London has several airports that make it a major global hub for international airlines and travelers. The city is served mainly by five International airports, which are different not only in sizes but also in distance and atmosphere.
People get confused when they find out that some of these airports actually sit beyond London’s traditional geographical boundaries.
Located 14 miles west of the central city is London Heathrow. It’s the busiest airport in the United Kingdom, and second in the world in terms of international passenger traffic. It’s a massive airport with 4 impressive terminals.
If you are flying to London via Heathrow, it’s important to know before arriving how you’ll travel from the airport to Central London. Heathrow is well linked to the London public transport system.
If you want to take a train for your onward journey to London, there are options available.
What is the Best Way to Get from Heathrow to London City?
Two direct overground train lines run from Heathrow Airport to Central London every day. These are Heathrow Express, and TFL Rail service formerly known as the Heathrow Connect.
The Heathrow Express takes just 15 minutes to get you from Heathrow Airport to Paddington Station in Central London by Heathrow Express trains. And they depart every 15 minutes, seven days a week.
Tickets cost £25 for a single during peak times – between 06:30 and 09:30 am and 16:00 and 19:00 pm Monday to Friday. You pay £22 for a one-way journey during off-peak. And a return ticket costs £37.
You can also get your ticket on board the train, but this will cost £27 for a single journey and £42 for a return. You can save money if you book your ticket in advance.
A weekend ticket can cost from just £5.50 for a single journey if booked in advance. For those who may want to travel in a business class, the cost of a single journey is £32 and £55 for a return.
Children aged 15 and under get a free ride when accompanied by a paying adult. If not, they will need to present proof of air travel such as a valid flight ticket or boarding pass.
TFL Rail Service
The TfL Rail Airport Service runs between all four Heathrow Airport terminals and Central London. It’s not direct service, as it stops to other stations on the way to London Paddington station.
The train leaves every 15 and 20 minutes, but the journey time can vary between 25 to 55 minutes, depending on how many stops it makes on the way. Tickets cost from £10.30 for a one-way journey.
The London Underground Piccadilly line
The Piccadilly line provides the cheapest train service from Heathrow airport to Central London. Therefore, if you want to save a little bit of money on traveling, the London Underground Piccadilly line between Central London and Heathrow provides a cheaper option.
The great thing about the cheaper option is that you travel directly to some of London iconic stops, including Knightsbridge, Leicester Square, and kings cross.
The trains leave every 2 to 3 minutes, but the journey takes a little longer – just over an hour to get to Central London because of many stops along the way.
You can book your journey tickets from all train stations at the Airport. Central London is in Zone 1, and Heathrow Airport is in zone 6.
The non-return fare to travel on the Piccadilly line between the two zones is £6.00. You can also buy a one-day Travelcard, which costs £18.10, but it will give you unlimited travel in Zones 1-6 any time of the day – or £12.70 pounds (off-peak).
There are other ways to get from Heathrow Airport to Central London such as traveling by London Buses. But buses take longer to reach the city as they must make frequent stops.
LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT
London Gatwick Airport is the second biggest in the United Kingdom. If you choose to come to London via Gatwick Airport, there are different train service options that can get you to central London from the airport.
How to Get from Gatwick to London City?
The Gatwick Express can get you from the Gatwick Airport to Victoria station in Central London within 30 minutes. It’s a non-stop direct train which departs every 15 minutes.
For an adult, a non-return ticket will cost just under £20 pounds booked at a station and around £18 pounds online. A return ticket for an adult cost just under £37 pounds at a station and around £33 pounds if booked online.
The single for a child at the station costs around £10 pounds and just under £9 pounds online. The return ticket for a child is £18.35 pounds at the station and £16.35 pounds online.
You can even buy a train ticket for your onward journey before you land at Gatwick. Some airlines do sell Gatwick Express tickets on-board, which means you can avoid the queues once you arrive.
Southern Trains and Thameslink Services
The Southern train is another an overground service from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station in Central London. The train is a bit slower but cheaper.
It stops at Clapham Junction station which is one of the most connected stations in South London, and East Croydon on the way to Victoria Station.
With the Southern train service, you can book your travel ticket up to 12 weeks in advance before arrival or departure. And an early booking will save you some money.
For instance, you are more likely to get a single journey ticket from Gatwick to Victoria for £5 pounds if booked early. There is also the £8.50 and £12 tickets available right up until 6 pm the night before you travel.
Gatwick airport is also served by the Thames link line. This service stops at many London stations, including London Bridge, Farringdon, and St Pancras International. Ticket prices can vary, one-way travel tickets on this route cost £10 depending on the time of day traveling.
National Express Coaches
Another option available is the National Express Coaches from Gatwick to Victoria Coach Station in Central London. Single ticket prices start from £5.
Make sure that if you book online you confirm the time. Just to let you know that routes may vary depending on the time of day you travel, and the journey can take a bit longer.
The Coach Station in Victoria is a few meters away from the underground train station, where you can connect to the Victoria Line, the District Line, and the Circle Line.
Also, a London bus stop is directly outside the Coach station and is served by many routes from the city center.
LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT
Stansted is the third biggest London Airport. Stansted only has one terminal but bright and spacious though at times it feels a bit cramped. It’s easy to travel to and from the airport.
How to Get from Stansted to London?
Stansted Express train is undoubtedly the best. The train stops at both Liverpool Street station, and Tottenham Hale station in London.
A standard single ticket from Stansted to Liverpool Street will cost an adult just over £18, and a return around £30.
For a child, the standard one-way fare is just over £9 and a return is around £15. If your London destination is Tottenham Hale a single ticket will cost an adult just under £17 and a return £28. The single for a child is around £9 and £14 for a return.
National Express Coaches
The Stansted Express ticket fares from Stansted to Liverpool Street or Tottenham Hale are cheaper if booked at least 30 days in advance.
The National Express coaches shuttle between Stansted and London’s St Pancras with ticket costs of £8-£10 for a single, and £15/£16 return.
National Express is a 24 hours service that stops at different locations. You can even arrive at or from the airport in less than an hour depending on the road traffic.
Luton is the fourth biggest London Airport. Like Gatwick and Stansted, Luton Airport sits outside London’s traditional geographical boundaries.
It’s the farthest airport but well linked to the National train network services as it doesn’t take long for you to reach Central London from the airport using a train.
Traveling from Luton Airport to London City Centre
Luton Airport doesn’t have an express service to London but it has the East Midlands and Thames links Trains services. Luton airport parkway connects to London via the Thames Link and East Midland train services.
A single adult fare cost 14 pounds or 24.50 pounds for a return. Note that you’ll need to board a bus from the Luton Airport to the Luton Airport Parkway to get a train.
National Express Coaches
You can use the National Express coaches that run between London and Luton Airport, with one-way tickets booked online cost from £5. Journey times may vary and can take longer due to traffic congestion.
LONDON CITY AIRPORT
London City Airport is Zone 3, so it’s the only one that is truly located within London. The airport is smaller and the type of runway restricts the type of aircraft that can take-off or land from there. So, the airport is mainly used by domestic, and international flights to and from Europe.
But it is possible to arrive at London City airport direct from New York if you can afford their daily business flight. It’s a convenient flight from or to London City Airport.
The airport is right beside Canary Wharf, where many business and finance companies are based.
Transport from London City Airport to Central London
The Dockland Light Railway (DLR) station is beside the airport you can use your Oyster card all day long.
The DLR serves Canary Wharf, Stratford, and Bank stations which are all on the London Underground. You can also use the London bus service right from the airport to Central London in less time.