5 alternative London Underground maps to make your journey that much smoother

Posted by
Moya Crockett
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Even the most occasional visitor to London will be familiar with the Tube map. Designed by Harry Beck in 1931, the iconic guide is renowned for its straightforward user-friendliness and has inspired countless other public transport maps around the world.

But it’s not the only London Underground map out there. Transport for London (TfL) has actually created 12 different Tube maps over the years – most recently the #TunnelMap, to support public transport users who struggle with claustrophobia and anxiety.

Here, we’ve highlighted five special Tube maps you may find useful.

The map that can help soothe claustrophobia and anxiety

The most recent addition to TfL’s range of tube maps was the #TunnelMap, unveiled in early July. Aimed at people who suffer from claustrophobia and anxiety, it clearly marks which London Underground stations and sections are underground – even highlighting alternative routes if you can’t bear the thought of going through a tunnel.

Reassuringly, more than 50% of the 270 tube stations are above ground, and only the Victoria line and Waterloo & City lines are 100% underground. Read more about the #TunnelMap here.

View and download the Tunnel Map here.

The map that helps you walk more

This ‘walking Tube map’ was designed to encourage Londoners to pound the pavements to their next destination, rather than automatically heading underground. Each space between stops is marked with a number, indicating how many minutes it would take the average person to walk there.

It’s a particularly handy map during rush hour, when simply trying to force your way onto a packed Central line platform can feel like an impossible task. Make your journey a little less stressful by ditching the Tube and strolling from Charing Cross to Embankment (three minutes), meandering from Oxford Circus to Bond Street (seven minutes) or wandering from Liverpool Street to Whitechapel in (23 minutes) instead.

View and download the walking Tube map here.

The map for when you’re desperate

We’ve all been there: you’re bursting for the loo, but you’ve still got seven stops (plus a line change) before you can make it home. This useful map details the dozens of London Underground stations with public toilet facilities, cutting down your chances of getting caught short.

Somewhat frustratingly, most of the loos can be found in suburban stations - great for commuters, but less convenient when you’re on your way home from central London. Inner city stations with public bathrooms include Piccadilly Circus, Bank and Westminster, as well lots of the bigger stations with mainline platforms.

View and download the toilet facilities Tube map here.

The map for when you need to bring your bike

Only folding bicycles are allowed on most underground lines in central London, but there are some (pernickety) exceptions to the rule. Did you know, for example, that you are allowed to take a big old regular bike on the District and Circle lines, apart from between 7.30-9.30am and 4-7pm on weekdays? Or on the Bakerloo line, but only between Harrow & Wealdstone and Queen’s Park? Now you do.  

View and download the bike-friendly Tube map here.

The map for when you can’t manage the stairs

The tube can be hellish, whoever you are – but if you or your travelling companion is less able to walk, navigating the underground can be a particularly challenging experience.

This map, while a little more complex than some of the others, is an essential piece of kit for older people, parents with pushchairs or people with physical disabilities (or if you’re lugging your big suitcase home from the airport).

The green dots with navy borders delineate stations with lifts between the street and the platform, while those with red-bordered green dots only have escalators. Stations where it’s not possible to avoid stairs are greyed out on the map.

Wheelchair users should check out the step-free tube map, which offers a more in-depth look at which stations have disabled access throughout.

View and download the avoiding stairs Tube map here.

Images: Cally Lathey / TfL. H/T