As you plan your first trip to London, there are a million decisions to make and things to learn. You need to decide how long you’re going to visit, where you’ll stay, and what you’ll do. You might be budget-conscious and be looking for ways to save. Heck, you even need to decide which airport you’re flying in to – there are six in the London area!
One thing you might forget to figure out is an important one: how to get from the airport to London, at whichever airport you will arrive. Some people fly into London City Airport, which is a good alternative compared to other area airports – but as it’s your first trip, you still might have questions.
If you’re putting the final touches on your London itinerary, know you’re flying into City Airport, and are curious about how to get from the airport to London, you’ve come to the right place. Below is a guide to London’s various airports and a breakdown of your options for getting from City Airport to London.
London Area Airports Explained
When it comes to cities, London is tied for the most airports in the world (along with New York City). It has a total of six airports. London airports sit in strategic parts of the city, and each serves different purposes, which I’ll cover in this section.
- London Heathrow is London’s largest aviation hub and sits only 14 miles west of central London. Depending on which method you choose, it takes 15-55 minutes to reach Central London. I have a guide for how to get from Heathrow to London, if you’re flying into that airport instead.
- London Gatwick is 30 miles south of London and takes 30 minutes to reach Central London. If you’re comparing flights into Gatwick, check out my guide.
- London Stansted is 42 miles northeast of central London. It takes about 50 minutes to reach Central London; if you’re comparing flights to Stansted, I have a guide to your travel options there too.
- London Luton is 28 miles north of London, and despite only having a single runway, Luton is one of London’s busiest airports and covers primarily commercial flights within Europe. You can get to Central London in as little as 25 minutes, and I have a guide if you’re considering flights into Luton instead.
- London City Airport is a slightly smaller airport and sits just 10 miles east of central London. It mainly operates European flights, with only 12 airlines traveling to more than 50 destinations. It’s a popular option for business travelers and short-haul commercial flights. You can reach Central London from City Airport in just 20-25 minutes.
- London Southend is the furthest at 42 miles from central London and takes 51 minutes to travel from. Last but not least, I also have a guide for getting to London from Southend.
Now let’s dive into the specifics of getting from City Airport to Central London – which is what you really want to know!
How to Get from City Airport to London
City Airport is London’s most convenient airport given its central location in the heart of the Docklands area. At just 10 miles east of central London, you’ll have easy access to different transit options.
One way to get from City Airport to London is via the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and London Underground. The airport doesn’t have a mainline train station, but it does have its own stop. The DLR intersects the Jubilee, Central, District, and Circle lines, so you can transfer to a more helpful Underground line to reach your final destination. The average journey time is 45 minutes and tickets start from £3 off-peak.
You can also take an iconic double-decker red bus to get from City Airport to London, with lines 473 and 474 operating services daily to and from London City Airport.
If you’re up for a splurge, London black cabs are a comfortable way to get to Central London, taking 30-40 minutes, depending on your destination in London; the journey costs £40+ depending on traffic and how many people are traveling.
The Best Way to Travel Between London & City Airport
The best way to get from London to City Airport is via the DLR/Tube. Given the airport’s close proximity to Central London, the DLR provides an affordable and quick alternative to travel between Central London and City Airport. Also, it isn’t subject to unforeseen traffic conditions, as buses or taxis are – and you can pretend to drive the DLR if you’re lucky enough to snag the seat at the very front of these automated trains!
Have any questions about how to travel from City Airport to London? Let me know in the comments below!