The best way to get from Heathrow Airport to London - The Points Guy (2022)

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London is a destination for many points enthusiasts since there are often great redemptions available for hotels and flights. The UK is so points-centric that it even became the first international office of TPG with the launch of TPG UK in April this year. But after landing at the largest London airport, Heathrow, how should you get into the city — or return to the airport after your trip? The best method depends on time of day, group size, luggage, budget and personal preference. No matter which mode you choose, use a card, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that rewards you for travel and doesn't hit you with a foreign transaction fee.

The best way to get from Heathrow Airport to London - The Points Guy (1)

The Tube

London’s subway — the Underground or “the Tube” — is the least expensive way to travel between Heathrow and Central London. Children under 11 travel for free when accompanied by an adult. You can purchase single paper tickets from a machine prior to boarding, or use an Oyster card (a contactless smartcard that's a payment method for public transportation in London) or other contactless card.

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It is rare to wait more than 10 minutes for the subway to arrive, even at off-peak times. Heathrow Airport is at the western end of the dark-blue Piccadilly line. The airport has three London Underground stations: one for Terminals 2 and 3 and one shared by Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. The Piccadilly line snakes through central London, hitting some of the most popular spots (South Kensington, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Kings Cross), and is likely your least expensive mode of transportation into or from the city.

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It can be a bit difficult if you are carrying luggage, as many stations have stairs. Also, redeye flights from the US tend to put you on the Tube in the middle of rush hour, and if you’re changing trains, it will be hard to squeeze onto a packed train with a suitcase between 8 and 10am.

Trains start running just after 5am and stop around midnight, so double-check your train times on the TFL journey planner, especially for flights arriving early in the morning. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Piccadilly Line operates 24 hours, with night trains to and from Terminals 2, 3 and 5 on average every 10 minutes. There is no service from Terminal 4 but you can transfer via a walkway.

The best way to get from Heathrow Airport to London - The Points Guy (2)

Transit Time: It takes about 50 minutes to travel from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Piccadilly Circus.

Cost: The standard single Tube ticket from Heathrow (zone 6) to central London (zone 1) is £6 for adults ($7.25) or, when paying with a contactless credit card, the single fare to central London is £3.10 ($3.75). If you travel between 6:30–9:30am Monday to Friday, it’s £5.10 ($6.15). Kids under 11 travel free when accompanied by an adult.

When the Tube is not running, the N9 night bus can take you from Heathrow to Central London for just £1.50 ($1.81).

Heathrow Express

If you want to get into the center of London quickly, the express train is likely your best bet, especially if you're staying near Paddington Station. The Heathrow Express runs between Heathrow Airport and Paddington Station, taking 15 minutes from Terminals 2 and 3 and 20 minutes from Terminal 5. It can end up being expensive for a large group, but you can save up to 75% off fares by booking in advance. Children 15 and under travel free when accompanied by a paying adult in Express or Business Class. Tickets must be purchased on the app, at a machine or on board (most expensive). Online tickets range from $7 one-way to $33.70 one-way for Express Class so it is worth booking them more than 90 days in advance to secure the lowest fares. Heathrow Express accepts contactless cards at the gates. The Heathrow Express has luggage racks, outlets at the seats and Wi-Fi. Trains run from approximately 5am to midnight.

The best way to get from Heathrow Airport to London - The Points Guy (3)

Transit Time: The trip is 15 minutes from Terminals 2 and 3 to London Paddington and 21 minutes from Terminal 5. If traveling to Terminal 4, you should start with the free transfer service from Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3, which adds an additional four minutes to the journey.

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Cost: The cost per person ranges from $7 if off-peak and booked 90+ days in advance to as high as $33.70 one-way.

Ride-Sharing

Uber's advice for riders arriving at Heathrow: "To find your pickup location, check the Uber app after you request a ride." The pickup spots are usually:

  • Terminal 2: Level 4, Row H (Short Stay Car Park 2)
  • Terminal 3: Level 3, Row A (Short Stay Car Park 3)
  • Terminal 4: Level 1, Private Hire Pickup
  • Terminal 5: Level 1, Row R (Short Stay Car Park 5)

Transit Time: The trip from Heathrow to London depends upon the traffic. Rush hour (7–9am and 4–7pm) is to be avoided if you are short on time. Also, factor in additional time to meet your Uber and get to the Short Stay Car Park. Approximate time from T5 to Piccadilly Circus is one hour.

Cost: From Terminal 5 to Piccadilly Circus is approximately £42 ($51) in an UberX, but with luggage you will need to order a larger car.

Lyft doesn't operate in London, but newcomer Kapten also offers ride-sharing.

Black Cabs

Black cabs are the traditional London taxis with five seats — three across in the back and two flip-down seats facing backward. The rounded hackney carriage design is from the 1950s, a true London icon. These are the only taxis in London that you can hail on the street or get at a cab stand. Some apps such as Gett have fixed-price fares from Heathrow to Central London (from £45-65) so you don't have to watch the meter. London cabs that you hail will vary in price.

The best way to get from Heathrow Airport to London - The Points Guy (4)

Transit Time: Approximately 55 minutes from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Piccadilly Circus in light traffic. Black cabs can take the bus lane, unlike any other cars, including Ubers.

Cost: The price can be fixed going to Heathrow, but variable if coming from the Heathrow cab stand: £45–75. The upside is that you can often fit your whole group and luggage in one taxi.

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Car Service

Car services, such as Addison Lee, will park and wait for you with a sign at the airport arrivals gate and help you with your luggage, as opposed to hauling your things to the Uber pickup spot. Additionally, you can book car seats for children or make other requests ahead of time that note if you're traveling with a pet, etc.

Transit Time: It takes approximately 55 minutes from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Piccadilly Circus in light traffic. You will need to walk to the car with the driver, but will have help with your luggage.

Cost: Prices start at £60 for a medium car for four people, including 30 minutes of waiting time.

TFL Rail Heathrow

The TFL Rail Heathrow (formerly Heathrow Connect) is a local train that travels between Heathrow and Paddington Station. It departs from the same platform as the Heathrow Express but stops five or six times between Heathrow and Paddington Station. It is particularly helpful if you're staying at one of the locations along the TFL Rail Heathrow route, such as Ealing Broadway, which can connect you to much of West London. As it is part of the TFL (Transport For London) network, you can use a London travel pass or use contactless payment.

Of note is that the TFL Rail to Heathrow starts earlier than the Tube or Heathrow Express, with the first train leaving Paddington at 4:42am on weekdays.

Transit Time: The Heathrow Connect train takes 32 minutes between Paddington and Terminal 2, plus five minutes more to either Terminal 4 or 5.

Cost: The cost varies depending on train time and date. Our searches found prices from $13.30 one-way.

National Express Bus

With service from 3am to 11:59pm, 51 times a day, the National Express bus is another option from Heathrow to Victoria Station or Hammersmith in London.

You can find the National Express in the following locations at Heathrow:

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  • Terminals 2 & 3: Central Bus Station (five-minute walk from the terminal buildings)
  • Terminal 4: Stops 13 and 14 right outside the terminal building at the arrivals level
  • Terminal 5: Stops 11–15, right outside the terminal building at the arrivals level

Transit Time: The fastest (middle of the night) trips are 35 minutes to Hammersmith and 50 minutes to Victoria, but you could add 30–45 minutes for light traffic depending on the time of day.

Cost: Fares range from £5 ($6) one-way plus £2 ($2.41) to choose your seat.

Feltham Rail Link

I chose Terminal 5 to Picadilly Circus as a test case to measure travel times and fares, but your hotel may be in another area of London. You can take a bus to the train station at Feltham to reach locations in South London in a cost-effective way.

The 285 bus runs from Heathrow to Feltham (for trains to Richmond, Camberley, Bracknell, London Waterloo, Clapham Junction and the South). At night the N285 operates every 30 minutes on the same route.

Transit Time: It takes approximately 30 minutes for the bus and then an hour on the train to London Waterloo.

Cost: Under £5. You can buy a combined bus and train ticket to cover the whole journey.

Bottom Line

There is no perfect solution for getting from Heathrow to London, so it's worth considering your method of travel ahead of time when booking both the time of your flights and your hotel's location.

Here are some additional London trip-planning resources:

  • Using Points and Miles to Get to London
  • These Are the Best Times to Visit London
  • How to Spend a Sunday in London
  • London to Paris and Beyond: Eurostar Guide for Families
  • 8 Points-Friendly London Hotels for Families of 4

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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FAQs

What is the easiest way to get from Heathrow to London? ›

The fastest and most stress free transfer from Heathrow to London is the dedicated airport train, the Heathrow Express. This takes just 15 minutes from Heathrow to Paddington Station running every 15 minutes.

How much is the train from Heathrow to London? ›

There are normally 337 trains per day traveling from Heathrow Airport to London and tickets for this journey start from $6.53 when you book in advance.

How much is a cab ride from Heathrow to downtown London? ›

Taxi. London taxis are available outside each terminal. The cost to central London is £45–£70 and the journey time is approximately one hour.

How do I get from Heathrow Airport to downtown London? ›

The fastest route from Heathrow airport to the city centre is by train. The Heathrow Express train takes around 15 minutes to reach Paddington Station in London. A cheaper alternative to the train is the London Underground, with a journey time of around 45 minutes.

How much is an uber from Heathrow to central London? ›

UBER | Ubers are a cheap taxi into Central London from Heathrow. Most rides cost around £35-40, but you have to call for a driver once you're outside of arrivals and then wait for 10-15 minutes as they enter the airport and come up through into a parking garage.

How much is Heathrow Express vs Tube? ›

London - Heathrow comparison of public transport 2022
ServiceStandard Adult Fare*
London Underground (Oyster Card)£5.50£11.00
National Express Bus to Victoria£6.00-£10.00£10.00-£20.00
TFL Rail Train£11.60£23.20
Heathrow Express Train (Anytime - web single ticket)£25.00#£37.00#
6 more rows

Is the Heathrow Express expensive? ›

The Heathrow Express is the U.K.'s most expensive train, and if you've waited until you've landed at Heathrow to buy a ticket, you might be shocked at how much it costs, given it can be as short as a 15-minute journey.

Can I take the tube from Heathrow to London? ›

The Piccadilly line connects Heathrow Airport to central London and the rest of the London Underground network. Taking the Tube is cheaper than riding the Heathrow Express or the Elizabeth line, but it takes longer. The journey time to Piccadilly Circus is about 50 minutes.

Is Elizabeth line cheaper than Heathrow Express? ›

Elizabeth line from Heathrow to Paddington

If you buy tickets at Heathow airport, The Elizabeth line is cheaper than the Heathrow Express. The trains stop at: Hayes & Harlington.

How much is a black cab from Heathrow to central London? ›

Black cabs

Some apps such as Gett have fixed-price fares from Heathrow to central London (from $58 to $84) so you don't have to watch the meter. London cabs that you hail will vary in price. Transit time: Approximately 55 minutes from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Piccadilly Circus in light traffic.

Is there a direct train from Heathrow to Victoria Station? ›

No, there is no direct train from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to London Victoria station. However, there are services departing from Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 and arriving at Victoria station via Paddington station. The journey, including transfers, takes approximately 36 min.

Is Heathrow Express free? ›

Free London Underground services and shuttle trains (Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express) are available for inter-terminal transfers between Heathrow Terminals 2&3 and Heathrow Terminal 5.

Is taxi or Uber cheaper in London? ›

Hiring a cab in London is quite economical if you are travelling small distances within the city. The fares will usually stay under your budget for short distance travelling. However, for longer routes, the prices can go a little higher when compared with Uber.

Can I take Uber from Heathrow to London? ›

Uber is the ideal choice for travelers arriving to or departing from London Heathrow. The 2nd-busiest airport in the world, London Heathrow serves the greater London area, as well as much of southern England.

Do London cabs take credit cards? ›

All black cabs accept payment by credit or debit card without a surcharge. For a full list of fares, check out Transport for London's taxi fares information. You can tip taxi drivers as much as you like, but most people round up to the nearest pound.

Where does the Heathrow Express go from? ›

Heathrow Express offers the fastest route from London Paddington to Heathrow Airport non-stop. With four trains leaving London Paddington every hour, you can catch the Heathrow Express to London Heathrow every 15 minutes.

Why is Uber not allowed at airports? ›

The reason for the strict rules is that taxi and limo drivers must have city licenses or permits and pay fees for each pickup. Airports are one of their most profitable locations, and they've fought hard in many cities to keep Uber and Lyft out by staging protests and lobbying city and state officials.

Can you use an Oyster card on Heathrow Express? ›

Yes, simply touch in and out using the card readers on the ticket barriers at London Paddington and Heathrow Airport.

Is Heathrow Express a train or Tube? ›

The Heathrow Express

A train line that takes passengers directly from the airport to Paddington Station in London's Zone 1.

Is Heathrow Express quicker than the tube? ›

With services running every 15 minutes and with a journey time of approximately quarter of an hour, Heathrow Express is the quickest way to make your way into the capital after your flight. We offer a much more efficient journey compared to a taxi, the London Underground or other train services.

How much is a 24 hour London Tube pass? ›

Travelcard prices start at £14.40 for a central London 1 day Travelcard and go up to £70.30 for a 7 day Travelcard covering zones 1-6. Child Travelcards are approximately half these prices.

How much are Heathrow Express ticket at the airport? ›

London - Heathrow comparison of public transport 2022
ServiceStandard Adult Fare*
Heathrow Express Train (Anytime - web single ticket)£25.00#£37.00#
Heathrow Express Train (30 Day Advance)£18.00‡
Heathrow Express Train (60 Day Advance)£10.00‡
Heathrow Express Train (90 Day Advance)£5.50‡
6 more rows

How early should I get to Heathrow? ›

We advise to arrive three hours in advance for all flights (European and intercontinental).

Does Heathrow Express include Tube? ›

No, London Underground tickets including Travel Cards and Freedom Passes cannot be used on Heathrow Express services.

How much is the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow? ›

What companies run services between Piccadilly Circus (Station), England and London Heathrow Airport (LHR), England? London Underground (Tube) operates a vehicle from Piccadilly Circus station to Heathrow Terminals 1-2-3 station every 15 minutes. Tickets cost £3 - £5 and the journey takes 47 min.

How much does Oyster card cost? ›

How much does an Oyster card cost? The Oyster card costs £7. You then add money to the card to pay for your travel. The £7 fee is not a deposit.

Does Heathrow have a train station? ›

Heathrow Airport has three stations: Heathrow Terminals 1-2-3, Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Terminal 5. You can travel between the terminals free of charge. From all three Heathrow Airport stations, the Heathrow Express train runs direct to London Paddington station. It takes 15-21 minutes to complete the journey.

How do I pay for Elizabeth line? ›

Fares and ticketing

Contactless pay as you go will be accepted throughout the Elizabeth line, as on TfL Rail. Oyster pay as you go and valid Travelcards will also be accepted but, as on TfL Rail, not west of West Drayton. Find out more about the Elizabeth line.

How much does Elizabeth line cost? ›

The National Audit Office estimated the final cost for the Crossrail project to build the railway will be £18.9bn.

Does the Elizabeth line stop at Heathrow? ›

ELIZABETH LINE SERVICES FROM HEATHROW AIRPORT

Every 15 minutes during the peak a service from Heathrow Terminal 4 will run to Terminals 2&3, then to all stations to Abbey Wood in the east. A free and frequent shuttle service runs between Terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5 with a journey time of 6 minutes.

Can I take the tube from Heathrow to London? ›

The Piccadilly line connects Heathrow Airport to central London and the rest of the London Underground network. Taking the Tube is cheaper than riding the Heathrow Express or the Elizabeth line, but it takes longer. The journey time to Piccadilly Circus is about 50 minutes.

How much is a black cab from Heathrow to central London? ›

Black cabs

Some apps such as Gett have fixed-price fares from Heathrow to central London (from $58 to $84) so you don't have to watch the meter. London cabs that you hail will vary in price. Transit time: Approximately 55 minutes from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Piccadilly Circus in light traffic.

Is there a direct train from Heathrow to Victoria Station? ›

No, there is no direct train from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to London Victoria station. However, there are services departing from Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3 and arriving at Victoria station via Paddington station. The journey, including transfers, takes approximately 36 min.

Is the Heathrow Express expensive? ›

The Heathrow Express is the U.K.'s most expensive train, and if you've waited until you've landed at Heathrow to buy a ticket, you might be shocked at how much it costs, given it can be as short as a 15-minute journey.

How much is a 24 hour London Tube pass? ›

Travelcard prices start at £14.40 for a central London 1 day Travelcard and go up to £70.30 for a 7 day Travelcard covering zones 1-6. Child Travelcards are approximately half these prices.

How much is the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow? ›

What companies run services between Piccadilly Circus (Station), England and London Heathrow Airport (LHR), England? London Underground (Tube) operates a vehicle from Piccadilly Circus station to Heathrow Terminals 1-2-3 station every 15 minutes. Tickets cost £3 - £5 and the journey takes 47 min.

How much does Oyster card cost? ›

How much does an Oyster card cost? The Oyster card costs £7. You then add money to the card to pay for your travel. The £7 fee is not a deposit.

Do you tip London taxi drivers? ›

Tipping taxi drivers

It is polite to tip 10 to 15% of the taxi fare for black cabs and licensed minicabs in London. However, most people simply round up the fare to the nearest £1 and tell the driver to "keep the change".

Do London cabs take credit cards? ›

All black cabs accept payment by credit or debit card without a surcharge. For a full list of fares, check out Transport for London's taxi fares information. You can tip taxi drivers as much as you like, but most people round up to the nearest pound.

Can I take Uber from Heathrow to London? ›

Uber is the ideal choice for travelers arriving to or departing from London Heathrow. The 2nd-busiest airport in the world, London Heathrow serves the greater London area, as well as much of southern England.

How long is it from Victoria Coach Station to Heathrow Airport? ›

The journey takes approximately 45 min. Is there a direct train between Victoria Coach Station and Heathrow Terminals 2 & 3? Yes, there is a direct train departing from Hyde Park Corner station station and arriving at Heathrow Terminals 1-2-3 station station. Services depart every 10 minutes, and operate every day.

Is Heathrow Express free? ›

Free London Underground services and shuttle trains (Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express) are available for inter-terminal transfers between Heathrow Terminals 2&3 and Heathrow Terminal 5.

Does Heathrow have a train station? ›

Heathrow Airport has three stations: Heathrow Terminals 1-2-3, Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Terminal 5. You can travel between the terminals free of charge. From all three Heathrow Airport stations, the Heathrow Express train runs direct to London Paddington station. It takes 15-21 minutes to complete the journey.

How early should I get to Heathrow? ›

We advise to arrive three hours in advance for all flights (European and intercontinental).

Is Heathrow Express a train or Tube? ›

The Heathrow Express

A train line that takes passengers directly from the airport to Paddington Station in London's Zone 1.

Is Heathrow Express quicker than the Tube? ›

With services running every 15 minutes and with a journey time of approximately quarter of an hour, Heathrow Express is the quickest way to make your way into the capital after your flight. We offer a much more efficient journey compared to a taxi, the London Underground or other train services.

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