The London Underground, colloquially known as the Tube, is the city’s famous subway system.
It won’t get you everywhere, but it can help you quickly and easily cover much of the city’s most-touristed territory.
The map of the London Underground (available in a free, paper version at any station) is designed to be straightforward: its twelve route lines are color-coded, its stations are clearly named, and each station platform is labelled by direction (e.g. northbound, southbound, etc.).
While you may find yourself on the wrong train from time to time, maps beside each platform and on every train should help set you back on the right path within a few stops. Loudspeaker announcements of the present and next station arrivals also serve to help orient you as you travel by Tube.
Open 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day), the Tube runs from 5:30 am until midnight.
Fare pricing is divided into six zones, with Zone 1 in the city center; the more zones you cross, the more you’ll pay. Credit cards and cash are accepted, and human beings are always available to help with ticket purchases.
You’ll often see and hear the warning to “mind the gap” between train doors and the platform. Heed this advice, especially if you’re wearing shoes with a heel, lest you trip and fall into or out of a Tube car.
Oyster cards (also referred to as “Travelcards”) are plastic cards that can be used in place of paper tickets for the Tube (as well as city buses, some National Rail services and the Docklands Light Railway).
Worthwhile if your London stay is a week or longer, Oyster automatically works out the cheapest fares for your journeys.
Oyster card running low? Money can be added to it wherever one can be purchased, including most Tube stations.