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Airports of London – How to Get There?

How to get from the airports to London?

London is served by six international airports, making it the busiest airport system in the world by passenger numbers. The airports Heathrow, London City, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Southend together make up for a total of 14 domestic destinations and 396 international destinations.

If all the London airports would be situated in Central London, it would be a piece of cake to make your way around. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, most London airports are located about 30 to 40 miles from London’s city center.

When you arrive in London at one of these airports, it might be hard to find your way into town. Hopefully this guide will provide you with some useful information that will make your trip so much easier.

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Heathrow Airport

By train

The fastest mean of transport from Heathrow to Central London is by the Heathrow Express. These are non-stop trains that run from the airport to London Paddington in about 15-20 minutes. Trains run every 15 minutes, and tickets can be bought in advance online, or at the airport. Tickets are around £36.00 return.

In addition, stopping trains run to London Paddington every 30 minutes in about 30-35 minutes. These trains are called Heathrow Connect and provide an excellent service. This is especially true if your destination is near a local station in West London. Moreover, tickets can be bought at the terminals. However, you can also make use of the London transport card ‘Oyster Card’, which can be bought at the terminals as well. Tickets are around £20.40 return.

By London Underground

The Piccadilly Underground line has services every 5-7 minutes from all Heathrow terminals. Travel time into Central London is between 50-60 minutes. Another good thing to know is that Heathrow Airport is located in Travel Zone 6. This will help you to determine what your cheapest travel option will be. For example, you can opt for a London transport ‘Oyster Card’ with pay-as-you-go, a day ticket on the Oyster Card or an individual ticket. Finally, tickets are around £12.00 return.

By coach

National Express runs coach services between all Heathrow terminals to London Victoria. The journey time is between 60-80 minutes. However, do book an early departure time, as the London traffic can be ruthless and delays may occur. Find National Express Coaches at the central bus station, only a few minutes walk from Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Tickets are around £11.00 return.

By local bus

Another option would be to connect your flight with a rail-air bus link, which connects local buses with the national rail network. Rail connections can be made in Reading, Watford Junction, Woking and Feltham. Buses stop at the central bus station, which is a few minutes walk from Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Rates vary.

By taxi

Hail a classical London black taxi from the rank outside the terminals or book a taxi in advance. One example is Blacklane which has a very easy online booking tool. You simply enter your pickup address, drop off address and desired pickup time, and it immediately shows you the fare and car class options. All prices are fixed, and on the day of your ride you will receive two email and SMS updates. The first one is informing you that the car is on its way. The second one informs you when the driver has arrived at the pickup location. Saves you a lot of stress! Rates of taxis at Heathrow Airport vary.

London Paddington

London City Airport

By Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

London City Airport can be easily reached by the overground service Docklands Light Railway (DLR). The airport is located in Travel Zone 3. Furthermore, Oyster Cards and tickets can be purchased at the DLR counter next to the terminal. Journey times to Central London vary from 10-20 minutes, and trains depart every 8-15 minutes. Tickets are around £6.00 return.

By bus

Local buses run from London City Airport to other destinations in East London. Buses run towards Canning Town, Plaistow,  North Woolwich and Stratford. From Stratford, it is easy to get an Underground or Overground link into Central London. Travel times and rates vary.

By taxi

Hail a black taxi in front of the terminal building, or book a cab online in advance. Rates and journey times vary.

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Gatwick Airport

By Gatwick Express

The Gatwick Express is a non-stop link between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria. Trains depart every 15 minutes and the total journey time is 30 minutes. Moreover, trains depart form the train station in the South Terminal. Book online in advance to save money. Tickets are around £35.00 return.

By train

Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern local trains depart several times an hour from the railway station right outside of the south terminal. Services into Central London include, Victoria, London Bridge and St Pancras International. Book train tickets online in advance to save money. Alternatively, you can use the London transport ‘Oyster Card.’ Travel times and ticket rates vary.

By coach

TerravisionEasybus and National Express run coach services from Gatwick Airport to several locations in London. Destinations include: London Victoria, Bayswater, Earl’s Court/West-Brompton and Hammersmith. Coaches depart from both terminals and journey time into London is around an hour. However, keep in mind to book an early departure time, as the London traffic can cause delays to your journey. Book online in advance to save money, or get your ticket at the airport. Fares vary.

By taxi

Hail a black taxi in front of the terminal buildings, or book a cab online in advance. Rates and journey times vary.

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Stansted Airport

By Stansted Express

Stansted Express trains are direct trains from Stansted Airport into Central London. Service depart every 15 minutes and stop in Tottenham Hale and London Liverpool Street. The journey time is around 40 minutes and tickets can be purchased in advance, as well as at the airport. Tickets are from £8.00 single (when bought online, a few months in advance).

By Coach

National Express, Stansted City Link and Airport Bus Express operate coach services from Stansted Airport into Central London. Destinations include: London Victoria, London Paddington, London Liverpool Street, Kings Cross, London Bridge and Stratford. Journey times vary, but are in between one hour and one-and-a-half hour. Again, do book an early departure time, as London traffic can cause delays to your journey. Book online in advance to save money, or get your ticket at the airport. Fares vary.

By taxi

Hail a black taxi in front of the terminal building, or book a cab online in advance. Fares and journey times vary.

public transport london airport

Luton Airport

By train

Luton operates shuttle services from the airport to the railway station. These take 10 minutes. From the station, you have the option to go for the fast Central London train services, or the regular southbound trains.

Fast trains into Central London run every 10 minutes and have a journey time of 40 minutes. Furthermore, trains run once an hour throughout the night.  Destinations include Blackfriars, Farringdon, City Thameslink and King’s Cross.

The regular services run every 20 minutes at peak times and will take you to South London and beyond.

Fares of trains vary. The shuttle service is £2.70 standard open return.

By coach

Easybus, National Express and Green Line run coach services from Luton Airport into Central London. Destinations include London Liverpool Street, London Victoria, Baker Street, Marble Arch and Golders Green. Tickets can be bought in advance, which will save you money. Furthermore, coaches will depart from the bus station, next to the arrival’s exit. Journey times and ticket fares vary.

By taxi

Hail a black taxi in front of the terminal building, or book a cab online in advance. Fares and journey times vary.

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Southend Airport

By train

At peak times, 8 trains an hour run from Southend Airport to London Liverpool Street and Stratford. Journey time is 53 minutes to London Liverpool Street, and 44 minutes to Stratford. Tickets can be booked online in advance, or purchased at the airport. Fares are on average £14.90 for a single (off-peak) ticket.

By taxi

Hail a black taxi in front of the terminal building, or book a cab online in advance. Fares and journey times vary.

Over to you! I am sure you have an interesting story to tell about your journey to/from an airport. Please share it in the comments below!

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  • Very informative article. I usually stay in Bayswater/Notting Hill when in town and I’m always torn. I love the convenience and small size of London City but the Heathrow Express to Heathrow is ultimately faster from Paddington than the tube and Docklands rail to London City. But I sure dislike those long security queues at Heathrow! Even fast track is slow!

    • That is true! You always have to keep in mind where you will be staying, as London is enormous. It can take hours to travel from A to B. And then there are the queues of course!

  • Mike C

    Luton, Southend, Stansted and Gatwick are misleadingly called London airports. But for those who don’t mind a train journey, the savings on flights is well worth it. As you say, the transport links are excellent (except Southern Rail – horrendous in the last year).

    • I agree Mike, but officially they are part of the London airport network. Southern is horrendous this year as well I’m afraid 🙁 Strikes all the time

  • Vishal

    Absolutely no idea as I have visited London couple of times and have been dropped by family to the airport. But I notice that it is an informative article and being appreciated by those who have knowledge of the local system, more than me.

  • La Dee

    This has to be the most time appropriate article I have read so far. I’m planning a trip to Brighton , flying into Heathrow first , sightseeing London and then heading to Brighton. So knowing how to get around as it’ll be my first time is so helpful! Thanks!