London is a big place, 1,572 km² to be exact, so you definitely need to know your way around. Whether it’s to shave off those precious seconds on the morning commute so you can lie in bed that bit longer or simply because you don’t want to walk in the rain, one of the most iconic transport systems has got you covered.
The Underground: A.K.A The Tube
Riding at high speed in a metal tube down a very dark tunnel, miles underground sounds like a great way to travel, right? Well, that’s basically the Tube! The massive network of underground tunnels crisscrossing all over London is one of the quickest (and more pricey) ways to get round on public transport. The underground system is currently made up of 14 lines, each one useful and unique in their own way:
Bakerloo – Think old and rickety but ultimately useful line. Beware of the seats though, if someone sits next to you, you will end up jumping 3ft in the air – just accept it.
Central – If you manage to avoid getting your head decapitated by the closing doors, enjoy a journey in a moving furnace – especially in summer!
Circle – The one that never turns up. Trains every 10 minutes + tourists = HELL.
District – Probably one of the most useful lines, especially when living further out in later years – is there anywhere this doesn’t go!?
Hammersmith and City – See Circle line, but with less tourists.
Jubilee – Think fancy businessman with slick silver hair that is almost always on time.
Metropolitan – Wait, this is a thing!? (never used it in my life)
Northern – As useful as the District line but just cooler and more edgy.
Piccadilly – Hello, 1973 calling – We’d like our trains back please.
Victoria – Ah, sweet sweet Victoria, fast and reliable like a tube should be.
Waterloo and City – See Metropolitan line.
DLR (Docklands Light Railway) – There are no drivers – that’s totally normal…
Overground – Great for getting to those hard to reach, far out places that are still in “London”.
Trams – I’ve never used them but I like the colour green…
BONUS: Crossrail/Elizabeth Line – a new Underground line coming in full in 2018 (#hypeisreal)
Of course, riding the Underground comes with some serious etiquette – here are the essential Do’s and Don’t’s of the Tube:
- Stand on the right, walk on the left of an escalator
- Link your 16-25 railcard with your Oyster (money saving everywhere)
- Stand behind the yellow line – tubes create a lot of wind when they arrive at the platform (not that kind of wind…)
- Mind The Gap – you’ll hear that so much, imitating it will become your signature party trick.
- Be nice to the staff – they have a rough day most of the time dealing with tourists, grumpy Londoners and working underground.
- Know where you want to go before you get in – achievement unlock: True Londoner.
- Stand on the left of an escalator – just don’t.
- Crowd at the platform/tube carriage entrance – move on down y’all there’s plenty of space!
- Drop your phone down the gap – they’ll have to stop the everything all because you had to like that meme whilst getting on the Tube…
- Put your bag on the seat next to you at peak times; a bag is not a person – it doesn’t need a seat
Most of all, enjoy riding the Tube – it’s a magically unique experience that gets you efficiently (most of the time) from A to B with some surprises along the way (think signal failures, leaves on the track and mariachi bands).