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. Most people fly into London Heathrow Airport, which is definitely the easiest option to travel into Central London – 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 Heathrow 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 Heathrow 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 Airport is London’s largest aviation hub and is one of the busiest airports in the world. It sits only 14 miles west of central London. Over ninety airlines operate in Heathrow, offering flights from and to 185 destinations in about ninety countries. Heathrow Airport is the most popular for international travel.
- London Gatwick is 30 miles south of London and takes 30 minutes to reach Central London. If you’re flying into Gatwick instead, I have a guide for that.
- London Stansted is 42 miles northeast of central London and takes 50 minutes to reach Central London. I also have a guide for traveling to/from Stansted.
- London Luton is 28 miles north of London, and you can get to Central London in as little as 25 minutes. If you are considering a flight to Luton, my guide will help.
- London City Airport is only 10 miles east of London; you can reach Central London in 23 minutes. If you found a flight into City, check out my guide for getting to London.
- 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 Heathrow to Central London – which is what you really want to know!
How to Get from Heathrow to London
Heathrow Airport is 16 miles west of central London. Luckily, there are several ways to get from Heathrow to London as it is the most accessible airport for getting into town.
You can get from London to Heathrow via the Underground. The Piccadilly Line serves the airport, with trains running from all terminals. Trains leave every fifteen minutes during the day, and it takes around 50-60 minutes to get from London to the airport. Tickets cost between £3-5.
As of 2022, the long-awaited Elizabeth Line also opened, connecting Heathrow and Central London. Tickets cost £12.80 to/from Heathrow to Paddington Station, where you can change to continue on the Elizabeth Line further into Central London (or onto other lines of the Underground at Paddington too). The Elizabeth Line is notably faster than the Piccadilly Line; it takes just 35 minutes with far fewer stops.
As I’m assuming this is your first trip to London, here are some guides I have for riding the Tube for the first time:
You can also ask any questions on those posts or in the comments below.
There are other options beyond the London Underground for getting from Heathrow to Central London: you can also use the Heathrow Express.
The Heathrow Express is the fastest way to get from Heathrow to Central London. The Heathrow Express departs from London Paddington every 15 minutes, and the journey also takes 15 minutes. Tickets cost between £22 off-peak and £25 peak.
The National Express is yet another alternative. They run coach services throughout the day from and to Victoria coach station. The journey takes 40–80 minutes, and tickets start from £10 one-way. Finally, you can always take London’s iconic black taxis to get from the airport to Central London. Journey times vary between 30-60 minutes, and fares are rather steep, oscillating between £45–£70.
You can also book a taxi, Uber/rideshare, or private driver to travel from Heathrow to London by car. Typically, this costs between $60-$100 and takes around 45 minutes. This might not be the best budget-friendly option, but could make a lot of sense if you’re a group or family and/or if you have a lot of luggage and don’t want to deal with it on the train system.
What’s the Best Way to Travel Between London & Heathrow?
The best way to travel from Heathrow to London is by taking either the Tube or Heathrow Express, depending on your budget.
The Tube is the most cost-effective option, plus, it is perfect if you’re staying in central neighborhoods, whereas the Heathrow Express is a more time-efficient alternative. It is a little more expensive but is better for those staying in the Paddington or Bayswater areas.
Have any other questions about how to travel from Heathrow to London for your trip? Let me know in the comments below!