How exciting! You’re arriving into the UK’s largest airport and now you want to know the best way from Heathrow to London
I’m giving a few different options for how to get into Central London from Heathrow. That way you can decide on the best option whether you’re looking for the quickest way, the cheapest or the most luxurious.
Before you make your final travel plans take the time to look on Google Maps or the Tube Map App. Check which is the nearest station for where you’re heading. It might make more sense to take what looks like a slightly slower option that gets you closer to your destination.
For example, if you’re staying around Covent Garden it’s easier to get the Piccadilly Line into Covent Garden than taking the Heathrow Express which gets into London faster.
If you get the Express you end at Paddington and then have to change to the Bakerloo Line. That adds time to your overall journey plus involves dragging your luggage around a bit more.
Helpful General Info
Find luggage storage in London with Stasher, Bounce or Left Luggage from the Excess Baggage Company. See this post for information about specific luggage storage in Paddington if you arrive on the Heathrow Express.
For the airport itself, this interactive map of London Heathrow might be useful for you since the various terminals can get a bit confusing.
Heathrow Express Train to London Paddington
The first transport option is the Heathrow Express. It’s the fastest way with an advertised journey time of 15 minutes from Heathrow Central to Paddington train station. It’s also a good mode of public transportation if you have lots of luggage.
However, note that this service starts at terminal 5 which adds an additional 6 minutes to the journey if you’re getting on there. The next station is Heathrow Central which connects to terminals 2 and 3. From there, the train goes non-stop to Paddington.
If you’re arriving at terminal 4 you can connect to Heathrow Central via the Elizabeth Line and change to the Heathrow Express (if you’d prefer not to stay on the Elizabeth Line, see below.)
You can buy return tickets online or at the airport or get your Heathrow Express Tickets from the ticket machines at London Paddington Station when you leave
Trains run every 15 minutes with the first leaving Heathrow terminal 5 at 05:12 and the last one leaving at 23:57.
The Heathrow Express train is relatively pleasant and has a Business First Class option as well as the standard Express Class. In Express you can enjoy power sockets by the seats, free wifi and dedicated luggage space.
If you’re a bit more organised than me, get on one of the carriages further down the platform for more space. I rushed on at the last minute and jumped in the first carriage I could before the doors closed.
In Business First you also get bigger seats with more legroom, a spacious and more private experience, power sockets at every seat, at-seat tables plus free magazines and newspapers
Heathrow Express Tickets
If you buy a ticket at the station before you board you’ll pay for the convenience of speed. I last travelled this way in 2023 and the full price for an Express Class Anytime Single ticket was £25 (Business First was £32.)
However, if you’re organised and can book particular dates far enough in advance you can save nearly 80%. You’ll also make savings on return tickets too, Express is £37 Anytime Return and Business Class is £55 for the Anytime Return.
Tube from London Heathrow to Central London
The cheapest way of travelling into the centre of London from Heathrow is on the London Underground. In 2022, the Elizabeth Line joined the Piccadilly Line in connecting the airport with the city and both underground lines cover all 5 Heathrow Terminals.
If you have a contactless bank card or mobile payments you can use your card or phone to go through the barriers at the station. Make sure you use the same card /device at the barriers at the start and end of your journey.
You can also buy a plastic Oyster Card for £5 and top it up with credit to use in the same way as a contactless card. For all these options your journeys will be stored and then you’ll be charged one fee overnight. There’s a daily cap so you’re not necessarily charged for each individual journey.
It’s worth getting an Oyster Card to use as you travel around the city center during your stay. When you leave, you can surrender it at a machine and get your £5 back.
If you don’t want to do any of these options then you can just get a one-way ticket from Heathrow to your destination. It’s not the cheapest choice though. To a destination in Zone 1 you’ll pay £6.30
Luggage on the Tube
The tube is a good idea if you don’t have much luggage. The Elizabeth line is quite spacious and the Picadilly trains that go to Heathrow have areas where you can sit with your luggage so there are spaces for you with your bags.
And since you’re getting on at the start of the line you shouldn’t have any problems sitting in a suitable area.
But at rush hour the tube gets BUSY and the carriages get much more crowded as you get closer to the city centre. Trying to get through the throng of people with big or multiple suitcases isn’t fun. And that’s just getting off the train.
At peak times the stations can be hard to walk along so it’s all a bit of a nightmare with luggage. If you just have hand luggage you can navigate things but do look into your journey if you have more.
Check whether there’s step-free access when you arrive. Lugging multiple bags up several steep flights of steps isn’t fun. To be fair, when I’ve done this people often offered to help which is kind, and you should accept their help. But it’s not the easiest way.
Top tip: If possible, I’d recommend finding a spot in the first or last carriage. They tend to get less busy overall. The front carriages tend to be nearer any lifts at the stations too.
Who Should Take the Elizabeth Line from Heathrow?
If you’re travelling from Terminal 4 and want to take the tube all the way into London then the new Elizabeth Line is best.
It’s also the best underground option if you’re staying near Paddington, Tottenham Court Court, The City (Liverpool Street station) or further east around Canary Wharf. You can change easily for Baker Street
Who Should Take the Piccadilly Line from Heathrow?
The Piccadilly Line is a good option for you if your final destination is Earls Court, Knightsbridge or around the West End. This line takes you to Green Park underground station and Covent Garden which are popular accommodation spots for tourists.
Coach Service from Heathrow to London Victoria Station
Megabus and National Express Coaches run from Heathrow Central Bus Station (for terminals 2 and 3) to Victoria Coach Station. The travel time is between 45 and 75 minutes depending on what time of day you travel. (The traffic in London gets pretty hideous.)
Both of these companies offer similar services from about £6. National Express slightly has the edge on Mega bus as they run more buses throughout the day, they also stop at terminals 4 and 5 as well as Central Bus Station and they let you bring two pieces of 20kg luggage to Megabus’ one piece.
I used to be a bit snobby about getting the coach anywhere but it can actually be a great option. Your luggage gets put under the bus out of the way and you definitely get a seat to sit on. (Not always the case with some of the transport options above!) Plus there’s wifi and charging points at your seat.
Things to note about arriving at Victoria Coach Station:
- Victoria Train station is about 300 metres from the coach station
- you’ll need to walk there to get a taxi, train service or access the tube network
- underground lines connecting to Victoria are: Victoria Line, Circle Line and District Line
Taxi from Heathrow to London
You also have the choice of taking one of London’s famous black cabs. They are plentiful at London airports and great for going door to door. Look for the taxi signs at the exit of whichever terminal you arrive at to find the airport taxi rank.
It can be a more expensive option – they can take up to 5 passengers though so splitting the cost that way is quite affordable – but a much more convenient way of travelling with a lot of luggage.
Taxi meter prices can be up to about £100 to central London from Heathrow. You’ll also pay an additional fee for being collected at this airport. You can check up-to-date London taxi prices here. All cabs are required to have a working card machine for payments.
It’ll take around an hour in a taxi to Central London depending on exactly where you’re going and the time of day.
Private Transfer from London Heathrow Airport to Your Hotel
Similar to the above you can book a private car airport transfer service. If you’re looking for something more luxurious than a cab, try a company like Blacklane. It goes without saying that a private car service is the most expensive option on the list.
Found the Best Way From Heathrow to London?
I hope this has helped you decide on the best way to get into Central London from Heathrow.
In case you’re wondering why I haven’t suggested car hire it’s because driving in London isn’t fun. You’ll sit in traffic more than you’ll move, parking’s scarce and very expensive plus you need to work out the logistics of the Low Emission Zone, Ultra Low Emission Zone and Congestion Charge. You won’t be using a car to get around the sights of London so it really doesn’t make sense.
For more tips about travelling in London see this post: Tips for Visiting London.
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