4 Ways To Navigate London’s Underground - Broke in London

4 Ways To Navigate London’s Underground

Guest post by Halle Bennet

Impressive is an understatement for London’s underground transportation network. The London Underground, more commonly referred to as ‘the Tube,’ is a convenient way to get around the city’s core. More than 270 stations and 11 lines connect all the different parts of the city. As many as nine million people use the system to go where they’re going daily.

However, the system can be confusing for people from outside the United Kingdom or those who have never been to London. Some of them find it hard to deal with the maps, payment systems, and the sheer number of people who use them.

A few helpful tips might go a long way toward making your trip through the city’s underground a pleasant one. So instead of taking a coach from Luton to London, read this post and learn to master London’s Underground.

1. Get To Know The Underground Map

When you arrive at your local tube station, it may all seem a bit too much. Because locals use the Tube so often, they are already well-versed in the system and immediately rush to their destinations. On the other hand, you could wander around aimlessly—entirely unsure of where you are. It’s possible, though, to avoid this problem by familiarising yourself with the map.

The Tube map appears to be a jumble of different colored lines at first glance, yet these lines are all you need to go about. You will have no trouble navigating it if you know which line to take. Just locate your station and follow the colored lines to reach your destination. Depending on where you want to go, you may find that multiple lines can get you there.

2. Know The Payment Options

There are many ways to pay for the Underground, but two of the most common are buying a ticket or using an oyster card.

  • Ticket   

All stations have ticket machines or ticket booths where you may purchase tickets. You can also buy a single ticket or return a ticket to a specific station if you do not intend to make any further stops.

  • Oyster Card

An Oyster Card has long been London’s most popular method of paying for public transportation. Getting through the station barriers with an oyster card is as simple as tapping your card and adding travel money. Using an Oyster Card makes traveling on the Tube way quicker and easier. As a bonus, it’s less expensive than purchasing paper tickets on the day of travel.

  • Contactless Bank Card

Using a contactless bank card is also possible if you have one. Londoners soon realised they didn’t need to constantly top up their Oyster Cards to get through the gates. Instead, they touched their bank cards and were on their way.

Be reminded that many people will try to pass through the barriers simultaneously, so be prepared with your card or ticket before you reach the barriers. Don’t forget to tap your card or ticket when you exit the station at your final destination.

3. Look For The Signs

At this point, you’ll be in the middle of a bustling Tube station. No matter which station you choose, getting about will be the same no matter how big or small it happens to be. Just keep your eyes peeled for signs pointing to your intended line. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the string matches the color on your map.

To avoid getting stuck in the wrong direction, it’s a good idea to double-check your destination before getting on the train. That is because most lines have a Northbound and a Southbound route. You can always ask a patron or a staff member for assistance if you are unsure which platform you need to use.

4. Follow Tube Etiquette

When you get to your platform or station, you’ll take a set of stairs or, more often, an escalator to get down. As a rule of thumb, always stand to the right when approaching an escalator or staircase. If you have baggage or aren’t in a rush, stand to the right and let those who are run up on the left. It’s essential to know this Tube rule, which you won’t know unless someone tells you about it.

Then, as soon as you arrive at your platform, stand well back from the yellow line marked on the floor. Wait until the individuals exiting the train have disembarked before you try to get on. People often disembark in large numbers, so keeping your distance is best even if other passengers are pressing their way through.


London’s underground transportation system is quite remarkable. Around 270 stations and 11 lines run across the city, making it easy to get about. But if you’ve never used the Tube before or don’t use it very often, the maps, payment systems, and several people using it can be overwhelming. But if you follow the advice in these posts, you’re sure to have a pleasant Tube journey.