How To Cheat Your Way Around London

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 14 months ago
How To Cheat Your Way Around London

Londoners don't always have it easy. Make your life that little bit simpler with these cheats.

Get to the platform faster than those other losers. Photo: Andy Lederer.

Transport cheats

When running walking sensibly for the tube, it helps to know the shortcuts. For instance, we know that the quickest way to descend to the Northern line at Old Street is to actually follow the signs for trains to Welwyn.

Then there are people like Londonist's own Geoff Marshall, who co-created this app, which optimises tube travel, down to which carriage you should board for the quickest exit.

We've written this Victoria line cheat too, which will shave time — and stress — off a Northern line commute. You can condense it into this diagram:

Then there's this article about finding an optimal route on the Northern line.

As for matters of money, watch this video to see whether you're paying too much for your Oyster card...

...this one to work out if you're using the pink Oyster readers correctly...

...and this one to see if you could save money using contactless rather than Oyster:

Also, watch out for certain 'free fare' promotions, which pop up now and again. They don't last long, but could save you a hefty whack if you're using Pay As You Go.

If you're whizzing around on the tube all day, you may find you need to go for a, er, whizz. Luckily TfL has this map of toilets (many of the outer ones are free to use):

Click for full pdf.

Freebies and cheapies

Lots of stuff in London is free, and we're not going to reel all that off. This covers things you usually have to fork out for.

Entry to Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral will cost you more than the average church collection. But, as many Londoners know, you can visit both for free, so long as you're there on religious business. Warning: you'll get into trouble if you're caught sneaking off to Poets' Corner.

Westminster Abbey doesn't have to cost you. Photo: M. Sebregts.

Residents of certain boroughs can get stuff for free. You can get into the Tower of London for £1 (Tower Hamlets), free Olympic Stadium tickets (Newham) or free swim and gym (Southwark). Ask your council what they can do for you.

Volunteering is another way to gain free access to museums and experiences you'd otherwise pay for. Helping out at the Imperial War Museums, for example, gets you free entry to their three London sites. And being an Open House volunteer each September allows you to queue-jump at literally hundreds of incredible venues.

London School of Barbering.

Cheap restaurants are all over London. But for posh food at a fraction of the usual cost, try somewhere like the London Geller College of Hospitality and Tourism in Ealing, where you get a three-course meal for under £20. Or the Vincent Rooms, where a seven-course tasting menu costs under £30.

You can also scoff free booze, cakes and even roast dinners — by attending various press launches, previews and the like. Here's a good place to start.

One of the easiest things to get for free in London (especially for men) is a haircut: check out places like London School of Barbering.

Beating the crowds

If it's not money, but crowds you're worried about, here's our guide on exactly when to visit London's big attractions.

In case you didn't know which museum to visit in the first place, check out this handy flowchart we made:

Click for full flowchart.

Otherwise, head for one of London's smallest museums. Or an attraction that's well out of the way: in the south east; south west; north west; or north east.

Many of you won't consider Oxford Street a form of entertainment. Nonetheless, it's such a conundrum, we've written it a cheat sheet of its own.

Got a London life hack you'd like to share? Share it in the comments.

Last Updated 05 October 2016

Jimmy Edwards

A tube cheat for Metropolitan line passengers traveling to/from destinations east of Baker Street: If no through train is available to your destination, take the first train to Finchley Road and wait on that platform for the first train to your destination if you want to avoid a possible long walk changing at Baker Street.