October 16, 2023

Destination: London


A Guide to Getting to London from the Airport

If you’re planning a visit to the UK, there’s a decent chance you’ll be flying into one of London’s major airports.

Whether you’re staying there or not, the capital city makes for the perfect jump-off point to the rest of the country due to its excellent transport links.

It’s a big, sprawling city, and getting from the airport to central London can be a bit daunting. Fear not, though, we’ve got you…

London and the River Thames at sunset from above

How to get from Heathrow Airport to London

Heathrow Airport is out in west London, and Paddington is the closest central London train station.

Let’s start with the fastest service, the Heathrow Express (Heathrowexpress.com) train. It takes just 15 minutes to get from Heathrow Airport to Paddington, with the service running from around 5.30 am until midnight.

Once at Paddington station, there are plenty of connections available, from tubes to buses, further trains or taxis.

For more flexibility, the new Elizabeth Line (Tfl.gov.uk) is a fast, clean, and fully air-conditioned tube that will take you to and from each of the Heathrow Airport terminals.

You can take the Elizabeth line into the central London tube stops of Paddington, Bond Street, and Farringdon, as well as many other London stations on the line.

The other tube line you can use is the Piccadilly Line (Tfl.gov.uk). It also travels to and from Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3, 4, and 5 and takes around 50 minutes to get from Heathrow Airport to Piccadilly Circus in central London.

You can use a contactless credit card on both of these tube services, tapping in and out at the turnstiles or buying a ticket at the machines.

The National Express (Nationalexpress.com) coach service can also be used to travel from Heathrow to London. It takes anything from 50 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on traffic.

Taxis like London Heathrow Cars (Londonheathrowcars.com) and Uber (Uber.com) are also readily available and bookable in advance.

Aeroplanes at Heathrow airport

How to get from Gatwick Airport to London

London Gatwick Airport is in the south of London, with trains going into the central stations of London Victoria or London Bridge.

The Gatwick Express is by far the easiest option, taking you from Gatwick to London Victoria in just 30 minutes.

There are around two trains an hour: the first train from Gatwick is at 5.28 in the morning and the last train from Gatwick is at 23.54 in the evening. (Double-check the Gatwick Express website for any changes of schedule: Gatwickexpress.com.)

You can also take a Southern Railway train (Southernrailway.com) from Gatwick Airport to Clapham Junction in around 30 minutes.

The Thames Link (Thameslinkrailway.com) train also runs regularly from London Gatwick to London Bridge, London Victoria, Farringdon, London Blackfriars, and St Pancras International.

If you’d prefer to travel by coach, National Express (Nationalexpress.com) runs a regular service between Gatwick Airport and Victoria Coach station, starting from as early as 4.00 a.m. and operating until 23.59. The journey time is approximately 2 hours.

Uber (Uber.com), Addison Lee (Addisonlee.com), and Airport Cars Gatwick (Airportcars-gatwick.com) are a few other taxi options. They’re an ideal option if you’re travelling very late or early in the day, are in a group, or have a lot of luggage.

How to get from London City Airport to London

London City Airport (Londoncityairport.com) is the closest to central London and is easily accessible by tube, bus, or taxi.

London City receives only short-haul flights from Europe. It’s also much smaller than Gatwick and Heathrow, so getting through the airport is usually much faster.

Given that it’s only around 6 miles from central London, the most convenient way to travel to/from London City Airport is by taxi.

Alternatively, London City Airport is on the DLR (Tfl.gov.uk) line, which travels into Bank station in central London.

How to get from Luton Airport to London

London Luton Airport is around 35 miles north of central London. It’s another smaller airport, although that just means that collecting luggage and getting out is usually a speedy process.

For central London, take the Thameslink (Thameslinkrailway.com) from London Luton to London Bridge, London Victoria, Farringdon, London Blackfriars, or St Pancras International. The train takes around 40 minutes and runs every 10 minutes at peak times.

The Luton Airport Bus (London-luton.co.uk) is the cheapest option for getting into central London – although also the longest – taking up to 90 minutes.

Private transfers and taxis are also available.

How do I get from London to the airport?

Kings Cross Station

In most cases, the routes shared above are all reversible. Train journeys can be cheaper if the tickets are purchased in advance.

However, if you’re using a tube service, prices won’t change and you can simply buy a Travelcard (Tfl.gov.uk) or Oyster Card (Oyster.tfl.gov.uk) on the day, or use a contactless payment card.

What’s the best app to navigate my way around London?

For anyone visiting London, we highly recommend downloading City Mapper (Citymapper.com). This easy-to-use travel app gives door-to-door routes including all types of transport, distances, length of time, and station information.

Planning a visit to the UK? See our guide to everything you need to know before you go.

And if you want to really get the best from your trip to the UK’s capital, have a look at our London tours.

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