The London Underground System: A Guide for Students

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The London underground system can be quite difficult to get your head around, particularly if you’re a young student and you’ve only just moved to the city. As confusing as it may seem at first, it’s likely to be one of your main modes of transport while you’re studying, so knowing the basics will be extremely beneficial.

Whichever location you decide to choose for your student housing, London’s underground network will never be too far away. Learn how to get around and you’ll feel right at home in no time.

Tickets and Fares

Since you’ll more than likely be staying in London for quite a long period of time, international student advisors will probably encourage you to purchase an Oyster card. When topped up with a weekly, monthly or yearly travelcard, this will allow you to travel between the particular zones in the city.

Alternatively, you can use a contactless card or buy individual tickets, but an Oyster will most certainly save you money in the long run. Fares vary, depending on the time of day and where you travel to and from. Students receive a discount of 30% when purchasing travelcards.


The zones of the transport network radiate from the centre of the city and are numbered 1-9, with the latter being the furthest from the centre. (If you’re looking for very central zone 1 student housing, London will be significantly more expensive for you.) Consult the colour coded London Underground map if you’re unsure what zones your ticket or travelcard to cover.

The Map

The map may appear confusing at first glance, but once you have your bearings the system will be a lot simpler. You can also use TFL’s Journey Planner if you have trouble working out where to go. A lot of journeys will require you to change trains, which often causes confusion, but members of staff are always happy to help muddled travellers!

Night Service

24/7 night tube services are available on Fridays and Saturdays – which is a fantastic service for students wanting to explore the capital’s nightlife scene. For the rest of the week the tube is closed from midnight until 5am. Night tubes currently run on the Central, Victoria, Jubilee and Northern (Charing Cross branch) lines, as well as parts of the Piccadilly line.

The underground is the most efficient way to travel around the city from your student housing. London travel cards not only cover the tubes, but can also be used on buses, the overground trains and the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) service.

If you’re moving to the big smoke to start a study abroad programme, try not to feel overwhelmed by the transport system. Help is always readily available at tube stations and you’ll no doubt be finding your way around sooner than you think.
About author: Desiree Michels

Sophie Smith works as an independent consultant, specialising in offering advice on London student housing. London offers an unbeatable experience for international students, and Sophie has many suggestions to make sure that their time in the city is positive, safe and enjoyable.


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