London Underground Tips

How to Get the Best from The Tube System

The London Underground has twelve color-coded lines. It may seem confusing when you first try to find your way, but with practice, it can be quite straight forward.

  • 01 of 14
    ••• Kimberley Coole/Getty Images

    Keep hearing everyone referring to the tube but don't know what it is? Find out here.

  • 02 of 14
    ••• ilbusca/Getty Images

    How to recognize the color-coded tube lines, find out their names, where each line starts and finishes, plus useful stops on each line.

  • 03 of 14
    ••• Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

    Using an Oyster card offers cheaper fares than paying cash on tubes and buses. Read these articles for more advice:

  • 04 of 14
    ••• Nick Dolding/Getty Images

    Journey Planner is on the Transport for London website. It allows you to submit exactly where you want to start and end your journey and gives you the best routes.

    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14
    ••• Tonywestphoto/Getty Images

    There are planned weekend engineering works on London Underground every weekend. This means whole and part line closures so you need to check the line status in advance if you have any important travel - like getting to the airport on time.

  • 06 of 14

    Don't Drink Alcohol or Smoke

    ••• Peter Ptschelinzew/Getty Images

    From 1 June 2008, drinking from and carrying open containers of alcohol is banned, making the tube a safer and more pleasant experience for passengers.

    Smoking has been banned on tube trains since 1987 (following the King's Cross fire) but was extended in 2007 to include all public spaces such as train platforms (even when outside), bus shelters, and coach stations.

  • 07 of 14
    ••• Tonywestphoto/Getty Images

    We have an unspoken rule on London Underground escalators: always stand on the right. Many a visitor to our city has been caught out by this rule as it's not made clear when you arrive, but if you stand in the way of a London commuter they'll soon let you know! Find out more about this rule.

  • 08 of 14
    London Underground
    ••• visitlondonimages/ britainonview/ Eric Nathan

     From late 2015, London has 24-hour tube service on the weekends.

    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14
    ••• Oliver Strewe/Getty Images

    Avoid traveling at peak times on the tube as these are the commuter times and it can be horribly crowded. Find out more about London's rush hour.

  • 10 of 14

    Luggage

    ••• Ben Pipe Photography/Getty Images

    There are no porters on the London Underground system so you will need to be able to move your luggage up and down stairs on your own. Remember to take off your backpack and place it on the floor and it's easy to turn round and knock out a local!

    Never leave your belongings unattended, and allow yourself time to check you haven't forgotten anything before you need to go as left luggage causes security alerts every day which means tube stations have to close as customer safety is paramount on the underground system.

    London has lots of free newspapers but please do not leave your paper on the tube as it is considered littering, which carries a fine. Take your paper with you and dispose of it in a recycling bin outside of the station.

  • 11 of 14
    ••• Beatrice Tyszkiewicz / EyeEm/Getty Images

    All tube platforms have a yellow line marked about a foot from the edge where the train will arrive. While waiting for your train do not step over this line as there is obvious danger from falling in front of a train or being hit by a train you weren't expecting.

  • 12 of 14

    No Flash Photography

    ••• izusek/Getty Images

    Flash photography or any other form of additional lighting is not permitted on any London Underground platform. This is a safety thing as you can imagine the poor drivers coming out of a dark tunnel and getting cameras flashing in their face might cause a few accidents.

    Technically, you are not allowed to take any photos on the Underground but the staff is usually lenient if you just want some holiday snaps. If you want to take some serious pics then you'll need to apply for a photography permit.

    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    Check for Delays

    ••• franckreporter/Getty Images

    The Tube is continuously being upgraded and refurbished and this can sometimes lead to the station or line closures, particularly at the weekends. To avoid delays plan your journey in advance (see the Online Journey Planner above) and check tfl.gov.uk before you travel.

  • 14 of 14
    ••• sshepard/Getty Images

    Transport for London finds over 160,000 pieces of lost property each year on buses, Tubes, taxis, trains, trams, and stations.