London Underground: The ultimate tourist’s guide to using the Tube


For anyone visiting a city the size of London, getting around quickly is key.

You hardly want to spend your precious hours here walking for miles along main roads or stuck in traffic in a Black Cab.

So the London Underground is your best friend.

We’re blessed with one of the best transport systems in the world here but it can be pretty daunting.

There are 11 different lines all zig-zagging across the city with some strange interchanges and even stranger stations.

So here are 17 things you need to know if you’re visiting London for the first time and are going to take on the Tube.

1. Get yourself an Oyster Card

The ultimate pass to get around London

The Oyster Card is your master key to London, your VIP access to the best city in the world.

You pay a £5 deposit (which can reclaim at the end of your trip) then just top up however much you need. When you get to the barriers you tap in and then you’re charged the other side when you tap out.

Remember to check how much money you have on your card because there are few things more annoying than going to follow a friend through the barriers only to be told ‘Insufficient funds’.

2. Stand on the right on escalators

This is gospel and you don’t want to making enemies on your first trip here.

When you’re on the escalators there are two lanes – standing and walking.

Some people are in a rush so won’t have time to enjoy the adverts along the way. Stand on the right and let them pass.

3. Don’t be intimidated by the map

Your map to the city

The London Underground map is iconic but it can be confusing if you’re not used to it.

Figure out where you need to be, where you are and then figure out the best line to take.

You will rarely need to change twice to get there so pick a sensible route.

4. Bring some water

It can get hot on the Tube, especially in the summer and that applies double to the Central line.

Bring some water to hydrate yourself. You don’t want to be a fainter.

5. Ask someone if you need help

There are plenty of people willing to help

Despite people keeping to themselves on the Tube if you need it people will be more than happy to help.

Worried you’re not on the right platform? Can’t work out the best route?

Just ask.

6. Don’t stop in the middle of the walkway

There are hundreds of thousands of people moving through narrow tunnels beneath the streets of London.

If you suddenly stop in the middle of tunnel you’re getting in loads of peoples’ way.

Get yourself to the side or just find a quieter spot to do whatever you needed to do.

7. Take your rubbish with you

Thanks to London’s fairly chequered history for a long time you would never be able to find bins on the Underground.

In some stations you now can but don’t count on it.

If you have rubbish take it with you.

8. Get your Oyster card ready before getting to the barriers

The easiest way to cross Londoners

Another sure way of annoying Londoners is getting to the barriers and faffing while you find your Oyster Card. It’s a little pedantic of us but you’ve got to roll with it.

This tweet sums it up nicely.

9. Don’t eat a horrible takeaway on the Tube

The trains are enclosed, mostly unventilated spaces.

There’s nothing worse than someone eating a horrifically smelly meal on an overcrowded Tube line.

Have a nibble of a snack or a sly bit of fruit by all means but definitely no hot food.

10. Get a transport app

There are a bunch of really helpful travel apps which knows all the best routes to get you exactly where you want while factoring in delays, closures and shortcuts.

CityMapper, Google Maps or Tube Tamer are all good bets.

11. Move inside the train once you get on

It can get packed on the trains (stock image)

Especially at busy times, make sure you move up inside the train once you’ve got in.

People who stand right by the doors are preventing others from getting on.

Imagine you’re just one piece of a human game of Tetris.

12. Don’t use it during rush hour

Rush hour from 7-9am and then 4.30-7pm is absolute chaos in Central London stations as literally millions of people try and get home for supper.

People end up packed like sardines and often you might be queuing just to get into the station.

If you can, try to avoid using the Tube during these times.

13. Don’t play music out loud

It might seem ridiculous but people often think its okay to play rubbish music out of even worse phone speakers.

Use headphones or just don’t listen to music. End off.

14. Take up as little space as possible

Again the Tetris analogy works well.

If you’re wearing a backpack take it off and put it between your legs. Otherwise you’re blocking someone from using that space.

If you’ve got luggage make sure it’s tucked away.

15. Give your seat up

Always keep your eyes open for someone who needs the seat more than you

The Tube is used by people of all ages and abilities.

If someone gets on who could really do with your seat if they’re pregnant, elderly, have a disability or are injured, give it up.

Keep your eyes peeled because not all disabilities are visible so they might be wearing a badge letting you know they need to sit down.

16. Don’t rely on the WiFi

We have got a new WiFi but it isn’t always the most reliable connection.

Also certain networks can’t use it so make sure you get all your essential browsing done above ground.

17. Enjoy it

You’re travelling on the oldest Underground railway system in the world. It might not seem so amazing when you’re staring into someones armpit but it honestly is.

We’ve set up a new WhatsApp group so you can receive the latest London headlines straight to your phone.

To receive one message a day with the main headlines, as well as breaking news alerts, send one of the following to 07900 342671 on WhatsApp, depending on where you want to receive news from:

  • LONDON NEWS
  • CENTRAL LONDON NEWS
  • NORTH LONDON NEWS
  • EAST LONDON NEWS
  • SOUTH LONDON NEWS
  • WEST LONDON NEWS

Then add the number to your phone contacts book as ‘MyLondon’. You must do this or you will not receive the messages.

You will receive one message a day. You can reply with the word STOP at any time.

Your phone number won’t be shared with other members of the group.

Marvel at the fact you’re hurtling beneath the ground in a metal tube.

Enjoy it.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>