Travel between Heathrow Airport and Central London

There are a number of options that will get you get between Heathrow Airport and Central London — buses, coaches, trains and of course, if you are not short of cash, then the black cabs (taxis).

A key thing to note is that if you use public transport operated by London Transport (TfL), then prepaying for travel by purchasing an Oyster Card or having a contactless bank card will save you both time, and a lot of money. All underground trains and red buses use the Oyster card, and it is also used on a number of mainline train services.

Heathrow is on the edge of London, about 15 miles from the centre of the city.

Trains

Heathrow Express

The fastest way of getting between the airport and the city, with trips averaging just 15 minutes, and dropping you off at Paddington mainline station.

Fares average £22 per person, BUT, if you book at least 90 days in advance, then it can be as cheap as £11 for two adults and two children.

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Heathrow Connect

A lower cost rail option than above, as it stops at the intermediate stations and trips take roughly 25 minutes to reach central London.

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London Underground

The slowest of the options, but trains are more frequent and stop at a lot more places.

Each route on the Underground has a name, and in this case, the Picadilly Line will take you into the centre of London, and connect to all the other London Underground lines along the route.

Traveling by tube from Heathrow to London also happens to be the cheapest of the rail travel options available.

London’s public transport is split into concentric zones that radiate out from the centre of London, with Heathrow, on the edge of London being in Zone 6.

The cost of a tube trip from Zone 6 to central London (Zone 1) is £6.00, but you can make savings by purchasing a prepaid Oyster travelcard. In addition to getting you from Heathrow airport on the day you arrive, it gives you unlimited travel on buses and tubes while you are visiting London.

Each of the main Heathrow terminals have their own tube station – at Heathrow 1,2,&3, at Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Terminal 5.

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Coaches and Buses

National Express are the primary coach operator at Heathrow Airport and run services to Victoria Station in the centre of London. Note that Victoria coach station is a short walk from Victoria rail station, so be prepared for that.

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They also offer a Heathrow Hoppa which runs between the various London hotels.

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There are also the famous red double-decker buses, which are the main provider of local area transport if you need to get to a specific destination. The buses run 24 hours a day, and there will be local travel maps next to the bus stations.

Taxis

Black cabs, the main taxi operator in London can take you to almost anywhere in the city, but for a price. The typical cost of a taxi from Heathrow to London is £45-£70 per trip. Naturally, you can fit several people into a single taxi, so the fare per person is cheaper.

You’ll find black cabs lining up outside each of the airport terminals. All of the taxis working at Heathrow will have wheelchair access.

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Alternatively, you can book a minicab, which will be cheaper, but these have to be arranged in advance. In London, only the black taxis are allowed to collect passengers without prebooking.

Also, minicabs are usually just ordinary cars, and wont be disabled friendly.

Travel Options by Time

Arriving at any airport late at night, or very early in the morning can be a daunting prospect, but Heathrow airport has a range of 24 hour travel options for getting to and from central London.

Night buses – There is a regular night bus service (route N9) that runs through West London, with departures roughly every 20 minutes in both directions.

London Underground – the tube network opens early and closes late, and at weekends, part of it runs all night.

First and last trains from Heathrow to central London

Terminals First train Last train
Terminals 1, 2 & 3 05:12 (Sat/Sun 03:17) 23:45 (Fri/Sat 03:07; Sun 23:28)
Terminal 4 05:02 (Sun 05:47) 23:35 (Sun 23:15*)
Terminal 5 05:23 (Sat/Sun 03:14) 23:42 (Fri/Sat 03:04; Sun 23:25)

* Change at Heathrow Central

First and last trains from central London to Heathrow

(based on departures from Piccadilly Circus)

Terminals First train Last train
Terminals 1, 2 & 3 05:47 (Sat/Sun 03:43) 00:32 (Fri/Sat 03:33; Sun 23:38)
Terminal 4 05:53* (Sun 07:23) 23:09 (Sun 22:40)
Terminal 5 05:47 (Sat/Sun 03:43) 00:22 (Fri/Sat 03:33; Sun 23:24)

* Change at Hatton Cross

Travel options by Heathrow Terminal

Heathrow has 3 main clusters of terminal buildings depending on which airline you are flying with.

The main cluster in the centre of the airport is Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3. On the edges are the newer Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. Each has their own buses, trains and tube services.

Heathrow Terminal 2

There are two locations for bus services — London buses and local hotel services depart from outside the Terminal building. If you want to use coach services into London, then head to the Central Bus Station, which is located above the London Underground station — so just follow the signs via an underground passage.

Taxis (black cabs) can be found outside Terminal 2, next to the London buses.

For the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect railway services direct to Paddington mainline station, follow the signs to the Heathrow Central Rail Station, which can be found near to Terminal 3.

Heathrow Terminal 3

There are two locations for bus services — London buses and local hotel services depart from outside the Terminal building.

If you want to use coach services into London, then head to the Central Bus Station, which is located above the London Underground station — so just follow the signs via an underground passage.

Taxis (black cabs) can be found outside Terminal 3, next to the London buses.

For the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect railway services direct to Paddington mainline station, follow the signs to the Heathrow Central Rail Station.

Heathrow Terminal 4

The buses and taxis can all be found just outside the main Terminal building on the ground floor.

The London Underground has its own dedicated tube station, with trains every few minutes. Just follow the signs to the subway linking to the station.

For the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect railway services, follow the signs to the train station, which is next to the London Underground.

Heathrow Terminal 5

The buses and taxis can all be found just outside the main Terminal building on the ground floor.

The London Underground has its own dedicated tube station, with trains every few minutes. Just follow the signs to the lifts which will take you down to the station.

For the Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect railway services, follow the signs to the train station, which is next to the London Underground.


Last update: 22nd Oct 2017