Getting from Heathrow Airport to London’s city centre

Airport by interbeatThe busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest in the world, Heathrow Airport has five terminals and receives 70 million visitors a year. It might seem a daunting prospect for visitors who are unfamiliar with London or Heathrow, but you’ll be pleased to know there are many transport options that make travelling into London city centre easier than you might have imagined.

The Underground

London Underground, or ‘the tube’ as Londoners call it, is one of the cheaper and quicker ways to get into London’s city centre. All five of London’s terminals have a tube stop, making it easy to find, and it’s well signposted from the terminal buildings. Being on the end of the line to the west of London, it also means there’s usually plenty of space for you and your luggage.

The London Heathrow tube stations are all on the Piccadilly line. Each station has a ticket office where you can pick up a pocket-sized London Underground map and buy your tickets. You may need to change onto different lines to complete your journey and the London Underground map will help you plan the best route.

Charing Cross London Underground by QsimpleEverywhere in central London is within walking distance of a tube station. The journey time from Heathrow Airport to central London varies depending on where in central London you’re going to. As an example, it takes about 35 minutes to travel from London Heathrow to Piccadilly Circus.

The London Underground has a zone system, with London Heathrow in Zone 6 and central London tube stops in Zone 1. The cost of your fare depends on where you’re travelling to in London, but shouldn’t be more than £5.

If you’re planning on travelling by public transport a lot during your stay, you may want to purchase an Oyster card from the tube station for £3, as fares using an Oyster card are always cheaper. You can add ‘top-up’ money to your Oyster card and simply swipe it on the ticket barriers when making tube, train, bus and tram journeys within London. You can also buy an Oyster card in advance of your trip from the VisitBritain website, as it can be delivered to any address internationally.

The London Underground is not a 24-hour service, so it’s important to know when the first and last tubes run to ensure the tube is the best way for you to travel. Tubes usually come at least every 10 minutes.

Tubes to central London from Heathrow Airport Terminals 1, 2 and 3: First train 05.12 (Monday to Saturday) or 05.56 (Sunday) Last train 23.48 (Monday to Saturday) or 23.39 (Sunday)

Terminal 4: First train 05.02 (Monday to Saturday) or 05.46 (Sunday) Last train 23.35 (Monday to Saturday) or 23.15 (Sunday)

Terminal 5: First train 05.23 (Monday to Saturday) or 06.07 (Sunday) Last train 23.42 (Monday to Saturday) or 23.25 (Sunday)

Tubes from central London (Piccadilly Circus) to Heathrow Airport To Terminals 1, 2 and 3: First train 05.47 (Monday to Saturday) or 07.05 (Sunday) Last train 00.32 (Monday to Saturday) or 23.38 (Sunday)

Terminal 4: First train 05.47 (Monday to Saturday) or 07.05 (Sunday) Last train 23.09 (Monday to Saturday) or 23.09 (Sunday)

Terminal 5: First train 05.47 (Monday to Saturday) or 07.05 (Sunday) Last train 00.21 (Monday to Saturday) or 23.24 (Sunday)

Bus

Catching a local bus is the cheapest option when travelling onwards from Heathrow Airport, but no bus goes as far as central London, so you have to change buses one or two times to complete your journey. It’s therefore usually more cost and time-effective to catch the London Underground during the day.

If you’re arriving during the night, the N9 bus night bus is an excellent option, running from 23.35 until 06.30 every night. It stops from Heathrow Terminal 5 (stop 7) and Heathrow’s Central Bus station near Terminals 1, 2 and 3. In central London, the N9 bus stops at Trafalgar Square and Aldwych, as well as a number of stops in west London on the approach to central London. A single bus fare costs £2.40.

If you’re planning to use public transport a lot during your London stay, you may want to buy an Oyster card for £3, as fares paid using this swipe-card system are always cheaper than paying cash. A bus fare on Oyster costs £1.40. Journeys by bus during the night into London take around one hour.

Coach

National Express is the main coach provider for coach transfers to central London. A one-way transfer from Heathrow Airport to central London costs £15 (plus a £1 booking fee). Booking online in advance may get you a cheaper fare and can be more convenient, although remember to allow plenty of time after arrival to get through passport control and to pick up your luggage.

National Express coaches run at regular intervals during the day and night and stop at a number of designated central London locations. You can also buy tickets from the Central Bus Station near terminals 1, 2 and 3. Coach transfers to central London take around two hours, depending on the time of day (whether it’s rush hour) and whereabouts in central London you’re travelling to.

National Express coaches depart from stops at each of London Heathrow’s five terminals:

Terminals 1, 2 and 3 – Coaches depart from the Central Bus Station which is located a five minute walk from these terminals.

Terminal 4 – Coaches depart from stops 13 and 14, outside the terminal building at the arrivals level. On some occasions you may need to connect to the Central Bus Station to catch a National Express Coach, in which case you can do so from stop 7 outside the arrivals hall.

Terminal 5 – Coaches depart from stops 13 to 16.

Private Airport Transport - online Booking



Train

Train by mattbuck4950There are a couple of options to travel by overland train from London Heathrow to central London.

Most people prefer the direct Heathrow Express train due to its speed and service frequency, as the Heathrow Express departs every 15 minutes and takes only 15 minutes to reach London Paddington. Heathrow Express trains run between 5.03 and 23.58 from Heathrow to Paddington, and from 5.10 to 23.25 from Paddington to London Heathrow. Trains depart from Heathrow Central Station (walking distance from Terminals 1, 2 and 3) and Terminal 5 Station.

If you’re arriving at Terminal 4, take the free Heathrow Express transfer shuttle service. The most expensive public transport option from London Heathrow, a single fare costs £20 and a return fare costs £34. You can buy tickets at the station, on the train or in advance online via the Heathrow Express website, where there are sometimes cheaper deals to be found. While this option is more expensive, you do get a few added luxuries for the fare, including free TV, wireless internet, mobile phone access in tunnels and a first class upgrade option.

The Heathrow Connect service is a slightly slower train service as it stops at stations on the way to London Paddington. Trains run every 30 minutes and take 25 minutes to reach London Paddington, with a single fare costing £9.50. Trains depart from Heathrow Central Station (passengers arriving at Terminals 4 and 5 should take the free Heathrow Express service to Heathrow Central). Trains depart Heathrow to Paddington between 5.07 and 23.42, and depart Paddington to Heathrow between 04.42 and 23.03.

Taxi

Taxis by dionhinchcliffeWhile there are plenty of cheaper public transport options to help you get from London Heathrow to central London quickly, it is more comfortable to take a taxi. There are two main options for taxis from Heathrow Airport.

The iconic London black taxis are available from taxi stands outside each of Heathrow’s five terminals, or you can book in advance online. These black cabs are charged on the meter, so the amount you pay will depend on how much traffic there is and your exact destination in central London. As a general rule you could expect to pay anything between £50 and £80. Black taxis can fit five passengers with very minimal luggage, or three passengers with a suitcase each.

Another option is to book a minicab in advance of your arrival into London Heathrow, although they can be less regulated than London’s black taxis. Many minicab providers have fixed fares into central London, which vary between £30 and £50. A mini cab will typically fit four passengers and will have boot space for luggage. Heathrow Airport’s preferred minicab provider is Green Tomato Cars, which owns a ‘green’ fleet of hybrid cars.

Airport Transfer with a Private Car Service

The easiest and most comfortably way to get out of the Heathrow Airport and on the road is with a private airport transfer service. Pre-book your ride and enter in your flight information and a driver will be waiting for you at the arrivals hall no matter if your flight has a delay. The driver will help with your bags and guide you to the car. There you will be able to relax while you are being driven to your apartment or hotel in London. The price for a private airport transfer is about the same price as a taxi. Our recommended company for this service in London is myDriver Airport Transfer London.

Hire car

Most of the large hire car providers have an office at Heathrow Airport and hire care prices start from around £12 per day. For the best deal, book the car hire online directly via a hire car provider, or through a price comparison website such as Rhino Car Hire, which often provides the best value for money.

Be aware that driving in London can be expensive – unless your hotel offers free parking, you will have to pay to park your car on the street or in a car park, and prices are high. You will also have to pay the London Congestion Charge for driving in central London areas, which is around £10 per day. Depending on the time of day, it is likely to take you up to an hour and a half to drive from Heathrow Airport into central London.

For more information: VisitBritain has created a handy London Airport Transfer Guide, which shows you the different possible means of public transport from all airports in London.

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