Whilst the London underground is an extremely convenient way to get around the city, travelling on it for the first time can be quite a daunting experience. With around 5 million people travelling on the tubes every day, it’s not hard to see why! Not only can it be incredibly busy and pretty manic, there are 270 tubes in and around the city, which can often add to the confusion. We’ve put together some tips for travelling on the London underground to make your journey that little bit less stressful.
Have your ticket ready
Given how busy each London Underground station is, no one likes waiting behind someone who is trying to get their ticket out at a barrier. Every station is fast paced – people are on the go, ready to go, so be sure you have your ticket ready before approaching the barrier. It’s a simple tap and go process to enter to help speed things up. Many travellers opt for an Oyster travel card which is topped up with money and ready to use. This way, there’s less need for fumbling around pockets for flimsy paper tickets.
Stick to the right on escalators
Although not a common rule in other countries, sticking to the right-hand side on escalators is common etiquette in the London underground. The right-hand side is for those who are happy standing still, whilst the left-hand side is for those are in more of a rush. To simply put it – one side is a fast lane and the other is a slow lane. This has been London underground etiquette since 1911, when the first working London Tube escalator required passengers to disembark diagonally to the left. So, it made sense to stand to the right to allow those who wished to climb to do so without causing a hassle.
Let passengers off first
Trying to board a tube whilst crowds of people are coming off is frowned upon and considered as rude in British culture. Aside from this, it only makes things much more difficult. The train is not going to go anywhere where until everyone disembarking the tube has safely done so. Even if you do happen to miss it, another train is often as little as 1 minute behind.
Learn the map
Prior to your visit, it may be worthwhile studying the London Underground map. When visiting a different country, travel maps and routes can be a little difficult to comprehend at first glance. You’ll of course get used to it within no time, but there’s no harm in learning a little bit about the map and each route beforehand. It’s always useful visiting a new city equipped with some knowledge to help save time and confusion. There are several handy travel apps available such as Tube Map which allows you to check out the map anytime, anywhere.
Avoid rush hour
The London Underground is busy at the best of times, so you can only imagine how manic it can get during rush hour. Rush hour is usually between 07:00 and 09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evening, when people are commuting to and from work. If it’s your first ever time travelling on the London tubes, you’re going to definitely want to avoid these times. You can check out the busiest times to travel at each station here.
Best of Scotland Holidays arrange various packages that cover London, allowing you to experience the city through the iconic underground. Check out our Highlights of England tour here, or you can explore our other England tour packages here.
Alternatively, if travelling on London public transport sounds a little too complicated, Best of Scotland Holidays arrange private driver tours of England, allowing you to sit back and relax.