London Airport Visitors Guide
London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and as a result has five major airports. These include London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport, London Luton Airport, London Stansted Airport or London City Airport. As a general rule most international visitors will be landing at Heathrow unless they are flying in from Europe. Depending on which airport you are landing there are different methods for getting to and from London. The big airports have express trains and tube connections while the smaller ones rely on the bus network. The following information will help you find the best way into and out of London.
London Airport Highlights
Heathrow airport is usually the first destination for visitors flying into London and is used by most of the major airlines. Heathrow is a massive airport with 5 terminals and just short of 80 million passengers making it the third busiest airport in the world. The airport is on the site of a small village called Heath Row which is how the airport was given its name. Nearly every major airline in the world flies into Heathrow including British Airways and Qantas.
Other airlines that land in Heathrow include Air China, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Brunei, Singapore Airlines, Thai, United and Virgin Atlantic.
Heathrow Terminals: If you are flying into or out of Heathrow it is a good idea to establish which terminal they are landing and departing from. The airport is a lot bigger than most international airports and has 4 terminals servicing different airlines. The terminals can be quite a distance from each other you you may need to get a shuttle bus or a long walk between different terminals.
- Heathrow Terminal 1 (Closed) – Heathrow Terminal 1 was closed in 2015 and will be used as part of an expansion to Terminal 2.
- Heathrow Terminal 2 – This terminal was re-opened in 2014 and named the Queens Terminal
- Heathrow Terminal 3 – This terminal is home to QANTAS and Oneworld airlines
- Heathrow Terminal 4 – This terminal is home of a lot of European airlines including Air France, Etihad Airlines, and KLM
- Heathrow Terminal 5 – Terminal 5 is used exclusively by British Airways and some of their associates.
Security Screenings: It is recommended that you allow extra time when flying into or out of Heathrow due to extended security screenings. Allow 3 hours prior to a long haul flight and 2 hours prior to a European flight.
Heathrow Transfers to London: Located about 14 miles (23 km) west of Central London visitors are given several options on how to transfer to their London accommodation. The easiest way in our opinion is to catch the Heathrow Express which is a dedicated express rail link into Central London. These trains leave every 15 minutes and take about 15-20 minutes to reach Paddington Station which then makes it an easy connection to most of central London. Heathrow Airport has 3 underground stations, one for Terminals 2 and 3, one for terminal 4 and one for terminal 5. Getting the tube from Heathrow is the cheapest way at about $10 into central London however this trip stops at a lot of stations and takes anywhere from 45 to 65 minutes.
Heathrow Express (London to Heathrow in 15 minutes) – Heathrow Express offers an ideal way to travel between central London and Heathrow with the express service departing Paddington Station and Heathrow every 15 minutes. Travel comfortably on latest, air-conditioned trains with full mobile phone coverage through your journey, and plenty of baggage space. The Heathrow Express is the fastest option between Heathrow Airport and Central London and takes about 15 minutes. Since the service was launched in 1998, 16,000 passengers travel on the Heathrow Express every day while more than 60 million passengers have accessed the service since then. Use the link below to book your Heathrow Express tickets, As soon as you book, a ticket reference will be sent to your mobile phone or email. You will need to show the code to a staff member on board the Heathrow Express.
|Route||Frequency||Time to Central London||Cost|
|Heathrow Express||15 mins||21 mins||$30.00 (£21.50)|
|Heathrow Connect||30 mins||25 mins|
|Underground train (Piccadilly line)||5-10 mins||1 hour||$5 - $10|
|National Express Coach||5-30 mins||50 mins-1 hour||$15 - $20|
|Taxi / Uber||On Demand||30 mins-1 hour||$60 - $100|
London Stansted Airport (STN) is located approximately 60 km to the North-East of London in Essex and is London’s third busiest airport. This airport is used by many of the low cost airlines flying into Europe and the Mediterranean with Ryan Air having a large operational base there. Australians will generally only use Stansted if they are connecting via Europe otherwise they will usually use Heathrow.
Getting to and from London: If you are using Stansted Airport for a connecting flight or landing there out of Europe there are a number of ways to get to and from London city. The easiest and quickest way is to use the Stansted Express however there are also bus and coach connections available. You can also get the tube however there is no direct connection making it more difficult and it takes about 90 minutes and is not recommended.
Stansted Express: The Stansted Express travels between Liverpool Street stations and the airport station every 15 minutes 7 days a week and takes approx 50 minutes. The Airport station is located inside the terminal, below the main concourse making it by far the easiest way to get into town. There are lifts, escalators and ramps available to transport your luggage and it only takes about 2 minutes to walk to and from the terminal.
National Express: The Stansted coach terminal is located only a short walk from the main airport terminal building, National Express offers the most services with coaches driving from Stansted to London Liverpool Street, Waterloo and London Victoria stations.
Terravison Bus: Terravision operates buses to and from Stansted Coach Station from Kings Cross Station in London. This service departs every 20 minutes and the journey takes approx 70-75 minutes depending on traffic. Ticket prices start at $10 for kids and $5 for Adults.
London Underground (Tube): Although we wouldn’t recommend it, using the underground is probably the cheapest option of getting into London. With no direct tube connection it can take over 90 minutes with main benefit that you can use your Oyster card which you already need for the rest of the London public transport system.
Private Stansted Airport Transfer: A wide range of companies offer private airport transfers from Stansted into London and back. These can start from $50 one-way up to $200 depending on the size and type of car used. This option can be quite convenient and provides a door to door service. If you have a large family this could actually work out cheaper than multiple train tickets.
London Taxi to and from London: Due to the distance of Stansted from central London a taxi takes approx 60 minutes and would be $100 and over depending on the service. This option is not recommended however it does offer a door to door service which some people are willing to pay for.
|Route||Frequency||Time to London||Destination||Cost (Adult)|
|Stansted Express||15 mins||47 mins||Liverpool Street||$30|
|National Express Coach||5-30 mins||90 minutes||Liverpool Street, Waterloo and London Victoria||$15 - $20|
|Terravision||20 mins||75 minutes||Kings Cross||$10|
|Private Transfer||As required||+60 minutes||Direct||$50-100|
|Taxi / Uber||As required||+60 minutes||Direct||$100+|
Gatwick Express: The Gatwick Express will give you fast train service between the London Victoria station and London Gatwick Airport. The Gatwick Express has been scheduled with departures in every 15 minutes. This train is the most popular way of commuting in the city between the Central London and Gatwick Airport. To head into London by minicab or taxi will take you about an hour and sometimes the traffic is unpredictable. Getting a Gatwick Express ticket will enable you to commute between the South and North terminals with ease. London Victoria is well connected with other links to travel like District and Circle lines that is the best way to get around in central London.
London Gatwick Airport Arrivals
London Southend (SEN) is an international airport that is about 58 kms (36 miles) east of the center of London. The airport is small compared to the other major airports in London, comparable to Avalon in Melbourne. It only has 1 terminal however budget airline Easyjet have now established a base there. Most Australians will not visit Southend airport unless you are coming from Europe or other parts of the UK.
Getting to and from London Southend Airport
The best way to get to London from Southend airport is the Southend Airport to London Liverpool Street train service which runs 8 trains an hour in peak and a train every 20-30 minutes during off peak. The train takes about 53 minutes and also stops at Stratford which is near the London Olympic Park and the Westfield Shopping centre.
London Southend Arrivals
Luton Airportback to menu ↑
London City Airport
London City airport (LCY) is an international airport located only about 10 km from the centre of London making it the closest airport to London. Most of the flights in London City Airport arrive from continental Europe and is used mainly for business travel.
Getting to and from London
Due to it Location City Airport is well connected to the London transport network. The airport has its own Docklands light Railway station which makes it easy to connection to the London Underground stations of Stratford, Canning Town and Bank.