International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987


Culture Corner

Getting Around London

Public transportation is, without question, the most common way to navigate and get around England. In fact, when giving directions, most locals use transportation stops as destination points or local points of reference. The public transportation system in England is very efficient and adheres to strict schedules. Students can expect to use public transport, especially the tube, on a daily basis, and sometimes, several times a day.

**Commutes around 25-35 minutes and sometimes more are commonplace and expected--it is simply a part of everyday London life!**

Aside from public transportation, the British walk from one place to another. While the tube and public transit is convenient, the city is pedestrian friendly and walking is a great way to see the city, avoid too many connections, and get some exercise. Walking, rain or shine, is the norm. A twenty- or thirty-minute walk is not long and quite efficient!

To learn more about the different ways to navigate London, please read the descriptions below.

Postal Codes & the City Layout

London postal codes are commonly used to assist with directions and finding a location. The letters in the postal code correspond to the cardinal direction of that site from central London. The University of Westminster Marylebone Campus, for example, has a postal code of: London NW1 5LS. The NW indicates the campus is Northwest of central London. In addition, the city is encompassed by 6 zones. A location zone is determined by the number that follows the letter in the address; therefore, the Marylebone Campus is located in zone 1.

All city markers and distances are measured from Nelson's Column, located in the prominent Trafalgar Square.

Types of Transportation

Between the tube (underground subway), double-decker busses, and black cabs, getting from here to there can be quite the unique cultural experience. In addition to the traditional London modes, there are of course a plethora of trains, planes, automobiles, bicycles, and river boats that support one of the best public transportation systems in the world.

London is efficiently crisscrossed by approximately a dozen tube lines. More than 3 million people travel on the tube everyday! The system is very easy to understand, and all of the lines are color coded. However, do not hesitate to ask a fellow traveler or station employee should you need assistance. General hours of operation of the tube are between approximately 5:30 am to midnight, so travel in the early morning hours may involve night buses and/or taxis. Tube fares can quickly get expensive, so depending on your travel plans, purchasing an Oyster Card (tube pass) might prove to be the most cost effective for repeat travel on the underground. An Oyster Card will provide you travel access on all city buses as well.

For more information about the London Underground, or to search and download tube maps, please click here.

While a tad more complicated than the tube, the bus system in London is also very convenient and practical. It's also a good way to get your bearings on the city and see some of the sights while traveling from point a to point b, unlike the Tube where you are underground the majority of the time. Click here to view a map of the London Bus system via the Transport for London website.

Passengers looking to travel outside of London can easily connect their local routes to the National Rail system. Trains adhere to strict time tables and prove to be a time efficient way to traverse the country. For more information about ticket fares and routes please click here.

The Eurostar high-speed rail services not only takes passengers across all of Britain, but also traverses below the English Channel connecting passengers to the whole of main land Europe. This popular Channel Tunnel, more commonly know as ?The Chunnel? places passengers in central Paris in approximately 3 hours. The departure platform is located at the newly refurbished London St. Pancras Station. For more information about Eurostar destinations and time tables please click here. You can also search and easily purchase tickets at this additional link.

**When traveling by rail be sure to ask for student rates. Please note that you may be required to show a student I.D. card.


Taxis are everywhere, but there are two different kinds of cabs, the famous London black cab (they aren?t all black), and the mini-cab competitor. ?Black Cabs? are the only taxis that can be hailed in the street. They are licensed by the Metropolitan police and have meters to calculate the fare. Mini-cabs may be hired from local companies as they advertise in the "Yellow Pages" telephone directory. Some unscrupulous mini-cab firms may not be safe and may overcharge you. The Transport for London website offers useful advice on licensed mini-cab companies. You should not get into an unlicensed taxi or mini-cab.

You will find the certified taxi license located on the back of the vehicle in a white disk.