London is a dream for many people. It’s a wonderful city full of attractions where you definitely won’t be bored. But, before you can unravel the delights of England’s capital city, you need to make plans for getting to London first. Here are your four main transport options.
Getting to London by plane
London is the largest European air service hub with five airports for the city: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and City Airport. Being so well connected, if you’re travelling from overseas, flying is often the best and the cheapest option. The airports are all located a distance away from the city centre, but transport links into central London are well organized and efficient. Here’s everything you need to know about London’s airports to choose the right one for your next holiday:
London Heathrow Airport
Situated on western edge of London, 24km from the city centre, Heathrow is the biggest, busiest and most popular airport in Europe. Large airlines like British Airways, Lufthansa and Emirates all operate flights here, from the five terminals which are connected by a free airport train.
Touch down in Heathrow and then take the Piccadilly Line by train, which reaches central London in under an hour and costs just £6. You can also get an oyster card at the airport tube station, from which you can take the fast Heathrow Express to Paddington in 15 minutes. This route costs £25 one-way, so it’s more expensive, but still less than a taxi, which will set you back around £60.
London Gatwick Airport
London Gatwick is London’s second busiest international airport and is located 40km south of the city centre. There are two passenger terminals – the north and the south. Whichever you land at, you can take the Gatwick Express train into Victoria station. The journey takes about 30 minutes and costs £16.90 one-way. Taxis into London will cost around £50, but if you’d rather travel by road, you can take the National Express Shuttle to Victoria for £6.50 or the Easy Bus to West Brompton, which if you book early enough can cost as little as £2.
London Luton Airport
This international airport is located 50km north of central London, just outside Luton, with one terminal. It is predominantly budget airlines that fly out of here, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for cheap flights. Taxis from Luton into London can be expensive, so try the bus for the cheapest connection. You can take the green line to Victoria for £13 one-way, the easybus to Baker Street for £2.90 or the National Express. From Luton airport, you can also take the Rail Shuttle Bus that takes you to Luton Airport Parkway station. From there, you can catch a train to the city centre for roughly £14.
London Stansted Airport
Located about 50km north east of London, Stansted airport has just one terminal. Despite this, it is still one of the busiest airports in London and operates budget airlines, including flights with ryanair, easyjet or Air Berlin. The fastest way to get from Stansted Airport to central London is to take the Stansted Express. It takes 45 minutes and costs £18 one-way. You can also take the National Express Bus or Easy Bus, just like you would from Luton or Gatwick, or try the bus Terravision .
London City Airport
This small airport located near Canary Wharf mainly attracts businessmen thanks to its location in London Docklands. It’s only 10km away from the city centre, with easy trains, taxis and bus links to get there.
Getting to London by train
You can get to London from a few European cities by train. If you book early enough you can travel to London International St Pancras from Paris or Brussels for only £25. Even better, the journey is quick at just 2-3 hours! You can also get a cheap train ticket from Berlin, Barcelona or other cities, but the journey involves several stages and is very time consuming. If you’re travelling to London from elsewhere in the UK, make sure you book your train ticket plenty in advance as trains are expensive.
Getting to London by car
The UK is an island, so to get to London by car from any European city you have two options. You can either take the ferry or the Eurotunnel. To drive through the Eurotunnel, you need to get a ticket. The journey takes 30 minutes, and you can relax in your car as it travels through the tunnel in a special train. You’ll go through passport control before you depart, and you don’t have to leave your car to show your documents. The ferry is very similar but it takes about 90 minutes to cross the English Channel. It’s also cheaper – you can get your ferry ticket here .
Did you know you can also travel around Europe without getting on a plane? Here are five ways to do it.
Getting to London by coach
Travelling by coach is by far the cheapest option to get to London, but it has its drawbacks. Depending on where you start your journey, you might face a 20+ hour trip just to get there! Most buses arrive at Victoria station, so you have the benefit of being right in the city centre straight away.
Once you reach central London, the city is your oyster – especially if you’ve got your oyster card ready! Why not be inspired by this photo tour of the capital?