The 19 best apps for exploring London

London is a big city and sometimes even locals need a helping hand to navigate the city. That’s why I’ve put together a list of the best apps for London.

Apps are a great way to make the most out of the city and can help with everything from navigating the London Underground to finding the best coffee.

Many of the useful apps listed below are free but there are a couple that you need to pay for. The majority of the mobile apps included are available for android devices and iOS.

All you need to do now is download them to your phone and you’re ready to explore London!

This post may contain affiliate links. I have been or could be if you click on a link in this post compensated via a cash payment, gift or something else of value for writing this post. See our full disclosure policy for more details.

Best apps for London
Make the most out of London with these handy apps

The best London travel apps

The majority of the following London apps are available for iPhone and Android devices. Most of these apps are free although watch out for any in app purchases.

For more ideas on exploring London with kids, take a look at my London guide and join our London with Kids Facebook group. 

Best Apps for London
The Citymapper app is invaluable for navigating London

You may also enjoy these London posts:

Citymapper

The first app you should download when you arrive in London is the Citymapper app. This is an essential app for using public transport in the city. Citymapper helps you navigate London using all transportation options available including cycling, Zipcar, black cabs and Uber. It now even includes Lime, the electric scooter service.

The Citymapper London app tells you the fastest and cheapest route as well as any delays taking place on routes. One of the best things about the app is that it tells you the best carriage to choose on the tube so that you can exit quickly once you’ve arrived at your destination. Don’t miss seeing London’s most famous streets while you’re here!

CityMapper is available free on Android and iOS

Bus Times

If you’re wondering whether when the next bus will turn up at the bus stop, take a look at the London Bus Live Countdown app. This London bus app is linked directly to live Transport for London data meaning that you get live updates and know exactly when your bus is supposed to arrive. The app also gives live status updates on the London Underground lines.

London Bus Live Countdown app is available free on Android devices and iOS.

Tube Map 

Even Londoners sometimes need a little help using the underground which is why you should have Tube Map on your phone. This london underground app includes the official TFL (Transport for London) Tube Map. It also offers offline maps.

Tube Map is available free on Android and iOS.

London Tube Live

London Tube Live is another great app for navigating the London Underground. It includes up-to-the-minute live departures information for all tube lines including DLR and London Overground and will let you know if there are any delays or engineering works taking place. Other features include the best carriages to board so that you’re at the right exit when you get off the tube and information on station facilities such as parking and lifts.

London Tube Live is available on Android and iOS

TFL Oyster and contactless

If you plan to travel around London by tube then the TFL Oyster and contactless app is very handy. You can manage your adult Oyster and contactless cards, top up pay as you go credit, check contactless payments, check your pay as you go balance and more. It’s very easy to use the only downside is that you can’t currently add Oyster photo cards to the app, you have to purchase a new one.

TFL Oyster and contactless app is available on Android and iOS.

Station Master

This is not a free app but if you’re spending a significant amount of time in London – or you’re a London Underground geek – then you may want to invest in this. Station Master is not a route planning App, rather it tells you all you need to know about London’s famous tube lines.

There are 3D Maps showing you the facilities and layouts of all 270 tube stations, accessibility information such as step count and elevators and transport links. The app also features travel tips, history and fun facts for every tube station.

Station Master is available on iOS.

Santander Cycles

If you feel like exploring London on two wheels then download the free Santander Cycles app from Transport for London. Originally called Boris Bikes after former London Mayor Boris Johnson, Santander Cycles is the self-service, bike-sharing scheme for short journeys in central London.

The App receives bike release codes straight to your smartphone so that you don’t have to deal with the docking station terminal when you want to borrow a bike.

The App includes information about finding your nearest docking station and which docking stations have bikes available. A map is included in the App for planning your journey.

Santander Cycles is available on Android and iOS.

E-Scooter Rentals

In early June 2021 electric scooters became available to rent in a handful of London boroughs. Currently, this is the only way to legally ride an e-scooter on public roads or in other public places in London. Riders must be 18 or over and have a full or provisional driving licence to rent an e-scooter.

There are three different operators offering e-scooter rentals:

Lime: available on Android and iOS

Dott: available on Android and iOS

Tier: available on Android and iOS

Uber boat by Thames Clipper

One of the best ways to see London’s most famous landmarks is on board one of the Thames clippers that sail up and down the River Thames. This is a particularly fun way to explore the sights with kids. Download the official app and you can skip lines, print tickets and have access to the best deals.

Uber boat by Thames Clipper is available on Android and iOS.

Ride-hailing Apps

You’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to taxi hailing apps in London. The big one is Uber but there are other ride hailing apps out there. 

These include Bolt, which promises lower fares for passengers and better pay for drivers. They also offer an in-app “panic” button for passengers and drivers, which contacts the Metropolitan Police directly when activated. Free Now is another cab hailing app. 

There are a handful of black cab-hailing apps such as Gett UK and TaxiApp UK. Addison Lee is one of the most established taxi brands in the city and has its own app.

Uber is available free on Android and iOS

Bolt is available free on Android and iOS

Free Now is available free on Android and iOS

Gett UK is available free on Android and iOS

Addison Lee is available on iOS

The best London apps for food and drink

Best Apps for London
Book the best restaurants in London with the Open Table app

OpenTable

My favourite restaurant app for London is definitely OpenTable. The free app allows you to search by location, cuisine type and budget. You can also see menus and reviews.

OpenTable is available free on Android and iOS

London’s Best Coffee

Coffee can make or break a family holiday so I recommend that you download the Best Coffee app to your smart phone sharpish! There is an excellent London coffee network and that’s what this app focuses on: good independent coffee shops.

Each coffee shop listed comes with a detailed review as well as the type of coffee offered whether that’s cold brew, decaf or just regular filter coffee. The listings also offer handy details such as whether or not there’s a baby change space and seating available.

If tea is more your things, take a look at the best afternoon teas in London for kids.

The Best Coffee app is available on Android and iOS

Big Dish

For last minute reservations and big savings download Big Dish. The App lets you make bookings for the same or next day with deals and discounts of up to 50% available. You can choose based on location, cuisine or number of people in your group. For ideas on where to eat in London with kids take a look at these family-friendly restaurant options.

Big Dish is available on Android and iOS.

Best London apps for information, events and tickets

Best Apps for London
For the best in London theatre get the Stagedoor app

Visit London 

The official Visit London app is an excellent app for helping you plan your family trip to London. It includes offers, must see sights, current events and plenty of insider tips a such as things to do in London for free. There are shopping ideas, theatre reviews and restaurant recommendations. It’s a very handy app to have on your phone when you visit.

For more ideas on things to do in London, take a look at our list of 32 free things to do with kids!

Visit London is available free on Android and iOS

The Tower Bridge Family Trail App

If you’re visiting Tower Bridge then you must download the free Family Trail app. This fun app allows you to turn your mobile phone (or tablet) into a working wrench and tighten the bolts of an engine, shovel coal into the boiler to power the bridge and steer your boat along the thames by moving the phone from side to side. It’s a fun way to discover the history of Tower Bridge as well as some of its functions.

The Tower Bridge App is available on Android and iOS

Secret Stories

Recently launched by the Ordnance Survey are these excellent self-guided interactive tours around London. The tours are bite-sized, tongue-in-cheek stories that make exploring London with kids a lot of fun. Think Horrible Histories and you’ll get the picture! Some of the London tours available include Hyde Park’s Robbery & Riot Tour, a Haunted Highgate Tour and a guided tour of Literary London.

Each walk is includes a map, details on the distance and duration of the walk, an age rating and information on, for example, whether the terrain is pushchair-friendly. Some of the walks are free, others are paid for.

Secret Stories is available on Android and iOS.

Stagedoor

If you’re planning to see a show when you’re in London then take a look at the Stagedoor app. This app offers detailed reviews from both critics and visitors, shows current offers and allows you to book tickets as well. It’s a must for anyone who loves going to the theatre, particularly to lesser-known venues and recently opened shows.

Stagedoor is available on Android and iOS

TodayTix

The TodayTix app gives you access to the best of theatre around the city. You can purchase tickets in-app, including last-minute tickets. Discounts and deals are offered and you can even choose the best seats. It’s the perfect app for theatre loves.

TodayTix is available on Android and iOS

London Pass

The London pass is an “interactive guidebook” that works in tandem with the London Pass itself. The London Pass, in case you don’t know, is a pass that allows you to visit a number of attractions and tours around the city, often with fast track access. Passes are available for 1, 2, 3 6 and 10 days and can be good value.

The app includes an interactive map that locates attractions closes to you and includes passholder offers. You can also use the app to scan your digital ticket at each attractions.

Even if you don’t purchase a London Pass, the app is handy for information about local areas, information on public holidays, ideas for days out and more.

London Pass is available on Android and iOS

6 thoughts on “The 19 best apps for exploring London”

  1. Wow, what a great resource for visiting London! I haven’t been yet and would love to have some of these available when I make it there, especially Open Table, Street Food, and Time-out.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Things to do in London in February

Welcome to globetotting!

Join our mailing list and receive a free guide to discovering London with kids on the cheap!

Downloads

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Scroll to Top