The Best way to travel to and from Heathrow Airport


Heathrow Airport is London’s primary airport, and receives more than 70 million passengers per year – making it the third busiest airport in the world.

Located 17 miles west of central London and spanning over 12 kilometres, Heathrow Airport is essentially a mini-city, and is often described as an “aerotropolis” due to its massive size. It’s also considered to be one of the most advanced airports in the world, and handles more international passengers than any other airport on the planet.

After going through the passport control and baggage claims when landing at Heathrow Airport, passengers are immediately greeted by Heathrow staff offering all sorts of transportation tickets to and from central London. However, most of these options are “tourist traps” as passengers are not able to search around for cheaper, more convenient options as they make their way out of the airport.

If you’re looking for ways to travel between Heathrow Airport to central London, here are some of the many options to choose from, as well as some money-saving tips on transportation costs as well:

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How to get to and from Heathrow Airport by London Underground

How long does it take?

  • 45 to 60 minutes to and from central London

How much does it cost?

  • £6 (single) or £12 (return)
  • £3.10 (off-peak hours) or £5.10 (between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., Monday to Friday) with an Oyster pay-as-you-go card
  • £12.10 (off-peak hours) or £17.20 (anytime) using a one-day Travelcard with unlimited travel in Zones 1 to 6

Where are the pick-up points?

  • Anywhere along the Piccadilly line (from London)
  • Terminals 2&3, 4 and 5 (from Heathrow)

The Pros:

  • Convenient
  • Departures every ten minutes (from Heathrow)
  • Cost-effective (especially when travelling outside of peak-hours)
  • Easy to find and navigate

The Cons:

  • Standing on a crowded carriage with all your luggage
  • Changing lines (sometimes more than once)
  • Carrying your luggage up and down stairs (unless you can find a lift and/or escalator) between lines and stations

The London Underground is one of the most convenient ways to get from central London to Heathrow Airport, and vice versa. However, travelling on the London Underground can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re travelling with lots of luggage or during peak times when the carriages are crowded. 

Heathrow Airport has three different underground stations which are located in Travelzone 6 via the western branch of the Piccadilly Line (AKA the dark blue line). Terminals 4 and 5 have their own underground stations, while Terminals 2&3 share an underground station (which is about a three to four minute walk from Terminal 2, and a five-minute walk from Terminal 3).

The Piccadilly Line has a direct connection between Heathrow and some of the biggest hotel districts in central London; however, the majority of travellers will probably have to transfer at Victoria, Earls Court, South Kensington or Green Park at some point or another during their trip.

It’s worth pointing out that travelling by tube from Heathrow to central London is much easier than travelling from central London to the airport. Because Heathrow is the first stop on the line travelling to central London, you should be able to find a seat easily and quickly, and store your luggage in the area near the door so you can keep a close eye on it.

Travelling from central London, on the other hand, may mean you’ll have to stand with your luggage for the majority of the trip, or perhaps even longer if the carriage is crowded. (If you have a ton of luggage with you, you may want to transfer at stations like Hammersmith or Barons Court as these lines both use the same platform).

If you plan on using the tube for the majority of your time in London, you can always buy a Pay-as-you-go Oyster card, or a zone 1-6 One Day Travelcard. You can purchase Oyster cards or Travelcards at any underground station, or at the ticket machines in the Terminal 4 arrival hall. There is also a London Transport Visitor Centre which is opposite the Terminal 2&3 underground station entrance, and more information on timetables and fares in the central area between Terminals 2&3 as well.

How to get to and from Heathrow Airport by train

How long does it take?

  • 15 minutes to Paddington Station (Heathrow Express)
  • Anywhere from 25 to 49 minutes to Paddington Station (Heathrow Connect)

How much does it cost:

  • £22 to £27 (single) or £36 to £41 (return) for Heathrow Express
  • £24 to 29 (single) when travelling between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., Monday to Friday for Heathrow Express
  • £12.10 to £16.15 for Heathrow Express (14 day advance)
  • £8.80 to £14.30 for Heathrow Express (30 day advance)
  • £5.50 to £12.10 for Heathrow Express (90 day advance)
  • £6.80 to £10.20 (single) or £13.60 to £20.40 (return) for Heathrow Connect

Where are the pick-up points?

  • Paddington station for Heathrow Express (from London)
  • Paddington, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes for Heathrow Connect (from London)
  • Heathrow Central Station and Terminals 4 and 5 for Heathrow Express (from Heathrow)

The Pros:

  • Fast
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to find and navigate
  • Lots of luggage storage

The Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not convenient (unless you’re travelling to and from the Paddington, Marble Arch or Bayswater area)

Taking the Heathrow Express is arguably one of the most stress-free ways for travelling between Heathrow Airport and central London, as it can get to Paddington station in as little as 15 minutes, every 15 minutes; (although from Monday to Thursday the Heathrow Express runs every half hour after 9:55 p.m.)

This service is ideal for travellers staying in the central London hotel district near Paddington, however, if you’re staying somewhere in the Gloucester Road, Kensington High Street, or Earls Court Road areas (for example), the London Underground may be a better option as you are essentially doubling your travel time and distance.

On the Heathrow Express, you can leave your luggage in the racks near the doors, and there is free WiFi throughout the train as well as uninterrupted mobile signal. If you’re sitting in First Class, you’ll even be given free newspapers and magazines, and your own personal table, and there’s also an on-board Express TV service in all carriages providing news, weather and entertainment clips; (although every train has a Quiet Zone carriage where the TV is switched off and the use of phones and stereos are strictly prohibited). Also, because there is a level platform access for every train, you won’t have to worry about carrying your luggage on and off the train while boarding.

Another (cheaper) option is the Heathrow Connect train, which uses the same line as the Heathrow Express (only it is less frequent and slightly slower), and makes stops at Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes before terminating at Paddington station. The Heathrow Connect departs every 30 minutes (or every 60 minutes on Sundays), and also provides lots of luggage space and air conditioning.

The journey takes approximately 25 minutes between Paddington and Heathrow Central Station (for Terminals 2 &3), or ten minutes longer for Terminals 4 and 5. This is because there is no Heathrow Connect line travelling to Terminals 4 and 5; however, all passengers can transfer onto a Heathrow Express train free of charge to get between terminals (there are four trains every hour).

You can purchase your tickets for both the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect either on board or online, although it is much cheaper to purchase your ticket online beforehand.

How to get to and from Heathrow Airport by coach

How long does it take?

  • Anywhere from 40 to 90 minutes (for National Express)

How much does it cost?

  • £4.50 to £5.50 on board (single) or £9 (return) for Hotel Hoppa
  • £6 (single) or £11 (return) for National Express

Where are the pick-up points?

  • Victoria coach station (from London) for National Express
  • Heathrow’s central bus station between Terminals 2&3 (from Heathrow)

The Pros:

  • Cheap (only slightly more expensive than the London Underground)
  • Straight-forward
  • Discounts for children and group bookings
  • Comfortable

The Cons:

  • Takes longer
  • Possible delays during peak times
  • Sporadic schedules
  • Specific departure times (which means you could lose your seat if your plane is delayed)

National Express remains to be the only direct connection via coach between Heathrow and other airports, and runs about 100 services a day between 7 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Each coach has its own toilet, and there is a luggage hold where you can leave your suitcases or other belongings. There is a free luggage allowance of two cases, provided that they do not weigh more than 20 kg (or 44 lbs). Passengers are also allowed to carry one item of hand luggage with them on the bus, but they must be either a laptop or handbag size.

Be aware that although there are usually four National Express coaches running every hour, there may sometimes be a gap of one hour or more between each service. Also, because National Express coach services only operate from the central bus station (between Terminals 2&3), that means that if you are arriving/departing at Terminals 4 or 5, you will need to take a free train service to the centre of the airport which runs every 15 minutes.

If you book your ticket with National Express online beforehand, you will have to select your departure and/or pick-up time. It is highly recommended that you book your seat at least 90 minutes after the scheduled arrival time of your flight, just in case there is a delay and/or if the passport control area is particularly busy that day. It may also be a good idea to purchase the “Flexible Add-On” option to your ticket (costing £5 each way), which allows you to board any available coach either 12 hours before or 12 hours after your desired departure time.

You can buy tickets from any National Express travel shop in the Heathrow Airport’s Central Bus Station, or purchase your ticket directly from the driver before boarding the bus (cash only).

National Express also owns Hotel Hoppa, which connects travellers from Heathrow Airport to 21 different hotels around London. There are services operating between 4 a.m. and midnight, which makes it an ideal option if you’re travelling in the early hours of the morning, or very late at night.

Also, one child (between the ages of five and 15) can travel for free per every fare-paying adult, and children under the ages of five can also travel for free. The coaches travel to Heathrow Terminals 2&3, 4 and 5 and stop just outside each terminal.

How to get to and from Heathrow Airport by bus

How long does it take?

  • One to three hours

How much does it cost?

  • £1.50 to £2

Where are the pick-up points?

  • Aldwych for the N9 night bus (from London)
  • Stop 19 at the Central Bus Station for the N9 bus (from Heathrow)
  • Stop 6 in front of Terminal 5 for the N9 bus (from Heathrow)

The Pros:

  • Night bus options for late arrivals/departures
  • Dirt cheap
  • Valid for Travelcards and Oyster Cards

The Cons:

  • Takes an extremely long time (which means losing sleep and/or precious time to explore London!)
  • Transferring buses mid-journey (and sometimes more than once)
  • Researching the various routes and stops for your journey
  • Waiting outside at a bus stop for possibly long periods of time

Travelling between Heathrow Airport and central London by bus can be very difficult as there is only one direct route between both locations.

If you are arriving in London very late at night, there is a N9 night bus service which operates to and from Aldwych in central London via Hammersmith. This service runs every 20 minutes (on week nights) takes around one hour and ten minutes, and makes a stop at the Heathrow Central Bus Station before continuing to Terminal 5.

However, besides this service, there are no other bus routes that go directly between Heathrow Airport and central London, which means that if you plan on taking a bus to the airport, you will need to transfer at least once during your journey. 

How to get to and from Heathrow Airport by taxi

How long does it take?

  • Anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours

How much does it cost?

  • Around 55£ – Get an accurate quote here

Where are the pick-up points

  • Outside each terminal (from Heathrow)
  • Anywhere you want! (from London)

The Pros:

  • Leave when you want, where you want
  • Convenient for groups, families, small children, etc.
  • Stress-free
  • Tons of companies to choose from
  • No extra charge for luggage
  • Ideal for late night/early morning departures or arrivals

The Cons:

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Waiting in traffic during peak travel hours

With over 600 taxi companies to choose from, getting a ride in a taxi is hands-down the easiest and most hassle-free way to get to and from Heathrow Airport…but it comes at a high price.

Some of the best companies to choose from in terms of cost are Minicabit, Green Tomato Cars and EcoExpress Airport Cars, but of course this all boils down to exactly where you want to be picked up and/or dropped off in London.

If you’re arriving at Heathrow Airport, all you have to do is contact a taxi company beforehand, provide them with your flight details and estimated time of arrival, and the driver will then meet you as you exit the custom and baggage hall at the airport. If you’re worried about plane delays, there are always taxi ranks located outside each terminal which run on a first-come, first-served basis.

Be aware that if you are taking a taxi any time between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., or between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays, you will probably be waiting for long periods of time due to rush hour traffic; (especially if you plan on travelling further than the Kensington and Victoria hotel districts).

If you’re worried about money, you could always take a taxi from the airport to a London underground station and get to your hotel or hostel from there. You could also take the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, which is close the majority of hotels in central London, and then catch a taxi from the station.

Heathrow Airport has also recently partnered up with Uber, so you can get from point A to point B for as little as £15. However, in order to get this promo you must be a first-time Uber user, and sign up using the promo code (which can be found on the Heathrow website).