The London Underground

The London Underground, also known as the Tube, is one of the most convenient ways to get around London.

It is the world’s first underground rail network, which opened in 1863 and has been a vital part of life in the city ever since. It has expanded into 270 stations and 11 lines stretching into nine zones from the city centre far into the outskirts of the capital and beyond, as far as Essex, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

It is highly likely that visitors will use the Tube during their stay in London, as it beats getting stuck in traffic and with the colour coded lines, it is easy to find your way around the city using the London Underground map. Pick up a free map of the London Underground at any tube station.

Save Money on the Tube

The fare you will pay to use the Tube depends on where and when you travel, as well as the method of payment. The cheapest way to pay is by using an Oyster card or a contactless card payment rather than purchasing a conventional ticket with cash. The contactless payment method is very convenient as you don’t have to worry about topping up your Oyster card with credit, and they both cost the same. However, if you are using a contactless card from another country, be sure to find out about any bank charges you may incur for using it in London. You can use both Oyster cards and contactless payment cards on London buses too. Oyster cards can be easily topped up in tube stations and well as DLR (Docklands Light Railway), London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail stations as well as over 4,000 local shops and convenience stores throughout London, known as Oyster Ticket Stops.

For more information on ticket fares, take a look at the TfL website. Here you can also find out about the concessions available for children, students and the elderly.

When to use the Tube

London Underground rail services frequently run from 5am until around midnight, from Monday to Saturday, with reduced hours on Sunday. It is advisable to avoid travelling in the rush hour if you don’t have to, which is from 7 to 9am and 5 to 7pm during weekdays. Always stand to the right when using escalators and be sure to check the front of the train to ensure you are travelling in the right direction.

The Night Tube

The Night Tube in London provides a 24-hour service on five tube lines on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as a 24-hour London Overground service in certain areas. Some 24-hour night bus routes run seven days a week. Always plan your journey in advance to ensure which services will be operating. 

Accessibility on the Underground

Unfortunately access to most London Tube stations is via numerous steps and many deep-level Tube stations have escalators to the platforms. It is indicated on the Tube map which Tube stations have lifts and are step-free. Accessibility guides are available here.

In some cases it is quicker to walk between Tube stations, a map of the walking times between stations is available here. This may be an easier option for people with pushchairs and mobility issues during peak hours especially.