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London: How to get to London from Heathrow Airport

London: Arriving via London Heathrow Airport

london heathrow airport plane landing
Plane landing at London Heathrow
Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe in terms of passenger traffic and the most popular of London’s airports. It is located 22km from central London, or 12 miles. 
It has five terminals, of which four are operational. Terminal 1 is currently closed and will be demolished The airport plans to gradually reduce the number of terminals and to make each one larger, thereby easing passenger transfers. The airport has two runways.

How to get to central London from Heathrow Airport via Public transport

Heathrow is extremely well linked with public transport. The transfer option that works best for you may well depend on where you will be staying whilst in London:

Heathrow to Central London via the Underground (Piccadilly Line)

The Piccadilly line on the London underground goes all the way to Heathrow with three stops for passengers - Terminals 2 and 3; Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. Passengers should use the most appropriate stop as transferring between terminals is time-consuming. Journey times are about 40 to 60 minutes between central London and the airport. The cash fare between central London and Heathrow is £6 per person. The Oyster Card fare is £3.10 off-peak, and £5.10 during peak hours. This is the most affordable rail option.

Heathrow Express from Heathrow Airport to Paddington 

The Heathrow Express is a non-stop National Rail train service that takes 15 minutes from Heathrow Central (Terminals 2 and 3) to London Paddington Station. Trains depart every 15 minutes. The journey time for trains to and from Terminal 5 is 21 minutes. Those arriving and departing from Terminal 4 can make use of the free Terminal 4 shuttle service to and from Heathrow Central and Terminal 4 – this shuttle takes 4 minutes. 

A same-day adult fare is £26 one-way or £40 return for standard class. Children 15 and under travel free with a fare-paying adult. Tickets booked in advance can be as low as £6.99 one-way and £11.90 return depending on how far in advance you book. If you are staying in the Paddington area, want a speedy transfer, and can book in advance, the Heathrow Express  service offers fantastic value for money.

Transport for London has said that from May 2018, you will be able to use your Oyster Card or contactless payment to board the Heathrow Express without having to buy a physical ticket in advance. Prices will be the on-the-day price and will NOT be the same as the underground, so it is still worth rebooking in advance if you can.

Heathrow Connect (soon to be TfL Rail) from Heathrow Airport to Paddington 

This is a National Rail service that takes 27 minutes from Heathrow Central to London Paddington station. It follows the same route as the Heathrow Express, but stops along the way at up to five other stations. Trains leave every 30 minutes. The train does not serve Terminal 4 or 5, but only Heathrow Central (Terminals 2 and 3). A free shuttle train is available to Terminal 4. 

Passengers wishing to travel to terminal 5 will need to take free bus transportation from within the terminal itself (not the rail station). As such, if you are travelling to Terminal 5, we do not recommend this option. The Heathrow Express service or LondonUnderground service is easier and will most likely be faster too. It may also be cheaper. 

One-way tickets between Heathrow and Paddington are £10.10, or £20.20 return.

From May 2018, TfL Rail (to be the Elizabeth Line in the future) will take over this service and will run trains every 15 minutes instead of every 30 minutes. It will be rebranded TfL Rail and no longer Heathrow Connect. The service will operate between Heathrow Station  and Paddington station. From December 2018, you will also be able to change at Paddington for the Elizabeth Line (a long interchange) for destination towards central and south east London. From December 2019, you will be able to board an Elizabeth Line train at Heathrow which will run throughout all of central London without needing to change trains.

When the service becomes TfL Rail from May 2018, Oyster Cards and Contactless payment will be accepted - we do not have any details on pricing at the moment but it is expected to cost somewhere between the Piccadilly Line fare (£5.10) and the Heathrow Connect fare (£10.10).

South West Trains from Feltham Station (near Heathrow Airport) to Waterloo

From Heathrow Central Bus Station, you can catch a red London bus (number 285) to Feltham railway station (a fare is payable - you need an Oyster Card or contactless payment, buses do not take cash). From there, you can catch a National Rail train to London Waterloo Station; there are trains every 10 minutes. 

Trains also run to Twickenham, Richmond, Clapham Junction, Vauxhall, Putney and Hounslow – these all run at 30 minute intervals (less frequently on Sundays).
Journeys to/from the airport are 30 to 45 minutes. An anytime fare is £6.90 each way.
To be honest, due to the transfer time involved and the need to get a bus, we would recommend using the Piccadilly line on the London Underground between Waterloo and Heathrow, and changing at Green Park Station. In case of disruption, however, this may be a useful link for you.

Bus/Coach from Heathrow Airport to Central London

All these services arrive and depart from Heathrow Central Bus station for Terminals 2 and 3. Some also operate from bus stations at Terminals 4 and 5. Otherwise a free transfer will be needed. 

National Express and Oxford Bus Company both operate services between Heathrow and London Victoria Coach station. Green Line route 724 goes to St. Alban’s.
The journey time is 45 to 60 minutes in normal conditions, and up to 2 hours in traffic. Coach prices are £6 to £8 when booked in advance.

If traveling between midnight and 5:00am, the London night-bus route N9 operates, taking you to various locations in central London including Hammersmith, Trafalgar Square and terminating in Aldgate. The N9 price is £1.50 on an Oyster or contactless payment. London buses do not take cash. 

Private Heathrow Transfer Options - not public transport

Car

Driving into central London is not recommended. Public transport is good around the city, parking is expensive and you will have to pay a £11.50 daily fee, called the ‘Congestion Charge’, if entering central London (more on this in the next section).

If you still insist on driving, follow directions to the Heathrow area exit tunnel and then follow the M4 motorway to central London. Make sure you have a map or GPS device as London is complicated enough to navigate for locals, let alone visitors!

How long does it take to drive to Central London from Heathow Airport? The journey will take 45 to 60 minutes to central London if you do not encounter traffic. This journey time can double in rush hour traffic.

If you are driving to Heathrow, take a look at parking options.

London Heathrow to Central London by Taxi

Very common questions are "How much does a cab or taxi cost to London from Heathrow?" and "How long does it take from Heathrow to London by cab or taxi?"

A ride in a black taxi (cab) to central London will vary depending on where you want to go specifically, but the journey will typically take 30 to 60 minutes, provided there is no traffic. The fare will be anywhere from £45 to £85 typically. There are no extra charges for luggage or additional passengers but a £2.80 charge applies for taxi journeys starting at Heathrow. Note that not all taxis accept debit or credit cards and there is an extra charge of up to 10% of the fare for paying by card. All London taxis take card payments.

Minicabs

You can also get private hire minicabs instead of a black cab. These must be booked in advance; it is illegal to take one that has not been pre-booked i. Drivers will usually meet you at the flight arrivals area in the terminal. Heathrow Airport officially recommends www.greentomatocars.com if booking a minicab. They use environmentally-friendly hybrid cars. Book online or call +44(0)208 568 0022 for a quote. Calling may give you a lower quote.

London Heathrow to Central London by Uber

This is also another popular option, allowing you to book a car from your smartphone on demand. There are several categories of car ranging from an UberPool where you share a ride with others going the same way, to a standard car, or a luxury vehicle.

How much is an Uber from Heathrow airport? You will get an estimated price before you confirm your vehicle – estimates range from £29 to £94 one-way. Get $20/£10 free credit by using our exclusive sign-up link at http://uber.com/invite/uberindependentguides or enter “uberindependentguides” as a voucher code when using the app for the first time.

Taxis, Ubers and Minicabs can be especially good value when you are travelling in a group. Instead of using public transport and each paying an individual fare, you can all ride for one fee.

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