The London Underground
If you visit London, you’ll probably use the ‘tube’. So here are our tips, along with some crazy facts and things to look out for.
The London Underground first opened in 1863. In fact, it was the first city underground system in the world. Since then, it’s become a vital part of daily life for generations of Londoners. And no visit to London is complete without a trip on this iconic network.
But first, let’s start with a question. How many passengers use the tube in a year? You’ll find the answer at the bottom of the article.
Our tips for getting around easily
The tube map looks complex at first. This is because there are a lot of lines and many zones. However, we think the main ones you’ll need if you’re a tourist are zone one and two. So focus on these central London zones to keep things simple.
Another complex thing can be the price of tickets. And it can also be quite expensive. However, we recommend using an Oyster card, or contactless card. This is useful for keeping the cost low if you’re only using zones 1 and 2. This is because the price has an automatic daily limit. However, remember to use the same card each time, or the limit doesn’t apply.
Finally, let’s talk about London’s rush hour. Yes, it can get really busy. So our tip is to avoid the peak times on weekdays. This is because rush hour can be super crowded. Also, you’ll pay more at these times. So use the tube outside the 6:30-9:30 and 16:00-19:00 times on weekdays, and you’ll have a cheaper fare. However, the good news is that there are no peak fares at the weekend.
What to look out for
Because the tube has developed over 150 years, there are a lot of different station styles and designs. This means that each station has its own style. For example, a classic design from the early 20th century are the dark red tiles and elegant architecture of the station entrance, such as at Russell Square or Covent Garden.
In contrast, the interior of Tottenham Court Road is bright and loud with the 1980s designs of artist Eduardo Paolozzi.
There are also ‘ghost’ stations which are no longer in use. For example, you can see the entrance of the old Aldwych station on Strand. You can even explore these stations in the London Transport Museum’s ‘Hidden London’ tours.
The first tube station was Baker Street, which opened in 1863. In fact, you’ll find this station still has its historic style.
Many tube stations have escalators, but the one at Angel is said to be the longest in Europe, at 60 m. In fact, it’s so long that one man skied down it for a stunt!
Lastly, here’s the answer to that question at the start. 1.35 billion passengers a year use the tube.