Navigating London’s West End can be frustrating if you’re in a hurry, but fantastic if you have time to explore. The next time you’re on your way to see a show in the West End, follow this guide to ensure a stress-free and speedy trip.
There are many different ways to get into the West End. However, street vehicles like taxis, Ubers or buses are usually the slowest. Depending on the time you’re traveling in this direction, it can be very congested. Your best bet to arrive on time is either the Tube or walking.
Taking the Tube
There are multiple stations in the West End covering several Tube lines. You shouldn’t have a problem finding one that will get you close to your destination. Remember that on the map it doesn’t reflect actual distances, so many of the central stations are closer together than they appear. Always avoid Covent Garden, as it has very slow, jam-packed elevators all the way to the surface. Use Holborn, Charing Cross or Leicester Square stations instead.
London commuters are organised, quick and knowledgeable. However, they don’t like to be delayed. Pre-theatre travel overlaps with commuter hour, so remember to follow all of the Tube rules. Stay to the right on escalators, have your tickets or Oyster card ready in hand before you reach the barriers.
Walking Around the West End
Similar to our previous tip, remember it’s not just visitors walking around central London streets. But, unless someone is in an obvious rush, most Londoners are happy to help with directions if you get stuck. Fortunately, West End theatres are fairly spread out, it’s generally not too crowded trying to get in. Some streets have several large, busy venues, so bear that in mind if you’re heading to a busy area like the Strand or Shaftesbury Avenue.
Also keep in mind that there are many small streets running parallel. You can always avoid walking on busy thoroughfares like Oxford Street or Leicester Square, and then turn back on when you’re close to the venue.
Keep in mind if you bring a bag with you to the show, you will have to stop at bag checks at the door of West End theatres. Due to recent terror threats this is a necessary precaution and can add a few minutes to travel time.
Some historic West End theatres aren’t the easiest to quickly get around in. While beautiful to look at, many have tiny bars with long lines. Fighting your way to the front of a line and stressfully waiting for a drink in the 15-minute break isn’t worth it.
It’s best to arrive early and order interval drinks in advance. The key with shows is to always arrive early and account for possible delays. That way you can sip at your leisure, have time to visit the bathroom and enjoy the great city views surrounding you. Plan your evening in advance by first finding West End tickets, a theatre travel route and dinner reservations prior to the show. Seeing a show in the West End should be relaxing, so don’t stress yourself out with poor planning and no navigation plans.