Getting from Heathrow to London is actually very easy. Whether you are spending a day, a week or a month in London, and whatever the purpose of your trip, you can find many ways of getting from the city’s main airport to the center of town.
This post highlights all the options you have to travel and shares some tips to help you make your trip smoother. I will also explain how to get from Heathrow to other airports.
Some Background Information About London Airports
There are 5 airports in London – London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London City are all served by main airlines; Stansted and Luton are served by budget airlines. London City, in the Docklands, is the most central one but it is mostly used for business flights. You can get there by bus from central London. All other airports are at the outskirts of the city (and in other counties, actually) and are well connected to London city center by either bus, train or metro.
If you are flying from the other side of the world, chances are you will be landing in either Heathrow or Gatwick.
London Heathrow Airport is at about 26 km (little over 16 miles) from the center of town, but really well connected. You will have several options to travel to the city center – train, metro, taxi, private transfer and bus.
Traveling from the airport to the city can take you anything between 14 minutes to 1 hour.
How To Get From Heathrow To London
Take the train
The train is by far the easiest way to get from Heathrow to London, as well as the fastest and most comfortable.
Heathrow Express trains run from around 5:15 am to just about midnight daily. Heathrow Express runs to Paddington Train Station from 5:17 am to 00:03 am, daily. Trains depart every 15 minutes and take just 15 minutes to get there. What’s great about the train is that there are steps-free access points, so even if you have lots of luggage you won’t have to fiddle with steps. The train is clean, comfortable, and even has wi-fi.
There will be 1st and 2nd class seats available, so make sure to sit in your assigned carriage.
These are the current Heathrow Express ticket options:
Anytime web single (one way, economy and off peak) – £25 British Pounds (GBP) (around $30 USD).
Fixed day return (that’s a round trip ticket) – £36 GBP ($43.60 USD). This is a considerably cheaper option, valid on the preselected days of travel. If you are uncertain of your return date you will need to opt for the anytime return. Tickets are not refundable.
Anytime return economy – £37 GBP (about $45 USD). This slightly more expensive option allows you more flexibility: you can travel out within 5 days and return within a month. It’s fully refundable.
Anytime day single (one way, business class) – £32 GBP (around $39 USD). It means you have no time restrictions on travel, can travel out on the date shown and it is fully refundable.
Anytime return (round trip, business class) – £55 GBP ($66.6 USD). This is a flexible business class ticket. You can jump on any train you want within 5 days of your travel out day, and return shall be within one month. It’s refundable.
If you buy your tickets more than 90 days before your travel date, they can be as cheap as £5.50 GBP (that’s less $7 USD) for one way tickets.
If you are a frequent traveler, you can also buy a carnet of tickets that you can use in either direction starting from £109.80 GBP ($133 USD) for 6 tickets in economy class.
Peak time tickets are usually more expensive. Peak time is from 6:32 to 9:17 am and again from 4:02 to 6:47 pm, Monday to Friday.
You can buy tickets online or via the Heathrow Express app, or last minute at the station located inside the airport (but it will be more expensive!). Alternatively, you can check the timetable here and get your train tickets here.
Take the metro
Traveling from Heathrow to London by metro – or tube, as locals call it – is significantly cheaper, but not nearly as comfortable as the train. The metro can get crowded, especially as you approach central London; there are only few places on the carriage where you can place your suitcase and in order to get out of most metro stations you will have to use an escalator and – occasionally – walk up the stairs carrying your luggage.
The bonus is that you can get off at many stations and easily connect with another train to get to your final destination.
Piccadilly line trains depart from Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3 Underground Station roughly every 10 minutes and take about one hour to get to central London. However, the London Underground doesn’t run 24/7!
A one way metro ticket from Heathrow to London zones 1 and 2 costs £5.50 GBP (Oyster Card payment) (around $6.70 USD) or £6.30 (about $7.60 USD) (cash payment)-
If you are spending a few days in London, you should get a Visitor Oyster Card to move around London and save some money on transportation. It works as a touch in – touch out card at all stations and on all buses. You can even get it online with some balance on it, have it mailed to your home address. Get yours here.
Alternatively, you can simply get your Oyster Card at the Underground Station at Heathrow Terminal.
Another good option is the London Travelcard for one or more days – this is probably the best options if you think you will be using the metro a lot.
Finally, you can use a contactless credit or debit card or Apple Pay as a touch-in touch-out, pretty much as you’d do with the Oyster Card. The only issue is that it doesn’t work with some Mastercards and Maestro issued in the US, Canada and the Netherlands, and some Visa cards issued outside the UK.
Take the bus
If you can endure the speed-bumps, the roundabouts and the sometimes crazy driving, the bus is a fairly good option to travel between Heathrow Airport and central London – cheap, comfortable, and you don’t have to carry your bags up and down the stairs.
National Express runs direct buses from Heathrow to London Victoria Station (from where you can transfer to the District and Circle lines or to the Victoria line). Buses depart every hour, and every 15 minutes during peak time. A one way ticket costs as little as £5.50 GBP ($6.70 USD).
If you are uncertain of your return date, you can opt for an “open return” ticket which is valid for 3 months from your travel out dates and costs £20 GBP (little over $24 USD). You can buy tickets directly at the airport, but they are much cheaper if you buy them online in advance. You can get them on National Express website here.
The journey takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
Megabus is a valid alternative for buses from Heathrow to London Victoria Station. There are 25 daily departures and tickets start at £5.54 GBP ($6.70 USD) one way.
Get a taxi or Uber
Black cabs can use the bus lane, and there is a flat rate going from London to the airport, but it doesn’t work the same the other way around, so getting a taxi can be terribly expensive – you can check out the fares here. And you may even have to wait in line to get a taxi!
Uber is once again available to travel from Heathrow Airport to central London. A good alternative to Uber is GETT, which has fixed prices to travel from Heathrow Airport to central London (it can be anything between £45 and £60 GBP – so between $55 and $72.50 USD). You will need to download the app and have internet connection in order to use GETT.
Get a private transfer
Private transfers are a significantly better alternative to taxis. They offer door-to-door service; they will wait for you at the gate and – depending on which service you hired – will wait even if your flight is delayed; you don’t have to worry about luggage and you can book them online – and even cancel up to 3 hours in advance and receive a full refund. You can even pick the kind of car you want! They are a very viable option if you are traveling in a small group.
You can book your private transfer from the airport to the city center via Welcome Pickups here. For more options click here or here.
My overall recommendation, if you are traveling on a budget and don’t have too much luggage, is to use London Underground. If on the other hand you have luggage that you don’t want to drag around, you have two options: the National Express bus if you want to travel on the cheap; and the Heathrow Express Train if money is not an issue.
BONUS! How To Get From Heathrow To Other Airports In London
I don’t really recommend getting connecting flights from two different airports in London, as they are quite a way one from the other. If this is the only option you have, leave enough time to go through customs and pick your luggage at Heathrow and move to the other airport, check in and go through security again.
How to get from Heathrow to Stansted
Stansted Airport is where most budget airlines fly from London. It’s 96 km (59.6 miles) from Heathrow, in Essex County. It’s actually best not to book flights on the same day if you really need to fly from Stansted. Alternatively, give yourself at least 7 hours between the two flights, and factor in two hours as a minimum to transfer from one airport to the other.
The easiest option to get from Heathrow to London Stansted Airport is by far the bus. There are 9 daily direct National Express buses connecting the two airports. The journey lasts around 1 hour and 20 minutes and if you book it ahead of time on the National Express buses website it can cost as little as £15 GBP (around $18 USD).
Add a good 20 minutes to your overall travel time if you are traveling from Heathrow terminals 4 or 5.
By train and metro
Alternatively, you can opt to take a combination of train and metro (called tube in London) – but this will be more expensive and more time consuming. You can either take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington, and from there take the metro (Hammersmith and City Line or Circle Line, both eastbound) to London Liverpool Street, from where you can take the Stansted Express.
The overall journey time will be around 2 hours. It’s cheaper if you buy your train tickets in advance.
You can also take a combination of metro from Heathrow Airport and then the Stansted Express train. In this case, you’ll have to take the Piccadilly Line and get off at Holborn, and from there hop on a Central Line train eastbound and get off at Liverpool Street Station, from where you can take the Stansted Express.
Factor in at least 3 hours just for the journey.
Finally, you can get from Heathrow to Stansted Airport by private transfer – but this will cost you in the range of $200 USD and will take you around two hours.
Should you want to do it, you can book your transfer here.
How to get from Heathrow to Gatwick
London Gatwick Airport is located south of London, about 68 km (42.2 miles) from Heathrow. Depending on which mode of transportation you pick, transferring can take you between one and two hours.
The easiest and most direct way to transfer from Heathrow to Gatwick is by bus. National Express buses depart up to 6 times per hour (there are a total of 30 buses every day) and the journey takes little over one hour. Tickets start at £22 GBP (around $26.50 USD) – make sure them to buy them online ahead of time for cheaper deals.
Alternatively, you can opt for the slightly cheaper Megabus which runs 19 daily services. Prices for the Megabus start at £16.50 (around $20 USD).
By train and metro
Taking the train and tube doesn’t make much sense as it is more expensive and it will take you longer, and if you have luggage it’s really not convenient. In any case, this is what you’d have to do: take the Heathrow Express to Paddington; then take the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus; then a Victoria Line train southbound and get off at Victoria. Once at Victoria, take the Gatwick Express.
Alternatively, take the Piccadilly Line to Green Park, then the Victoria Line to Victoria Station and from there the Gatwick Express.
By private transfer
Private transfers start at around $160 and take about two hours.
You can book your private transfer here.
How to get from Heathrow to London City
London City Airport is located in the Docklands and is on the east side of London – pretty much on the other side of town compared to Heathrow. You need to factor in at least 1.5 hours to get there from Heathrow to – and that’s just the time you will be spending traveling, pretty much whichever mode of transportation you pick.
By train and metro
The fastest way to get to London City from Heathrow is by a combination of Heathrow Express and metro. Take the train to Paddington, then hop on the Bakerloo Line eastbound and get off at Baker Street. From there, take an eastbound Jubilee Line train to Canning Town and the DLR to London City Airport. Make sure to buy your Heathrow Express tickets well ahead to save some money!
If time is not an issue, the cheapest way to travel to London City Airport is by metro. Take the Piccadilly Line to Green Park, where you will have to change and take an eastbound Jubilee Line train to Canning Town and from there the DLR to the airport.
I don’t really recommend transferring from Heathrow to London City Airport by taxi or shuttle. It will be really expensive and time consuming as traffic in London is absolutely insane, but definitely easier of you are traveling with lots of luggage. You can book your private transfer here.
How to get from Heathrow to Luton
Luton Airport is located north of London, in the region of East Anglia, about 55 km (little over 34 miles) from Heathrow. Depending on your mode of transportation, you should factor in between one and 2.5 hours to travel between the two airports.
The easiest way of getting from Heathrow to London Luton Airport is by bus. National Express runs 10 daily buses connecting the two airports. The journey time is around 45 minutes and tickets start at £15 GBP ($15 USD) if you buy them well in advance.
By train and metro
You can also get from Heathrow Airport to London Luton Airport on a combination of train and tube – but it is more expensive and more time consuming, and the train doesn’t leave you at the airport but at a train station nearby from where you will have to take a shuttle bus to the airport for a small fee.
For the sake of information, here’s how you’d have to do it: either take the Heathrow Express to Paddington, then a Hammersmith and City Line or a Circle Line train eastbound to Farringdon and then the Thameslink train to Luton Airport Parkway; or the Piccadilly Line to Kings Cross where you’d have to change to Farringdon for the Thameslink train.
BONUS #2! How To Get From London To Heathrow
To travel from London to Heathrow Airport, just follow the same instructions I shared above but in reverse order, and factor in a bit more time just in case something happens – power outages that stop the trains, traffic jams, issues with check in or security that may delay you from boarding and what not. Heathrow Airport is massive and even if you get there early you will find something to keep yourself busy.
If you are traveling to Heathrow by metro, make sure you get off at the right terminal – they are quite apart from each other!
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