In fact, only two of the six airports are actually situated in London boroughs – the other four are in the surrounding counties, up to 40 miles from the city centre. But while getting into central London can take a bit of planning, there are plenty of public transport options to choose from (avoid taxis and Ubers – they’re expensive, and won’t get you anywhere any quicker).
Here’s our at-a-glance guide of all the ways you can get from London’s airports to central London, whatever your budget. And, remember, KAYAK’s smart flight search lets you filter by airport, so you can pick the one that’s most convenient for you.
Heathrow Airport to central London
15 miles west of central London, in the borough of Hillingdon
The cheapest way of getting into London. The Piccadilly Line runs from all terminals, and it takes just under an hour to get to Leicester Square, in the heart of the city. You don’t need to buy a ticket – you can use your contactless credit or debit card, or a reloadable Oyster card.
National Express coaches run from Heathrow to Victoria coach station throughout the day and take anywhere from 40-80 minutes depending on how busy the roads are. Book early for the best prices.
Local trains from Heathrow to Paddington take about half an hour and stop at a few stations in west London on the way.
£££ Heathrow Express
The fastest (but priciest) link between Heathrow and central London. Non-stop trains run to Paddington station every 15 minutes. The journey time is 15 minutes from Terminals 2 and 3 and a few minutes more from Terminals 4 or 5.
Luton Airport to central London
30 miles north of central London, in the county of Bedfordshire
National Express runs coach services from Luton Airport to central London every day. There are two routes – the A1 service runs to Victoria via Baker Street and Marble Arch, and the A2 service runs to Paddington via Golders Green and Baker Street. Green Line coaches also go to Victoria via Brent Cross, Baker Street and Marble Arch. Expect the journey to take at least an hour and a half. Grab the cheapest tickets by booking in advance.
Thameslink runs services from Luton Airport Parkway station to several London stations, including West Hampstead, St Pancras, Farringdon and London Bridge. The fastest trains will get you into St Pancras in less than half an hour. It’s worth noting you need to jump on a shuttle bus to get from the airport to Luton Airport Parkway station (you can buy a ticket that covers both the shuttle bus and train).
Gatwick Airport to central London
30 miles south of central London, in the county of West Sussex
National Express and easyBus both run coach services from Gatwick Airport into central London. National Express takes you to Victoria station with a journey time of one and a half to two hours. easyBus goes to Earls Court and West Brompton in west London and takes around an hour. Book in advance for the cheapest prices.
Southern Trains run stopping services to Victoria via East Croydon and Clapham Junction with a journey time to Victoria of around 35 minutes. Thameslink services take you to London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon and St Pancras with a journey time of between 30 minutes and an hour.
£££ Gatwick Express
The quickest but most expensive way of getting into London, the Gatwick Express non-stop train service whisks you from Gatwick Airport to Victoria station within half an hour. Trains run every 15 minutes.
Stansted Airport to central London
40 miles north-east of central London, in the county of Essex
National Express runs coach services to Paddington, Victoria and Liverpool Street stations. Expect the journey to take at least an hour depending on traffic.
£££ Stansted Express
The fastest way of getting into central London, trains depart from Stansted Airport every 15 minutes and take you to Liverpool Street station in 50 minutes.
Southend Airport to central London
35 miles east of central London, in the county of Essex
Jump on the train at Southend Airport and you’ll be at Stratford station within 45 minutes and Liverpool Street station within 55 minutes.
London City Airport to central London
7 miles east of central London, in the borough of Newham
£ Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
The DLR links up with the London Underground. Jump on the train at London City Airport, and you’ll be at Canning Town within 10 minutes and Bank and Stratford within 20. There’s no need to buy a ticket – you can use your contactless credit or debit card, or a reloadable Oyster card.
The information in this guide is correct at the time of publication – please check individual airport and transport websites for the most up-to-date details and prices. And, remember, the best transport option for you is largely dependent on which part of London you’re trying to get to. For precise directions, take a look at Citymapper.