Heathrow is London’s busiest airport, located just West of London and is a really common one to fly into if you are visiting London (there are four others but this is the definitely the busiest). If you are flying into London Heathrow Airport you may be wondering what is the best way to get from Heathrow to local. In this guide I round up the best ways to get from Heathrow into London for speed, for those on a budget and other tips I’ve accumulated as a London local.
Tips for Flying into Heathrow and best way to get from Heathrow to London
Heathrow is definitely the airport I use most when flying into London. Heathrow is about 15-20 miles outside of the centre of London – depending on which of the London terminals your travel into. Remember there are five terminals at London Heathrow Airport – please note your terminal when travelling into London Heathrow as some public transport only goes into certain terminals and you will have to make an internal transfer. For more information about other airports that serve London and their pros and cons you can check out our London Travel Tips.
Best Way to Get from Heathrow to London by Public transport
There are several ways in which you can get yo Heathrow to London by public transport. These are
- Heathrow Express (a direct train connection)
- London Underground aka The Tube.
- National Express Bus
In this section I will go through each method, the pros and the cons to help you decide what is the best way to get from Heathrow to London (or the best way to get from London to Heathrow depending on your direction of travel)
If you want to get into Central London and fast then the Heathrow Express is 100% the best method of transport to do especially if you are travelling during the work week. The Heathrow Express train takes a mere 15 minutes to get into Central London (from the Terminal 2&3 stop and a few minutes longer from terminal 5) and runs every 15 minutes from 5am to just before midnight or 11 at weekends (be sure to check current schedule for your date of travel).
The Heathrow Express is direct from the Heathrow Terminal stops and has two stops within the airport – Terminal 5 and Terminal 2 & 3 stops. Passengers arriving or departing from other terminals will have to make a quick internal Heathrow terminal transfer.
The Heathrow Express is then direct into central London. It’s only stop in Central London in Paddington Train Station. Paddington Station is in the West of London so depending on where your final destination will be (click here for our For our Where to Stay in London Guide ) might mean you have to make another connection. There is a taxi rank outside the station and Paddington is also serviced by four underground lines ( District, Circle, Bakerloo and the Hammersmith and City line which means you are well connected for any onward journey you may have.
There are no baggage restrictions on the Heathrow Express but you must be able to carry and load it yourself.
Though quick, the only downside to using the Heathrow Express is that it is a much pricey option. A one way ticket per adult will cost around 22GBP and 37GBP for a return ticket.
I recommend booking any train travel in the UK in advance as there are usually savings to be made and so you don’t have to mess around with ticket machines or kiosks when you just want to get to your hotel. You can book your ticket online in advance HERE!
Getting From Heathrow Airport to London on the Underground (Tube)
Another option to get from Heathrow Airport to London is to take the tube. Whereas the Heathrow Express prioritises speed over cost, the London underground method is great for those who have more time in their schedule and who are perhaps on a tighter budget. The cost of tube tickets is dependent on the destination you are going to but it will definitely be cheaper than the Heathrow Express.
Heathrow is serviced by one tube line – The Piccadilly Line (the navy blue line on the map). Another benefit aside from cost about getting the tube to London rather than the Heathrow Express is that you have far more stop options. There are over 50 stops on the Piccadilly Line (some will require a change because of branch lines) but this means you aren’t restricted to one get off. And even if you need to change the Piccadilly Line is one of the most well connected underground lines in the city with connections to most other underground lines.
One of the more difficult things about transferring into Central London from Heathrow on the Piccadilly Line is that is has limited storage space for luggage and not all stations are accessible (read few have lifts) so you might be walking up some stairs. If you are travelling light it will be easy to do but if not you may want to consider how easy you will find navigating the tube with luggage or with are travelling to London with baby or toddler and will also have a stroller with you.
To get your ticket for the London Underground you can
- buy a single ticket at the station
- buy an oyster card to sue throughout your trip
- buy a travel card for the duration of the trip
- use a contactless card
- use apple pay
I would personally opt for contactless if you have it or buy an oyster card but it depends on how much travel you intend to do on the tube depends if you want a travel card instead. I personally always write my London itineraries, even when you are travelling to London with kids with limited transport and prioritise walking as this is the best way to see the city in my opinion.
Top Tip: Be sure to download the tube map on your phone before you travel.
Getting To London from Heathrow Airport on the National Express Bus
The National Express Bus isn’t one of the famous London red buses but more a coach. During peak times the buses run every fifteen minutes but off peak can run as little as once an hour. The coach runs directly into London Victoria Coach Station (next to the London Victoria train station). This is a relatively central train station which will then have connections with London underground and overground train services to the South East of England.
The advantages to taking the National Express is that like the Underground it is one of the cheaper options to get to central London and you don’t have to worry about lugging your luggage up and down stairs on the underground. However the disadvantage to this is that it can be slow! If you are travelling during rush hour in particular this can take a very long time but if you have a lot of luggage and are budget conscious it is worth considering. But remember if you aren’t staying near Victoria you will probably have to transfer by underground anyway.
Again it is best to book online in advance as there will be a cost saving for you. To check prices and book tickets online CLICK HERE!
Getting From Heathrow to London by taxi
Taxi is a very tempting option especially when you have lots of luggage and may be suffering from jet lag. However taxis in London can be expensive and are unlikely to be the quickest option. If you are travelling in rush hour this can take a long time and I would advise against it but if you are travelling at an unusual time and have a lot of luggage then it can be a great way to get to your hotel without having to worry about any changes.
Black cabs will be lined up outside of the airport terminal but if you are going to travel by taxi then I would recommend rebooking. Whenever I travel to airports and prebook a taxi I always use Black Lane. For a quote on transfers from Heathrow to your London destination CLICK HERE!
Getting From Heathrow to London Using Uber
Ok so I have a confession to make – I do not like using Uber. London City Council has had concerns about the safety of Uber (it has regained its license to operate in London) and I personally don’t like using them but that is a personal preference. Uber does have a presence in London and can be used to get into the centre but do be aware of surge pricing which can make it quite an expensive way to transfer.
What I think is the best way to get from Heathrow to London
When I travel into the centre of London from Heathrow I use one of three ways
- Heathrow Express
And what I pick depends largely on how much luggage I have, how quick I need to get in and the final destination (why would I get the heathrow Express to then have to do lots of Underground transfers).
Getting Back From London to Heathrow Airport
Basically to get back from London to Heathrow Airport you can just reverse the above options. As you will be checking into a flight make sure you arrive at the airport three hours in advance and be sure to leave adequate travel time. Be sure to factor in rush hour traffic and leave time for delays or the dreaded tube cancellation.
If you are travelling via Underground be sure to make sure the terminal of departure as the Piccadilly Line only serves a few terminals and if you need to go to another you will need to do an internal Heathrow transfer.
When you travel to Central London from Heathrow what transport option do you take?