I can still remember my first time flying into Heathrow.

It was New Year’s Eve, and I was heading there after my boyfriend (at the time) made a romantic gesture and left a plane ticket for me to meet him in London so we could be each other’s New Year’s kiss.

He met me at the airport with flowers and already had a car waiting to take us to town.

I didn’t have to lift a finger.

Cut to a year later when I arrived back in London, traveling solo this time.

This time there was no prince charming waiting with flowers and a car, and because this solo birthday trip was also somewhat spontaneous, I’d forgotten to look up how to get from Heathrow to London on public transit.

Lucky for me, London makes it easy to take public transport.

It was my birthday, and my first time traveling alone, so I splurged and booked a round-trip ride on the Heathrow Express.

Since then, I’ve been to London close to a dozen times, and almost always just hop on the tube, unless I arrive at an hour it’s not running.

Heathrow Airport has multiple terminals, and it’s essential for you to know the right terminal, station, your accommodation’s address (save it on your phone and write it down), and preferred mode of transport when traveling to London.

Don’t stress though, it’s all going to be fine. First grab a cup of coffee to beat the jetlag, and then use this guide to help you learn how to get from Heathrow to London.

Planning Your Journey

Heathrow-Airport-Welcome-to-the-United-Kingdom-Sign-Terminal-5

Traveling from Heathrow to London can be an exciting experience, and proper planning will guarantee a smooth and stress-free journey.

When deciding on the mode of transport, consider factors such as traffic, luggage, time of day, and potential rush hours.

First, make a list of all available transport options.

From Heathrow Express to the iconic black taxis, there are plenty of choices to suit your needs and budget.

Don’t forget about the Tube or purple Elizabeth Line, which is an affordable and popular option among travelers.

Next, consider the time of your journey.

Public transport is likely to be crowded if you arrive during typical rush hours (approximately 7-10 AM and 4-7 PM on weekdays).

If you have a significant amount of luggage, it may be challenging to navigate through the crowds, and a private transport option, such as a taxi or town car, might be more convenient for you.

For accurate travel times, utilize an online travel planner or a Journey planner, which takes into account the specific day of your journey.

Bear in mind that driving directions and expected journey times may vary depending on your destination within London.

If you choose to rent a car and drive, you’ll absolutely want to familiarize yourself with London’s traffic patterns and congestion charges by checking a reliable navigation website or app.

By Train

One of the most popular ways to travel from Heathrow to London is by train.

Several options are available, each offering varying levels of speed and cost.

Taking the London Underground, specifically the Piccadilly Line, is the most cost-effective method.

From any Heathrow terminal, you can board a Tube train and reach Central London in approximately 45-60 minutes.

A single ride costs around £6, but using an Oyster card or contactless payment card can save you money.

Another option is the Heathrow Express, a direct train service offering a faster journey.

This train departs Heathrow Terminal 2, 3, and 5 and takes around 15 minutes to reach London Paddington station.

The standard fare starts from £22 when booked in advance, and you can save money with a Railcard if eligible.

The new Elizabeth Line provides another rail service from Heathrow to London.

With its impressive purple trains, you can travel from the airport to Central London in under 45 minutes. Trains operate every 30 minutes, with prices starting from £12.80. The system accepts Oyster cards and contactless payments.

When planning your journey, pay attention to engineering works that may affect London’s rail services.

Plan to leave a buffer for delays, and factor in extra time for your journey if needed.

Ticketing and Fare Information

Heathrow Airport Train Tickets to London Heathrow Express and Elizabeth Line

When traveling from Heathrow to London, you have several ticket options and payment methods available.

To start, consider using an Oyster card or a contactless payment card for convenient and affordable access to public transportation options such as the Tube or buses.

For single journeys, the fare from Heathrow Airport to central London (zone 1) on the Underground is £6.70 for adults with a paper ticket.

However, using an Oyster card or a contactless debit/credit card, the single fare drops to £5.60. During peak hours (6:30-9:30am Monday to Friday), the fare is slightly higher at £5.10. Children under 11 can travel free when accompanied by an adult.

If you prefer taking the bus, the fare for the N9 night bus is just £1.50.

For train tickets, fares can range from £4 to £35. The new Elizabeth Line offers service from Heathrow to central London in under 45 minutes, with ticket prices starting at £12.80.

Here’s a quick summary of the different travel options and their respective fares:

Oyster card: Underground: £5.60; Bus: £1.50

Contactless payment card: Underground: £5.60; Bus: £1.50

Paper ticket: Underground: £6.70

Train ticket: £4-£35

Elizabeth Line: £12.80

Remember, when using an Oyster card or contactless payment method, you can benefit from daily and weekly fare capping, ensuring you pay the most cost-effective price for your travel.

Stations and Terminals

Liverpool Street Station London to Heathrow

Heathrow Airport has four major terminals: Terminal 2, Terminal 3, Terminal 4, and Terminal 5.

Terminals 2 & 3 share the same underground station, which is on the western branch of the Piccadilly Line.

Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 each have their own underground stations.

To reach Central London from Heathrow Airport, you can use different modes of transport.

One option is the Elizabeth Line, which offers trains that run every 30 minutes, with the journey to central London taking less than 45 minutes.

Another option is the Heathrow Express, a dedicated train service that offers a quick and comfortable trip.

Your destination in central London is Paddington Station, which connects you to various public transport options, such as buses, trains, or the London Underground.

If you’re looking for buses, head to the Heathrow Central Bus Station near Terminals 2 & 3.

From here, several buses and coaches run throughout the day and night to different parts of London and beyond.

By Bus or Coach

Heathrow Airport National Express Bus Service to London

Traveling from Heathrow Airport to London by bus or coach is a convenient and affordable option.

You can start your journey at the Heathrow Central Bus Station, which is open 24 hours a day and offers services to various destinations in London.

One of the most popular options is the National Express, which connects Heathrow Airport to the Victoria Coach Station.

With tickets starting at just £10, you’ll enjoy a comfortable ride to your destination.

Here’s a breakdown of some bus options connecting Heathrow to London:

National Express coach: Departs every 20 minutes, taking approximately 45 minutes to Victoria Coach Station

H30 bus: Connects Heathrow to Feltham train station and runs at daytime

N9 night bus: Operates during night hours, providing convenient public transport when other services are unavailable

Occasionally, there may be replacement bus services in case of disruptions to train lines. Keep an eye out for the latest updates if you plan to use a bus as an alternative to trains.

To ensure a smooth journey, it’s best to purchase your bus ticket in advance.

You can do this online or at the bus station and it’ll guarantee your seat on the selected service.

By Taxi or Car

London, England Taxi Cab

Taking a taxi or your own car can be a comfortable option for your journey from Heathrow Airport to London.

We all know black cabs for their iconic appearance. Most of the time, these cabs are available right outside the airport terminals.

They follow a meter-based fare system, and you can find fare estimates posted at the taxi ranks.

Another option is booking a private car service.

This gives you the opportunity to schedule your transport in advance, ensuring a vehicle will wait for you upon arrival.

Addison Lee is often considered a premium option with a slightly higher price tag, but you can expect exceptional service and luxury vehicles.

If you prefer using a ridesharing service, Uber is also available at Heathrow.

To book your Uber, simply open the app and follow the instructions for pickup locations at your terminal.

Fares can vary based on the vehicle type and demand at the time of your request; however, they are more cost-effective compared to traditional taxi services.

Below are the general travel times and estimated costs* from Heathrow to central London for each transportation method:

Black Cab: 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic | £50-£100

Addison Lee: 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic | £55-£105

Uber: 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic | £40-£90

*Please note that these price ranges and travel times are approximate and subject to change based on factors such as traffic, time of day, and road closures.

Other Options

Arrivals Gate at Heathrow Airport

If you prefer a more private mode of transport, consider car rental services available at Heathrow Airport.

This gives you the freedom to drive yourself to London at your own pace. Which fair warning is a bit intimidating if you’re not used to driving on the opposite side of the road!

So my preferred option is booking a town car or a private transfer service.

To compare the different modes of travel and their costs, you can also use Rome2rio.

This site gives you multiple options, along with their respective ticket prices and travel times.

For budget-conscious travelers, coach and bus services provide a cost-effective option.

Companies like Megabus UK also operate from Heathrow to various destinations in London.

These services might take longer, but they are quite affordable and comfortable.

Another option for getting to London is by using long-distance bus services such as Flixbus.

These buses are well-known for their modern facilities, comfort, and affordability.

Keep in mind that their availability and schedules might differ, so it’s essential to verify the timings before making a reservation.

Additional Tips and Tricks

LONDON-UNDERGROUND-NOTTING-HILL-STATION

When traveling from Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Central London, I always use public transit because it’s both cost-effective and reliable.

The city has an extensive public transport network operated by Transport for London (TfL), making it easy to navigate.

It really reminds me a lot of NYC’s transit system, except for this one doesn’t run 24/7.

The Piccadilly Line connects Heathrow to popular destinations, including Covent Garden, South Kensington, Hammersmith, and Hyde Park Corner, with a journey time of approximately 50-60 minutes.

The Elizabeth Line connects Heathrow to hotspots including, Liverpool Station, Paddington, White Chapel.

Here are some valuable tips to enhance your travel experience:

Purchase an Oyster Card or a Contactless Payment Card for easy tapping in and out of stations, as well as access to discounted fares.

Familiarize yourself with the Tube map and plan your route in advance to minimize confusion.

Avoid peak travel times (7:00 AM – 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM on weekdays) to enjoy a more comfortable journey.

Take advantage of free transfers between Heathrow terminals, available via shuttle bus or the Heathrow Connect train service.

Fun Fact: The London Underground, is more commonly known as the subway or “the Tube”.

FAQs

What is the fastest transport option from Heathrow?

Elizabeth Line from Heathrow to London View from the tube

The fastest way to get between London and Heathrow is the Heathrow Express.

This train runs from Paddington Station and takes about 15 minutes between stops.

How much does the Heathrow Express cost?

Heathrow Express London Airport transit

The price for a ticket on the Heathrow Express varies depending on the time of purchase and the type of ticket selected.

Typically, fares range from £22 for an advanced single to £37 for a standard single purchased on board.

You can find more information on their official website.

What is the price of an Uber ride to London?

London at Night Uber in front of the West End Theater Marquee for The Play That Goes Wrong

The price of an Uber ride from Heathrow to London depends on the time, distance, and demand.

It usually ranges from £40 to £60 for UberX. Though at rush hours and late nights, I’ve paid just over £100.

You can estimate your specific fare using the Uber app or online fare calculator.

Which airport transfer services are available?

Heathrow Airport Arrivals sign

There are several airport transfer services from Heathrow to London.

Options include taxis, private car-hire, Heathrow Express, and the Tube – London Underground.

Some travelers also use coach services such as National Express or shuttle services like Airportr.

How can I use the Tube to reach London?

Trains inside Heathrow Airport

Using the Tube to reach London is fairly simple for those who’ve used public transit before.

From any of Heathrow’s terminals, hop on the Piccadilly Line, which connects the airport directly with several key Central London stations such as King’s Cross, Covent Garden, and Leicester Square.

Depending on where you’re heading, the new Elizabeth line is also really easy to catch.

It runs to Liverpool station, which is also a major hub. I always take that this line then switch in this station on my way to Shoreditch from Heathrow.

Are there early morning transportation options from Heathrow?

Liverpool Street Station Sign Underground London Tube

Yes, public transit is running in the early morning. You have a few different options.

The Tube runs starting around 5:00 am. Just always double check for delays. This has gotten me running to board at the last second more than once when I was traveling during rush hour.

The Heathrow Express runs from 5:10 am, and is more expensive, but more reliable since it has fewer stops.

If you need to travel when the trains aren’t running, don’t panic. Just use the N9 night bus, which runs at night.

Last Call

Ally in CDG Airport in Paris Oct. 2023

I really have to admit, London has one of the best public transit systems around.

It’s not perfect, and it would be helpful if it ran 24/7, but overall, it’s a really easy and affordable way to see the city, and get between Heathrow to London cheaply.

 

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