London Hotels Articles

April 9, 2010

Traveling on the London Underground

You can take the Underground to nearly all parts of London, and can get you to your destination, without the delays of hailing cabs or waiting for buses. The London Underground consists of a Tube network made up of 275 stations on 12 rail lines. The different lines are marked with colours to help you keep track of where you are headed. Maps for the Tube have major tourist destinations clearly marked so you can find where you are going quickly. Any ticket station will have free maps. Smoking is not allowed anywhere in the London Underground system.

If you plan on traveling extensively by Tube, you should think about getting an Oystercard. These plastic “smart cards” are durable and more convenient than carrying regular paper tickets. You can load your Oystercard with season passes or regular pre-pay fares. Using an Oystercard is simple. Just touch the card to one of the many card readers on the platform when you start your trip, and again when you reach your destination. The Oystercard isn’t just for the Tube either. This handy card can also be used on all other forms of public transit, such as buses or the DLR (Docklands Light Railway).

If you are planning on getting around London via other transport as well as the tube, you should be aware that there are parking facilities at many stations though you will have to pay to park your car. Rates are low, starting at around £2.00 for a weekday. Some parking is free of charge on statutory holidays. Bicycles can be taken with you onboard the trains throughout most of the Tube network, but not everywhere. Some sections are off-limits to bicycles and they are also not to be brought onboard during peak travel periods (morning and evening rush hour). Check with the transit authorities before trying to board with your bike. There is no extra charge.

Even if you don’t need to travel by Tube, you might still want to visit a local station, as the London Underground is a tourist destination in itself. The Poems on the Underground program brings poetry to the trains, alongside the advertisements. The poems are updated 3 times a year and can even be purchased as a collection at London’s Transport Museum Shop. Not a fan of poetry? You can also enjoy the numerous pieces of artwork that are on display throughout the Underground. Most of the art is in the form of wall-mounted posters, but there are displays of sculpture, photography and installation art as well.

One more tip. If you are traveling during the summer, be aware that the Tube is not air-conditioned and gets quite hot. Bring a bottle of water with you if you plan on being on a train for a while.

Smooth Hound offers affordable hotel, guest house and bed & breakfast accommodation throughout the London and the rest of the world.

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