to get off the tube before it’s too late! For those who don’t have Citymapper (go and get it!), it can also serve as a route and journey planner.
6. MBNA Thames Clippers App
Fancy travelling via boat instead of the tube while you explore London? The MBNA Thames Clippers App allows you to book your Thames Clipper tickets on the go, check live times and view departure points. This is especially useful for those staying in Vauxhall or next to the river.
7. Tube Exits
Tube Exits is one of the best London Apps you may not have heard of. This lets you know which exit you need to take on the tube, to avoid wasting time wandering around the station or ending up on the wrong street. It also lets you predict which carriage to take and where to sit, so that you can get out of the station ASAP.
8. UK Bus Checker
As the best London bus app, UK Bus Checker does what it says on the tin, allows you to check bus times and routes. This is one of the best London travel apps to have – especially during the winter or on rainy days – as it shows you live bus times at any London bus stop. This way you don’t have to waste time waiting.
The Best London Tourist Apps
1. Visit London App
An obvious London tourist app in Visit London. This is London’s free city guide and will show you everything London has to offer, including attractions, things to do and places to eat in your current location. If you would like to avoid roaming charges, you can use their offline map, which shows all the points of interest.
2. Natural History Museum App
The Natural History Museum App is great for those history boffins or tourists visiting this renowned museum. This app talks you through the exhibitions in the museum, lets you know what’s on and has location-aware floor maps so it can help you should you get lost. The best bit? Sir David Attenborough does the audio commentary.
3. Raise Tower Bridge App
We couldn’t mention London attractions apps without mentioning the Raise Tower Bridge App. Tower Bridge is one of the most remarkable landmarks London has to offer. When you are doing your obligatory visit to see it, you can use this augmented reality app to see the bridge raised in a 360-degree panoramic video.
4. Street Art London App
This is one for those who are fans of arts and culture, of which London has plenty. If you’re on the look-out for one of the famous Banksy works, or some other street artist, this app gives you maps, guides and directions for discovering famous street art. You can simply check for what’s nearby, or deliberately search by artist and date.
The Best London Food & Drink Apps
1. London Coffee Network
If you’re a lover of independent coffee, London Coffee Network will be one of your favourite apps. This London app supports local coffee shops across the city. It is both a locator and a rewards program – it can help you find unique artisan coffee shops nearby and lets you use your app account to collect free coffee points.
Millions of travellers review places via TripAdvisor. So if you’re looking for the best food or drink in your area, TripAdvisor will tell you where to go. Whether you’re after fine dining or a specific type of Asian food, TripAdvisor will let you know the top rated restaurants and hidden gems near you.
3. Smith Finder
If you’re only looking for a relaxed and affordable drink in the city centre, use this app to locate a Samuel Smith. All Samuel Smith pubs are independently run and exclusively serve beers brewed in Yorkshire by the brewery of the same name.
4. Great Little Place App
Great Little Place is a cute little app to uncover hidden gems all across town. It’ll lead you to quirky restaurants and weird yet wonderful bars that you would never discover otherwise. If you like it, also try the app “Hidden London”.
The Best London Events Apps
1. TimeOut London
This app is great if you’re trying to find something to do. TimeOut London tells you what’s going on when, where and how, all over the city. You can search by date, location, or type to find out about special offers and happenings. For the old-fashioned of us, there is also a physical magazine that you can pick up for free along most busy streets.
This app discovers all the best music events, no matter how big or small all across London. With Dice, you can find everything from headliners to first gigs and then buy the tickets. Dice even does the refunds if you can’t make the gig.
This London app lets you set some simple preferences and then sends you event recommendations tailored to your taste, budget and location. Whether you’re in central London or zone 6. Thanks to Dojo, you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through general events website!
The Best Dating Apps London
Ever locked eyes with someone on the Northern Line? Spark is the only dating app designed to be used on the tube. The app works using Bluetooth so you needn’t worry that you can’t connect to the internet. When you see someone you like the look of, simply send a ‘spark’ and hope for the best.
Similar to spark, Happn works by connecting people who have crossed paths. Whether you see someone at the pub or in your lectures, Happn helps you find these people again.
Huggle is a unique London dating app, because it covers more than just dating. If you’re new to London and just looking for company, Huggle can help you find mates. It works by matching users via the common locations they visit and also their interests, so you never have to be alone again!
Other Useful Things
1. Currency Converter App
A lot of us aren’t from the UK, and with the challenge of getting used to telling apart the coins and bills also comes the constant challenge of doing currency conversions in your head. Any currency converter app is therefore a must-have.
DarkSky is an app essentially every Londoner needs to have –just for the sake of having it. It gives you exact information on whether to expect rain in your location, so that you always know when you should pack an umbrella.
3. ATM Hunter
Finally on our list of best London apps, is this handy companion. A lot of the time, it is easiest just to pay by cash – especially when many places have minimum charges for card payments. So don’t even bother with your card, and instead locate an ATM near you, for a quick cash withdrawal. The ATM Hunter app lets you find your nearest cash point without faff.
What everyone’s looking at on their smartphones in London? Well, now you know! On this list Citymapper takes the top spot for the best London tube app, no matter if you’re already living in the city or just visiting. The same goes for UK Bus Checker, arguably the best London bus app and London Coffee Network for lovers of coffee everywhere. And if you are vacationing here go grab the Visit London app. No maps or city guides necessary.
Can you think of any other apps to add to our ‘Best London Apps’ list? Let us know in the comments below! Check out the full range of London student accommodation too.
This is a guest post by Lisa Herms from Florida, USA, currently a resident at urbanest King’s Cross. She is studying International Health Policy (Health Economics) Masters course at London School of Economics.