Airports (travel to and from), London
The Stansted Express runs about every 15 minutes with a trip time of 47 minutes to downtown London. Tickets start as low as 8 British Pounds for a one-way trip. The easrliest trains depart at 3:40 AM.
London City Airport is located in the Docklands area of London, only about 10 km east from the City of London and even less from Canary Wharf. Due to its location close to these two main financial districts it is often used by business travellers.
The airport has its own Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station just next to the Terminal. Apart from that it is served by the local buses #473 and #474.
London City Airport: http://www.londoncityairport.com/
Docklands Light Railway: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/dlr/
To London Heathrow by plane
I flew many times to and from London Heathrow, which is said to be Europe's busiest and largest airport. It is located about 24 km west of the city centre and therefore still within reach of the underground (Piccadilly line).
A quicker way to get to town is the Heathrow Express to/from Paddington Station (15 mins). Apart from that the airport is served by many buses from several destinations in the city and other places all over England.
Nowadays the security checks in London Heathrow are very thorough, therefore make sure you arrive early enough.
Heathrow Airport: http://www.heathrowairport.com/
Heathrow Express: http://www.heathrowexpress.co.uk/
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. Check out the website of National Rail for options.
Gatwick Airport: http://www.gatwickairport.com/
Gatwick Express: http://www.gatwickexpress.com/
National Rail: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/
After Heathrow and Gatwick, Stansted is London's third busiest airport and well known as a hub for the low cost airlines Ryanair and easyjet.
The airport is located about 50 km north-east of London and can be reached in about 50 minutes with the Stansted Express train from Liverpool Street station.
Other options to travel between the airport and Central London include coach services to different tube stations.
Stansted Airport: http://www.stanstedairport.com/
Stansted Express: http://www.stanstedexpress.com/
I am fond of riding Private Airport Shuttles from the Airport of my destination to the city where I will be going to and you can see it at my tips elsewhere that I hardly take public airport transport like the subway or public bus since I believe in convenience and it not shy about the higher price of such service as I believe in the "you get what you pay for" mentality. Arriving in London is no different and since I am part of a Huge Tour Group going around the continent, I booked into their private airport pick-up and drop off service and it is not expensive as it only cost about 25 US Dollars (16 GBP roughly) per person from Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 to my hotel in the Edgeware Road Area (they use a shuttle van which can hold up to 10 people) and were were lucky to have only 4 people plus the driver for the pick up. Again Convenience usually comes with more expensive prices but just 16 GBP from the Airport from the Airport to the Hotel, that is not expensive at all.
Add a GBP 5 tip for the Van Driver as he generously put out our bags to the hotel lobby.
Phone: +44 020 8464 3444
Updated June 2015
With the exception of one trip when the tube wasn't running and a few others where I was staying close to Paddington and used the Heathrow Connect, 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, £6.00 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 off peak all day zone 1-6 travelcard is 12£, peak is £17, 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
Website: http://tube.tfl.gov.uk/Add to your Trip Planner
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.
Website: http://www.drivemetotheairport.co.ukRelated to:
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.