Getting Around London Like a Local: Insider Tips for Public Transportation
If you’re a backpacker staying at a youth hostel in London, getting around the city can seem overwhelming at first. But fear not! With a bit of insider knowledge and some savvy tips, you’ll be navigating the streets and tubes like a true Londoner in no time.
First things first: get an Oyster card. This smart card is the key to using public transportation in London, and it’s the most cost-effective way to get around. You can purchase an Oyster card at any tube station or online, and you’ll need to top it up with credit as you go. You can also just tap with your debit card on all public transport.
Next up: know your zones. London is divided into six different zones, with zone 1 covering the city centre and zone 6 reaching out to the suburbs. If you’re staying at a youth hostel in London, chances are you’ll be in zones 1 or 2, so make sure your Oyster card is loaded with enough credit to cover those zones. State which zone you are in and how simple it is to get into town.
Now, onto the tubes. The London Underground is a fast and efficient way to get around the city, but it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing. First, familiarise yourself with the different tube lines and their colours, so you can easily navigate the system. For example, the Circle line is yellow, the Piccadilly line is dark blue, and the Northern line is black. You can follow them northbound, southbound, eastbound or westbound.
When traveling on the tubes, always stand on the right-hand side of the escalator, and never, ever block the left-hand side. This is a cardinal sin in London, and you’ll be met with a chorus of tutting and disapproving glares if you break this rule.
Another tip: avoid traveling during rush hour if possible. This is typically between 7-10am and 4-7pm on weekdays, and the tubes can get uncomfortably crowded. If you do have to travel during rush hour, be prepared to stand very close to your fellow commuters and to move quickly when boarding and disembarking the trains.
If you prefer to travel above ground, buses are a great option. They’re slower than the tubes, but they offer great views of the city and they’re a bit more relaxed. Make sure you have an Oyster card loaded with enough credit to cover the bus fare, and remember to tap your card when you board and disembark.
Finally, don’t forget to explore the city on foot! London is a great city for walking, and you’ll see so much more if you take the time to stroll through its many neighbourhoods. Just make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes and a map or GPS, and you’ll be good to go.
So, there you have it – some insider tips for getting around London like a local. Whether you’re staying at a youth hostel, like London Backpackers, or just exploring the city on a budget, these tips will help you navigate the city with ease. Happy travels!