The London underground rail network is our #1 transportation choice to explore London
Often, travellers to London will take one look at London’s underground rail network map and begin to panic. Do not worry, there is a method to what appears to be madness, and the London underground (also called “the Tube”) is actually a very organized system.
You can arrive at the front door of most destinations in London using the underground railway, and this is the main reason that London’s underground map can appear so intimidating! This expansive railway network includes over 11 lines.
That being said, if you are looking to travel around central London (for example, from Paddington to Lancaster Gate) it is typically faster to walk. The reason for this is that Central London stations are very busy and getting on and off trains is more time consuming than walking.
To fully understand the distance between locations, we suggest using the Visit London App. This app provides offline maps, directions, things to do and see and even offers some coupons!
Things not to do in the London underground
- Travel during peak times. Rush hour in the underground is a busy time and it can add significantly to the stress of travel if you are not prepared for it. This includes weekdays, 7:00 am – 9:00 am and 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. If you need to travel between these times, make sure to be prepared and have your route pre-planned.
- Be unaware. To ensure that the system works underground, travellers need to make sure that they follow a few simple etiquette rules, which include: letting passengers leave the train before boarding, moving down and away from the doors inside the train, giving your seat up to someone who may need it more than you and keeping your voice down to respect other passengers.
- Try to “wing it”. The London Underground is not the kind of system where you can just hop on any train and hope to get close to your destination. As you will notice on the maps, the Tube’s lines travel far out of the city and in completely different directions. Be sure to review your map or app and plan your trip ahead of time.
- Be in a rush. Although sometimes unavoidable, being in a rush in the underground can be very stressful. Whenever possible, give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
Things to do in the London underground
- Mind the gap. This one has become a bit famous in London for good reason.Unlike some other cities in London, there is a gap between the platform and the train. Use caution when entering and exiting the train, especially if you have luggage!
- Check signage. At the front of approaching trains, there will be destination information. Similarly, at all train stops there will be a large underground-shaped sign with the station name posted on the wall.
- Ask for help. London Travel Information centres are located around London and will assist you in planning your route. You can also pick up a London underground map from these centres or download it here.
- Get an Oyster card. Oyster travel cards can provide you with the cheapest fares. They also have an app to track your card credit and previous destinations. If you do not want to get an Oyster card, you can use some tap credit cards – just make sure to notify your provider and check on the service fees.
- Watch the clock. Most lines open around 5 am and stop around midnight. However, not all lines run on the same operating hours. Some lines run 24/7 while others run only during certain times of the day. Be sure to check the operational times of the route you are travelling.
Finding flow in the chaos
Although the London underground may seem very busy and chaotic from afar, once you are in the station and making your way to your train, you will see that it’s surprisingly organized.
The other major bonus to learning the underground on your vacation is that it will get you almost anywhere for a reasonable price. While taxis and renting cars can be very expensive, the underground can be a relaxing way to explore the city. To get you ready for your European vacation we have developed a European packing list that can help you pack your bags in under one hour!
If you need some help planning your dream vacation contact one of our TierOne Travel specialists today.