'There are plenty of options for travelling in the UK. Whether you’ve just arrived or you’re ready to start exploring, the UK transport network will take you from the largest cities to the smallest villages. You can travel by train, bus, taxi or bicycle throughout the UK – with plenty of discounts available to international students.'
You can get to most places in the UK by train. If you’ve just travelled to the UK [link to: arriving in the UK] or you’re studying in the UK and want to start exploring, you can usually reach your next destination on the railway.
Find out where trains in the UK go on the Network Rail Map
The price of a rail ticket depends on the type you buy. The most common for UK travel are singles, same-day returns and open returns – these allow you to buy a ticket without committing to the date and time you want to come back. The best way to save money on rail tickets is to decide exactly when you want to travel and buy in advance.
You can do this online and find out other options for train travel on The Trainline website.
If you’re aged 16 to 25 (or a mature full-time student of any age) you can save even more with a 16-25 Railcard. This costs £20 per year and gives you a third off the price of most UK rail fares. If you plan to travel a lot while you study in the UK, this is a great investment.
You can buy cards at any UK railway station or apply online at the 16-25 Card website.
Travel in the UK by bus and coach
One of the cheapest options for international student travel is by bus. Fares vary depending on your journey and you’ll usually find a bus to hop on every 10 minutes in city centres during peak travel times.
You buy tickets from the driver when you board the bus. In London, tickets must be purchased before you start your journey from ticket machines situated at all bus stops. For regular travel around town or to your place of study, buy a weekly or monthly pass and save money.
Coach travel is a cheaper – although usually slower – alternative to trains if you want to travel in the UK and around Europe. If you’re aged 16-26 and a full-time student, you can buy a Coachcard from National Express, the main coach company in the UK. This costs £10 per year and will save you up to 30% on all National Express coach journeys.
You can apply for a Coachcard online at the National Express website.
Citylink is the main coach service provider in Scotland that connects all parts of the country. Students who register with My Citylink save 20% on online bookings. Find out more at the Citylink website.
Road travel for UK international students
Taxis are easy to find in all major cities and are often a convenient option for travel in the UK. Most taxis are metered but you will pay a lot more than for a similar journey by train or bus. Only Hackney Carriages are licensed for street pick ups – all other taxis must be booked in advance.
You can drive a car in the UK if you’re aged 17 or over and have a valid licence. If you don’t want to be bound by transport timetables or you’re travelling in a group, this could be a more flexible and cheaper option than trains and buses. Be aware that UK fuel prices are very high and if you’re under 25, insurance can be expensive.
To find out more about UK licensing requirements visit the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) website.
Cycling while you study in the UK
You can really save money - and keep fit - by using a bicycle for your UK travel. The rolling hills of the UK countryside are ideal for mountain biking and most UK cities have dedicated cycle lanes on major roads. Cycling is becoming increasingly popular as it also helps the environment.
Wearing a helmet is not compulsory in the UK, but for your own safety you are strongly advised to do so. You can find bicycle or ‘bike’ shops in most towns and cities. A second-hand bike is a much cheaper option and you’ll find ads for bikes for sale in your local papers, or on noticeboards in supermarkets and newsagents, or at your UK institution.