Airports (travel to and from), London
The cheapest way to get from central London to Heathrow Airport is to catch the Tube (underground railway). The Piccadilly line trains travel to and from Heathrow every 5-10 minutes. Trains from central London take around 45 minutes to travel to Heathrow, with the train arriving right at the terminal.
Alternatively, you can catch the Heathrow Express, which departs from Paddington Station. This is a significantly more expensive option, but the trip takes only 15 minutes, with services departing every 15 minutes to and from Heathrow.
First Capital Connect trains operate a fast service direct between Luton Airport and central London. The journey takes about 35 minutes from the airport to London's Kings Cross station. A free shuttle bus at the airport terminal takes you to the train station.
EasyBus and Green Line both operate coach services between Central London (Baker Street) and Luton. The journey can take up to 1 hour and 20 minutes, and is a cheaper option than catching the train.
The fastest way to travel to Stansted Airport is to catch the Stansted Express train. It departs every 15 minutes from London Liverpool Street station, with an average journey time of 45 minutes. One-way fares start at £15.
There are also numerous coach services to Stansted, which offer a more economical trip, but travel times are significantly longer. Coaches depart from such locations as London Victoria, London Liverpool Street and London Stratford, with some services operating 24 hours a day.
Bassingbourn Road, Stansted CM24 1SE
The best way to get to London City Airport is to use the Docklands Light Railway. Catch the train to/from London Bank station right to the airport terminal.
The trip takes only 22 minutes and you can enjoy a scenic tour of the Docklands area on the way. Part of the light rail line is brand new and really opens up London City Airport as a great central airport to use for your European adventures.
Royal Docks, London E16 2PX
If you are flying in or out of Gatwick Airport, the easiest way to travel to/from Central London is via the Gatwick Express.
It departs every 15 minutes from London Victoria train station (connected to Victoria Tube Station), and takes 30 minutes non-stop to Gatwick Airport. The basic one-way fare is around 12 pounds.
There is plenty of room for everyone to have a seat and to store luggage. There is even a food cart that comes through the carriages if you need a snack en route.
Yes, there are cheaper trains that also stop at Gatwick, but they take longer and have several stops, plus can be crowded with general commuters in and out of London.
Another great thing about the Gatwick Express is that you can buy your ticket on board - just take a seat, and the ticket person will come buy and you can use card or cash to purchase your ticket from the comfort of your seat. You can also buy tickets online or at the ticket office before boarding the train.
As there are quite a few signs around the airport advertising or encouraging the 'only £15' by fast train into the city heres a tip to encourage the use of the 'tube', ie the underground trains, to get into the city!
My closest airport or easiest transportation route in getting to an airport is Gatwick so i prefer to choose flights from and to Gatwick, but Heathrow is the second choice and is the cheapest of all choices.
With an oyster card, which if you dont have already can be bought at the tube station on arrival at Heathrow for £3 and then you top up onto it whatever amount you wish - or you can store travel cards or bus passes as well - and then using an oyster card gives you single tube and bus travel at a cheaper rate than if you were purchasing single tickets.
From Heathrow there is only one underground line and its called the Picadilly line and is marked in dark blue and it actually goes right into the city stopping at convenient places along the way such as Hammersmith, Earls Court, South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner, Green Park, Picadilly Circus and Leceister and Russell Squares.
With an oyster card a trip into any of these stations is only £1.50, what a bargain! I use it to get to Hammersmith Station in about half an hour or under which only cost me £1, to catch a bus to near my house at only £1 for the bus! (but i had caught a taxi to the airport for £27 when departing).
So if you are staying at or near these locations it makes no sense to catch the £15 'express' train into the city unless you want specifically to go to Paddington Station or surrounds such as Edgeware road and Baker Street.
Updated with fares as at Dec 08
There are five main airports serving London. In order of distance from the city centre, they are:
London City (LCY) 7 miles east
London Heathrow (LHR) 15 miles west
London Gatwick (LGW) 25 miles south
Luton (LTN) 26 miles north west
London Stansted (STN) 30 miles north east
Heathrow is the main scheduled airline international and intercontinental "hub"; Gatwick serves similar routes; Stansted serves mainly European business and holiday traffic; Luton is mainly used for scheduled and charter services to European holiday destinations; and London City is for short-haul business services to Europe.
The map here shows all five airports in relation to each other, and the main transport links between them and with central London.
There are direct rail links between all of them and central London as follows (prices are for a single ticket, in standard class):
LHR - Paddington: Heathrow Express (15 mins, £16.50 online, or from ticket office or machine, £19.50 if you buy on board the train) [Britain´s most expensive railway]
LHR - Paddington: Heathrow Connect (25 mins, £6.90)
LHR - Central London: Piccadilly Line (55 mins, £4 cash, cheaper with Oyster card)
LGW - Victoria: Gatwick Express (30 mins, £16.90)
LGW - Victoria: Southern (30-40 mins, £8.90)
LGW - London Bridge/St Pancras International: First Capital Connect, 30 mins, £8.90)
STN - Liverpool Street: Stansted Express (45 mins, £15 online, £16 from ticket office)
LTN - St Pancras International/London Bridge (32 mins, £10.40; free shuttle bus service from Luton Parkway station to the airport)
LCY - Bank: DLR (22 mins £4 cash, cheaper with Oyster card)
There are also bus and coach links between all the airports and central London and other destinations. These are usually a bit cheaper than the rail fares, but take longer and are much less reliable. There are also regular coach services between the four main airports (www.nationalexpress.com).
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.
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 travelling to Gatwick Airport you would need to catch a train from Victoria Station.
The Gatwick Express trains depart every 15 minutes and take just 30 mins to the airport and a single (one-way) adult fare is currently 14GBP.
You can also get other trains to Sussex and the Kent coast from this station.
If you can't use the tubes or simply don't like them, why not use the Heathrow Express. The train departs from terminals 1, 2 & 3 and speeds you to Paddington Station in about 15 minutes non stop. If you are travelling from terminal 4 add a further 8 minutes onto your journey time. This is a modern, fast & efficient train but be aware it is expensive £27.00 return or £14.50 single. You can book tickets on your flight saving you the princely sum of £1.00 but what the heck = a penny saved is a penny gained & please remember MIND THE GAP!!
Updated February 2014
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, £5.70 cash fare, £3 off peak or £5 peak with an Oyster, before 9:30am during the week pay the cash fare and get a zone 1-2 travelcard when you get to London or get an Oyster. After 9:30am or on the weekends, it may make more sense to get a zone 1-6 day travelcard for £8.90. 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
Gatwick is the UK's second busiest airport and situated about 45 km south of London.
Probably the most convenient and fastest way to get from Gatwick to London city centre is by Gatwick Express. The modern train takes just 30 minutes from the airport to London Victoria. It runs every 15 minutes and tickets even can be purchased on the train at no extra cost.
A much cheaper option to get to the heart of London are local trains. First Capital Connect runs direct services to e.g. London Bridge or St. Pancras International.
First Capital Connect:
The fastes way to get to city of London from Heathrow airport is by Heatrow express it takes 15 minutes to London Paddington station. The trains goes from Terminal 1,2 and 3 from Heathrow.
But one downside is that it´s very expensive it costs 16.50£ singel fare (about 21 Euro). But it is the best way to get to London city.
Stansted is London's third international airport and well known as a hub for the low cost airlines Ryanair and easyjet. The airport is located about 48 km north-east of London and can be reached in about 45 minutes with the Stansted Express from Liverpool Street station.
Other options to get to the airport include local trains and coach services.