Getting Around

Heathrow Express Review (2023):
Is It Worth It?

Over in my London Travel Tips Facebook community, there’s one type of question we receive more than any other: how do I get from [one place in London] to [another place in London]? And specifically, how do I get from the airport (usually Heathrow) to [my hotel/this top sight/etc.]?

Figuring out how to get from Heathrow to your hotel is tricky business. There are lots of options, and trying to decipher which one is right for you, your budget, your schedule, and your travel preferences can be bewildering… which is why so many people have questions!

Heathrow Express Review Hero

In this post, I’m covering one specific way to travel between Heathrow and Central London: the Heathrow Express. This high-speed train is a great option, but in this Heathrow Express review, I’ll share different considerations to help you decide if it’s the right option for you.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of the Heathrow Express vs other options, specific details about the Heathrow Express, tickets, times, and more, frequently asked questions about the Heathrow Express, and my personal experience riding the Heathrow Express. As always, if you have any questions after reading all this, the comments are open and I’m here to help.

Ready to dive in and decide if the Heathrow Express will work in your London itinerary? All aboard!

Ways to Travel Between Heathrow & London

I’ve got a separate resource on all of the different options for travel between Heathrow and London, but in brief, your options are:

  • London Underground/Tube
  • The Elizabeth Line
  • Heathrow Express
  • National Express
  • Taxi/Uber/Private Driver

In that guide, I say that your best choice is either the Underground or the Heathrow Express depending on your budget; having now taken the Heathrow Express a few times, I can say that I almost always choose to take this high-speed train – the time it saves me is well worth the extra cost, especially on the way to Heathrow when I just want to get there and through security and not worry about timing at the start of a stressful travel day.

What is the Heathrow Express?

So what exactly is the Heathrow Express? Officially, the Heathrow Express is “a high-frequency airport rail link operating between London Heathrow Airport and London Paddington.” (source) Easy enough to understand, right?

But what makes the Heathrow Express different or special? I mean, other trains run frequently between the airport and Central London too, right? (Yes, they do!)

Specifically, compared with the two main other lines that run to Heathrow (Piccadilly and Elizabeth), the Heathrow Express is a frequent, high-speed, and zero-stop train line between the airport and Central London. It’s that last detail that makes the Heathrow Express such a great option: if you want to reach the city (or return to the airport) as fast as possible, there’s nothing better than the Heathrow Express. The average journey on the Heathrow Express takes just 15 minutes.

Here’s a table comparing these three lines:

LineStopsTravel TimeAvg Cost
Heathrow Express0*15-21 minutes£25
Elizabeth Line6*35 minutes£12.80
Piccadilly Line19**70-75 minutes£5.50

*to Paddington; ** to Piccadilly Circus, ✝ 15 to Heathrow Terminals 2-3 + 6 minutes to Terminal 5

As you can see, there are definite pros and cons to each option, but the Heathrow Express is definitely the best option if you want to get to or from the airport quickly and with the least chance of delay – but it does cost more. Let’s dive into that now and how to save on Heathrow Express tickets.

Heathrow Express Fares & Tickets

Tickets for the Heathrow Express are thankfully pretty simple: there are two classes (Express Standard and Business First), and one-way tickets typically cost £25 for Express Standard Class or £32 for Business First Class. Return (round-trip) tickets cost £37 for Express Standard and £55 for Business First and must be used within 1 month of your first ride. The cost is the same whether you purchase online in advance or in person at Heathrow or Paddington.

If you want to save on your Heathrow Express ticket, there is an option: there are select one-way Express Standard tickets as low as £5.50; these are available up to 24 weeks in advance and must be booked for a specific day of travel. So if you know now exactly when you’ll be traveling in 4-6 months, you could save a ton by booking your Heathrow Express ticket ASAP! (These tickets start at £5.50 and increase in tiers based on a set number of tickets at each price.) This is the best (and only) discount for Heathrow Express tickets.

There are also some discounts if you’re traveling as a group of 2 or 3, or if you travel frequently. You can find all that info on this page of the Heathrow Express site.

What’s the difference between Express Standard and Business First classes? Honestly, not much. Both have seat power, luggage space, and complimentary Wi-Fi; Business First has slightly larger seats with more legroom, more privacy, and tables at many seats. I’ve ridden in both and would just save the extra £7 (or £18 for a return ticket) to spend on a pint or treat in the city.

Is the Heathrow Express Worth It?

Hopefully, you’ve got a good sense of what makes the Heathrow Express a good or bad choice based on your travel plans, preferences, and budget. Let’s wrap it up in one space though:

Heathrow Express Pros

  • Fast! Just 15 minutes from the airport to the city or reverse.
  • No stops mean fewer chances of delay; I ended up spending 45 minutes on the Elizabeth earlier this year and was so annoyed!
  • Spacious, comfortable seats and carriages.
  • Free Wi-Fi for the ride.
  • Completely step-free access end to end (good if you have lots of luggage!)

Heathrow Express Cons

  • Cost – unless you snag one of the discounted tickets, it’s definitely more.
  • You may wait as long for the train as riding it – since trains depart every 15 minutes and the ride is only 15 minutes!
  • Paddington… it’s not as convenient as the Piccadilly Line’s route across Central London, but given the Elizabeth Line stops here as well, this is a half-con.

Other FAQ about the Heathrow Express

Still have questions? Let me see if I can cover them quickly…

Where does the Heathrow Express start and end? The Heathrow Express runs between London Paddington Station (not Tube Station) and Heathrow Terminals 2/3 and 5.

Is the Elizabeth Line the same as the Heathrow Express? No; they are two separate lines. The Elizabeth Line used to be called TfL Line and Crossrail during its construction, just for extra confusion!

Does the Heathrow Express run 24/7? No. Trains run from about 5am to midnight most days. Timetables are available by day here.

How much are kids’ tickets? Kids under 15 travel free on the Heathrow Express! That’s a great deal, and the Heathrow Express is easier for kids since it’s more spacious and easier to travel on.

Do I have to purchase tickets in advance, or are they available the day of? You can book online and may get a discount, but tickets are almost always available on the day-of travel at Heathrow and Paddington.

What happens after I reach Paddington? How do I get to my hotel? If you’ve taken the Heathrow Express, you’ll still need to take the Tube, catch a bus, or hail a cab to reach your hotel. I have recommendations on the best apps to help you plan your transit in London here.

Let me know any other questions you might have in the comments below, and I’ll add them here.

Heathrow Express Review: My Final Verdict

Heathrow Express Review - Valerie

As you can tell, I’m a fan of the Heathrow Express. The cost is very fair given the amount of time it saves, and the rest of the benefits are more than enough to make up for the extra cost of riding the Heathrow Express vs other options like the Elizabeth Line and Piccadilly Line.

I don’t think that purchasing Business First Class tickets is necessary; I booked my first tickets in Business First (September 2022) after an overnight flight where I wanted to splurge; I then tried Express Standard on a later trip (May 2023) when I felt a bit rushed trying to get to Heathrow in time for my flight. Business First is nice, quiet, and spacious, but it’s not like Express Standard is less nice, much noisier, or much less spacious. It’s such a short ride, I’d rather save the £7 and buy an extra pint or souvenir!

Ready to book your Heathrow Express tickets? Click the link below and you’ll help support this site!

Have any other questions about the Heathrow Express? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll help you decide if it’s the right way for you to get from Heathrow to London or reverse!

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Valerie fell in love with London on her first trip to the city way back in 2011. Since then, she spent a year living in London and visits as often as she can. Join her to explore my favorite city on earth and learn everything you need to discover the best London has to offer!

2 Comments

  • Sheri Sentelle

    I’d add 2 more serious things to consider. 1. Time to get a cab & get to hotel. We took the Heathrow Express which was extremely pleasant. However when we got to Paddington there was a good 10-15 min line for a cab and then then the crazy drive to our hotel. 2. Where you are staying. We stayed in Earl’s Court. Having never been to London, I had no idea how easy it is to get to/from Earl’s Court to Heathrow. Returning to the airport we just paid a cab to take us straight there. Cost a bit more but took very little time and he dropped us right at our checkin desk.

    Calculating the price of 3 express tickets + taxi to Earl’s Court it was about the same or possibly more than the direct cab ride back to Heathrow.

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      Valerie

      Thanks for chiming in, Sheri! I don’t typically take taxis in London, but this is good advice if you have a larger group.

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