Traveling to London during COVID: a Travel Planning Guide

Two weeks ago, I booked my very first plane ticket since the pandemic started and I’m so excited. We will be spending a week in London in November. Planning a trip during a pandemic is a tiny bit more complicated than before, so here’s everything you need to have in mind before buying a plane ticket to London during covid!

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Check your country’s status according to your destination

First of all, checking your country’s international status according to the spread of covid is crucial to knowing how to act before traveling or if you’ll even be able to travel. Traveling to a country to sit in quarantine for a week or two isn’t what anyone wants unless you’re traveling for other purposes than a vacation.

The UK recently had a traffic light system for international travel which consisted of lists of red, amber, and green countries. However, the UK government states the traffic light system has now changed to a single red list and simplified travel measures for the rest of the world. To check the status of your country according to the UK click here.

Covid testing and quarantine

NOTICE: The information on this page is updated as best as I can in light of covid-19. Make sure to double-check information and to be sure of what activities and attractions are open.

Fully vaccinated

If you are, like me, fully vaccinated (at least 14 days before arrival) with an approved vaccination program in Europe, USA, or the UK overseas or with a full course of Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen, or Oxford/AstraZeneca and do not come from a red list country.

You have to:

  • Book a covid lateral flow test that has to be taken on or before the second day after your arrival.
  • Complete a passenger locator form within 48h before arrival.

You do not have to:

  • Take a covid-19 test on day 8th in England.
  • Take a pre-departure test.
  • Sit in quarantine for 10 days.

Not fully vaccinated

You have to:

  • Pre-departure test.
  • Book day 2 and 8 covid-19 tests to be taken in England.
  • Passanger locator form within 48h before arrival.
  • Quarantine for 10 days after arrival.

Travel from a red list country?

You have to:

  • Pre-departure test
  • Book quarantine hotel package that includes two covid-19 tests.
  • Passanger locator form 48h before.


London is a big city and public transportation will be needed on your trip. However, how much transport you’ll be needing all depends on if you’re staying in central London or not and where you want to go. I’ve visited London multiple times before and in my opinion walking is the best way to see London!

Public Transport

Buying a Visitor Oyster card or using contactless payment is generally cheaper then a Travelcard. The exception would be if you use public transport more than three times for 6 days or more. The Oyster card can be used to travel by bus, tram, DLR, underground and overground, most TFL rails, and Thames Clipper River Bus services.

Visitor Oyster card: If you’re traveling to London a Visitor Oyster card can be a good idea. It is cheaper than buying paper single tickets. You can also get multiple discounts on shops, galleries, restaurants, museums, and other activities. Be aware that you’re only able to purchase a Visitor Oyster card online!! You can’t buy one in London. You’ll have to order one online to be sent to your home address before leaving for London.

One Travel Oyster card costs 5£ and functions as a pay-as-you-go card where you choose how much credit to add to your card. You can always top it up when you run out of credit and the credit never expires.

Transfer from Airport

Taxis are pretty expensive in London and not the cheapest option when getting to your accommodation from the airport. If you’re landing at Stansted Airport you will be able to choose between private transport (taxis), shuttle busses, or taking the Stansted Airport Express Train directly to London Liverpool Street Train Station. You can not use your Oyster card on the Stansted Express. If you are on the other hand, landing at Heathrow or Gatwick Airport you can use your Oyster card to either use the tube on Picadilly line from Heathrow Terminal 5 or the Gatwick Express Train.

Make sure your plans are doable

Maybe you have a few special streets or neighborhoods you can’t wait to visit just because of that particular store or cafe or restaurant? Keep in mind that we have lived under a pandemic and companies have suffered. There is a risk that the places you want to visit have shut down because of the pandemic so make sure to check before so you don’t have to find out on the spot and get disappointed.

Happy Travels,


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10 thoughts on “Traveling to London during COVID: a Travel Planning Guide

  1. Great tips! I live just outside of London, so thankfully getting into London isn’t an ordeal for me. It’s definitely been a bit weird going back into such a busy place and on and off of public transport so freely since the pandemic!

    Liked by 1 person

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