Airports (travel to and from), London
Updated April 2015
With the exception of one trip when the tube wasn't running and another where I was staying close to Paddington, I have always used the tube to get from Heathrow to central London. It is the cheapest form of public transportation and usually quicker than the bus. The Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect are quite a bit faster to Paddington Station but depending on how far away from Paddington you are staying, you may not be saving that much time if you have to connect to the tube or catch a taxi.
You can buy a ticket just for the journey, £6.70 cash fare, £3.10 off peak or £5.10 peak with an Oyster, less if your hotel is outside zone 1 (ie Earl's Court). An all day zone 1-6 travelcard is 12£, an Oyster will cap out at 11.70£ for the day On average the journey is about an hour, less if you are on the west end of London, so budget at least 2 hours to get into London between customs, luggage retrieval and tube ride.
There is a change booth at the underground station at Heathrow, get change and use the automatic machines, it's much quicker than waiting in the long queue. In Terminal 5, there were a bunch of machines where you can purchase your transport ticket and also a transport desk where you could buy one with little wait.
You can take luggage on the tube, just make sure that you can handle it on your own and that you can manage it up a flight of stairs if you have to.
Ifyou need to transfer from the Piccadilly Line to the District Line, a good place to do this is at Hammersmith where the trains leave from the same platform and you don't have to negotiate stairs with your luggage. You can also do this at Baron's Court with a same platform change of train. Make sure the train is going to Upminster, Barking or Tower Hill
One note of caution-if you have an early flight, you may not be able to use the tube and on Sunday mornings, the tube starts running later than other days so check the schedule
If Gatwick Airport (LGW) is your arrival/departure point for a London visit, the Gatwick Express rail service may be your best bet for connecting with the city centre.
It runs avery 15 minutes and takes 30 minutes (non-stop) using Victoria Station.
Take care not to get on a local train which stops everywhere, as it will be a longer, slower trip. The Express is non stop. You’ll find dedicated platforms (13 & 14) at Victoria.
Some airlines will sell you tickets and they can be bought online in advance. Well worth it to save queuing at the station or “negotiating” with an automatic machine.
At the airport the station is at the South Terminal.
It’s an expensive service. We paid £56 return - 1st class admittedly. By comparison, the Arlanda Express in Stockholm is SEK 490 return - that’s £38. No 1st class, but the Arlanda Express trains are 1st class quality and the journey is faster and smoother.
I thought I’d share a website that I find extremely useful. I often go over seas and booking transport cross the borders have turned out to be a pain so when I came across www.drivemetotheairport.co.uk it saved me so much time and effort.
I know flying in to London there are a lot of cheaper option than private hire car but with lots of bags, children or if you’re travelling with one or two people, taxi will just be easier. It’s a UK nationwide comparison site for airport transfers, you can get an idea on prices if you’re not ready to book, availability, request quotes, read reviews and yes you can book online.
Having talked to the drivers that collect me they all think this is a brilliant way for them to get more business as they’re not actually paying to be on it, they just wished more people knew about the site so I wanted to take the opportunity to recommend it to all travellers coming in or going out of the UK, it has saved me several times when I’ve forgotten to sort things out before leaving.
There are 5 airports serving London:London City Airport(11km east), Heathrow(23km west) Gatwick(38km south), Luton(39km north west) and Stansted(45km north east)
From Heathrow you can use metro(picadilly line) to get into town in 50’. There are 3 stations, one for terminals 1-2-3 and the others for terminals 4 and 5. Single ticket costs £5.70 or £8.90 for a daycard (off-peak, £17 anytime). Watch out at Picadilly Line which line goes where you want to go! There is also the Heathrow Express train that does only 20’ until Paddinghton station but costs more.
From Gatwick the Gatwick express costs £19.90 for a 30’ trip (4trains/h from 4.35am to 1.30am).
The Southern Trains to Victoria via East Croydon and Clapham Junction cost about £11 for a 45’ (4trains/h) but they can get crowded at peak times.
The First Capital Trains to London Bridge and Kings Cross costs about £9-11 for a 30’-45’ trip (4trains/h).
The National Express Coaches cost £8 but takes 90 mins (1 bus/h). Buy your tickets from the machines before you get on board (pics 2-3).
Easyjet has some cheap mini buses to (from £2) to Earls Court/West Brompton.
From Luton there is a free shuttle bus to Luton Airport Parkway station where you can catch First Capital Connect trains (£14, 6 trains/h, 1/h during the night) to St.Pancras (35’), Farringdon, Blackfriars. Also East Midlands Trains to St. Pancras ((£14, 35’)
National Express bus goes to Victoria station in 35’, also Green Line to London Victoria, Marbe Arch, Baker Str (£15, 24h/day, 70’ ride)
Easyjet has some cheap mini buses to Baker St.
Taxi will cost about £100
From Standsted for £13 take Stand Express to Liverpool Street (40’).
From City Airport you can use Docklands Light Railway to London’s Underground.
The lowest cost route (by public transport) is to use the coach service that goes by the name of 'Terravision'. Although the company sounds like a cable television station that shows only horror movies they are in fact dedicated to airport-city centre coach transport.
They currently operate half-hourly throughout the day from Stansted to Liverpool street station and from Stansted to Victoria station. With prices at 15 and 16 (Stratford is East London is 11) respectively... less than half the cost of using the train
From Gatwick airport most people take the Gatwick express (£35 peak return). It's fine, clean and regular (umm...that sounds like an advert for All-bran) and an almost reasonable cost. However,depending upon the location of your hotel it might be useful to use the Thameslink service up through the centre of london to King's Cross and beyond. It's a bit slower but works out a few quid cheaper.
In fact, you can do it for about half that price. Buy a single to east croydon (£4.50 off-peak times) and then get out, buy a travelcard (£ 8.90) for all zones...sorted
The Piccadilly line trains (London underground) from Heathrow (terminal 1,2 ,3,4, and Terminal 5) are somewhat slow - but it will save you some dough.
An all zones travel card is currently 8.90 Pounds (off peak after 9.30am). It will take about an hour or so depending upon where you final destination is.
I would avoid the Heathrow express - it claims "15 Minutes every 15 minutes" - but it had to withdraw this advert recently as it did not fulfill advertising standards! (20-25 mins would be closer). In addition it was recently slated as being more expensive than CONCORDE !! (1 Pound 28p a mile against 1 pound a mile based on a 3,500 mile trip to NYC)
It only really is of use if you hotel is very near Paddington Station . (cost 21 pounds single ! Gulp !!)
Heathrow Airport is about 25 miles southwest of London … a cab ride will break you …. average cab ride will set you back anywhere between 60 to 100 pounds depending on the traffic … that's a cool $150 to $200 US dollars.
Many will tell you to take the Heathrow express …. yes it's fast … but not cheap either … 20 pounds ($30 US dollars) one way … 35 pounds ($50 US dollars) return … and if you buy them on the train it's more expensive …. it takes 20 minutes and drops you off in Paddington Station where you can catch the tube and connect to anywhere in London … not easy to do if you have heavy luggage, just an FYI.
And then there is the normal tube (metro) …. one way cost 5.75 pounds about $8.50 US one way. You are better off buying an all day Tube (metro) pass for 8.90 pounds about $13 US since once you get to your hotel, you can rest up and start going around, and jumping on the tube is a necessary must.
I have never taken the bus into central London, but it can't be any cheaper I'm thinking.
Updated February 2014
If you are staying near Paddington Station then you may want to try the Heathrow Connect, a train that runs from Heathrow to Paddington Station. The current fare (February 2014) is £9.90/£19.80 return, no saving for buying a return. The journey takes about 25-30 minutes, trains run every 1/2 hour. I used the service most recently in May 2011 and it was very easy to use, if you come in at Terminal 4 or 5 you need to use the Heathrow Express to get to Terminal 1,2,3. Heathrow Connect is on the side of the train and it is also listed on the overhead boards.
A faster, but more expensive, option that is convenient to Paddington Station is the Heathrow Express, the current fare is £21/ £34 return (£26/£39 if purchased on board), and the journey takes roughly 15 minutes, trains run every 15 minutes. The Connect and Express run on the same tracks and go into the same station, the only difference is price and speed.
In Terminal 5, there are machines that say express trains to London just outside the customs area, you can buy both Connect and Express tickets from it. I used a US non chip card to purchase my ticket. If you are not staying near Paddington, you also need to factor in the time and expense of getting to your hotel, either on the tube, bus or taxi.
By bus-National Express prices vary depending on bus chosen and advance purchase, 45-85 minutes
The most expensive option is a taxi which costs about £45-50, journey around 45-60 minutes, if you book a car service in advance it should be less than just getting a taxi upon arrival. There are shared van services as well but I don't have any personal experience with any of them.
As a frequent flyer to/from London I can suggest that one of the cheapest and best ways to get to the city center is Terravision bus transfer services expecially if you choose London Stansted airport for your low cost flights.
Terravision has three dedicated lines (A50, A51 and A52) that can help travelers to reach the heart of the city in Victoria or Liverpool station. All the tickets can be booked online up to 24 hours before the depart and their cost is really convenient: with less than 10 pounds and a dedicated seat you can reach the city centre instead of expensive taxies or crowded tube.
If you choose A51 or A52 you can also benefit of intermediate stops in Bromley By Bow, Finsbury Square or Redbridge Station that could better fit your trip plans.
To spend less and obtain more you can also look on their site for special discounts or groups special fairs.
You have many opportunity to go to London from LHR.
2 Heathrow Express or Heathrow Connect
3 London Underground called The tube
Taxi is the expensive way of getting to London
Heathrow Express runs every 15 min and the journey takes only 15 min to London Paddington.
Heathrow Connect runs every 30 min and the journey takes about 25 min to London Paddington.
London Underground is the cheapest way of getting to London (Approximately GBP 4,50 single) Travelling time is 45 - 60 min.
Terravision is a bus company specialising in Stanstead airport services. Their buses leave both from Victoria and Liverpool station.
We took the bus from Victoria station. It left from Bulleid way from bus stop 2, which is in the center west of Victoria station. I bought the tickets in the center at Terracafé and it was GBP 8 one way. Which is very fair. A taxi to Stanstead is very expensive, so if one can possibly carry the luggage on the tube to Victoria station, then it is worth it.
The drive from Victoria station to Stanstead airport takes ca 1 hour and 20 minutes. The buses leave every half an hour from 7 in the morning until 23:10 and then start again at 2:40 am
When you come to London, getting to the city from Heathrow can be a challenge if you don't know where you are going. Taking a black cab can seem like a convenient option, but it is VERY expensive!
Taking the subway or "Tube" is also challenging because most first-time or even repeat visitors don't know the subway well.
Do yourself a favor and book a private car to pick you up from the airport and drop you off when you return. It is MUCH cheaper than taking a Black Taxi and you don't have to try to figure out where you are going or what stop to get off the train at. The streets of London are not on a grid like they are in say, New York City.
I usually book a car with Churchill Executive Cars. They're really good. www.churchillexecutivecars.com
Don't expect anything too sassy of Stansted Airport London, it delivers what it promises. Facilities at the terminal include shops, restaurants, bars, bureaux de change, internet terminals, meeting rooms, an exclusive lounge, a chapel, showers, baby changing rooms, a video games arcade and car parking.
It can’t be denied, the Stansted Airport is rather far from the city center of London and expensive to get there compared to the other airports in London. There is a train station at the airport and we went there for our trip to the city of London itself. We saw that the so called Stansted Express ran between the airport and London Liverpool Street station every 15 minutes and took 45 minutes. We immediately witnessed why everybody said it is rather pricy to take this train as a one way ticket of 5 adult set us back for €193! If you compare this with our airplane ticket it is in no proportions at all! But anyway, we took the train and it was a comfortable journey watching the English landscape go by. Another funny thing was that we past the Olympic village and some of the stadiums used for the Olympics London 2012. Finally we arrived at the impressive Liverpool Street station which opened in 1874. This station is the terminus of two main lines: the busier Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) to Norwich, and the West Anglia Main Line to Cambridge. London here we were and ready to continue our journey!
Address: Enterprise House, Bassingbourn Road, CM24 1QW Essex.
Directions: London Stansted is situated just off the M11 motorway – use Junction 8a if approaching from the London direction or Junction 8 from the Cambridge side, then follow signs for the airport.
London is expensive for us Aussies, so where-ever I could, I looked for the cheaper option.
For transport into London,"The EasyBus " to Central London was the cheapest transport by far.
We were at Gatwick Airport, but the Easybus runs from Luton and Stanstead Airports.
Frequent services departing up to every 15 to 20 minutes to/from Stansted Airport, Gatwick Airport & Luton Airport.
Prices vary, but for each of these airports they start from...One way from £2 - Return from £4
depending on the time you want to travel.
I checked the website, booked the time I wanted, printed the brochure and that was it until we waited for the Bus.
Now, this is the only problem we had. Our bus came along and luggage was loaded. When it came to us [I am not pushy], our luggage wouldn't fit, so we had to wait for the next bus. It isn't long to wait, but it was annoying as we were booked onto the other bus.
Now the catch is, and this is one I DO NOT LIKE, even though we were left-overs from the last bus, we had to wait until passengers and luggage were loaded, and THEN if we could fit, we would be taken to London, if not, wait for the next bus. Lucky for us we had a seat, otherwise, how long you may wait....could be hours!!!!!
The return journey was not a problem, infact, we went early as we were ready and the Bus had empty seats.
The Bus runs direct to and from Earl's Court/West Brompton and the Airport door, in just 1 hour 5 minutes with no stops.
Services run up to every 15 to 20 minutes.
We were booked in at the Ibis Hotel, and there is a Bus stop directly out front of the Hotel.
This is where the route terminates.
Don't worry, if your Gatwick flight arrives early or late, you may use the same ticket at no extra cost to travel on the next available bus, up to 60 minutes either side of your booked time.