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Underground or Over-ground – A Brief Backpacker’s Guide to Getting around London

Everybody wants to do London, right? It’s on every true backpacker’s list. Even if you’re from England, your trip has got to either start or finish here. It’s a country within a city within a country.

There are loads of free attractions like the National Science Museum and the Tate Art Museums and a hundred other sights and walks to see and do. You can have a picnic in Hyde Park one minute and weave your way down Oxford Street the next. You can sit atop a lion in Trafalgar Square by day and admire the dazzling lights of Piccadilly Circus by night. As you well know, there’s a lot to get through in London – you’ll never do it in a day.

But what a lot of backpackers debate about is the best way to get to and from these sights and sounds. The world famous Underground, an unbelievable feat of engineering in itself, is by far the most convenient way to get around, but some argue that the Tube deprives you of the full visual charm of London. Others say that the Tube is part of the charm of London and, while you may not agree during rush hour when your face is squashed against the window of a train, this is hard to refute. The London experience is incomplete without a ride on the Tube.

Of course, if you’re pressed for time, then the Tube is often the best way to get between points of interest that are beyond walking distance. If you’re staying for more than a couple of days and you think you’ll make quite a few trips via the Underground, then be sure to bag yourself an Oyster card – you’ll save a small fortune on fares to spend on essentials like food and drink.
London Nights offers discounts on hotels all over the capital for a place to stay, even if it’s just for a night. Pardon the cliché, but there really is something for everyone in this city; from every type of cuisine you could imagine to a bar or club for every type of music put there.

It is, like most cities, a very busy place, so you will need to keep your wits about you, backpackers. This is especially true during busy spells on the Tube, so it would perhaps be worth your while to have your backpack as a frontpack on there. This shouldn’t, by any means, serve to put you off London, since every city has its dangers: it does you no harm to be extra vigilant for both yourself and your mates.

The streets of London can be, in parts, as busy as the Tube, but it is really up to you how you travel and what you want to see. Your itinerary of places to see will inevitably dictate how much time you spend underground, so it is always advisable to plan your visit in advance. If you can walk it, walk it. If it’s too far to walk it, tube it. Either way, you’ll get to experience London at its exhilarating best.

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