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How to get from London airports to the city

Boarding passes and a coffee

I don’t know about you but when I travel to a big city I always search for the best way to get from the airport to my hotel – whether that’s by taxi, bus or train. Sometimes it’s quite tricky to find the information in one place and some websites will vary with their information. So as I live in London and have travelled to and from every airport in the city, I thought I’d create a simple guide for you with all the information on public transport in one place. I hope it’s useful!

London Routemaster bus

London Heathrow

London’s biggest and busiest airport, London Heathrow has five terminals and numerous travel options to get to and from the airport.


The quickest – The Heathrow Express is by far the quickest way to get into London Paddington, which is in zone 1. They depart every 15 minutes and it takes under 20 mins from Terminal 5 and around 15 minutes from Terminals 4 and 1,2 and 3. However, it’s expensive. There are ways to save on your ticket though – here are all the deals.

The cheapest – TFL Rail is the cheapest train option and, like the Heathrow Express, it terminates at London Paddington. They depart every 30 minutes so are not as frequent as the Heathrow Express and the journey takes around 45 minutes.


The Piccadilly line runs to and from all Heathrow Terminals and is much cheaper than the train. It also stops at many central London tube stations, such as Covent Garden, Green Park, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus etc so depending on where you’re staying in London this might be your most convenient option. It takes around an hour to get from Heathrow into central London. Remember though that as it’s a tube, there are no luggage racks.


There are many buses that operate from Heathrow, however note that the central bus station is located between terminals 2 and 3 (which are a short walk from each other). If you’re landing or departing from terminals 1, 4 or 5 you can use the Heathrow Express for free between terminals. Here’s all the buses and their routes.

NOTE: For buses and tubes you will either need to pay by contactless bank card or buy an Oyster card (the cheapest option). You can purchase your Oyster card at the tube station at Heathrow and get a refund when you leave. Note that for trains, Oyster cards are not accepted and you need to purchase train tickets.

London Gatwick

If you’re flying into or out of London Gatwick there are two terminals, the North and South, which are connected via a shuttle train. The train station is situated in the South Terminal.


There are a number of trains that will get you to and from the airport from various locations in London (and beyond).

The quickest – The fastest train into London Victoria, which is in zone 1, is the Gatwick Express. They leave every 15 minutes and take 30 minutes from Gatwick to Victoria. For offers and discounts visit their website.

The cheapest – There are three other train operators that depart from Gatwick – Southern, Thameslink and Great Western Railway. They all go to different destinations, some as far as Brighton. If you’re heading to central London then you want either the Southern or Thameslink trains. Find out all the destinations, train times and fares here.


There are only local buses serving Gatwick however National Express and Easybus (operated by National Express) run coaches in to London Victoria. Note that the journey would take at least an hour and a half.

London Stansted

London Stansted Airport is in Essex, which is outside of London but has good transport links into the city.


There is only one train that serves Stansted Airport – the Stansted Express. They depart every 15 minutes and it takes 45 minutes to get to London Liverpool Street. Whilst this is the quickest way to get in to London it may not be the most convenient as Liverpool Street is in East London so if you’re staying in another part of the city, you’ll still need to then get on a tube.


London Stansted has a big bus terminal with local buses and coaches that travel into central London and further afield. The National Express A6 coach gets you in to central London but the journey can take up to an hour and a half depending on traffic. For further information on buses and their routes, visit the Stansted airport website.


Luton Airport is situated in Luton, which is outside of London but easily reached by rail or bus.


If you’re travelling from central London then you need the Thameslink. You can get on at London St Pancras, Farringdon or City Thameslink. Note that it takes roughly an hour from King’s Cross. You will need to get off at Luton Airport Parkway and get a shuttle bus to the airport. The shuttle bus is about £2 and takes 10 minutes. Here’s more detailed information on getting to and from the airport via train.


National Express offers coaches to Luton Airport from various stations in Central London, including Victoria Coach Station, Paddington, Finchley Road and Baker Street. There are four coaches an hour and they run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Green Line coach service 757 runs from London Victoria Coach Station, which stops at other key stations along the route. They only depart twice an hour. For more information and prices, visit their website.

London City Airport

Arguably London’s most convenient airport, London City Airport is (as the name suggests) right in the city – it’s in zone 3 in the South East.


The DLR (or Docklands Light Railway) serves London City Airport and you can connect to the DLR from the Jubilee Line, District Line, Central Line and Hammersmith and City Line. The DLR has different routes so the one you need for London City Airport is the Woolwich Arsenal line.


There are only two bus routes that serve London City Airport – the 473 and the 474. To view their routes take a look at their website. 

Guide to getting from London airports to the city

Jon Tyson

Kirsty Marrins

Reader, writer, occasional runner, travel lover.



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