London Underground: the Tube

The London Underground rail network, also called "the Tube," is a great way to travel to, from and around central London.
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Sign at the entrance of a London Tube station on a sunny day
Sign at the entrance of a London Tube station. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
  • The London Underground network is divided into nine zones. Central London is covered by Zone 1.

  • The Tube network has 11 lines.

  • The Tube fare depends on how far you travel, the time of day, and what type of ticket or payment method you use.

  • Oyster cards or contactless payments are the cheapest ways to pay for Tube journeys.

  • Tube services usually run from 5am until midnight, with Night Tube services on some lines on Friday and Saturday evenings.

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Greater London is served by 11 Tube lines, along with the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), the London Overground, the Elizabeth line and National Rail services.

London Underground trains generally run between 5am and midnight Monday to Saturday. Operating hours are slightly reduced on Sunday. Night Tube trains run on some lines throughout the night on Fridays and Saturdays.

For more detailed travel information on which stations to use and suggestions for the best route to reach your destination, use Transport for London's Journey Planner.

What are the London Underground zones?

London's public transport network is divided into nine travel zones. Zone 1 is in central London and zones 6 to 9 are on the outskirts of the city.

The Elizabeth line

Hop onboard London’s Elizabeth line, which connects London Heathrow airport and Reading to Shenfield and Abbey Wood via major central London Underground and rail stations, including Paddington, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf stations. 

What are the London Tube prices?

Buy a Visitor Oyster card*, Oyster card, Travelcard or use a contactless payment card to get the best value. A Visitor Oyster card is cheaper to purchase than a regular Oyster card and can be sent to you home address before you arrive in London.

Travel during off-peak Fridays between 8 April to 31 March to benefit from off-peak fares all day, every Friday. Check out this guide to cheap travel for more money-saving tips when travelling in London. 

If your contactless payment card was issued outside the UK, check with your bank before you travel to see whether you'll incur additional transaction fees or charges.

For more details about London Tube prices, see the Transport for London website.

Various discounts are available for children, students and older travellers on the London Underground.

Find out more information about London Oyster cards with these frequently asked questions.

If you plan on travelling around London to do some sightseeing and visit some of London's best attractions, a London Pass* could save you money.

Buy a Visitor Oyster Card*

Order online and arrive ready to go!

Visitor Oyster*

Is there a London Tube map?

Devised in 1933 by Harry Beck, the London Underground map is a 20th-century design classic. It's useful and clearly indicates the general directions taken by the trains (north, south, east or westbound), with all interchanges clearly shown.

Download free London travel maps of the London Underground and other public transport routes.

Are free London Tube maps and guides available?

Two women look at a smartphone on a Tube platform on the London Underground.
Download digital maps of the London Underground to plan your journey. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Transport for London (TfL) produces free maps and guides to help you get around. You can pick up a London Underground map upon arrival at any London Tube station. London Travel information centres sell tickets and provide free maps, and you'll find centres at Victoria, Piccadilly Circus and King's Cross & St Pancras stations, as well as at Tourist Information Centres.

Download a handy free Tube map, as well as maps for other modes of public transport.

What are useful tips for Tube travellers?

Woman looking at her phone on a London Underground platform with a Tube train in the background
Stand behind the yellow line when waiting for a London Tube. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Here are some useful tips for travelling on the Tube to make your journey more enjoyable and efficient.

  • Avoid travelling during morning and evening rush hours (weekdays from 7am to 8.45am and 4.30pm to 6.45pm).
  • Trains run frequently so there’s no need to rush for the train, just wait for the next available service.
  • Check the front of the train for the destination.
  • Stand on the right when using escalators.
  • Wait for passengers to leave the train before boarding.
  • Move down inside the Tube carriages while travelling so you don't block the doorway for other passengers.
  • Stand behind the yellow line while waiting on the platform.
  • If you’re carrying luggage, board at the raised platform areas for level access on to the train.
  • Offer your seat to anyone who is unwell, elderly, pregnant or travelling with small children.
  • Hold onto the rails if you are standing during your journey.
  • Mind the gap!
  • Download the TfL Go app for live train times and to plan your journey, or visit one of the TfL Visitor Centres.

What are the London Underground opening and closing times?

London Underground opening times vary slightly from line to line, but the first Tube trains normally start running around 5am from Monday to Saturday, with reduced operating hours on Sunday.

The London Underground normally runs until around midnight. Check signage or with staff at the particular Tube station you plan on using to find out exactly when the last train is.

A 24-hour Night Tube service operates on some lines on Fridays and Saturdays.

How accessible is the London Underground?

Access to most Tube stations is via staircases or escalators, but some London Underground stations have step-free access. When boarding London Underground trains, be aware that you might have to step up to eight inches (20cm) up or down between the platform and the train.

All 41 stations along the Elizabeth line are set to be accessible with step-free access from platform to street level.

Download a free London Tube map to see which stations are step-free or find guides on accessible travel from Transport for London.

Why is the London Underground called "the Tube"?

The London Underground is often called the Tube because of the shape of the tunnels. The London Underground is one of the oldest metro systems in the world, opening in 1863. When the Central Line Railway opened in 1900, it was called the Twopenny Tube, referencing the price of a ticket. The nickname has stuck ever since!

For alternative public transport options, London's extensive bus network is an ideal mode of transport for shorter trips. A bus fare in London costs just £1.65, and it allows you to admire the capital's landmarks from ground level.