Planes are fun. But once you land, that fun comes to an abrupt end. How the hell do you even leave the airport? And when you do, how do you get to your hotel? Calm down. It's okay. Just read our guide to every London airport and all your travel options for getting to the city center. See? Easy!
- Heathrow Airport
- Gatwick Airport
- London City Airport
- Luton Airport
- Stanstead Airport
Heathrow Airport needs no introduction. One of the busiest airports on the planet, it serves 80 airlines over 5 terminals, welcoming millions of people through its many doors every year. So, if you're flying into Heathrow, what are your travel options?
Heathrow Express Train
Heathrow has its own express train service that will get you into Central London - specifically Paddington Station, in around 15 minutes. So, it's easily the quickest way to get into town.
And, as the trains run from every terminal every 15 minutes, you're always guaranteed to be able to board one when you land. It is on the pricier side, with single tickets costing around £25, but you get what you pay for.
London's subway, known colloquially as 'the Tube', is a longer but more affordable way to travel from Heathrow into London.
The Piccadilly Line (the purple one) connects Heathrow to the city, with trains running every few minutes, and fares are about £6.
Taxis might be the most comfortable way to travel into London, but they're also the most expensive. However, if you're hauling a load of luggage, it will take the headache out of carting it around. After all, nothing quite beats being driven to your hotel door!
The trip itself will take around 45 minutes and will likely set you back £60-70. So just be aware of that before you get in!
Private Hire Cars
An alternative to a taxi is a car hire service like Uber or Addison Lee. You'll need to download the appropriate app to book a car, but the benefit of doing so is that you'll know what you're paying before you get in. No meter - no hassle. It also doesn't pay for your driver to take the scenic route if they're not making any more money!
Image courtesy of pio3/Shutterstock
Gatwick Airport is the second largest and most popular airport in London. Located about 30 miles south of Central London, it has two terminals that serve a wide range of domestic and international destinations.
Gatwick Express Train
Like Heathrow, Gatwick has its own express train. Given Gatwick is South of London, the train serves Victoria Station instead of Paddington. Like Heathrow, the Gatwick Express runs every 15 minutes and is non-stop, taking around half an hour to reach Victoria. Single tickets are only £25 too, so it won't break the bank.
Southern is one of the many train companies that run in the south of England, and they run services from Gatwick too. These services reach many London areas, such as London Bridge and St. Pancras, giving you more options if you're heading somewhere specific. Trains take an average of 40 minutes, and tickets range from £10-20.
National Express Coach
National Express is an English coach company that runs trips all over the country. That includes journeys from Gatwick to London, with lines taking passengers to both Victoria Coach Station and Liverpool Street.
It's a little on the longer side, with trip lengths varying from an hour to an hour and a half, for around £10, it's cheap and cheerful.
Taxis and Private Hire Cars
If baggage is a bane, a taxi or car service might be a godsend. However, as Gatwick is further out than Heathrow, it could also be incredibly expensive. Depending on where you're going in London, you could be looking at paying upwards of £100 for your trip. Ouch.
London City Airport
London City Airport is arguably the most convenient of all the airports on this list, though its small stature (given it's in London) means it mainly serves Europe.
Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
As such, you can board the DLR, a train that runs from the airport into town. Like the tube, you can expect trains every few minutes, and it takes about 25 minutes to travel to Bank. You'll be in the thick of finance, but Bank also has plenty of connecting tube lines. A single trip should be no more than £5.
Taxi or Private Hire Cars
Taxis and car services might be a better option from City, simply because of its proximity to Central London. Though be aware of things like the congestion charge and the traffic if your trip takes anywhere near Zone 1. Hopefully your trip will be about £40, but check before you book.
You can even board one of London's famous red buses if you're traveling light. The 473 bus service runs between the airport and Stratford, while the 474 bus service runs between the airport and Canning Town. Pray for empty roads and you could be at your destination in no time. And, at just £2 for the entire trip, it's the cheapest option going!
Luton Airport is the go-to destination for cheap airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir. It's not the most pleasant airport on this list, but you're not spending your vacation there, so who cares!
Luton has its very own train station, Luton Airport Parkway, which is a stone's throw from the airport proper. Trains are pretty common and will take you to the likes of St Pancras, Farringdon, and Blackfriars. Journey times vary, but you won't be spending more than £20.
There are also several bus services that serve Luton Airport, like the aforementioned National Express. Tickets are cheap, but journey times are long; you know the deal.
Taxis and Private Hire Cars
You could also book a taxi, but it's going to cost around £100, so avoid if possible!
And finally, let's talk about Stanstead. Found approximately 40 miles north of Central London, it's another cheap airline favorite.
You can get a train directly to Liverpool Street in under an hour which is decent. It will set you back about £25, but there are fewer alternatives from Stanstead, so it's worth considering.
Like the above, bus services do run from Stanstead into Central London. Tickets won't be more than £15, but travel times may be agonizingly long.
Taxis and Private Hire Cars
For a whopping £120+, you could book a taxi. But maybe don't? Because that's a lot of money.
And those are all your travel options when traveling into the city from a London airport! If you're wondering what to do when you visit, check out Go City. With our Explorer Pass, you can see all of London's best bits for one low price!