In London for the Olympic Games this summer? Then be sure to read this survival guide to help you navigate your way around the city, avoiding the chaos.
Tips for the tube
Whether you're new to London or you know it like the back of your hand, make sure you have a tube map on hand. There are a number of apps that can help plot routes, with real-time information to help you avoid delays.
London's tube is antiquated (no air con) but Transport for London have been on a mission for the last few years to get it into tip top condition for the Games, when it’s expected to be carrying hundreds of thousands more commuters than normal.
If you have tickets for the Games or want to see the Olympic Park, you're in luck because the transport options out to Stratford are many and varied.
Your best bet is to catch the Jubilee line (the silver one) or an overground train from West Brompton, if you’re staying in west London. All main interchanges for the Jubilee line (London Bridge and Waterloo in particular) are likely to be overcrowded, especially during peak hour, so think about jumping on a stop early. Often it's just a short walk between stops, so be sure to pack your A-Z.
All tube stations have very clear directions (bright pink signage) directing you to the right platform, so it’s almost impossible to get lost. On top of that, volunteers in bright uniforms are patrolling stations to help out anyone who needs pointing in the right direction.
Oyster cards and alternative means of transport
Your best option for getting around cheaply is to get an Oyster card, which costs around $8. This touch in, touch out prepay card is easily bought and can be used on trains, tubes and the bus system all around London and its suburbs. A single journey on the tube will cost you about $6.50 while an Oyster card fare is only about $4.
Buses are a good alternative to the tube and Transport for London is laying on a more frequent service. However, traffic can be slow in London so make sure you factor in extra time. For those who are confident enough to brave the traffic, why not sign up online for London's cycle hire scheme? With miles of bike paths cutting through Olympic Park and taking in the best of London's riverside views, there's probably no finer route to the Games and no easier way to get around London.
Take a break from the rush
On the days where you just want to avoid the Olympic madness, why not try heading away from the maddening crowd? Pop to the pub during the heat of rush hour or hop on a train heading out of the city. There are plenty of areas unaffected by the Games. Hampstead Heath in the north or Brixton in the south offer plenty in the way of parks and cool eateries.
Whether you embrace the Games or want to run away and hide from them, so long as you have a plan in place to keep you one step ahead of the crowd, you'll be fine.
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