Anyone who has visited London knows that transportation is big business in this city. Double-decker red buses rumble through the narrow streets; travellers rush to catch black cabs or a Gatwick airport taxi; airplanes roar overhead while pedestrians fight through the crowds on Oxford Street. And beneath it all, the London Underground slithers invisibly. The image of colourful crisscrossing lines that map this 150-year-old rapid transit system has become almost as iconic as Big Ben, decorating tourist t-shirts and coffee mugs. |
Some people might find that riding the Central line at rush hour is more than enough exposure to the Tube and its mass-transit power. (Passengers looking for a more private, comfortable ride might opt for a cab or a Gatwick airport taxi to get to and from accommodation in central London.) But for the more adventurous, who aren't spooked at the idea of prowling the dim tunnels dozens of metres below the bustling city, a tour of the London Underground might be just the ticket.
A Tour through History
Started in 1863, the London Underground is oldest underground railway in the world, and the third-longest. Today it services 270 stations over 250 miles and in 2014 carried over one billion passengers. Surprisingly, despite its name, only about 45% of the London Underground is actually below ground level.
Tours offered by the London Transport Museum and Insider London can take you through 150 years of Tube history in only two hours, with information on the system’s origins, history, and design. Select Tube tours also visit deep-level shelters next to main tunnels, which were used as air-raid shelters during the Second World War.
The Tube Less Travelled
Some of the most interesting things visitors might see during a tour of the Tube system are disused “ghost stations” that have long since ceased to serve the Underground. There are dozens of these former stations left mostly intact, with some of them occasionally serving as film sets. The Aldwych station on the Piccadilly line, for example, has been used in films such as V for Vendetta, Atonement, The Edge of Love, and in BBC’s television show Sherlock.
Getting To London
There are many ways to get to London by land, sea, or air. The city has six international airports, including Heathrow, Stanstead, and Gatwick Airport. Taxi transport can be hired at any of these airports to take you to your final destination in London. A Gatwick airport taxi driver, or one of the iconic London black cab drivers will usually be happy to assist you with advice to navigate the city.
Once you have arrived in London, you can choose from several different Tube tours, all in the £20-£25 range. Some tours may add extra fees for a Zone 1 travel card.
Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct. If you’re looking for a Gatwick airport taxi, Shuttle Direct provide pre-booked shuttles to major destinations all over Europe. Wherever you travel, Shuttle Direct can make sure that you don’t miss your car on your holiday abroad.
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