Skip to Content

How To Use The Tube In London (Expat Guide)

How To Use The Tube In London (Expat Guide)

Being in a situation where you want to explore the city of London as a tourist means using the Tube.

Whether you want to go to an art museum in London, ride the London Eye, or stop at an ASDA in London, you are likely going to need some form of transportation. This is where the Tube comes into the equation for those who want to go to all corners of London.

When we first arrived in London, we were unsure about how to use the Tube.

Using the public transit system is all about figuring out how to get to where you want to.

It’s important to note that you are going to need to understand how the system works including where the stations are. In general, there are 200+ stations spread throughout the city and there are various routes a person can take.

We know this can be confusing and you are not going to want to make a mistake causing you to end up on the other side of the city.

This is why we will shed light on what is required when using the Tube in London.

Tips To Use The Tube In London

Plan Your Route Beforehand

As we mentioned before, there are 200+ stations associated with the Tube.

This means you can’t go into this process without a general idea of where to go and where to get off. In general, we would recommend taking a look at the map and figuring out where you are going to have to go to use the Tube.

There is a complete map available through their website and you will want to use it.

Understand The Network

This is one detail that is often going to confuse a tourist.

You are going to hear about the various stations and lines without realizing how they are interconnected. This can make it difficult to plan a route and get to where you want to be as efficiently as possible.

For the most part, you are going to learn about The National Rail and The Overground. This refers to the rail network in London while the National Rail is the train service that goes to all parts of the UK. If you are venturing outside London, you are going to be accessing The National Rail.

Keep this in mind when planning your route.

It’s also important to understand how the “zones” work with the Tube in London.

For example, if you are talking about Zone 1, it is going to be talking about downtown London. Zone 6 is going to be talking about the edges of London or outer London.

It’s important to be aware of these zones as they can dictate how much you are going to be paying during various times of the day.

Use The Oyster Card

You are going to want to take advantage of the Oyster card.

This is a smart card designed by the government to help navigate the transit system in London. You are going to have access to the River Bus, Emirates Air Line, Tube, tram, London Overground, TIL Rail, and DLR with the help of this card.

Make the most of this by topping up your Oyster card and you will end up saving a lot of money too on fares.

Use The Apps

When we were using the Tube in London, we realized it was a lot faster and easier when we had the apps in hand on our devices.

Different apps are readily available to make your trip easier.

For example, one of the apps we were using was the CityMaps2Go app, which was designed to help pinpoint where all of the exits were and how to get to them. It wasn’t easy to do this on our own as we were new to the city and it is always bustling here.

Being able to use this app made it a joy to get to where we wanted to go instantly.

Another option that we had in our back pocket was the Tube Map.

This is a quality app that is easy to use when planning a route using the Tube. You can easily open the app, put your desired destination, and then get a route set up that’s most efficient at that time.

Compare Payment Methods

This is one detail you are going to want to think about as the fares will add up.

You are going to have a few options.

One is going to be the Oyster card, which is commonly used for the public transit system in London. However, you can also move forward with the Travelcard or go Contactless.

With the Travelcard, you are looking at a flat rate for a set period. This can be for a day, week, or month depending on what suits your needs. This flat rate means you could use the transit system once or multiple times within the period, you are going to only pay the flat rate.

The Oyster card will be charged each time you use the transit system. This is ideal for those who are not going to be using the Tube a lot.

The final option is to go Contactless.

This is when you are going to simply use your bank account and tap to complete the payment. This works for those who don’t use the Tube often and just want to make a quick payment on the spot.

How To Set Up Oyster Card

It’s important to know how to set up an Oyster card when you’re ready to go down this path.

It is not going to take a long time.

You are going to sign up for the Oyster card and then you can top it up with one of the machines at the station. You can then load the credit card into the machine and the transaction will be completed. The Oyster card will now be ready for use.

How Much Does The Tube Cost?

The cost of using the Tube in London is key in deciding which direction you choose to go in.

For the most part, the transit system is inexpensive and a good deal for those who are using the Oyster card or even the Travelcard.

It is usually going to come out to be around £3 per trip.

This can vary depending on where you are going.

How To Use The Tube

Let’s assume you are now prepared to get on the Tube to your destination in London.

The London Underground is a fascinating transit system but it’s going to take a bit of time getting used to. You will want to have a rough idea of what you are going to be facing during the experience.

In general, you are going to plan your route.

Once you have a route, you are going to go to your initial station as cited on your map. You will go to the station, follow the signs, and then go to the tube lines.

You will want to make sure to figure out where each line is going to go.

There will be arrival times listed on the display nearby. You should be able to see it from here. You are going to read these times and figure out when your train is coming. You will also want to take a look at the Endpoint.

This is going to let you know where it’s going to end.

Get on the right train to make sure you get to where you want to go.

You will always want to make sure to have your payment method ready to go. This is how you are going to have to enter the tube station. Otherwise, you are not going to be able to go in. You are going to scan the Oyster card or your specific payment method to get in and then you will be able to get to the trains.

Final Thoughts

This is how to use the Tube in London the right way.

If you learn this etiquette of using the Tube in London, you are going to be well on your way to navigating this magnificent transit system.

We have also gone over what to wear in London and the safest places to stay in London.