London is a city of dreams for many across the globe. But sometimes, many can get lost in the dream. The London Underground, also known as the Tube, is an extensive transit system that more than 9 million people use. This system comprises 11 lines and more than 270 stations. Because of such an extensive system, figuring out how to use the London underground becomes challenging. But, experiencing the London Underground is a must for tourists and a convenient source for daily commuters. This blog is a complete guide to the London Underground system so that you don't have to become Dora the Explorer at the stations of the Tube.
What is the London Underground?
London Underground is an underground railway system that runs in London. It started operating in 1863 as the metropolitan railway making it the oldest underground railway in the world. The Tube is used as a slang term for London Underground. The London tube system is divided into 11 lines, and each is assigned a colour. The system runs through 272 stations, of which 14 are out of London.
Travelling by Tube gives tourists a taste of local life in London, and hence it is important to learn how to use London Underground. A Fun Fact- Despite the name London Underground, a large portion of the network in London’s outer suburbs is above the surface.
London Underground Prices
The fare structure of the London Tube transportation system is based on the distance travelled, as mentioned above. Travelling during peak hours is also one of the factors affecting the fare. The Day Anytime Price ranges from £5.50 to £6.00. With the Oyster card, these prices drastically reduce from £2.40 to £5.30. You can check the tube and rail fares in detail tube and rail fares finder.
How to pay for the tube?
As mentioned above, the fare you pay for the London Tube depends on the distance travelled. This single fare finder will calculate the cost of the journey between any two stations for you.
You can buy the tickets and pay for them in 4 ways. They are-
- Paper tickets
- Oyster cards
- Contactless Credit Cards
Let us see what Travelcards and Oyster cards are in detail.
1. Paper Tickets
This is the OG way of getting the tickets for the London Underground. These are nothing but the physical tickets that you can purchase at the London Tube Stations. There are different types of paper tickets, and they can differ based on single journey tickets, return tickets, and day passes. These tickets can be a bit on the pricey side as compared to other methods, such as travel cards or contactless payments.
2. Oyster card
The world is your oyster- card. It is a smart-card mode of payment to travel in public transportation in London. An Oyster card can be used for Tube, buses, London Overground and some riverboat services. Indeed, a smart card! This card is for pay-as-you-go transactions and is the most preferred mode of payment for most people in London. Rides with an oyster card are comparatively cheaper than a paper ticket. Reloading your card is also simple. You can recharge your card online via a credit card at one of the many machines at the station. If you are interested in learning more about oyster card, find out more about it in our blog on the complete guide on oyster card.
A travel card in London is valid for a particular zone assigned. It gives you unlimited travel at any time in tube buses. You can use a Travelcard at a flat rate for a particular period, for one day, a week, one month, or annually. You can also get a day travel card for unlimited rides in a day. Travelcard may seem like a nice idea for tourists, but it is only economical if you plan to travel more than three times per day or outside Zones 1 and 2.
4. Contactless Credit Cards
Contactless credit cards are another way to go about purchasing your London Underground tickets. They are extremely convenient as you do not have to carry a lot of cash and change as you do when you have to buy physical tickets. You can simply put this card to you and tap in when you enter and exit the London tube stations, and it will be automatically calculated based on the journey you have travelled. They also provide numerous discounts as other cards do.
5. Mobile Applications
There are several mobile applications like Apple Pay or Google Pay, which can be used to make contactless payments at the London Underground station. These apps allow you to link any of your cards, such as the credit or debit card, to the application and tap in and out on the tube station without much hassle, exactly like the contactless cards mentioned above.
6. Visitor Oyster Cards
Not a permanent resident in London? Still wish to see around and travel through the efficient tube network? Worry not, as the London Underground also has Visitor Oyster cards, which are designed specifically for tourists. They offer various discounts just like normal Oyster Cards do and make the journey seamless for the user. This can be purchased online in advance of your visit to London. There are a lot of London Underground tourist attractions that you can see using these visitor cards.
There are daily limits set on the caps and travel card prices. You can check in detail about them here.
London Tube Operating Hours
London Underground’s operating hours vary from line to line, but usually, they start operating at 5 am till around midnight from Monday to Saturday. The operating hours on Sundays are reduced a bit.
How to use the London Underground?
Here is all you need to know about London Underground and how it can be used. This can be extremely useful for both students, locals, and especially tourists who need a guide to navigate through this efficient transit system in London. Let’s decode it:
1. Know your route
There’s always a first time, and if you are travelling on the Tube for the first time, it is very important to know how to use London underground and your route and the lines you want to take, as the London Underground has 12 lines as of 22, which cover 402 km across 272 stations. It is not a good idea to just show up to the station unprepared. The people, undoubtedly, will help you, but it is better to know your route in advance.
2. Use Oystercard and Travelcard for payment
If you are not very familiar with how to use the London tube in London or London Underground ticket options, you can use many ways to pay for your ticket. But the two most recommended ways to pay are through an Oystercard or a travel card. A paper ticket is generally more expensive than rides with an oyster card.
3. Stick to the left while walking
London is a left-leaning country, and this rule also applies when strolling. You run the danger of receiving an irate shoulder barge from incoming vehicles if you don't stay to the left. Make sure you keep this and mind and follow it if you don’t want to bump into people.
4. Avoid Peak hours
One of the primary means of transportation for residents of London is the London tube. If you are new to the city, you definitely wouldn’t want to be crushed by the people. Be aware of the peak hours and rush hours of the tube, and you should try to avoid travelling during peak hours.
5. You can ask for help
Travelling through the tube for the first time or the initial days can be confusing or intimidating. There are many knowledgeable stewards and other employees that are eager to assist. Ask them for assistance if you get stranded or lost, and they will always be there to help.
London Underground Tips and Etiquettes
Travelling via the London tube is not a sport and knowing how to use London underground, but here are some tips to make your tube travel life easier.
- Keep your Oyster card by the time you get near the scanner while checking-in and checking-out for a smooth process.
- On the escalators, keep right for standing or pass on the left.
- Always let the people on the train exit first and then onboard the train.
- There are maps available on every platform regarding the train's arrival so that you don’t lose your way.
- Pay attention to the electronic display board so that you do not board the wrong train.
- Tube map London zones can sometimes be misleading. Make sure you read your map thoroughly.
- Make sure that you always stand behind the yellow line.
- Make sure to carry your books or earphones so that you don’t get bored.
- Mind your luggage and wallet. Pickpocketers are always on their toes.
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help if you are ever confused or lost.
Apps you can use to make your travel easy
There are some apps which can make your life easy and save you from headaches while travelling.
1. Tube Map- London Underground App: This app is designed to work offline and helps by detailing the simplest and quickest route to your destination. This app also has a night mode which you can use to find your way home if it is too late for the regular service.
2. CityMaps2Go: This app provides a detailed map of London with marked landmarks, restaurants, museums and much more. This app is a lifesaver if you are ever down with the network.
Best London Underground Line to see London Tourist Attractions
The Circle Line is considered to be the best London underground line to see the various tourist attractions in London. The London Underground tourist attractions can be seen through this iconic route that loops around the central London area and passes through numerous landmarks and attractions. Are you a creatively visual learner? Check out our webstory on Public Transportation in London. Here are some of the London underground tourist attractions that you can see through the Circle Line:
1. Westminster: You can get off at the Westminster station and visit the famous Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the Westminster Abbey, which boasts a history full of bureaucratic decisions for the world to see.
2. Embankment: When in London, seeing the Thames in its full glory is a must; therefore, taking a stop at the Embankment station will give you access to a River Thames view along with the Victoria Embankment Gardens and the famous riverwalk.
3. Temple: You can visit the temple area where you can explore the historic Temple Church and be one with the divine. This station will also take you along scenic inner and middle temple gardens, which are a sight to behold.
5. Blackfriars: This London Underground station gives access to the beautiful Tate Modern Art Gallery, which is a haven for art lovers, and also the Millenium Bridge.
The Circle Line also covers other London underground stations such as the Mansion House, Cannon Street, Monument, Aldgate, and Highstreet Kensington, which leads you to several tourist attractions in the London city centre.
Travelling by the London Tube is one of the most convenient modes of commute for locals and tourists. It is an efficient transit network that binds this busy city together and it is extremely easy to navigate it through helpful and trustworthy guides like this one.
We hope this blog will save you from feeling lost while travelling on the Tube.