If you are heading over to London anytime soon then I’m sure you are busy doing your research on all the wonderful sights you want to see. But to ensure you get your visit off to a flying start (no pun intended) I suggest you give some thought to the best method to use for getting from the airport to your London destination.


    There really is no ‘one size fits all’ as the route taken will depend on a number of issues:

    • What part of the city you are heading to
    • How much luggage you have to transport
    • How quickly you want to get from A to B
    • If you are travelling solo or in a group
    • Your budget constraints


    Let’s start by looking at what options are available at the two main airports that serve the greater London area.


    The best way to get from Heathrow or Gatwick airports to London
    Photo Attribution

    Trains – Heathrow Express and Gatwick Express.


    This is probably your fastest option as trains run very regularly throughout the day and night, to coincide with the airline schedules.


    The Heathrow Express Fact Sheet

    • Trains run every 15 minutes from terminals 1,2, and 3.
    • The 15 mile journey takes 15 minutes to get to London’s Paddington Station.
    • Ticket price per person as at July 2015 is GBP 21.50 for a one-way ticket in express class and GBP 35 for a return ticket. Children traveling with an adult are free.
    • There are four ways to buy Heathrow Express tickets; online purchase with tickets sent to your email or SMS, download the app to purchase online, buy at the station, or buy on the train.


    Tip if you are in a rush you can buy your ticket once onboard the Heathrow Express, but be aware that you will pay a slight surcharge for this convenience. If you want to save some money, then check out their current special offers


    The Gatwick Express Fact Sheet

    • Trains runs every 15 minutes
    • The 26 mile journey takes 30 minutes to get to London’s Victoria Station.
    • Ticket price per person as at July 2015 is GBP 19.90 for Anytime Single ticket, and GBP 34.90 for a return.
    • There are reduced ticket prices for children
    • Gatwick Express tickets can be purchased online, at ticket vending machines at the stations, at a ticket desk at the airport, some airlines like Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet will sell tickets onboard their flights, some currency exchange booths, or via an airport concierge.


    Tip: Ticket gates have been installed at Gatwick Airport and London’s Victoria stations so you will need to purchase a ticket before boarding.


    The best way to get from Heathrow or Gatwick airports to London
    Photo Attribution


    Underground – Piccadilly line services Heathrow airport. Gatwick does not have an underground station.


    This is probably your cheapest option, especially if you take advantage of the Oyster card option.


    Piccadilly Line Fact Sheet

    • Heathrow has four underground stations at terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5.
    • All Heathrow stations are in Travelcard Zone 6
    • Travel tickets must be purchased before boarding and are available at the station via a vending machine or kiosk.
    • Oyster cards can be used on the underground, and will give you a reduced fare
    • Prices as at July 2015 for a single fare to central London (Zone 1) is  GBP 5.70. A one day Travelcard, giving unlimited travel in Zones 1-6 costs GBP 17 (anytime) or GBP 8.90 (off peak times)
    • As trains stop at many stations, travel time between zone 6 to zone 1 can take approximately 50 minutes


    The best way to get from Heathrow or Gatwick airports to London
    Photo Attribution

    Travel via the road network


    This is probably your most private option, depending on what method you select. Here are a few options:


    National Express Coach Service – 200 services a day, 154 drop off points in central London, fares start at GBP 6 one way per person


    London Black Cabs – available for hire at the well-organized taxi ranks outside each terminal. Black cabs are highly regulated so you will get a licensed driver, a clean car to travel in, and a driver that knows London routes better than anyone else. Fares are metered with a GBP 2.40 minimum fare. There is an additional charge of GBP 2.80 for fares that start at Heathrow airport.


    Private car hire –Private hire minicabs offer a fixed price to and from any UK destination from Heathrow or Gatwick. Private hire minicabs must be pre-booked via a telephone or online. Your driver will greet you in the arrivals area and will be holding a sign with your name. You can compare a range of prices online with minicabit or get a quote from greentomatocars.


    Local bus – I feel I should add this option as it does exist. However, with journey times over two hours I don’t think many will take this route, even though it is the cheapest.


    Now that we have looked at the three main options for transport, lets compare the pros and cons so that you can work out what is the best fit for your particular situation. Below is a chart showing each of the transportation options available. If you still have questions, then drop me a note as I am happy to help.


    Happy travels!




    Cover photo attribution


      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *